At least once a week I go someplace where I run into someone I haven’t seen in a few months or more. Since Before. And very often they will say, “HOW did you do this?!?” It’s hard to sum it up in a few words, because it truly is a long story, but I think my “elevator pitch” (code for how to pitch a book, or business proposal to an agent or funder in the time it takes to ride an elevator) would be “By being mindful, and not suffering.”
I know, it’s very Buddhist, right? But truly I think this is what has made All the Difference this time. I started attending a meditation class very soon after my pre-diabetes diagnosis. And the idea of being mindful- of paying attention – made a huge impact on my whole weight loss journey. I decided to really pay attention to everything – to what I truly wanted to eat, and if eating was what I wanted at all, and how much to eat, and everything. It has been absolutely invaluable.
I loved that this week, in my WW mentoring session, the leader spoke a LOT about “being mindful.” I don’t know if he’s a Buddhist or not, but he did bring it up about 20 times during the meeting, and people were nodding and really getting it. I loved that.
Another big concept in Buddhism is that of Suffering. I know that I have suffered mightily because of my weight and food issues, throughout my life. I suffered when I felt I was depriving myself of food I wanted, but I also suffered when I ate things for the Wrong Reasons (ie for comfort or distraction). I suffered from guilt and remorse, shame and self hatred. There was a LOT of suffering going on.
It’s been shocking for me to notice that this New Way has involved very little suffering, and I know that if I feel like I am suffering, it’s going to come back and bite me BIG time. So it’s important for me to never, ever sigh dramatically and say, “I guess I should eat THIS (salad?) instead of THAT.” Because if I feel deprived in ANY WAY, shape or form, I’m going to overeat. Every single time. I have to find something that makes me HAPPY and satisfied, as well as being a good choice. Salad is a good example. Sometimes I really crave and love and feel like eating salad. But often, if it’s a cold day or whatever, I want HOT FOOD. Before, it would be a choice between two kinds of suffering: I’d have a cold salad and feel all deprived, OR I’d have .. I dunno, a huge plate of lasagne or fried chicken and THEN I’d suffer because I’d feel overstuffed, guilty and remorseful. And fat.
So the key is to really be MINDFUL and say, OK, I don’t want salad. (“Then don’t eat salad!”) I want hot food. OK, what kind of hot food will satisfy and yet not make me feel remorseful? Often it is SOUP. I have come to looooooooove soup very much. Because there are so many delicious kinds of soup and EVEN soup that is a bit rich (some cream in it, or meat) a cup of soup can go a very long way. There is a wonderful French food takeout place near my work that has two kinds of amazing soup every day. Usually that will be all I want for lunch, and it probably has WAY fewer calories than a salad with blue cheese, nuts, dressing, avocadoes etc etc.
I have had to build up my repertoire of foods that I both love and feel good about eating. This has taken some time and practice but now I feel like I have wonderful choices.
I still always have half-and-half in my coffee, because I have tried many alternatives (black coffee, skim milk in coffee, nonfat half and half) and they ALL make me suffer. I want my half-and-half. But I have made other changes that allow that to be okay. (more exercise, soup for lunch, etc)
So that’s my short answer for How I Did It (and how I intend to keep Doing It): Be mindful and don’t suffer.
Over and out.