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.
June 25, 2009 at 5:39 pm
Very good post. Eating and weight has a bigger impact on people than they may think. My self esteem has been at a all-time low since I put on 70 pounds. Hopefully that will all change with the weight loss.
June 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm
Oh I love this post! Yes, yes, yes! This journey is not about deprivation. Mary-Ann Shearer teaches that we should never think of getting healthy in terms of giving up things, but rather concentrate on adding healthy things to our diet and lives. This works for me… I don’t suffer one moment! I have to admit that I still need to work on the mindfulness aspect… I still overeat.
June 26, 2009 at 6:48 am
you KNOW I love this as well.
the mindfulness and the focusing on adding in healthy which adds to our lifeJOY!!
June 26, 2009 at 8:24 am
I love this post!! I get it! I try to practice this same thing, mind you I still struggle with the suffering part of it. But its a process…and I’ll get there. Im so happy for you and your success! *hugs*
June 26, 2009 at 9:32 am
I’m amazed at all of the light bulb moments that I’ve been having lately. I realized the other day that being in the moment was helping me be a good friend to myself. But what you just said about being mindful with food is the perfect companion to the way I am starting to think.
I love the word mindful. Thanks for shedding some light….
Have a great day!
June 26, 2009 at 1:06 pm
Love your blog, I’m new here so still getting to know more about you through your posts. I need all the motivation and inspiration I can get.
June 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm
Love that!! “Be mindful and don’t suffer.” Great insight. Totally what I teach, and how I help my clients.
Learning how to be mindful is huge — and often makes all the difference in the world.
June 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm
what a beautiful post. i found those two guidelines to be vrey helpful in my approach to everything, especially parenting and food issues. as a SAHM, i found myself projecting myself elsewhere and pining for something (sleep, excitement, freedom, escape!). being mindful kept me present and accepting what WAS helped me not suffer.
it’s also been very helpful in weight loss and food management. the more i focus on what i can’t have, the more i resent the steps i need to take to lose weight and stay healthy. but when i focus on what it is i really want (keep weight down, have a better relationship with myself, enjoy all foods and not feel guilty) and chose not to dwell on what i can’t have, i’m so much happier!
June 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm
This was such a thoughtful post–it really rings true to my experiences losing and gaining weight over the years. Thanks! I have just discovered you blog via Twitter and I think I’ll have a look around!
June 27, 2009 at 2:31 pm
Hai, found you and your blog on Twitter. Like to read your blogs. I’ve started my own which has to help me lose weight.
Maybe when you have time you’ll visit it sometimes?
June 29, 2009 at 9:09 am
I also find that eating healthy is more about finding and enjoying healthy foods I like… the more I find, the less I miss unhealthy alternatives.
And then if my diet is mostly good for me, there’s room for treats without guilt.
June 30, 2009 at 10:01 pm
If you want to share, I’d love to hear more about the foods (e.g. soup) that you really take pleasure from and that also help you meet your health goals. I had a plum today that was delicious, but it’s hard for me sometimes to find “healthy” foods that taste as good as “indulgent” ones.