14 September 2008

Weight loss

I read O Magazine every month and the one column I look forward to reading is Martha Beck's. I love the way she writes and sounds just a step over from being absolutely normal. She is a life coach with some excellent advice usually phrased in a way to feel non-threatening and easy enough to try out. In every column her credits include one or two of the names of her books she's written. So one day I went to the library's website, did a search on her name and put a hold on the first available book so I could see if it mirrors her columns.

Within a week the book was patiently waiting for me on the holds shelf so I picked it up in my usual Saturday trip to the library. I put a lot of books on hold and rarely remember why, mostly because I'd read a review of it or it's by an author I like. Many Saturdays I have at least one book waiting for me and more often than not, I have little memory of the details of the book. When I picked this one up I read the full title of The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace. Ok, it's a diet book not a life coaching/advice/improve your world book. Well fine, I have some weight to lose anyway so I might as well see what it had to say.

At the moment I'm only about half way through the book and am amazed at how often I wondered if she was reading my mind or looking over my shoulder to observe my eating behaviour. The book is set up much in the same way as Diets Don't Work in that there are mental exercises to do and some soul examining to complete.

A side note on the DDW book - three members of the family and I set up the Chubby Club back in '95. We would meet every two weeks and discuss weight loss. My mom had the book DDW from the early 80's but had never completed it, so she photocopied the chapters one by one for us each week. We would do the exercises and answer the questions and then discuss our findings at our next meeting. The pivotal moment, in my perception, was doing an exercise where we had to write down our weight, dress size and measurements. Then we would take this information to a mirror where we would look ourselves in the eyes and say: My name is ____ , I weigh _____ and am a size ___. Or something to that effect. The result was astounding to me. I had a hard time holding my own gaze and my voice sounded weak and quavery. Then we were to imagine that we'd lost 100 pounds and repeat the same sentence in the mirror. I couldn't believe it, my back straightened up, my voice was strong and I was smiling! I got it, I knew that no matter what I had to love myself for who I am right now and stop waiting to be thin to be happy. Forty five pounds just slipped off my body with no more effort from me. The book presented me with the idea that I was eating for emotional reasons, something I'd never considered before. I also understood that I was living in the past and trying to change my past. I realized this is impossible and stopped trying.

Since then my weight has bounced around and it's been increasingly difficult to just stop eating to soothe myself. Enter Martha Beck.

She talks about emotional eating, but more in the sense that I can't change the way I feel but I can rewire my brain to stop eating when it's not necessary. At first I was a bit skeptical, after all, she's not sitting in front of me dealing with my unique life experiences. Surprisingly the book has been successful so far. It doesn't matter specifically what makes me tick as a person or what in particular has caused a chubby thought process, just making myself aware of it and training my brain to think differently. Now I'm half way through the book and I've noticed:
  • I don't snack at work any more. I used to eat pinches of dough, bits of chocolate, blobs of icing, pecan pieces, Skor bits and even the odd raspberry or apple bit while I'm scaling other ingredients. Now I wait until break time to eat and have no craving to put these things in my mouth anymore.
  • I eat my breakfast at work on first break. I used to eat some cereal before going to work at 4:30 am. Now I take my iron pill instead (which needs an empty stomach anyway) and eat breakfast at 6:30am. I was never hungry for the bowl of cereal, I just ate it because every diet everywhere says you must eat breakfast. Instead I take my break early and eat then, and if I'm hungry before break time, I just tell myself that I will eat on break and my stomach stops complaining. Of course I don't lie, I actually do feed myself when I say I'm going to.
  • I no longer eat to the point of my stomach hurting. I used to think that was an indication of fullness. If my stomach hurt then I must be done. Now I don't let it get to that point.
  • I've lost four pounds without depriving myself of anything or working out to the point of exhaustion.
Other changes have taken place in my mind as well. My thinking has changed a bit so I don't feel as judgmental anymore, I really understand that the world isn't fair at all, and things aren't as black and white as I make them out to be.

I am honestly amazed at this book and Martha Beck's approach to weight loss. She has written it so that it's easy to read, humorous, helpful and not too pushy. The library was going to want the book back soon so I bought a copy just for myself. This way I can reference it when necessary and take my time completing it. Although some of the exercises are a bit uncomfortable, I've learned how to soothe myself without food. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the book has in store for me.

1 comment:

michelle P said...

HMMMMMM, I just might have to get a copy.

I go to the library every week also, I actually get excited to go. I LOVE to read. I read every chance I get!