Tuning back in

Let's call this a belated June monthly checkin, even thought it's nearly half July.

I keep forgetting that I want to lose weight. You may roll your eyes and say that is the stupidest thing ever written, but let me explain how this can happen.

Firstly, I'm a happy lady. I'm lucky to know a lot of nice people, I've found fulfilling work and my salad leaves are growing despite all the rain. I don't hate myself or my body anymore. I'm rolling with the ups and downs of life.

Secondly, I'm easily distracted. For example, I've been getting lost in work, perving at Euro 2012 footballers, bellowing at Andy Murray on the telly and belatedly discovering Charlotte Brontë. Ooh look over there, new Tweets. I haven't refreshed Instagram in 27 seconds. Ooh look a random story about Katie Holmes. I'll be back in a minute…

Thirdly, I lull myself into a false sense of progress coz the extremes are gone. The binging has stopped and I'm so mindful with the big events these days. Example, another Cake Ladies meetup the other day: I chose a couple of favourites, stopped when the body said whoa there and did not feel bereft at the cake left behind.

So I kinda float along through my days feeling quite content… until, POW!

… I browse a sales rack at a favourite clothing shop and realise nothing will fit

… my dodgy knee decides to reassert itself

… I spy an old dress in my wardrobe and realise I still can't get into it

… I eat a handful of "Gareth's" choc-chip cookies with a cup of tea and it's not until I notice the crumbs on my t-shirt that I say…

OH CRAP, HANG ON… remember you wanted to bust some lard here?

I'm still rubbish at keeping my mind and body connected. I'm always drifting away into la la land, losing sight of what I want and where I want to go.

I may not have binged for ages now, but the day-to-day eating is still rather sloppy and random. The proof is on the scales – I've been the same weight for six weeks now. It's not a weight that I want to maintain.

But how to light a fire under my butt, in a kind and caring way? I don't feel the same urgency as I did at 350lb, when I hated myself so much I wanted to hack off my excess flesh with a chainsaw. And I'm not consumed by the fear of disappointing strangers like I was with the book thing. It's nice to not be full of fear, shame and loathing anymore but, dang, they were some powerful motivators.

I reckon the best tactic is to keep reminding myself of all the positive reasons WHY. It's worked well to  get my exercise back on track. So I've distilled my reasons into a handy song to mutter to myself when making choices. You know that kids' tune "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes"? My version is "Head Shoulders Knees and Clothes".

  • head – good food = mental clarity; keeps Black Dawg in kennel
  • shoulders – I want to feel strong and foxy, both now and in old age
  • knees – they hurt and they need me to lighten the load, seriously
  • and clothes – I just want more options, dammit!

It's cheese, but it's concise cheese.

In addition to keeping my brain in the here and now, here's what else I'm working on:

Automating brekkie and lunch
I'm getting back in the habit of tasty yogurt/fruit/seeds for brekkie and mega salads for lunch, prepared in advance so no matter how busy I get, I can make two delicious and mindless-in-a good-way choices per day.

Put my food on a plate and sit down to eat it
I've been sloppy on this one. No spear fishing in front of the fridge! And remember that I am not training for an endurance event, I don't need as much on my plate as Gareth, for crying out loud.

Tune in
My favourite principle from the Beyond Chocolate book. Today I've started an experiment with the DietSnaps app that dear Jen posted about. I want to get back in the habit of pausing and tuning into hunger signals/feelings before I eat. Taking a photo of my meal (just a quick snap; no choreography or fancy napkins) could be a nice way to get me to slow down, think about what's on the plate, sing that little song and remember what I want and why.

Ahh… it's an adventure that never ends. I'll report back next week!

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27 thoughts on “Tuning back in

  1. I hope that your Brontë discovery has not stopped with Jane Eyre. Not many people also read Villette, but for my money it’s the better novel (which is saying something, given that Jane Eyre is fantastic), and it’ll rip the guts out of any woman who’s spent much of her life feeling ugly. Read Villette! Read Villette!

    Glad to see you trundling along.

  2. It IS an adventure, isn’t it? I’ve lived most of my life hopping from track to track, from staying solidly on the straight-and-narrow to boarding the “What-the-Hell? Express”. And, I’m sad to report, three weeks on the healthy choo-choo will get you a mile down the road; one weekend on the Express will take you back ten. Not fair, but there it is. Sounds like you’ve found some middle ground, and that’s all well and good, but it’s still easy to lose ground when you’re not pushing forward.

    Bust the lard? Nice turn of phrase and excelled name for a band. I CALLED IT! NOBODY STEAL MY NEW BAND NAME!!!!

  3. I started Vilette this week Mollie! Just brilliant. I feel so lame for having left it so long but I’ve been an Emily Bronte lass til now.

    Jack, can I join your band? You’ve got the lyrics for the first tune right there!

  4. Part of me thinks “it´s good that I´ve put half a stone back on, then I might get back that desperation that made me lose masses of weight before!”, part of me is just so happy about being as I am now and thinks “I don´t neeeeed to lose a single gram more; I can run fecking 10K!” and then eat 3 almond croissants in one day and feel like a glutton encrusted whale creature that swims in self hatred. All in one day! Oh, balance of mind, how I crave thee!

  5. “and feel like a glutton encrusted whale creature that swims in self hatred.”

    Oh man I love your turn of phrase Svava!

    My mind is in a real blur about this stuff, to be honest. Self acceptance, mindfulness, sore knees, jelly bellies… I don’t know. This is why it takes me a month to write a new post.

  6. I know exactly how you feel. Even though I am now maintaining, after losing 98lbs, it is really difficult, because like you say, I just don’t have the same kind of urgency to eat well and workout as I did 2 years ago when I was obese.

    Well done on not binging any more though :)

  7. I hear you on this one! I didn’t lose as much as you, I went from 16 stone to 11.10. But I’ve stuck at 12.4 for WAY too long. (I’m actually too scared to get back on the scales but my clothes still fit)

    There are habits I’ve kept, such as exercise, and no munching after dinner. But there others I lost along the way, like 1/2 a plate of veggies with my meal, quarter protein and quater low gi starch. Portion control at breakfast. I just can’t cope with the one cup of cereal anymore. I’m hungry for two eggs and toast dammit. And cakes – oh dear – I do love baking and as for afternoon teas…….. As my aunt said when the doctor put her on a diet ‘can’t I die happy instead of thin?’

  8. I am going to get Villette from the library today!

    This post really captures where I am right now. I want balance, self-love, and smaller clothes.

    DietSnaps is great but I need to make myself use it more consistently. It only takes a second. And I might need to use, “Head, Shoulders, Toes, and Clothes” for my reminder song. (My knees are okay but my toes don’t like my extra pounds one bit.

  9. I must admit I get absorbed in things like the TOMKAT situation , rewatching the HBO series Girls and random twitter , and reading that first naughty “Fifty Shades ..” book. Oh” Life is just a breeze and yes, let’s have some more popcorn and diet coke while I do these things and / or let’s go to the new frozen yogurt place down the street. ‘because it’s Friday'” And then there’s 50 frigging more pounds on the scale than last year..oh..oh yeah.
    I have my healthy inner wise woman that wants me to lose this weight and maintain it because it just feels better, I can wear cooler clothes, I can move better and it’s healthier. But the food addict lover wants food, yummy food. Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde. Never the two shall meet.
    have healthy wise woman that wants me to lose weight

  10. fingers crossed for you, shauna.
    life is all ups and downs… you will make it again. :)

    you’re such an inspirational person for me, shauna. i’ve read your book three times during the past years and i still recommend it to every girl i know. i look up to you, honestly!

  11. Yup yup yuppity yup, Shauna!! Know exactly where you’re coming from. I find I’m too busy running about getting on with life, enjoying myself and my new found “self-acceptance”, but then in a quiet moment I get on the scales, or I sit and reflect, or I’m chasing a lump of Ben and Jerry’s round the bottom of the pot and I realise that I don’t really accept myself if I’ve put weight on. I realise that actually my confidence still relies on losing weight! And then I have a panic, put on my PJs so my expanding belly has space to breathe and hurl the remaining Ben and Jerry’s in the bin and vow to be good forever.

    So yup. It’s never going to be “finished” is it??? It’s just going to have to be balance from now on in. Great post Shauna. :)

  12. Head, shoulder, knees & clothes? Bahaha! Love it.

    I’ve been in the same kind of head space, luvvie, so I know perzacly what you mean. There are way too many distractions in my life, I think I might need to pare things down a bit so I can focus on what’s important. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

    Rock on!

  13. I <3 Villette–wrote my thesis on it and Portrait of Lady–something about women encountering role models in the world around them. I need to read Villette again.

    You sound so good! Best wishes, Shauna.

  14. Oh Shauna, this post rules and I love that kids’
    song (my sister used to sing it to my niece) and your twist on it. Not that cheesy, to me, and really perfect!! Rock on, my friend. :)

  15. yes that feeling is familiar – so easy to get distracted and there are so many more fun things to do or anything really because I am behind in so much – winter seems to bog me down in colds and wanting to hunker down in front of the heater but it is lovely to hear you sounding so happy

  16. Oh Shauna, I’m SOOOO glad you posted this! (hang on, just gotta check my FB status…..) I’m baaack! Ooooh, look, something shiny! Where was I? Oh, yeah, FOCUSING (cough cough) on FAT LOSS….so Tom and Katie’s divorce is done?….Oh yeah, THAT’S RIGHT, gotta lose 30kgs….now, where did I leave my car keys….and phone…..and FECK….my wallet!!! Okey, get clothes ready for workout at 6am in winter in southern Australia…..what’s happening on FB??? And it’s time for bed….SOOO GLAD I gave that some thought!

  17. Yep, I know what you mean about losing the sense of urgency yet still wanting not to forget entirely what you’d like to be doing. I love that you wrote about this. I think about it often (when I realise I have forgotten) and end up nowhere in finding a solution other than rather extreme ones. Heads, shoulders, knees and clothes sounds so right for you. :-)

  18. ‘I don’t hate myself or my body anymore. I’m rolling with the ups and downs of life.’

    This is exactly where I want to be, whether I lose all the weight I’d like to or not.

    Shauna, you are awesome. That is all. :)

  19. Thank you. Head, and Shoulders, Knees, and Clothes is on a perpetual repeat loop in my brain now. And I needed that.

  20. You have hit the nail on the head in terms of how I currently feel. Im so distracted!! I cant even say demotivated because that would imply that I was once motivated …its actually more forgetful. Just like you I am currently fine where I am, not overweight, not unhappy, just totally fine. But I keep waking up out of the haze and remembering “hey , werent you supposed to be trying to increase your muscle mass, take on the paleo challenge, perfect a handstand thats not against the wall etc etc” …basically bring it to the next level. But i keep forgetting!!! Maybe I need to stick a post it on my forehead with your head shoulder knees and clothes song. Because the sad reality is Im getting less fine by the day….jeans are a smidge tighter, 10 easy-to-do push ups have become 8 harder-to-do push ups, its all starting to slide a little.

    Thanks for wake up call. I just hope I dont forget again tomorrow!!

  21. Great post again, Shauna! I, too, was blithely going along, eating every yummy dessert that came my way, trying to reconcile myself to my ever-expanding waistline by loving and accepting myself in all my fleshiness. My wake-up call came in a few ways: I saw my brother’s open-heart surgery scar (18 inches!) and heard he was still experiencing chest pains. I saw my obese mother complaining about being fat, having no energy and also experiencing chest pains. I read “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. (this is the book behind Bill Clinton’s conversion to a vegan diet) and discovered that my cholesterol was above the range he recommends to stay free of heart disease. I followed the recipes in the book for several days and found that my constant dessert cravings disappeared, my cholesterol dropped nearly 50 points in 11 days, and I dropped pounds without counting calories. It was a friggin’ miracle! To be free of the physical cravings and obsession for the first time in years… it’s a magical feeling. It drove home to me what a physical addiction certain “danger foods” create in me. I don’t think I could ever be moderate about pastries, no matter how much I tried. They just light up my brain’s pleasure centers too much, like crack. Today I went to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting for the first time in over 21 years, in the hopes that I will meet friends that I don’t have to explain my weird, plant-based, no-oil diet to, and with whom I can socialize in ways that will make me feel safe.

    Interestingly, as my dessert obsession has calmed, my enjoyment of every other fun thing in my life has increased. I never thought I could be as excited about anything more than about cakes and pies and cookies, but now I find that I am wild about sewing and knitting again, after decades of neglecting those hobbies. Also, s*x is much more pleasurable. It’s as if all the other joys in life were benumbed before, maybe because the butter-sugar-flour drugs had hijacked my brain’s pleasure centers.

    I urge you to try a period of abstinence until your cravings calm down. Your tastebuds will change and be more satisfied with cleaner foods, and the “danger” foods will taste dead to your tongue. Then it’s not a constant struggle. Once your tastebuds change, you won’t feel like you are missing out when others are eating cake around you. My husband and I went to a fancy bed-and-breakfast, and the food looked gorgeous, but I found that my oatmeal with fresh and dried fruits tasted like dessert on my tongue. The chefs were massively, wheezingly obese, which was a good reminder that you pay for what you eat.

    I, too, am a huge fan of Afternoon Tea– I was considering opening up a tea salon! I think I will just have to create my own “clean” version of it and use all my lovely bone china tea accessories and tiered trays.

    Good luck to you, dear!

  22. I know you were being serious but this post made me laugh and I related to it.
    My friends call me “grasshopper mind” because my mind jumps from one topic to another without pausing or finishing the first. Tangents galore.
    Hilarious!

  23. You write so well, Shauna. A natural. I love reading your stuff. Having looked up Beyond Chocolate (it sounds good) – can I suggest you also take a look at Gillian Riley’s book, if you haven’t already. It’s called Eating Less which I admit, isn’t a great title… but it’s not, repeat not a diet book. Gillian Riley has a great style of writing and I like her attitude v. much. It’s very kind, gentle, and very practical and can-do. It’s the ‘slow approach’ but I like it.

  24. Abigail that sounds right up my alley, thank you for letting me know! Kind, gentle and practical… interesting!

    Thank you everyone for your comments here, I appreciate it so much!

  25. *sigh*…I know all about getting ‘distracted’ when losing weight…I once got down from 17st 2lb to 9st 5lb IN A YEAR!!! Because I was 16 and just stopped eating and exercised every free minute! I remember fainting and shaking, it was that bad…Then, I piled it all back on…and spent my twenties, thirties and early forties thinking ‘What’s the point? I’ll regain it anyway?’…Since March I HAVE started dieting again, with moderate success (I’ve gotten down from 20st 10lb to 17st 11lb), but life just gets ‘in the way’ of the ‘serious sieting’ I did in my teens: I’m a mum now, I have a LIFE…and sometimes I haven’t got time to exercise for x hours and count calories…That’s what attracted me to your book, and now your blog: you’re a normal woman, who somehow managed to get quite a lot of weight off, despite enjoying your life! I applaud that, we NEED to live, not just count calories and run on a treadmill all day…yes, we’d lose weight a lot faster, but would life still be worth living?!