The Church of Weight Loss

After three days of applying Bipolar Bad-Assness to food consumption, I feel pretty successful.  I’ve gotten back into the swing of recording everything I eat and keeping the calorie count somewhere around my goal.  I’m mindful that this can become a point of obsession, so I’m trying to stay loose and breathe.

I’m always and forever shocked at how small real portion sizes are.  I forget that the point of eating is not to get full, but to stop feeling hungry.  There’s a pile of food between those two states of being.

Wednesday, I went to the Line Dancing class at the Y for some additional fun exercise.  It was a hoot, but my back and feet felt my full tonnage.  Several of the women there are also in my water aerobics class, and invited me to come to their TOPS club (Take Off Pounds Sensibly).  I figured, what the hell.  I’ve tried Weight Watchers (three times), Overeaters Anonymous (twice), and more fad diets than you can shake a Snickers at, so I cast a gimlet eye at any “diet” program.  But, I’d sure like to have some warm-body support as I venture once again into the weight loss paradox.  So, I went.

The thirty-or-so ladies were very welcoming and friendly, but when I met the leader she said, “Don’t be skeptical!  You’ve got to have a POSITIVE attitude!”  Okay.  I found out the cost per year was a mere $26, with a weekly fee of $.75.  But then I started hearing about all the ways that weekly fee slides around—if you lose weight, if you gain weight, if you meet the weekly challenge (like drinking water with every meal) or don’t.  There were little plastic jars passed around the table for a variety of these charges that the women put their dimes and quarters into.

Then there was the Pledge.  I don’t remember the exact wording, but it said something about learning to control ones emotions around food.  A big, red klaxon went off in my head.  Telling someone with an eating disorder and a mental illness to “get ahold of yourself” works about as well as telling my cats to stop sleeping.  Another section of the Pledge said that even though we eat in private, the results are there for the world to see.  Great.  More guilt.  The guilt theme played out further when we went around the table so everyone could announce how much they’d gained or lost.  Yikes!

The whole experience seemed like a Revival Meeting—applause and cheers, “witnessing,” even a Doxology.  And, like church, there was great fellowship—notices about members who were ill or who had a death in the family, reports about members going to district or state meetings together, talk about who was getting together after the meeting for lunch.  I would have stayed for the fellowship, if I could have stomached the dogma.  But, no.

Just like church, I can’t enjoy the good stuff when I disagree with the underlying principles.  And just like I can’t seem to stop searching for a spiritual community, I can’t stop looking for a group to support my weight loss efforts.  Touching the Ground of Being and losing weight are really the same thing, after all.  They both require stillness and listening.  They both require inner archeological work and a level of surrender.  They both seek Grace.

In the meantime, I’ll review Geneen Roth’s eating guidelines.  They’re still the best I’ve come across.

  1. Eat when you’re hungry.
  2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment.
  3. Eat without distraction (TV, radio, books, etc.).
  4. Eat what your body wants.
  5. Eat until you’re satisfied.
  6. Eat with the intention of being in full view of others.
  7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn McCullough
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 07:45:06

    Brilliant post, Sandy! The second paragraph is especially well done–both in terms of content (something I needed to be reminded of) and style–so beautifully articulated–“There’s a pile of food between those two states of being.”
    Kathy

    Reply

  2. Kitty
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 08:28:08

    My Health Coach recently said that our bodies don’t like being ignored. She said it’s like being mean to a waitress… after a while she stops coming back. She said it will take time for my body to trust me and “come back” again. And she said that, when I learn to listen to my body, it will tell me what it wants… and supposedly it will want healthy things for me. Sounds a lot like “Self Love works” to me.

    The good news this week is that I didn’t get laid off. The bad news is that my hours have been cut in half. If I can stop feeling like throwing up all the time… I’ll probably eat something… maybe even something healthy.

    You said you know that calorie counting can become obsessive, but I gotta tell ya… If that is the worst thing I obsess on in the next few weeks, that won’t be a bad thing at all.

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 03, 2011 @ 16:25:33

      OMG, I absolutely *love* the waitress analogy! I do need to be a better tipper to my own body.
      And as for work—shithellfuckdamn. I will be emailing you directly.

      Reply

  3. Josh
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 09:37:07

    I love the eating guidelines, thanks for sharing. It’s funny I don’t do any of the guidelines, but I am going to start…

    Be well
    Josh…

    Reply

  4. ManicMuses
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 11:50:38

    Wow.

    I would like to believe that the days of groups guilting people into positive results were gone, but…wow. I’m so glad you didn’t get involved with the TOPS group, Sandy Sue. I don’t know if you’re like me but I have huge issues with guilt and being bipolar (long story) anyway. Geneen Roth has a much more sensible approach. I especially like number 4. If you eat what you want in human-size portions there should be no guilt – only satisfaction! 🙂 Good luck with the weight loss. I know you can do it!

    Reply

  5. Deborah
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 14:15:54

    Hi, Sandy Sue,

    I’ve also struggled with compulsive eating, and my weight see-sawed for a few years while I got on and off my own “program,” which I don’t think of as a program. I dislike OA and don’t think any other group-oriented approaches would work for me.

    What has worked for me in the past is simple and believe it or not easy AFTER the adjustment period: No sugar or sweeteners of any kind, and no alcohol. Otherwise, I eat what I want (except for the long list of foods my body doesn’t tolerate).

    So no honey, maple syrup, cane sugar — i.e. not even the “healthy” sugars. And no corn syrup, high fructose or otherwise.

    Once I get the sugar and booze out of my system, I lose the cravings. But if I have even one little bit of sugar, it sets off the cravings, so once I’m on a roll I’m less tempted to “cheat.”

    That plus exercise which I admire you have going so well, and I lose weight after my body adjusts its metabolism — which can take a while. I lose one pound a week, steady, and then I’m at maintenance. It’s slow but it works — no quick fixes.

    I did it for a few years, relapsed a few years, did it for several years, relapsed for these past three years, and now….I hope I’m on track again.

    I recommited to it this Sunday, after three years in the latest binge. All the resentments and anger (you called it) I’d accumulated now have to be released, but so far that is easier than living in the muck.

    I hope this helps – take it or leave it.

    Best Regards,
    Deborah

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 03, 2011 @ 16:19:47

      Thanks so much, Deborah.
      I’ve heard about eliminating sugar and also white flour, both of which seem to be addicting. I admire you for your commitment, and your determination to “get back on the horse.” May the Force be with You!

      Reply

  6. strugglingwithbipolar
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 15:48:33

    I like what Geneen Roth has to say about eating. I was told to eat mindfully and it sounds like she is telling you to do just that.

    I am happy to hear your Bipolar Bad-Ass training has paid off in this area. I know controlling our eating is HARD. I’ve tried upping intake of whole grains and it has helped me a bit. I also upped my water intake.

    The line dancing sounds like lots of fun. I am impressed that you actually did it. I want to go jogging again, but my knee hurts from the repetitive abuse. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow or Monday.

    Thank you for inspiring me!

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Jun 05, 2011 @ 06:50:33

      I’m forever working around one aching body part or another. It’s hard when you’ve found an activity you actually enjoy (ok, tolerate), then pain or injury takes it away. We have enough trouble with motivation without this added challenge. So, I’m always on the look-out for some other, fun, exercise-y activity that might work.

      Reply

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