30
Apr
13

Babies with Alien Heads

Back in the days when my now-14-year-old son was an infant, I was at a holiday gathering for families in a mother’s group I loved.  One of the mothers made a joke about her daughter’s big, giant alien-looking head.  And we laughed — everyone in the group.  The baby’s head did seem unusually big.  (I’m happy to report, 13 years later, her body and her head are now very well matched.)

Perhaps an hour later that same evening, one of the dads made a joking reference about the baby’s alien head.  The mother of the baby didn’t laugh, and as a result, the laughter this time within the group was more subdued.

I think we all (except for the jokster dad) intuited that it was okay for the mom to make fun of her own baby, but it wasn’t okay for anyone else to do that.  And I think we also knew, at some level, that the mom worried about her daughter’s head size and felt some level of vulnerability and shame about it.  Her joke was likely an attempt to get the subject out in the open and then let it disappear quietly so that she didn’t have to address it again.

I think the same is true for references to weight and our bodies:  WE can reference (and even joke about) our excess weight, but if anyone else does, it’s offensive and extremely painful.

That’s why it’s best, if you’re concerned about someone else’s weight, that you hold back any input until they themselves bring up the topic.

That’s your doorway.  And you gotta wait for it.

Even when you have a doorway, it’s cracked.  It’s never wide open.  So proceed with caution.

Even though I have no doubt that you have a strong opinion here and that you have the best of intentions (usually about your loved one’s health), you’re dealing with someone who’s very vulnerable so proceed with EXTREME caution.  Their precious soul is in your hands and they are [thinking about] trusting you.

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09
Jan
12

Diets Fail Us

We’ve all been there.

Maybe we see a photo of ourselves and groan.  Maybe we have trouble zipping our jeans.  Maybe there’s a special occasion approaching, and we start to anticipate seeing people there.  Regardless of the trigger, a diet tends to start with harsh words.

To paraphrase Dr. Judith Matz, an expert in attuned eating, “No one ever looked in the mirror and said, ‘Gee, I look great.  I think I’ll go on a diet.’”  Usually it’s along the lines of “Look at these thighs!  Disgusting!  I’ve GOT to do something about my weight. I can’t stand it anymore.  Yuck!”

So begins the lists of what’s “good” to eat and what’s “bad.”  The ambitious workout schedule.  Determination, gritted teeth.  Maybe a picture of a bathing suit in a goal size on the bathroom mirror.  And for a while, the scale is a friend, confidence surges, and it’s easy to decline offers of tempting treats.  Walking past the gluttonous buffet in the office kitchen produces a smug smile.

But after a while – maybe it’s a few weeks, maybe even a few months – there’s a temptation that feels like a magnetic pull, irresistible and o’ so delicious.  “Just this once.”

But it’s like a dam has broken, and suddenly just once becomes another time.  And another.

“I’ve already blown it, I might as well enjoy this treat,” becomes a new motto.

The pounds fly back on, sometimes even more weight than the diet shed.  Demoralizing, shaming, and blaming self-talk follows.  “What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I ever stick to anything that’s healthy?  I’m a failure.  Again.”

If you see yourself in this scenario, you’re like 95% of people who have dieted.  95%!  Let’s go back to Judith Matz, who says,

Dieting is a $60 billion industry.  Consumers are blamed for the failure of diets, but the truth is that diets fail people.

In fact, dieting can be pinpointed as one of the culprits that actually cause weight gain.

Our bodies are biologically programmed to hold on to fat.  Think back to the hunter-gatherer era when famines were very real possibilities.  When we diet in the current day, our bodies can’t know that we’re striving to slim down.  When we cut our calories, we’re hard wired to metabolically shift to survival mode as if we were in famine.  And when we inevitably return to eating at a higher caloric level, our bodies pack it on as fat, rather than the muscle that was originally lost.  And fat doesn’t process calories as efficient as muscle does so up goes the weight.

Weight cycling, going down and then going up again, raises the set point at which our bodies settle.  And no one knows how to make the set point go back down.  With dieting, it just keeps climbing.

So what’s the solution? Intuitive eating (also called attuned eating or mindful eating) connects us back to the wisdom of our bodies.  The starting place is to learn what hunger feels like in your body.  The glaring signs, like a growling stomach or becoming crabby or feeling light headed, can be a sign that your hunger has gone too far and your decision-making skills are impaired.  What are the subtle signs of physical hunger for you?  An inkling in your stomach? A shadow across your mental focus? A dip in your energy level?

Once you identify your physical hunger cues, you use them as a decision maker for when you eat.  Yes, there are many external cues that will interfere such as shared meals, work and school schedules, routines and expectations.  And when you honor your hunger by waiting to eat in response to it, you put yourself on the road to a fundamental shift, one that uses internal signals to guide you.

Your body has innate wisdom.  We can’t remember our own early years, when as babies we cried to signal hunger and then caring adults fed us on demand, but that internal mechanism worked for all of us at one time.  Honor yourself by returning to this form of eating so that you can return to your natural body weight.

Allow yourself to embark on this journey with compassion rather than perfection.  This is not another diet.  It’s not another set of external rules.  It’s a way of returning to yourself and rebuilding trust in yourself.

There are several other components of the attuned eating model, which we’ll examine in future posts.  But this beginning step, eating in response to your own physical hunger, is the one that will begin the journey of breaking free of the diet-binge cycle.  This step signals the end of weight cycling.  And it trips you into a focus on your health rather on a number on the scale.  It begins the process of letting of self-blame for years of failing at diets because now your attention will be squarely on the behaviors that serve your health rather than inadvertently sabotage it.

There is hope.  You can live a different life, one that aligns with your body rather than fights it.

08
Sep
11

Tapestry

One of the things that I think the people in these stories did so well was find something that fit them.  Rather like going to a store and trying on clothes, they found (or created) an eating program that really worked for them.

Marc David, who runs the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, says that one of our big myths around eating and weight loss is that “if it worked for her, it’ll work for me.”  When I went to one of his workshops a few years ago, he said that myth doesn’t even hold up for ourselves from day to day.  We are dynamic beings, and our metabolism changes daily, so what works for us one day doesn’t necessarily work for us the next.

Rather than be discouraged by this idea, I think there’s some fundamental insight that’s worth harvesting in it.  If we can be deeply connected to ourselves, it almost doesn’t matter what we’re doing as long as we’re (as Geneen Roth says) acting on our behalf.

That’s one of my strongest insights from this blog:  the energy that these people used to approach their food was more important than the structure that they used.  If they approached their eating program with compassion and dignity, that’s what they got back.  If they used a factual, scientific approach, that’s what was delivered to them.

Midway through my interviews, my friend Annie got serious with me one day when I was freaking out about whether sugar is addictive or not.  She got real quiet and then in a warm, compassionate voice, she said to me, “Maggie, when you are ready, you KNOW what to do.”  And that’s true for everyone.  We know, deeply, how to change our weight.  It’s a matter of applying what we already know.

The essential question now is, “What is the energy that we want to use in creating our approach to food?”

To me, that’s the defining variable.  Much more than which approach people take.

Brad said, “What works for me won’t necessarily work for the next person.”

Lorrie said, “): I’m an INFP [in the Myers-Briggs typing] so a formal structure like Weight Watchers doesn’t appeal to me
at all.”

There’s no secret answer here in this blog.  There are wonderful stories from ordinary and amazing people.  People who made a decision, either when they couldn’t tie their own shoes at their shoe store or when they looked retirement in the face or when they just decided that they would create the day that they waited for all their lives.

They made a decision, they adapted or created a program to suit their personal needs, and they got into action.

It really is that simple.

If you want it crystalized into a bulleted list, here you go:

  • use what you already know
  • look at the long term (think tortoise, not hare)
  • ask for help (who are your allies? who roots for you? access those people!)
  • live in action (remember the FA mantra that Carrie recited:  Thoughts are thoughts, and feelings are feelings, but actions are what really matter)
  • be kind to yourself (Lorrie gave me the phase “gentle self-talk,” and that’s worth keeping)

That’s it.  My last post on this blog.

Farewell.  Thanks for journeying with me!

10
Aug
11

Final Updates

I didn’t write to everyone whom I interviewed, and not everyone I wrote to responded to my query about what’s happened since we talked.  I’m so relieved that I’m doing this project outside the parameters of my graduate program — it’s a relief to just allow people to respond as they feel moved.

Carol, who worked through her chiropractor to find a solution to her weight, wrote back to me in response to my question about what she’s learned about food and weight since we talked:

I have learned that I like food and I missed some things that were not on my diet.  I have learned to eat more in moderation and to look at the labels on the packages and try to eat a “serving”size rather than the whole thing.  I think this has helped me to maintain the weight loss and to go back to some of the foods I was missing without feeling like I will put all the weight back on. I use some of my favorite foods as “treats” once a week or once a month so I still have them but not every day. (Like ice cream with chocolate syrup or chips and dip) I enjoy them more that way. I have continued to eat a larger amount of veggies than I had eaten before the diet and I like that too. I am trying new veggies now and then too like Brussels sprouts and Kale. Both I would eat but probably not buy myself.  I have learned to add olive oil to everything and sea salt. I have gained about 8 lb. back but I think I look good and I am still getting comments that make me feel good so I will keep it off.

I also asked Carol what she wanted to underline about her experience, and she wrote back:

I think I would encourage people to eat what they want, in moderation and in portion size. Keep all the new stuff that helps and add a few of the old favorites back in periodically.

Chris wrote to me as well when I sent her some questions.

I just love Jennifer’s attitude and journey….to me that’s absolutely it!!!   To me, that is what I aspire to…….learning to be that in sync with my body and know what she particularly needs/wants, what is going to help her feel good!  The Reset really helped me do that, but it’s even more than that.

Interestingly, many women I know have put on quite a bit of weight after doing the reset……..never all of it, I’m actually the only one I know who has stabilized where I ended up.  I think it’s because they do say in the “diet” you’ll be able to “eat what you want” after, which isn’t really true…………if you actually are tuned into what your body wants, yes, but if you are eating the way you ate before, no…………   Whereas someone who lost weight more consciously like thru Weight Watchers or what Jennifer is doing, would be more connected the whole way.

As my sister points out, I have totally changed my eating habits, I graze more instead of letting myself get hungry.  I don’t eat after dinner at all.  I eat what my body needs: protein/ veggies, fruit, and use a bit of carbs as the dessert…….

I am joining a gym to do yoga and Nia, and some machines.  This spring a guy rejected dating me because I wasn’t active enough…………I was pissed and disappointed, but understood.

But the thing I’ve found now is *I* DO want to be more active, I have always enjoyed moving and being in my body.   I haven’t been able to for so long, that I got to worry about whether it would set me back, exhaust me……..

But now I’m finding it just makes me happy.  So, I’m psyched!!

That’s it on the updates from people I’ve interviewed.  I’ll write a bit more about my own experience and wrap up in another post.

09
Aug
11

More Updates from the field

Here’s Part 2 of comments from people whom I’ve interviewed.

Carrie, who found radiance in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous wrote me in response to one of my questions, “What have you learned about food and weight since we talked?”:

In regards to weight. I have found a certain sweet spot with my weight. It feels so good, so right, so natural to be at; for me that is 111 pounds (far from the top weight I saw on the scale…220). I love that I can maintain  that weight within 1-2 pounds without any “effort” today. Being in a “right sized” body is one of the best feelings in the world. But it has not been the guarantee for a “good life” that I once thought it would be. I have realized being in a thin, healthy body is a gift on loan based on my spiritual fitness, I never take it for granted.

I am see how my life & food parallel’s many spiritual  principles. For example…that if I “keep my food simple”, my life stays more simple. I am learning  to let go of  drama, entitlement, and  attachment to  food (fat free, sugar free, gluten free, spicy foods, food allergies, name brand foods). This surrender and letting go… not only gives me freedom from food obsession, but it also frees up my life so that more spirit can come in. This is a truly mystical experience and the result is more peace and clarity then I can be present, productive and useful. Everyone benefits!!

I am still amazed, looking back, how much I was missing out on life by being trapped in the vicious cycle of trying to get the “food right”.  Today, I get to grow more and more into an abundant, spiritual and full life because my food is now in the right place.  It’s  fuel and therefore, life presents in technicolor and in ways I imagined and dreamed of but never saw the road and how I would be able to experience those dreams.

She also wrote a response to my question, “What about your own process do you want to underline in any wrap-up posts that I do?”

I continue to learn so much about my self and could speak/write volumes about this process. At this point, I owe great credit to my program FA, the people who have gone before me on this journey who are dedicated to service. And the power of the 12 steps. I love how simple a program it is and how much “surrender to win” works in my life today. That no matter what comes up in my life… ,overwhelm, joy, loneliness, sadness, fear, anger… all these things are true emotions that I can feel. I don’t have to eat to escape any of them. They are just feelings and will pass. I love the comfort of knowing this from my own experience and seeing how much presence and clarity I get since for today I am not struggling in the bondage of food obsession.

Lorrie, who taught me about gentle self-talk, wrote as well:

This spring has been crazy for me.  I had my gall bladder removed, and I’ve been having trouble with my feet which makes it hard to exercise.  That, in turn, makes it more difficult to keep my weight under control.  On the other hand, I just got some new T-shirts that are a size small (instead of M that I usually buy now and 1X when I was really heavy), so that is a good motivation for me.  The thing I keep telling myself is that weight control is a long-term project that will never be done, so just do the best I can every day.  I still weigh every day and keep my 125 pound limit in mind.  We went out to eat last night, so I’m up over that limit (salty food causing water weight gain of a couple of pounds).  I’ll work on my exercise and food more seriously this week, because I really don’t want to start on the weight-gain path.  Just a little attention every day – it’s easier for me that way.

It was fun to talk to you, and it helped me to think through what my goals and approaches to weight control really are.  Sometimes I think it is too easy to just let things happen rather than intentionally making decisions.  I get into trouble with my weight when I go the first route and do much better when I make conscious decisions about what it is I really want.

There are still a few more updates, so stay tuned.

08
Aug
11

Updates from the field

When I decided to wrap up this blog, I wrote to a few people whom I had interviewed and I asked for updates.  Now, several months have gone by since they originally sent their responses.  Still, I want to include what they’ve written because it feels important to me to tie up these threads of the tapestry that their stories have woven here.

Pat wrote to me about continuing to move ahead with her body releasing weight at its own comfort rate.  She has her own blog, and she directed me to a post she wrote called Moving on from Fat.

Janice, who shared her story about developing and recovering from bulimia in her 30s, wrote some thoughtful responses to some questions I sent:

I’ve thinking hard about how to respond to your thoughtful questions.  My knee-jerk response would be, “I am the last person whom you should ask!”  It’s been a tough year, especially the last few months.  EDs are such a process, which is really not what a perfectionist wants to hear or is in the least bit interested in pursuing!  Currently, I’m in the process of trying to lose (again) ~30 lbs, and what can I say?  When I last talked to you, it was ~10 lbs!  Things aren’t going in the right direction, needless to say, but all I can do is try.  It’s hard to get out of my own way sometimes.

If there is anything I’ve learned about food/weight speaking only for myself, it’s that I can never take my eye off the ball.  It really is my drug of choice, and left to my own devices, I will self-medicate.  At the same time, paradoxically (and troublingly), moving through/past an ED means learning not to obsess about these things (because that only leads to more ED-type behaviours, etc.).  It’s a real catch-22 at times and, thus, difficult.

In terms of my own process, what I’ve learned is that, it IS a process.  I’m not sure I know how to live this concept yet, but I know (intellectually) that is.  I just have to learn to integrate my emotions with my intellect.  And, on that note, perhaps the biggest thing one has to learn is … acceptance.  Accepting that one has an issue, a disorder, whatever.  That one has to grapple with it.  That it is what it is.  That it’s not going away.  That there are no ‘fixes’ only ongoing management.

Anne, who took a path of mindfulness and yoga, weaving in some of Geneen Roth’s teachings, wrote about some of her updates, too:

When we talked, my weight loss was relatively recent.  It has been about 9 months now of maintaining a 45 lb. weight loss.  I thought I was still in the midst of the weight loss when we talked.  I thought I’d continue to lose the 15 – 20 lbs. I have left to lose.  There have been moments when I’ve thought I would like to go on a diet to have this process be over but then I realized that being on a diet would only solve the weight problem and probably only solve it temporarily.

Those 45 lbs. I lost felt like a side-effect of the process of coming to inhabit my body in a more loving way and being open to my experience.  Being embodied and being open to the depth of my experience, rather than numbing myself with food, has been profoundly transformative.  My body has been transformed along with my soul and my psyche.  I realize there are still some issues that I am struggling with and that I have not been completely ready to give up overeating as my way of numbing out rather than feeling what arises in relation to those issues.  The overeating is obviously not with the frequency or volume of the past, as I’ve maintained the weight loss, but it just not completely gone either.  Its humbling.  I have moments when inquiry into the pull to overeat brings me to some of the most profoundly spiritual experiences I’ve ever had and in those moments I think about how overeating could have robbed me of the experience.  I think I’ll never want to overeat again and consciously, I don’t want to overeat.  But the very deep pattern of using food to numb myself is not an easy one to break.  I’m sticking with it, though.

I went on a retreat in March and came out of it with renewed energy to stay present, to remain close to myself.  I have been much more aware of the way that overeating is a way of abandoning my dear sweet self.  I feel the pain of the abandonment when I’ve overeaten.  Its Holy Week and Passover and so the images of moving from slavery into freedom, from death into resurrection, have had a particular poignancy in relation to my body and overeating and staying close to myself.  I’ve felt that this process around food and my body is leading me out of the slavery and deadly/deadening of being numb, being stuck in the pattern of overeating, the pattern of abandoning myself.  But I don’t exactly know what is next – there is a lot of unknown, a lot of dark open starry skies in the desert, times that feel somewhere between death and resurrection, loss and gain.

I’m going on the retreat with Geneen Roth in May.  Feeling excited and anxious all at the same time.

I’ve begun working with people around these issues of food and weight in my psychology practice.  I love this work and feel so passionate about it.  I’m hoping to expand further into the field.

There’s more that others wrote, but I want to pace out their responses because I’ve learned to keep blog posts short to match the time that most people allocate to them.  More soon.

20
Jun
11

Cindy: Weight Loss is an Inside Job

Over a year ago, Cindy read the first story that I posted on this blog, and she dramatically changed the way she lives and eats.  Cindy’s story is the last one that I’ll publish on this blog.  I have some more posts that tie up the threads that run through the stories, but there’s a beautiful symmetry in including Cindy’s story as the last one on this blog.  With gratitude to Cindy for sharing her story here, M.G.

“Many years ago, I heard that people could become addicted to carbohydrates,” recalls Cindy.  “At the time, I had to look up the meaning of the word ‘carbohydrates.’ I didn’t know what it was.  I sat with the idea for a while, but I bet it was 10 years that I was addicted to carbs before I got into action to change it.”

Cindy before she released her weight.

Cindy used countless weight loss programs: Weight Watchers, Atkins, Body for Life, Nutrisystem.  “Pretty much everything that was commercially available, I tried.  I never tried a cleanse, and thankfully, I never got into bingeing, or purging,” says Cindy.  “I did try exercise.  I did three triathlons, and three or four bike tours.  I walked a bijillion miles, but it never worked.  I began to realize that weight loss for me would be a combination of food and exercise.”

“Then I read the first story on your blog about Lee’s experience with Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, and I thought, ‘This is what I need.’”

Cindy immediately went online and found a meeting near her home.  “I’d never heard of FA before.  I’d heard of OA but not FA.  I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a whirl.  I was the highest weight I’d been outside of pregnancy, 186 pounds.  I was miserable, starting to wear size 18 clothes.  I felt lousy.”

Cindy, now 62, was in a relationship ten years ago that had a long-term effect.   “One of the reasons the relationship ended was he blamed me because I was overweight and no longer attractive.  I took that really hard and carried it with me for  a long time.”

After that first meeting, Cindy went to three FA meetings each week.  She was impressed with the women who spoke at meetings.  “You had to be abstinent of flour and sugar for 90 days before could speak at a meeting.  There were women who had lost 20-50 pounds in 30 days, gone on to lose 100s of pounds.  They had powerful stories, and what I started to hear was that finding support, not just following a diet, but having someone who walked the walk and would hold your hand the whole way. There was accountability AND support.  It was a room full of success stories. “

Cindy called her FA sponsor every day and committed her food for the day.  She also gave herself 30 minutes of quiet time each morning.  This meant getting up at 6 am, and for someone who is not a morning person, it was an entirely new habit. 

Cindy’s food plan, which she still keeps to this day, was yogurt, fruit and fiber in the morning, and for lunch and dinner a protein, hot vegetables, and a salad.  She weighed and measured every single bite, and she agreed to eat nothing between meals.

“I did really well,” Cindy says.  “The weight came off quickly.  I was really motivated.  I lost 15 pounds in the first month.  Within four and a half months, I had lost 45 pounds. ”  

“I was determined.  Through the process, I began to see that I needed the support.  I needed the accountability and the camaraderie of the others in the program who had lost weight and kept it off.  I needed the community of success.”

After two months, Cindy’s sponsor suggested that she take a 12-step class, which was a year-long commitment to a one-hour weekly phone call working a 12 step program.  Cindy went to sign up for the class, and she was surprised to find out that she couldn’t participate because she was taking an anti-depressant. 

“I was devastated.  I got really angry,” she remembers.  “They told me I had to wait and join a nontraditional group.  I heard about others who were in my situation, and while I recognized that no weight loss program – no matter how effective – had any business what went on between me and my doctor, others had more difficult outcomes.”

Cindy started the nontraditional 12-step class, and she was joined by over 125 people on the first few calls.  “They took roll at the beginning, and if you missed more than two weeks in a row, you were out, no questions asked.”

“I’ve always been a good student, and I didn’t want to fail or get thrown out,” Cindy says.  “But I started having trouble with the second step, which says I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.  As someone who is trained in the mental health field, I had rarely labeled anyone insane, let alone myself.  I really began to question the rigidity of the program.”

One of the areas where Cindy felt the rigidity most was with her work travel.  “I had to pack all my own food, food scale and measuring tools and it was really cumbersome.”

“The rules seemed to get more rigid,” Cindy remembers.  “I understood the value of that structure in the beginning, but they never let up.”

“I knew I needed and wanted something like this program, so I visited an OA meeting.  I found it was much more amenable to my needs.  It gave me the community that I sought inside of a 12-step program, but without the rigidness.”   

“OA became the community for me.  I see FA as the treatment center portion of my journey, but FA didn’t seem to want people out of the treatment center.”

A recent photo of Cindy.

Cindy is now more relaxed in the maintenance phase of her journey.  She calls her OA sponsor on weekdays, and if she has a conflict, she skips the call.  She calls at 7 am now instead of the 6 am FA call to her sponsor.  She still reads daily, For Today, which is an OA book, but she also draws from other inspirational books.  She also sits in meditation for about 20 minutes, write for 10 minutes, and gets on her treadmill for 30 minutes each morning.

Cindy still weighs and measures her food, although when she goes to friends’ homes for lunch or dinner, she doesn’t bring her scale.  Her food plan of today differs very little from her original FA program:

  • Breakfast is 8 ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt, 6 ounces of fruit (usually berries), one ounce of oatmeal or Fiber One or a high fiber grain, and coffee
  • Lunch is 4 ounces of protein, 6 ounces of hot vegetable, and a 6 ounce salad
  • Dinner is a repeat of lunch’s menu.

Naming her emotions is helpful to Cindy.  She uses the HALT acronym often.  HALT=Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.  “I would add S to that acronym for stress.  Feeling lonely or experiencing stress are big triggers for me to eat.  I carry a journal around in my purse, and when I want to eat, I tell myself that I have to write three pages in my book, and if I still want the food when I’m done, I’ll let myself have it.  I’ve never eaten after writing.”

“I have had a couple of breaks, when I eat food that’s not on my plan, but I’ve realized that food doesn’t solve the problem and that I feel worse afterwards.  I generally turn to my journal because it’s more than just eating the food.  I also tell my sponsor when it happens.  Losing weight is an inside job, it just shows up on the outside.  That’s a new learning for me.  It’s what’s in your head, not necessarily what you put in your body.  It’s what goes on in your head and that shows up on your body.”

“For me, coming from a sexually abusive background, I used fat to protect myself.  I used it as a shield so people wouldn’t get close to me, and it worked for a while.  It worked ‘til it didn’t work anymore, and then it felt terrible, and that’s when the yoyo dieting began.  It began after the birth of my second son 30 years ago.  At that point, I shared my story, and that’s when I started putting the weight on. So, for me, losing the weight has also been a continued part of my own recovery from sexual abuse.”

“I did the triathlons to reclaim my body as my own.  No one was ever going to hurt me again.  It was almost another decade before I realized that my own self sabotage with the food was hurting me, and I’ve done the healing around that piece as well.  I don’t have to hide anymore, and I don’t want to.”

“I used to say I was the mighty oak, now I’m the willow or the aspen.  I can bend with the wind, I can bend where things changes, it’s the flexibility, the strength of being really grounded of being who I am and how I want to show up in the world.  Now I move in the world in a way that is flexible.”

“In my career it was easy to me to be the voice for those whose voices had been taken.  I’ve spent my entire working life in human service organizations.  Give me your hungry, your lonely… it was easy to be in that role. I could meet my need to help others in my work, but it’s taken me the journey to look at my own eating and my own body to find a voice for myself.”

When people ask Cindy for advice about weight loss, she says, “Put only good food in your house. Don’t bring the junk into your house.  You’re going to get plenty of it elsewhere.” 

When the subject of the scale comes up, Cindy says, “I still only weigh myself once every month.  It sends me into a downward spiral if I do it more often.  I would get so despondent over a number that I thought, ‘Why do this to myself? Forget that!’  The scale that weighed my body was not my friend.  The scale that I used to weigh my food was my friend.  I used to have so much judgment, self criticism and self flagellation when that number wasn’t what I wanted it to be.”

“I want to keep wearing my size 6 and 8 clothes.  I got rid of all the clothes that were in the bigger sizes, my intention is never, ever to have to wear those sizes again.”

Cindy has replaced her entire wardrobe.  “I didn’t have to buy new socks, but I bought new underwear, bras, I even dropped a shoe size.  I have one size of clothes in my closet now, and it’s actually fun to go clothes shopping.

After losing a total of 47 pounds, Cindy notes, “I’ve got so much more energy, I’m willing to try new things.  I sleep better, and I don’t have heartburn anymore.  I don’t use sleep aids any longer, my insomnia is gone, and I don’t wake up in a fog in the morn.  My alarm goes off, I have a good stretch, and I’m up, and I want to be up!

“Someone called me recently and asked me to be her sponsor.  ‘I watched you get thinner and thinner, and I want what you have,’ she said. ‘And I’ve watched you smile, you smile so much more.’  That’s because I’m happy.”

“It’s been a great journey, and I’m liking where my life is now.  I’m not going back.  My goal is to go to my grave weighing 140 pounds.”

After we corresponded to finalize this blog post, Cindy asked me to include this paragraph as an addendum:  I’ve discovered that it is true, “I am what I eat.”  If I’m eating junk, there’s some junk going on somewhere in my life.  If I continue to eat junk, I’ll continue to have junk going on in my life.  For me, it’s the strongest clue that there is something I need to look at more closely.  Just recently I noticed I was wanting to eat sweets – they were screaming my name.  The upshot was that I wasn’t taking time for me.  My life had become so full (with all good stuff), but I’d forgotten about taking time just for me.  Once I added my me time, the screaming became more of a whisper that I could ignore.  This was a major breakthrough for me.  Hope it helps someone else along the way. 




A yummy blend of story, politics, and personal philosophy.

This blog is not currently active, but it's got some extraordinary content so I keep it going with a very occasional post. It's a series of stories from people who have successfully let go of 40 or more pounds using lots of different approaches. The stories are all here along with my editorials about the threads that run between them (click on the Stories and Tapestry tabs). Enjoy!

Margaret Graham, NCC, CPCC

Photo of Maggie Graham

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