Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yumbly in my Tumbly

Back when I was still doing Weight Watchers – almost ten years ago now – I frequently read posts on the message boards for those who had 200 pounds or more to lose. I didn’t have nearly that much (I ended up losing 30 or so), but they had some fascinating stories and their trials and tribulations helped put many things in perspective for me.

One of the things people would occasionally post was how – for the first time in their lives – they felt hungry. Because they spent so much time always eating, they’d never let their bodies get to the point where hunger kicked in. It was a whole new way to relate to their bodies.

Several years later, Weight Watchers developed a program that could be done instead of their point-counting system. It was based more on whole foods and instead of counting points, you paid more attention to your hunger cues, eating before you became ravenous and stopping before you felt stuffed. People who needed the accountability preferred the points system, while those who needed a change or could control themselves through personal observation preferred the whole-foods system.

I know what hunger feels like. I’ve felt it, and I hate that feeling. I get anxious and desperate. I need food. NOW. And the longer I wait the more I’m going to stuff my face when I finally get to eat. If I get extremely hungry, I’ll get nauseous and it feels like my insides are eating themselves. The thing is, I don't continually eat so I never feel hunger. I feel it every day, it's the cue I use to know it's meal time. And yet, I hate it. 

You know what feeling I love? The feeling of fullness. Not quite that “I are way too much at Christmas Dinner” stuffed, but most definitely full. I’ll eat more than I probably should in order to feel it. General consensus is that you should stop eating before you actually feel full because by the time you feel full you’ve already eaten too much. It takes like 15 or 20 minutes for your brain to get the message.

What is it about this feeling of fullness? What is it that is so appealing to me? It’s a hug I can give myself when no one else wants to. It’s comforting. It’s a feeling like there isn’t some big whole in the center of me, empty and gaping. It means I am well cared for, even if only I am the one doing the caring. I enjoy eating, the tastes and textures and even feelings I get as I eat something yummy. I take great pleasure in the act and the sensations.

So then it becomes the great conundrum for me when I am continually frustrated by my weight. I want to lose 10 pounds, and yet being anything less than absolutely full throws me into a state of near panic. I. Must. Eat.

So these days I’m trying to work through my frustration. If I’m going to insist on eating to fullness, then I’m trying to eat whole foods, fruits, veggies and whole grains. I’m trying to exercise even though I’m burning calories left and right at work. It’s a baby step but if I’m going to have a healthy relationship with food – something I may well struggle with for the rest of my life – I’m going to need to work on this rather important issue.

Sigh. There’s always another issue to work on, isn’t there?

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