Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taking the road less travelled

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can;and wisdom to know the difference.

I'm not at all a religious person these days, though I was brought up to be one to an extent, but I have always felt that the above saying, cliched though it might be through overuse, is an extremely wise one. And after I saw Dr Nutcase today, it popped into my head, so it obviously had quite some associations for me in view of what we talked about. And I've only just got home now (I caught the bus and did over 7km of extra walking), but I feel it's really important to blog this out now.

I had a feeling she was going to tell me what she did tell me today, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. Well, more accurately, she only told me what I knew myself to be true. It's no secret to anybody that I've been feeling absolutely over it with regards to my weight loss and health. I'm as far off the track as I've been in absolutely ages. Not only have I fallen off the proverbial wagon, it's run over me several times and flattened me. And I've been asking myself why this is happening to me, of all people. Haven't I always said it was good my weight loss had taken a long time because it's enabled me to learn better habits, to start to undo around 40 years of bad thinking and a poor relationship with food? And yet lately, the last couple of months, it's been as though I know nothing about this stuff, like all the good I've done has been for nothing because I just haven't really, really learned a thing. This has been causing me great distress because I have felt so out of control again and I absolutely hate it, but I've equally been feeling quite powerless to stop it, like it's not me doing it.

And this is where the Serenity Prayer comes in - I need to learn acceptance. All this stuff I've been saying lately about not being the slightest bit interested in counting calories or weighing food, etc, lately? It's really a bit of a smokescreen. Truth is, I've just been really unhappy about lots of stuff in my life and have consquently rebelled against all forms of discipline in my life, and eating was the first one to go, really, because even though I'm not exercising quite as much, I still AM exercising. The shrink put it really well. In our mind there are sort of thought tracks. There are some that are like a huge, big freeway, perfectly surfaced, easy to drive on, easy to find. In my case, this is the destructive eating thought track (and probably used to be the gambling thought track). Then there's tracks that are like a dirt track up a mountainous road, full of rocks and not at all easy to find or drive on. In my case, this is pretty much any thought track that involves being kind to myself, being disciplined, being moderate and not extreme, etc. The thing is, I know the "easy" though track totally sucks. I know it does. Yet still, at times of stress it's where my brain always seems to want to go. And I have to acknowledge just how stressful the last nine months have been, and I think I'm only just starting to realise it now. It's almost like a delayed shock set in sometime after Christmas and all this has been the result of it. As she put it, though, the only way to make the goat track into a well-worn pathway is to use it more often until it gradually becomes wider and less impassable. And, yes, this is going to need work. I'm going to have to try. And I'm going to have to accept above all else, no matter how much I've been saying I hate the calorie-counting, discipline bit lately and I don't want to do it, that I want to be normal with food, the fact is that my relationship with food is a challenge - note, not a problem, but a challenge - and for this reason I need to apply the same discipline that has gotten me this far. Wishing I could have, overnight, a good, functional relationship with food is like wishing I had been born with raven black, wavy hair or that I was 6'1" tall. I just don't, and I'm not going to after nearly 40 years of fighting with it and obsessing about it. It just is. It's how things are with me. And I need to be OK with that, because in acceptance is peace. One thing is for sure - the "payoffs" from wholesale eating whatever crap I like whenever I feel like it are pretty bloody poor. I may get a smidgin of comfort or good feeling out of it that lasts 30 minutes, but really, it's not worth the overwhelming feeling of dread, despair and self-hatred that inevitably follows. It really isn't.

So here I am, dear blog, reporting that I'm ready to commit to disciplined, mindful eating. That's as much as I'm promising, because I refuse to put pressure on myself. I'm also committing to trying harder to distract myself away from binge behaviour using all the strategies I know (having a bath, calling a friend, painting my toenails, etc). I can do this. I CAN. I know I can.

And to finish, more words from a mind far wiser than mine - Robert Frost.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.