Learning Mindfulness With Food

This post is a follow on my last ramblings about weight loss, hypnotherapy, my relationship with food and the diet mentality. I'm going to be honest, I'm way past focussing on weight loss now and onto a whole new path, which is exciting and new. Ready for a new ramble? Get comfy and read on.

February ticked over as easily as January did. I was getting on fine with the hypnosis and being mindful. By the end I’d lost another couple of pounds but something had bothered me all month … I was yet to get started on the one goal I’d set my mind to this year:  sorting out my eating situation once and for all. I'd promised myself at the start of the year I'd deal with this during March. Happy birthday to me! 

Diet Mentality

In brief, I’m a serial dieter. Despite no longer following a specific diet plan I remain a serial dieter in remission because I've been on a diet for 15 YEARS. Even up until recently I still counted calories religiously, as much as this is hardly an inconvenience due to having an app on a phone that does it all for you, I don’t want to be chained to that for life. Seeing every bit of beautiful food as a number? Do not like.

Counting Calories The Count

So, March rolled around, I finally bought the book I’d promised myself 5 years ago (when I initially wanted to get rid of the diet mentality) and threw myself into Intuitive Eating. 

Intuitive Eating

I'd had a brief exploration into Intuitive Eating in October 2010, where I tried to do it for a month. I really struggled. I'd just come off Weight Watchers for the first time in a decade and I couldn't cope without their Points system (which annoyed me so much; it's just bloody numbers, why couldn't I let go?). At the end of that month I felt out of control and went running back to Weight Watchers, they had got me good (if any of that drama interests you, you can find those posts on my Food & Fitness blog under the Intuitive Eating tag).

I make no argument here; eating intuitively is hard for me. Really, really hard. It triggered anxiety that I'd never had before because I had to relinquish all the power I'd given to numbers. It scared the shit out of me and I still had to calorie count even when I wasn't supposed to just to make myself calm down. I made a great mistake of letting my hypnosis slide and by the end of the month there’d been no change in my weight. I didn't mind not losing weight because I'd pushed myself right out of my comfort zone to make the changes that I needed to make. What does one big scary push deserve? That's right, another. 

In April I downloaded some apps to my new phone. I’m making a point of saying I changed phones here because I lost my hypnosis track, my phone wouldn't sync to iTunes and therefore I was stuck. I did a bit of research for something new and found these two apps from EasyLoss

Easyloss VGB Bikini Body App Review
Bottom two apps - Apple and Bikini. You can scowl at iTunes for me if you wish. 

With my Intuitive Eating on the go, I thought some new hypnosis might help. These apps also come with some eating guidelines to follow, which for all intents and purposes are Intuitive Eating: 

  • Eat what you want, not what you can (so nothing is forbidden)
  • Eat whenever you are physically hungry, every time you are physically hungry but only when you are physically hungry (having a glass of water and a think before putting something in your mouth helps)
  • Eat slowly (I've been working on this since January and I'm so good at this now! Food actually goes cold on my plate before I finish it)
  • As soon as you think you are no longer hungry, stop eating (not as soon as you're full, as soon as you are not hungry anymore)

So, off I went. 

I love these apps. Oh I love them. The hypnosis is incredible. It’s very relaxing (I listen to them at bedtime and they send me off to sleep within 10 minutes) and it’s very powerful (the Bikini app has a Sugar Addiction session on it which has successfully put me off most chocolate and biscuits for weeks now). After a really anxious March, where I felt very stressed about losing diet mentality this enabled me to completely kick it into the bin. Two weeks of this hypnosis and MyFitnessPal was deleted off my phone and calorie counting had officially ended for me. 

Hypno sleeeeeeeeeeps

Overall, it’s as simple as the guidelines indicate it is, the challenge is just having faith in it and your mind-body connection to get it all working. But it does work. How can it not? I think of myself as a good eater with a really balanced attitude towards food (there's never been good and bad food for me, just moderation) but before Christmas I was concerned about the quantities of food I was eating. Now I know I was eating too much as I can plate up a half-sized portion of my dinner and still feel full. 

In tandem with this, I've been doing lots of listening and lots of reading around the subject. My thought process being that the more I immerse myself in this new way of life, the more it will become natural (you know, like the way we all read fashion magazines and then feel awful about ourselves? Like that but positive). I discovered some brilliant podcasts by people who all advocate dumping the diet mentality: 

Easyloss, Mind Body Musings, Fearless Rebelle Radio, Rebooted Body

The EasyLoss one is produced by the same people who created the apps I’m using, so it's good for extra information about the apps and helping getting those mindful eating guidelines into your head, Maddy Moon describes herself as a former-fitness model turned sane (I love her, read her story on her website, I totally love her), Summer Innanen is all about rocking body positivity at every size and shape, and Kevin Geary advocates no calorie counting at all – all great things to fill my head with right now.

In addition I’ve been reading Maddy’s book, The Perfection Myth: 

The Perfection Myth

Which is such a positive book filled with great ideas to get you started on a better relationship with your mind and body as it is right now.

And, thanks to one of Maddy’s podcasts, I’ve just started reading Mindful Eating too: 

Mindful Eating

I've learned to be mindful in my every day life this year, so applying the same principals to eating seems like the next logical thing to do. It's also really satisfying! 

So, April finished with no calorie counting. No guilt. No shame. No bad days or cheat meals or food 'treats' – it was just me eating food when I needed to. You know what? I’ve never had such a quiet mind in my life! I dread to think how much brain power I have been using feeling stressed about food, thinking about it, planning menus - what a waste! I like getting up in the morning and deciding if I’m hungry and if not, I take some food to work. I take some lunch and eat it when I’m hungry, I’ll see if I feel like dinner that night or if a smaller snack will do. I’ll have a square of dark chocolate before bed and take so long to eat it that it feels like I’ve ingested a whole bar and feel satisfied and content. Typing this out is weird because I know that these are the normal processes people go through day to day when eating, I’ve been so disordered with rules since my early twenties that I need to reprogram my brain and put eating back to where it once was in me; as a natural act, not a reward, punishment, dictatorship or unruly child. 

I get it now. I'm learning every day and I'm a work in progress. I'm even a few more pounds down in weight for what feels like very little effort, just lots of mindfulness and a little focus. I never realised how psychological my relationship with food was until this last month but now I see that it's where the hurdles and power has been all this time - in my head.

And if we're doing the weight loss total thing, I've lost about 7lbs so far this year. It's slow progress. But the best thing about progress? It can slow right down, but it never stops. 
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