Circling Back Around …

merry-go-roundThe expression, “circling back around … ” annoys the hell out of me, but it’s crazily appropriate for today’s blog entry.

In yesterday’s comments on my “Health Halo” entry, I concluded that my weight loss journey (which began nearly five years ago and, incidentally, led to the creation of my disordered eating behaviors) has followed a learning curve of sorts over the years …

Interestingly, it’s kind of turned out to be far more circular than I’d have ever imagined.

And so today, I wanted to take a poll to see if anyone else (disordered eater, dieter, weight loss expert, nutrition-fiend, average Joanna) feels the similarly about how they’re journey has played out.

I break my experience with weight loss into three phases.

First, we begin a weight loss program and, in that new phase where we’re learning, often want to eat what we always ate … and find ways to “fit it in.” (budgeting for the french fries if that’s our thing; for pizza if that’s our thing; chocolate). In the beginning, I’d save 12 points on a Friday for a Potbelly’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. (Yes, they were worth it).

Then we learn to find substitutions for the real deal so we don’t feel “deprived”, such as baked chips, English muffin pizzas, sugar-free chocolate pudding. My obsession with Thomas Sweets fat-free frozen yogurt, for example. (If you don’t know it, there’s two: one in Princeton, one in Georgetown. A-ma-zing).

And some of those substitutions find a happy home on our weekly menu plans. Let’s be real: I’ll always love my Thomas’ Light pizzas with tomato, mozz., Italian herbs and 2 tsp. EVOO. Delish!

But often, we reach this level of “enlightenment” and realize those substitutions aren’t so great. We’re not satisfied with a little, and end up eating extra just to feel sated or, worse, eat the FF/SF crap plus something else. The substitutions become truly not “point-worthy.”

At this point, we often go back to the real stuff — in smaller portions. Imagine that?! Real food, just smaller portions.

In a way, this was my journey from Flex to Core and back around again. Now on Flex, I eat much healthier, and for the most part, make better, more filling and nutritionally-dense choices.

Of course, I’m not perfect; no one is. Yesterday, for instance, I ended up noshing on dark-chocolate raisins I’d picked up at the grocery store on my way back to the office at lunch, and therefore had to skip my soup at lunch (I still had the turkey, veggies and an apple I’d broght) so I could keep to the rest of the day’s food plan.

I really feel like my journey took on a circular curve because in a way, I’m back to where I started … I’m just smaller and wiser.

But I will say this: I envy the people who are all about quality of their food; I want to be like them.

If I cared more about quality … then maybe then I wouldn’t chew-and-spit, or deny myself things I want to try.

True, I’m getting better at both of these things, and bi-monthly therapy sessions are helping me understand myself and my hardware, where I’m learning to sift through many thoughts, fears and anxieties … but it’s not like we wave a magic wand and suddenly we’re healed. (As my dad says, “If wishes were horses, a horse rancher I’d be!”).

Which brings me to the latest gossip dominating the Weight Watchers message boards.

Everyone’s talking about Weight Watchers’ Momentum plan (initiated in Canada) and questioning if that’s Weight Watchers’ new plan.

I have no idea if it is, but having read up on it, I really like the concept if that’s what they go with. To me, it makes sense: learning to make the best choices. The most point-worthy choices. The best quality choices.

It seems logical: quality over quantity. And, for anyone struggling with eating issues, it seems to me that this outlook would be really beneficial as we heal. I know that for many people with EDs, they argue “it’s not about the food; it’s about control.” And I won’t argue with that; I can’t speak for anyone but myself.

But for those of us for whom disordered eating behaviors were a consequence of dieting … if we can see food as fuel, as nutrition, as energy … if we don’t stigmatize it, don’t use it as a control mechanism (overeating, undereating, eating without dignity), I have to believe we’ll be better off in the long run.

Circling back around … We all know December is possibly the toughest month for anyone trying to 1) lose weight and/or 2) manage an eating disorder/disordered eating. Food and festitivies are literally everywhere, challenges abound.

But we can get through this one, and the next one … especially if we keep the quality of our choices in mind (and if we keep up our fitness routines!).

I have faith in all of us.

How about you? What has your journey looked like, and how has it changed pre-ED or post-ED?

10 thoughts on “Circling Back Around …

  1. I totally agree with quality over quantity… I’ve been working on that in my own life.
    I think I said this before, but I used to eat a BOX of prepared ff/sf chocolate pudding… now, i’d much rather have a square of good dark chocolate.

  2. Anorexia nervosa and athletica are my EDs. Started when I was in the ninth grade and peaked two years ago when I was a freshman in college.

    Fortunately, I’ve pulled myself out of that hole and I’m healthier than I’ve ever been before. Physically.

    I don’t know that my mentality has come full circle– I ate whatever I wanted when I was younger, and was always a twig because what I wanted was never much. Then the restriction began… although the foods I was eating were healthy, I wasn’t eating enough of them for that to matter.

    Now, I eat 95% whole foods, I’m a strict vegetarian (for moral purposes), BUT I do make sure to eat enough, and treat myself. And when I treat myself, I pick the most satisfying option, calories aside.

    Quality is much, much more satisfying than quantity, in the long run.

  3. This is something I can’t do… :/

    I prefer quantity over quality. If I have the choice of eating 400 calories of home fries backed in the oven or 400 calories of rice crisps, i’ll take the rice crisps for sure, because I know I can eat a lot more of them. And I always take fat-free or low calories food because I can eat more of them. I know it’s not right, because by doing so, I don’t eat “real food” and I don’t experience the true feeling of being full by real food. But since i’ve been anorexic, I have a big fear of eating real food. I wont eat a steak, but can eat a whole fresh load of bread with light cheese without any regrets, even if its more calories than the steak. It doesn’t make any sense and my bf often tells me to eat better, but I feel better this way. It satisfies my needs and what i crave for, so as long as I eat and feel satisfied, this is all I need.

    And I often had the feeling of circling back in the last 10 years. I can eat real food for 2 weeks, and then, all of sudden, i can’t and go back to my old habits. I’ve made progress of course through the years, but it’s a perpetual fight.

  4. So true, Mara!

    Maria and Nikita – I never experienced anorexia but I imagine it might take longer to feel that “full circle” as most often, it’s not about the food. Thank you for being so honest, though. Maria, that’s great you eat whole foods and treat yourself, too!

    Nikita, keep trying! 🙂

  5. My disordered or semi-disordered eating has always involved overeating—usually sweets—and has been tightly bound up with my depression. Each has an effect on the other. Each time I chip away at one issue, I’m also in some way trying to chip away at the other. It’s always, always a learning process. I honestly don’t know how enlightened I am. I second-guess myself a LOT.

    Re: the new Weight Watchers plan. I’m definitely excited about it, but I’ll be *very* interested to see how they handle all the Weight Watchers “food products” they sell. Those bars and shakes aren’t even close to real, nourishing food. It will be extra hypocritical now if they keep selling that crap (which I am not 100% immune to, Lord knows) while talking about choosing filling, healthy, real-food choices.

  6. Pre-ED I ate WHATever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Good and bad; good because I ate only when I was hungry, bad because I only ate JUNK. 🙂 Post-ED I am really trying to only eat when hungry, but that is probably more difficult than what I am actually eating.

    The good news is that I AM eating healthier foods, and yet not always depriving myself of the ones I came to think of as “bad” (like PB! how could I not have PB?!). I hope all of those that struggle with EDs circle back around, too. 🙂

  7. Man, that is such a good point, Liz. I never bought their products anyway (just some Smart Ones for “emergency” meals over the years) but you’re so right — those things aren’t food. FRUITIES?! Hello. Glorified fruit snacks!

    It sounds to me that your awareness is quite enlightened, Liz!!

    Holly, I love to hear that you’ve incorporated PB!! As a kid I HATED PB. Three years ago, we had a love affair and I’ve never looked back. I do have to measure it veeeeeeeeeery carefully however 🙂 I hope everyone DOES circle back around, on their own time! We’re worth it.

  8. I can really relate to this post. I feel like I started the same way as you’ve described, finding the LOWEST calorie things to “fuel” my days of working out and dieting. I didn’t care so much about quality, just about the quantity I was eating. Now, I value food that make me feel good, and are good for my body. I have noticed lately though, that if I don’t think something is “good enough” or full of fiber or protein or whatever, I shy away. I’m working on decreasing that mentality a bit, because it keeps me from really enjoying what I’m eating sometimes, which is important, I think.

    Thank you for your ever-so thoughtful posts! Have a great Thursday!

  9. I am really struggling with holiday goodies in the office situation today. When i started my weight loss journey about four years ago, i’ve done well with choosing one thing a day at the office and savoring it. I wasn’t always so good at home by myself, but i always was in control at the office. But then today out of the blue i completely fell off the wagon and ate about 1000 calories worth of desserts this morning alone. I know it’s because this month is going to be very food-unpredictable with jury duty, parties, friends visiting, and i just felt so out of control. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s just one month and i can get back in track on Janauray, but i am just so scared that if i let go even a little i’m going to completely backslide into my old unhealthy eating behaviors. So back to your point – i tried to choose quality (sugary desserts i might otherwise deny myself), but I didn’t eat it with dignity and instead hid in the office kitchen and tried to eat as much as possible before the next person came in. I guess this December i need to cut myself some slack because there is no possible way i’m going to be able to eat the way i want so i might as well eat a treat when i want to and hope this staves off a binge later in the day. I am just not having a good day so i needed to vent – thanks for this site and showing me that there are other people out there who go through these same struggles because at this moment i just feel very disconnected.

  10. Awesome progress, Jenn!

    CS — it seems like you still made some progress there, choosing quality! Maybe have a treat every other day, or a taste of something. Full-out deprivation rarely works. Def. cut yourself some slack!! We’re here for you 🙂

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