Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love your body. Love yourself. (Part 2)

I've been taking the last few days to think about where I want to go with this entry, but I just haven't quite figured it out. I also wanted to give you, the reader, plenty of time to contemplate some of things I mentioned. I may revisit some of my original thoughts; I may not. I apologize in advance for (probably) the numerous random tangents I will be making.

Have you been thinking about my favorite quote while I was away? I hope so. Here it is again, just incase you forgot. "When I love myself as I am, I see that I am beautiful."

Physically, my body is scarred. Very visibly, too. Every finger has at least one scar, which is the most obvious reason why I shouldn't be allowed around sharp objects (scissors, knives, pokey sticks...). I have a 6-inch scar going up my arm and over my elbow from surgery. I have a 3-inch scar across my neck, just above the collarbone, where I had a softball size hole in my neck left open for 2 months. I have a franken-hand where they removed a cyst in my palm. There's a small burn mark on my left forearm from one of my many mishaps with the oven. I have a tiny chicken pox scar on my ribs. Above my lip are two scars you can only see when my face is red or sunburned - one is from falling off the bed when I was little (I like to thrash around in my sleep); the other is from when I attempted to be cool and balance on a wooden beam. Needless to say, I failed miserably and smashed my face in the process.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I still love my body despite all its incredibly visible imperfections. These marks are part of my beauty. They tell a story - one that is unique only to me - and shape a part of who I am today. I can't get rid of these scars, so why despise the part of me others see? (Do you see where I'm going with this?)

Allow me to digress for just a minute or two... I had an appointment last week with a new diabetes doctor. It went amazingly wonderful. I can't ever recall having an appointment where I was actually sad to leave the office. She was so nice to me, incredibly understanding, and overwhelmingly supportive. I made several positive changes to my life in the last 3 months since I had visited the office. I was nervous about going because it was a new doctor but excited at the same time because I knew I had improved so much.

What are these changes I decided to make? Well, they were quite simple actually... I finally made the choice to respect my body. My body is a workhorse perfectly in-tune with itself. It tells me what it needs, when it needs it, and how much it wants. When I FINALLY realized this, everything else just fell into place.

I lost over 17 lbs. Was I trying? No. One of the components of Competent Eating (http://www.ellynsatter.com) is truly paying attention to your body. Eat when you are hungry. Consume the foods you are hungry for in satisfying amounts. Stop eating when you are full. When I allowed my brain and stomach to communicate properly with each other, I realized I was consuming just what my body needed - no more, no less. When we allow ourselves to pay attention to our needs, we intuitively know how much is enough.

Because I respect my body, I also began exercising. But I wasn't exercising because I wanted to lose weight or buff up or run a marathon. I did it simply because I wanted to. I thoroughly enjoy bike riding. So I got my bicycle out of the storage unit and began re-exploring the city I grew up in via the bike trails. It was marvelous. Some days I picked a trail and just pedaled my legs as fast as I could until everything burned and my lungs were near exploding; other days, I slowly meandered through the city without any real destination in mind. I rode until I got tired, then I turned around and went home. Exercise was fun because it wasn't forced, I enjoyed it, and it was something I wanted to do. No one will ever stick with a plan they hate. <-- Remember that.

I feel the same way about cauliflower.
I have the same things to say about food and dieting. Think about the basic plan of most diets: eat foods you hate in large quantities and throw every food you love in the garbage because it's going to kill you. NEVER INDULGE IN ANYTHING OTHER THAN CELERY STICKS AND FROZEN GRAPES. For dessert, have a nice spinach salad and splurge with an extra teardrop of fat-free salad dressing. Sound familiar? Sound like something you hate and stuck with for about three days before you got really hungry and threw it out the window? Yeah, we've all been there. Many times. The reason conventional diets don't work is because the expectations are unrealistic. If I hate cauliflower, I'm not going to start incorporating it into every meal. If I really love mashed potatoes, I'm going to enjoy them more than once a year, and probably a lot more than half a spoonful at a time.

When it comes to both Competent and Intuitive Eating, they tell you to eat the foods you like. Eat enough of those foods so you feel satisfied, and don't feel guilty for enjoying them. However, they also have a few other tidbits of advice: be adventurous with foods. Try something new; explore a different cooking method; have a variety of foods available so you know there's something for everyone. Basically, don't get stuck in a food (or exercise) rut. Once it stops being enjoyable, it's probably time to spice things up a bit (ha! Food humor).

Look familiar?
Something else we, as a society, have a HUGE problem with - distractions. We can never do just one thing at a time. We MUST multitask. If we aren't, we're being completely unproductive. Think about this for a moment: what is the worst that is going to happen if you take 15 minutes to enjoy a meal? Eating while distracted is the biggest way to overindulge. Ever sit in front of the TV with a bag of snacks and suddenly realize the bag is empty? You were distracted - unaware of how much you were consuming. Turn off the TV. Sit the family down at the table. Eat. Take the time to just eat. The world will not end. Just eat.

Another beautiful thing about Competent Eating? I've found there's usually lots of leftovers, meaning I can thoroughly enjoy that delicious meal I cooked for myself a couple more times. Something to look forward to! I'm not a part of the clean plate club. If I'm not hungry for all that food, why should I eat it all? Even if it's delicious, saving my leftovers means I can enjoy deliciousness again. Yay!

Our culture is very much centered around food and drink. Every get-together or celebration involves food. First dates: dinner and a movie. Going out with friends: pizza and drinks. Seeing a movie: snacks and soda. Birthdays, weddings, graduations, baby showers, funerals... the list goes on and on. Why? Eating is something we can share and do together. I can think of many other things we can also share and do together... we can talk, go for walks, enjoy a book club, laugh at a coffee shop, laze about in the sun at a park, dance at a concert. Why does food HAVE to be involved? I challenge you to say it doesn't. If I'm not hungry anyway, why should I feel forced to eat at every gathering I attend? Being that I have Celiac Disease, there are a lot of foods I can't eat. At first when I went to get-togethers, it was awkward for me. Soon, I began to realize I really wasn't attending these things for the food anyway. I was there for the company and socialization. Food was just there - another thing to do. I finally realized I don't have to participate just because it's available.

That was a very freeing moment.

Now that I've gone in 75 different directions and gave you so many things to think about your head is spinning, let me just say a couple more things... Competent and Intuitive Eating are ways to positively change your life and improve your relationship with food. We all realize the act of eating is just not fulfilling a physical need, but a psychological one as well. These strategies will guide you to once again trust your body, respect your body, and learn to love it just the way it is. Being healthy isn't about being thin - it's about respecting your body enough to care for it and treat it well. Whatever positive outcomes come about because you practice Competent and/or Intuitive Eating are just one more bonus. :o)

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." ~Confuscius


  1. I LOVE THIS POST! You word things so well.

    Funny, I didn't notice any of the things you mentioned when I met you... and you probably didn't notice the burn marks I have on my arm, either. It's all part of the package, and I like me, so I'm okay with it.

    P.S. Robert Pattenson's face made me laugh. Thank you.

  2. This has given me a lot to think about. Scary nervous...

  3. Amazing! Thanks for sharing!