March 22, 2012

Weekly Update #1: Am I Training for Maintenance or Relapse?

Background: I am taking a break from active fasting/dieting and just practicing what my daily life will/would be if food were not a central issue/factor in my life. I still lack confidence about maintaining a good weight because of my history of yo-yo dieting and relapses of binge eating. The kick-off post of this series can be found here.

This is hard! I'm so deeply locked into fat-loss mode that just relaxing and eating--or not--actually feels dangerous and difficult.  And, since it seems to rattle my comfort zone, pretending to be in maintenance DOES seem to carry some risk but also seems to be a worthwhile experiment.
On most days so far, I haven't been able to just relax and eat as if food isn't a major focus. One day I stayed within weight-loss bounds, just changed my menu sequence, and really felt as if I'd been guilty of a major binge.  My usual routine had been to have yogurt with fruit followed by a meal an hour or 3 later. On the "wild and crazy" day, I started my day with a grapefruit and bacon/eggs and then a few hours later I had some frozen berries/banana with a glaze of heavy cream. No yogurt, one less mug of coffee, no large leafy salad with EVOO/vinegar.
Can you tell I really don't have a clue about succeeding in the world of "maintenance?" 

Perhaps this maintenance window is about giving myself permission to just eat and see what happens, not expecting weight loss but being prepared to change if I experience weight gain. Maybe that's what maintenance is?

In the past week I've had many impulsive moments--not actions, just moments. Some of the impulses have been panic attacks in which I've wanted to return to "dieting" where, for now at least, I feel secure. Other moments have frankly been wild urges to go buy $50 worth of processed junk food and eat it all in binge mode. Still others have been panicky thoughts of fasting to overcome the imagined deviations from my "safe" routine.

Two days ago, I deliberately purchased and ate some ice cream and also ate some potato chips. Not an out-of-control binge, but definitely a departure from whole foods. And there was no extreme reaction--no fast, no reactive binge. Life simply went on. 

Based on that, I am declaring the first week of maintenance testing a partial success. I am not retreating to weight-loss mode just yet, because the fact is I feel safe enough not to. I'm only claiming partial success because of those moments of panic and temptation. I believe it's in my best long-term interest to face my fears and impulses and reinforce the experience that life  simply goes on after an eating incident and it's not a major life-changing event unless you decide it is.

For week #2, my goal is to work on relaxation and focusing on other things. I plan to simply eat--mostly whole foods, but not in a panicked, overly-dependent mode. I am resting from the discipline of my weight loss routine because it has become a little too important. If I succeed and just enjoy my week that will be good. If I don't, the training will continue for at least another week.

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