I have been working with a client who has made tremendous strides with her eating habits and her relationship with food. She is currently 37 years old and describes herself as a long time emotional eater and “on again/off again” dieter. She grew up with a father who equates food with love and has had trouble adjusting her diet now that she is no longer an athlete in training. When we began our work together she felt no forward progress with her diet, despite her recent successes with a new exercise regimen.
I asked her to share with me and with you what she feels are her biggest successes. She title’s her thoughts “3 Lessons Learned.”
3 Lessons Learned
I began meeting with Marci in September of 2009 and feel that I have made tremendous success and progress. Below are the three most important lessons I have learned.
1. Find someone who you click with to discuss your nutrition issues. Finding Marci has been the biggest key to my success. Prior to working with her, I had tried both group counseling and the online program with Weight Watchers. In the group sessions, I didn’t connect with the team leader and I felt very excluded from the group. In fact, it left me feeling resistant and frustrated. I also struggled doing online nutrition programs since they were so sterile and generic. After trying to follow the prescribed program during the week I felt starved and usually overate on the weekend. I ended up gaining weight, which left me feeling like a failure.
2. Be gentle with yourself. Every day brings its unique challenges. A process or regimen that works on Monday, might not work on Friday. So don’t beat yourself up! Keep with it and think of each meal is a new start to your day. I was quite familiar with the start of a Monday morning diet. If I felt I messed up on my nutrition plan I used to say “I’ll start again on Monday.” Well, if I got off to a bad start at the beginning of the week, the following Monday was a long way off. Now, I think of each meal as a fresh start. If I overeat on carbohydrates in the morning, I focus on veggies and protein at lunch to balance it out. I’ve learned that by eating more balanced meals, my cravings for sweets have diminished. But I’m happy to respond to a craving if my body is asking for it.
3. Divorce yourself from “good” and “bad” foods. For years I defined pizza, soda, macaroni and cheese, desserts, and everything that I wanted and craved as “bad” foods that I tried to expel from my diet. I did my best to live off salads and 100 calorie soups because they were “good.” It didn’t work. I vacillated between feeling virtuous (yet miserable) while filling up on “good foods” and like a failure when I caved and binged on the foods I had been depriving myself. This kind of eating led to a constant loss and gain of the same 10 lbs.
I can confidently say that through my work with Marci I have learned to ditch the cycles restriction and overeating. I feel less pre-occupied with food, more trusting of my body, and more confident in my ability to take care of myself. I’m feeling better and grateful that I’m adopting a healthier way of eating that will last a lifetime, rather than a work week.