Sunday, 10 October 2010

Not an ideal weekend

This weekend did not go as planned in any way. We were going to see my parents and were in the last stages of preparation to depart when a voice from the bathroom alerted me to the end of those plans. Dave had been 'unwell' and was 'unwell' again 15 minutes later. The trip was cancelled. I tried not to show my disappointment as Dave said he felt he had let me down. Instead I busied about letting Dad know and helping the children see the positive side.

Saturday started well with Dave staying in bed until around 11am, I woke around 9.30am and sat in bed knitting happily. I went off to the supermarket with my eldest in the early afternoon and we arrived home with bags and bags of shopping to find a complete mess. Annie had been playing with my new paper cutter and the place looked like a ticker-tape parade had driven through. And Lexxy, who should have known better, had been playing with modelling clay and water. There were splatters of clay on the floor all round the dining room, into the front room, the taps in the kitchen were coated and the dining room table looked like a bakery. Nice. And Dave was back in bed watching TV and sweating out a fever.

I wasn't happy.

When I had cleared up the paper and the clay and put the shopping away I was totally cheesed off but it was all put into perspective by the news Dave gave me when I got back. My Aunt, who has had Alzheimer's for a decade or more and went into hospital the previous day with a lung infection, had died. I have only seen her once or twice in the last 10 years and the two families, (my father's brother and his wife), have never been close. But it hit me that this weekend I had missed seeing my Mum, and my cousins had lost theirs forever. Of course, with Alzheimer's, they may consider that they lost their Mum a long time ago but even so, it was a strong comparison and not a comfortable one. My Dad won't be able to go to the funeral as he isn't well enough to travel, my sister has other commitments and my brother is even less in contact with that side of the family than I, so I think I had better go. I really hate funerals and avoid them whenever I can. I don't think I'll be able to avoid this one.

So to more positive things: knitting. I am knitting a pair of hiking socks for Dave's brother for Xmas and I have finished the first one. It's a gorgeous creation in shades of reds, browns, oranges, a bit of pink and lilac and some fair isle effect too. Sounds a bit busy but it looks truly gorgeous. The trouble is the size. I have his foot measurements and the sock is smaller than his foot in both length and width, and yet when Dave wears it, (and Dave's feet are one size bigger than his brother's), it is just a tiny tad too big. As hiking socks, they can't afford to be too big or the ridges will rub and make blisters on his feet while he is walking.

So the brother lives in Milton Keynes and I don't know when I'm seeing him again to be able to try it on, and I don't want to ruin the surprise anyway. So what do I do? I am more than halfway through the second sock and as it's cuff down, I have the option to make the foot shorter. Eek, the decisions. I have decided to knit the other one to match the first and hope they fit. If they don't, I'll frog them both back and knit them shorter together. It will be fine...

I have picked up the crocheted bag for his wife tonight as well. It's in a tough, sturdy woolen yarn that will make a great hardwearing bag, but is horrible to work with. I have a line on my finger still where the yarn was tensioned, and I put it down nearly an hour ago. I will have to work on it in small chunks. I'm glad to be making progress on it, though, because I'm starting to be uncertain I will finish my presents in time. I gave no promises so it's not a big problem, but I really wanted to get them finished.

The shawl for my Mum is done and a Gecko bookmark for Dad won't take long. The socks for B-I-L are nearly finished and the bag for his wife is about 1/3 done. The house socks for my neice are ready to start when I have finished her Dad's hiking socks. Nothing for the nephew - it's not cool.

The lacey scarf for M-I-L is ready to start and I will enjoy knitting that. The ear-flap hat for her beau is also ready to start but I'm not looking forward to knitting in such a dreary colour. The bed socks for G-M-I-L are a stumbling block - I haven't decided on a pattern yet so a long way to go yet.

The entrelac scarf for S-I-L is more than half done and it's lovely, although I regret the choice of yarn. The camel for my bro is unlikely to make the Xmas cut TBH.

And I have started a pair of socks for me - it seems silly at this stage but I've been meaning to do them for months and some of the knit group wanted to knit it together, so I started. I'm really enjoying knitting it and trying to resist feelings of guilt whenever I do. I don't think I will knit Xmas presents for family again. I think it's something we all do..... but only once!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A life lesson from knitting

I was down last night. Our trip to see my parents for the first time since June was cancelled at the last minute when my hubby threw up as we were finishing the packing. I had so much I wanted to show and give to my mum that I was devastated. I kept it from Dave as well as I could, as he was already feeling that he had let me down, but was so upset I couldn't even knit. That's not happened to me before.

So finally I came round a bit and decided to do the things I was expecting to do anyway - knit lots, drink Cava and stay up late. Dave went to bed but I stayed up until midnight on my own. This is what led to my life lesson from knitting.

I was knitting a hiking sock for my brother-in-law last night, the second of the pair so I had already done this part of the pattern. However, between Lord of the Rings on the TV and the Cava, I missed a vital part of the pattern when turning the heel. I noticed this a while later when I didn't have ther right number of stitches but couldn't work out why. My own rule with mistakes is that the circumstances which led to the mistake are likely to remove the ability to solve it so once a mistake is noticed, I put the thing down until the next day.

So this morning I picked it up and worked out where I had gone wrong. I took the needles out, ripped back the knitting to the place where I went wrong, picked up the stitches, wound the spare yarn around the ball and prepared to re-knit. At this point it occurred to me that I 'should' be frustrated with myself. In previous circumstances, like when I used to diet and had a target weight loss for each week, leading to a date when I would achieve the elusive target weight, taking a backwards step like this would be very upsetting. I would be thinking that if I hadn't done that, I would be at a different place by now and only so far from reaching the goal, but instead I'm back here. Well, that's all part of the negative cycle that dieting causes.

So what is different with knitting? Why didn't I think "all that effort last night has been wasted as I am back to where I was before I did all that"? Why did I think "making mistakes, noticing them, taking the knitting back and learning from the whole event is just part of the process of knitting"? I can't answer that but I think it has taught me a valuable life lesson. Making mistakes is part of the process, not a deviation from it. I learn from every mistake that I make and I learn again when I develop skills for rectifying the mistake. I am so much better at picking up stitches after undoing than I was when I started knitting again last year. When I made mistakes before as a teenager, my mum would sort them out for me so I had no skills of my own. And just noticing that the mistake had been made was quite a skill too. And now I have those skills, I can pass them on to anyone who needs them.

Not for the first time, Thank You Knitting!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Body Image Issues

My 9-year old daughter (who is built like a racing snake) told me today that sometimes she thinks she is fat. She showed me her thigh to demonstrate why she thought this way. I knew this would happen at some time but I hoped not this early.

My first thought was "How can you think you're fat, you're bordering on skinny?" but I was able to quietly process that without speaking. What I actually said was "And what would happen if you were fat?" She didn't know. So, she knows that she mustn't be fat but she doesn't know why. This kind of illogic puts me in mind of some organised religions and I guess that makes sense because body image, fashion and popular culture is a religion to some people. It is certainly as costly and causes as much angst as religions do.

My final word on the matter was "I don't think you're fat and if you were, it wouldn't make any difference to how I felt about you. If you know anyone who would think differently about you because you were fat then they're probably not interested in the person you are anyway". I don't know how helpful this was but it was the best I could do under the circumstances.

I expect this topic will come back frequently over the coming years, (with 3 daughters, I think that's inevitable), and I hope that my responses will avoid judgement of the system that is giving them these thoughts and that they value so highly at the moment, and yet still maintain their positive self regard and confidence.

Ironically, I have a post-it note on my shower-room mirror which this same little girl put there about 6 months ago. It reads: "You don't have to change, you're beautiful just the way you are". So why doesn't she believe that about herself?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Devolved Responsibility and the Medical Model

I was in the children's ward at the hospital earlier this week where my littlest girl had just had an operation. I overheard another mum talking to her daughter who had also been in surgery, and the language she used attracted my attention. She talked about what they were allowed to do and when they were allowed to go home. This is the kind of language I notice when clients use it and challenge them about whose decision this is to make. And here I was just a few feet from where my clients often make those decisions, listening to a mum use this language and I realised that I was resisting doing the same thing. I knew that the medical staff wanted my daughter to have a wee before she left and she was resisting this. When she asked if we could go home, I could have said "We're not allowed to go home until you've had a wee" but I chose to say "We're not going home until you've had a wee". Did it make much difference? Yes, I think it did.

If I said that we were not allowed to go home, then I would be saying that the decision about when we go was to be made by a doctor or a nurse, which is clearly not the case. If I chose to leave the hospital without this consent, no-one would be able to stop me. But I would have devolved the responsibility for this decision, at least in my daughter's mind, to the medical staff. It's not my fault we can't go home, it's the doctor/nurse's fault.

This made me think about something that has been on my mind for a while. My recent shift in teaching method has involved a deeper understanding of the effect of my words on my mind and the minds of those hearing them - Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I used to say that I wanted to have my second baby at home but I had to be induced, so I had her in hospital. This wasn't true, was it? I was strongly advised to be induced but in the end, it was my decision to make. How could I tell clients that all these decisions are theirs to make and then imply that I had no choice about my induction of labour? Well, this is all old news to me but this new experience in the children's ward helped me to realise why I chose those words. If I said "I wanted to have my baby at home but I chose to have an induction" it gives me the responsibilty for this possibly unnecessary and potentially harmful intervention.

So when a couple tell me their labour story and say they had to have a caesarean, are they deliberately avoiding responsibility for the decision they took, or did they not hear or understand what I had said about it being their decision to make? And how does this start to their parenting life affect their sense of personal power around their child? And what precedent does this set for the woman's future belief about her body's ability to give birth? And how much bearing does this have on our blame culture? If a woman feels that she 'had to' have forceps to birth her baby, how does she feel if her baby has bruises? Does she automatically blame the doctor as it was his/her decision? And what if the effect is more serious or longterm? How different would have be if the couple were empowered to make the decision for themselves? Would they be so quick to blame the doctor for any repurcussions?

So, I guess I am saying that in taking control of decisions away from the labouring woman, obstetricians have helped to bring about the litigation culture that causes them so much angst.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

It's all looking up

My despair culminated in a massive aggressive outburst yesterday morning. This made it clear to me that dairy intake is at least a factor in my emotional problems. I spent a lot of yesterday morning writing - a new habit I started last week. I got up at 6am from Tuesday to Friday and sat at my computer writing. I splurged out everything I was thinking and feeling, even the tiny stuff I wouldn't bother Dave or any of my friends with. I have written more than 1,000 words each day and on Friday it was nearly 3,000!

The big session of writing cleared the air a bit and I started to improve straight away. I had my hair cut in the afternoon and this made a big difference as well. My hair has been getting out of control for a few weeks and it has affected my self-esteem. As is often the case, I didn't realise how much it was bringing me down until the situation resolved and I felt much better.

So, lots of factors combined and last night I was back on form. I was resourceful and positive, I made 3 different meals for the girls' tea without shouting, I didn't eat because I wasn't hungry but had a candlelit dinner with Dave when the girls had gone upstairs. I stopped drinking wine when I had had enough, and gave what was left in my glass to Dave. Then I had a cup of camomile tea and went to bed at a reasonable hour. All very positive.

So, a friend from the Beyond Chocolate forum has been doing a programme from a book called The No Diet Diet (Fletcher, B., Pine, K. & Penman D.) and blogging about it. I have been reading with great interest because I love that kind of thing. The concept is that diets don't work - well, I already knew that. It says that in order to change the way you think, you change the way you behave. Break habits that are tying you into certain behaviours and hence change the way you behave and then think. Not very well explained, and one of the authors writes for the Daily Mail so it is a bit tabloidy, but the message is sound and I have decided to give it a go. More excitingly, Dave is going to do it with me.

I don't think I will start a seperate blog for this, or even get around to blogging every day, but I will write about what is happening with the No Diet Diet (NDD) as often as I can. The programme is broken into 5 phases and Phase 1 starts today. The task is not to watch TV all day. That isn't going to be very difficult for me as I don't like TV but we will see how it goes. There are some extra little tasks to do during the first week as well, but as I am assessing a teacher this afternoon and out with friends later I don't expect to do any of those, but I will keep them in my mind. Examples of things I might try are paint or draw, read something you wouldn't normally consider, write a story, contact a long-lost friend, ride a bike, learn to meditate. The creative things appeal to me most - drawing and writing a story.

I feel quite excited about the new programme. It says you are guaranteed to lose weight while doing it, which I don't believe or expect, but I will enjoy shaking up my life a little.

So, thank you to all of you lovely people who have expressed concern and empathy for my emotional struggles. It is the support of my wonderful friends that gets me through these troughs and I only hope I can repay your kindness when you have your own troughs.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Feeling out of control

I have decided to blog this to try and get my thoughts together. Over the last week or so, since the school holidays started, I have been out of control with my eating and particularly my drinking. It's always been a bit like that with me, as most of my friends know, but this is getting serious. It's come to a head today because I have totally shot myself in the foot. I had a candlelit dinner with Dave planned for tonight, the food was chosen and bought, and I really enjoyed it when we did this last weekend.

But then at lunch my sister-in-law wanted a glass of wine and I didn't fancy red so I opened a bottle of Cava, thinking I could finish it this evening with our dinner. In true alcoholic fashion, the bottle was finished off by me and my SIL at lunch and then I spent the afternoon drinking cocktails with Dave and by the time it came to the evening, I was tired and headachey. That was the end of our evening plans.

So in the end, we ate our carefully planned food in front of the TV and I have gone up to bed with my knitting feeling really cross with myself.

I have put a bit of weight on since Xmas which isn't a problem in itself, but it's another sign that I am not in control of what I am consuming. So, I have to stop this but how? I'm not into the rules and new starts and strict regimes that I thought used to 'work' for me, so how do I start getting myself back on the rails? I don't think that going back to the BC daily blog is going to help - it's gone a bit beyond that. I think I need to ask myself not to drink any alcohol for a few days and see where it takes me.

The silly thing is, I am enjoying my knitting so much at the moment that I can quite happily focus on that rather than the booze. And the project I am most enjoying I can't do when I have had a drink because it's too difficult to take it back if I make a mistake. So it's in my own best interest on the night not to drink, so I am shooting myself in the foot again. I am running out of feet.

I think there might be something more to this. After all, it's spring which is my favourite time of the year, the sun has been shining, I have enjoyed being outdoors, I am getting more personal fulfilment from my work and my knitting/crochet than I could have imagined 12 months ago, our finances are good and we are considering some really exciting changes to the house, and yet I am struggling emotionally. What is going on?

Well if anyone has any ideas, please feel free to comment but in the meantime, I will probably share my continued angst with you all until it eases.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Day 6 - Be your own guru

I decided to jump to this principle when I had a couple of good ideas in the shower.

I have been drinking quite a lot of Cava recently. When I applied Beyond Chocolate principles to my alcohol use, everything changed and I was comfortable with myself in that area for the first time in years. I don't create rules for myself any more, I just follow my instinct. This means that most days I have some wine of some kind, although I often don't and not because of any rules. So, I realised this morning that I am still feeling the slightly tight feeling in my head that I get when I am dehydrated. So I decided to do more of the things that hydrate my body and less of the things that dehydrate. That was it - no firm rules, no commitment or timescales. Just that decision without pressure.

My digestive system tends to be quite slow and without giving TMI, I need to keep it moving. Lately I haven't been eating as much veg as usual and it has had an effect. So, I decided to make smoothies in the mornings to get a couple of pieces of fruit into me before the day starts. For some reason, I just can't be bothered to eat fruit most of the time. Drinking it is a lot less effort!

So, two ideas under my belt I started my day. It did not go as I expected and I ended up spending the whole morning supporting friends and ex-clients with their problems. This was just where I want to be, and I was happy to do it. However, it left me with no time to do what I had intended, which is a source of stress for me. My first thought was to abandon my plans to go to knitting group this afternoon to do the things I hadn't done, but then I decided that I needed some time for me so I went. I regretted it on the way as I felt so tired driving and could have had a nap at home, but I did enjoy it and it was good to do something for myself.

The rest of the day went very pear-shaped and I ended up extremely stressed and unhappy. I decided to do the things I needed to do and leave as much as possible till tomorrow. I have just been up to my youngest who appears to have wet her bed quite deliberately, while sitting up. I ended up so angry with her that I have come down and cut myself off from the rest of humanity until I can be trusted to be nice.

There is so much going on for us at the moment and a big will we/won't we thing is hanging over us, making plans and expectations very fluid, which is not a comfortable place for me to be in. I can see what is happening and I am going to scale back everything I can. I will make sure I make time for me and what I want to do, and be good to myself. I ate tons earlier and it felt like a binge but I don't even feel too full now so I guess it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time.

So, what have I learned?

- that I have some great ideas and that framing them in BC speak, without pressure or judgement, makes them much easier to work with. (I haven't had any alcohol today and I know I won't, but not because I shouldn't)
- that I need to work out why I am getting so stressed and take appropriate action
- that I need to remember that just because I planned to do something, doesn't mean that it needs to be done today. When something happens to change my plans, I can reprioritise.

It's 'stop when you are satisfied' tomorrow. I am looking forward to that one as it's one of the hardest things for me.

Day 5 - Put it on a plate, sit down and focus

"When we make time to eat with enjoyment and focus, food becomes a delicious, nurturing experience. Why deprive ourselves of this pleasure?" Beyond Chocolate

This was a good day to look at this principle as I was teaching and I find it very hard to focus on my food when I am still working. Breakfast was rushed as usual and ended up as a sharon fruit eaten stood at the door waiting for the children to get their coats on. I ate again when the class was about to start and it was a cup cake, eaten stood up talking to clients. Not ideal, but probably unavoidable on teaching days. It seems to me that the main benefits of this principle are that I enjoy my food more and that I don't overeat. I can't really help the first one but if I make sure that what I eat in this unfocused way is very small amounts, I can at least mitigate that part of it.

When I got home I reheated the second half of the bacon and brie bagel from the previous day and ate that slowly and mindfully, sat at the dining room table. I made a point of putting the food down while eating, and focusing on each individual taste and texture. It was enjoyable and I didn't feel the need to eat anything else.

I ate with the girls at tea time and really enjoyed the pasta. So much so that I had a second helping. We were sat at the dining room table but I can't say I focused on the food as much as earlier. With the 3 girls there, all talking at once, competing for my attention, wanting help with things and stuff getting from the kitchen. We then made some cookies together and I enjoyed them so much I ate seconds again. Felt very full. But I think I did focus on eating it and loved every minute.

So what have I learned from today?

- Making time to sit when I am alone is very enjoyable.
- When I am not able to sit and focus, ensuring portions are small mitigates the issues.

That's about it really.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Day 4 - Eat whatver you want

"It is only when we legalise all foods and give ourselves the possibility to eat everything that we can make choices and have a truly healthy approach to weight loss" Beyond Chocolate

This was a principle that I 'got' fairly quickly when I first read BC despite 10 years of dieting and the attendant demonising of whole food types. I do struggle with being true to it, though, because I live in a village 20 minutes drive from the shops and if I find I want something that I don't have, I can't have it! So, I tend to choose from the available foods, and that is only one small step from choosing from the convenient and readily available foods, then to the foods that need eating up, and suddenly choice is gone. So I work hard on this one. One method I use it to imagine walking into a restaurant and sitting down. There is no menu to look at, and after a while a waiter comes over and asks what I would like to eat. I know that whatever I ask for, they will be able to cook for me. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't! So how did it go today?

I woke late and knitted for a while so when I finally came downstairs, it was late morning. I felt the first tickle of appetite around 10am and at 11.30am I was making our lunch. It was roast beef so it would be a while before it was ready so I knew I wanted to take the edge off my appetite to get me comfortably through to 1pm. I asked DD2 to hand me a banana but then I stopped and tuned in. I was in the restaurant and asking for.... .... not something sweet.... something savoury and quite bland. I opted for 1/4 of a tortilla. It was almost completely right - it was certainly the right amount and better than the banana would have been but it wasn't exactly right. More practice needed, I think.

At 1pm we had what I had been looking foward to since I bought it on Thursday: roast rib of beef, yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips, buttered boiled potatoes, cabbage and carrots, with Dave's awesome gravy and some hot horseradish sauce. I filled my tiny plate and did have a little more parsnip and another yorkshire. It was good! For pudding, I wanted a leftover mud cake with cream and ice cream. In the event, I had two and really enjoyed them.

Not long after lunch I left for an NCT reunion - a meet-up with 7 couples and their babies in a cafe/restaurant. I had a latte on arrival and some of them ordered cakes and puddings, but I wasn't at all interested. I was aware, however, that in my dieting days I would have been in a dilemma - I know I shouldn't have any cake, but I want some. But today I just knew that I didn't want any, so there was no issue of 'should' involved.

When I got home I was just starting to feel the first feelings of emptiness again and by 7.3pm I was ready to eat. But what? I looked in the fridge at the things that were immediately available and none of them were what I wanted to eat. I looked in the bread bin and saw (and smelled) bagels. That was the first thing of interest so I took one out. I looked for ham, but there was none in the fridge and I didn't want it enough to defrost any. I decided bacon was even better so got some out of the freezer and fried it. I put it into th bagel with some brie and sat down to eat it. I cut it in half and enjoyed every bite of the first half. I left the other half but instructed hubby not to touch it! I haven't been back for it, or eaten anything else tonight.

So, what have I learned today?

- I have come a long way with my eating habits
- Having food available but involving some effort (e.g. frozen) helps to focus my mind on whether I really want it
- Even if I can't put my finger on exactly what I want, I can get close by using the restaurant visualisation. To just find out if it's sweet or savoury, hot or cold helps with the level of satisfaction I get from eating the food.

I am delighted at how this 10-day focus is affecting me so far. I seem to be focusing better on all of the principles and finding I am back to my pre-Xmas state with intuitive eating. And I haven't felt like I am on a diet, either. It's not that I am doing this for 10 days then will go back to 'normal'. I am focusing again on what makes me feel good (emotionally and physically) and now that I am being more mindful, I will carry on this way. This blog has cured me of the effects of the winter depression I had this year. And it's only day 4. Imagine what I might achieve by day 10!

Tomorrow is "Put it on a plate, sit down and focus on it".

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Day 3 - Stop when you are satisfied

This was a tricky day because a lot of stuff was out of my control. I was on the road at 6am, arriving at a conference in Birmingham at 9am and getting home at 8.30pm. It is on these challenging days that it is easy to go with the flow, and I was determined to observe myself carefully despite being very nervous about presenting to 20 fellow teachers for the first time.

I wasn't hungry when I left home so took a stash of fruit and a flask of tea and left the house. When we arrived I was hungry so I had a banana. I later realised that there were croissants available but I didn't fancy them so that was fine. By the time we got to the coffee break at 11.30am I was pretty hungry. I found myself a pack of biscuits, which was what I fancied (and I had left the bag with my fruit in somewhere else) and had one of the two in the pack. That was enough to satisfy me and the other one is still lost in the bottom of my handbag!

At lunchtime, I'm not sure if I was hungry or not. It was the only meal I was going to get before 6pm so it was fairly academic. I saw the salad bar and there were prawns and I didn't even look at the hot food. I helped myself to prawns, smoked salmon and some salad. It was a bigger plate than I usually eat from and I had chosen 6 or so different things. I was reminded while eating of a lesson I learned fairly early on in my BC journey: I tend to eat the things on my plate that I like the least first, then work up to my favourite things. With this habit, it's no wonder I always finish my food because if I stop before it's all gone, I will be missing my favourite things. So, I spotted this and made sure I ate what I wanted to eat and when I had finished the salmon and prawns, I was satisfied. I left the rest.

But there was still room for pudding. There was a chocolate torte, a carrot cake and a very liquidy fruit salad. I fancied the chocolate, of course, but the slices were too big. I took half a slice and added cream. It was nice, but I didn't go back for the other half.

At the afternoon coffee break I scarcely had time to get myself a hot drink so food didn't figure so I clearly wasn't hungry. By the end of the conference, though, I was hungry. I ate a sharon fruit, a satsuma and a few grapes in the car and by the time we stopped at services for food, my stomach was not happy. Not sure why. I bought a prawn and chicken salad with noodles, but what really took my fancy was prawns on their own and smoked salmon on its own. This was what I had eaten at lunch and clearly I wanted more, but it was expensive so I opted for the salad. A mistake, as it turned out. The prawns in the salad were tasteless, as were the noodles. There was a lovely coconut sauce with it, but this only just made a bland dish bearable. I sat there eating it, realising that I was no longer hungry, and thinking "Am I going to eat all of this anyway?" Because I had paid for it, and the packaging meant that I couldn't take it home I was tempted, but in the end, I finished the prawns, for the texture only, and left about half of the salad and some of the chicken. Throwing it in the bin made me feel strong and powerful.

I finished the smoothie I had bought at the services after we left and that pushed my stomach too far. I felt too full for a lot of the way home. When I got home, I wasn't hungry at all but I had the chocolate egg I had bought at the services for pudding but not eaten. It made my teeth hurt but I still finished it.

So, what have I learned today?

- I tend to leave my favourite parts of the meal to the end, which makes it very difficult for me to stop when I am satisfied. When I eat the bits I want to eat, I am eating intuitively and making it possible for me to stop before the plate is clear.

- Even in difficult circumstances, I can eat intuitively. Choosing a banana over a croissant (albeit retrospectively) made me realise that I knew what I needed at that time.

- I can eat one of a two-pack of biscuits!

- I can throw away M&S food that I have paid over the odds for.

It was a very good day, in many ways. Tomorrow I think I will go back one of the principles I missed out: Eat whatever you want.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Day 2 - Eat when you are hungry

"Eating when you are hungry is the starting point for a healthy relationship with food..... but the reality is that we are so out of touch with our bodies that many of us no longer know how to read the cues."

It was interesting that this principle should fall on a Friday because I always have issues with Friday mornings. I am very rarely hungry in the morning before leaving for school. But on a Friday, I go to a dance class at 9.30am and I am usually hungry just in time for it to be too late to eat. Then I get unreasonably hungry by the end of the class. So, how did today go?

I didn't get hungry until 9am, as usual, so I chose to have the remainder of yesterday's banana to tide me over. By the end of the class, I wasn't really hungry so all was well. I went to a friend's house and we had lunch at midday. She loaded my plate as her daughter was asleep on my lap, and that hasn't happened for a while. When she put the plate down, I assumed that was for both of us to eat from, but it was just for me. In the event, I was hungry and I ate some garlic bread, lots of green salad and a slice or two of ham. I wanted to eat the last piece of garlic bread on my plate as I still felt a bit of hunger, but I knew there was cake for pudding so I left the bread. The cake was ace.

When we got home from school, I was hungry. My DD3 wanted to make mud cakes (batter-style cakes half-cooked so still raw in the middle) before we had tea and I concurred as I was hungry for them too. I had two with extra thick double cream and then when I made fish fingers for them later, I wasn't hungry. I crocheted through their teatime. In the end, I succumbed to a fish finger while wandering around the kitchen and then felt full. I don't like that feeling.

The girls had supper at 8pm and I wanted to eat. But, I wasn't hungry so I didn't. I was annoyed by not being hungry, though. Maybe if I hadn't had that fish finger....

By 9pm I was ready to eat, but was I hungry? I can't be sure but I had grown impatient. I had the leftover fish fingers cold with tartare sauce and some salad. Then another mud cake with cream. Delicious. In bed now at 10pm and feeling pleasantly settled but not full.

So, what have I found out?

- having half a banana within 30 minutes of my dance class causes no problems and helps me to get through the class without being too hungry.

- I get frustrated when I want to eat but have no hunger. Habit and social tradition tells me to eat, but my body says not to. Crochet and knitting helps - I couldn't just sit at the table and watch them eat. At least this way I am productive during the mealtime.

- If I eat when I am not hungry, it will be longer until I am hungry again and I won't have enjoyed the food as much as if I had waited.

It's been a good day, as I've found a way around the dance class issue and cemented my habit of not eating at the kids' tea time if I am not hungry.

Tomorrow is going to be a challenge: I am leaving home at 6am to travel to a forum in Birmingham, and returning around 9pm. Everything I eat between those times will be decided by what the organisers provide and what I can take in my handbag. Hence, working on "Eat whatever you want" is probably not a good idea. The following principle is "Put it on a plate, sit down and focus on it". As I will be networking throughout my lunch, I think there is little to be gained from this either. So, I will jump two and think about "Stop when you are satisfied". With free hotel food, this could be quite tricky and good to notice where I do well and where I don't.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Day 1 - Tune In

"Tuning in is the golden thread that ties all the Beyond Chocolate principles together.... It is about turning to youself for the answers, listening to your body rather than looking to the 'experts'." Beyond Chocolate

As usual, when I woke up I wasn't hungry. I tuned in and found that my stomach was saying nothing to me, but my head had a slight tightness. I thought this was due to not drinking enough fluids yesterday. I had a cup of tea (which means 0.4 litres of rooibos or green or camomile tea) and then set off on the school / nursery run. When I got home I knew I wanted to eat something but my head still felt tight and all I wanted to eat was vegetables. I cooked some courgette in olive oil but found that the sight of the oil, which is usually appealing, put me off so I drained it off. So I had tea and then my courgette. I ate it slowly and halfway through had a realisation: if I had been eating something that wasn't as 'good' as courgette, I would have stopped by now, but because it was a vegetable, it was OK to eat more than I needed. Diet mentality surfacing for a moment.

Fate intervened and I was disturbed by a visitor before I finished my one courgette. I left what was left for a while and finished it later when I felt slightly hungry again. Later I reheated a small bowl of a vegetable and chorizo creation my husband knocked up a couple of days ago. Very satisfying and ate the small amount without much pause.

Around lunchtime I found myself with a sharon fruit in my hand. I paused and tuned in. My stomach felt fine but I had a savoury flavour in my mouth that I wanted to get rid of. I had the fruit. Would I have done the same if my choice had been a cake? Don't know...

Straight after I had the sharon fruit I had a sweet taste in my mouth and wanted more. Starting to see how one thing leads to another. Decided to pause and reconsider in 10 minutes. Kept pausing and tuning in and only noticed slight tension in head still. Had tea when I tuned in to ease headache.

Had 1/2 a banana shortly after 2pm after tuning in and finding that vague hunger was building. Never saw the point of eating half a banana before but that was all it took today.

After the school pick-up the girls had a snack and I was hungry. Suddenly realised that I was thinking diet again and trying to deprive myself. Decided to have half a bagel with salted butter. When sat down, decided to eat half of it and then reconsider. The birds ate the second half in the end.

We went out at 5pm and food was provided. Ate less than instinctively but small amounts and amazed at how much people around me were eating. Pudding was ice cream with sprinkles and all the trimmings. Decided I had better ice cream at home and declined. Never had ice cream at home.

Evening changed it all - I had Cava. A whole bottle. This isn't unusual for me, but it certainly changed things. A friend had brought chocolate digestives and I had one, mostly out of politenesss, but eating it and tuning in, I realised that I wanted savoury food. Had some, and more than I needed, but less than I could have had. And so ends the day.

So, what have I noticed?

- It was useful to split what I had taken to eat into two and then eat the first half. One time I came back and ate the rest, another I didn't. Could this be the next step in the 'Stop when you are satisfied' principle?

- I tuned into other body sensations much more than usual. I noticed that I had the tension headache of dehydration for a lot of the day. This prompted me to drink tea when I could have reached for food.

- I still have a background view of it being OK to overeat 'good' foods like fruit and veg

- I really enjoyed focusing on my thought processes and behaviours. I didn't feel the need to binge before the process, although I did treat it as a bit of a diet at one stage.

- I have built on what I found out yesterday when I paused after eating my main course and found that I didn't actually want a pudding. Today I found that once I am engaged in something else, if I am no longer hungry, I don't need to come back and finish the food. But if I am still hungry I will come back and eat more.

So tomorrow it is "Eat when you are hungry". I am looking forward to it.

10-Day Beyond Chocolate Focus

I have been inspired by a lovely lady on the Beyond Chocolate forum to start a 10-day blog. I am going to take one Beyond Chocolate principle each day and blog on what I notice about it, where I am doing well with it, where I am not, that kind of thing. I am starting today.

An interesting thing happened when I made this decision yesterday. When I have decided in the past to start a diet tomorrow, I have spent the rest of the day bingeing on the foods I won't be able to have once I start my diet. So once I decided to focus on the 10 principles, what do you suppose I did? I started focusing on them straight away and eating more mindfully. BEYOND CHOCOLATE IS NOT A DIET. Sorry to shout, but it was just so clear to me for a moment.

So I am starting with the first principle, which is a tricky one because it underpins everything else - Tune In. I will be making an effort to tune in all day and will make notes on my progress and areas of interest (hopefully) at the end of the day. I will endeavour to update my blog every evening with the details. I hope you find it as interesting and useful as I will!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Winter Depression

Since I had my first child I have suffered from winter depression every year. It is slowly getting milder and shorter and I hope one day it will go away entirely. It usually starts sometime in the second half of January or early February if I'm lucky. It slowly sneaks up on me and I'm never sure if it's just a bad day, or the annual thing starting. When the bad days start to outnumber the good ones, I know it's coming.

I've written about depression before and it's a difficult thing to describe to people who haven't had it. There are two elements for me. Firstly there's the background bringing down of everything: When I think about something that last month I considered OK, now it's grim or boring or depressing. Anything that was exciting is now OK and everything that was pretty crap is now totally awful. My optimism about things slinks away and I find I am living one day at a time in an effort to contain these negative feelings. If I only think about what is happening today, then there is a limit to how much I have to not look forward to. When that's been around for a while and sunk into my mental bones, usually the emotional breakdowns come. I had my first of 2010 on Friday. I was at my dance class and a different instructor was taking it. I wasn't in touch with her style and found the routines very challenging. Instead of laughing at myself and trying to concentrate more, I started to feel tearful. I didn't want to make a fool of myself so I left suddenly, halfway through the session. I just knew I couldn't handle it, and if anyone had asked me if I was OK, I would have caused a very embarassing scene by bursting into tears, so I fled. Later that day I had a very uncomfortable phone call to make and after that I cried on and off for an hour. Then I knew that I was having one of my breakdowns and the winter depression had begun in earnest.

But I handled it differently this year to previously. In my class, for example, last year I would have soldiered on and ended up in tears. But I exercised 'extreme self-care' and left with my dignity intact. And I resorted to food, which I always do at such time, but instead of eating and eating until I felt ill, and feeling no better emotionally I ate what I wanted, didn't beat myself up about it, and loved myself through it. I knew that I was doing what I could for myself. I couldn't take the depression away, I couldn't take the heart-ache over the phone call away, but I could eat something I enjoy, even though I didn't need it, and that would help me feel better. And it did, way before I got to feeling ill.

I think I under-appreciate my general optimism when I have it. That feeling when you look at what you have on today, this week, this month. That feeling of looking forward to something, but not just one big thing that you can build up to. Generally looking forward to the day, the week, the experience of being me at this time. Scheduling fun things to do is really lovely and I can anticipate them but one massage in a week of tedious activities is not enough to keep me from unhappiness. It's not the big events I need, it's the background optimism and that's what leaves me in the last 6 weeks of winter.

Update on Concept Based Courses

After the first couple of classes of my first CBC I realised that I couldn't teach the old way any more. I can still see topic-based courses being taught and evaluate them as before, but for me, I can't do it any more. I have finished my 2nd daytime CBC and found that this group were very different. With 2 women in the group that were likely to be offered induction, they were a group already focused on intervention and they did want a lot of information. But the CBC approach still worked and the evaluations were even better than normal.

What strikes me is the presents. I sometimes get a gift from the group when we finish the course and sometimes I get one at reunions and on occasion I have had both but more often than not I get neither. This is no issue for me - I am paid after all! But the presents I get tend to be flowers or toiletries or gift vouchers. The 2 CBC groups have both bought me presents and they have been well thought out and carefully considered. The first group noticed that I drink copious amounts of green tea all day so bought me a beautiful huge mug and saucer, some loose green tea and a strainer, some chocolates and a bottle of wine. They were so excited about the gifts they wanted me to open them before I left. They had so carefully considered what I would want, I was really touched. And then this 2nd group bought me a lovely purple scarf. They had noticed that I always wear a scarf and I love purple. It may just be coincidence, but such consideration from 2 groups in a row is really surprising.

So, I am still happy with this style and will be developing my version of it for several years to come.