As I have been really and fully embracing unconditional permission to eat, I have gained some weight. The promise of IE is that once I have corrected my relationship with food, my body will normalize at the weight at which it was designed to be. However, on the journey to rediscover my Intuitive Eater, weight can fluctuate all it wants, which is what happened to me as I fully embraced chocolate milk and fat-filled cream cheese. And, the weight gain was a major trigger, for dieting, for eating disorders, for body disgust, need I go on. So, I thought I would pass on my arsenal of things I
did do to deal with this unsolicited guest. I separate my arsenal in the following two categories—defensive and offensive. Defensive strategies are the ones I employ when my shame, fear, and disgust at weight gain overwhelm me. Offensive strategies are the ones I employ when I am tired of laying on my back wallowing in self-disgust, and decide that I can change how I feel. I have both succumbed and defeated self-disgust during this journey to rediscover my Intuitive Eater, so it is possible, just really hard.
- Cry and lots of it. Don’t knock this one, it really is cathartic when I feel extremely disgusted with my body to give a good cry and let myself actually feel pain, sorrow, and disgust. Sometimes crying feels like giving up or giving in, but if I let myself acknowledge that I want to give up, that it feels too hard, and for a time, allow myself to feel defeated, then somehow, someway, it doesn’t feel too hard anymore, and I can usually pick myself up off the floor.
- Pray and very fervent prayers. I don’t know how many of you who read this feel a connection to God, but I believe that we can each have a very personal relationship with Him, as He is our Father. We can turn to Him, speak with Him like a daughter speaks to a Father, pour out our souls, deepest fears. And the best part is, He responds, with tenderness, comfort, and support. So, when I succumb to self-disgust, I pray to my Father in Heaven and pour out my feelings. This helps me feel that I am connected to something bigger than myself, and sometimes, even in the moment of darkest self-loathing, I can feel worthy and loved.
- Talk and honestly, to my husband and my therapist. In addition to pouring out my heart to God, it often helps to speak to those who can respond instantly (this is no knock on God, it is just that He works on His own timeframe, when it will be best for us in the long run, even if we can’t see that.) Having a support system has been an essential need for me during this journey, and it often helps to talk about triggers, thoughts, and feelings after the fact with some very loving ears.
- Commit and I am not talking about the whole dieting/exercise perversion of this idea. Before I started Intuitive Eating, I made the commitment to myself that I would not give up on it, that I would not let any fear or failure lure me back down the dieting trap. This commitment has been tested dozens of times, especially with this weight gain. Sometimes, reminding myself that I made this commitment, that I refuse to give in, helps me have the strength to keep moving forward on that path of change.
- Find and celebrate the victories and successes. At first, these victories and successes were few and far between, but when I actively started looking for them (like I would ask myself everyday, what success or victory I could see during that day), they were easier to see. Some days I would have nothing to report, but pretty soon I found some, and each meal was an opportunity to celebrate a new one. And when I felt in the grip of extreme self-disgust, I set up a mantra of my latest small successes. These mantras didn’t always manage to keep the feelings at bay, but then I would remind myself of the commitment I made and press forward anyway.
- Do special things for my body. Even though my body was larger than I was comfortable, I made a concerted effort to do special, nice things for my body anyway. I bought a few new outfits with quality fabrics that felt nice on my body. I bought some beautiful pieces of jewelry that made me feel like a queen. I took some long, hot baths, used quality lotions, put on some nice make-up. I exercised because I wanted to feel my body move and feel the burst of energy and accomplishment that came dripping from sweat. I did these things not to try and fit in with some objectified image society parades around, but because I was taking care of my body, doing things that made me feel special.
None of the above strategies worked every time I used them, but together they have formed an arsenal that has propelled me forward to rediscover my Intuitive Eater, to keep going on this journey despite the most alluring temptations into the dieting and weight loss world.
Blessings to all of you who may struggle with similar issues. Feel free to post your own strategies to deal with weight gain or what you think of mine in the comment section.