Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Seriously, just stop.

Remember Susan Powter? My earliest memory of her is from her Stop the Insanity! phase in the early nineties; my cousin brought a copy of the book to our family Thanksgiving and spent the weekend in my grandmother's rocking chair, her nose buried in the book as she gave my family scathing looks anytime someone proffering a bowl of mashed potatoes or wild rice dared to pass within her invisible force field of New Dieter Restraint and sanctimony.

I remember sitting at the dining room table in my grandma's house, spooning forkfuls of the obligatory sweet potatoes with carmelized marshmallow into my mouth and staring at the top of my cousin's blonde head with a mixture of resentment and abject envy. My cousin was SO cool in my only child whose coddling was so thorough that by the age of nine she was already a full-fledged uber-bitch. She was the first in the family to own a Nintendo, the only kid I knew who was allowed to go to pop concerts, and who--gasp--owned Madonna's Sex book when she was 12. She also regaled me with stories of making out with junior high school boys and told me what the word "orgasmic" meant over iced hot chocolates at the coffee shop where she liked to hold court and draw abstract graffiti on her jeans with black Sharpie marker. My cousin J was a bona fide badass in my eyes, so anything that caught her interest was all the more exotic and alluring to me as a result.

Since my mother was determined to ensure that I would NOT become an cranky, adolescent sex-kitten like my cousin, she refused to let me buy the Susan Powter book on the grounds that Powter looked "a little like a Nazi" and that it probably didn't say anything that I didn't already know about weight loss. A few years later I checked out the book at the library, and confirmed my mom's suspicions: Susan Powter did, indeed, have an unfortunate buzz cut, and I already basically figured out everything she had to say.

So why is Susan Powter super healthy and I'm getting fatter and fatter by the week?

I guess if you asked me where I've been for the last several days, I'd have a lot of answers. For instance, I've been pausing a lot of live TV(!) with the DVR on my new satellite(!) and then looking triumphantly over at the cats like I just discovered fire or something. I've been trying to figure out what the hell is going on on Big Love because I still haven't seen the first season. I've been frantically getting my room ready for the beginning of the school year (yuck). I've been entertaining houseguests and catching up with old friends (yay). I've been tentatively stepping into the world of tango again, with plans to start classes again with my super-expensive but oh-so-totally-worth-it tango shoes I purchased from the very kind and supportive Veggie B!, and I've been taking stupid pictures of my cats on my cell phone, especially when they're cute and sniff said tango shoe, as seen in the picture below:
So anyway, all those things were great (except for actually having to work for nine whole months in a row again...le sigh), but the real reason I was gone was because I was doing a lot of thinking. And thinking ain't never end up good. I guess last Monday after I stepped on the scale and jumped immediately into my routine of cognitive behavioral therapy wherein I say my litany of "You Really Aren't THAT Fat" affirmations like, "It's just water weight"..."No way could you have eaten five whole pounds of food in one week"..."Maybe you just PMS, like, through the entire month" I sort of hit diet bottom.

And this diet bottom was different from all the other ones I've had where I've eaten a lot and not exercised and ended up a few pounds heavier and then I spend one evening sitting in my bed and pouting and promising desperately to go right back on the diet the next day and to really TRY HARDER and DO BETTER and WHY can't I just get this right just once and WHY am I such a diet failure and what's it going to TAKE and, and, and...

This diet bottom was the realization that I just absolutely cannot do the diet thing any longer. I am sick of totalling up calories, of bargaining with my food journal and figuring out how many calories of exercise (that I'll never do) it'll take to equal out an extra piece of cake, and whether I can go out to eat with friends and still eat the "right foods" and not be tempted by the "bad ones". I realized that even though I'm supposed to take a fairly relaxing mini-vacation with my family this weekend, I am absolutely going to pieces over the idea of maintaining a diet while we're going out to eat and on the road. It shouldn't be STRESSFUL to go enjoy myself. I shouldn't have a bad day or a good day or a bad or good WEEK just because the scale tells me whether I'm good at burning calories or not.

I've been dieting every day since I was nine. I can't do it anymore.

I've been reading Intuitive Eating, the book that a lot of people I know who've recovered from eating disorders have recommended to me when I talk about those same issues. I've been resistant for a long time, because the nature of the book makes it sound like you have to have a lot of faith in yourself, and I don't think there's ever been a day where I've trusted myself around food, ever. I have to admit, the book is boring as sin, but it does reassure me on a lot of different issues, especially the part that recovering the natural balance in your body between hunger and satiety is a long process that will involve lots and lots of trial and error. I'm actually, surprisingly, okay with all of that.

Anyway, I guess there'll be a lot of things to talk about in the coming weeks, especially as I attempt to figure out what the hell I'm going to do. But I do know that tonight, as I clicked open my nutrition journal/calorie counter out of habit, felt the familiar, nauseating wave of dread pass through my body, and then said "fuck you" to my computer screen and clicked out, that that was the nicest feeling I've had in a long, long time.

And it kind of makes the phrase "Stop the insanity!" take on a whole new meaning for me in the process.


*ccc* said...

It does drive us crazy every once in a while--the counting, the journaling, the obsessing. There does have to be a better way, right?

I know the first time I was successful on WW, my "rebellion" came after a year and a half of weighing, measuring and counting. I drove myself insane. I had to stop. I ended up not stopping in the right way and the 60 pounds I lost, came back.

I know if you are focused and you think hard and you want it, you will find a way to be successful. But I do think it's important to remember what (good) diets preach: Moderation.

I think the same way it applies to portion sizes, it applies to weight and diet obsession too.

Let me know if you find the way :)

Erin said...

I have one thing to say, Amen. Well that and I think I am headed to the library to check out this book. I am ultra sick of this shit too.
Have a fun vacation, relax and enjoy yourself.

Nickole said...

I've read Intuitive Eating many times, and in my opinion, it is the best way to lose weight. I can't stand all the counting of calories and points, etc., either.

It takes a long time before it becomes natural to eat intuitively, but it's worth it!

Morphidae said...

I've been using intuitive eating to help with my binge eating along with working with a nuitrionist. While I haven't lost much weight yet, it has stabilized and I haven't had a binge in two months.

Good luck to you.

Abba said...

I have given up on trying to find the answers on weight loss. I guess anything works if you stick to it. My problem is sticking to it. I can't seem to do it.

Sha-Dizzle said...

i was sitting around angry and depressed for a bit myself. i think it's coo to take a break.

one request: can you change your blog settings so that comments can come in a pop up window? b/c we lose your blog page otherwise.

Luna Bella said...

Great post, Erin...
There's something so suffocating about the constant counting of things, whether it's points or calories, or grams of whatever...I've never been able to do it long myself, and the misery it brings up in me when I try to diet that way is just intolerable.
The last time that I was successful in losing a good chunk of weight and keeping it off for a while, I was using a modified Atkins approach. I went about it in a more qualitative than quantitative way, and that really worked for me. I just avoided carbohydrates. I didn't count anything, and that made me feel much less punished and harassed. I think we all have to find our own way in this game, and it sounds like you're doing that.
I'm reminded of that saying: "Jump, and the net will appear" (or something like that). Even if you don't know exactly what the future is going to look like in terms of your relationship with food, you've jumped away from a way of life that just doesn't work very well for you. Yay you--that's a brave move, and you'll find your net.
ps--I'm old enough to remember Susan Powter pretty well, and I remember thinking she was kind of a scary wingnut. But hey, she *was* thin!

Lori said...

You know, I'm really proud of you for taking the tango lessons and everything that doing involves: time, money, shoes...

Your post has made me think a lot over the weekend and you're not the only one feeling this way.

Abba said...

Where are you? Busy with school? Catch us up when you get a chance. We miss you!

A Happy Wife said...

I'm starting to feel quite rebellious about dieting. Sure it will be fine for a few days. I'll be upbeat and positive, counting my calories like a good girl and then one day I'll wake up and just say screw it. I'm not sure I have it in me to be a consistent dieter. I'm starting to think I need a different approach as well, particularly when I ask myself do I REALLY want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about calories?

I've dieted many times before with success. Four years ago I started a diet and actually managed to loose 100 lbs. but guess what? I gained every single bit of it back. Dieting does not work for me long term :(. So why on earth do I keep doing something that just doesn't work? Thanks for admitting your own dissatisfaction with dieting. I feel less alone, less like a traitor to the cause :).