From skwigg's journal:
It's funny, because when I think about how I'm eating, I realize that I've discarded even the flexible template I used to follow. Now it's more of a freewheeling intuitive/satisfaction thing. There's a lot of variety. Like if I think about my lunches this week: Wednesday I had popcorn and M&Ms for lunch. Thursday was cabbage & sausage casserole with crusty bread and an ice cream cone. Yesterday I had a green smoothie and a cheeseburger on sourdough. Today I'm having pita pizza. Tomorrow, maybe eggs and jam on an english muffin. Monday will be BBQ chicken wings.
Even breakfast and dinner have gone crazy. I'm trying all of these new recipes for dinner (farro and tomatoes, lentil soup, cabbage casserole, stir fry). For breakfast, I often eat some kind of cereal/yogurt combo, but I also eat eggs, or waffles, or english muffins, or peanut butter toast, or an omelet, or a protein shake.
I have no idea the calorie or macro content of any of these meals. If I eat satisfying meals when physically hungry, my results are good, so I've quit trying to break it down into a formula to be followed.
My abs/weight/body comp are the same as always. I've been easily maintaining for 5-6 years. I look just like the last photo in my journal from December, which looks like the ones from last summer, which look like the ones from 4 years ago. :-) What has changed the most is my mindset. The big insights:
1) Happiness, performance, and quality of life are more important than obsessing about staying at my absolute leanest at all times.
2) Abs are like the weather. They change. They may be a little softer during a week of PMS and bread, and a little sharper a day later when I'm more enthusiastic about plants and protein. It's all good.
3) Nobody cares. LOL This was a biggie. I used to put so much pressure and imaginary judgment on myself for absolutely no reason.
It really has been a process. I don't think the learning and adjusting ever ends. Dieting gives us the idea of before/after, like you're just going to read something, make a change, and it will be solved. Yeah, not so much! It definitely takes time and practice for any change to become solid.
I still remember when you posted about how you did the flexible template thing for about 5 years before moving away from it. I find my mind shortens time spans sometimes and so I had this presumption that you went from templates to freedom so fast. Seeing that it took you 5 years to do something other than templates really brought perspective. Changes don't happen over night! We might want them too, but it takes time.
I'm curious--how did you transition from that template to listening to what you wanted/craved? How did you begin to trust your body to tell you what it needs/wants without fearing what it would do to your weight?
It took me like five years to get from a meal plan mentality, to flexible templates, to totally intuitive eating. It probably would have gone a lot faster, but you may recall that I thought intuitive eating was stupid, dangerous, fattening, and would never work for anyone who wanted to be fit. LOL That bias probably hindered my progress just a bit! Well into happyeaterdom, I still had the mindset that I could eat anything but that I had to plan or balance it in order to lose or maintain my weight. I was weighing myself every day then, which I do not recommend for anyone. It really interferes with your ability to listen to your body. The frequent weigh-ins had one upside though. They were confirmation that I could add more foods and nothing dire happened on the scale. When I quit dieting, I lost 15-20 pounds at the rate of about a half pound to one pound per month. When the loss leveled off, all the normal fluctuations still happened. I might be a few pounds up or down at any given time, but I always drifted back toward the middle of the range. At no point did I gain in a hopeless and out of control way like my vivid imagination told me I would. I eventually quit weighing myself daily. That resulted in another big leap in my ability to listen to my body and eat intuitively. If I’m feeling great, living life, enjoying my food, taking care of myself, whatever weight that produces is the weight I want to be. I don’t want to be a starved, exhausted, obsessed weight, or a stuffed, miserable, don’t-care weight. The mindset and behaviors are what matter. They come first. If weight comes first, if it’s all about numbers, mindset and behaviors suffer, so do results.
When I was deep into my meal templates, I could have told you what I was having for lunch two weeks from next Thursday. It was that predictable. I liked the food I ate. I included some fun foods, but I didn’t give myself too many options with the structure. The protein and plants were going to be there. Processed carbs weren’t. My “treat” was dark chocolate, cheese, or peanut butter. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s where I was at the time. It was comfortable, effective, and definitely more flexible than where I’d been previously. I couldn’t do it now though. Now, it can be ten seconds before lunch and I don’t know what I’m having. I’m willing to make it up as I go based on how I feel and what’s available.
From skwigg's journal:
A flexible template of favorite meals was so helpful in learning to feed myself regularly and enough. I couldn't go from rigid diet rules to having every meal totally up in the air. I tried and it always ended in either restriction or overindulgence. How nice to have a couple dozen tasty and satisfying meal combinations. You could choose one that sounded good, knowing it would be enough, that you'd feel great afterward, and that your results over time would be good. That helped me spend less time thinking about food and more time living life.
So now, I still enjoy many of those favorite meal combinations, but I give myself the flexibility to choose something totally different, or add extras, or leave components out. I don't automatically have what I always have, I think about what I want and how hungry I am in that moment. It's nice! I realized that with a lot of things, especially dessert and vegetable portions, I'd been eating bigger or more frequent servings out of habit without checking in to see how that felt. I don't always want a giant salad or a whole piece of cake. Sometimes I'm just as happy with one carrot or a few bites of dessert. The opposite is true too. I notice that I sometimes get hungry between meals or need considerably more food than my previous templates. Before, I either wasn't noticing or wasn't acting on it. Now, I do both. It's so crazy (to me) to be sitting at work in the afternoon, realize I'm hungry, and go eat something right then. My break room at work is a wonderland of things I would normally keep in my refrigerator at home: cheese, nuts, eggs, yogurt, fruits & vegetables, peanut butter, crackers, chocolate. I go pick something and eat it without second guessing.
Everything is easier if I stay in the moment and only deal with my appetite right now. It gets so much more complicated if you debate what you want now against what you ate earlier, when you'll eat again, how much you weigh, what the latest research says, and what people are eating on Instagram.
You’ll get there, [@sunshine]. It was a slow process for me, letting go of all the external controls and learning to trust the internal cues. It takes time and practice but is such a worthwhile pursuit.
This is the goal for me. I'm no where near here right now, but hopefully it's something I can eventually achieve.