I have been in that situation so many times where I’m eating the “right” amount according to diet lore, but I’m not losing any weight, I’m suffering all the symptoms of being chronically underfed, but if I eat any more I gain. Now, admittedly, sometimes I gained because I was trying to maintain a weight that was too low. Your body will definitely fight you on that and win. But there were other times when I was well above what seems to be my natural set point and experiencing the same phenomenon. Can’t lose anything even eating according to the maths, can’t eat any less because I’m going crazy, 😜and if I eat any more I gain quickly. That is the epitome of diet hell, but it’s fixable! You just need to be willing to go ahead and eat more and gain, which terrified me beyond all reason. It was completely unacceptable and not going to happen, no way. Until it happened against my will and regardless of my intentions. At some point my body just overrode the stupid. Eventually, extreme hunger leads to expanding portions and bigger and more frequent lapses, even if you’re trying desperately to restrict. This is a GOOD thing! Once you’re consistently eating enough food, your metabolism comes out of the nosedive, weight gain stops, you’re maintaining or losing on a much higher intake, and you feel like a new person. I wish I’d had the guts to pursue that chain of events directly, but I never did. I went kicking and screaming, guilty and ashamed. It doesn’t have to be that way.
My irrational fear was that I would keep gaining and gaining forever, but my habits don’t support that and my body doesn’t want that. It’s not out to get me. It wants health and stability as much as I do, more so. I was the fool willing to sacrifice everything to lose five pounds or wear a smaller clothing size. My body was pursuing genuine health all along, in spite of me. These habits I have aren’t very complicated. They’re things like eating when I’m hungry and stopping when I’m totally satisfied. Being more mindful and present, especially when I’m eating. Sleeping when I’m tired. Moving for fun. Feeling feelings. Living my values.
Radical, right? Reckless? Or maybe it makes all the sense in the world.
How cool that you’re experiencing the benefits of eating enough and not restricting, @Amanda! There are so many. It just keeps getting better as far as I’ve seen.
Oh, yes, the idea that I should eat less than my husband. I was stuck on that one too, automatically serving myself less because of calorie math, diet lore, and wanting to be dainty (and then struggling with binge urges later as a result). Reality is that I frequently eat twice as much as him and weigh thirty pounds less. I’m hungrier, more physically active, and have experienced chronic semistarvation. It makes sense that I want and need more food at times. We can never know exactly what’s going on with our own body and energy needs, and definitely not with anyone else’s. “Eyes on my own plate” has become such a helpful mantra. If I trust that my body knows what it needs, everything just works.
Love this so much! After discussing wanting to let go of restriction in my journal, listening to the advice you've given me skwigg, and devouring all the Tabitha Farrar resources, I've been allowing myself to eat more and (as best as I can in the moment) not judge it as being wrong. And guess what? Not only have I not put on additional weight I seem to have released a little. The idea that I could be underfed and restricting while over my natural set point has been a mind blowing concept to get my head around - but now I'm really beginning to see just how much restriction, including mental restriction, signals to my body to hold onto all the energy it can get. I'm moving into that place of fully understanding and experiencing how the mental restriction around snacking such as thinking to myself "I shouldn't be having this" while stuffing food into my face :) sends my whole system into fight/flight mode. I've taught it through repetition that when this happens restriction is coming, in the sneaky guise of what I've decided is normal eating, but is really the 'only eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full' diet. I can't even begin to say how much of a huge mental shift this is for me. However I am not perfect at it and it is not always easy. There's a lot of old ingrained diet culture beliefs I'm having to constantly ignore and challenge. One belief I noticed the other day was the idea that I should eat less then my husband. I caught myself in the moment and said to myself 'how does my husband's energy needs have absolutely anything to do with mine. We have completely different bodies' and all of a sudden it just seemed like the most ridiculous thing ever - and I've been intentionally dishing myself up a smaller serving than his for years like some diet-brain robot! There are plenty of times where I still judge snacking or eating more, but those thoughts are becoming less and less, as is the urgency to 'fix' my weight and food issues. The more intense horrible compulsive feeling and anxiety around food is slowly slipping away.
Great post, skwigg. I especially loved this: " My irrational fear was that I would keep gaining and gaining forever, but my habits don’t support that and my body doesn’t want that. It’s not out to get me. It wants health and stability as much as I do, more so."