Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daily 5 - Year 3, Day 262

Today's Daily 5:

  1. group mates for an awkward lab
  2. mandarin oranges
  3. six week old baby cuddles
  4. hugs from my "favorite date"
  5. recounting the adventures of the day
  6. house church, studying one of my favorite chapters of scripture, Romans 8

Baby Steps (Continuing the Journey of Body and Food)

The conversation that took place on my last post in this series on my journey with my body and food inspired me.  It was a conversation that I was reminded of when I came across this image on pinterest this week:

I obviously don't have a daughter right now, and maybe I never will, but this image reminded me of the comments that friends left on my last post, about their own daughters, and helped remind me of the importance of learning to love my body now, in this place of having more questions than answers.

After writing that post, I went back to my therapist and we talked about the four week experiment she'd asked me to undertake.  The experiment where I didn't count points or calories, where I didn't climb on a scale, but instead I tried to be more aware of loving my body, of caring for it.

I shared with her that I was fairly certain that over the course of the four week experiment I'd gained back nearly all of the weight I'd spent the previous twelve weeks trying to lose.  That without some sort of tracking system, I found myself eating everything in sight, and rationalizing it.  I was emotional, and craving chocolate - my body wanted chocolate - I only gave it what it wanted, right?  Not precisely a healthy or rounded way of handling things.  Her observation, after more conversation was this - that I had stopped being horrible to my body, but now I was acting indifferently, not really kindly.  She also noted that I seemed to need to some accountability.

So, we tweaked the experiment, and I'm taking baby steps forward.  I'm working on forming healthier images of beauty.  On actually appreciating my body - noticing the myriad of things it does for me each day.  I'm working on noticing the parts of my body that I genuinely like, and focusing on them.  I'm working on being kind to my body.  I'm working on eating more fruits and vegetables, and listening to what my body wants, but filtering out the voices that like immature children ask for desires rather than needs - for chocolate instead of strawberries or carrots.  And I'm counting calories again.

The counting thing works for me.  This has never been a journey solely about weight.  Yes, I'd like to lose some weight (between 15-25 pounds if I'm honest), but it's not about weight particularly.  I'm recognizing a need to love and respect myself - to really see myself as a whole being.  To not have my body be only a utilitarian accessory that I only notice when it fails.  To see my body as the temple I reflected on when I first began writing this series.

I'm recognizing, too, that how I care for myself has a direct impact on my ongoing struggle with mental illness, depression, anxiety, and self-image.  That how I treat myself is a strong indicator not only my own physical health, but my social and mental health as well.

On the wholly practical note, pinterest and counting have been helpful.  I've found exercise tips and images that spoke truths I needed to hear on pinterest.  And counting, well, counting just gives me a target.  I use a website and iphone app called "Lose It!" and have found it helpful, especially as I've personalized it with the foods I eat most regularly.  As someone who has pretty much always despised exercise (with the possible exceptions of synchronized swimming and yoga), it's motivating to me that I earn extra calories through daily activities like walking and house cleaning.  Counting calories isn't an exact science for me.  I'll probably never weigh and measure everything I eat, and I'll probably never have a perfect week of food consumption, under the limit every day, saying no to everything that someone somewhere might deem unhealthy.  But I'm learning that this caring for my body thing is about moderation.  About those baby steps my counselor and I have talked about as necessary in restoring any relationship.  That the goal is to have more good days than bad days.  That sometimes the glass of wine with friends is a good thing, or the celebrating with a decadent restaurant meal is a way of thanking my body and treating my emotions.  That even if a week has more bad days than good, I get to keep trying again and again.

So, I'm counting, I'm looking for new images of beauty, I'm trying to find ways to be gentle and loving to my body.  I'm eating more strawberries (berries in general, really), and I'm hanging out on pinterest.  And I'm using Lose It! (if you happen to use it, let me know - there's a friend feature that can help add accountability).  Baby steps, folks.  The next one is going to be creating a list of all the different little things that I can do to "feel good" on a given day - body, soul, and spirit.  A sort of handy daily checklist that I can refer to.  Another way of adding a bit of accountability to this process for me.

I'd love to hear how this journey has been going for each of you.  Have you been taking baby steps? Giant steps? Are you the need accountability type?  Are there things that are unfailingly on your own "feel good" lists?  The conversation about this journey has been so helpful for me.  Don't let it stop now!