I suppose in some people’s eyes, writing about problems with eating is far too over-indulgent and really shouldn’t be talked about. This is something you should only discuss with a health professional. Anyone who knows a thing or too about mental health knows that appointments to see counsellors do not come cheap. Nor do they come in a timely manner if you’re on an NHS waiting list. As Caitlin Moran’s piece that I quited said yesterday, over-eating is the lowest rung of addiction. As if we didn’t feel bad enough already, the problems that we have aren’t serious enough to need medical intervention. No one has to be hospitalised after too much Steak and Kidney Pie. We hurt only ourselves. I don’t write things like this to be self-indulgent and I don’t write this to elicit sympathy. I write things like this because somewhere, out there, there might be someone who feels the way I do, but can’t talk about what they’re doing because of how it will be received. A heroin addiction is ‘cool’ and Haribo addiction is less so. So if that you, the Haribo abuser, then these blogs are for you.
As I said yesterday, after long experience, I feel the best way to begin any weight loss plan is by dealing with the negative voice inside if you have one. As long as you are still bound by it, the tiniest slip you make on a diet is likely to be magnified upto a planet-wide catastrophe, for which there is no hope other then doughnuts. While there are many people who can pick themselves up and dust themselves off after a diet-related slip; it’s so much harder if you are in possession of a negative internal voice. Every extra cake, glass of wine or simply too much of anything and it will be metaphorically kicking you around and giving you yet more reasons why you will once again fail at this diet.
But the more you can find the confidence to get up off the floor, dust yourself down and tell it to go take a running jump, the more success you’ll have because that’s you fighting back. You didn’t kill somebody’s puppy, you’re not a disgrace to society, you simply ate some food. OK, so today wasn’t the greatest success, but there’s always tomorrow. The more times you grit your teeth, tell it to shut up and keep pressing on with it, the more you will succeed. Tell it to watch you succeed. Call its bluff.
Eventually you’ll get there and you’ll have the heady experience of being able to look your inner doom-monger right in the eye and be the one this time saying “I told you so.” Then it’s the one on uncertain ground, because it can’t find some terms of reference. It can’t drag out your entire back catalogue of diet failures, because here’s something new – a success – and it really doesn’t know what to do with it.
My little voice is not as strong as it once was, but it’s still there. It’s still looking at me not quite knowing what to do, now that I’m not conforming to many of my old ways of behaving. There are things it will still go for me on and food slips are the big one. It’s less voiciferous about my writing because I now keep waving published stuff at it, which irks it no end. She’s succeeding and you told her repeatedly that she couldn’t. She’s not perfect at this keeping her weight stable though, let’s kick her down on that. True, I’m not, but I’m not where I was either; so I’m still winning.
The main change with me and food is that I am increasingly less able to hurt myself with it. Yes, it does happen, I’m not denying that, but it doesn’t happen to quite the extent it did. I don’t go out to buy additional food to eat and I don’t have certain food items in the house. When it happens it’s never protracted. It takes place over minutes now, not hours. I don’t want to hurt the girl I am anymore. I like her. I want her to eat nourishing food, I want her to be healthy. I want her to fit in her clothes and not hide herself away. I like the fact that she can move now and that exercise isn’t an effort. If I let the voice win I will lose all that, so I am fighting tooth and nail against it.
In many cases, it feels like what’s emerging is the Rachel I should have been, not the Rachel who got lost somewhere along the way. I’m having to re-learn how to be me and that confuses my negative inner voice no end. It doesn’t know what to make of me anymore and frankly, neither do I. I never know what’s going to come out these days!
Work hard on defeating that inner voice. I really believe it’s the key to freeing yourself from the tyranny of food. If the problems that are contributing to the negative inner voice are serious then it’s only right to get some professional support with that.
I’ve been the one telling myself for decades that I’m not worth it and now I know, for sure that I am. So this is me telling you that you are also completely worth it and that little voice WILL shut up if you tell it to, consistently and repeatedly and until you’re blue in the face.
And then tell it some more, because the little bugger will find a way back if you don’t.