Hi Fitties! Second week of Intuitive Eating and by golly I’m practically an expert. 😉
Something that I’ve worried about, and I know others worry about, is that if stop dieting, if we stop listening to other people tell us what’s good for us and when our bodies are hungry and what our bodies need to eat and how much and how often they should be fed… we will eat and never stop. And at the bottom of all that worry is the fear: we will get fat.
I know this because I see what people Google and how they land on my little blog. (Hi! Welcome! I’d hug you if I could!)
Will you gain weight when you first begin Intuitively Eating? It seems… probably. I am. If you’ve restricted calories or if you’ve used exercise to punish yourself for overeating… or if you begin eating foods with higher carbohydrate or sodium levels, you will most likely notice your clothes fit more tightly. In her workbook for Intuitive Eating Why Weight? Geneen Roth outlines the stages of Breaking Free from emotional eating. In the early stages, there may be weight gain. She writes “Don’t panic at the weight gain. It is not atypical, and it is a natural reaction to years of deprivation. You will not gain a hundred pounds.” (p. 21)
Do not panic. Repeat after me: The best way out is through.
If you go back to dieting, to weighing, to pinching the inches that you loathe and despise… you’ll have to do this work someday. Or you’ll have to live your life weighing out your portions of skinless chicken breasts. On one diet after another.
It’s not that you shouldn’t ask the question: “What if I gain weight intuitively eating?”
You should ask that question.
Who will be bothered by your weight gain? You? Your husband? High school boyfriend? College roommate? Mother? Father? Grandmother? Whose voice do you hear in your head exclaiming that your pants are getting tight? Does someone else in your life care more about your weight than you do?
What will your life be like if you gain weight? Will your friends hate you? Will they secretly be happy that you’re fatter? Will they wish they could stop dieting too? Will your husband stop touching you? Or start touching you?
Have you ever been heavy before? What was it like? Did you like it? Was your life very different? Did people notice? Did it embarrass you to have people notice your body? Did it please you? Anger you?
One of the most scandalous, heartbreaking lies that is fed to us by the media is that a woman’s inner self is less important than her outward appearance. Oh, we’ve moved past the days where a woman’s looks were all that matters, but typically, if you’re not pretty and thin, then no other accomplishment matters. Even if it’s not said outright, it is implied in thousands of way in advertising, tv shows, music videos and films. I remember a line from that move The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Uma Thurman’s asshole boyfriend sneers to Janeane Garofalo’s character “not only are you a dumb bitch, you’re an ugly dumb bitch.” The unforgiveable sin isn’t her perceived dumbness or bitchiness, it’s her ugliness.
Because we have been brainwashed into accepting the body that newspapers, television, magazines, and movies idealize, and because we in turn have begun to believe that the shape of our bodies is ultimately within our control, our bodies become the battleground for an often lifelong and very intense contest of wills: its against ours. If we’re unfortunate enough to be born into this culture without developing this culture’s ideal body, and if, as women, we feel that the shape of our bodies determines our acceptance or rejection in both our professional and personal lives, and if we believe that we can use our will and our denial of bodily messages to shape our bodies, then the struggle is endless…. We learn to treat our bodies like naughty children whose wishes are absolutely out of the question. We learn to judge them, ignore them, ridicule them, torture them. ~Geneen Roth, Breaking Free From Emotional Eating (emphasis added).
Fearing weight gain is natural when you live in a society like ours. There are other things to fear as well, though. For example, if you’ve used restriction, bingeing, food and body obsession to delay dealing with the complications of life… you will have to learn to approach life without the armor of dieting. That’s a scary prospect. If fat has been a way of protecting yourself or sealing yourself off from attention, letting go of that protection will take time.
Is it worth it? I think it is. A life lived hiding in our bodies or behind food is a life that is half-lived. Geneen Roth writes in her introduction to Why Weight? “You must feel that the pain of what you are doing to yourself with food is greater than the fear of trusting yourself. You must believe that the serenity and profound joy of living a life free of the obsession with food is stronger than the fear of what will happen when you begin.”