Friday, August 29, 2014

Retrain your brain

So I tormented myself yesterday with indecision as to whether or not to jump into hunger directed eating or whether to keep going on as I am.  Of course, existing in this tortured state completely undermined any good intentions I may have had by staying on track and all my careful laid plans flew out the window.  So yesterday was a total binge day, eating copious amounts of cookie dough, pizza, popcorn, and chocolate.  So I figured "well, since I have dived head first into the Doritos and donuts phase I might as well just commit all out".  I ended up reading the book twice through and writing down everything that was important to know so I could have easy access to it.  While I didn't exactly listen to my hunger signals yesterday, I did some much needed work on step 5 which is checking in with how you feel.

Our brains are naturally wired to associate the immediate outcome with certain events, hence the creation of what Josi calls the "conflicted states".  There are four states of being:
1. Want to: this is the it feels good now and later state where we don't have to think about doing it we just do because we genuinely want to.
2. Won't: this is the it feels bad now and bad later state where we won't do something because we genuinely don't want to-such as chewing on glass
Those are the two non-conflicted states.  What you want or don't want and what is good or bad for you are in harmony.  Where the problem lies is in the conflicted states:
1. Should- feels bad now, but good later: I should eat my vegetables, I shouldexercise
2. Shouldn't- feels good now but bad later- I shouldn't eat that brownie but it tastes so good!

The reason why these two conflicted states exist is because like I mentioned before, our brains automatically pair the immediate sensation with the activity.  Therefore we are not thinking about how that brownie will make us feel in an hour, all we care about is the immediate sensation of the flavor.  We also are not thinking about how we will feel after the walk, we are thinking about how we feel right now and how tedious it is going to be to get ready for and then actually go on that walk.  Therefore the key to turning shoulds into want tos and shouldn'ts into wonts is to manually re-wire your brain.  This can happen sometimes without us even knowing it, most prominently with someone getting sick after eating something.  My husband used to love salad, but one day (before I met him) he went out to eat and ate salad at a restaurant and got violently ill several hours later.  To this day he still cannot eat salad.  The same thing happened to him once when eating tostadas.  He still can't eat tostadas.  It had noting to do with the fact that the tostada or the salad tasted bad. In fact he rather enjoyed eating them, but the aftermath was so traumatic that those foods were firmly moved into the "won't" category.  So you see it is possible to rewire our brains, it just takes some effort on our part.

The whole key to hunger directed eating is ting step 2: eating what you really want with step 5: checking in to see how you feel.  The key is that you have to rewire your brain to think differently about certain foods by focusing on the aftermath of what you are eating.  So yesterday when I was gorging myself on cookie dough, and all the foods I usually forbid myself I tried to focus on how that food made me feel.  It made my stomach queasy, it made me very tired.  I had my first afternoon crash in a long time, and then I had to go to bed at 9pm and couldn't hardly wake up this morning.  This morning I was moody, tired, and grumpy.  Last night I felt sick, and bloated.  So now I just have to focus on that feeling and pair it with the food I ate.  So when I think about eating large amounts of cookie dough, I don't think about how good it tastes, I think about how bad it makes me feel and I ask myself if I am willing to put myself through 24 hours of feeling sick, bloated, tired, and cranky just so I can eat some cookie dough.

Lunch: I got out everything I thought I wanted.  You are supposed to plate everything so the chips and the dessert are also plated. 

After listening to what I really wanted to eat, and stopping when the intensity of the flavor dropped, I stopped eating.  I still had a lot of leftovers, turned out I really only wanted chocolate and yogurt.  I was surprised I left a ton of chips behind and some cookie dough. 

It is going to take a lot of practice and it is going to take time.  Trial and error, and it takes a lot of mindfulness and body awareness.  These are things that naturally thin people do automatically, they don't have to think about it because they never lost touch with their body.  Do naturally thin people occasionally gorge themselves on sweets?  Sure! (Although I know plenty of naturally skinny people that genuinely don't like sweets, and they just don't eat them.  Those foods are firmly in the "wont" category).  My husband eats tons of sweets, and my mom and sister eat plenty too, but they have an innate ability to listen to their body and eventually they turn the sweets aside when their body starts craving better fuel.  My kids will eat half a cookie and then crumble the remainder into little pieces and toss it onto the floor (gasp! how could they turn aside the remainder of their sweets?!?)  It really is fascinating to see what Josi talks about in her books in action around the people I know.

So I have decided to just jump right in, knowing that I will probably have the most trouble with step 3: stopping when you are satisfied.  I am so used to measuring out all my food and I eat all my food.  So the idea of taking a sizable portion and purposefully leaving some behind is totally foreign to me.  Today I really tried to listen to my hunger cues.  After yesterday I wasn't too hungry this morning so I didn't eat until much later in the morning, whereas I usually eat the moment I wake up.  I also worked on paying attention to when I was satisfied and stopped eating 3/4 the way through my oatmeal. 

I made a trip to the grocery store to get peanut butter and orange juice and came out with a $80 bill.  Dang it.  But one of the most important things about the first phase is to open the flood gates and just go out and let yourself have everything you ever wanted, and you have to learn to trust yourself that this food will never be off limits again.  That is how these foods lose their power over you, they drop from the "forbidden" category into the "ordinary" category.  Granted I bought a few other things too besides just my junk food.  I actually only spent $30 on my stash: peanut butter M&Ms, cheese-its, salt and vinegar chips, BBQ chips, Reeses, and diet pepsi.  The important part of this phase is to listen to your hunger and you still have to wait to eat these foods until you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied.  I didn't do so hot yesterday, but today I really tried to eat only when I was hungry and stop when the intensity of the flavor lessened, which when I actually paid attention to it, I was surprised that I could in fact tell when the flavor was not as intense. 

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting. I'm excited to follow you on this journey. I put this book on my Amazon wish list. Hoping it works well for you!