Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Permission to Diet?

(It's fairly widely accepted these days that the word "diet" is a bad word and should be replaced with "healthy living" or some other such term synonymous with the intention to reduce food intake and increase exercise. For the purposes of being understood, I'm using the D word in today's post.)

I want to know, why is it that in my skinniest days I was able to say that I was losing weight for competitions, but now that I have gained a few pounds I am not allowed to even mention an intention to cut back?!

The difference seems to be that when I was trying to lose weight for TKD, I felt I had a legitimate reason, one that was not based in a shallow desire to fit into a smaller size of clothing (that was just an unbelievable bonus!). So I felt I was given permission, in social situations, to decline all forms of treat food, acting as though excess calories were kryptonite to my system. None of my friends had a problem with my lunacy of 3 small meals and up to 3 training sessions a day. Even my starvation periods pre-competition were either accepted or went unnoticed as I cut back to close to between 100-500 cals a day to lose last-minute water weight. All of this was allowed because I was an athlete and this had to be done to make weight.

I was an athlete. One who would be nearly fainting as she got on to the weighing scales. One who would be barely able to finish a couple of rounds in the ring and would need hours/days of recovery time before eating or feeling normal. An athlete, a sparrer, who was lean and fit, but mentally unprepared for the fight.

Now I eat normally. I have learned from my mistakes of the past. I know now that in order to train hard and be strong I need to give my body fuel. Over the summer I ate more than normally. I took a break. I gained more holiday weight than I'd intended. I want to lose it. Without resorting to my old "tricks of the trade", I want to go on a proper, healthy, diet. But I can't say that. I can't go on a diet just because I want to be skinnier, it's just not allowed. I could lie and say that I have a competition coming up that I need to prepare for, but I'm too honest for that. Even if I could keep a straight face, my blushing cheeks would give me away. So I give in to the perceived social pressure and I eat normally, and then I feel guilty because I know I shouldn't be eating so much.

I know how to lose weight, I've done it so many times I could nearly write a book on it. In fact, I have written lengthy notes and diet/training plans for other competitors. So how do I give myself permission to diet, ignoring public perception, without slipping back into extreme mistakes of the past?


Sagan said...

That's a tough situation to be in. It's strange, because society pressures us to look fantastic all the time, but doesn't seem to appreciate the steps that need to be taken to achieve that goal- we call those couple extra pounds "vanity pounds" and friends and family encourage us to "not bother eating healthy, just this once". It's a frustrating predicament!

Shivers said...

Hi Sagan, thanks for dropping by! :) That's such a good term for it - "vanity pounds", that's exactly why I feel guilty about dieting to lose them - I don't really need to. It's hard to talk about this with my friends because most of them would be a dress size bigger than me. And the ones that are skinny are effortlessly so, and don't understand why anyone would need to adjust their diet/exercise. It's very frustrating! :)

Charlotte said...

You sound just like me. How to lose the weight to get back to the point where I feel comfortable in my own skin but not be unhealthy about it? I don't have any answers for you - you know what you need to do, I imagine - but I am interested to see you do it!

Shivers said...

Oh Charlotte, I don't have the answer either. I know the logical response to someone in my predicament, but I'm having major difficulties with the emotional aspects. It's just the first time I've genuinely felt too big, and that my weight loss is solely for image purposes, it brings up a Pandora's Box full of emotional triggers. I do feel supported by all these Fitosphere Blogs though, and sometimes gently nudged into action by seeing how all of you are handling your own struggles. xx

Missicat said...

Hi - thanks for dropping by my blog! This is a tough situation - I also used to diet unhealthily to get to the weight I wanted. I have eased up on myself a bit, I guess with age comes wisdom :-). Hope you figure it out so you can pass it along!

Tricia said...

I've found that if I want to lose a bit (or get back to eating healthy fast), I'll go low-carb for a week or so, then slowly integrate other foods back into my diet (but I never feel the need to lose weight, because I'm fairly little: the lack of carbs is a way to clean out my system).

You could pick a reasonably healthy diet (low-carb, the Zone, whatever, as long as it's not crash dieting and it passes the "would I be able to recommend this to a family member/close friend" test) and for me "I'm dieting" becomes "I'm going low-carb" or "Now now chief, I'm in the Zone" (youtube new haircut to see what I'm referring to there if you don't know).

Crabby McSlacker said...

Great post, and I think it's a tough issue.

I think the bottom line for me is that "healthy eating" can include portion control as well as the kind and quality of food I eat. So I don't tend to use the D word, but still pay attention to how much I'm getting.

But it really shouldn't be anyone else's business how we choose to eat but our own!

Shivers said...

Hi Missicat - Right back at ya! :o) I hope I figure it out too, actually maybe a bit of bravado would help: I'm SURE I'll figure it out! :o)

Tricia - I like your idea of following a plan that I would recommend to a friend, in fact I think I'm going to try and do a plan for myself. I also like to cut back on carbs when I'm eating healthily, it just combats the bloating feeling, there's nothing like a flat tummy to keep me motivated.

Shivers said...

Hi Crabby! Thanks for the comment! :o) You're right about it not being anybody else's business, but it's hard to be entirely resilient to peer pressure. Although I don't think anybody cares as much I perceive them to, the pressure is probably more internal than anything. If I just ignored those who assured me I look fine they way I am, or who tried to tempt me with empty calories, I'm sure they'd lose interest.

I think I need to believe in myself first, and stop just accepting excuses.

tokaiangel said...

I'm doing exactly the same thing now (dieting), and I get a lot of grief for it because so many people know about my eating disorder.

I have to be sure that the people who love me are reassured at all times that I'm looking after myself and being sensible. THAT is the important bit as far as I'm concerned. Everyone else can go to hell.

TA x

Shivers said...

TA, that's probably the best way for you to handle it right now, especially to make sure your loved ones aren't worrying about you. I'm trying to just be discreet at the moment and get into a routine of restricted/healthy eating without drawing unnecessary attention to myself. xx

MizFit said...

Oh that I had any answers.

for me it is all this:
I know now that in order to train hard and be strong I need to give my body fuel.

and right now train hard is DO MY BABAYMAMA WATCHING JOB.

anything wrong with wanting to shed vanity pounds? no

but it's all what you said about pandoras box huh?

Shivers said...

To follow up on my attempts to be discreet: I ate a healthy lunch in the canteen at work today, when 2 people commented on my food I merely said I'd eaten a late breakfast of a big bowl of porridge and simply didn't feel that hungry. Their curiousity was quickly sated and the topic of conversation moved on briskly... phew... :o)

Shivers said...

Hey Miz, the whole healthy eating/body image is just an emotional minefield, I'm so glad I have all your blogs to keep me sane and supported. It's such a relief to not feel like I'm the only one that finds it tough! :)