Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chapter 12 - Respect Your Body

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that most of you reading this blog find the body acceptance part of this process a little difficult. Okay, maybe a lot difficult. An important thing to keep in mind as you read this chapter and ponder it is that this part of Intuitive Eating takes concerted effort for a long, long time, but is absolutely essential to becoming an intuitive eater. I can talk, because I've been working on this for years now. I've come a long way, but have a long way still to go. I can say now, with full confidence, that I feel better about myself and more comfortable in my skin than I have in a very long time.

A few weeks ago a cousin-in-law of mine posted on her blog about her experience of being a fat girl. She was a chubby kid and by high school was sixty pounds over weight. She lost the sixty pounds slowly over several years and has managed to keep the weight off for a long, long time now. I have a hard time even believing that she was once over weight because she is very small and her eating and lifestyle habits show no signs that they once were a problem. Her life has changed.

One thing she said in her post struck me very deeply because it was the first time I had heard anyone else express my philosophy of weight management. She said, speaking of her years of being overweight..." Most importantly, those years taught me an appreciation for my body, no matter it's size. I really had to learn to accept and acknowledge qualities that made me beautiful on the inside, until eventually, I felt beautiful on the outside. I had to accept where I was - and the frightening prospect that I might always be that way - BEFORE I could go on and change it." Thanks Brittany, I hope you don't mind that I quoted you.

In our book the authors quote another book, Body Traps by Judith Rodin. Here is the quote and I really think this is the magic key to learning how to take care of ourselves they way we should and the way we eventually get to a healthy and natural weight and stay there..."You don't need to lost weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!"

I really, truly believe that if we can learn to like ourselves first, before we are the size we think we should be, than we will start to treat ourselves right and that will mean eating right and exercising, giving our bodies what they need, but not more than they need. You see where I'm going with this?

I ask the questions again that the authors ask at the beginning of chapter 12. Has all the self-loathing because of your body helped you to actually make permanent change? Has dwelling on you imperfect body helped you make peace with your body and food? Maybe it's time to try something totally different?

It's true that it's hard to escape the body torture game when the whole country is playing it. This is why it takes so long to overcome, but that should make us even more determined not to play with the rest of them!

Keep in mind that body acceptance and respect for yourself are not the same thing as giving up or not caring about your body or health. I think we all picked up this book partly because we wanted to be more healthy, but, and I have to say this clearly, body acceptance may mean not being the size that you have dreamed about in your head. Sometimes the size we want to be is unrealistic, and not one that our body can sustain without major work and vigilance. The hard truth of the matter is that body acceptance will include for some of you, having to settle for a normal weight which might be somewhat more than your ultimate ideal?

I would love to hear what you guys think of this chapter and some of your ideas in the area of body respect. Any feed back would be great because I know all of us are stuggling with this.

It's very late and I've got to go to bed, but one last assignment. If you can find a way, I want you to watch a few episodes of What Not to Wear. This is a style show on The Learning Channel and was very helpful to me as I was working on learning to love my body. This show is all about loving the skin your in and learning to dress the body you have NOW, something the authors of Intuitive Eating suggest is very helpful. For those of you who have seen the show you'll know what I'm talking about. So whether you like clothes and style or not, I think you'll learn something from watching an episode or two. If you have time of course.

What I Learned in France

I just returned from an amazing trip to Paris France. Aside from all the wonderful things I saw and did, such as going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and seeing real Renoir's at the Louve, I learned some things that actually were very relevant to this blog and I want to share them with you.

I hadn't been in France long when I noticed an interesting phenomenon. There were no fat French people! Okay, maybe there were a couple chubby older ladies, but really, most of the heavier people I saw in France were Americans. It was weird. Almost everyone was thin! After talking with Emilie about this (Emilie is my cousin who has lived in France for over two years) I learned a thing or two about the french food culture and the reasons why most french people are thin. They are Intuitive Eaters!! Their food culture lends itself very well to this way of eating. I'll explain....

The above two pictures are samples of things we ate in France with almost every meal (notice how small the pastries are). Busy pastry shops are on every corner, and the french eat desserts and white bread very regularly, with almost every meal in fact. Dieting is a foreign concept to them, and even though they move their bodies everyday, they aren't generally regular exercisers. So why are they so thin?

They savor their food. Food that is made carefully and with fresh, real ingredients. They eat slowly, and their portions are much smaller.

Really? Is that all?

Yep, that's all.

The french manage food and meal times much differently than we do here in the good old U. S. of A. Above is a picture of a typical French cafe. We would be seated for lunch and two hours later, finally be wrapping up our meal. Meals really took almost two hours to eat. It was wonderful! We would sit down, be served at drink, a little later, be served bread, a little later a meal, delicious, fresh, and smaller, but totally satisfying. No one rushed us through our meal. We would talk, eat, chat, eat some more. We enjoyed the meal, every bite. Then after having plenty of time to finish our food, we would order dessert. Desserts were amazing, but much smaller than the ginormous portions we are served here in America.

At my first dinner in France I ordered chocolate fondant for dessert. Chocolate fondant was exactly like what we would call chocolate lava cake here at home. I received my cake, which was only about the size of a racket ball, but presented very beautifully. I wanted to savor every delicious bite because it was such a small cake. Then it dawned on me. This was one big reason french people are small. They start with smaller portions and savor each bite because each bite counts. As I was enjoying the most amazing dessert I had ever had, made with the finest butter, cream, chocolate, and eggs, I couldn't help thinking about the huge, head sized chocolate molten cake I'm served at Chili's restaurant back in the states. I was more satisfied, slowly enjoying my little french cake, than I ever had been rushing through that chocolate monster back home at Chili's.

The french sit down to nicely set tables to enjoy their food. They wouldn't dream of eating in the car, having lunch working at a desk, or snacking while watching television. They set the table, sit down, and enjoy themselves at meal times. Emilie said she has carefully observed her french mother and sister in law. They don't nibble as they are preparing food. When preparation is complete and it's time to eat, they put what they want on their plates, sit down, and eat a leisurely meal, not going back for seconds, because they feel so satisfied.

French people rarely, if ever, snack, because eating food quickly would be a less than optimal eating experience. I don't know if I agree with the no snacking thing because it doesn't follow Intuitive Eating very well. Intuitive Eating tells to eat when we feel hungry, which is often between meals, but maybe we should make sure even our snacking is done in an optimal setting, not standing up at the counter or driving down the road.

Here's the new book I'm reading. I'll let you know if it's good. The author was born and raised in France, went for a year long study abroad in America and gained lots of weight. After returning to France she resumed eating in the 'french' way and lost her weight, keeping it off for the rest of her life. I'm about three chapters into it and their are many of the same things advocated in it that go hand in hand with intuitive eating. Mainly, savoring what you really want to eat, stopping when full, not dieting, and not restricting certain types of foods. When I'm done I'll do a review. I'm certain there are many things we could learn from the french way of eating because french women don't get fat!