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Tending Towards “Fat”

Posted Sep 15 2009 4:38pm

You know when you set your mind to something, or you have an “ah-ha” moment, then all of a sudden you start noticing things that you wouldn’t have noticed before, and it seems like the universe is trying to tell you something?

Well, since I wrote my last post, I’ve been noticing things. First was this quote by Dr. Christiane Northrup, which came up on my perpetual calendar:

“If you don’t heed the messages from your body the first time they’re delivered, you’ll get hit with a bigger hammer the next time. A delay or denial requires your body to speak louder and louder to get your attention. The purpose of emotions, regardless of what they are, is to help you feel and participate fully in your own life. Stop and experience them! Then change your behavior accordingly.”

Wine was the hammer. And my body was speaking louder.

Then my husband Tim and I spent a week in Nova Scotia to celebrate our 12th anniversary. Although we both brought our laptop computers with us, I made a vow that I wouldn’t spend needless time distracting myself on the Internet. As I wrote in my last post, I want to get into the habit of doing one thing at a time…focusing on one thing at a time without feeling the need to check email, check Facebook, listen to voice mail or whatever else seems attractive at the time.

I also noticed things in Nova Scotia. For instance, people drive more slowly and are much more aware of, and friendly to, pedestrians, especially in Halifax. There’s also a relaxed pace to eating in restaurants. I was really struck by how food is prepared, portioned and served. We easily spent at least two hours at dinner every evening, and not just in fancy restaurants. The servers and staff were certainly attentive, but not overbearing and not in a rush to get us out. Serving sizes were appropriate. It was pleasant.

Now, this is something I’ve noticed in other countries before. It’s something I’ve often strived to do both at home and when eating out, but have never really been successful. And so experiencing it once again in my current frame of mind made a big impact.

On a related note, I want to share this story: while on vacation we went on a three-hour hike along some of the most spectacular shoreline in the world. Afterwards we stopped for lunch at a local deli. Tim said he wasn’t that hungry. I was ravenous. We got a couple of wrap sandwiches and Tim said, “boy these are huge” and that he might not be able to eat all of his.

Inside I was fuming. Not only did I think I could eat all of mine, I also knew I’d probably still be hungry afterwards. In fact I was angry that I was hungry in the first place and that Tim wasn’t. I was angry because I knew I’d be in the mood to “snack” all afternoon. I was angry because our dinner reservations weren’t until 7:30 p.m. and I didn’t want to appear like a piggy after eating my “huge” sandwich. I was angry because I felt like eating out of control. I know myself well enough to know that when I feel like this, it’s usually hormonal. And that was certainly the case this time. I was able to forgive myself a little, but at the same time felt as if I had taken several steps backward.

What’s interesting is that, in the end, I didn’t finish the whole sandwich, mostly because I didn’t want to eat more than Tim did, and was able to wait for dinner without dying of hunger. But I was still angry about it.

After my anger subsided, I remembered reading an article about the habits of naturally thin people. My husband is a naturally thin person and I have often been amazed at his relationship with food. He chews slowly, can deal with be hungry, and would rather wait for a meal than have a snack (that’s not to say that he doesn’t have snacks, but not within an hour of a planned meal). Because he eats slowly, his brain cues him when he’s had enough to eat. He rarely gets “stuffed.” He doesn’t eat mindlessly. If he wants some chips and salsa, for example, he takes out a portion of chips and puts it in a bowl, with a little salsa on the side. He can eat a small piece of chocolate and leave it at that.

Out of curiosity, I decided to Google “naturally thin” to see what would come up.

I clicked on a site called Sound Feelings. Among other things, the site features a book for sale called Act Thin, Be Thin by Howard Richman. The book outlines 65 behaviors that people who struggle with their weight tend to have; it shows the link between how our behavior patterns influence our eating habits. Among those listed on the site are:

Do I push compliments away?
Do I skip meals?
Do I eat while doing other activities?
Do I attempt to do more than one thing at a time?
Do I interrupt people?
Do I fidget?
Do I tend to be a perfectionist?

Under “Do I attempt to do more than one thing at a time?” was a chart called “The Tendency of the Mind” and it looked like this:

Thin…Fat
Focused…Distracted
Inner directed…Outer directed
Concentrated…Diffused
Attention on one thing…Attention on many things
Linear thought/speech…Modular thought/speech
Listens…Talks
Patient…Impatient
Tenacious…Vacillating
Sees process…Sees goal
Planned gratification…Instant gratification
Aware of self…Aware of others
Calm…Frantic
Prefers solitude…Prefers company
Emotionally open…Emotionally guarded
Methodical…Spontaneous

WOW! With few exceptions, my mind tends towards “fat” (and Tim certainly tends towards “thin”). Now, I don’t know much about Howard Richman and his credentials other than what’s on his website, but what I saw SPOKE to me. On some level, I knew that this was part of my problem and that these “fat” tendencies are things I want to change. Not because I think I am a bad person because of them, but because I don’t feel good inside when my life trends in the “fat” direction. And my life has been trending in that direction for a couple of years now.

I know the answer lies in setting a goal, something that until now, I have not wanted to do. Stay tuned though, because I am about to set a goal!

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