Listening to my body
Once upon a time, I discovered I couldn’t sing. I had lost my entire upper register and this went on and on, for like 2 months. When I finally decided to go to the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor to see what was going on, what I found out was that I had large nodules on my vocal chords from severe silent reflux. Silent reflux is like heartburn, but it’s a smaller amount of stomach acid that goes up higher into your throat. It’s less noticeable than heartburn and has some different symptoms.
For a long time I thought I had exercise-induced asthma….nope-it was my silent reflux. I thought I had an allergy to something or that maybe I had forgotten how to swallow because I had excess phlegm that made me choke on my food sometimes. Nope, silent reflux. I thought my lack of energy, desire to take a few naps a day and subsequent caffeine dependence was due to my weight…but it was actually because my late night eating was making my silent reflux flare up at night and disrupt my sleep. So many things and I had no idea. So once I knew…I had some choices to make. There were medication options, vocal therapy, and a whole list of foods to avoid to calm the reflux. I did all three.
I started taking Omeprazole daily, I went to vocal therapy weekly, and I eliminated a whole bunch of foods. I was vigilant. I didn’t eat even a single shred of cheese, not the tiniest bit of chocolate. No more coffee or Dr. Pepper. I didn’t even chew mint gum. For 8 months.
My body did a lot of healing. And I learned how to listen to it very closely and to understand what my particular body signals and symptoms were and what they felt like. And I started to experiment with those foods that I had eliminated to see with my new connectedness and healed stomach, what they would feel like in my body. And I have learned what and how much I can eat and what just doesn’t work at all.
Seeing the change
Everything I did, all of the elimination- I was willing to do forever if that’s what was necessary for my body. I remember my girls saying-”mom we feel so bad for you! You can never eat chocolate again!” and I would respond and say “Me and chocolate…we had a good run! It’s ok!” And it was true. I had eaten A LOT of chocolate in my life and I was totally ok with not eating it anymore if it meant healing my voice.
I do eat a little chocolate here and there now, but it is one of the worst things for my reflux, so it just isn’t worth eating it much, really. I eat almost all of those things again now…but WAY less than I did before. Some things I always avoid…I do eat dairy a little-butter, some cheese once in a while, a little ice cream sometimes…but never straight milk. It just really bothers my body.
I love spicy food, but my body doesn’t-so spicy meals are few and far between and always earlier in the day. That’s one thing that is a forever thing for me- I don’t eat after 7:30. Just no matter what. It’s a hard and fast forever rule. That gives my body adequate time to digest before I lay down to go to sleep. My sleep has changed 100% which I think aside from being able to sing again is the biggest most beneficial change that happened as a result of the process. Getting adequate sleep changed my life.
What is sustainable?
One of the biggest issues with our failed weight loss attempts…and by failed I mean you either quit and didn’t get to your goal or got there but gained it all back, is that we have a “FOR NOW” only attitude approach to the process. We are willing to eliminate certain food groups, or we are willing to count macros, or eat shakes and powders for 2 meals a day…FOR NOW.
The whole time we are thinking that once we successfully lose the weight, we will eat cake or fruit or stop counting or eat food instead of powder. We can’t wait to be done with our diet so we can eat a roll or chips or whatever we have been restricting but wanting really badly.
What you choose to do to lose weight is what you should be willing to do on an ongoing basis.
We want to choose our changes based on things we are willing to do in some form of forever. Our biggest issue with weight loss is that we tend to do crazy extreme things that we hate, don’t want to keep doing, and can’t wait to stop. This is a recipe for failure. If you hate what you are doing and eating, you are not going to keep doing and eating it.
For most of us we swing from restricted eating, back to what we were eating before when we get sick of restriction. If you go back to what you were doing before, you will go back to what you weighed before. We seem to be so surprised and frustrated by this. But it’s just how it is. You reap what you sow right?
So when you are deciding what to change about your eating in order to lose weight, you want to make sure you are taking into consideration not just what will “work” FOR NOW, but what will also work for you forever and make sure you create a plan of action that balances it out.
Rebelling against restriction
Eliminating or severely limiting sugar and flour is really useful to your weight loss. It allows your digestive hormones to reset, regulate and your body to start functioning as it was designed to…to burn excess fat rather than storing more and more. However, most people would like to eat a piece of cake on their birthday or eat some hot out of the oven chocolate chip cookies ONCE IN A WHILE. So FOR NOW you are going to eliminate cake and sandwiches and cookies, and then forever you will limit eating them-it won’t be a daily thing and we won’t eat it in unlimited quantities whenever the urge comes over us, but it will make appearances in your life.
In my situation, I found a balance of what worked FOR NOW to heal my body and the structure that will work FOREVER to keep it that way. We want to make sure that we aren’t only looking at one or the other-if you are only focused on what works for now with no consideration of what you want to do forever, you will be in temporary restriction mode and will end up going back to what you were doing before as you rebel against restriction. If you only focus on forever you might be out of touch with what you actually need to do now, what will work for now.
So ask yourself: what does this look like for now? What will it look like forever? What is the for now version, and what is the forever version?
The and is key. It is so easy to focus on forever only…on the end result we are wanting so badly…or what we will finally get to eat when we are done with this diet and have lost the weight.
It is also really easy to focus on what we are doing for now. We white knuckle it-just trying to get through this day, choking down food we hate as a FOR NOW means to the end. So when we balance for now and forever-we can keep our goal in sight, while still paying attention to what we are doing now and making sure we like it and are willing to keep doing it in some form.
Balancing for now and forever
Eventually you will get to maintenance. Maintenance is where for now and forever come together. It will look a little different than the weight loss phase. So exactly what you are doing to lose, will look slightly different as you maintain…maintenance is where you will experiment with adding in some things, changing up the composition of your meals, eating slightly bigger portions so you get to that balanced place where you weight is doing normal small fluctuations but basically staying in the same range.
I have a question for you to consider with the idea of balancing for now and forever. It comes from my favorite-Morgan Harper Nichols. She said she was stuck considering the question-what are you doing with your life? Wondering about that created pressure and had her focus on the macro and the end results and not the present. And so she decided to shift the question instead to what are you doing WITHIN your life?
That changed the focus to the present, and to focusing on the micro and to paying attention to what her current experience and desires are. Which is ultimately what creates the future results anyway-all of the little tiny micro decisions we make within our lives.
It’s such a simple shift and I think it applies in so many places, but especially here-the for now decisions and changes…that is what you are doing within your journey. Focus on the experience of it all. This isn’t just a means to an end-the end being the scale. This process is you learning to take different care of yourself. You building a new relationship with yourself and your body and food.
If you are disregarding all of that and focusing on forever-eating food you don’t even like, eating very little so that the scale will move faster, you are spending your time trying to do something with your life instead of trying to do things within your life. If you are connecting to what feels good in your body not just what tastes good, if you are going slowly and meeting yourself where you are and working to understand why you have the habits and patterns you do and make changes on that level with lots of love for you…you are focused on what you are doing within your life.
Your everyday experience matters. It won’t be rainbows and roses and good feelings all day long everyday. But it will be the authentic experience of your life that allows you to learn to navigate discomfort and keep this going forever.
Because ultimately that is what we want. We want to make a change that lasts forever right?
I’d love to help you learn how to balance what works for now and what will keep working forever. That is how you make the real and lasting changes you are looking for.