Reply To: Reflections on what I have learnt so far…..

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Interesting question Judith that made me ponder.

I think a big thing for me was really stopping and paying attention to the AD, because sometimes it would be very subtle – just a fleeting thought – and then I would sort of automatically think, ‘Oh, I can’t have that’; or ‘I shouldn’t eat that’; or even just ‘I won’t eat that’ and then justify that compliance by referring to non-weight motivation, such as sleeping better, or a reduction in arthritic pain and tinnitus (both of which were, and are, real). So I wasn’t really working through the AD, but hoping that non-weight benefits would get me where I wanted to be.

That only took me so far, and I found that wasn’t quite the right way to go about it: it was only when I really stopped and attended to the AD that it started to mean anything. On the mp3, Gillian talks about how AD feels physically, where it is in the body, and I found that helped me a lot in ‘staying with’ the desire, instead of these fleeting prohibitive thoughts.

Often, my AD was in my mouth, as you might expect, but sometimes it was definitely my head, my chest or my whole body. That was interesting to notice, and helped me to pause and attend to those physical sensations, and genuinely accept them as an alternative to whatever it was I wanted to eat addictively (in fact, those sensations of yearning weren’t half as bad or scary as I had feared). And it was only after I had experienced the discomfort and longing of the AD, and accepted it as a choice, that I then thought about my non-weight benefits. So once I was clear of the AD, I’d think, ‘Oh, it was so much easier to walk up the hill this morning’; or ‘Oh, it’s so nice to have a clear head when I wake up.’

I often wrote my non-weight benefits down, in the evenings, whether I’d had a good day or not. And they were benefits, so I tried to express them positively, so ‘I didn’t have a migraine today, so I was able to plant some bulbs’; or ‘I got loads of work done because I didn’t keep stopping to stock up on snacks.’ Or, on a day when I’d made not such good choices ‘Crikey, my tinnitus is bad today, I bet it was that bowl of porridge and syrup I had for breakfast’!

Like you, I wasn’t hugely overweight anyway, because I walk a lot, but I had gained some weight after breaking my leg last year. Normally, I’d have dieted to try and shift that extra weight, but I didn’t diet at all. I knew that my problem was with eating, not with my weight. I wore a series of large tunics and loose trousers every day for months and months. I didn’t weigh myself, look in the full-length mirror or step on the scales. I just kept on writing down those non-weight benefits, and noticing when addictive eating interrupted my enjoyment of those.

I have certainly lost weight (the tunics and trousers are looser than ever) but I barely think about that at all. Just being able to go through the days without even thinking about stopping to snack, and having more energy, and enjoying my meals and not feeling that any food is off limits is a great non-weight benefit that I really would not want to lose sight of.

Sorry for the essay! I hope it helps. Sharing on this forum was really brilliant for me when I was getting to grips with it all.