I am having a food memory. I am remembering every detail of what it was I ate, how it tasted and felt in my mouth and where I was when I ate it. And the memory is almost 15 years old. I’m not remembering a fancy French dish served on a romantic holiday or the first plate of spaghetti I shared with a date. I am remembering a cool, crisp Gala apple eaten after my first grueling hike through the Cascade mountains in Washington State. This particular apple memory stays with me because it was one of the few times in my life that I was aware of eating food as fuel. I could feel it immediately restoring me and I remember being fully satisfied after it was finished. I was more than 30 years old!
I have always had a complicated relationship with food. In my family it was used as a reward for accomplishments and a comfort to difficult times. Mealtimes in our family were stressful and food was quickly consumed so I could be excused from the table. After my parents’ divorce, my mother often included me in late night ‘un-birthday parties’ that involved fancy cakes that only the two of us consumed. I loved the closeness and secrecy of those moments, even while sensing something was not quite right.
It is no mystery to me why I have such trouble losing weight and keeping it off. Like most women ‘of a certain age’ my metabolism is now slowing and it’s even more difficult for me to shed pounds. In my lifetime I have been a size 6 and a size 20 with stops at nearly every size along the way. Somewhere in the middle of that range these days, I am learning to form a new relationship with my body, my size and what kind of fuel I take in.
In order for any change to be successful, we need to take stock of what our current behaviors mean to us, in my case, why is this excess weight I want to lose there in the first place. This is the paradoxical theory of change that is a key piece of gestalt therapy. Previous diet attempts that have included restriction of calories and extreme exercises have worked for a while. In fact, three years ago I was at my lowest adult weight ever but now am back to where I was when I started that journey. I had done the work identifying my motivation to lose and made changes to my exercise and fitness routine but I had neglected to pay attention to how it was I had gained the weight in the first place.
A new course at TeacherCoach.com looks at the psychology of weight loss and breaks the process into three phases: Awareness, Detoxification, and Implementation. I am learning more about the quality of the food I eat and the support I will need on this journey and I am being gentle with myself as I come to understand that food has meant love, protection, safety and joy over my lifetime. Accepting this, rather than feeling guilty about it, is helping me find new ways to meet these needs while taking better care of the body I live in.
You can check out this course yourself and many others on health and wellness at http://teachercoach.psychpro.com/catalog.php