Archive for the ‘weight loss’ Category

In response to “A canadian reader”

April 19, 2009

hi… so I finally got some time to sit down and continue the discussion started last week about “how to eat only when you’re hungry.” Wendy, also known as “Canadian Reader” here, posted a long reply to this discussion on her blog, called “the red leather boots syndrome.” Thanks for sharing such an intimate story, and it resonated with me in many different ways.

Since the long term goal of this discussion is to ultimately help people find a positive appreciation of food again, and be able to eat when they’re hungry, and stop eating when they’re not hungry, I’ll share the thoughts that go in that directions.

First of all, good job for opening the can of worms, and digging  out the stuff from the past that may influence your eating habits today. Articles and books that I have read on the topic of being overweight often suggest that this “syndrome” is often rooted in the past, especially childhood. I tend to believe this, and I think I am no exception to this rule. In a way, I envy Wendy to have so much clarity and to have been able to shed such a bright light on how her eating patterns are influenced by the past. In my case, I think this is where I must dig, but I have no clue how the past is influencing me today. Well, I know that it did make me want to be self-destructive, but I do not know the psychological mechanisms at work behind it.

All I know today, is that the past doesn’t need to be fully solved and understood to re-develop a healthy relationship to food. Of course, if it was, I think the challenge would be easy. But I know that I didn’t have to gain full clarity on my background in order to re-develop a healthy relationship to food, and to remove self-destructive behaviours (cf, the non-alcohol 30 day trial)… I even think that because I have removed the means of escapism (and this month, I’m taking care of overspending, and trust me, this is another scary situation that I will tell more about later) I will now be able to work on removing the negative influence of my past on my life today.

The reason why I am saying this, is that for a long time I have thought: “well, until I haven’t figured out the past completely, I will not improve”. And I have discovered that it’s not true. Now that I have accomplished my latest 30 day trial, I know that I am capable of sustaining this way of eating for an extended period of time, and it will take me less effort to go back healhty habits… Today, I have figured out that no matter where I stand, no matter how much clarity I have, I can make steps towards a more positive life, and I can be the artisan of the kind of existence that appeals to me more.

How to eat only when you’re hungry ? (Post 1)

April 14, 2009

(the answer to this question is a work in progress 🙂 )

Following the responses of two readers of this blog, “Cath” and “A Canadian Reader”, I want to take the time to address their concerns to the best of my knowledge and experience. Their comments made me want to re-start a project that I thought about 2 years ago, but that I gave up on, because I thought I lost the credibility to do it. Now, I feel like I’m gaining back that credibility, and it could be the time to restart it 🙂 !

Here is, in a nutshell, the project. There are tons of books on the specific actions to take to lose weight : calorie control, counting the points, not mixing your proteins and your carbs, or eating only when you’re hungry (the one I just followed, and the only one I believe in after decades of struggle), but there is no literature to help you make the mind shift to have healthy eating habits. Losing weight is treated as a technical challenge (just measure and reduce your intake of food, or just listen to your stomach and eat when you are hungry) but in fact, becoming healthy is an “adaptive challenge”, because it requires you to adapt your current way of thinking. Most time, adapting your way of thinking means giving up on things that you always held as truth, and this could cause internal or external conflict. But it could also sometimes be a smooth and effortless process. I have mentioned several times the book “Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr, because it really helped me make the mind adaptation necessary to become a non-smoker and to realize that when I thought, when I was sure I needed a cigarette, I really didn’t.

(for more on the topic of technical versus adaptive challenges, you can buy the article of the author of the concept, published in the Harvard Business Review here, or you can get a summary here … it’s originally a business concept that I learned during the MBA, but it can be applied in non-business situations that require growth/change)

So now that I am convinced that not restricting food, and eating when (but only when) you are hungry is the definite way to become healthy, I realize that it wasn’t easy to bring myself to follow this rule, and that other people are still struggling with it.

I know that Paul McKenna thinks that an adaptive challenge can be overcome with Neuro Linguistic Programming (N.L.P.), but I must admit: I don’t have faith in NLP anymore. I think people need more guidance than just doing NLP exercizes that will supposedly put them in the right mindset.

The best way to address other people’s concerns, I guess, is to address what’s been said to me directly, so I will answer my two readers, and we’ll see what happens from there.

A Canadian Reader

You mention in your comment that you feel anger because if you listened only to your stomach, you eat so little food that this doesn’t satisfy you psychologically. Now, this is a very interesting comment.

First of all, let me tell you that even though I am big and tall, when I listen only to my stomach, I eat very little as well. For example, I said that I managed to lose weight by eating pizza, but listen to this: when I order a pizza, I rarely eat more than 2 slices, because my stomach is not hungry for more. I usually end up tossing the pizza away, or giving it to other people. Same with French fries, I usually eat only half (if even that) of the box, because my stomach is full very easily. Similarly, I usually eat only half of a hamburger. I find that with fruits and veggies, my stomach is not filled as fast, so I can eat more. So I have experienced the same thing as you do: I eat very little quantities of food because when I listen to my stomach signal, I don’t need as much.

This was a strange experience for me, because I was taught by my mother (not taught directly, but taught through imitation of habits), that a real satisfying meal contains a first course, a main course, cheese and dessert, and with huge quantities of food in the main course plate, and also usually a substantially big dessert. So it was very surprising to me to see how little food I ate by only listening to my stomach. But I guess I was able to accept that because in the past I had tried drastic diets where I ate very little food (I don’t believe in these diets anymore, because I always ended up putting back on more weight than I lost, due to the frustration it created). After having followed my stomach for 30 days, I have to tell you that the quantities that I need to fill my stomach and satisfy my hunger are much less than what I thought.

Second, it is very interesting to read that a small meal doesn’t satisfy yourself psychologically. Maybe you could tell me a little bit more on that, so that I could tell you if there is anything in my experience that could help. The concept of eating when you’re hungry and stopping if you think you’re not hungry any longer is all about recognizing that eating is here to satisfy your stomach and your biological need to eat, but not to satisfy your brain. I understand that overeating has a psychological function to you. I’ve done it for 29 years (and I may do it in the future again, because it’s only been 30 days that I have done something else). I don’t fully understand the ropes of it. McKenna says that it acts like a drug, as overeating releases a chemical in your brain. Maybe. I know from experience that overeating is an addictive behavior, and that it is used to escape reality, so it is fair to say that it is like a drug. And yes, the first reaction of a drug addict when you take the drug away is : “fuck you !” or “how can I possibly live without it?”

So when you say “a small meal doesn’t satisfy me psychologically”, what goes in your mind exactly ?

For me, when I see that I am full after eating very little, I think: “wow, this is amazing. I’m not hungry after eating so little, surely, that means my body is going to trim, I’ll shed weight and I’ll become healthier… This is going to speed things up.” And I don’t care that I ate so little, because I know that if I feel hungry one hour later, I will eat something.

Finally, I am not sure Allen Carr’s book could help you stop overeat. In my case, it didn’t work, because the situations he describes are very specific to smoking. I had to figure out on my own how to manage to follow healthy eating habits.

Cath

Hey! So for your information, I spent 3,5 years in Boston, I studied film and writing at Emerson College, and then spent my final semester in Los Angeles.

To answer your comment:

First you say that you’re not good at stopping eating when you think you’re full. It would be interesting to have more details about that, so that I can tell you if I identify with some of the things that go through your mind.

Second, you mention that your main point of struggle is that you do something else while you eat. I sometimes do too, but only if a) it doesn’t distract me from actually enjoying what I am eating, and b) I can still be in touch with the sensations of my stomach. I do think that in the beginning, it was better for me to give up other activities when I ate, because I wanted to be in touch with my feelings.

By following the “I can make you thin” rules for 30 days, I became very respectful of the act of eating, and of food. I was very disrespectful of it, because there were so many negative feelings attached to eating: guilt, anger, pride, etc. Now, I’m not kidding when I say I love food. I do love all types of food, and the act of eating, either on my own, either in the company of others. I’ve understood it as a biological need, and I honor it as an act of nature. I do not see it as a waste of time if I only eat without doing anything else, on the contrary. I see it as a way to reconnect with my body, and also a sensual experience; I take the opportunity to smell and taste everything.

How does that resonate with you?

***

I really hope that we’re going to get this discussion going, and that maybe other people will join too and share if they’re struggling to apply this principle. I’m sure it could be a constructive experience for all people involved.

The honest review of “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna

April 12, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

Now that I have actually succeeded this attempt to follow the principles of “I can make you thin” by Paul McKenna for 30 days, I feel that I have more credibility in writing a review. I want to dismiss the review that I wrote in the summer of 2008, because at that time, I broke the rules so many times. Today, I can say that I gave the PaulMcKenna principles a real chance, and that I followed them unfailingly for the past 30 days. And since I am not paid to appear in his infomercials (because his “I Can Make You Thin” program on UK and US TV really are long infomercials), I can give the full and honest review of this method.

Let’s start with the critical stuff. Why? Because this will allow me to end on a (very) positive note.

Most of what I thought in Summer 2008, I still think today. First of all, Paul McKenna did not invent this method, nor is he the only one who advocates this method. As far as I am aware, the paternity (or rather the maternity in this case) of this method goes to an American woman whose name I forgot (and I don’t want to search it on the net, because it doesn’t matter). Moreover, there is a French doctor (Dr Zermati) who published a book with the similar ideas, but with much more details. I don’t know if McKenna is a good hypnotist, but I think he’s a great marketer. And there is nothing wrong with that. Marketing in itself brings value to people (this could be a biased statement because I work in marketing, but give me the opportunity to explain). I had never heard of that American woman who advocated this method. I lived 4 years in the United States, and at that time, I was very much on the lookout for ways to diet. And who else outside of France has heard of Dr Zermati who also preaches this way to lose weight? Even in France, not many people know him. In the UK and in the US, most people who want to lose weight know McKenna, and even outside of these countries, many people have heard of him. So just for that achievement of publicizing this way to become thin, he deserves praise.

(did I say I was starting with the critical stuff?)

I still think that the book doesn’t go in real depth about making the mindshift to becoming healthy. My point of reference remains “Easy Way to Stop Smoking”, by Allen Carr, in which the author goes in depth into every situation where a smoker is tempted to smoke, and gives thought directions to overcome that temptation. Paul McKenna does go into many situations where people are tempted to overeat, but as a response he gives many “NLP exercizes”, that, pardon my French, are utter bullshit. All the tapping, the “super me”, the mirror exercizes never did anything for me. And I find it lazy of him to think that he’s actually helping people this way, rather than dig into solutions that could give real mental shifts. I think the same of the CD. Not once did I listen to it during this trial. In the previous trial, I did listen to it maybe 5-10 times in the course of 30 days. BS.

I think that if he indeed went as deep as Allen Carr did with his quitting smoking book, “I Can Make You Thin” could be an easy way to stop overeating. But at this stage, it isn’t. The rules are indeed simple, but you’re on your own to figure out how to follow them. I was lucky, I eventually did. This is not the case with everybody and I know of people who struggle to apply the rules in their daily lives (even when they do the “exercizes” everyday).

Now that I’ve let this out of my system, I want to go on to the positive side.

And let me be clear : following the “I Can Make You Thin” principles to become healthy is, in my opinion, the only mentally sane way to lose weight, and a very efficient one.

There, I said it.

Figures : At the beginning of this 30 day trials, I was at 101 kilos. Indeed, three days of Indian food stuffing in Bombay had made me put on 2 kilos that I had lost effortlessly after stopping to drink alcohol. Today, I weigh 93.5 Kg. That’s 7.5 kilos lost in 30 days. That’s crazy! (crazy, as in, that’s crazy good). And for my anglo saxon readers, that’s 16 pounds.

Alcohol: Having removed alcohol completely in my previous trial was a condition for success in this trial. Paul McKenna says in his book that it is better to not drink at the beginning; for me, it was essential. Drinking makes me lose control over my eating habits, and I would overeat at parties or social dinners, or feel very hungry after coming back from a night of boozing and raid the fridge, or a kebab place. Today, I do feel hungry after a night a partying, but I only eat what satisfy my hunger.

At the end of my no-alcohol trial, I said that I will want to drink alcohol at some point again in the future, I do not know when, but I will probably. With the Paul McKenna trial, I see no reason to ever go back to overeating. The only thing I may be doing in the future is to cut some foods for health reasons, but I will definitely try and eat when I’m hungry, enjoy, and stop eating when I think I’m no longer hungry. If you’re struggling to apply the McKenna principles, and are drinking regularly, you may want to consider removing the booze for a bit (just to try it for 30 days) and then try the Paul McKenna thing.

Feelings: In the past 30 days, I went to fast food several times. I ate everything I wanted: ice cream, French fries, pizza, cheese, chocolate cake, cookies… Of course, I also ate vegetables, rice, fish, salad, fruit… But I wanted to insist on the first group, because they are usually qualified as “evil,” “naughty,” “bad.” To me, those qualifiers are insane. The only achievements of normal diets are to have introduced the concept of guilt in eating, and to have screwed up many people’s metabolism.

Today, my relationship to food is heathy. Ok, the old demon of guilt knocks in my mind every once in a while (like last night for example), but overall, I do have today a healthy relationship to food, and I hope it will continue. I do not hide to eat anymore. I do not use food as a stress reliever.

This process was not easy to achieve. The one feeling that has kept coming back throughout this trial was anger. The one post that best summed up my state of mind at the lowest point of this trial is the two word post on Day 20.

It makes sense; now that I have stopped overeating to vent my frustration, I actually did not have any outlet for anger and frustration any more; I have mentioned in this trial that overeating was my last self-destrucing behaviour as a response to challenges of life. Therefore, it was a crucial trial for me. At the end of these 30 days, I am still not sure how dealing with my anger and stress will go, and I am still on the learning curve. But I do see some opportunities in sports, maybe combat sport, blogging, writing, etc. or even finding constructive ways to express anger, because I now claim the right to be pissed off.

I want to also talk about the feelings of others. During this trial, I was confronted to the reaction of others; as usual, others are reluctant to change, so I had similar reactions to when I stopped drinking. “You shouldn’t eat between meals, it’s evil.” “How do you expect to lose weight if you eat cookies?” etc. Point is, I did lose weight. Just like the no-alcohol trial, if you want to try this, prepare yourself for some social resistance. However, following the principles of Paul McKenna is actually the most social way to become healthy. Indeed, you can go to whatever restaurant your friends choose, you can go to dinners and actually eat everything they prepared for you (including chocolate cake 🙂 )… You don’t have to keep thinking about the forbidden foods, about the ways to measure quantities… You can lead a normal life.

Finally, having removed the last bit of self-destruction in my life, and being in the mindset that from now on, I will be constructive, has had some unexpected side-effects: I took complete charge of my finances; I am super-productive at work, have mastered all my dailies and am now working on long term/bigger picture strategic issues. I don’t think it is a direct consequence, but it was certainly encouraged.

***

In conclusion, I do still view this as the only reasonable way to lose weight. It is efficient too, as I have lost 7,5 kg in a month. I stick with my summer resolution to never follow a diet ever again, and I will continue to apply those principles of eating. I love food.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 26

April 7, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

4 more days after tomorrow.

Hightlight of my day : getting shampooed at the hairdresser. As the water with mild-temperature flowed over my scalp, it grabbed all the stress and the anxieties of the day, and took them down the sink hole. The long and thin fingers of the hairdresser made the shampoo foam in my hair, as they gently massaged the sides of my head and my entire scalp from back to front. Work has been very fulfilling lately, but I’m also working a lot, putting in long hours, clearing off many tasks of my todo list and getting my different projects moving. The consequence of this is that I need to make moments for myself to wind down in the evening. Last night, I found out that one can watch entire episodes of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and the Colbert Report, on the Comedy Central website. But tonight, the 2 minutes of physical contact of the hands of the hairdresser while she shampooed me, totally succeeded in relaxing me.

That makes me think that the body is the gate to relaxing, not necessarily the mind. Actually, now that I think about it, a class on psychology at the work place that I took during the MBA specifically taught us that getting a massage is one of the most efficient ways to deal with pressure.

I’ve said that, lately, I’ve had a hard time coping with the fact that I don’t use overeating food as a response to stress any longer. This makes it hard to deal with my stress. If you think about it, overeating has an immediate impact on the body. But so does laughter… and so does another person’s hands on your body. A few days ago, someone told me that sports is also used as a stress relief.

I am realizing that I am not likely to be a superheroe whose mental strength can chase all the stress away, because there will always be situations and people around me that suck and make me go through a hard time. Therefore I want to be able to find those coping mechanisms that inspires me and that I look forward to doing everyday. I can’t possibly get a haircut everyday. Nor can I afford a massage everyday. So I am now facing that open question : what is it that I can realistically and happily do as often as possible to relieve myself from stress ?

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 25

April 6, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

Here is one trick that I have found useful : when I am not sure whether I am hungry or not, whether I am actually getting a hungry signal from my stomach, or from my brain, I’ve decided that, by default, I was not hungry.

That way, by waiting a little bit more, I eiher get a clear signal from my stomach that I am hungry, or the desire to eat, that was brain-based, rather than stomach based, goes away.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 21

April 3, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

Still in the game.

Last week end, I met with a couple of friends (literally, a couple) who read this blog, and they were disappointed that I’m redoing this trial, which is the first one I ever tried. I believe that having a successful run of this trial is very important to me. a) because I don’t like to tell myself that I failed it. b) because this is a revolution.

Stopping to drink was a revolution, but this trial takes it to a whole new level ! Removing overeating as a response to stress is removing the last bit of self-destruction as a response to stress. For the past 21 days, there has been no use of self-destruction because of frustration. Why do certain people choose self-destruction when they are challenged by life ? i don’t know, I can’t tell why I chose to do it. I haven’t done it for 21 days, and I’m kind of lost. But I know it’s good for me.

***

Also, eating only when I’m hungry removes greed.

Is it the solution to economic scarcity ?

ok, I’m stretching it a bit too far, maybe.

***

Today, going to a meeting with a supplier led to one of the best conversations I’ve had in a while. The guy is from Venezuela and he moved to Paris for his post-graduate studies. He was writing a thesis on urbanism. After he completed it, he made arrangements to go back to Venezuela. He had a job to return to. He bought his ticket.

One day, he was in the metro with his friend, who started to flirt with a girl. The friend was being a bit too pushy, and the girl didn’t like it. So the guy I know intervened and said : “look, the only way to get rid of this guy, it’s to play a game. If I can guess what your job is, you come and drink a coffee with us. And what are the chances, really ? Otherwise, my friend will stop bothering you.” “Ok” says the girl, “take a guess so I can go.” The guy replies : “you’re an architect”.

She was an architect.

This gets interesting : the guy I know cannot actually go for coffee, because he had arrangements he can’t get out of. Later, he phones his friend and asks if he took the number of the girl. He says no, however, she had an envelope, and he wrote the address.

Guy I know writes a first letter to the girl, doesn’t get an answer; he writes a second one… no answer; he writes a third one that says, in a nutshell: “I’m leaving to Venezuela, so this is the last letter I’m writing to you.” she replied with a telegram in which she included her phone number. They met.

He’s never gone back to live in Venezuela.

Then he says to me: “the only thing that can get you outside of your original plans, out of your tracks, is the passion of love” (la passion amoureuse, in French).

We go on talking about art, litterature… he tells me that at the moment he’s reading a compilation of love letters between Georges Sand and Alfred de Musset. Now, how often do suppliers’ meetings go like that ?

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 19

March 31, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

Day 19. Eleven more days. For once, I am writing at the beginning of the day. Since I ve gone to bed quite early two nights in a row, I woke up at 4:30 am, caught up with 2 days of writing my novel and now am listening to the following track on Deezer:

http://www.deezer.com/track/228149

I like these moments of quiet before a day of work is going to start; in French, we say “l’avenir appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt”, i.e. “the future belongs to the early risers.” I’m an occasional early riser, so I don’t know if the future belongs to me… But at least today does !

When I do wake up so early, I have the time to think about what I will do today. Lately, work has been very fulfilling, even though it’s not been easy- but has it been for anybody lately ?

I think I’m writing now, instead of tonight, because I am avoiding going to the gym 🙂 I have done everything I could possibly do from 4:30 to now (6 am) : writing, accounting, facebooking, and now blogging !

***

My school just had a big reunion week end in Paris, and some pics of me have been tagged on Facebook. I’m looking at them, and I’m thinking that I’m not sure I look better with all the weight lost. Actually I find myself looking very weird on them. Is it the photographer? Well, there was 5-6 different friends taking pics. I’m not sure what to think.

***

Otherwise, it’s becoming easier to follow the rules, and yesterday I didn’t feel an impulse to binge. It’s almost as if it was starting to be natural to listen to my body and eat accordingly.

All right, screw it ! I guess I’ll go to the gym.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Day 18

March 30, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

The rate at which I am losing weight is a bit scary. Is it really ? It feels good, because I am experiencing success and it seems that the method actually works when I actually follow it. I am happy to say that on day 18, I still haven’t broken any of the rules, and that I only have 12 more days to go to complete the trial.

I think that going through a family lunch without failing is a big achievement. At least in my family. After main course, I wasn’t hungry anymore, and was a bit pissed off actually, because I wanted to enjoy some of the delicious cheese laid in front of my eyes, as well as the chocolate cake. I didn’t though. 1,5 hours later, I started to be hungry again, and I took the opportunity to enjoy exactly those two things !

***

In my last trial, I went through 7-10 days during which I was feeling in a state of despair. Now, during this trial, I must admit that I am in a foul mood, and do not want to see people. I feel like hiding under my duvet and shut myself completely to other human beings.

I am hoping that this is only temporary.

***

In terms of figures, I have lost 5 kilos since the beginning of this trial (and 9 since I stopped drinking).

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Days 11 to 12

March 25, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.

***

Funny how it was so easy to get myself off the booze and how difficult I find it to prevent myself from eating when I’m not hungry.

Fortunately, I am still doing this trial, so that means I haven’t failed to follow the principles of the Paul McKenna method in the the past 12 days 🙂

***

The moments I am struggling the most with are when I am at work and under pressure; I can feel a strong compulsion in me to stuff myself with something… anything. It’s like a biological reflex. I look at it with some sort of fascination. I know that such a reaction is a learned process to deal with stress. But I have forgotten about the learning. I don’t even remember learning it. And this compulsion doesn’t feel like environmental conditioning at all… it feels like it comes from my body.

***

We are a society with an approach to food consumption that is not at all in tune with our hunger. Yesterday afternoon, I felt really hungry at work. (and real hungry, not stressed hungry 🙂 ) So I asked around if anyone had cookies, or anything, and somebody replied to me: “c’est pas bien de manger entre les repas”, i.e. “it is not good to eat between meals.” And here, it’s unclear whether “good” is to be understood as the opposite of evil, or as in “beneficial to your health”. But bottom line is she communicated to me the idea that even if I was hungry, I shouldn’t eat.

***

Listening to my hunger is not an easy process, because it is not a completely objective criteria. At least with other diets, when they give you lists and quantities of food to eat, or a number of calories to absorb, it’s easy to follow the guidelines because they are precise (if you manage to follow, but experience has taught me that I, and many other people, tend to not be able to follow).

Following the hunger is not objective. It involves gauging your own physical sensations. In the beginning, it seemed that my hunger was easily satisfied, and therefore I would eat very little. This scared me that I wasn’t eating enough. But when it came knocking again, I would eat, so I don’t think I am being unhealthy.

In the past 3-4 days, I have noticed that I have eaten more, as my stomach has asked for more. But I’ve been steadily losing weight. (I weigh myself everyday, despite the fact that Paul McKenna says I shouldn’t, it’s the one thing I’m not following).

Sometimes I am afraid that listening to hunger leaves too much room for negotiation with myself, and that I start eating because I just convinced myself that I was hungry.

That’s why I’m saying it is not an easy process. It involves learning to trust different parts of my body and to be very aware of my sensations.

Paul McKenna “I can make you thin” review – Take 2 – Days 1 to 10

March 22, 2009

This is my second attempt to follow the 4 principles of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin”. These are:

  1. When you are hungry, EAT
  2. EAT WHAT YOU WANT
  3. Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When You Think You Are Full, STOP Eating

This relates a 30-day-trial experiment of the method.
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So here we go again… My second trial of Paul McKenna “I can make you thin.” Why do I insist on using this slimming method? Because this is the only one that makes sense to me (after having tried many of them), and when I see healthy people around me, they don’t restrict themselves on the types of food they eat. They seem to naturally be following these principles.

I had many conversations with my friends about my next trial, and suggested I did something else (and they have had a lot of good ideas, which promise to be fun for the next trials). Despite these conversations, I really wanted to do more work on my physical health again. This is very important to me.

Moreover, as we were having these discusssions, I had already started to secretly follow these “I can make you thin” principles. I just wanted to stick with it for a few days before I announce it on this blog. What happened was that at the beginning of the India trip, I could feel that I was putting back on the weight that I had lost by going off the alcohol. The food in India is so delicious, and I kept thinking: “when is the next time I will get to eat great Indian food, cooked in India?” So using this as an excuse, I was eating a lot. When I felt this extra weight back on, I was disappointed that the kilos lost effortlessly by going off the alcohol were back on. So without anybody knowing, I started using this method again.

In my first trial of “I can make you thin”, I didn’t give it a full chance, because I kept breaking the rules. So even though it was a good experience overall, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to see the full potential of the method, and to grow into new habits.

One of the reasons I kept breaking the rules is when I would go out with my friends and drink alcohol, I would come back home and eat to fill my drunken stomach. I was not necessarily hungry. This put me on the path of failure, and I believed less and less that I could succeed in following the method.

Getting off the booze was something I needed to allow myself to follow the principles for 30 days and see if they actually work on me. Ironically, Paul McKenna writes in his book that it is better to stop drinking in the beginning of using his method… Guess I didn’t want to hear that part at the book 🙂

I have made a decision however: if I break the rules one day, then I will stop the trial, because there is no point in calling it a 30 day trial, if I’m not actually trying and breaking the rules. It’s been 10 days so far that I have been able to diligently abide by the 4 principles. So let’s see how it goes and hope that it can last 20 more days.

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After 10 days, I’m already getting compliments from people at work, from friends and from my mother that I look better, as it shows I have shed kilos off. This is good. 🙂

“the last time I get to eat this…”

This is one of the excuses I have used numerous times to indulge in overeating. Getting past this self-limiting belief is a challenge in this trial.

In India, during the wedding festivities, I really wanted to experience all this delicious food that was laid in front of our eyes. But then I thought: there is so much that I cannot humanly try a bit of everything. So I made plates, where I would put a bit of 5 of 6 different dishes, and eat as I was hungry. If my hunger left me, I would stop.

This allowed me to have a great culinary experience, as I got to taste such a wide variety of Indian dishes and still be happy that I didn’t betray my trial.

No later than yesterday, I was at my mom’s. She had such good cheeses in her fridge, that I thought it was a ‘now or never’ opportunity to eat great cheese that I wouldn’t usually have at home. In normal times, I would have taken them out of the fridge and start spreading them on bread. I didn’t do it, but I definitely felt that compulsion inside my body. I had to do a conscious effort to fight it.

This feeling of eating something for the last time is dangerous for overeaters as it creates a sense of urgency to binge on a particular type of food in a minimal amount of time.

Listening to my hunger

I’m still learning to listen to my hunger. I guess that after almost 30 years of not eating according to hunger, learning to follow it cannot be done in 10 days.

Often, I eat a few bites and find that I am no longer hungry, leaving huge amounts of food in my plates. Usually, 5-10 minutes later, I start feeling hungry again, until I have had a little more.

I also find that hunger comes knocking at hours that are not into our social schedules. We, as a society, have established a schedule of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), but I find hunger to be erratic and and often comes between meals as well. Eating between meals creates a bit of guilt, as dieticians always tell you “don’t eat between meals!” But I must eat when I’m hungry, right? So I do what I’ve got to do.

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All I can say right now, is that in 10 days of completely following the method, I have lost more weight than in my first attempt, but I will give more figures at the end of the 30 days.

gotta go now, as I feel hungry 🙂