Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Breath of Fresh Air

Friends, I'm going to share something that will make me a little bit vulnerable. But, I want to share it because I have found a great resource that I want you know know about, and I think you will believe me more if I give you the background info!

I have struggled with body image for a long time. This is probably not a surprise to you because I really think that every woman in America struggles with some sort of body image issue. It's always been in the back of my mind, and sometimes, like lately, it comes to the forefront. I think about what I ate, what I should eat, what I didn't eat, how much I did or didn't exercise, and how much I weigh or think I weigh. Does any of this sound familiar? Sometimes I dislike myself (because of body image) more than I'd like to admit.

Last month, I decided to start Weight Watchers online. Never mind that I had tried it before and it didn't really help me. I started and valiantly recorded my points for a few weeks. It was going fine, but I wasn't really feeling any better about myself. Then, I got angry. Maybe it was the hours in front of the computer tracking my points or the fact that you have to track every teaspoon of mustard you eat or the fact that I could never stay within my points, but I got really, really mad at myself, food, and basically the entire world. Not the best place to be. I felt trapped and sentenced to tracking points for the rest of my life. I knew there was no way I could keep it up. I had just about resigned myself to the fact that I would have to worry about body image forever.

I fully recognize that satan is at work in all of these issues and all of these thoughts. So I have been praying against those footholds he has in my life. However, until this week, I had not found a practical way to combat those thoughts.

Enter Bethenny Frankel. Earlier this week, I was in Target and I spotted a book by Bethenny Frankel, a writer I'm familiar with from Health Magazine. She writes a monthly column about nutrition, and I have always liked what she has to say. Her book is called Naturally Thin: Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting. Sounds good, huh? Too good to be true, right? I was interested, but skeptical. I'm fully aware of the millions of wasted dollars spent on diet foods, plans, books, videos, and exercise equipment. But something made me really want to read this book.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic, but I think this book is life-changing. I am almost done and have not been able to put it down. I even carry it in my purse and sneak a paragraph or two at extra-long traffic lights. This book is nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Never in my life have I felt so at peace about food and my body as I have in the last two days. Bethanny's voice in the book is validating, reassuring, humorous, and honest. I have no idea if she is a Christian or not, and there is not a single mention of Christianity in the book. However, I really believe that this book speaks TRUTH and SANITY into the very dark world of body image. And best of all... I think what she is saying actually works.

The book is all about how you should NEVER diet. She goes through 10 very practical, very common sense, and very do-able "rules" you can practice to be a naturally thin woman who does not obsess about food, but enjoys food and loves herself. I'm going to let you read the book yourself, but as a preview, here are her first five of ten "rules" and some of my favorite quotes from each. I think this will give you an idea of what the book is about and why her style of writing is so reassuring, motivating, and funny. She is brutally honest, but not condescending. She has a way of calling me out on things I do and think, showing me how utterly ridiculous they are, and helping me change my mindset and my actions.

Rule #1: Your diet is a bank account.
Bethanny says life is too short to obsessively count and record calories, fat grams, or points. We are intelligent adults, and no one should tell us when or what or how much to eat. Amen! She says you can keep track of your entire diet in your head if you think of your day as a bank account. It has to balance at the end of the day or week. If you eat carbs for breakfast, have protein and veggies for lunch. If you eat ice cream in the afternoon, don't order desert. It makes so much sense and is easy to think about in the course of a day. I've tried it, and I LOVE it. She also talks a lot about your "food noise" and "food voice". I thought this was really intriguing. She says your "food noise" is the negative voice in your head making you feel guilty and preventing you from making good decisions. Your "food voice" is your mind and body telling you what it actually wants to eat. It is always positive. She says to listen to what your body really wants, which is a balance of foods.

Rule #2: You can have everything, just not all at once.
This is maybe my favorite rule. Behanny says you should not deprive yourself of anything. You just have to make sure that you REALLY want something before you eat it, and you have to TAKE CONTROL of what you put in your mouth. You are in charge. If you eat a cookie, it's OK. Just don't also eat a piece of cake after dinner. You can eat a hamburger, but don't get fries with it. Make choices. The food will still be there tomorrow. Spread it out and don't deprive yourself, but don't have it all at once. And if you mess up and eat too much, here's what she says that I love. She says, "Remember your bank account. When you overspend, you need to rein yourself in for a while. But treat yourself well. Be nice. Nobody deserves to be punished for eating too many cookies." Relief.

Rule #3: Taste Everything, Eat Nothing
This rule sounds a little confusing at first, but her point is that most Americans gobble down food and don't even enjoy it. They Eat Everything, Taste Nothing. Instead, we should do the opposite. Taste a variety of high quality, really good food, but don't gobble it. Really pay attention to it, enjoy it, and eat just a little of everything. She uses the example of Italian people whose lives practically revolve around food, but they are not obsessive, and they are not fat! They just enjoy good food sensibly.

Rule #4: Pay Attention
To get the most pleasure out of food and not eat mindlessly, Bethanny says we need to pay attention to what we eat! We should eat only high-quality food, sit down when we eat, eat calmly, eat slowly, and really taste our food. This makes perfect sense.

Rule #5: Downsize Now
Here Bethanny gives practical advice on how to satisfy yourself with smaller portions and WITHOUT MEASURING. She made me laugh out loud in this chapter because I totally saw myself in her parody of dieting. She says, "I want to emphasize again that I do not want you to measure your food. You can eat like a normal, naturally thin person. You aren't on a diet. You aren't deprived or required to eat differently. You aren't eating obsessively or with anxiety or worry. Instead, choose to downsize, but do it in a sensible, non-obsessive way. If you sit there with your measuring spoons, angry at the world that you have to do this because you need to lose weight, you won't be happy and you probably won't lose weight." So, so true.

You'll have to read along with me for the next five rules :-)

If you struggle with these issues like me, I hope that we can pray for each other and encourage each other to a place of peace. I also suggest you run, not walk, to the nearest store and purchase this book. It's 20% off at Target. I think you will be glad you did.

Katie

5 comments:

Tiffany said...

I didn't even know she was a health writer...I just know her as one of the Real Housewives of New York City! :)

Chopsticks and Pearls said...

Do you know this is the same Bethany in "The Real Housewives of New York"? My favorite show! hahaha. Bethany is my favorite...and I've been kind of wanting that book too. If there is a book signing, I'm there!!!

The Portland Patterson said...

sooi have two other books that i think you might like if you like this one. 1. French Women aren't fat: i'm using this as a basis for losing wieght- it is really good and again is about lifestyle change and NOT dieting. 2. Cook Yourself Thin: a cookbook that takes normal yummy things to eat and makes them with substitutes that still taste good but give you a LOT less calories:) again a great way to eat "normal" with less calories
find both on amazon!
thanks for being vulnerable katie!

Kate and Zach said...

I love this! I think I'm going to go to Target and get it today!

Liz said...

Katie - I totally sympathize!!! I have struggled my entire adult life with my weight. I went through a culinary certificate program when I quit teaching - I love to cook (and eat) and just couldn't bear most diet books. A year ago February I decided I had had enough - my mom and my brother had both been diagnosed as diabetic, and I decided I was going to lower my risk factors. I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off for almost a year now. The only real downside was that I had to buy a completely new wardrobe - I know that sounds great, but it wasn't really in the budget! I had been a 10/12 my entire adult life - and now I wear a 2/4 - I never DREAMED I would own size 2 clothes!!! My tools: I liked the book "The Skinny" by Melissa Clark who is a food writer for the NYTimes - very similar philosophy to the book you read. However what REALLY did it for me (besides a lot of hours at the gym) was Pam Anderson's (no, not PAMELA Anderson . . . ) "The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great". I already owned and loved several of her cookbooks, so I was very excited when I saw this. I love the recipes, and I still cook from it almost every day. It just stays on my cookbook stand ALL the time. My Katie LOVES the smoothies, mini-muffins, salads and creamy pastas, and even Andy likes the grill rubs and salsas and the chocolate pudding!!! I HIGHLY recommend it!!!!! Good luck!!

 
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