Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Punishment vs Reward (and broken toes)

My reward for feeding the cat roast chicken  

Day one of the no Sugar started well but ended in another broken toe. Apparently furniture is dangerous and you should all be well warned that if you have furniture in your houses then your toes are at grave risk of injury.

What made this all the more painful, was that I was in the middle of cooking a chicken, leek and mushroom pie with a sweet potato topping when it happened. I was so proud of myself and happy and listening to music and drafting a blog post in my head as I went. In fact, it was returning from taking a photo of some roasted sweet potato skins (left over from the mash topping) somewhere other than the kitchen, which looked like a bomb had gone off, that my toe and the incriminating furniture were to end in battle. I don't want to compare what my toe went through to say...the 100 year war, but the piece of furniture in question is a French inspired piece...

Anyway, broken toes aside, the pie was finished and eaten and although it wasn't enjoyed last night (pain does interfere with appetite), it was thoroughly enjoyed today. 

But none of this is the reason I write here. I wanted to write here because a few of the comments I've had since sharing the blog made me want to explain the concept of what I am doing a bit more. Firstly, I must stress, all the comments I have had have been positive and supportive but just the tone of a few struck a chord.

I think the word 'Quit' can be quite loaded. Same as 'Give up'. They feel negative, almost like punishments. The point of this year is in fact the opposite. I'm not punishing myself, that is what I have been doing. This is about rewarding myself.

My depression takes form mostly through self-criticism. I am extremely hard on myself. Recently, the focus of that criticism has been my body and my face and changes to the shape of both. I had therapy for two years and whilst the sessions have ended, the need for therapy never really goes away. What a good therapist will leave a patient with is the tools to continue the work alone, until such a time comes where a therapist is required again. So even when I am being self-critical, at the back of my mind I am asking the sort of questions my therapist would ask of these negative thoughts. Trying to work through the obvious to the vague. 

It is very easy to be critical of weight gain on yourself. It seems so reckless, lazy and shameful. But often our diet and our weight reflect what is happening in our minds. Certainly my diet does. The worse I have felt, the unhealthier I have been. The unhealthier I have been, the worse I have felt and on and on and on it goes in a circle.

I have "rewarded" my bad day, my sad day, my self-hate with chocolate, wine, beer, pasta with nothing but cheese, cake, sweets, crisps. In fact, on some of my worst days I've gone and bought so much chocolate and sweets, unable to choose, I've then eaten my way through as much of them as I can in order to "treat" myself. I've made myself feel sick and rarely even enjoyed them past the first bar of chocolate, felt sluggish on the inside, got spots. It's been a long while since I had one of those days, but it's been all too recent since I "treated" myself to wine because I had a bad day, then the next day, then the next. Maybe just one glass, maybe two, sometimes recklessly. It's never made me feel better. I've enjoyed it for a glass but it stops being a treat when you do it every night, when you don't really even look forward to it. It's automatic: stressed, sad, tired? Have a glass of wine, have a bar of chocolate, open the biscuit tin at work. 

I want to get back to enjoying everything, and that includes all the things I am "quitting" over the next year. I don't believe in strict regimes, I don't believe in routine, in fact. I believe life is for living and enjoying and I want to enjoy all of it. I am enjoying very little of it at the moment, in the true sense of the word. Yes, chocolate tastes incredible, but like a lot of our culture it is so readily, easily available, do we even enjoy it? 

Perhaps I am old fashioned but I love getting a book as a present, a book where someone has thought about what I might enjoy. Or hearing a new piece of music someone has recommended because it made them think to send it to me. I can buy myself a book but I always love being given one. The same with socks, I'm obsessed with socks, I could buy a new pair every day of the week, but I love to wait for Christmas or my birthday and get socks as a present. To have a pair of socks that someone else has picked for me. There is real joy in waiting for something you love and being gifted it. 

Which is why, at the weekend when I was invited to a friends for afternoon tea and presented with a glass of Champagne, despite the fact I am not drinking at the moment, I accepted it gladly and I enjoyed the glass. I refused a top up and just savoured the one glass I had. Same too the cakes and sandwiches on offer. It was a real treat to have afternoon tea.

And that is the point of this year. To treat my body to some love and attention, to enjoy food for the right reasons and not use it as  a plaster or a mask for something else. To stop punishing myself by feeding the self-hate and not looking after my own health. If I take no care in what goes in my body, what am I telling my mental health? Once I have been on this journey, I hope to find at the end of it, the balance to living a healthy lifestyle where nothing is banished but everything is enjoyed in moderation, as part of a larger picture and to state the word again, enjoyed, savoured, appreciated. 

So please, do treat yourself to the glass of wine, the cake, the chocolate, the white bread. Just make sure it's a treat and not a punishment. If like me, you've been punishing yourself with food then, come along with me this year and lets see what we can discover when we get outside our habit and start exploring. 

I will say one thing to anyone thinking of joining in, and I will explore this in the next post, this is not about losing weight, changing bodies, or punishing regimes, this is about being loving to yourself. That has to start by accepting exactly where you are right now, wobbly bits and all (to be continued)...

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