Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Little More Conversation (rather than a little less!)

Today I am feeling thankful for everyone that has come and read my last post on having a "fierce discussion". I want to let everyone know that I value each and everyone's comments, even if you felt hesitant to post them because I think this has opened up perhaps issues that run a bit deeper - which is a good thing - I know I get a lot more out of these 'meatier' posts than the ones where everything is fabulous (though, don't get me wrong, if life is treating you well then I'm happy for ya!) Sue has posted more on her blog, explaining her perspective and sharing an email from a client who has felt some confusion about the "turnaround" of some of the bloggers. I want to expand a bit more on these blogs and comment a bit more on the email that was shared.

Again, please feel free to leave your comments - don't be hesitant because every voice counts whether you agree or not.

The first point: "Am I better than you..." My answer - no - we're all worthwhile and we're all beautiful. I see the physical expression of beauty in all shapes and sizes. I see the potential in those who choose to take care of themselves and that treat themselves like the worthwhile people they are......

The point was quite the opposite, in that usually all the photos we see on blogs and competitors websites show people in their best condition. I wanted to show what I look like in the off season, when I’m ‘normal’ and not dieting, to let others know who have read the negative posts and have become somewhat confused, to have them understand that it doesn’t have to be black and white. You can eat well and still ‘live’. I too have struggled too with the same issues that everyone has, but have over the years managed to learn how to eat well but intuitively off season and not be on a diet year round.

I thought Sue's photo showed a fit healthy woman ( you look great too btw!) , just like Shelley's recent photos and my own birthday photos. I think a salient point was hit on with this paragraph - getting into single digit body fat percentages for us women isn't normal at all. The "turnaround" that Katie and Shelley are experiencing is what is described as moving towards a more intuitive way of eating, where learning to listen to your hunger and fullness cues, rather than following a structured "plan".

Nobody said we should be on a diet indefinitely, and of course it’s counterproductive if you are, and yes, intuitive eating is something we should definitely aim for when we don’t have a specific goal in mind.

Although there is dissidence on the notion of goal setting, the desire to eat more intuitively seems to be a common thread for many of us.

As I posted previously my perspective on goal setting is that if it benefits you after the goal is reached it's probably a reasonable prospect. Take doing a "Twelve Week Challenge" as an example - if you set a target that is unreasonable to try and maintain and you turn into a lunatic trying to do so, the goal that was set was probably unreasonable in the first place. Another example is Sue's (correct) perspective that staying 'comp lean' year round isn't the most healthy prospect.

Bodybuilding and striving to reach a peak actually has saved me from the disordered eating patterns and body image issues that I used to deal with, so for me, thumbs up to it. I used to struggle and struggle to get to where I wanted to be, never getting there, always feeling like a failure, diet after diet.

I find this an interesting take on bodybuilding and if you feel it benefits you, then go for it. My perceptions of comps have nothing to do with taking down girls who want to compete. I enjoyed the training side of it the most but as I mentioned before, I have reservations now about whether Figure Comps are such a good thing - one of the biggest reasons for me choosing not to compete had to do with the effect it would have on my pre teen daughters and how they felt about their bodies, one of them commenting to me that felt bad because she didn't have "muscles".

Self sabotage when it comes to diet is interesting, and here is my take. I really feel that if you are using food as a crutch or an outlet, there is probably something else in your life you are unhappy with – be it work, relationships, lifestyle etc. So maybe that should be a starting point, to have a look and see if those aspects maybe affecting the way you eat.

Emotional eating is an interesting animal and often people will eat for reasons other than hunger because they feel powerless to address certain issues in life. I have "emotionally eaten" with the best of them at times - but learning to manage life better is the key - these skills just can't be taught with a "diet" or a "challenge" because eating and exercise cannot address these issues alone. If it were all about calories in vs calories out, very few people would have a weight problem. Remember that the diet industry is the only industry that profits out of making their clients or their users fail! Scary stuff, eh?

Now onto the email that Sue's Client sent her and some of my thoughts in bold capitals:

This was the email I received that prompted me to check out the blogs concerned and then post my thoughts…my response to the email is in capitals below….

Lately I am really confused about this new “movement” that’s sweeping across blogland…

Women whom I admired, who seemed very dedicated and serious about their fitness and health are seemingly changing direction.

They are bagging accountability of any form, they are refusing to weigh or measure (themselves or their food), and are embarking on these journeys of self discovery that don’t involve any set plans when it comes to food. THE WOMEN YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT HAVE CHOSEN TO TAKE A DIFFERENT PATH, BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY ARE NOT WORTH ADMIRING BECAUSE THEY'VE CHANGED THEIR MINDS ABOUT A FEW THINGS. BEING ABLE TO CHANGE YOUR MIND IS WHAT DRIVES PERSONAL GROWTH! WHAT THESE WOMEN CHOOSE TO DO IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS, OR YOURS EITHER (this is not to sound abrasive, but I simply mean..tread your own path....). OUR BUSINESS IS WHAT WE CHOOSE TO DO TO MAKE OURSELVES HAPPY.

Most of these people have competed in Figure at least once, and they all talk about having eating disorders because they have been obsessed with weighing and measuring and as a result give in to bingeing on a regular basis. IT'S WELL DOCUMENTED THAT THE RATE OF EATING DISORDER PREVALENCE IS MUCH HIGHER IN SPORTS WHERE APPEARANCE OR WEIGHT CLASS IS AN ISSUE. I BELIEVE IT'S SOMETHING THAT SHOULDN'T BE SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET BECAUSE WE THINK THAT FIGURE COMPETITORS ARE INSPIRING.

When a girl who lost about 26kg and became a Figure Competitor wrote in her blog about the good old fashioned basics needed for weight loss, she was shot down for being so black and white and not giving any thought to the “heart mind body” connection. I DIDN'T SEE THIS, BUT BELIEVE DISCUSSING THE MIND BODY CONNECTION IS REALLY IMPORTANT AS WELL AS THE MECHANICS OF WEIGHT LOSS.

As for me, I am delighted with the results I have achieved by following the IBO program. I need accountability, and if I don’t weigh or measure my food, how do I know if I’m eating too much or not enough? If I don’t weigh or measure myself, how do I know if I’m making progress?…As for the “heart mind body” thing, if I am happy, the three are in sync. Losing weight and improving my fitness levels has given me a lot of happiness and confidence, which makes all aspects of my life better. AWESOME NEWS THAT YOU ARE FEELING GREAT AND LIFE IS BETTER FOR YOU. LOSING WEIGHT/BODY FAT IN MANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BEING LEAN AND ENJOYING YOUR LIFE IS A WORTHWHILE ENDEAVOUR (IF THE LONG TERM PERSPECTIVE IS RIGHT IN MY OPINION). SOMETIMES OUR BODY KNOWS BETTER THAN THE PLAN WE TRY TO GIVE IT - WHAT DO YOU DO WITH RAGING PMS AND BEING HUNGRIER THAN USUAL - RED LINE IT ON THE PLAN AND PROBABLY END UP OVEREATING LATER ON BECAUSE BIOLOGY HAS WON (YOU'RE JUST DARN HUNGRY) OR LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND EAT A LITTLE BIT EXTRA? CONVERSELY WHEN YOU'RE SICK, FORCING FOOD IN ISN'T SO SMART EITHER. HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE MAKING PROGRESS? YOUR CLOTHES FIT BETTER, THERE'S A SPRING IN YOUR STEP AND YOU'RE FEELING FIT AND STRONG....

Just wondering what your thoughts are, do you ever feel like throwing in the towel?

(I won't copy Sue's reply here which is on the email blog - just as worthwhile as this one, some similarities and some differences..but that's why it's good to see it )

I DON'T FEEL LIKE THROWING IN THE TOWEL, BECAUSE I SEE FITNESS AND EATING WELL AS PART OF MY SELF CARE REGIME. I WEIGH AND MEASURE MY FOOD FOR RECIPES, AND, LIKE SUE, IF I FEEL THAT I WANT TO MAKE SOME CHANGES..IE I HAVE A PURPOSE FOR DOING SO I WILL LOG AND USE THAT INFORMATION TO BENEFIT MY CHOICES. LIKEWISE I ALSO CHOOSE TO BE MORE INTUITIVE WITH MY EATING, MEANING THAT IF I HAVE RAGING PMS, I'M PROBABLY GOING TO EAT MORE, IF I'M ILL, I'LL PROBABLY EAT LESS AND IF MY LONG LOST FRIEND FROM WHEREVER TURNS UP AT RANDOM AND WE GO OUT FOR PIZZA, I'LL EAT UNTIL I'M PLEASANTLY SATISFIED AND NOT STUFFED.

This view may be different to that of Shelley and Katie, but I know one thing is for sure, they're supporting the journey that makes me happy - I'm off now to read Katie's second post on goal setting - whether I agree or not with it doesn't matter, what makes a great post is that it opens your eyes to another perspective and makes you think!

Thank you to Sue for posting your thoughts as well. If it opens discussion up to what we can do to make the world a better place or to help someone who is looking for info about this sort of stuff then it's been a worthwhile exercise.








4 comments:

Flea said...

Gosh! I have to log in more often, I have missed all the who haa of what's going on.

Great post Liz and great replies. I totally agree with you on so many points.
I also have read once how many ballerinas, gymnasts and other athletes have more body image and eating issues than any other normal girl out there and people just don't know about it. These people only learned how to "hide" it behind their sport but still they have to face it really and sort other larger issues out.

I truly also belief you have to learn to love yourself first and deeply to have a fullfilled life, you can do it any size you are. I know I have to learn that still too.

Pip said...

Hi Liz!

I want to say you are an awesome writer, very good with words!

I am not/have never been a bodybuilder/figure competitor or anything close but do enjoy reading their blogs and do admire them/look up to them and look to some of their ways to attempt to transfer to areas of my life!

I have followed this recent discussion.

Admittably as I wrote on Sue's blog I was feeling a bit confused, - nothing serious but was just questioning how I would continue to go about my doings, whether to change some of my tactics or not! I do really admire and respect everyone and how they go about their objectives and thoroughly enjoy reading! Slight changes of direction/ideas from some got me thinking!, (in a good way!)

I feel now though I have infact more definite clarity on how I want to proceed with my doings so good job to all!

Pip :-)

Jadey said...

I was talking about this to my husband yesterday and I came to the end point that everyone is on their own journey, no one person is particularly right or wrong. It's never black and white and everyone's body is different. Again Liz, another well written post. Loving the provoking thoughts! J

Esme said...

Hi Liz, again a wonderful and thought provoking post. To folllow from my last comment, I was one who didn't know how to cope after such disciplined eating to lose weight twice. FOR ME, I've decided to go along the intuative eating path, eat when hungry etc. This may not be for everyone.

I also want to say that I really do admire the physiques and fitness of figure competitors, and my comments are in no way criticizing them. I also love reading about the physical strenght of Shelly, Doris and others. That's really inspiring. I have learnt so much from people like you Liz, KatieP, Shelly, Raechelle and others. As Jadey said, everyone is on their own journey, I decided to take a different path to the one I was taking.