I did something unusual the other day and ordered the paperback version of a book I already have on kindle. The book is the New Year Same You book by Julie Creffield I already mentioned a little while back. I know I keep going on about it but it is such a lovely antidote to all the diet crap that we seem to be bombarded with at this time of year. I ignore most of it but I can’t escape the adverts; new diets and exercise regimes, new ‘get your dream body in 4 weeks’ type of things are everywhere. Now I am in a pretty good place regarding body image etc at the minute but that’s because I am starting 2016 2.5 stone lighter than I started 2015 and I am about to do something with this slightly wibbly wobbly body of mine that just 12 months ago seemed utterly impossible. But even with all that positivity all this diet and getting slim stuff is still getting to me. I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that I have done pretty well and that being fitter that I ever have been is far more important than getting in a size 12. Goodness, have I ever fitted in a size 12? Doubt it.
Anyway, the book. I ordered the paperback because I suddenly realised I was thinking about it alot and I wanted to go back to it and highlight and write little notes to myself and also work on some of the tasks Julie suggests and that is all just easier with an actual book. Just having the book won’t change anything at all. Doing stuff with it and engaging with the suggestions in it might well help me get to grips with some of the things I find difficult about this new ‘running feature enabled’ version of me. I’m waiting for the paperback to come but I was looking at the chapter about food again because of all the diet crap that’s around and because I had a not so nice conversation with someone about food recently.
I was asked about my weightloss and the other person simply would not accept that I had not been completely utterly disciplined about food and that my eating habits would change dramatically post marathon. Kath had a similar conversation with someone who refused to believe that she hadn’t been on a diet of some kind. I have done Slimming World in the past and it did work for me for a bit but there was just too much there that I diagreed with fundamentally (like diet/lite drinks to name just one). Julie’s focus on understanding our relationship with food and about making conscious food choices really resonated, as did the idea of disordered eating.
So here are my thoughts on food: I eat very little processed food. I like fruit and veggies – all of them really apart from leeks. I don’t like leeks. I eat meat, possibly too much but where it comes from is important to me – local and most definitly free range – not necessarily organic – that’s a whole other story… Food miles are evil. I love eating stuff we’ve grown but I am also lazy and not that competent in garden or kitchen. We eat out a lot (see my lazy and competence point) and there are things I could cut out to be really ‘good’ (I don’t really like being ‘good’ though – just the idea of having to be a good girl makes me want to misbehave) but I don’t want to be miserable. I like chocolate, I like a beer and with that a packet of crisps and I like a glass of prosecco here and there. I like cheese and bread and crackers and sometimes only a cup of tea and a ginger nut biscuit will do. So shoot me.
How I eat has changed with running though but it is the running that came first. I didn’t change my eating to lose weight, I changed my eating, and not by much, because I listen to what my body wants. I rarely now eat something for the sake of it – I said rarely, not never. What I want to eat has changed. I crave broccoli, I adore salmon or tuna on quinoa and grains and you can’t beat avocado on toast… I can also eat a jar of peanut butter with a spoon in one sitting.
Reading the chapter about food in Julie’s book made me think about the messages and (mis)information we get fed (pun intended obviously) every day of our lives. No wonder most people are totally confused as to what we should and shouldn’t be eating! As for food labels – don’t get me started, they can make a mars bar look healthier than a piece of fruit. Even adverts I thought were quite funny, like the maltesers adverts about being naughty, assign moral value to food; we talk about ‘being good’ with food; good people have a salad, bad people have the burger and fries… but you can be pretty sure that neither of them will actually sit and enjoy the food. We eat on the run, while doing something else, at our desks (oh that’s me!), while watching TV. Julie’s chapter made me stop and think a bit. I tend to be quite arrogant about food. A bit ‘I know what I’m doing and I am fully aware of what choices I am making…’ But am I? I suspect not. We do food plan our weeks but we tend to just plan main meals. I think we would do well to plan breakfast and snacks etc too. And in the same way that we plan what to eat we should also plan the when and where much more. Julie’s chapter made me think about how to make more time for just enjoying food and the togetherness it could bring. We could cook together, we always enjoy it and yet so rarely do it. Why?
Anyway, one of the The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running running vests says ‘don’t judge just run’ and I really do think we need to take the don’t judge theme into the food arena too. Food and eating are loaded with moral baggage and guilt and pleasure and the complex relationships we have with it and we all need to figure it out for ourselves. So don’t judge, and don’t allow yourself to be judged but do think about what you are putting into your body and why. I do, and will continue to, reach for the biscuits when I feel a bit crap but I know that’s what I am doing and I choose to do it and I no longer ‘accidentally’ eat the whole packet. That has nothing to do with self control or discipline. I am not denying myself anything. I just have what I want as long as I am really sure that I want it.
Anyway, I am sure there will be more musings on specific aspects of Julie’s book but if you’re not quite where you want to be and all the diet stuff around at the minute is getting you down – or you are thinking of going on a diet, I really do think the book might help make sense of it all.