Monday, March 13, 2006

Learning to feel the hunger...

I'm learning the feeling of hunger these days, as odd as that may sound. I have not written about this much, but I am in the midst of a bit of a life-altering metamorphosis right now. Those who have followed this site for awhile know that I was diagnosed with diabetes last summer, after two pregnancies with gestational diabetes. I am 35 and somewhat overweight, though not obese. There is no family history of diabetes in my family.

Even though I was about 30 pounds overweight when diagnosed, I am pretty physically fit. I like to run, enjoy working out with weights, and take kickboxing and step aerobics classes. I played sports growing up. People who know me think of me as active, and almost too busy at times. I am not a sedate person, by any means.

I did not eat a ton of food, yet my weight never went down--it only slowly crept up over the years. Years ago, I was diagnosed with an enlarged thyroid that functions a little slow, though not seriously so. I thought this might be the cause of my problems originally.

With all of that said, I will admit that I did and I still love food. I love to cook and love eating out with family and friends. Food is entertainment to me, not something I need to survive. I know this attitude must change some for me to fully change and heal as much as I possibly can.

So, the change that has taken place over these past few months is a great one, though it may not fully show on the outside yet. I have allowed my body to fully feel hunger. And, I am learning that a little hunger is not so awful now and then. I go to bed with my stomach gurgling some nights. I might drink some water, but that is it. And, I am still around the next morning and feel just fine.

Do not misunderstand, I am not starving myself by any means. I am participating in a well-respected national weight loss program that I've actually done several times before. But, more than just this program, I'm eating more raw foods. I'm trying to avoid processed foods as much as possible, though not entirely because that is not realistic for me. I'm trying to combine my knowledge of so many different books I've read on food and nutrition, information from diabetes education classes, and just inside knowledge of my body and what works to fuel it.

I am completely consumed by this. It has taken all of my energy to realize what I must do to change and start to change it. I have dropped all my many commitments and I now focus on me, my fitness, and eating right.

And, something beautiful is happening. I have new energy. I am happier. No longer do I feel those afternoon crashes that left me either on edge with my kids or stretched out on the couch feeling like I might pass out. I don't feel the sluggishness you get after eating improperly. I am a better mom. I play more. I laugh more. I stand a little taller and walk a little more confidently. I even feel like I breathe better, taking in more air and feeling it in me as I run or move.

I am getting complements too. People are asking if I have lost a lot of weight. By the scale, I have lost some but not even half of what I have to lose. But, my body is changing, muscles are now forming in my back, arms and shoulders. My legs have lost their flab, my stomach is slowly being whittled away too, though I know it will be the very last to go.

I am learning a lot about something a lot of people already know, what they need to fuel their bodies without doing themselves harm. Some do this effortlessly and without thought. For a child brought up on cheesy casseroles, fried foods and lots of sweets on every special occasion, this is a big change. I now crave red peppers, instead of pretzels or chips. I am starting to like things like hummus, instead of queso.

I am learning to love myself enough to take care of myself in a way that shows those around me that I am worthy of respect and I am powerful in my own strength. I hope I will pass this on to my own daughter, helping her avoid the lifelong body image woes that have plagues me and instead love herself instinctively.

I am learning to feel hunger. And, hunger is sometimes a really good thing to feel...

The theme at Mama Says Om this week is Hunger. Stop by and see what other bloggers have to say on this theme too.


Anonymous Andrew said...

Interesting. It sounds like we're going through some similar stuff these days. Although I'm not as good about my diet as you are, I am trying to eat better and I started running again because I'm fighting the onset of basketball belly. I used to snack a lot at work, but now I allow myself to become hungry. I try to visualize that hunger as my stomach melting away, so it has a good association instead of a bad one. And I try to eat only food that will bring some nutritional value. I never eat chips anymore, for example. And when I do eat, I stop before I'm full and wait for the full feeling to come later, instead of stuffing myself. It's like training out bad habits and training in good ones.

12:13 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

It's nice to know you're feeling and doing well.

3:32 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Viamarie said...

You don't need to feel hunger. You can take small frequent feedings. Try taking fruits and vegetables. I was successful so I don't see why others can't. All it took me was to condition my mind about it's ill effects.

6:09 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Good for you. You must be very proud of yourself!

7:23 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Shelli said...

When you said that you go to bed hungry and still wake up in the morning, I can really relate to that. I am discovering too, that it is okay to be just a little hungry and what my threshold is for over eating if I wait too long. It is an awesome discovery.

7:24 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger andrea said...

What a great post! Wonderful take on this weeks theme. I think you hit the nail on the head about feeling hunger. Children only eat when they are hungry and the same goes for animals...makes you wonder at what point did we as adults screw that up?
Nice job.

7:51 AM, March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

It's so amazing how a little paying attention to what once seemed minor details can change a person's entire world. I get this post completely, and say: More power to you!

7:56 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Tyra said...

Congrats on all your hard work!

I'm trying to learn that feeling too full is uncomfortable rather than normal. It's been hard but well worth it.

7:57 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Vanessa said...

I know how you feel. What (and how much) I eat are in direct proportion to how I feel on any day. Amazing how vegetables make us feel better, physically, than a big ol' Hershey Bar! Congratulations and good luck!

8:04 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Cool. I'm glad it's all coming together for you.

I never feel thinner than I do when I'm hungry. :)

8:06 AM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Nicole said...

That is awesome. I have recently started being more aware that food affects my moods, too. I grab for sugar when I'm stressed out and it just escalates the problem. I gotta keep working on it...

12:46 PM, March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Angela said...

I'm so happy for you! I think a lot of times we feel the need to appease that physical hunger because it's the one empty hole that we know we can fill. It's great that you're gaining the strength and willpower not to let the gurgles rule your life, and instead take control of your body!

You're doing such a great job--keep up the good work!

5:23 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Good for you and your progress! Now give up some more info on what you are doing and what you are eating so we can all join you.

6:21 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger "D" said...

a hunger to feel good about yourself will never leave you hungry! It's good to feel the progress even if it isn't obvious to others. Keep going! You are awesome!

9:15 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Tamara said...

I am dieting too. Trying to lose the baby weight and have had some luck. You inspire me with the running. I have not done anything for months in the exercise department. When I feel hungry, I tell myself that is how it feels for my body to eat its own fat. Rediculous? Perhaps. But for some reason, I like the idea of it. I'm a weirdo. Keep up the good work! I am going to run again soon and when I do, you're going to get a thank you email... Better go. I think I'm going to grab some pudding...

9:28 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Carol said...

congratulations on the self, and life, discoveries. That was realy well written!

9:28 PM, March 14, 2006  
Anonymous Theresa said...

Good for you!! It's a slow process, but I know you can do it!

7:12 AM, March 15, 2006  
Anonymous Shannon (sentimental) said...

I am in the same kind of transition in my life and you are right, it is something that we should know or even care enough to do. It is hard though with all the mass marketing in the United States especially with children because that is who they are marketing too. I am proud of you and I like this look of hunger!

9:13 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Nancy J. Bond said...

Excellent post! Even my cat only eats when he's hungry. :) And there IS a definite difference between "head hunger" and real hunger. Good for you! - NancyB

11:19 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger pinkcoyote said...

i really love this entry. you are honest and brave, mamacat. i want to spare my baby boy from those unhealthy habits i still have, too. thank you for causing me to think more on it!

12:26 PM, March 16, 2006  
Blogger christina said...

Steph, this post made me want to jump up and down and dance! It made me want to twirl, to yell, "hooray!" I am so proud of you! I am so inspired by you.

Though, I have to say I've been reading your blog for nearly a year--and not once did I doubt this would be a success. You have a certain tenacity, a quality of courage that not everyone has. It shows in the risks you take with your writing, and in this, now.

What an awesome contribution to this week's theme at MSO.

7:53 PM, March 17, 2006  

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