It’s only been a couple of days here at Green Mountain at Fox Run and already my brain is a merry burble of insights and inspiration. Not to mention an epiphany tear or two. Luckily there seems to be a strategically placed box of tissues in every room. They anticipate everything!
The following is rather messy, because I don’t want to faff around for six months “perfecting” a post that I never publish. So here we go with happenings from Monday, Day 1.
Even as our Welcome session began, I still felt that undercurrent of panic that this trip was the most ridiculous, selfish, indulgent thing ever. But then one of the participants shared an analogy that her doctor had used – that not dealing with the underlying emotional stuff was like being stuck in a prison cell with the meanest, nastiest, burliest cellmate ever.
That cracked me up and made me feel properly okay for being here. Sometimes we need a bit of help to bust out of jail!
I did my first Zumba class in about six years. What a way to really feel how bloody unfit I’ve become! Everything was creaking. My salsa ain’t what it used to be. But I’m so chuffed to have done it and it was fun. Not old man bursting into the class with a taxidermy ferret under his arm levels of fun, but fun nonetheless!
In “The Hungers That Influence Eating Behavior” session, Shiri the Clinical Director here talked about how one can get so good at overriding our body signals and cues. We feel a flicker of hunger, and we hit the snooze button to snooze that feeling. The flicker grows stronger, so we hit it again. And again.
But hunger always busts through eventually. The more you’ve snoozed the more spectacularly it busts through. That certainly chimed with my dieting experience.
Forgive my sloppy and simplistic paraphrasing, but basically the body starts feeling deprived – both in a physical and psychological way (fear, stress). It thinks it’s not going to survive this stuff. It thinks you’re running from a tiger, so it wants to flee into a cave for safety (my other favourite analogy of the day).
What a comforting perspective. It takes all the emotion and self-flagellation out of it. It is more helpful to notice that I’m fleeing into the binge cave and try to identify the tiger. Looking back, there’s always been a diet, a stressful life event, or both, right behind it.
We also talked about the hunger and satisfaction scale, a concept I’ve read about many times in many forms and have often attempted to practice. But what really clicked for me in this session was the experience of living between the extremes of the scale. Just say you define zero as wildly hungry and 10 as painfully full. If you let yourself get right down to zero, you’re more likely to zoom way back up to 10 in response. So you create a pendulum, swinging back and forth between pain and pain.
There was so much more nerdy goodness but I’m still processing at all. It was a great first day and it feels like the perfect next step in a hilariously long journey. It’s been over seven years since I first noticed that maybe dieting was not helpful and started to explore intuitive eating and mindfulness stuff. It’s been a bonkers ride ever since, with both triumphant and failed experiments, backward slides, “maybe Weight Watchers will be different the 14th time” excursions, but also tantalising glimpses of real peace. Being here at Green Mountain is already feeling like a safe place to keep practicing and learn even more.
I’ve partnered with Green Mountain at Fox Run, in which I received a three week stay at Green Mountain in February 2018, in exchange for writing about my experience. The stay included the Green Mountain core program and Pathway program at the Women’s Center for Binge & Emotional Eating. I covered my own travel expenses. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Browse all my Green Mountain posts here.
Update, January 2019 – Green Mountain has now closed. Their website is still up so I’m hopeful that it will rise from the ashes someday soon, with the weight-neutral approach that I found so very helpful!