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LETTERS

Dear Overcoming Overeating Newsletter:

After mouth-hunger-eating-my-way through When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, I arrived at Lake Austin Spa positive that I was exactly where I needed and wanted to be.

I just took a break for a little sweet "eating experience." Seems I'm not all that calm writing to you, dear Newsletter. What's really going on? I don't like revelation. Especially my own to you. It's more common for me to assume you don't really give a hoot what I might have to say.

Well, my new-found "wonder" woman self just pushed the pen on, and it says "who cares what THEY …?" We care, but we want to share, says most of me!

I arrived at the spa hot and tired from the three flights I took to get there. Jane greeted me at the front desk with a dripping hug (she'd been in the pool). So as soon as I checked in, I put my suit on and headed for the pool myself. There I greeted Rita from Chicago, who didn't recognize me! What a revelation that was! She said she'd been wondering who that glamorous woman was. Amazing.

On one of my first visits to the dining room, Terry, the chef and director of the kitchen, came over to tell me he had "my cake" ordered and that it would be there the next day. (From a previous workshop at the Spa, there's a whole story about my now-famous white cake.)

I felt special and good after these responses, but they also exposed one of my deepest uncalming places. Is it going to be all right to feel good? Loved? Welcomed? And remembered, and treated like a queen with a special cake? Or not recognized, because I'm so glamorous? (NOW)

Yes, it's now all right. In fact I'm actually enjoying being special these days. What I've revealed to myself is that I've always liked being "special," it's just that my definition of that word has changed. I used to think I was the worst. At my second OO spa workshop, I remember saying that I'd probably have to attend every workshop everyplace, since I was such a wreck, I'd never get it.

Now I can allow my uniqueness to be seen and felt for its positiveness. What upsets my calm the most now is when I'm with an aggressive know-it-all who needs to put me down or make me out to be stupid in some way. Of course this is the voice of my inner yelling self who has been generally quieted after all these years. At fifty-two I feel at the beginning of a new life, and it's great.

I had an interesting experience at the doctor's recently. A new nurse greeted me with: "Okay girl—get on up here!" (the scale). I said "No, I don't do scales." She insisted that I must not like my body since I wouldn't get weighed (so I'd know if I was going up or down). She went on to say "I've worked for lots of places—Nutri System, Diet this, and Diet that, and I've seen all kinds…" At this I interrupted her with: "Actually, I like my body very much now—just the way it is. And I'm an activist in the National Women's Campaign to End Dieting and Body Hatred." She very aggressively said that she was entitled to her opinion and me to mine. I agreed.

I have CFIDS (chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome), and the doctor and I were very happily celebrating my total physical improvement when the nurse arrived on the scene with my B12 shot, which did not hurt me a bit. So, I learned she's really great as far as shots, blood pressure and pulse go, but I also learned I wouldn't die if I revealed myself. Assertively, I might add!

It seems the reason I mouth-ate-my-way through WWSHTB is because I was very uncalm about how I'd answer the question: After the eating problem then what?

I've been answering it. The doc told me to get a personal trainer. I did. So I am now "pumping iron." Yes, the "poor me" queen likes training and developing strength! We've moved into a villa-type condo with a private little pool. I play in the water nude, now, not someday when I am smaller, which may never be.

I left the workshop this time making the commitment to be active in the anti-diet movement. And I am. I bought three sets of Jane and Carol's books for the libraries near me, and also one for loaning to people myself.

The owner of the fitness center I go to said, "Boy, Mary, you sure came out of the closet!" I announced from the treadmill that I was not there to lose weight. The reaction was a lot like the day at the hairdresser's when I said, loud enough to be overheard, that I wanted to look older! (I look a lot younger than my age.) You can imagine the reactions of my audience.

I also left the spa thinking I might have to consider learning about computers. I'm (computer) illiterate, and have always said "Never" to learning about them. The first and only reason I'm suddenly open to the possibility is that at the spa I heard about getting "on line" and having a support group! Wow!

That remains a challenge. You may hear more from me.

Love, Mary


Dear Overcoming Overeating Newsletter:

Once again I have given up on eating what my body really wants and am in the fourth day of a diet that I have just failed. I am very unhappy with my body, but I seem unable or unwilling to fulfill my dream of eating out of hunger instead of a million other ridiculous reasons.

I still believe eating from hunger instead of my head or mouth is what makes sense. How could my body be wrong? My only question is, how do I stop this fight with my mouth and my head? I can feel free and wonderful around food for about a week at a time and then I once again go off the deep end… It seems like deprivation somehow, not to just "pig out."

Help me figure out how to stay on track! I have experienced that wonderful feeling of eating out of hunger and not being obsessed with food, but I kept losing it. I want it back to stay!

S.S., Florida

Dear S.:

It feels awful to experience mouth hunger/stomach hunger as a battle. Do not struggle against mouth hunger! If you do, it feels as if you are on a stomach hunger "diet" against which you then need to rebel (see "Notes from Chicago" in Volume 2, Number 2). Try to focus on collecting stomach hunger experiences and be gentle with yourself about mouth hunger. Gradually as you collect these experiences of feeding yourself in response to stomach hunger, your mouth hunger will begin to fade away. In the meantime, it's important not to yell for still needing to eat in response to discomfort. Instead, use the experience to learn something about what's troubling you. The transition from mouth hunger eating to demand feeding (eating from stomach hunger) is the cure for compulsive eating, but is a gradual process, with lots of ups and downs. We hope you'll keep reading the newsletter!


Dear Overcoming Overeating Newsletter:

Attending the Spa in Austin, Texas with Jane & Carol was probably the most loving thing I've ever done for myself. The people I met there and the issues we discussed were a tonic to my diet-weary soul.

For the past 40 years my food-focus led to fear, frustration, and failure! Now at last, I feel I'm beginning to move toward a more satisfying level of self-acceptance. It's never too late, is it?!

J.H., Cincinnati, Ohio

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