About 9 weeks ago, I consciously decided to ‘make peace with myself’ as my wife calls it. I ate what I wanted – including candy and whatnot. Nothing odd here – it’s just that I didn’t beat myself up over it. I bought some new clothes that actually fit me and took the stand that no matter what my size, I should never have to go through the day being uncomfortable in my clothes.
I gained about 10 pounds during this time – and that is OK. It’s OK because I think I needed to do this in order to gain weight without the self-hatred. To prove to myself that I can do it. Maybe I need to love myself at whatever weight – in order to lose weight.
What’s interesting is that this temporary abandonment of a diet has shown me a few things.
First, my watching what I eat DOES keep my weight in control. So in that sense, my diet for the past 7 years has been a success.
Next, it does wonders for my indigestion as I’ve been addicted to Tums as of late and I have been waking up in the middle of the night with the symptoms of GERD – which go away after a single day of low carb.
Next, I’ve found it very hard to wake up early – another thing that seems to come easy when I low carb.
Oddly, I’ve also noticed that eating carbs seems to keep my blood sugar steady in the 130s. When I’m low carbing, I can peel off those 30 points, but when I cheat and have carbs, the number can skyrocket to 170 and above. It’s an interesting fact.
So my low carb diet is in fact, good for me – but I need to change the motivators that spring from self-hatred. If you’re doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, it can mess you up.
My Thai restaurant story is an example. My wife found this place and wanted me to go out to dinner with her, but I was pissed because it would ruin my diet. I went and ate and went off my diet and resented it, though the food was delicious. The point is: I ate it, but I was miserable. If I was eating it anyway, shouldn’t I have done so with joy of being with my family? This was months ago and it has stuck with me.
When my wife wanted to go back, I was resentful again. What could have been a joyous time with my family again became an argument – and I probably ate crap food and blew my diet that day anyway.
I think I’m lucky that I know a boatload of low carb tricks, and I am very used to feeding myself low carb. I even find that a sandwich with 2 slices of bread to be too much. And cravings for beer are so long ago in my past that it’s hard to imagine what a beer lover I was.
I need to take what I know about low carb and apply it with a different intention.
So here I am. Let’s call this ‘Losing Weight Without Self-Hatred’. Here’s the rules I gave myself to test out:
1. You should never be uncomfortable in your clothes or feel bad about yourself about your weight. Yes – you are trying to lose weight, but not at the expense of missing out on enjoying your life now – not some place in the future.
2. Eat to be healthy. Your body is precious. A magical, wondrous, unfathomable gift that no doctor or researcher understands. Learn to listen to your body and take care of it the way it wants to be taken care of. Don’t do it because of other people’s notions. It has to bring you joy.
3. Leave space for food as family, as togetherness, as joy. If there is a celebration, or some other good reason for eating off your diet, do it, enjoy it, relish the moment. Then go back on the diet. This is a balanced, mature approach that doesn’t ruin the tender moments in our lives and allows us to take the long view. We’re not in a race. Yes it would be nice to drop a boatload of weight quick, but quick weight loss is a form of self-hatred.
4. Bring spaciousness into your life. We need space for boredom. For idle moments. Continue the news fast (I’ve avoided the news for almost 2 months now). There’s nothing there you’ve missed in the news that would have brought you any peace. Continue the meditation. Take walks with your wife. Read instead of watching TV. Continue uncluttering. Don’t ever have a drawer or closet you are afraid to open. Don’t save things you’ll never use ‘just in case’. Don’t accumulate things because the price was right.
5. Cook more. Enjoy the preparation of food and working with beautiful ingredients. Make time for this. Don’t just gobble up crap. Take the French approach and carefully prepare. This doesn’t mean the food is not simple. Even if it is just burgers on the grill, heat the grill properly, and buy the best meat you can afford. Cook it properly, don’t overcook, and enjoy. Read more cookbooks, and work toward preparing food beautifully and thoughtfully.
6. Make eating an event. Work toward family meal times. Never eat standing up. Try to use nice utensils. Food is NOT a utility. It is a joy, a ritual, a communion with life and nature. That shouldn’t stop because you are on a diet.
7. Everything in moderation – including moderation. Every one of these rules should be abandoned from time to time if some situation arises that makes it wise to do so. Rules cannot be a substitute for thinking. This is because there is ONE rule that all of us will follow without exception: whether you follow low carb, low-calorie, low-fat, take vitamin D, Omega-3, or Vitamin C, if you exercise aerobically, anaerobically, both or neither, practice meditation, visualization, cynicism, optimism, follow Jesus, Buddha, Alla, Yahweh, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva – you will die. No one here gets out alive – no one.
Since I wrote the above in August, I’ve been more or less following these tenets and find myself much more relaxed – perhaps it’s the classic ‘fat, dumb and happy’ that detractors might say. They may be right. The experiment is still in progress.