Sunday, December 6, 2015

SFS Fall 2015: Eating Your Cake and Having it Too

I'm doing a six-week holistic diet with Liz Vequist in an effort to start feeling fit, active, and inspired. The diet started on Monday, October 26, 2015. 


Tomorrow is the 6th and final week of the diet. If you look at the numbers, my experience so far has been successful. 
1. I've lost 15 pounds
2. I've lost an inch in all the places I've measured
3. I'm comfortably down by one full size
4. I've reduced my caffeine intake by 50%
5. I've reduced my refined sugar intake by nearly 90%. 
6. I've reduced my weekly alcohol intake by nearly 75%
7. I've reduced my typical daily calorie intake by 15%, from 1,750 day to 1,450 
7. I've reduced my use of OTC sleep aids by 95%, from up to four times a week to once a month
8. I've increased my daily steps by 20%

As far as I'm concerned, this has been a valuable group and one I would recommend to any person who seeks to feel healthier, stronger, and more at peace in their bodies.

But, with just a week left in the program, I've consciously stopped participating in the Facebook portion of the group.


On Thursday, I was indirectly rebuked on the group's Facebook page for giving "bad advice" when I asked a question. Bad advice, it was explained, because the question I asked was akin to encouraging people to do something that was causing people to "fail" at the intermittent fasting portion of the diet.

My question was in response to a post from a member of the group who appears to me to be struggling with being at peace in her body. At the start of the day, she posted a plaintive query about how to handle her desire to fast with her desire to indulge in a holiday celebration. So I asked, "Why can't you do both - eat sensibly/low calorie for a majority of the day, and also indulge?" I acknowledged with my question that one couldn't call this a true "fasting" day, but what was the harm in eating your cake and having it too?

I asked my question out of genuine curiosity, and from a position of ambivalence about the fasting days, particularly in light of my own experience of balancing the diet "rules" with the "rules" of living, for me, what is a good life.

If you look at my numbers, it seems that my strategy of eating my cake and having too, carefully and with intention, has been pretty successful. I don't feel like a failure at the diet.

What I think has made me a success at this diet is in not my ability to faithfully follow the rules. Instead, it has been my ability to listen to my body and decide what rules I'm going to break.

For example, two cups of coffee makes me go off the emotional rails AND inspires sleeplessness. So, when I'm having intense cravings for a second cup of the half-caf I'm drinking, I can remind myself that I don't want it badly enough to risk the jittery panicked feelings that I'll feel as a result. If the craving remains, I fill it with a cup of hot lemon water or rooibos tea. Ditto for milk-based products and enriched bread.

I'll still have a small piece of candy or a chocolate chip cookie from time to time. And when I do, I savor it and remind myself to stop at one or two unless the desire for the sweet is more powerful than the need to maintain a certain caloric intake to keep my body healthy. So far it hasn't been worth it.

All of these signs point to victory for me and my body.

So, when I felt chided for "giving bad advice," I decided it was time for me to say good-bye to the Facebook portion of the diet. I don't want to share how I've successfully adapted the rules to serve my body if doing so could potentially risk the success of others. I don't see how that is helpful. I also don't think it is helpful to be part of a virtual dialogue about being a "failure" with one's diet and exercise choices.

So, at least as far as Facebook goes, I'm done.

I'll post my numbers here at the formal end of the last week, to put up the final bookend to this experience. After the diet is formally over, I'll continue to eat a balanced, whole food diet while also considering the choices I make in the interest of feeling strong and healthy. I will always have to pay close attention to how I care for my body. I can't eat an entire package of Oreos and not feel the ill effects. But I also don't want it to become my raison d'etre, where I am daily scrutinizing every food choice to determine if THAT'S the reason I am up half a pound.

Thank you Liz Vequist, for guiding me to a place where I can eat my cookie and be ok with myself. I feel like my struggles are over.

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