I’ve got to admit, I’ve been in a funk. Normally, the fall and winter are my favorite times of year but this year I’ve been sick so often that I just haven’t gotten into my normal good vibe feelings. Eli’s health problems have been on my mind a lot lately as we approach the summer and his next colonoscopy (although, knock on wood, he seems to be doing very well). And I haven’t spent as much time outside as I usually do this time of year, partially because it makes me sad to be in the back yard without Obie (our golden retriever who passed away in January).
Sorry, I didn’t mean for this to be a downer post, but I guess it’s a reflection of where I am at the moment. Because of this funk and work stress and being sick so often, my eating has just been awful. Work has been like this from time to time lately:
I keep restarting and then backsliding either because I’m sick, stressed or traveling. This added weight isn’t good for my mood, my appearance, my health or my running so I have to get serious about getting it off.
I just finished reading “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler, MD. It was written in 2009, but I picked it up at the local library. It really resonated with me and I wanted to share a few excerpts from it:
- “By encouraging us to consider any occasion for food an opportunity for pleasure and reward, the industry invites us to indulge a lot more often.”
- “For most of human history we survived on unadorned animal and vegetable products. Now we eat mostly optimized and potent foods that bear little resemblance to what exists in nature.”
- “Chronic exposure to highly palatable foods changes our brains, conditioning us to seek continued stimulation. Over time, a powerful drive for a combination of sugar, fat, and salt competes with our conscious capacity to say no.”
- “Stress also lends more power to each of the mechanisms that drive overeating through its capacity to heighten our arousal.”
- “A sense of powerlessness is one of the biggest obstacles to success. The ability to change entrenched habits rests with you.”
- He recommends having rules for eating (strict at first and then more general after your eating habits become healthier and less impulse driven) and goes on to say: “Rules aren’t the same thing as willpower. Willpower pits the force of reinforcing stimuli against your determination to resist, a clash of titans that can become very uncomfortable.” In other words, with a firm rule, you don’t have the discomfort and anxiety of making a choice about whether or not to eat that cake.
- He states that “recovery is impossible until we stop viewing overeating as an absence of willpower”.
- He makes some parallels between compulsive/impulsive overeating and drug and alcohol abuse and recommends exercise as an alternative pleasure/reward source both because it triggers the reward centers of the brain and because it helps us reframe our views of ourselves as athletes and active people.
- His main recommendations are to eat foods closer to nature like lean proteins, vegetables and complex carbs (mainly vegetables) and to try to relearn proper portion sizes by experimenting with eating smaller portions and seeing what is required to keep you satisfied (for four hours for meals and for two hours for snacks).
I liked his approach which really focused on how our altered food availability (mega portions, highly processed foods with an emphasis on addictive fat, salt and sugar, and easily accessible) can trigger unhealthy food relationships in a large portion of the population (of course, not everyone reacts the same way to these environmental changes). And my challenge is to figure out how to take that information and to use it to change my own reactions, cravings and behaviors.
Starting Monday (I know, I know) I’ll be starting either South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, or some mash-up of those three that I design and actually WRITE DOWN the rules to. I know from my own experimentation, that I am most successful on a diet that I don’t have to track my food and that eliminates simple carbs (which seem to just make me hungrier!). I’ll have to decide about cheese, beans, fruit, etc.
After running the Asheville Half Marathon on Sunday, I drove eight hours home and my legs were so sore from all those hills that I haven’t run since (although I plan to do a short run later today). I did manage to do the first workout from the book The New Rules of Lifting for Women which I’m pretty happy about.
- Decide on and write out my detailed eating plan.
- Stick to my detailed eating plan.
- Drink at least 72 ounces of water every day.
- Do weight lifting 2x.
- Run 3x.
- Practice daily gratitude. Focus on what is wonderful in my life and not what I don’t have.