I’d been told many times that it takes about 8 weeks to change a bad habit. I’m squirrely, though; I’d become really good at playing games with myself. Fortunately, though, I’d also become good at recognizing when I was doing just that. Still, I figured it would take me twice as long as the average person, at least, to change my old ways. So when I took on this challenge in April, I figured I’d need to make the changes in my eating habits and sustain them through the summer, and if I did so, I’d be set into new and healthy habits by Labor Day. That was the goal – stick it out until it became my new way of eating, my new way of living.
Guess what? It worked.
Emotionally, I toughed it out for the first week, knowing that the first 5-6 days would be pure carb detox. When I wanted food, I’d eat lean protein, even when it was NOT what I really wanted to be eating. It was hard. I read and re-read sections of the book, to understand that my body was transitioning from drawing fuel from carbs to drawing fuel from protein. I lived for day 6, when I figured the detox would lift and the shift would be in place. And it did. As if by magic, on day 7, this new way of eating suddenly became a whole lot easier. Thank God! I calmed down…a lot, and simply relaxed into it.
I’d committed to not weighing myself until day 17, which wasn’t that hard because I do not own a scale. Of course, I figured I’d be down about 40 pounds, given all the work and angst that had gone into those first weeks! I think I’d lost a little more than 6 pounds when I finally got on the scale. Was I disappointed? Maybe on some level, but I reminded myself daily that my goal was to change my relationship with food, and let go of the habits that were not working for me. In that respect, it had been a huge success, so I kept going, with Labor Day as a significant benchmark.
I went from Phase I of the 17-Day Diet to Phase II, and I’ve pretty much stayed there. I saw no need to “re-introduce” starchy carbs like pasta, rice, bread or potatoes. Not only was I doing just find without them, all of my food cravings had disappeared, and I found I was no longer thinking about food all day long. Why tempt fate? Besides, it was no picnic going through carb withdrawal before; why would I set myself up to potentially have to do that again? Maybe once a week (or more, if I’m traveling), I’ll have steel cut oatmeal at breakfast. I’ll eat beans or nuts two or three times a week, but basically, I’m quite happy with my body drawing fuel from protein and not from carbs.
It was some time in mid-July when I recognized that I’d already achieved my goal of letting go of the things that were not serving me well. I started to recognize that I was no longer on a diet. “I eat differently now,” I acknowledged to myself. And I practiced saying that in my head over and over as the days and weeks passed. I eat differently now. My struggles had all been about my relationship with food. Working out and drinking 80-100 ounces of plain water daily were things I did even at my heaviest. I needed to get the food and eating part in order, and by Labor Day, it had become routine.
I am as amazed as I am thrilled that it’s mid-December and I’m totally locked into different eating habits. Five months…that’s all it took to turn the ship around and get on a healthy course. Change the behaviors, and the weight will take care of itself. I’m about 45 pounds lighter than I was when I made that commitment in early April, and down 115 pounds from my heaviest weight.
There is no magic; there’s only commitment, work, and persistence. What are your plans for the next several months?