"I look at you and seriously have to ask if I even WANT to walk 8 miles a day and eat a restricted diet. I'd like to look and feel like you, yeah, but do I want to live like you? It's an important consideration."
I promised to address the “restricted diet” part of her comment in another blog post – this one. Interestingly, as our conversation has continued, she made another comment that's also relevant here.
“I still want to hear your thoughts on the PRICE of your choice. Everything has a cost.”
My reply covers both of these issues from my perspective, and I'm sharing a slightly edited version of it with her permission. Maybe you can find some helpful nuggets in here, too.
So you want to know at what price I changed my lifestyle.... I've been thinking about that since I first read your e-mail. Here's the thing -- I think you expect to hear drawbacks, sacrifices, and negative things like pain and suffering...but I simply can't think of any! And that's because for all of the pleasure I got from eating unhealthy foods and overeating reasonably healthy foods, I was always aware that, within about 30 minutes of eating it, the negative effects would kick in -- sluggish and lethargic, inability to focus because I just wanted to sleep. The sugar rush that might help me power through for about 90 minutes always led to a crash was just as dramatic...not to mention the unrelenting chatter in my head about the guilt, how I knew better, shouldn't have done it, etc. And of course, the scale just crept up higher and higher and higher.
So while I'd be the first to admit to the immediate pleasures -- tastes, mouth feel, comfort, relief of boredom, no longer feeling alone, burst of energy, making myself happy -- all of those pleasures were fleeting. Sure, a warm brownie topped with ice cream and hot fudge will most definitely take the edge off of heightened stress or agitation for a while, but only for a short while. In hindsight, the guilt and shame and lethargy, and certainly the extra pounds lasted far longer than the pleasure. FAR, FAR LONGER. So that's why I have had such a hard time answering your question.
Last year, when I finally kicked into the proper gear (the one I'm confident I can sustain for a lifetime), I told myself a few key things in preparation for what I knew was going to be a really hard road ahead:
- It's going to really suck to NOT give in and eat what I want. Not giving in will make me cranky, angry, and maybe even upset. STILL, DON'T GIVE IN.
- It will be relatively easy the first day, and then it will get harder and harder, and I'll become more and more emotional and pissed off, as the first week progresses. STILL, KEEP GOING.
- The first 5-6 days are all about detox -- getting the sugars and sweeteners and starchy carbs out of my system, and that would not only cause the emotional reactions described above, but also physical reactions, including feeling low in energy. STILL, DON'T GIVE IN; KEEP GOING.
- On or around day 7, after all of those toxins are out of my system, I'd start to feel better. GREAT! KEEP GOING.
- It takes about 6 weeks of diligence to change a habit. So, I would need to eat this way for six straight weeks in order to turn the corner. Knowing how squirrely I can be with food and eating, I figured it would take me 3 full months, or 12 weeks. JUST KEEP GOING.
All of those things proved to be SO TRUE. But I really wanted to put an end to all of the chatter in my head, put an end to the guilt and the shame and the struggle, and just get it done! Plus, as I wrote in my first blog post (www.farewellfatmarsha.com/blog/in-memoriam), a friend told me that 2015 was my year to let go of the things in my life that I'd been holding onto even though they were not working for me, or else it would keep me from being the best I could be, and keep me from being happy. So I think it was my commitment to change that powered me through the list of things above. I wanted to be done with it, so I kept going, even though it was hard. I was willing to make the sacrifices, to feel cranky and angry and weepy, to cry when I felt weepy, to bitch and moan and be pissed off that this was my struggle. For weeks and months I would go to my weight management meetings and just say how pissed off I was that I had to go through this. I was ANGRY, and I made sure everyone in the meetings knew it!
And then finally, I put some action behind the anger and resentment, because it wasn't moving me forward, but it seemed like something I needed to get out of my system. So I did. And then I moved on. I didn’t give in. I kept going. I worked hard for where I am now, and I’m thrilled to be reaping the rewards of that hard work.
My diet IS restricted, and I don’t mind one bit. I don’t eat to drug myself, to numb pain, for entertainment or companionship. I eat for the energy I need to get through the next few hours. I stopped craving foods after about 6 weeks of eliminating sugars, sweeteners, and starchy carbs. I think living cravings-free is THE BEST PART! I enjoy watching people indulge in the things I used to indulge in! I want to know how it tastes, how it feels in their mouths, how much they’re enjoying it – all of the details that sometimes make my nieces beg me to stop staring at them and asking for descriptions!! And then I go about my merry way!