Purple Elephants and diet soda

Once upon a time when I was very, very unhappy I gained an enormous amount of weight. I can’t tell you how much. Frankly, looking at the scale was painful. I only know the last time I had checked I was already too big to shop for clothes in the regular retail stores. Then I stopped weighing myself, and gained some more. I could tell I was fat by looking in the mirror. We have a couple (like two) family photos from that period. I thought I was having a great time dancing at my brother’s wedding, until my dad made a comment about my size. ouch. I looked at the developed photos (yes, it was so long ago – we used hard copy film.) I regretted making a public spectacle. To this day I have a vague notion that I “spoiled” the wedding photos. (I’m sure my brother doesn’t care, but fat girls everywhere can relate.) Funny thing is I spent an inordinate amount of care picking a dress I thought would hide my flaws.

You can paint an elephant purple, but she’s still an elephant.

I blogged the whole month of March on the emotional component to weight loss because I would not want you to think that psychology is less important than the physical aspects. Most people who fail maintain their weight loss fail because they never analyzed root cause. They have no idea why they are fat. They have a hazy idea that they must eat less and exercise more. They have NO idea why they eat too much and exercise too little. I posit, I ate too much because I was unhappy. I made unfortunate food choices because fiberless food is soft, fluffy and comforting. Because putting something in my mouth is easier (food, cigarettes, drugs) than letting something out (words, feelings, opinions.) And for exercise? One must find an exercise that one likes in order to do it.

I wasn’t having trouble with exercise. I exercised all the years I was fat, often for hours. I didn’t lose the weight. This is how I got so keen on the mind-body connection initially. I knew other fat girls who declared they didn’t eat much. I saw with my own eyes they were in denial. But with myself? With myself I had a ready made specimen to experiment on. I could easily keep a food diary, an exercise tally and notice what effected. Nothing effected. Years of valiant effort did not effect until I took the first step towards dealing with the emotional component. I lost ten pounds after leaving my unhappy marriage. The rest of the weight went away through the usual eat-less/exercise-more method. The moral of story?

Despite blogging a whole month on the emotional aspect, the physical aspect is not to be ignored. AFTER you solve your root cause, you might have additional weight to lose. In that case, I made these bullet points for you:

Eight basics (dig that assonance!)

1) The diet drink dilemma 

A dilemma is a difficult choice with two options (only two) hence the prefix “di.” A diet soda makes people chose high calorie accompaniments. Large fries and a diet soda. Cheesecake and diet soda.  Hot buttered movie popcorn and (you guessed it) diet soda. The diet soda dilemma is creating needless calories. Drink a beverage made with real sweetness: sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, (NOT high fructose corn syrup). The natural sweetness will create a full-feeling, and you will eat less of the high calorie accompaniment food.

2) Fat skimping

News flash: your body needs fat to keep your hair, skin and nails healthy and your joints supple. Fat enables the body to absorb vitamins like A, D, E, and K, and to regulate hunger. Fats are digested more slowly than carbs and protein, keeping hunger at bay longer. Fear not avocados, nuts and seeds!

3) Starvation dieting

Sugar (natural sugars), fats and fiber all create a sensation of satisfaction, of feeling sated. Skipping meals? Not so much. Starve yourself to lose weight and you inadvertently cause yourself to lose control. You get so hungry you bolt down food. Fast eating equals eating more. Your brain can’t keep up. You don’t get the “message” that you are full until long past your stomach’s limit. It’s called binge-ing. Don’t ignore hunger, anger, sadness, frustration. Be real!

4) Weird eating

Hemp, chia, maca, flaxseed, goji – every week there is some neat new health food sensation. Superfoods. While most of them are fine, beware of getting too heavy into liquified goo. Protein shakes / blender drinks can be just as unhealthy as the hard copy stuff. Remember when a cup of coffee had zero calories? Can’t say that about a Starbucks froth-a-latah-four-pump drink. Pay attention.

5) Poor Fueling

Hemp, chia, flaxseed etc., I’m not saying you should stay away either. Fuel well! Fuel efficiently. A sugar-free diet would mean no fruit, and a fruit-free diet, that ain’t right. Your body could use the fiber. Know what I mean? If you’re overwhelmed with the available food information, take away this ONE idea: Eat Whole Foods. Nothing you make yourself will be as dangerous as anything you buy processed. These days even restaurant food can be suspect. You don’t need the exorbitant sodium in pre-processed food. ‘Nuff said.

6) Empty Calories

Who doesn’t like a nice glass of wine? A fine beer? A rare scotch? All of which represent the food category known as Empty Calories. This stuff tastes great but has no nutritional value. Aww Mom! Really? Do we really have to give up drinking just to lose weight? Probably not, not if you can trace your emotional drinking habits. If you drink without thinking, without joy, in order to escape reality or because you can’t stop – you gotta investigate the root of that first. Then all will become clear on its own. Ditto for any other foods of no nutritional value: soda, diet soda etc.

7) Fads and quick fixes

A couple of years ago cleansing diets were all the rage. Don’t get me wrong I am all for eating fiber. The problem is doing it in a rush. Let’s back the truck up for a moment and consider the logic behind “cleansing.” The body digests food in order to absorb nutrients. Nutrients are absorbed in the large and small intestines. The intestines are lined with villi, elongated projections that line the intestine to increase its surface area. When these villi become coated, their ability to work properly is inhibited. You may eat and eat and not absorb any nutrients.

How do the villi get coated? By a steady diet of fiberless food. Have you ever washed a bowl that was coated with flour with a sponge? Once the flour gets wet it slips into all the pores of the sponge and is almost impossible to get out. Now wash a bowl that was previously filled with nuts. The larger the object the easier it is to get off and out of the sponge. Right? You need a varied diet to flush out your system with regularity. Otherwise, spoiler alert this is an icky image, otherwise half-digested food may lay trapped in the intestines half-rotting creating gas, intestinal discomfort, bad breath and host of other irritating problems.

8) Squeamish

If reading that last paragraph made you squeamish – you may be on to something. Maybe no one ever explained to you quite so graphically why your belly is a nice soft round spot and the rest of you is kinda stick-figure. Well, hey! Your intestines want a conversation with you. And your toes would like to say hello too. Disclaimer alert: I am not a doctor. Don’t take what you read in a yoga blog to be more weighty than what your doctor says. Perhaps you have an overactive / underactive thyroid gland. Those sorts of issues need to be addressed. Don’t be squeamish.

She’s your body, you ought to get to know her. Don’t treat your physical body like the unwanted stepchild who gets left behind on the road to enlightenment. Your body is you! Take the mystery out of your mechanics.

Sat Nam