It’s been three full weeks since I made the decision to reduce most meat, most of the time from my diet. While I did indulge in turkey and gravy at Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve been essentially meat free since October 6.
First of all, I’m going to preface all of this with saying that I am the type of person who wants, craves, needs and can’t resist forbidden food. I lost all of my baby weight by the time my second daughter was 5 months old by old-fashioned caloric restriction a-la Weight Watchers. Each Monday after being weighed, I would have my cheat meal (it usually consisted of a huge piece of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream or a bacon cheeseburger with onion rings from our local pub). I lived for those cheat meals. They got me through the weeks of being hungry and feeling just a little deprived. While I’m not saying that what I did wasn’t healthy, it certainly wasn’t sustainable. Since then, every time I’ve tried to restrict a certain type of food, it’s met with failure. No bread for three weeks ends up in a four-day bread binge (with complimentary guilt!). Restricting, or eliminating, just doesn’t work for me. This old gal’s got to feel the freedom. The caged bird doesn’t sing. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Since I reached my goal of 140lbs in 2008, I’ve been trying to lose “the last ten pounds.” Regardless of how good or strong I felt, regardless of how much my husband expressed his pleasure at my physique, I always saw my wrinkly stomach, my love handles, the soft inner thighs. Often, they were the only things that I saw.
Lately, I’ve been coming to realize that I really don’t want to live my entire life wishing I could lose ten more pounds. I’ve starting to actively focus my attention on how I want to live my life, from the way I love to the way I live. How many hours over the past five years have I wasted critiquing myself? (Too many.) How many days have I wasted by allowing myself to be dragged down because I “felt fat”? (Too many.) There’s nothing there that serves me. There’s nothing there that sets an example for my daughters. There’s nothing there that makes me a better person. So I’ve been trying to let that go. I’ve been visualizing the life that I want. Images of my husband and I sitting closely on the couch, heads thrown back belly-laughing; Images of walking on the beach, happy, smiling and confident in my own skin; Images of teaching yoga to a room bursting with people, leading the class with strength, humility and grace. This is the life I want, not one spent tugging my shirt away from the softness on my stomach.
The crazy thing is, that since I’ve changed the way I eat, a lot of that food guilt has just… disappeared. To be clear, I have been eating nearly 100% whole foods. I haven’t substituted meat with non-meat alternatives, I’ve added in beans, seeds and legumes instead. Last night at supper, I finished my bowl of vegetable soup with lentils and still felt hungry, so I had a second. And I didn’t feel guilty. This weekend at the movies with my kids, I shared a kid’s pack with my seven year old, chowing down on popcorn in the afternoon without guilt.
On top of that, my digestive system has been uncharacteristically active. I’ve been going to the bathroom everyday, sometimes even more than that! This is a pretty monumental change in my life from where I was a month ago. And lastly, I’ve lost about five pounds. After deciding to accept myself completely, as I am right now; after deciding to eat what my body actually wants, without fear of what others might thing; after finally starting to move forward from living my life wasting energy on wishing I was skinnier. The weight just… left (full disclosure? I think I pooped it away!).
Don’t get my wrong, I’m not ready to start branding myself with the “V-Word” or preaching from the street corners, I’m just happy to say that this seems to be working – really working in a sustainable, satisfied and happy kind of way – for me right now.
PS: I’ve been so energized by this change in myself, I’ve decided to do a 30 day Vegan Challenge for the month of November. I don’t see it being that difficult except for one staple in my day: the dollop of milk in my morning tea. That ounce of liquid is what I anticipate to me the most difficult change of all. I’d love for anyone out there to consider taking the plunge with me, just for 30 days, to see how you feel!