notes from the cleanse: day one delay

I defiled myself last night. I like that word, defile. I’ve been watching theRadBrad play Dead Rising 3 on YouTube; one of his favorite weapons is called The Defiler. After watching about 3 hours’ worth of him using The Defiler to great advantage, the word has stuck with me. But I digress. Pre-cleanse defilement and Tolstoy-length musings after the jump.

Pre-cleanse Defilement. That took the form of two glasses of Chardonnay, two glasses of Riesling and a few sips of Jameson, because I was at Clancy’s Irish Pub in Long Beach, and walking out of an Irish Pub without having something a little Irish is like leaving New Orleans during Mardi Gras without beads – sacreligious. Four (point something) drinks in five hours. That’s my normal consumption in a MONTH. I still feel like I died and went to Hell.

Hell is made of fruit, apparently, because that’s all I’ll be consuming today (beyond the chimichurri condiment that I insist is legal). I guess it’s good that I am too hung over to eat right now, because I didn’t do any prep last night; I’ll be waiting until around 6pm to actually start my eating day. Until then, it’s hot lemon/ginger/ginseng tea from Fresh & Easy, sweetened with a little Truvia.

Day One weigh-in is 145.2 pounds. BMI is 25.7 – four pounds away from a ‘healthy’ BMI, 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. (Another digression – I weighed about 135 pounds every time I became pregnant, even though the four pregnancies were spread out over 14 years. Must be my prime baby-making weight!) Twenty-two pounds from my wedding day weight, 27 pounds from my lowest weight as an adult.

Also, down 22 pounds from my highest non-pregnancy weight 14 months ago, which I shed without a lot of drama by generally following two rules:

1. Eat During an 8-Hour Window. The hard part is determining *which* 8-Hour window to choose, since you want to cover your primary eating hours – but also your ‘cheating’ hours. It’s probably more important to fit your timing to your ‘cheating’ hours, since it is during those hours that you will undermine your efforts to modify your dietary habits.

I initially picked 3pm – 11pm for exactly that reason. Over time, as the ‘cheat’ urge declined, I have moved that time forward to 1pm – 9pm, so I can fit in a small lunch at work, then have dinner and a snack or a bit of dessert – and not that fake, artificially-sweetened, weight-loss plan shit, either!

2. Don’t Eat Crap. Even though I’m in my 8-hour window, it’s not going to help to fill those eight hours with fast food, chips, store-bought desserts (I’m posting my oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe this weekend), etc. Tasty crap, certainly, but crap. Oh, believe you me, I’ll have it on occasion; sometimes, I’ll just go on a merry little crap binge. Then I’ll wake up one morning and realize that I don’t feel very good (no matter what the scale says), and I’ll stop eating crap for awhile.

As I was researching the Eat Your Heart Out Diet, I came across a variety of blogs that documented other seven-day adventures. Some had significant results (one even had the promised 10-pound loss, from a not-obese starting point), others lost 3-5 pounds…a few were disheartening. One in particular is etched in my memory, because the blog is a diary of paradigm failure.

That’s what comes to mind when I think of the word ‘diet’. Paradigm failure. The concept that one only needs to change one’s habits for a specific period of time to achieve certain benefits, without acknowledging that reversion to prior habits will generally lead to one’s prior status. This little flight of fancy is, for me, more about satisfying a curiosity than actual weight loss. I wouldn’t intentionally eat like this for the rest of my life; why does it even remotely make sense to do it for a week?

I have dieted, of course. Low-cal, low-fat, low-carb. The Atkins Diet is nearly ideal, when you do it in a sensible fashion (filling your plate primarily with a rainbow of non-starchy vegetables; adding higher-carb foods over time and only to the extent that your body can tolerate them) instead of what people usually end up doing (meat/cheese/egg fest, with a puny salad, until they give up). But I like to bake, I don’t have a sugar addiction and I obsess over food when I’m on a ‘diet’. I can lose and maintain a loss on Atkins, but that will take more effort and remove more pleasure over my lifetime than I’m willing to withstand.

When I stopped at Atkins Pre-Maintenance, I was at 135.4 pounds. I felt great, my clothes fit, but I was obsessed about food in an unhealthy fashion, and participating in a forum of people who were similarly obsessed. So, I cut myself off and away from the site, and the diet. Then went completely off the rails with my eating habits, and proceeded to gain 32 pounds in a year.

I’m pre-diabetic – that year of victual idiocy was fucking insane. My knees began to hurt constantly. Half my clothes didn’t fit, and the other half was at the brink. I couldn’t wear my engagement ring. My wedding ring was beginning to cut off circulation in my finger. I refused to have them resized; the rings didn’t need resizing – *I* needed resizing.

One Sunday morning, my husband showed me an article in the LA Times, about rats that stayed lean and lived longer, healthier lives when they were subjected to intermittent fasting, even when the IF and control groups consumed the same number of calories every 24 hours. Intermittent fasting does not trigger ‘starvation mode’, with the concomitant energy conservation and tendency to convert reserve calories into fat. Indeed, it seems to provide a metabolic advantage – giving the pancreas significant breaks through fasting seems to allow it to operate more efficiently when there *is* food to digest.

Having had to monitor my blood glucose and track my food consumption religiously during my pregnancy with #2 Girl due to gestational diabetes, that made complete sense. I can see from my records (oh yeah, my dietician loved my ass) that my blood glucose control was best on days when I had narrower eating windows. On days when I had my first meal at 8am and my last snack at 8pm or 9pm, I had better control when my first (or last) feeding was low carb/low cal (thus, putting minimal stress on my pancreas). Armed with both data and experience, I decided to make the change.

When I began IF, I did it knowing that there would never be an end point. Couldn’t be – not if I wanted the weight to stay off long-term. I’ve been following rules 1 and 2 for 14 months. I don’t count, track or make note of anything: carbs, fat grams, calories. (Digression: Which is a bit odd, since I am insanely interested in the nutritional content of food and will spend hours studying recipes from a nutritional standpoint.) I forbid myself nothing – but I choose to make good nutritional choices most of the time. My scale is my guidepost, not my goal post, not my enemy.

So, when I read through this blogger’s dieting failures, with the attendant self-shaming and recriminations bookended by positive affirmations that sound hollow and forced, I want to reach out to her. I want her to know that there is a different way. I want her to take a hammer to her scale and simply follow Rules 1 and 2 for a month, letting her body and her clothes tell her how she’s doing. I want to reach out. Do I do this 10 pounds from now, after I’ve maintained the loss for awhile? Do I do it now, when I am in the midst of losing but firmly committed to the lifestyle?


Update: As I finished writing this, I was wooed by a colleague bearing promises of tawny port, Gorgonzola and water crackers. The beginning of The Cleanse will be delayed by a day. Which works out pretty well, actually, since I’ll be able to at least do my prep tonight.


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