Jump to content

Mind over matter

Greek to me

Recommended Posts

Ok..Day two here.  And wanting my cookie and diet soda.  Totally recognize the mental/emotional component to this so need your advice.  What tools do you have in your mental/emotional toolkit to just keep on.  It's really a goal to get to a point where mind can master the matter. 


Any sage wisdom and advice?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The first few days are always the hardest. I was "lucky" in the sense that I had a flu when I started, so I wasn't really bothered about what I was eating. Wasn't craving for anything. So I sneaked through those days like a sneezing ninja. Later on there have been some sneaky days when all of a sudden I crave for something I haven't eaten in years. That can be slightly confusing and a bit sneaky, so need to be aware of it.


However, to me it has really been just the matter of having the mindset that for the 30 days, I will only have certain foods. I have pretty much been eating normal foods, just without the dairy and grains and legumes and butter (I made clarified butter). So it's not a diet from another world and I didn't see it as a daunting task. My thinking is that if all else fails, I'll just have a chicken breast, some salad and a bit of olive oil. For every meal if I have to. And I have had plenty of side salads with my protein, because I didn't feel like doing anything else :-) For 30 days, you can eat just cabbage soup if you have to, and how great is it that you don't have to! Be grateful for what you can have, not grieve over what you can't have.


I don't entertain myself with the ideas of cheating. If someone offers me a piece of chocolate, I just say "No, can't have it right now. Thanks." and there is no doubt in my voice. Because, honestly, if I would sound like I'm doubting my choice, the other person will start to lure me into eating it, so I have to be the one who's firm in her decision, and nobody questions it when you're being very matter-of-fact about it.


Also, the cookies and wine and cheese and bread aren't going to disappear from this world, so it's not like if you don't have a cookie right now, you'll never be able to have one. And think of all the cookies you've already had during your lifetime. The idea is that when you've calmed your mind to know that you live in a world of plenty, it's easier to postpone eating something. And later on, you might not want it anymore, because you've found more appealing choices.


Now, I know I'm saying that it'll only be 30 days, and it brings up the topic of lifestyle change. I'm all for changing a lifestyle from unhealthy to healthy, but I am against the "all or nothing" mentality. It's really easy to say things like "This is it! I'll never have a cookie ever again in my life!" when you're pumped up on adrenaline and feeling mentally focused. It's just not reasonable to assume you'll always be feeling like that, so when it becomes a case of "never", any deviation from that path will feel like a total failure. The harder you push something, the harder it'll swing back. How many times people trash their whole diet because they had just one cookie? "Well I had this one, I've ruined everything so I might as well eat the whole package and after that I'll hit the Chinese buffet". In reality, the cookie hasn't ruined anything, it's not enough to ruin everything. Healthy mind and body, in my opinion, means understanding that it can never be perfect mind and body (and everything is forever changing). Moderation in consumption and moderation in thinking (and accepting reality for what it is) is what I've found to be the most relaxing and successful pattern.


So I guess what I'm saying here is that, relax. You can have your cookie, after the 30 days, and if you then decide that you don't want it afterall, then great. And if you decide that you do want one, then great. Have one. Have two. Just not the whole package :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you! I love the application of the positive. It resonates when you say "be grateful for what You can have" a much better way of looking at it.

I also like the way you have brought back the need to avoid all or nothing thinking. Lack of moderation is the reason I'm doing the Whole 30. Getting to moderation and staying there is a bigger deal than eating real food for 30 days. And THAT really is what my long term goal is so any tips on how to accomplish that is awesome!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oops :-) This turned out to be a really long post. Sorry!


Moderation is hard, and it's kind of funny, because it shouldn't be.

I responded to another thread here today as well which touched this same subject, and I mentioned how I got some help from Susan Anderson's "Taming the Outer Child". She's also written some books about abandonment issues. Now, I know this sounds like I'm going on a tangent, but to me it kind of makes sense that these extreme actions that we take (either being completely out of control or attempting to be in full control of everything, hoarding food and things, etc.) are based on some very basic needs and fears that are occasionally triggered. It makes sense to me, because living like that doesn't make sense. It has to be some weird primal reaction to something. Of course there's also the physical dependency and requirements for the nutritional value when it comes to food (which is kind of a primal reaction as well).

I got another book that I haven't started reading yet (only read enough to know that it's a book I need to read). It's called "The Skinny Sexy Mind: The Ultimate French Secret" by Trish Blackwell. The title sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it's actually about conquering eating disorders. As I haven't read it yet, I can't say for sure, but it seems to me that it's exactly about moderation in consumption and moderation in thinking. Why push yourself to the edge and obsess, when you can enjoy life and choose to be happy in your own skin?

Now, speaking of cultural differences… I will go on a little tangent here, but I feel like I want to say this and it does tie together with my original point about primal needs and fears.

When I was a child in late seventies and early eighties in Finland, there wasn't that much of anything here. Apart from snow. We had two TV channels with only a few hours of programming every day, not a lot of choices when it came to groceries and not that many comforts (I cycled or walked to school even if it was -30C (-22F)). If the American culture is all about striving to be better and seeking comforts, the Finnish culture was all about being miserable and not trying to be better than anyone else :-) Things have changed since then, but that was my childhood and it serves as a backdrop to my reactions to the American culture.

I've travelled rather extensively and have lived abroad, and nowhere else have I experienced so many of these primal triggers as I have in America.


I could spend a long time just roaming in a supermarket, because I was so blown away by the sheer amount of products. The amount of selection and the cheap prices are a huge hoarding trigger. Something within, knowing that there's the possibility of being without, starts to yell "buy all the things!" Then when I turned on the TV, the commercials didn't exactly help. We have food commercials here, but they are nothing compared to the American commercials. I watched them and started craving, even if I wasn't hungry before. Again the cheap prices hit another trigger. So much food for so little and it looks so good! Must eat all the foods!

To be honest though, the reality of the food didn't quite match the ads. This was in the Bahamas, but I think it was an American hamburger chain. I got a burger, which was obviously enormous, but the weirdest part about it was the bun. I had never had anything like it before. It had been processed so far that honestly, my body did not recognise it as food anymore. It was this weird, super white, sweet, spongy substance. We have processed foods here, but nothing like that. To this day I wonder that if I had been eating something like that since childhood, how would I react to real food?

The TV in general was just a big source of all kinds of triggers. Anything that could appeal to the human nature was catered to. Obviously at first I was totally lost with the amount of channels, but when I found TLC and Bravo, I just spent hours with my jaw dropped trying to comprehend what I was seeing, unable to look away :-) Then there were the food commercials followed by ads for diet pills and prescription drugs (by the way, pretty much all Americans I know are on some form of medication, which seems really dodgy to me). Commercials for credit cards or "buy now, pay later", followed by ads for services for managing debts. 24/7 breaking news with the kind of tempo that made you feel like something really urgent and scary is constantly happening. All possible emotional triggers were pushed constantly and you get so used to it, that slower pace isn't going to appeal anymore.

I also didn't get used to not being able to walk to places. I did do it, but it was a bit hazardous :-) Oh, and the car seats were so big and comfortable (as was the case with all the furniture) that after a while you just wanted to vegetate in them and not move anywhere.

This is not a criticism towards that culture. Just an observation and really, a concern over the people's health. Both mental and physical. I know that there's a freedom of choice, but when your most basic needs and fears are manipulated constantly, it's not that black and white anymore. We are pleasure seeking creatures and instant gratification is hard to pass on. Also, when there's danger, we get more alert and stressed. Only, in reality most of us at any given time actually aren't under any immediate threat. So we are focusing on some vague threat and live in perpetual fear. We bounce in-between seeking comfort and trying to be better, faster, stronger, thinner and richer. It's too much!

The humans from paleolithic era might've been living a healthier lifestyle, but if they would be dropped into modern day America, they too would definitely go for all the comforts as well and would be terrified after being constantly told that they'd be shunned by their own kind if they didn't use a particular brand of deodorant. If we haven't changed physically that much since then, then why expect us to be able to handle all these triggers? It's not easy, so let's try to be kinder to ourselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WunderHase - I love your observations about American culture.  I live here and have always lived her and I agree with you.  Part of it is the time we are living in, too.  I am amazed and horrified at how my kids just seem to have everything they want.  My 12yo couldn't think of a thing he wanted for his birthday.  And, we're the mean parents who don't buy their kids everything they want.  Maybe it's actually good and means that he's content with what he has?


Anyway, back to the original question, my best advice is to just not think about it.  And get your competitive side involved - Quitting isn't an option.  I wanted to NOT QUIT more than I wanted any particular food.  As the days pass, you'll be more motivated to get to the end.  There is something phychologically gratifying to seeing the sting of unbroken days get longer.  Just make your plan, eat what's on the plan and don't think about it.  That's what works for me.  When I let myself get myself into a debate over eating something, I usually lose. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wunder - I think you nailed so much.


As Americans, we became victims of our own success. The people that built our nation were probably similar to the Finns of yesteryear. Of course, all cultures have probably come from people with similar backgrounds, because survival dictated much of the culture. We come from hard working men and women who tried so hard to improve life for their children. Unfortunately, now we have those improvements, but lost the ethos that came from our founders. If we could bring that ethos back, we would be in much better shape.


TV here is such an oddity. I know of one commercial from Larry the Cableguy. Now, I love his standup routines. However, the ad shows him eating hot wings and other crap, then holds up a box of Prilosec. That one commercial represents much of what is wrong. We have not had cable TV for about six years now, and we rarely use the TV unless we are watching documentaries and a few cartoons for the kids from Amazon.


Last year, I had visitors from Germany stay in my home. They responded much as you observed. At night, they would drive to Walmart or grocery stores and just take pictures. 


We as Americans have a habit of figuring things out just in time. Perhaps public health will be one of those things that we figure out before it is too late.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...