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30 Days and keeping going for a bit


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Today is the 30th day, and given the advice about when or whether to keep going, I'm going to keep on for 45 or 60 days even with Easter coming, because I think health outweighs tradition in this case. Chronic pain is still very bad, and I've only just started sleeping in a darkened room and taking Natural Calm, and still having pretty regular and bad breakouts on my face (though easily a fourth of what they had been).

So today I weighed and measured myself, and I've lost 6 pounds, five inches from my waist, two from chest (though cup size has gone up one size! who knew?), and though I've not lost any inches from my hips or thighs, the way my body has changed this month (some of my slacks are actually tighter), my skin is smoother, arms and legs hardly lumpy at all, and I feel that I look much less like someone with metabolic syndrome than before. Face slimmer, double chin gone, upper arms smaller, upper abdomen doesn't enter the room ahead of me, can see my ankle bones for the first time in years, and more.

Zero Hour Confession: Yesterday I thought there would be no harm in weighing myself. Big, big mistake. I had lost “only†four pounds in a month (the two that showed up lost this morning only adds to how crazy it is to use that measurement to decide how you're doing). And, I spent the day in real despair, thinking that this had all been for nothing, it was too hard, and why bother anyway? This lasted all day, until just about dinner time. I didn't eat anything off the Whole 30, but a lot less than I would have normally, and pretty much all day thought, “Tomorrow this is over, I'm done.â€

And then I remembered extinction again. There are a lot of situations in life where this happens: just as you're about to make a big commitment to doing things differently or changing, you think, “No! I'm not gonna! Forget it†Or some part of you does. And the part that extinction was working on in me was the part that feels I have to be physically perfect to be a good person. When I realized that, I immediately realized that I am so over thinking that is true, no matter what size I am. And then that despair passed, I had a lovely dinner that included the sweet potato I was not going to eat, and this morning I feel terrific and ready to keep going.

In addition to many very obvious health benefits I have noticed, here's what I've learned:

Taking care of myself by preparing food at regular intervals throughout the day has helped me to see that taking care of myself in every way is worth it. (Also, doing the dishes to Susan Tedeschi singing “Learn How to Love You†is excellent.) And, sitting with feelings of loss and loneliness that I used to sooth with food is much, much better than soothing them with food. (Also, I have begun to use the phrase “Suck it up, buttercup†in the nicest way imaginable, and it helps!) And, sleeping through the night is as good as it gets. (Also, Natural Calm is great stuff.)

But I believe the most important thing I've learned, down deep and not just in an intellectual way, is that food and exercise can provide health, pleasure, and the ability to live our lives better. But in and of themselves, they are only a means. They cannot provide meaning to us. I think one of the really tragic aspects of our society is that we often lack a core of meaning—so that we latch on to eating, exercising, dieting, over-indulging or over-restricting, as a substitute for meaning in our lives. I don't think it's going too far to say that the food industry understands this situation very well, and has, in the fullest sense of the word, "capitalized" on this. That I could be reduced to despair over an “only†four-pound weight loss is testimony to how insidious and harmful this perspective is.

But as has been said many times, how much better off we are, regardless of the demons we have to look in the face in the rest of our lives (and hopefully conquer or at least subdue), by living a life that starts with eating nourishing food, sleeping well and long, and seeking the real and deeper meanings that have sometimes escaped us because we were so caught up in compulsiveness and lack of self-worth—at whatever age, whatever size, whatever place we hold in the world—how very much better off we are. It really does start with food.

Sorry for this long post, but as lessons go, I must say, that is a doozy. I'm looking forward to what the future brings with this, and will keep posting from time to time for now with updates.

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