Near the beginning of October (around the 10th) I reached the goal of having lost 50 pounds! It has been a long journey. I began on April 9th and have remained true to the course ever since. A dear friend recommended two books to me by Kay Sheppard, From the First Bite and The Body Knows; both deal with the subject of food addictions. I found myself fitting many of the descriptions profiled in the book and was intrigued by the idea of really being free from the struggle of overwhelming food cravings. My friend encouraged me to try the food plan for thirty days and to begin immediately and seriously (meaning go “cold turkey” off some serious food and drink substances). I
decided to go for it and began the next day.
The food plan is a very intense, weighed and measured diet. One of the basic concepts is that certain people are addicted or obsessed with food and that there is a physiological reaction that causes cravings for refined carbohydrates. You can read more about the food plan and the idea of food addictions at Kay’s website: http://www.kaysheppard.com
So on that fateful Saturday in April I went off all forms of sugar (natural or processed, including all sweeteners except for liquid Saccharine), flour, and wheat. I also stopped all caffeine consumption and any high fat foods (like nuts, fried foods, etc). I had a pretty miserable two days as I felt headachy and exhausted. I remember saying to a friend, “I have five children, I can not afford to be this tired! Tell me this won’t last!!” She assured me that I would survive. Ha!
The food plan is very specific in terms of what and when you eat (hence the weighed and measured definition) but it does provide fairly hearty amounts. I eat a good deal of food–it just happens to be extremely healthy and WAY more veggies than my family is interested in consuming.
Along the way I have dropped some serious pounds (something in the order of 13 in the first two and a half weeks), have found a real peace over food (most of the time) and developed a real awareness of any sugar that gets into my system (the cravings start almost immediately). I discovered it is possible to get off soda and sugar free gum (two BIG, long time habits in my life). I survived a summer of travel and family gatherings and eating out. All in all I haven’t had any chocolate or sugar or bread products for more than six months.
Interestingly enough I find I can handle the absence of sweets much more easily than the absence of starches. Last week I was particularly hungry, for some reason, and struggled in resisting the huge Costco muffins I had bought for the family. And yet, at other times, I don’t find resisting difficult at all (or there is no way I could continue this plan for such a long time–I just don’t have that much will power in and of myself).
I wonder if I will be able to enjoy Christmas baking this year without eating any of the treats. I made some cookies for a homeschooling co-op class, last week, and realized that I have always nibbled on the dough without even thinking. It was a bit torturous, as a creative cook, not to taste the new recipe. I have to be careful not to dwell too much on the idea of certain foods or try to smell and savor them–it causes me to be discontent and starts those hunger cravings.
My family and friends have been hugely supportive. Tim is amazed that I’ve continued on as long as I have. He and my friend, Julee, vie for position as my biggest cheerleader. Julee has supported me from the beginning, always believing that I could lose the weight and would succeed (even when I truly didn’t believe it myself). She went on the plan with me (until pregnancy morning sickness drove her to eat crackers) and even spent a day cooking “approved recipes” with me. Julee is always ready to talk about how I’m doing or feeling about it all … much longer than Tim can handle the discussion. She brought over a bag of gifts when I hit this grand goal and was the first to say we had to go out and celebrate my 50 pound loss. More than anyone, she has truly applauded and rejoiced with me over each step of my progress.
Tim, as always, is my rock! He somehow knows just the right thing to say to help me remain on track. He helps me see all I have gained (no pun intended) during my struggle to be consistent and points out the habits that I have changed. He supports me in finding new, attractive clothes and never speaks disparagingly about my sometimes odd food choices (does anyone else like millet and quinoa?).
I don’t know what I would do without my family and friends encouraging and supporting me. They’ve let me talk (endlessly at times) about the food plan and my baby steps toward healthy eating. They cheer and compliment me and tell me I am doing great. The children went through a mourning period as I gave up sugar (perhaps they saw that their own sugar consumption would also be decreasing) but unfailingly applaud my efforts. They are quick to ask me, “Are you allowed to have that?” if it looks like I am eating something unhealthy. Built in accountability!
I was trying to find some pictures to post … perhaps a nice before and after shot. As I looked through the months of 2005, I began to see just how little I really let myself be photographed. I could hardly find any pictures of myself and certainly not any without several children posed artfully in front of me (one advantage of having five children). As I looked through the collection, catching glimpses of myself her and there, I began to really appreciate how much weight I have lost. It’s a bit of a shock to put the two images together in my head. I’m still me–thick or thin.
People often ask me what I will do (with my eating) once I reach my goal weight. It’s a difficult question. If you follow, truly, the mindset that goes along with the food addiction books, then, like an alcoholic, you are never “cured” of your addiction but must abstain from those substances forever. I find that idea a bit daunting–it’s difficult to wrap my brain around the idea of being off sugar, wheat and flour for the rest of my life. On the other hand, God brought to mind an interesting connection last week. In all things, discipline is required for true, long lasting growth.
When someone begins an exercise routine they are not usually asked, “So, when you tone those arms and gain strength in your legs and some awesome muscles, are you going to return to your couch potato state and stop exercising?” No, physical fitness, if you want to retain the strength and endurance, must be continued.
If someone reads the Bible in a year, working day by day, to go through the entire Bible, would you say to them, “Boy, I bet you’re glad that’s over. Now that you’ve reached that goal, I guess you’re going to go back to trashy novels and smutty movies. You’ll probably want to cut back on all that Bible reading and be more moderate, maybe only a chapter or two on the weekends.”
How ridiculous that sounds! Thinking of discipline in the physical and spiritual realms and applying it to my eating has been eye-opening. Of course, I want to grow in my Christian walk. Obviously one has to keep on exercising or the muscles will turn to flab. I certainly know that keeping my marriage vibrant and loving takes energy and work. Being a good parent requires me to be consistent and attentive. I think staying on track with my eating, and maintaining a healthy weight is going to take constant work. Knowing this, however, doesn’t have to be discouraging, instead it can be another way that I am being refined and transformed “…into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
Paul writes about discipline in Titus:
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14
Until such time as Christ returns or takes me from this earthly home, I will try my best to honor Him with my disciplined eating. I trust He will give me the grace to run the race and the wisdom to discern the path He has for me. I am thankful that He promises to meet me if I seek Him. I do not want to be back in the place of obsessing over food, with its downward spiral into addictive behaviors.