Ideal Protein Diet - Week 7 - It's All In My Mind
Let's Think About Our Brain
Contemplating Eating a Chia Pet
This week I bought a small plastic clam shell container of alfalfa sprouts. I opened it up and Greg took one look at it and said, “I wouldn’t eat that…it looks like a Chia Pet.” I looked at the opened container, considered it, and answered. “I don’t know…I’d eat a Chia Pet.” That’s the difference between Greg and me. Greg will eat lettuce, some asparagus, and an occasional hunk of broccoli. I, on the other hand, would eat a Chia Pet just to see what it tastes like. What the hell, it’s green and natural and how is that different from a lot of herbs or salad greens? It’s a good thing I like vegetables. This diet would overwhelm a guy like Greg.
I almost weighed myself in the middle of the week but stopped myself. I’m glad I waited because on the day of reckoning I lost 3 pounds. If I lost less in the middle of the week I may have lost momentum. Three pounds is very good news for me. However, the great news is…I was never morbidly obese…just REALLY bad at math. In week three, where I did the calculations on where I started in this crazy diet, I used the wrong formula for calculating the percentage of difference between two numbers. Instead of a whopping 68% over my ideal weight I was only 47% over. This was a small victory and a deranged one since morbid obesity is 50% or more above ideal body weight. I was SO close but not quite there. In retrospect, I’m glad I thought I was morbidly obese only because just the word “morbid” shocked me out of my delusion that I was just a little chubby. Now, after week seven I am down to 34% above ideal body weight and my BMI went from 35 to 32.2. I’m going in the right direction.
This week I noticed that the weight is coming off evenly around my body. There is no one thin part of me to the exclusion of the other parts like a bad cartoon about a woman with a tiny head and a giant butt. When I look at my arms and shoulders I look almost like I used to. I don’t see the same dramatic change in my legs because they were always much larger than the rest of me but I know I’m getting smaller because my slacks are getting loose. I put on what I can only call my illusion jeans. They are black…that’s a no brainer. They also have a marked flare from the knee to the ankle. I learned this little trick from a show called “What Not to Wear,” when they explained the illusion created by the right cut of pants. This gives me the illusion of correct proportion. Today when I put them on I needed to put on a belt because they were slipping down to my hips…not OFF my hips but low enough to see my underwear. This is not a good look for a middle aged woman. There are less of my love handles and more of a waistline. My calves even look a little thinner and it’s easier to cross my legs.
Before the diet, my legs were feeling really tight like they might explode. I don’t think it was fat but maybe water retention. My stomach is no longer so large that it is pulling on my back and taking me out of good posture. It’s not gone completely but I can see there is a very big difference. It’s easier to do a forward bend in my yoga practice. I had to start taking the over the counter acid suppressant on a daily basis again. The reflux was not acting up nor was I getting bad heartburn but the reflux cough was getting out of control so I’m back to the daily dosage. I’m back to not feeling hungry and my emotions are on a more even keel. I will be careful not to sabotage my ketosis with anything I put into my mouth.
I am learning that if I don’t stretch first thing in the morning before I eat breakfast I just don’t do it. On this diet I need to eat on very regular intervals and my stomach is never empty enough to sit down and get into a good stretching session. I’m trying to be consistent which is not so easy for me.
The first time a doctor told me that I suffered from anxiety I denied it…but then I worried about it. I’m going to give you just a few seconds to absorb the irony in that. When I hurt my hip two years ago I went to see a PA for some direction on what to do. I sat in his office and cried because I was sure I would eventually end up in a wheelchair. The PA acknowledged my pain but also told me that the pain could increase relative to my worrying about it increasing. I thought he was full of baloney at first. However, now that I recognize that I suffer from some form of anxiety I see how that plays into the reality. For example, when I worry about not being able to fall asleep I find it difficult to fall asleep. When I worry about not being “regular” I become “irregular” – I believe this is referred to as anal retentive. This is not really a term I enjoy using to describe myself.
I’m not sure how to get around the worrying and I’m really not sure how to get over the fact that I’m not devil-may-care like I always thought. I have the ability when faced with a big crisis to focus and not go berserk. I used to think that was because I didn’t worry but now I know it’s because I worry so much that when a disaster strikes I’ve been expecting it for years. I always expect the worse so when it happens I’m not surprised. This stress inducing behavior keeps my body in a constant fight or flight mode. This, in turn, does something to my brain that interferes with the production of dopamine and endorphins. I think that’s how I got hooked on sugar. It gave me an artificial high that readjusted my hormone levels that were depleted by stress. My brain kept telling me to eat high sugar and high fat even though my body was giving me all the messages that it was in distress.
I realized that I become paralyzed by anxiety. My fear that I could not be successful on a diet caused me to wait until I was almost incapacitated. My fear that I cannot heal my body with yoga has kept me from practicing yoga. If it sounds kind of nuts…it is. It was not until I was pushed into action by the enormity of my pain that I took that first step toward change. Instead of pacing myself and taking small steps I have simply been putting out fires in my life. How much simpler if I would have started when I was only 30 pounds overweight and not quite crippled with pain. I am always under a state of alert because of my anxiety but that is no way to live. I kept thinking, “I can’t lose weight, I can’t be effective in my life, I can’t exercise because I’m afraid it won’t work.” Thinking that I can’t do it has kept me from trying.
On the day before weigh in I was concerned that maybe my body has gotten used to this level of caloric intake won’t lose any more weight (even though I physically felt thinner). I’m afraid to get on the scale and face the prospect of not losing weight. I’m in a bad place right now with my stress on weight loss and my move. Although we are set up with boxes, an apartment, a rental truck, and our plans are all laid out I know how stressful another change will be for me right now while I have the pain and weight loss still in front of me. I need to chill out and be in the moment. Each thing I do will bring me closer to the desired end and if I get all anxious and do nothing that will keep me from meeting my goals. Any psychiatrists out there reading this? If so, how about a few drug samples?
I threw my regularity out of whack after screwing myself up with the Nyquil last week. I’m not sure what it is, but there is some connection between having a full large intestine and my level of lower body pain. I’m not sure if my full intestine pushes on a nerve in my spine or if my body is toxified because I have too much waste in my body. It could also be that when my body is torqued it puts a crimp like a twisted hose in my intestine. All I know is that once I become regular again the pain subsides. All of these things are so jolly to think about I can hardly contain myself. Let’s just say, all that stuff is connected and one thing cannot be out of whack without whacking out something else.
When I was driving behind a Blue Bell ice cream truck I observed enormous pictures of frozen ice cream novelties like a chocolate covered cone and ice cream suckers on a stick. I noticed a few weird things happening to me. First of all, I started getting that weird mucus feeling that is the first physical symptom after eating ice cream and I felt repulsed by what it would do to my body. I continued to follow the truck and all of a sudden I noticed I was salivating and wanting it. Initially my eyes and my body were rejecting the food but then my brain chimed in and damn it…my brain wanted the ice cream. My body is the SMART one and my brain is the saboteur.
There is a theory put forth by Aristotle called Eudaimonia. One tenant of this theory is that true happiness or contentment can only be achieved if your mind, body, and soul are all in agreement. Stick with me…I won’t go too esoteric on you here. In one professor’s analysis of the idea of Eudaimonia he suggested that Aristotle’s instruction to achieve this state basically espoused “Aligning your desires with your (best) interests.” I know it is a simple idea but it hit me like a ton of bricks.
For instance, let’s say you are a smoker. You desire to smoke a cigarette; however, it is in your best interest in the long run NOT to smoke a cigarette. Aristotle says that it’s not enough to forego the cigarette begrudgingly you must DESIRE not to smoke the cigarette BECAUSE it is in your best interest. The reason you must desire the thing that is best for you is that if you desire the opposite you cannot achieve true balance or happiness. You will simply resent the choice and it will make you unhappy. Since we have the ability to control our thoughts we can actually do this. The concept was so inspiring to me that I immediately started adjusting my desires. I’m not saying that it always works but the mindset change is powerful.
Let’s say my best interest is a leaner stronger body. My desires should be to eat healthful food and exercise. I’m not saying that this is an automatic switch but if you keep it as a free floating thought it does color your programmed thoughts. Now that I am pulling this idea into my new notion that it is my BRAIN that is the culprit and not my BODY I have to believe that my mind wanting all the wrong things is a form of neurosis or mental illness. My mind is trying to shorten my life span by desiring the wrong things. As I see it, this is happening to people all around me as the epidemic of obesity spirals out of control.
The next question is why. It may be because people are so completely overwhelmed with their lives of go go go and forgoing the little pleasures of humanity like real (instead of cyber) human relations, the joy of creating something or growing something or simply doing nothing. Doing nothing has gotten a bad rap in the United States where we are all about long work hours and constant productivity. In countries where stress levels are lower and down time is greater the obesity percentages are markedly lower. The percentage of obese U.S. citizens is 35.7% according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention whereas countries where people have leisurely meals, afternoon naps, and long holidays are significantly lower. Spain has 13.1% and Italy 8.5%. In fact, the second highest country is Mexico with more than 11% less at 24.2%. It can’t all be about food because in France where the obesity rate is 9.1% the meals are rich and no one would even think about eating fat free cheese. In Italy food is an integral part of life and people regularly eat six course meals. Grant it, the portions are small but there are SIX of them! And they include lots of carbs! In France the government mandates 30 holidays per citizen, Italy has 20, and Spain 22. The U.S. mandates 0.
The lack of down time coupled with all the new distractions and technology have brought us over the edge. Our brains feel that we are under attack and try to compensate by shutting the whole system down. Once again, this is only a theory and highly unscientific at that. However, attaining equanimity or Eudaimonia would be impossible under these circumstances. How can our minds want what is best for us when they feel like they are under siege? My mind is doing the equivalent of chewing off a limb to escape from a trap.
Once we understand that our own brains are sabotaging our bodies we can pull back and take stock of our choices. First we must choose to nurture ourselves with rest and pleasant activity. Only then will our minds get the idea that life is not a constant onslaught and maybe start remembering pleasure again. This may get the mind back on the side of survival and good health.
After all, aren’t most people afraid of death? Well, if someone could understand that what they are doing is bringing them closer to an untimely death and if life became more pleasant wouldn’t just those two things jog the mind into making good choices for the body? Maybe the brain would relearn to generate dopamine and endorphins off natural pleasure instead of looking for that quick fix with food.
All of the studies about people living to be 120 only look at what they are eating and not how they are living. Yogurt is not a miracle drug…nor is seaweed, or flax seed, or any number of things you can digest through your system. These people are living well balanced joyful lives even if we, as Americans, cannot see a life without television or computers or instant gratification as worth living. Their brains are not on self-destruct. They are not consciously thinking “I’ll do this because it’s good for me,” their brains are making the right choices because their brains are not under attack, not sick. They are socializing, laughing easily, eating when they are hungry, walking because it feels good, they are not over indulging in anything and therefore, just following the instructions of their healthy brains. We’re all out of whack. We are following the instructions of our twisted and damaged psyches.
And food is only one of the addictions our damaged brains are producing. You can substitute any one of the others for food; sex, alcohol, drugs, and simply fill in the blank. You can even contemplate that to a sick over worked mind under attack prison may seem like a better option than what is happening in everyday life with the bombardment of chaos.
So with this in mind, every single person who abuses a substance, including food, has something wrong with their minds. Otherwise, the brain would be making better choices and creating health to whatever level that individual is capable. It all seems so simple…your mind is trying to kill you because it had enough. Your body is giving all the necessary clues but the mind chooses to ignore those signs because it is actually achieving what it wants; self-destruction.
Whew! It’s good to get that off my chest. Try doing one thing every day that is pleasure inducing; half an hour of reading, listening to music, meditating, or walking through nature. If it helps let me know…I’ll be busy creating more chaos with my move back to Buffalo. I hope I can begin fresh there.
1 cut up fryer cut legs into two – remove skin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed cut into strips
5 Scallions chopped
1 large clove garlic crushed but left whole
½ teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon curry
1- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (try to find something with low or no sugar)
Salt & Pepper
Brown chicken parts under hot broiler for a few minutes and set aside.
Get oil hot over medium heat in a large skillet and add scallions, bell pepper, and garlic. Quickly sauté until bell pepper is starting glossy. Add thyme & curry and stir until mixed. Add diced tomatoes and stir. Add browned chicken, salt, and pepper. Cover pan and reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour or until chicken is falling off the bone. The sauce is usually served over rice but can be used over any accompanying vegetable. Cauliflower works well.
I also tried using 8 ounces of cold coffee in the blender with about 5 ice cubes and a package of the Ideal Protein Chocolate Drink. This froths up to a REALLY large portion of delicious mocha delight!