My biggest vice: GUILT

Confession: I HATE THROWING FOOD AWAY.

You may or may not understand the emotional agony I suffer when I can’t finish what’s on my plate. There’s lots of reasons for it.

I grew up living with an Italian grandma who you would think put food on the table by opening up her veins and letting it drip out onto our plates. At least that’s the impression I got everytime I wasn’t hungry or didn’t want to finish my food. Her reactions ranged from: “What? You don’t like my cooking?” to “You don’t love me anymore?!?!” So I ate it, even if I was full, because if you make grandma cry you’re the worst kid ever.

I went to school and was taught by Catholic nuns who grew up in Irish poverty and used to wag their fingers at us kids if we tried to throw away half a sandwich. They would give us some guilt trip like: “My 7 brothers and sisters would have scratched each others’ eyes out for that sandwich you’re going to dump.” Such a sin.

I was also a journalist for most of my career and met many many families in need of food. They line up HOURS before the food pantry opens (in the rain and snow sometimes) so they can have first crack at the inventory — usually boxed food from a local grocery store that’s past its expiration date. Yum? Thanksgiving time was the worst because the pantries didn’t have turkeys for everyone so the lines started the night before the pantry even opened. It was really humbling to see people worry about whether or not they were going to have turkey on Thanksgiving — something that I have never had to worry about. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, I had to cover a story about the idiots who wait outside Best Buy all night after Thanksgiving dinner to get 50% off a TV. Priorities.

Then there’s the environment. Damn Leo DiCaprio talking about how the Earth is in trouble because there’s too much garbage and stuff. How can I possibly add to the landfill problem by throwing away my food?

As you can see the guilt of throwing away perfectly edible food has plagued me through every  stage of life. No matter how detrimental it could be to my health, I got relief from absorbing the physical pain as to not impart any emotional pain on others — most of whom would never see me throw away food in the privacy of my own apartment.

My point is, we all have mental blocks and irrational thoughts that cause us to make choices that contradict what we really want in life. I have identified (one of) mine. Eating out of guilt is something I may never get over. I manage it in some ways. I buy less food at the supermarket, order less at restaurants, say no firmly and politely when offered something I don’t want, and just plain wait until the guilty feelings pass.

Fasting also helps ease the guilt: for one day a week I don’t worry about wasting food or overeating. While fasting brings up other feelings: hunger, anger, annoyance, irritation — guilt is not one of them. It’s one more benefit of fasting, giving me some peace of mind in the midst of what can be an otherwise stressful time. 

No Shame in Your Game

Sorry about posting like NOTHING last week. I was reeeeeallly busy.

And uninspired.

And lazy.

IMG_6449Even as I sit here writing this now (in the middle of another busy week), I’m trying to recover from all of those feelings. Writing is tough. I do it all day every day and sometimes I just need a break — a writing fast, if you will.

Busy and resistant as I was, I still got in a fasting day last week and this week, too. I was super lazy about them — a banana for breakfast and some scrambled eggs for dinner.

No fast-day ramen, or pretty salads, or hipster avocado toast.

Smart OnesWhen I have weeks like this, I try to make my most difficult tasks as easy as possible. Sometimes, that means eating really boring food or using frozen diet dinners. I used to feel like this was cheating. I used to worry about missing out on protein and nutrients and fiber and doing more harm than good for my body.

Calming the mind is the biggest challenge I face when fasting. If I’m not worried about eating too little, I’m worried about not eating the right things. Now I know all of that worrying was for nothing because here I am, 3 years later and I’m healthy and fine.

Sometimes, as I’m scrambling my dinner eggs or ripping open the box of 240 calorie fettuccine alfredo, I stand there all alone in my kitchen and say out lout “no shame in your game”.

If this is what I have to do to get my fasting day in, then there’s nothing wrong with it. Could I be eating something better? Sure, but isn’t that really true of every meal? If I asked myself that before I sat down to eat, I would have to replace most of my meals with salad.

Now that I don’t feel guilty about eating lame food on my fasting days, I can go back to feeling guilty about not updating my blog often enough — and we all know that’s really where I need to kick myself in the butt.

Get Full Faster in 5 Weeks?

I came across this article in Greatist about how if you eat light for 5 weeks then you will start to get full faster and want to eat less over all.

While I disagree with the second part of the article that says you need to eat “small meals” throughout the day to lose weight “healthily”, I do think the main message is true.

I’ve written about how I eat light after fasting days because my stomach fills up very quickly. I also eat noticeably less than I used to eat before I started intermittent fasting. I don’t know if it took 5 weeks for me to realize that I was filling up faster. Actually, it was after the first fast that I realized it, but this article doesn’t talk about intermittent fasting. It talks about training your body to feel full sooner by just cutting back on what you eat throughout the day.

Give it a read if you want the scientific info.

Krispy Kreme on a fasting day? Yes you can!!

BREAKING NEWS, you guys!!

A Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut only has 190 calories!!
Maybe you knew this, but if you didn’t: You’re Welcome!

Here’s something else you’re welcome to: You can get a FREE Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut FREE on April 1st! THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!! 

A glazed doughnut and a cup of coffee (w/ a splash of milk for another 10 calories) is the ultimate naughty 200-calorie breakfast on a fasting day. It’s obviously not something I would do every time I fast, but how often do places just give away free doughnuts? And with all the idiots playing April Fool’s Day jokes, this is a well-deserved treat for having to put up with humanity.

I know this video says the doughnut alone has 200 calories, but it was posted 4 years ago and I guess in that time they’ve figure out how to shave 10 calories off of it. Yay for us!

Take it Easy Tuesday

Let’s talk about Tuesdays.

IMG_4546

**This meal was not consumed on a Tuesday.

I know I’m abnormally excited about Tuesdays. I have thus far spoken of seeing a rainbow outside my window every Tuesday morning and comparing the feeling I get to waking up on Christmas Day. They’re just normal Tuesdays to everyone else, but they’re milestones for me because I have already fought what is usually my biggest battle of the week: Monday fasting.

If Monday is the best day to fast, Tuesday is the worst day to go to a buffet.

Fasting, even for a day, does change my body — specifically the size of my stomach.

I have tried to take out my “hanger” on burgers and pasta the day after a fast and came to realize it was not smart. It only turned me from hangry into angry because eating all I wanted made me feel stuffed and sick — feelings that are totally acceptable on Thanksgiving and select other occasions, but not on an average Tuesday.

Here are some things I do on Tuesdays to check myself before i wreck myself:

*Wait until I’m hungry to start eating.
I let my stomach tell me when it’s ready for food.

*Start off by eating something light.
Fruit, oatmeal, or scrambled eggs. This is not the time for bacon, pancakes, or bagels.

*Eat slowly.
It takes me a little while to tell when I’m full. If I eat slowly then my brain gets the message that I’ve had enough before I go too far.

*Avoid the “spite” junk food.
Sometimes I really want to grab a doughnut on the way to work or buy a bag of chips or a cupcake to have with lunch because “I earned it, dammit.” That’s still the residual hanger talking. If I wake up on Wednesday and still really want those things, then I go for it.

But remember, this post isn’t just about Tuesdays. It really should be called “Take it easy [insert day after whatever day I choose to fast].” Not really catchy.

That’s not to say I haven’t had a burger or a pancake breakfast the day after a fast. I have. And I have paid the price, which is obviously not too high since I have paid it more than once. I’m just more selective and conscious of when I choose to go hog wild.

On Tuesdays, I ease back into eating and the rest of the week is so much fun.

To breakfast or not to breakfast?

There are a lot of “Rules” out there about food and eating.

“Thou must eat breakfast” is probably the most common rule I’ve heard from one person or another throughout my life:  parents, teachers, doctors, health magazines, and mostly cereal companies pushing their products.

A few posts ago, I laid out The Rules that I live by. You’ll notice breakfast isn’t one of them.

It’s just one of many oft-advised, well-intentioned “rules” that I have come to ignore since I started intermittent fasting. I also ignore all the sub-rules that come with it like when to eat breakfast (within an hour of waking up) or what to eat for breakfast (protein, carbs, and low sugar). The point of these rules, as I’ve come to understand them, is to jump start your metabolism and curb your hunger throughout the day to help manage your weight.

Yogurt & green tea…because I ran out of bananas and didn’t feel like coffee. So there.

I’m convinced the only thing these rules have ever done is prevent me from losing weight.

Back when I started intermittent fasting, waking up after a fast day was like waking up on Christmas. I was so excited about being able to eat again that I would pour a big bowl of cereal, or make fancy oatmeal with fresh fruit, or cook 2 eggs instead of 1. Then as I started to eat my celebratory meal didn’t want to take more than a few bites. It was even making me feel sick. Trying to eat when you’re not hungry almost feels like trying to eat when you’re full. Gross. This was especially true the day after a fast. My stomach had shrunk and feeding it when it didn’t want food just didn’t feel good.

I started listening to what my body wanted and sometimes that meant waiting to break my fast (that’s why the first meal of the day is called ‘breakfast’, btw. You’re “breaking the fast” that occurs while you’re sleeping). Sometimes I wait so long, my first meal qualifies as lunch. I found out the world didn’t come crashing down around me if I ate a late (or no) breakfast. My progress wasn’t hurt either. I was still able to lose 25 pounds without eating breakfast every day.

Maybe you think I’m making a big deal of something so many people do every day, but for me it was a big revelation. It was drilled into my head that missing breakfast was almost detrimental to my health. I’m not saying it is a good idea for everyone. It’s a personal choice and you have to do you.

These days a typical breakfast for me (fasting day or not) is a banana and a coffee —  sometimes not consumed until close to 11am . Yet here I am: still at my goal weight, not scarfing down a huge lunch because I didn’t “eat all day”, not worrying about what my metabolism is doing, and not missing cereal or oatmeal or eggs.

This is what Bill Maher would call a “New Rule”. I wish I had a punchline about not eating breakfast to go here. I’ll update if one comes to me.

The Rules of My Life

We all have rules. Even the baddest-asses among us have some kind of code to live by. These rules have helped me gain control of an area of my life that for so long seemed just out of my reach.

IMG_7215First, you’ll notice here I will only speak about what I DO.

I am NOT a health professional. I won’t ever tell anyone what they should do or need to do. I have done a lot of experimenting over the past few years and have figured out what works and what doesn’t work…FOR ME. I’ve been able to stay on this diet and at my goal weight for almost 3 years now. I’m happy to share my experiences with all of you, but please understand that my results may not be the same as your results. Don’t ever go against your better judgement just to do what I do. Listen to your body and do what you think is best for you.

One of my favorite yoga teachers gives this same disclaimer about his classes:
Treat this [blog] like a Chinese buffet: Take what you want. Leave what you don’t.  And if you overeat, don’t blame the chef.
(~Bryan Kest…kinda) 

Now…the rules.

These rules are taken straight from The FastDiet book and they’re simple:
1 – Take it week-by-week.
2 – Eat what I want 5 days per week, and fast 2 days.
3 – On my fast days I eat 500 calories or LESS (If I were a man, 600 calories).
4 – No calorie counting on non-fasting days.
5 – When goal weight is achieved, fast 1 day a week to maintain weight.

Outside of these rules, life and food is a free-for-all. Seriously.

This is a good place to start.
Of course, the best place to start is by reading the book: The FastDiet.
If there is ONE thing I will tell you to do, it’s read the book.
I’ve plugged it in both posts so far and I’m just getting started here.

Until next time.