Coming to Terms

The hardest aspect of this transition for me is coming to terms with the fact that it needs to be forever. I can’t just make all these changes until I lose some weight and then go merrily back to the way I used to eat. My mind is working overtime trying to wrap my head around the concept of “lifestyle change.” Not a diet or a quick fix, but a total shift in thinking, believing, and behaving. Honestly, the “doing” is not the most challenging aspect. It’s the process of slowly modifying the way you think about food, health, and emotions.

I will be the first to admit that I’m an emotional eater. I find comfort in eating foods that are attached to lovely memories or that just taste so “good” they make me happy while they’re going in my mouth. I am struggling desperately to transform the thought processes underneath these eating habits.

I struggle despite having had a fairly convicting experience a week ago. I found a vegan brownie mug cake recipe. I was so excited and made it that evening, topped with some almond milk ice cream. Eating that brownie and ice cream felt SO GOOD! But afterwards I had the most horrible stomach ache. It’s like my body was rejecting the treat. The point here is that my body knew that it didn’t want all those empty calories and sugar. It naturally said, “NO!” in a pretty forceful way. But the mind is so powerful. It had me trying another brownie recipe the next night. Same result – tasted AMAZING going down and then my body revolted. Why was my mind trying so hard to continue finding comfort and joy in this brownie?

I believe that it (my mind) has been conditioned to view foods incorrectly my entire life. As babies, we find comfort and security in a bottle or our mother’s breast milk. We associate holidays, seasons, and traditions with food. We gather and create relationships around the table. We find pleasure and solace in familiar foods. We crave it, restrict it, schedule it, and even mindlessly consume it. Go to the movies without a soda and buttered popcorn – blasphemy! Visit the State Fair without consuming a battered, dipped in oil concoction – no way!

Chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, hamburgers, ice cream, chocolate. To me they are cocoons that surround me in safety, love, contentment, and joy. Take them away and my mind is reeling with loss. The body adjusts quickly. But the mind. The mind takes a lot more time embracing change. I realize, deep in my soul, that I need to view food as nourishment for my body. Eat to live and not live to eat. The mind does not transition without a little kicking and screaming though. So I will give it some time to mourn, to have its temper tantrum. I know that, over time, the mind will accept this new perspective and begin to thrive again. It will follow my body and soul and begin perceiving healthy and nourishing foods as fuel for life.

Perhaps that’s why so many attempts at transformation end up failing. We allow the mind to convince us to give up rather than giving it time to adapt to what is being introduced. Just maybe the key to success is in surviving the discomfort of the mind while it rearranges itself to accommodate what is new!


Low Points…

There are those moments in a person’s life that might be considered low points. I had one of those this afternoon. A perfectly innocent question on a perfectly normal Thursday. “I just have to ask, when are you due?”

Ouch. I’m not sure if it embarrassed me or the asker more. I do know that it was a huge blow to my self-esteem. What do you say in these situations? “I’m actually not pregnant. I just carry most of my weight around my midsection.” That’s what I said. I won’t even mention what I wanted to say to this sweet lady who truly meant no harm. So, it’s a low point.

There are just those days when the fact that your weight is a problem becomes crystal clear. Thankfully most of this clarity is through self-discovery. A look in the mirror. A tight-fitting garment. A lack of flexibility that was never quite as pronounced. But those moments when another person glaringly points out your already obvious faults sting the most. No one is immune to these barbs, no matter how unintentional.

How do you move on from those moments? In the past I would’ve done exactly the opposite of what I should – drown my sorrows in some sweet dessert. I can’t do that now and this is new territory for me. I guess I just let it sting for awhile and then use it as another motivator for pescy eating. Another day, another challenge. I’ll just keep trudging on…

F@ceb**k “Support” Groups

At the beginning of my pescy eating journey I joined a F@ceb**k group for vegan beginners. I hoped it would be a place to find great recipes, learn about other peoples’ journeys, and be encouraged and inspired. And, for the most part, my involvement has been positive.

But there is a definite dark side to these kinds of groups. People can be downright cruel and abusive. There are those members who love answering questions and discussing issues in a friendly manner. Then there are those who will make you feel like an idiot for asking questions and who can’t discuss issues without arguing, labeling, and judging. It’s like preschool without a teacher to mediate. At times the threads get so long and off-topic that you forget what was being discussed in the first place. Basically, there’s always drama.

Why do we always have to judge others? No one takes the time to remember that opinions and world views are formed over a lifetime. Often we have no idea what experiences influenced a person to develop a particular view. Yet we don’t ask questions or take a moment to say that we don’t understand. We just dive right into disagreeing. Do we not realize that this tends to add bricks to walls rather than opening windows and doors?

I try to stay away from the drama. If I do respond, I think about what I’m going to write for a long while. I may write a huge response and then delete it before actually posting because I don’t want to add fuel to an already out-of-control fire. I guess what I’m wondering is why can’t we nurture conversations rather than picking sides and building arguments?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There are definite health benefits to being a pescy eater. I’ve never had this much energy. If I really wanted to (and I don’t), I could skip my morning cup of coffee. Also, certain activities happen like clockwork – at least twice a day! But I’m only three weeks in and the majority of the health benefits have yet to make their appearance.

The bad and the ugly… they reared their heads right away! It’s interesting how few people discuss what happens to a person’s body when she transitions from a conventional American diet to pescy eating. Gas. Horrible, unidentified leftover object in the back of the fridge that you’re scared to take the lid off gas. Something is rotting in my stomach and gasping its last breath gas. So horrible that even the dog runs away from you gas. I believe that I have adequately described the sulfurous pungency of my emissions. You get the picture. Luckily, this obnoxious side effect passed (forgive the pun) after a week or I may soon have been served divorce papers.

I don’t know why I feel the need to describe this side effect. Maybe because I spent the entire week wishing someone had warned me beforehand. I might have at least purchased some Beano! Perhaps all the long-term vegans and pescetarians have forgotten about the transitional phase. It’s challenging, to say the least. Meals come around and it feels a bit like swimming upstream. Away from the comfortable and familiar. I’m learning a new way of eating. A new way of making decisions. A new way of shopping. A new way of relating to others about food. A new way of relating to myself about food. It’s all new. It’s all uncomfortable. It’s all a challenge.

I’m hanging in. I don’t want to have a heart attack or stroke before I leave my forties. Or cancer before I leave my fifties. I want to live well. I want to move freely, without pain. I want to, just once, look in the mirror and think to myself, “You look so healthy!” I know, the journey of a thousand miles and all…

I do know that I will look in the mirror today and think to myself, “You will do this and you will thank yourself!”

What’s a pescy eater?

Pescy eater. That’s a strange title, isn’t it? Well, let me tell you how it came to be. As it is with most categories, I’m having a hard time finding one for myself. I recently made a massive change in my eating habits. I cut out all land/air animal products, including dairy. But I still eat fish. So, I’m not really a vegan. I don’t eat dairy, so I’m not really a pescetarian. I’m calling myself a pescy eater! It works for me.

Why did I make this change? I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Ever heard of it? Probably not. Some of the issues are insulin resistance, high cholesterol, out-of-wack hormones, high blood pressure, apple body shape, hirsuitism, and obesity. Basically, it’s a carnival of crap and it’s been kicking my ass for over twenty years. I know, sucks to be me!

I’ve finally decided to take control and go on a little journey here. If anyone would like to follow, that’s spectacular. Just know that this is MY journey. It’s taken me almost 44 years to get here, and at this point, I really don’t care what others think about my choices. I may step on a few toes. So be it. At the end of the day, I have to live in this body. From now on, I’m going to attempt to treat it as kindly as possible!