Something interesting happened to me a week ago.
I got fed up.
Since starting up this blog, I have been feeling sort of silly.
Here I was writing about my plans to increase my vitality, but up until a week ago I had done little more than just write about it. I was still eating late night junk food. I was still enjoying pasta and sugar and rice.
But here’s the thing. Sometimes, the first step you have to take is not even a step of action. It is a step of changing how you think.
And I think all that writing and thinking about being healthier finally accumulated into action.
The Pasta That Broke the Camel’s Stomach
So, I was over at a friend’s home for a planning session a week ago. And while I was there they offered dinner, which was some delicious ravioli in alfredo sauce. Garlic bread too. And some Coke. Quite yummy.
Fast forward a few hours when I was in bed and my stomach was showing me that it wasn’t happy with the choices I had made. I had a rather restless night of sleep.
The next morning I wasn’t hungry so I skipped breakfast.
I was heading out to the college campus so on the way I dropped in at Foodland, a local grocery store in Hawaii. I was still feeling the affects from the pasta (and months of unhealthy eating before that) so I ended up just getting a container of pre-washed and ready-to-eat baby kale, 2 hardboiled eggs, and some feta cheese balsamic dressing.
It wasn’t until 1:30 PM when I finally got around to eating it, but it felt really good when I did. A nice nutrition boost.
After that I wasn’t hungry for the rest of the afternoon.
Before a meeting from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm I didn’t really feel like eating either, so I skipped dinner. And although my stomach grumbled a bit, I realized it wasn’t actually because I was hungry, but because my stomach was still adjusting to having been stretched out so much recently.
So I let it readjust to normal levels and went to bed without eating anything else.
That’s right. All I had that day was a baby kale salad and two hardboiled eggs. Oh, and a cup of coffee — black. And water here and there. And didn’t eat from 1:30pm until I went to bed at 11:30pm.
The Day After the day after
The next morning I felt much better. So much better that I thought I would eat healthy again and see what happened. I had gone shopping a couple days before for some Keto-Green friendly foods — mainly for my breakfasts.
So, I made 2 pieces of bacon, several leaves of kale with some onion and bell pepper, and 2 eggs with a little bit of shredded cheese on top. That really filled me up and left me satisfied.
Again, aside from a coffee around 11 AM I didn’t have anything else that afternoon.
In the evening I went to teach wushu, but didn’t feel hungry before, and didn’t feel like eating after. I went to bed for the second day in a row having only eaten one meal.
The Continuing Trend
The next day was Wednesday. I did the same thing with my breakfast.
The nice thing about that breakfast is that it really keeps you satiated for quite a while. Even normally after eating that sort of breakfast I wouldn’t feel like eating for at least 6 hours.
But on this day I opted to go get a green drink at Foodland. A Kale, cucumber, ginger drink. I had that for my lunch. Then I had another one around dinner time.
Thursday I did the normal breakfast again, with a coffee later on. Again no dinner.
The Family Vacation Challenge
Friday morning I had to catch a very early flight to a neighboring island where I would be meeting my wife and her family for a weekend vacation. So, the night before I prepared some hard boiled eggs and boiled some spinach, which is what I ate on my way to the airport.
I had most of the day to wait on Lana’i until everyone was going to join me, so I sat at a coffee shop and had another 2 hard boiled eggs for lunch, along with some raw almonds.
In the evening, while everyone was eating loco moco and fried chicken, I had a $4 side salad. To be honest, after eating eggs and almonds in the afternoon I wasn’t really that hungry, but I ate just to not seem like a total weirdo.
I knew that the challenge would be eating with a group of people who didn’t have any restrictions on what they put in their mouths. So, I had to do a bit of organizing. Friday night, when everyone was buying groceries for the weekend, I also bought some food, but basically the same breakfast food I had been eating already: bacon, eggs, kale and some supplementary vegetables.
Saturday morning I ate my normal food, and wasn’t hungry after that, but I did buy some peanuts and still had my almonds so when we went to the beach that is what I snacked on. Oh, and some sunflower seeds too.
Sunday morning I didn’t eat, because I knew that we were going to the beach for a BBQ. So I got some vegetables (celery, broccoli and carrots) and some more seeds to eat. At the BBQ I did indulge a bit with the meat though. I had two burger patties and two hot dogs. Not the best, but at least I didn’t have any condiments or buns. Too high on the protein, but at least no sugars.
That evening I really felt it. I didn’t have anything for dinner, except a few of the brocolli and carrots from my wife’s Won Ton Mein.
And that brings us to today. It is Monday and I’m waiting for my flight back to Oahu. So far today I’ve had a few strips of bacon and a stalk of celery.
Learning to Listen in 3 Ways
I think one of the things that has helped this week is focusing on really listening to my body. I was working really hard to pay attention to when I felt true hunger, vs. when I just wanted to put something in my mouth.
True hunger feels different than emotional hunger. If you pay attention you can feel the difference. The problem is, most of the time in the past I never paid attention. Hunger was hunger was hunger, and I would just stuff whatever I could in my mouth when I felt it.
The other thing that helped, besides listening and feeling for true hunger, is that I also worked hard at paying attention to what my body was hungry for. This is about being sensitive to one’s needs vs. one’s desires. I could tell when my body wanted vegetables. I could tell when it wanted proteins.
Part of that awareness came about from having an emptier stomach. By shrinking it down and letting it be on a short term fast, I was more sensitive to what it needed. On Wednesday when I had those green drinks, it was because I could feel my body wanting the green drinks. It directed me, instead of the other way around.
Finally, the last thing that helped, was also listening to social cues. I watched how other people around me ate and what they were eating and the effect it had on their state of being, mood and emotional well being.
When you do those things to yourself — eat junk and drink junk — its hard to recognize the impact because you’re in the middle of feeling it. You don’t really want to address feeling a severe food coma when you’re being subjected to one.
Since some of the people I was with were eating the way I ate just a week earlier, I could see how it affected them and reflect on how it affected me.
So, you might wonder what, if any, results I had. Did I lose weight? How did I feel?
Truth be told, I actually don’t know if I lost weight. I’m guessing I did though because I could see a lot of the bloating and distended belly stuff start to go down. My wife, who hadn’t seen me all week said I looked different too. “Healthier” she said.
It actually feels good not to be looking at a scale. I actually don’t have access to one, which is part of it. But it also means that, instead of focusing on the weight, I’m focusing on the feeling. And as long as i feel healthy and do things to promote that feeling, I’m pretty sure I’ll be on the right track.
I could start to see the beginning of it in the mirror with my cheeks and neck, but probably not to any significant degree.
As for how I feel, I think the most significant feeling I have is one of control. I no longer feel like I’m at the whim and whimsy of my emotional appetite. How long this will last, I don’t know. But I’m enjoying it while it is here.
It is also amazing how quickly the body can adapt to things. Especially when you don’t feel deprived.
Sure, there were a few times when I thought that it might be nice to have a grilled cheese sandwich or some pasta or rice. But because I had felt so yucky the week before I didn’t yet want to go back to feeling that way. It was still pretty fresh in my mind, which helped with my motivation and self-control.
Oh, I did have a handful of popcorn Sunday night. I didn’t mention that, and to be honest, it was more than enough for me. Popcorn has never really been my thing anyway.
To be honest, I’m not sure.
I think I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and listening to my body. Paying attention to how I feel has really been the key to this. Ignoring how I feel got me in the shape I’m in, so it might be good to do a little focusing on my physical state for a change.
For now, my plans are to keep eating good breakfasts, have some green drink in the afternoon — or maybe a salad if I’m really hungry … perhaps a bit of protein if my body seems to need it — and then just go from there.
Part of me thinks it would be neat to see how much I’ve changed between now and the next time I see my wife again, which will be in 11 days. If I keep this up for another 11 days will it be significant? Will I feel any better or different?
As long as I’m on this path, I’ll just keep taking one step at a time and see where it leads. The ultimate destination is the same: to improve my physical vitality. But how I get there will be an interesting journey and I’m really curious where it will lead.
I learned from my previous blog post that planning a specific regimen often doesn’t work. I have guidelines, and I’ll work within those, but I’m not going to get super anal about planning things out.
One day at a time. One meal at a time.
And eventually I’ll make it to the other side.