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Lessons learned from 19.5 pounds of weight loss

December 5, 2012
Emergence

Its been a long time since I have written about my weight loss journey. I have written on these pages about my ups and downs, losing the same ten to twelve pounds over and over.  That was my experience for at least 16 years, three to four of which are on this blog. Its been a year of profound change; I’m eager to share some of it with you. The big news is that this time, I have broken through my previous set points. The Thanksgiving of 2011 saw a sharp decline in my health–many symptoms of infection, pain, from different areas of my body. I also regained weight and reached my highest weight ever, by about a pound. The Monday after Thanksgiving this year, November 26th, I posted that I was celebrating the 19.5 pounds of weight loss (since Mid-May). I received 56 likes, the most I’ve received on anything. People asked me what I did. I do want to write about that (though I encourage people to rifle through this blog for some insights into this long journey) and that will take a bit longer. In starting to write about that, though, this shorter, bulleted list of key lessons emerged.

  • I have stopped using weight as an indicator of how my body is doing.  What I have learned is that weight appears to be the end result of some sort of complex dance the body does to regulate itself and keep itself at equilibrium. I never hope to understand this dance so its much better to focus on the real, underlying symptoms that I can do something about. I have also stopped looking at my health symptoms as disconnected—like a scratchy throat versus acid reflux. For me now, I see my symptoms as connected to the One Body, and to the total environment in my body—when that environment is out of whack, then I will see a decline in health. Now, I look at the more direct ways my body talks to me: the color of my tongue and oral hygiene in general; my entire digestive process—from swallowing to how I feel after eating, especially how calm my gut feels; gassiness, itchiness; congestion and whether its stuck in my head or draining down my throat. I know how to help myself to treat these symptoms and get my body back in balance more quickly—before infections,  before bloat, lethargy and worse can set in. Now, I weigh myself infrequently but monitor my mouth, ear-nose-throat, bladder, bowel, and digestion daily.
  • Its not what you cut out, its what you put in. This was an original premise of the eat less, feed more philosophy on this blog. My understanding of how to feed myself is much deeper now. In terms of what I put in my mouth…it ends up that in addition to eating foods that our bodies can process, it is very important to eat foods that help our body get out toxins, so that our body can heal itself. This is a far cry—I would challenge it’s a 180 degree turn from the usual fretting of calories, cutting fat. In fact, for me at my healthiest, I actually need to eat more than I usually did on my typical ‘weight conscious’ diet. I eat more fat, just the right kinds. I eat three times as many vegetables and fruit. It ends up I don’t really need grains—I just resort to them when I don’t give myself enough time to organize my feeding strategy for the day. In fact, I found alternate flours for the times I just needed that texture and found they taste better to me. I also found I enjoyed substituting squashes like zucchini for pasta. My body really loved the juiciness of the zucchini rather than the thicker, dryer texture of the pasta. I am a creative sort, so once I put my mind to it, it was interesting and fun to find ‘replacements’. I also found my body doesn’t do well with caffeine every day. The times that are toughest are socializing—either eating out, or at others’ homes. Don’t baggage yourself with the mental drama of ‘being without’. You might be surprised at what you find!
  • Money, sex, food, its all connected. This is my favorite learning. People can tell you that everything is connected but it is a tremendously gratifying experience stepping through it. All of these three areas have returned in great abundance in my life. Each year of living more consciously–and written about that here over the past few years as readers of this blog know– made it easier for me to trust my journey, and myself. This year I made choices that were very different from the typical ones I had been making for the last 14 years. After years of preparation as my consciousness increased, these choices became easier to make. At the beginning of the year, I experienced some drama over large sums of money, which I wrote about in Kathryn Yarborough’s Flowing with Change site. I chose to respond to that situation with more calm than I had ever been able to muster before when it came to money. I went from droves of money leaving me to it bouncing back into my life in droves. I said yes to working with an healthy eating coach: first I took the smaller step of working with her on a cleanse and then made the bigger leap into full-on re-jiggering my meals. As I said earlier, I have documented proof of at least a dozen symptoms which either disappeared or reduced significantly so that now, I just monitor. Something I didn’t expect: with all the clearing out of gunk from my belly area I began experiencing an increased libido. Thank You Universe. Several woman have begun discussing this, including Dr. Laurie Steelsmith and Betty Louise (aka Coach Betty). One of the energies I brought into my life this year was the energy of commitment. I simply didn’t want to let myself down. And so now, there is more fire in my belly. (get it? another example of the connectedness at work.) 

These are all important steps for my future dreams.  The most valuable lesson here is that you can choose to establish a different, healthier relationship with ANY part of your life—whether that is weight, money, your job, etc. The reason is that ultimately, these are all just manifestations of the fundamental relationship you have with yourself. A must read in this area is the book, Women Food and God. The same author went on to write about women and money because she realized it was all the same thing—the same journey, the same dance. That is why it is impossible to achieve any goal with a deprivation mentality, as I wrote many years ago (now) about weight loss. The magic happens because once you shift this relationship in one area, it manifests itself with rapid ripple effect across all areas of your life. So as it is within, it is without. I am so WITH THIS that I am committing to figuring out a process by which to help others make this shift and offer that as workshops in 2013 under the banner Listen To Your Inner Ease™.  Stay tuned.

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down in the muck

November 12, 2010
Down in the muck

standing in muddy waters

I’ve been on a quest to reconnect with my heart. as a girl in my twenties, i freely connected to my heart light–its fire, its passions and to my higher purpose.  i easily drew my energies to care for the struggles of the broader world–tutoring homeless children, volunteering in a children’s hospital, singing with villagers in Bihar. But by my mid to late thirties, it was clear that I had placed that fire in some far away place, out of reach, either where i could protect it, or I could protect myself from it (i’m not sure which!). as life’s waters would have it, soul travels to where it needs to. In my 40’s, though I am experiencing joys such as family support, love, laughter, and stability–all areas of lack for my 20s year old self …I am seeking to integrate with her, for she still carries that heart light and connection to my higher purpose.

Why is it so hard to care? or rather, right now the question is, how do I allow myself to care more widely, deeply? and here is an answer hollering in my head. In Zora Neale Hurston’s beautiful book, “There Eyes Were Watching God,” she uses a phrase repeatedly “down in the muck.” It is part of the terrain, the landscape that some of her characters (her people) enter. We are all, here down in the muck. I stand, constantly challenged human that I am in this muck. This muck of people’s needs, their desires, so much hunger that I do not feel I know how to feed. and what about my own? So how do we care? Sure, there are a few evolved exalted ones among us (I am so privileged to have met some of them) who surmount these inner conflicts. They Love, so wholly, so whole heartedly. and its done from the inside out and its beautiful. Meanwhile, I pray for integration–my heart’s purpose with power and power with compassion.

So it seems to me, our job is not to climb out of the muck. Our job, maybe is to stand in that muck, consciously see ourselves in all around us…and accept ourselves whole, muck and all. Love comes from this. And maybe that is how we can stand in this muck and reach for the stars.

anyway, this is some of my struggle for now. caring is fundamental and i am glad to be opening my heart energies up again.

Finding your own solutions

August 6, 2010
tags:
My Buddha bowl

My Buddha bowl

Feedback is an essential part of the process of feeding your true self. Making space and time to learn your internal feedback signals and listen to them grows your ability to make sustainable, enriching choices for yourself. I’ve learned that balance is a feedback response I can listen for. Listening for balance is a critical differentiator in being able to take on a behavior change that sticks from the inside out, rather than trying to beat it into ourselves.

For example, figuring out what I needed to have on hand in order to feed myself was a process in itself. If I have to chase down a different ingredient each time I make a recipe or wonder what the heck I am going to make….well, as they say in New Jersey, fuggedaboutit! (Its hard to believe, but I spent nearly three months after the wedding thinking it was my job to cook something NEW for dinner each night. HUHN?!) Listening to what actions gave me back energy and when became a critical part of identifying feeding solutions that worked for Me. Not in my head, but for my being. For the every day me, not some future me I wanted to get to. That is a solution for which I can be present every day, rather than a solution someone else tells me I should want for myself.
Read more…

First steps towards mindfulness

July 28, 2010

 

 

feeding with awareness

Feeding ourselves means being aware of choices, taking responsibility for what we want for ourselves and feeling the enrichment of those choices…all of this takes feedback mechanisms. Shifting a relationship with our body from distrust, suspicion, betrayal and beratement to one of fulfillment, trust, desire and friendship. This is a little of what I am experiencing. It’s the inspiration for this first blog post for eatlessfeedmore. This is about weight loss as lightness of being, or weight loss from the inside out.

Read more…

introducing “eat less, feed more!”

July 6, 2010

Eat less, feed more is about what I’ve learned and where I am along my ongoing weight loss journey. This journey has been going on for over 17 years now…One key shift was recognizing that I had a relationship to my food which I can make conscious choices about. That realization has been a gift that keeps on giving!

Read more…

Going out, grass feeding in Northern Virginia

February 17, 2010

Maple Avenue Restaurant Kobe Burger, Vienna, VA

happily, we are seeing a rising trend towards restaurants serving grass fed meats, at least in Northern Virginia. Thought people might want to know their options as much I’m aware of them.

1. Maple Avenue Restaurant, Vienna, VA — This is a sweet little place, right on the main drag in our Vienna town. We went for the first time on Valentine’s Day and its a great local food find. It has the feel of an urban…lunch box with windows…that’s how small it is. Clearly they want to put the focus on food–the wine selection is small but good; the beer selection looked similar.  Outstanding moments: the Thai fried okra, the shrimp and grits infused with okra and chorizo. These flavor combinations…original and tasty. To me, that signifies talent I can respect. They source their meats locally, even using the Market on Maple (which sells the grass fed bison we love). I called to clarify if the meatas are grass fed and  learned that the locally sourced ones are, and the majority of the non-local sources are too. (The waitress there did not know.) Oh the greens are organic too. The OhEmmGee flourless chocolate cake…deserving of the name. Check out the high ratings and photos on Yelp.

2. Elevation Burger , Falls Church, VA — You know, when you get a hankering for that burger, at least make it grass fed. Prices are reasonable and toppings include carmelized onions and balsamic mustard. You have to monitor your own self on the fries (100% olive oil) versus salad side choice!

3.  Chipotle, Vienna, VA (and other locations) — This one requires some context. First, they say that all of their pork is raised with pigs living the way pigs are meant to live–nose burrowing in the ground, eating grass. Chicken? They say 100% of their chicken is now naturally raised. That is not the same as free range, where the chickens have plenty of room. It means that they get more room than CAFOs (Commercial feed lots), have no animal by products in their food, and no antibiotics. Also, a vegetarian diet can include grain. They say 50% of their beef is naturally raised (similar definitions). I want to give alot of credit to this company on this account–that they are willing to pay more for better raised meats and therefore, are tactically helping raise the standards out there using their demand driven purchasing power. On the other hand, let me warn you–buttered rice in your burrito with cheese and sour cream and a 200-300 calorie tortilla….means lunch is inching towards 1000 calories. Healthy choice awareness?…eating just half the meal at one sitting?….yup, still necessary.  As a side, an interesting article by the Chipotle owner on last year’s USDA defintion of “naturally raised.” We might need to write the USDA and remind them that we have brains (and stomachs we want to protect!).

Other mention:

The Majestic, Alexandria, VA — Wonderful joint, in a way, some of the food is similar to Maple Avenue Restaurant–burgers, ribs…home-y american food, with less fusion options. I know for a fact that this restaurant gets some of its meats from Polyface Farms in VA, which are all grass fed. However, upon calling them they did clarify that not all of their meat is grass fed, though it is all local. Again, let’s start requesting!

By the way, a big shout out for Maple Avenue Market, our gem of a store in Vienna that serves all Locally Raised grass fed meats including bison and lamb to name a few. They also have grass fed dairy: milk, chocolate milk, and some cheeses from what I recall. Easy to find–kitty corner towards the far left across from the Whole Foods!

Please let me know if you know of other restaurants serving grass fed meats? Would love to see this list expand, at least for Northern VA. perhaps even DC?

Finding the house of my belonging, Part Deux

February 13, 2010

I seem to be changing my relationship to food. My awareness is shifting. Earlier this week, I wrote about feeding more. I am more conscious of the elements in my life—from my relationships, to my activities, to the written word and even my thoughts that all play a part in feeding me. All of these, I now accept, enter my body and mind, heart and spirit. (and, they are all choices!) I love the similarities of all the words normally associated with eating, (and with the mouth), that also apply to all of these parts of my life. These activities, experiences, all part of my life-style are also my life’s ‘diet’, content to digest! Does what I am doing or reading or producing feed me, does it nourish? How is it to digest? I even had a dream recently where a large stomached man with a mustache (irrelevant detail?) winked at me and said, “The heart is the true stomach.” Chew on that why don’t you?  

As a result, I am less attached to food as a source to fill me. (It may sound cliché, but this is the stuff of daily habits and on the surface, not easily ripe for change). Living from home for seven whole days during this snow storm has helped a lot. No stress or time lost with food storage, transport, reheating, which has been very stabilizing. I am conscious of simply filling myself with less food– a bowl of home cooked chicken soup for a meal, rather than whatever my notion of a full meal was before. Right now, I am eating anywhere from 120-300 calories per meal (400 with some indulgence). Now the import of this is not that I am doing it, the import of this is that I am doing it organically. That is, making this choice doesn’t feel like deprivation or delayed gratification. It actually feels as if feeding myself in other areas of my life is snapping or draining that feeling of deprivation inside and organically loosening up my ties to food. It feels peaceful, without conflicts or fears inside me about attaining external goals. I woke up this morning to find I have lost 6 pounds, almost 4 this week. (More of that, please!)

That does keep me motivated to remain conscious around eating, particularly eating less. Its as if my ‘unconscious’ eating is a mental construct rather than a biological construct. Its definitely about regaining awareness of it as a biological source of intake. Of course, this part of the approach applies to my particular life, because I have achieved the worst of modern comforts: a highly sedentary life. I am carrying more weight than is right for my body and doing all of this helps me while I cultivate a stronger habit of exercise. I am even beginning to get comfortable with just letting myself feel hungry for a little bit. I never ‘thought’ this was an option before and is rather exciting in its own way.

What is my other food these days? Meditating, and reading 2 David Whyte books: the House of My belonging and Three Marriages, and giving myself up to my love of words. Maybe even the possibility of giving myself up to pLaY.

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