Friday, February 29, 2008

Sensory Eating

This last week I had the distinct privledge of joining quite a few of my fellow low-carber's (many of which are former Kimkins members) on an incredible cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. We had an incredible time, and on Sunday morning got together for a short encouragement meeting. During this time together, I was asked to say a word. I feel like this speech is relevent for all those who are learning to eat and develop a "normal" lifestyle no matter what diet program you are utilizing.

When I began my journey I thought that my goal was to get thin and be “normal.” Kate Harding in The Shapely Prose said:

“… the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has. It’s not just, “When I’m thin, I’ll look good in a bathing suit”; it’s “When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep.” See also:
• When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
• When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
• When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
• When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
• When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
• When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with. "

These were my perceptions. I did not realize at the beginning of my journey the transformation that would also need to change in my heart and head in order to begin a completely new relationship with food.

We has humans are created to experience life through our senses. We are find peace, tranquility, and comfort; as well as pain, sadness and chaos through the same input preceptors.

• Sight – We feel elation at the sight of a beautiful sunset. We are at peace when watching the ocean or a mountain vista. We also feel sadness and grief when we see turmoil and hardship. Our hearts ache for those we see wounded in a terrorist attack or struck by natural tragedy.
• Sound – We are inspired by a triumphant symphony and soothed by the sound of a peaceful brook or gentle waves breaking. By the same token, we feel the harshness of a jackhammer or screeching of grating metal.
• Smell – We place scented oils in our homes to create a tranquil atmosphere; roses, violet, vanilla, cinnamon and other soothing smells help to calm us and give us pleasant sensations. Who among us hasn’t turned their nose up, however, when passing a dead skunk or smelling burning rubber?
• Touch – A massage or soft sheets give us comfort. We go home at the end of a hard day and “get comfortable” by changing into looser less binding clothes. However, if there is a burr in those sheets, or your messus is untrained it can immediately turn those pleasurable incidents into harsh and painful experiences.

These above senses can either be used or abused respectively, however, in typical acceptable society for the most part; we utilize them for the appropriate uses that we were created to. The sense of TASTE is one in which I feel we, as an obese culture, have lost perspective on in recognizing the difference between savoring the pleasure of a decadent food, and over-indulging for the self-gratifying purpose of just experiencing “more.” Our civilization has become one of self-pleasure and self-service.

CS Lewis in his novel “Perelandra” wrote about a man who traveled to a distant planet and partook in consumption of a fruit that grew on a tree native to that planet. “It was like the discovery of a new genus of pleasures, something unheard of among men, out of all reckoning, beyond covenant. For one draught of this on earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed.” In experiencing this new pleasure this fruit bore him, the subject was almost overcome with the human urge to repeat the act immediately to experience the sensation again. He was then presented with a conflict and revelation; “Perhaps the experience had been so complete, that repetition would be a vulgarity…. This itch to have things over again, as if life were a film that could be unrolled twice or even made to work backwards…”

Life cannot work backwards. We have forgotten the joy of appreciating the flavors that we are given in foods in hasty self-serving gluttony of wanting to experience the sensation again too quickly.

In this clip, Remy realizes that there is more to eating than just “horking” down his food. He discovers the unique flavors and learns a whole new appreciation for the culinary arts. A wine connoisseur does not gulp down his glass. He will take a little, and then anticipate and enjoy the other senses that accompany the taste. He smells it, swirls it in his glass, holds it in his mouth to experience all the flavors, and then moves on.

What would our lives be like if we captured each moment as an opportunity to make the absolute best of each situation? What would it do to our “dieting” experience if we transformed our thinking from I can’t have this or that… to I can have this? Then completely focus on the enjoyment of the food that you have selected.

The second part of this harmony is combining this new found excitement and enjoyment of food with anticipation and knowledge of what your body needs. Make peace with food. We need it to survive and have been given an incredible gift to enjoy our sustenance. We could have been created like other animals without taste buds and only the instinct to eat to survive. While that is still the primary purpose of eating, we are set apart from other animals with this ability.

Depravation is distinctly different than anticipation. What you keep in your house for daily consumption may be very different than what you have “boxed in” for others. One of my favorite desserts is carrot cake. My grocery store actually sells “individual” slices of cake that prior to losing my weight I was fond of purchasing. I no longer keep carrot cake around my home or chose to by those individual slices because I am aware of my own inability to maintain control when it is readily available. However, I have completely enjoyed the change of mentality when I allowed carrot cake to be one of my “special occasion” pleasures.

Several months ago, my husband and I attended a wedding rehearsal at which this particular cake was served as the dessert. I had a few bites of the cake and instead of “inhaling” the whole thing, I chose to chew very slowly and actually enjoy the flavor that it provided. I did not finish the entire piece because I did not need all of it to complete my enjoyment, however, I do look back with great pleasure at that incident, and I look forward with joy and anticipation to the next time.

Instead of saying that I CAN’T have a certain food, I say that I choose not to have it at this time, and find an alternative. I know what that carrot cake tastes like. The flavor will not change. It will still be carrot cake a week, 3 months, or a year from now. I can avoid the guilt of indulging in it regularly and instead turn that guilt into satisfaction and joy in knowing that I have anticipated and allowed myself the pleasure in due time.

Being fit is a journey with ups and downs, mountains and valleys. I have found that the journey is made much more enjoyable by learning to focus on the experience rather than attempting to “take it all in.” I learned that that “fantasy” of being thin was nothing more than an illusion that quickly dissipated and could have been very discouraging had my mindset towards wellness not shifted. We can be happy in our pursuit to a healthy weight by accepting the way we were made, and learning to distinguish between satisfaction and over-indulgence.

This has been a long year with more roller coasters and twists and turns then I could have ever anticipated. But, we are here. We are on the road to a better us. And, we have each-other to support, encourage, and push along the road. Thank you for sharing in my journey with me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My Confession

It is time for me to share something with you. I am coming clean about the excruciating difficulty that I have had in maintaining my weight loss that I obtained utilizing a Very Low Calorie Diet such as Kimkins. The road has been far from an easy transition. We think when we are on the road to losing weight that once we attain our goal that life will somehow magically get easier.

There are many people within the Kimkins forums even at this time that are bypassing or ignoring the warnings of various side effects that may occur while utilizing the diet for the mere idealism that, “It’s working for me. I’m losing weight, so a side effect is a short term sacrifice.” But there is one side effect from using this program is not spoken of often and I’m afraid is one of the most mentally demoralizing that can come from achieving weight loss from the Kimkins diet program. That is the inability to maintain the weight loss. Or at the least, maintenance with an agonizing amount of effort.

I have a hobby that most people do not know about me. I am an artist… and not just any artist. I am a cake decorator. My confectionary creations are my art. They are each works of love and I put a tremendous amount of pride and effort into each one that I make.

On one occasion I was hired to provide a Barbie cake for a sweet 4 year old little girl. I worked on that piece with much joy and anticipation knowing how happy it would make that little girl. I made a mistake however, in the delivery of that cake when instead of the safer route of placing the cake on the floorboard of my car; I was in a hurry and opted to place it in the passenger seat next to me. The inevitable happened, and a car stopped quickly in front of me. In order to avoid a collision I too stepped quickly on my brakes. The force of gravity was too strong, and the cake slid off the seat and onto the floor upside down. I decided to take the easy and quick solution and ended up not only losing what I’d worked so hard for; but I also lost my profit from the cake, and disappointed a precious little girl.

The reason for my story is this. Why would we labor and put effort into something that means much more to us than a cake (our bodies and lives), if the method in which we choose to better ourselves in actuality sets us up for almost inevitable failure?

Weight loss is a very personal and difficult journey in and of itself. We work hard. We sacrifice, we get discouraged, we get excited, we laugh, we cry, we push ourselves farther than we thought we could go. But what does all that hard work profit us if it is not met with some sort of reward? As exciting and rewarding as achieving a goal weight is, it is also worthless if that goal is not maintained. The true prize in a weight loss journey is sustaining that loss and better health for the rest of our lives.

The transition from weight loss to a maintenance lifestyle should be smooth and painless. It should allow freedom and excitement in a new way of life. It should not be confusing and discouraging. One of the hardest things for me to hear is when people disregard the warnings about the dangerous side effects from the Kimkins program by rationalizing that I lost the weight and “it worked for me,” especially since I have kept the weight off for almost a year now. What most people do not know, is that it has taken me an entire year to even moderately repair the damage that my metabolism endured by losing weight the way I did. My transition into maintenance was/is EXTREMELY slow and difficult. The fear to add in any foods warred with the head knowledge that I HAD to eat something. Even now, I am still not in the position that most hope for to be able to eat “normally.”

Kimkins has NO maintenance program. The guidelines that were provided at one point in time were actually written by me, and were removed very quickly after I left the program. I am not a dietician or physician, so I have no doubt that even the guidelines that I was lead to believe were appropriate were lacking in nutritional value. Most of my friends and acquaintances who have since come off of the Kimkins program and resumed eating “normally” have either completely halted their weight loss efforts, or put back on the majority of the weight that they initially lost. Through our discussions we all agree that it would have behooved us to have lost the weight that we did utilizing a program that would not have set us up for such heartache.

So yes, it might be working for you. Yes, you may be losing weight rapidly and ignoring the other warnings. You may view me and those with me who oppose the Kimkins program as hateful because we have discouraged the only program you think will work for you. But, I must ask you to step away for a moment and glance into the future. How will you maintain your loss? Praying that you do not suffer any other side effects that many, if not most, of us have suffered; how will you sustain the joy of your new body? No one wants to have to continue a diet indefinitely. I certainly do not want to have to resort to reducing my caloric intake again such as I did with Kimkins merely to get off the holiday 10lbs. That is a miserable existence.

Think of yourself in 1, 3, or 5 years. Where do you want to be personally? I only wish the best for those of you who are still traveling the weight loss portion of your journey. I pray that you will not struggle as I have to sustain the tremendous effort that you have put in to reach your goals. As for me…. My metabolism will repair eventually. It will take time, and great care and attentiveness, but, I am confident that I will get there someday. I hope you are there sooner.