I haven't really had much desire to update this blog lately. There's a lot of Real Life going on around here; prepping this year's garden for planting, taking care of my own house plus my mom's house, all my crafty artistic pursuits, and as a special bonus, fertility testing. My interest in the low carb/paleo community has waned a bunch, but that doesn't mean we're eating a SAD diet again. We're just not super focused on all the latest diet news. I do kind of miss blogging though. It was always a fun pastime.
So let's get on with some updates, eh? I'm sure the one thing most people want to know is how my weight and my diet are. Well, to be blunt, they've been going badly. I am eating well still; we're eating WAPF style with a low carb/paleo bent. We incorporate resistant starches into our diet regularly, eat only organic foods whenever we can, we're still eating local organic grass fed beef and local raw milk, and eat mostly meat, dairy, veggies and some fruit. I make a loaf of traditionally soured spelt bread once a week, although Chad eats most of it as sandwiches in his lunch. In general, I don't count carbs or calories or anything; I just try to eat well. However, my weight has been going up. By January 2014 (while low carb/paleo, before we switched to WAPF), I had gained 10 pounds and was up to 195 or so. By January 2015, I had gained another 5 pounds and I've been hovering between 197 and 200 since then.
No matter what I try, I can't lose the weight. I've tried cutting out most carbs. I've tried cutting portions. I've tried a short stint of counting calories. I've been exercising regularly. I even tried increasing the amount I eat. I've tried lots of things, given myself lots of crazy rules to follow and rewards and punishments. However, nothing is working for me. For the last year, I've been driving myself crazy with this weight and the fear that I'm going to keep ballooning up to the weight I started at before losing 30 pounds on a low calorie diet 5 years ago. I'm close. Just 15 more pounds.
And before anyone tells me what I'm doing wrong, or gives me advice about what I should try next to lose the pounds, I need to say that my main goal right now is to be at peace with my body. For the last two weeks, my goal has simply been to eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full, and try to do most of my eating at meal times. This may sound silly and perhaps a little elementary, but the truth is that I've never really eaten this way before in my life naturally.
I've been reading an interesting book the last few days; it's called Women Afraid to Eat. It's an older book, written in the late 90s and published in 2000, so some of the ideas in it are dated (how long has it been since someone has used the term Syndrome X?), plus it's more SAD promoting than I really would like. However, the point the book is trying to make is that our society, with its perverse obsession with thin women, is making a lot of otherwise healthy women sick. It talks about how many women today don't know what it's like to eat normally, to eat when hungry and stop when full, to listen to her own body. And it describes how dieting, even for a short while, makes it hard for people to return to any kind of normal eating.
I've known for a while that my relationship with food is far from healthy. I can't remember a time in my life that I've eaten normally. I was a fat child who ate when bored, lonely, or sad. I became a vegetarian at age 14, and my emotional eating only got worse. In my mid 20s I went on a pretty long low calorie diet that helped me lose 30 pounds, but it also made me afraid of food, and I developed a nasty binge eating habit. Even after I started eating meat and become low carb and then paleo, my emotional and binge eating never stopped.
I think the low carb and paleo communities are doing a disservice to people by not talking about this problem more. When I was heavy into the movement, I'd read many times that eating low carb/paleo would stop people from over eating because it's so satisfying. And this is probably true for someone who has normal eating habits to begin with, but for someone who has dysfunctional eating, it's more than just how full your belly feels. You don't stop when you're full; you keep eating until you're in pain. Some people eat until they throw up. Even the low carb foods, the butter and meat and cheese, wouldn't stop me from binge eating.
I hate to say all of this because I used to agree wholeheartedly with the message the low carb/paleo folks were saying. And I still believe that eating a natural, low carb, paleo diet is a wonderful idea and it certainly has helped me in many ways. But now that it's been three years, and the honeymoon stage is over, I see that it's not a perfect diet. There's no such thing as a perfect diet, one special way of eating that cures all your ailments and makes you live forever. We're all individuals, we all have our own special strengths and weaknesses, histories and DNA, and there are many reasons why a certain way of eating might not work for everyone.
A big part of the reason I've been shifting away from the community in general is because sometimes it feels like people are exclusively focused on weight. Everyone's doing it to get skinny and toned, even though they say they're doing it to be healthy. You hardly hear stories about people who go on paleo and get really healthy but remain fat. The celebrated story was always about a very obese person who started on the diet, easily lost 250 pounds, and is now a super athlete with a well toned body and has no problem staying on the diet ever.
I never lost much weight on low carb/paleo, even when I was very strict about it. It helped me to lose 10 pounds I'd put on during a non-low carb trip, but that's it, really. So here I was, 185 pounds and a BMI of 29 or 30, still what most people would call fat, and not losing any weight. I felt like a failure. Don't get me wrong; I was feeling great and my health was definitely improving, but I was still squishy. It was hard to let myself even blog about low carb/paleo, because I kept thinking that someone was going to expose me as a fraud. The whole community seemed, from my eyes, weight focused; whenever one of the leaders gained weight, they were ridiculed and said to not be following their own advice. Remember how people treated Jimmy Moore when he gained back a lot of his weight? Or remember the comments some would make about Laura Dolson? For that matter, remember how everyone wanted to see a picture of Carb-Sane so they could make fun of how fat she obviously was?
Tom Naughton, bless his heart, would regularly say in his blog and in the comments section, that weight is less important that health, and that's really what you should be striving for. And of course that was a message bloggers would occasionally try to remind their readers. But the underlying message was always that if you were fat on a low carb/paleo diet, you weren't doing it right. I don't think everyone thought this way, but as a whole, it was very hard to escape. It just got very tiring after a while.
So my goal now, as I said before, is to focus on being at peace with my body. I'm eating well; veggies, eggs, meat, good fats, fruit, resistant starches, organic and free range whenever possible. I'm trying to teach myself what it feels like to be hungry, and to listen to and respect my body when I'm full. I'm trying to love my body the way it is right now, squishy and lumpy and flabby. I'm also trying to stop negative speak in my head about both my own body and the bodies of other people. I can't expect to love myself if I go around judging other people, even if it is just a knee jerk reaction learned from society's love of thin. And I'm also trying to not get obsessed about food, weight, dieting, or eating perfectly. The last thing I need is to feel like I somehow don't measure up, or to beat myself up if I don't eat perfectly.
That was quite the rant, wasn't it? I didn't even get to my garden or our fertility testing. I guess I'll have to come back and write some more later. Let's see if I actually remember to.