Sunday, March 16, 2014

Learning the Meaning of Hunger

My 2-Day Diet Progress Week 19, March 16, 2014 
Beginning weight 11/3/13: 209 lbs.
Height 5'8" Age: 61
Goal weight: 165 lbs.
Total loss goal: 44 lbs.
Beginning waist size: 43 in.
Current waist size: 39 in.
Weight end of week 19:  180 lbs.
Gain/Loss this week:  -3 lbs.
Total Gain/Loss:  -29 lbs.

This week my euphemism for diet is a paradigm shift toward food. After many weeks of loss of a pound or having no loss, in the past two weeks I have lost a total of six pounds according to my Sunday weigh-ins. Am I doing something different? I don't think so, but maybe, in fact, I guess I have to say yes (how's that for an example of squishy thinking out loud?). Here was my thought process: Generally, weight loss has a direct correlation between calories in and calories expended, so maybe I was eating less these last two weeks. But in the 2-Day Diet I am using as a guide, the 2 days of highly restricted carb intake changes that equation so that your body can't utilize some of the protein and fats you take in. So maybe I was stricter about the carb restrictions these last two weeks. I think it's probably a little of both.

I have not been keeping track of how much I eat as I did in the first month or two of my new way of eating because I don't have to. I'm eating food in the amounts the book recommends, in part because I've learned what the recommended portion sizes are, but mostly for another reason, which is why, I think, I've lost more these last two weeks. I've turned some kind of corner, or at least gone around a slow curve. Now, I don't eat when I'm not hungry, and I'm comfortable being….empty for long periods of time. I've written about this before, this distinction between empty and hungry, and how when I was addicted to carbs (I do think that carbs are the key here), I felt compelled to eat as soon as I was no longer full, and I often felt desperate about needing to eat in ways I remember from when I was a smoker and needed a cigarette (not wanted, needed). I also used to eat faster, continued to eat after I no longer felt hungry, and often felt over full after eating. I binged at times, though I never purged. Now I'm beginning to learn to distinguish between an empty stomach and actual hunger.

It's sad that if a hundred random Americans read this, only about 1/3 or so are likely to think, "duh." That's because about 2/3 of us are overweight or obese. I'm hoping that if you're one of them, you will think hard about my words and try to imagine what it would it would be like to be free of the slavery of your food needs. And I don't mean by never being allowed to eat another dessert (OMG, I sound like a damn late night TV ad or an evangelist). What can I say, I'm newly converted and I want to share the Good News.  

As usual, as I write, I learn something new, or at least tease out my feelings to create coherance: the reason I've probably lost more weight the last two weeks is that now, instead of thinking of emptiness as hunger (as before I equated not fullness with hunger), now that I snack less  and allow myself to experience emptiness for longer periods of time, I've come to the realization that there is a distinction between emptiness and actual hunger. One can be empty (not a comfortable feeling at first, but one I'm learning to appreciate), for a few hours between meals or even between dinner and the next morning without experiencing hunger. Once again, my wife (those of you who've been reading this blog or know Rita know that she's petite) has told me this before, that is, she's described herself as empty and noted sometimes that she just experienced a hunger pang after she hadn't eaten in what, to me, in the past, would have seemed an impossibly long time. 

I know that reading this won't make you a believer. I heard a scientist on NPR this morning who  had first worked out the computations that challenged accepted theories of astrophysics concerning the age of the universe. In response to a question about why other scientists, who are supposed to be such rational thinkers, had so much trouble with this challenge, even though the equations do not lie, he said something to the effect that even scientists, who are trained to be objective, have "enormous biases," especially for theories they have worked on, supported and believed for a long time, and it is only with the help of the collective scientific community that big changes in our understandings take place over time. All this to say that as human beings, it's hard for us to accept truths that are counter to our current beliefs, such as, "I can learn to control my appetite," or "one bite of a dessert could satisfy me," or "I could have a late dinner without something to tide me over." But, you could. I can, and had you told me just a few months ago I could do those things, I would have laughed (or cried) as you may be doing now.

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