Sunday, November 17, 2013

Paul Epstein's Diet Challenge - Week 2

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: 42 in.
Weight end of week 2:  199
Gain/Loss this week: -3 lbs.
Total Gain/Loss: -10 lbs.

When I announced on Facebook that I was starting this diet (see Paul Epstein's Diet Challenge ), I got pushback from a couple friends about the dangers, or at least the unhealthy aspects, physically and/or emotionally, about dieting. "Diets not only DON'T work, they often lead to a greater rebound gain... they can be the gateway to some people developing life threatening eating disorders," said one, a nurse, pointing out that genetics and body type play a large role in weight and the BMI charts should be ignored. And a Wellness Coach advised, "Your body knows when it's hungry and when it's satisfied. If you're eating more food than you need, deal with why." To them I say, you're right, but the fact is, in order to 'change my eating habits' (I'm experimenting with euphemisms for 'diet'), and begin to recognize what my body is telling me about hunger, I needed a 'plan for a new way of eating.' I've never been prone to anorexia or bulimia, but I have set moderate weight loss goals (the upper end of the recommended weight for my height and age), and will trust that if my friends see me starving myself or threatening my health, they will make an intervention.

As my second week of my 'new relationship with food' begins, I'm still thinking about hunger (and wondering if as my 'new approach to eating' becomes an old approach, hunger will always be the main topic ;). During week one, I came to the realization that for years the feeling I had been identifying as hunger was not true hunger. "How could you be hungry? You just ate a half-hour ago?" Those words just popped into my head--the words of my mother, rest in peace. She well knew how, though, because she'd struggled with her weight all her life. Anyway, the false hunger I felt might have been feelings of a not quite full stomach. I don't say an empty stomach, because I rarely let that condition occur. Yes, I suppose in the morning my stomach is usually empty. But I never stopped to ask my myself why I was not ravenously hungry in the morning.

The next lesson I am learning in this 'course on eating right' is what it means to be full. I have long known that I eat too fast. Sometimes I've off-handedly attributed it to teaching in an elementary school for twenty-five years and having only about 20 minutes for lunch, but the fact is, I've always eaten fast. "Chew your food before you swallow!" Maybe it was an effort to escape the unpleasantness of dinners at the family table or to get my share (I'm joking: there was always plenty, and more often than not family dinners were, well, family dinners--sometimes unpleasant and sometimes uproariously funny). It takes fifteen or twenty minutes for your brain to register the fullness of the stomach, so eating quickly allows one to overeat without feeling it right away. Later, you find yourself wondering, "Why did I eat so much?"

Since I'm now deciding before I eat just how much I'm going to allow myself to eat at this sitting (and since that amount is considerably less than I used to put on my plate for a first serving in the past: and, trust me, I've always been a member of the clean plate club), I find that I am eating more slowly and trying to stretch the amount of time I have to enjoy this limited amount of food. When my plate is empty, I don't feel full, but I have almost always felt satisfied, or at least that my hunger was assuaged. If, after a half hour or so I begin to feel hunger or a distressing lack of fullness, I have a small snack (usually fruit, vegetable, dairy, or nuts). So this lesson on fullness seems to be that to feel full is not the goal of healthy eating. Fullness may be a sign of having eaten more than one needs. Now, before you jump in and say, but you're eating less than you need, that's why you're losing weight, I have to reveal a bit about my 'weight loss plan'. It involves a different balance of food groups on certain days than others, and most of the weight loss is intended to occur on those days, while the rest of the week is more or less a 'weight maintenance plan,' that is intended to be a healthy way of eating after you've reached your goal weight. And, if I continue to be successful on this plan for another week or so, I'll be revealing that plan and recommending the book (even buying the book for a few people who have decided to commit to trying it out if I'm successful).

So how has week two gone? As expected, not as dramatically as week one. Maintaining last week's loss would have been success, even regaining a couple pounds wouldn't have put me off my goal of losing 1-2 pounds per week. And indeed, my weight remained pretty even all week, showing a pound or two loss on some mornings, regaining that pound or two on some. Adding a pound at mid-week. The important thing is that the cravings I felt during week one have receded, and my feelings of hunger have greatly diminished. It gets easier every day to eat less and feel satisfied. In fact, that helped me buckle down and cheat on my diet a little on Saturday in preparation for my Sunday morning weight check: I cheated by eating less than allowed and ended up losing three pounds. I felt very empty when I awoke at 5:00 am, but the oatmeal with 1/2 banana and a few walnuts, olive oil based butter substitute (is margarine a bad word?), and Stevia sweetener were every bit as satisfying and delicious as any breakfast I've ever had.


  1. Great job Paul, I wish you continued success on your new eating plan! Nice blog too.