“Well, f*** them if they think they can keep electricity out of here, I’ll do it.” These are the words of folk legend Bob Dylan. After organizers of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival complained about an amped-up blues band, Dylan snubbed them with his own rock performance. Strapping an electric guitar across his chest, he plugged in and played to boos and jeers from the folk faithful. In retrospect, Dylan’s move was a no brainer. He’d always made his own rules, and he’d always been willing to break ‘em. Following the festival, media went crazy, accusing their former “spokesman of a generation” of selling out.
Or did he? For sure, some fans felt betrayed, but only because they had made an idol out of Dylan. His gut-check, acoustic style matched the folk’s uncompromising poke at the establishment. To be “folk,” you had to be a discontented outlier who slammed the status quo and refused to cut your hair or sing in perfect pitch. You had to be divergent. You had to be Dylan. Consequently, going electric at Newport made Dylan a rebel to the rebels. In reality, as he pulled notes into a drawn-out, electrified wale, Dylan was doing what he had always done. He stayed true to himself. His performance only appeared profane because he was an authentic rebel and not a poser.
With this 100 pounds post, I feel like Dylan going electric.
I started my weight loss journey resisting diets or any kind of food restriction. I love food. I wanted to believe – and still do – that health would not ask me to choose between what I love and feeling good. That philosophy got me 62 pounds down the scale. Then, I plateaued. I’ve tried everything that’s not a diet – build muscle, be patient, monitor calories, be patient, keep a food diary, be patient – and nothing has vanquished the seven pounds I’ve lost, gained, and relost over what feels like forever. Not that this time has been a waste. I’ve used it to dig deeper. I’ve healed from heavy hurt and learned to inhabit my skin with confidence.
While laboring through my plateau, I’ve learned that health involves more than making healthy choices. Staying healthy requires me to adapt to ongoing change. What worked for me in my 20’s doesn’t work for me now, in my 40’s. Of course, twenty years ago, I had my hardbody in a delicious, brick sh**-house kind of way. I competed in triathlons. I squatted over 200 pounds. I burned out at the top of mountains and offered ancestral hollers to the hills. I was an animal.
I still am.
I just haven’t been for a while. I don’t want to stop here. I want to lose the rest of the weight. To break this plateau and get my body back, I have to be like Dylan. If I make a rule out of not managing food, I could miss the very thing which could propel me out of my plateau. I must make food a significant piece of my weight loss puzzle.
This realization coincided with a visit to my doctor last week. She agreed that I was a trooper. I’d done everything I could on my own. Now it was time for her help. When she challenged me to eat different, I was ready to listen. Then, she recommended I try Intermittent Fasting (IF). Whoa! Not sure I was ready for that! The word “fasting” grabbed my body’s attention. My stomach tightened. My jaw stiffened. As I listened to her explain IF, however, I realized she was talking less about “starve and binge” and recommending something far more intelligent and effective. In fact, you could call IF Intelligent Fasting.
There are lots of ways to approach IF (Read a review of different IF schedules from Dr. Mercola below.) I chose a daily fast, moving my breakfast forward and eating only between Noon and 8 pm. I’m not changing what I eat, just the timing of my meals. IF can flex to work with many lifestyles, but the principle is the same: reteach my body to use fat as fuel. I definitely need that. For two years, I ate processed, unhealthy fats almost every day. I didn’t need to access my stored fat because I was already eating plenty of it. You know the old adage, “Use it or lose it.” Well, my body didn’t need those metabolic fat-burning pathways, so I lost them. I’m eating clean today, but I still crave fatty foods because I can’t access my stored fat. I don’t have those pathways. IF can fix that. Fasting reintroduces my need for more calories, so I can reteach my body how to get the fat out of my cells and burn it up. Today, as I sip my coffee, I remind myself that I am finally dipping into those fat reserves and melting my muffin top.
This transition has been easier than expected. Moment of truth: after I left my doctor’s office, I headed straight for a doughnut case. My mind raced. I couldn’t focus. Between gooey mouthfuls of maple bar and gulps of scorching coffee, I slugged down worries like, If I don’t take care of myself with food, who’s going to take care of me? Aha! More fodder for heart-level work. That’s o.k. I want a new mind as much as I want a new body. As afraid as I was to start fasting, I knew I could sabotage the whole idea if I leap-frogged over my fears. Before starting, I had to get vulnerable, pay attention, and look at my panic as if it was trying to teach me something.
My acute emotional reaction to the idea of fasting meant something had been festering for a long time. Thoughts burst through my brain like a popped zit. I knew I was an emotional eater, but I had no idea these emotions tied back to elementary memories of a particular lunchroom drama. After being called out among my junior high peers for being such a gossip, I had reverted to food for comfort. I’ve used food as currency ever since. I’ve eaten as a way to pay myself back for hard work or feed my value after a proud effort. No wonder I was afraid of fasting. I wouldn’t just give up food for a short while. I would surrender feeling worthy in this world.
In my first week of fasting, I do feel a sense of sacrifice, but it’s filled me up, not left me empty. In those moments of mild discomfort, I tap into an enduring strength which cannot be diminished by hunger. When I return to food, I relish my first meal of the day. The moment feels sacred. Gratefulness arises as that first bite goes down. As my stomach settles into comfy fullness, I understand that I was always of great value, and so it is with everything else.
As I settle into my new meal schedule, I feel better about making food such a big part of my weight loss. When I look upstream from all this rule making and rule breaking, I realize I’m just doing what I’ve always done. I’m staying true to my best self even as I change, age, and evolve. That’s how I’ve approached my 100 pounds journey all along. Fair warning, though; I will let loose and wail on my electric body someday soon, so get ready.
Take Home Tip
Health involves more than making healthy choices. Staying healthy requires adaptation to ongoing change.
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