Healthy and Realistic Eating Habits and Struggling to Accept Yourself

About a month ago, I made the decision to change the way I eat. This is always a tough thing for me to do, as I get obsessive about it and can go too far. It’s the reason I succeed at losing nearly forty pounds with Weight Watchers over a decade ago, and it’s the reason I can no longer count points, calories, macros, or . . . anything that needs counting.

After doing some light reading about the endomorphic body type, to my dismay discovered that a low-carb eating style works best for people like me. Of course, this was depressing news. I’m not necessarily a sugar fiend (I prefer salty treats), but I love my artisanal breads and white rice.

But with me not getting any younger (I’m forty-five, and let’s face it, if I’m not perimenopausal yet I will be soon), I needed to make changes before my already slow metabolism stopped all together. Even with all the activity and exercise, I still felt round, bloaty, and squishy. Something needed to change.

I did some research on eating plans and stumbled across the usual ones: Paleo, Keto, and Whole30. I hesitated with all three of these for several reasons. I had tried Whole30 many years ago and only managed eleven days. I remember feeling greasy, bored, and frustrated. I had tried Keto a decade prior when my father stumbled on to something similar (Atkins). I lasted a week on that. Again with the greasy and the icky.

As a former vegetarian (and someone who is still happy to eat that way from time to time), I really struggled with the amount of animal protein prescribed in all the plans. I’m not anti-meat; not by a long stretch. But the sheer quantity involved in these diets really turned me off.

I finally settled on the Primal diet. It is a little less strict than the others (we’re allowed dairy, starchy vegetables like regular potatoes, dark chocolate, and small amounts of honey or maple syrup), so I figured it would be a little easier to follow. I’m still not one hundred percent on board with all of the pseudoscience used to justify some of the extremes of this diet, but at the heart of it is clean eating with plenty of vegetables and fruit and as few processed foods as you can manage. It’s good advice regardless of your eating style.

I have also worked a cheat day into this new way of eating. On Sundays, I get to eat whatever the hell I want. And let me tell you, really all I’ve wanted was a bagel, a sandwich, some rice with my Chinese food, and fried dough. I haven’t gone overboard on any of my cheat days. I’ve only wanted (and been satisfied) with simple things. Heck, I hadn’t had fried dough in nearly a decade. I felt okay with my decision.

The one thing I have struggled with is the lack of weight loss. I lost four pounds my first week (mostly water weight, I know). I’ve put one pound of that back on. I had hoped that I would lose more. Not a lot, but I had ten pounds I would have been happy to never see again. It’s been frustrating and a struggle to stay with this new way of eating when the results I’d hoped for never manifested.

But here’s the thing: I am seeing results. My weight may not be changing, but my body composition is. My hips are smaller, I have less back fat, my chin and jawline have thinned out, and my stomach is flatter. I’m also having—much to the delight of my husband—much less gas.

In our culture, we are so very wedded to numbers. Half of us are trying desperately to lose weight, while the other half are desperately trying to gain mass. We’re all pushing ourselves further and harder for numbers that may or may not work for us. We get frustrated when we plateau and push ourselves even further in the hopes to break through and reach that magical number that will make everything better.

What we forget is that we’re not all made the same. The numbers are arbitrary; what is one person’s perfect is another’s pain. I think instinctively we each know this, but we’re told by so many people what is “right” or “wrong” that we have no idea how to listen to our own bodies. At some point, we all gave up our bodily autonomy to doctors who have virtually no nutritional training, fitness coaches who’ve only taken a couple online classes in kinesthetics and nutrition, and diet “gurus” who twist nutritional science into pretzels we’re not allowed to eat so we’ll buy their fad.

We’ve lost sight of what’s important, and that’s not necessarily our fault. So many conglomerates want our money that we’ve been told conflicting information about healthy eating habits for over a century. We’ve lost sight of the basics, the things our grandparents and great-grandparents knew: eat clean, whole foods that have a minimum of ingredients, and move around throughout the day. Treat yourself every once in a great while so you remember that life is for living.

So, I’m still loosely following the Primal way of eating. I’ve made a few tweaks to make it work for me, and I’m happy with my results so far. They weren’t the results I wanted, but they’re the results I’m seeing. I’m glad for the opportunity to learn more about my reactions and expectations, and to once again stick it to the assholish Powers That Be that keep telling me I should be less, or different, or otherwise not Me.

Fuck all y’all. I’m gonna be over here, doing it my way and fucking KILLING IT.

I think we can all see that my combination on eating and activity (thank you, Kempo!) has definitely changed how I look. Nothing wrong with me before, nothing wrong with me now. But I am happier now, and that’s what matters.