A few months ago I shared a video of my friend Ryan’s 100 pound transformation. He inspires me, and I asked him to share what he’s learned. I’m so thankful that he took the time to express his thoughts, and I hope you’ll take the time to see what he has to say. I’m lucky to be his friend. Now here’s his post…
When I was 13 or so, and fat, over the summer break between grade 8 and grade 9, I ate the bare minimum to sustain my hour+ workouts everyday. Over the course of around 2.5 months, I lost about 40 pounds, and it was the first time I realized how much control I could have over my food.
Then, when I was around 17, I was feeling pretty down on just about everything, and would come home from school, and eat things like 2 boxes (8 total) of pizza pockets in one sitting… In the kitchen, the fridge/freezer was next to the microwave, which was next to a TV (a TV in the kitchen can be deadly!). I remember when I would eat like that, I would almost be in a trance, it was like a ritual, to be constantly heating 2 pizza pockets at a time, then as they would cool, getting the next batch ready so that I would constantly eat for the evening without ever having to wait for the next ones to be ready. That would sometimes be my entire activity on a Friday/Saturday night.
No surprise, I gained A LOT of wait when I was around 17, so much that I had to go to the doctor to find out what was this scary stuff growing on my skin… Turns out it was stretch marks. Just thinking about that now I have to just let it go…
So in my late teens, I really habituated myself to coping with negative emotions by using food to the extreme.
Most recently, in my mid thirties, I hit a true low point. I would go through drive thrus, and easily order $30+ worth of food… I’d go home, and eat, and watch my internet TV/movies… I’d eat until I was uncomfortable… I’d even eat in the car, in a trance… I’d hit up local supermarkets and buy boxes of ice cream bars, boxes of frozen pizzas, boxes of just about anything that was full of fat, salt, sugar, etc. and focus on whatever was on sale that day… It was some f*cked up version of hunting/gathering in the modern world.
I soon began to realize how strong my mind/thoughts were in affecting my behaviour…
I could “feel” the thoughts of “what will I eat?” coming on sometime in the late afternoon everyday… I’d start having thoughts about the drive thru, about the various pre-packaged pizzas, pastas, ice cream, etc. at the local supermarket… More than thoughts, these were almost like fantasies that I knew would soon become reality. It was almost like I was preparing myself to jump into another night of self-imposed insanity, and my mind was getting ready for it so that I could keep enjoying the thoughts before the moment happened.
I sometimes wondered if this was similar to what psychopaths might do when they start to visualize how they are going to get their own fix that night… Only for me, the victim was myself.
To be plain about it, food used to be a supercharged thing… How I used it, how it made me feel… Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, food was a force in all areas of my life, it affected everything…
And then, something changed…
I just started eating food that is natural.
Our bodies our ancient. We have been eating/adapting to food on the earth for a very very very very very long time. I’m sure almost all of the alltheweigh.com readers know where I’m headed here…
Processed/manufactured food (i.e. anything that isn’t grown from the earth) has only been around for a very short time. This is especially true for the last century or so, and we humans have taken manufactured food to a whole new level in just the past few decades.
So here’s how this affects me…
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, I give myself no limits. I make salads, and eat as much as I want, whenever I want. I eat fruits (fresh only, not canned/dried), and eat as much as I want. whenever I want.
When I’m hungry, I eat.
No measuring, no counting calories, I just listen to my hunger, and give it food from the earth.
And for me, pop/juice/liquid calories of any kind are nowhere to be found. I eat my calories. (Some might say my smoothies are liquid calories, but to me, they are just blended fruit, no milk, so I consider that food, as all the fiber and extra stuff is still in there.)
I don’t eat bread anymore, no more pasta, no more of almost everything that is on a shelf/fridge/freezer. I will eat some things of course, some brown rice, or beans from a can… Some balsamic vinegar. Some ground pepper, etc. So while there are exceptions, the vast majority of what I eat looks pretty close to the way it is grown.
Once in a while, I will have a burger… Once in a while, I will have something that is not “from the ground”…
I’ve learned that to be so focused on “not eating something” is one of the mind’s ways of just being stuck at the other end of the spectrum, so I cut myself some slack when my mind is craving something, and have it… But instead of eating a tonne of it, I have one of it, whether it’s a piece of chocolate, a burger, whatever… And I will always go for the highest quality possible. If it’s chocolate I’m craving, it’s not a candy bar that I eat, instead it’s a proper, fully decadent, amazingly made chocolate from a specialty store. If it’s a burger, it’s a damn tasty/fresh/amazing burger, not something from a fast food restaurant. If it’s ice cream, it’s something so rich and tasty that a few scoops is more than enough. And with the way my palette has adapted, processed food goes a loooooooong way…
The point of all this…
The turning point for me was realizing I had to make sure all the “healthy” food I ate something I really did enjoy. Before this recent change, I believed healthy food was always boring and bland, and anything used to make healthy food taste better would just make it “less healthy”. Then, when I started to make these amazingly fresh/tasty salads, and stir frys, and smoothies, and stews, etc., I began to realize I could actually enjoy immensely, and look forward to, ALL the food I was eating… everything… each meal, each snack!
When I realized that for me, to make this my life, I had to truly enjoy my “healthy” food, it was as if all the struggle and planning and worrying just disappeared. Suddenly the food in my life was both healthy AND tasty, and it was something I chose just as much for the taste, as for the benefits. It changed the way I look at food forever.
The biggest thing all this has done for me is that it has taken all the worry, and the negativity, out of food and eating. Since most of my food is not calorie dense, but is nutritionally dense, I rarely overeat. I am able to satisfy all cravings, and I just can relax around food as long as I am shopping and filling my cupboards with ” the good stuff”.
I would use the analogy that in the past, “eating healthy” was like walking a tight rope, there was always a level of concentration, and effort, and there was always the risk/danger of falling off the wagon.
These days, instead of a tight rope, it’s just walking… Easy, no effort, enjoyable, almost zen like.
Food is still enjoyable, but that dangerous charge it used to have is (almost completely) gone.
Of course, we live in a world full of advertising, marketing, etc. that is out to most often pull the wool over our eyes. Ingredients like “evaporated cane juice” make me shake my head, another example of food manufacturers trying to make their product sound like something it’s not.
So the other big thing this change has done for me is make me realize I need to be responsible for my food. As soon as something is processed, packaged, labeled, marketed, etc. it is more likely than not trying to deceive me in some way. Marketing is all about spin, about a point of view… If fresh fruits/veggies got the same level of marketing that all this processed food got… Well, that’s a whole other story… But since fresh food is not as profitable as processed food, it just will never happen… There’s a simple reason the world of food is so messed up in North America right now… The unhealthiest food is the most profitable…
I’ve realized the majority of food manufacturers do not have my best/healthy interests on their agenda. That’s just the way it is and most likely will never change. So I’ve learned to really be aware of what’s going on in my food, especially anything processed/manufactured.
Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into a soap box. No doubt we all live according to our beliefs, so these are just some things that go on inside my head.
I’ll just finish by saying food is no longer an “issue” with me. It doesn’t stress me out, I’m not afraid of it, I’m not psychotically supercharged by it.
The way I got to this point was to eat most of my food the way nature intended… And yes, some of it is genetically modified, some of it is fertilized, some of it is picked green and gassed and shipped… I can’t change the world, but I can change what I eat.
I’m human, I’ll make mistakes, I’ll still struggle from time to time, but deep down I know I’ve finally figured out what works for me, and honestly, it’s almost always easy.