I’ve been thinking a lot about you. Yes, you. All of you.
But let me start at the beginning. If you’re anything like me, you’re here because something just wasn’t quite right. You couldn’t put your finger on it. Maybe you just weren’t feeling very good after that pizza binge. Maybe the weight just wasn’t coming off like it used to, even when you work out harder and longer. I have one friend who noticed she didn’t lose any weight after training for and running a marathon. Another friend noticed the same thing after a bike ride from New York to Montana. Maybe all the traditional excuses—aging, being lazy, indulging too much—don’t apply. For my part, I thought there had to be a better way.
I began my own journey in January, and within a few months, I’d lost 13 pounds and been fully restored to what feels like a more natural version of myself. My husband’s results have been the same, and we feel great. If Gary Taubes is to be believed, this was supposed to work for everyone.
So of course, like any new convert, I screamed this WOE from the rooftops. Hell, I even started a blog all about it. A few friends, both near and far, were interested and decided to take the plunge.
And then…we have to invoke the “individual results may vary” axiom. A few haven’t seen the dramatic weight loss that I and many others have. Needless to say, I feel responsible for this fact and don’t know what the answers are.
I can’t imagine what that must feel like. But I do remember how I felt occasionally when the scale stalled during my own weight loss process. It gets addictive. I’ve never been one interested in numbers on scales, mostly due to the luxurious fact that for most of my life, my weight wasn’t an issue. But suddenly, I was on the scale every morning. After going to the bathroom. And only in my lightweight pajamas. No shoes or heavy clothes allowed. At first, I lost about 3 pounds of water weight. Then nothing for two weeks, during which time I was convinced no more weight was coming off. Then one morning, another 3 pounds were gone, never to be seen again. Then…nothing for a few more weeks and then another chunk of 2 pounds would disappear. Not the linear progression I expected at all. And it would send my brain into overdrive trying to figure it all out. And just typing this now makes me realize what a silly, silly human I am.
Which is all to say that you’re in the right place. I know it’s hard not to see that scale budge. But I’m going to try to convince you that there are other fantastic reasons to eat real food:
- Health. I could go on and on here, but I’ll try to abridge. Sugar mucks up your internal environment, messes with your immune system functioning properly, and feeds cancer tumors. Grains, and gluten-containing ones in particular, are gut irritants that contribute to a cascade of other ailments, which may include neurobiological ones. Simple, easy carbs interfere with your body’s ability to tap into fat stores. You have to train your body to get in there and run off the fuel it was meant to burn. Show that body who’s boss!
- Taking Control of Your Destiny. Allow me to be frank with you. The USDA doesn’t care about you. Nabisco doesn’t care about you. The piles of cottonseeds—agricultural waste—that get turned into oil for processed foods don’t care about you. The friends and family who care about you but still think you’re crazy, and may even try to derail you, are wrong. They’ll say, “You don’t need to lose weight. You look great,” “You need carbs for energy,” “But Grandma made this pie just for you,” etc. Just smile and nod and take it as a sign that they love you, and that even though their words seem against you, their intention is actually with you. They want you to be healthy, and you’re working on it.
- What’s the Alternative? I’ll tell you. Either you return to the embrace of CW and the SAD, in which case you continue on the way you were going, or you try something else. Weight Watchers? Calorie restriction? Dukan diet? Blood type diet? Chronic cardio? In a word—ugh. Down that path lies suffering, uncontrollable hunger pangs, and a return to the foods that are causing so much trouble in our culture and beyond. Just eat real food. There’s no way to go wrong with real food. I don’t even care how you go about eating real food, just eat real food. You don’t have to call yourself Paleo or Primal or Archevore or raw vegan or whatever. Just eat real food. And if you’re ever tempted to return to the dominant dietary paradigm, I urge you to read or re-read Gary Taubes’s Good Calories, Bad Calories or Why We Get Fat. Those books set me straight every time.
- It’s Your Right and Privilege as a Human. When people said to me, “You don’t need to lose weight,” all I heard was, “You don’t deserve what you’re looking for.” I know they meant well, but it still stung. So I’ve pledged never to say this to anyone else. We all deserve happiness and well-being. No, we don’t all deserve to be on American Idol, I’m not talking about bizarre pipe dreams here. I’m talking about looking in the mirror and recognizing the person there. About looking as good as you feel. About being able to take care of yourself in a deep and authentic way. And to do so, you have to be willing to say Eff You! to all the aforementioned noise in #2. I support you in that endeavor. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need some encouragement. In addition, how luxurious is it that we have lives such that we get to do this? That we don’t have bombs destroying our communities, food shortage concerns, the inability to find clean water? Honor that by showing up for yourself every day.
If you’re still having trouble with those pesky numbers that reflect how much gravitational force Earth is exerting on you, I recommend trying a Whole30. Commit for 30 days. Go whole hog (pun intended). See here for more info. This will help you clear out the cobwebs and expose any dietary potholes you may be falling into. And one of the rules? You’re not allowed to step on the scale for the entire 30 days.
If that doesn’t do the trick, make a list of all the other benefits you’ve seen so far. Is your energy up? How about that libido? Clearer skin? Clothes fitting better? Or are you just enjoying driving everyone crazy with your fussy diet? Whatever it is, it’s valid and a sign that you’re on the right track.
On top of it all, if you can, relax. Think back to our hunter-gatherer forebears. They didn’t gripe about this stuff. There was no such thing as a “diet”. There were no options, just survival. Wolves don’t ask themselves whether they should be hunting, killing, and eating the poor little gopher or whether the gopher’s Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is out of whack. It’s time to get back to giving our bodies what it recognizes: real food. Keep on keeping on!