The City Girl Farmer

Dieting Steals Your Life

continued from A Little Bunny Trail

One of the people who was on the T-Tapp forums had found a site called 180 Degree Health. I recognized the name as one of my Twitter followers and decided to explore since I had been so pleased with my T-Tapp results. What I discovered there has totally blown my mind and I believe has brought me to the answer to my weight issues. (Pardon the drama!)

I ordered Matt Stone’s ebook, 180 Degree Metabolism, and couldn’t put it down. He exposed the diet syndrome that so many of us are familiar with: we eat less, exercise more, lose weight to a point, find the diet unsustainable for any number of reasons, go off the diet and regain the weight and then some. The thesis of this book is that we have abused our bodies by dieting and exercising to the point where we are literally starving at the cellular level. We have killed our metabolism. Our bodies are constantly trying to cope with various types of deprivation. Maybe we don’t eat enough. Maybe we don’t eat the right things. Maybe we decide it’s a good idea to be a vegan and train for a marathon. Maybe we decide carbs are bad and stop eating them. Maybe we decide fat is bad and stop eating it. Maybe we eat too much junk. Maybe we don’t sleep enough. It really doesn’t matter what the abuse is. Eventually our bodies just can’t take it any more and they go into serious conservation mode. Body temperature drops, lean muscle is gladly sacrificed as it requires more energy to maintain and fat is added/retained to accomodate the erratic supply of nutrients.

The solution? FEED YOUR BODY! Really feed it. Three times a day with the best food you can find that contains ALL the macronutrients. There are no “bad” food groups. Eat just past where you are full. Get rest (don’t exercise too much) too, and spend time doing the things you love. By doing this until your basal temperature rises to between 97.8 and 98.2 first thing in the morning, you are reassuring your body that you will give it everything it needs to survive. Theoretically, your body believes you eventually and voluntarily builds lean muscle and lets the fat go, all while eating all the healthy food you want. Isn’t that good news??

That was great news and made total sense to me. What really got me, though, was some of his observations about the dieting mentality. We believe that our lives will be better if we are thin and beautiful and so we fall into the trap of chasing that at the expense of so many more important things. We visit our friends and all we talk about is what we can and can’t eat based on the latest new idea about how we can achieve that elusive goal. We deprive ourselves of the joy of eating good food and in the process starve ourselves not just of food, but of joy. Additionally, we manage to serve ourselves up a long list of maladies such as a lack of energy, cold hands and feet, hair that falls out, skin that dries out, digestive problems, depressed immune systems, degenerative diseases and the list goes on and on.

This got me to thinking about a series of discussions I had had with my teenage daughter. I warned her about how there was a grave evil in the world, this impossible beauty that we chase so desperately that drives us to do the most self-destructive things. I told her that our culture would do everything it could to make her think there was something wrong with how she looked and to beware. We watched this video together. I apologized to her for setting a bad example in the past by a vain obsession with my weight and looks. By the time we watched that video I had already sworn off dieting for three years but what I didn’t realize was that the dieting mentality is like a stubborn weed. It is very hard to root out once it has taken hold.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this story, I was never a skinny kid. My mother put me on my first diet when I was nine years old. I dieted in my teens, twenties, thirties and forties. My training began early and I spent the vast majority of my life involved in chasing a very dangerous dream. In case you don’t know, here are the statistics on Eating Disorders:

Over one person’s lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of their eating disorder. Without treatment, up to twenty percent (20%) of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, that number falls to two to three percent (2-3%). Eating Disorders affect a large number of people in the United States.

The statistics state that:

* Approximately 7 million girls and women struggle with eating disorders
* Approximately 1 million boys and men struggle with eating disorders

Amount of people affected by specific eating disorders:

* 0.5% – 3.7% of females suffer from Anorexia Nervosa in their lifetime
* 1.1% – 4.2% of females suffer from Bulimia Nervosa in their lifetime
* 2% – 5% of the American population experience Binge Eating Disorder
* 10%-25% of all those battling anorexia will die as a direct result of the eating disorder
* Up to 19% of college aged women in America are bulimic Age at onset of an eating disorder:
* 10% report onset at 10 years or younger
* 33% report onset between ages of 11-15
* 43% report onset between ages of 16-20
* 86% report onset of illness by the age of 20

* As many as 10% of college women suffer from a clinical or nearly clinical eating disorder, including 5.1% who suffer from bulimia nervosa
* Studies indicate that by their first year of college, 4.5 to 18% of women and 0.4% of men have a history of bulimia and that as many as 1% of females between the ages of 12 and 18 have anorexia

With treatment, about sixty percent (60%) of people with eating disorders recover. In spite of treatment, about twenty percent (20%) of people with eating disorders make only partial recoveries. The remaining twenty percent (20%) do not improve, even with treatment.

Source: The National Institute of Mental Health, National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Matt Stone identifies the dieting mentality as a “gateway drug” to eating disorders. Interesting. I started thinking about how I was a chronic meal skipper. And worse, often a barely perceptible sense of pride accompanied the skipping as if I were doing something noble and heroic by not feeding myself. If I happened to do anything physically demanding AND skipped a meal (or meals), the sense of pride was magnified. And do you know what’s really interesting? When I saw doctors and other health care practitioners they always asked if I ate a good diet. Since 2005 I could always answer with a proud “yes”. But no one ever asked me if I was eating enough good food.

So I am beginning to realize that even though I had the wisdom to warn my daughter about our evil culture, I still suffer from a distorted mentality about food, weight and beauty myself. I am angry about that and I intend to fight it for the sake of my health, for all the women out there who never feel beautiful and for all the beautiful people out there who happen to be trapped in fat bodies.

Matt Stone ended his book with a plea to consider a life free from obsession about weight. He cited the case of IZ (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole). For those of you who may not know, IZ was a Hawaiian muscician. He died in 1997 from complications resulting from his obesity. At one point he was up to 757 lbs. As of this writing his official Youtube of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” has received 64,245,681 hits. (That last one was me. I watched it again. :)) Matt observed what a waste IZ’ life would have been had he obsessed about his weight instead of music. IZ has been dead for 15 years. YouTube didn’t even exist while he was alive. Now that’s a legacy!

So I guess the question beyond diet and exercise is what am I going to do to pursue a meaningful life, instead of chasing an illusion to satisfy my vanity and destroying myself and wasting my life in the process?

Answer? ¬†For starters, I’m going to eat lots and lots of really good food and forget about it. Hopefully for good this time.

A Little Bunny Trail
February 11, 2012, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Health & Nutrition | Tags: , , , , , ,

We originally decided that we wanted a little bit of land so that I could raise cashmere goats and pursue my spinning hobby. In the four years that we have been here that vision has changed. I saw this beautiful barn and all those acres and ideas of what we could do began to just pour into my mind. We still have goats and I still enjoy spinning but when we got here we realized we could do so much more and so began City Girl Farm.

I have always enjoyed gardening, cooking and eating and I always found the idea of self-sufficiency very intriguing. So we expanded. We added chickens, a dairy cow and an organic garden. But there was a secret motive behind all this that I want to share with you in this little bunny trail.

I had a health challenge that began in the fall of 2005 when I had a miscarriage. I have never been thin and before that I had dieted periodically in an attempt to maintain a reasonable weight with a reasonable amount of success. After that happened, I found myself unable to lose the weight I had gained during the few months I had been pregnant. At the time, I had a membership at Curves and I was on their diet and religiously working out for 45 minutes four days a week. To my horror, not only was I not losing weight, but I was continuing to gain weight despite my heroic efforts. I went from a pre-pregnancy weight of 145 lbs. to a whopping 182 lbs. in a year. I was miserable.

A friend of mine referred me to her chiropractor and he told me I was suffering from adrenal fatigue and that I needed to stop exercising immediately and take a nap for an hour each day—not sit and knit for an hour, not read for an hour—close my eyes and take a nap. If I couldn’t sleep, I was to just lie there with my eyes closed for an hour. I could walk for a half hour each day or do some yoga if I felt I needed to exercise. This was not an easy discipline to maintain as I was home schooling and trying to run a busy household at the time. And since I didn’t get immediate, dramatic results I quit going to the chiropractor and kept looking for what could possibly be causing this intractable weight gain.

During this time I discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola and I learned about how important it was to eat organically grown, nutrient dense, “real” food. People reported that making these changes in their diets had resulted in dramatic health improvements, including effortless weight loss. So I made the change, hoping that it would do something for me. I found a source for raw milk and started buying organic produce and my weight didn’t budge. I went to the doctor thinking that maybe I was yet another victim of peri-menopausal hormone imbalance. All my test results were normal, but after having me record my axillary temperature first thing in the morning for 10 days, he determined that I was hypothyroid. He put me on thyroid medication which I took for about 6 months before I felt my thyroid kick back in and I went off of it. During all that time I lost less than 10 lbs.

After that, I decided to give acupuncture a try and it worked. I began going once a week early in 2008 and at the end of the year I was down 25 lbs. I continued into 2009 and got down to 150 lbs. before I stopped going. I felt I was just too busy and I was happy to be back in a size 10. But in the fall of 2010, the weight started to come back again and by the end of last year I was wearing a size 16.

Now I am a woman of a “certain age” and not as vain as I was when I was younger. I had made peace with the idea that I might just be a plump grandmother when the time came. But the real problem, aside from the plain discomfort of carrying around all that extra weight, was that I was losing my joie de vivre. I didn’t care about anything anymore. The smallest task seemed like a huge chore and my son remarked that I didn’t seem like the happy, passionate-about-everything mother he had known and loved.

I decided he was right and in the back of my mind something whispered that I might be hypothyroid again. I determined that what was missing in my health plan was exercise and I started to discuss this with a friend of mine who is a nurse. She agreed with me that I had several symptoms of hypothyroidism and that I should see my doctor and get tested. As I was procrastinating doing just that, I came across a book called The Menopause Thyroid Solution by Mary J. Shomon and I thought, “That’s it!” I bought the book and started to read. It had a lot of great information (although there were some things with which I disagreed or felt didn’t pertain to me) and a particularly intriguing part about exercise, which is where I felt I was deficient.

I have a theory about health. I believe that if you give the human body what it needs, good food, rest and exercise, that it will naturally heal itself and function well until the day it dies. I determined that of those three pillars of health, exercise was where I needed to focus. So I ordered the program recommended in Shomon’s book, T-Tapp More. It arrived on January 9th this year and I got started. Within the first 10 days, I had lost 3″ off my lower abdomen and could get into some size 14 jeans. (I lost inches everywhere else, too, but nothing quite as dramatic as that measurement.) Those are the kind of results that speak to me. After the first 10 days of what Theresa Tapp refers to as “boot camp”, you do the exercises every other day for 20 minutes for five weeks and then back down to 2-3 times a week. Fearing that wasn’t a sufficient amount of exercise, I went on to her forums and started snooping around and that was when my eyes were REALLY opened.

To be continued….