Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Progress in Month 9

For all of you devoted reader(s) out there (hi, Sis!), I am keeping up with this blog. I really am. I'm just not doing it very well. I'm going to chalk that up to the fact that I'm currently so focused on getting into graduate school that I've begun scheduling my bathroom breaks and daydreaming time into the 6 minutes of free time I've been able to carve out of my daily life right now. But this blog is in my heart often because I feel a bit more honest, a bit more dark and twisty, a bit more real here than anywhere else. So, know that of anywhere I write, this place has my heart.

I've been back on the allergy-free (now changed to intolerance-free) diet for several weeks now and once again my energy is good, my emotions stabilized (except that once-a-month roller coaster so many of us deal with), and my future is feeling bright again. Yeah! In the last week, I've had several people tell me that I look "bright" and "happy" and "good." I'm taking all of that to mean that this food thing really does have an affect on my mental/emotional state. Yes, I know, big surprise there.

It has been quite a journey so far since last January when I started this thing on my fourth attempt and finally had the skills and knowledge base to succeed at eating so differently from mainstream America. I feel like those first three months was more of a white-knuckle experience where I had to encounter the mental, emotional, physical, and social changes that eating like this handed to me. I had to learn how to cook more, how to cook differently, how to prep food for a full day, how to manage social situations and food and how to deal with my own emotions/grief around giving up the familiar, known ways of eating.

The first few months also brought a great sense of RELIEF. I felt like finally, finally, finally after years of trying to figure it out, I had a plan, a vision, a method for how to cook and eat throughout my life. A blueprint for what my kitchen and pantry will look like; a dream for how I will manage Halloween, Christmas, and every celebratory food event; an idea of how to manage this gigantic, overwhelming, emotion-crusted, darkness-infused, gut-busting experience of food/weight/depression in my life.

And I finally feel like me again. A feeling that I first truly encountered 12 years ago when I was serving a mission for my church and really learned a lot about myself and my strengths. It was a golden period in my life full of truckloads of learning and I ratcheted up several truckloads during that eighteen months of service. I learned that

  • I'm a people person
  • I work really well with others when we have a common purpose
  • I love planning
  • I enjoy teaching
  • I love talking to people about their lives, their hearts, the things that matter most to them
  • I like public speaking and singing
  • I have a brain for remembering the gospel and an aptitude for study
  • I do really well on a schedule fueled by a deep purpose
There was much more that I learned as well, but throughout that eighteen months, I repeatedly had the feeling "This is me. This is me. This is ME." It was like I was meeting myself for the very first time.

What I really think occurred was I went from a lifestyle where my weaknesses were highlighted to a lifestyle where my strengths were utilized, accepted and wanted. It felt amazing.

All of that is just to say that the first few months after starting this intolerance-free eating plan, I started to feel many of those feelings again. Like my strengths were no longer cloaked under a mantle of darkness. That my mind and spirit were no longer cloaked either. And like I said, it brought a great sense of relief.

The next few months of summer after that initial white-knuckling phase were a bit more difficult after some of the initial euphoria wore off. I quit cooking as much or even doing much meal planning. That really tends to sink me. As a result, I spent a lot of time being hungry, hungry, hungry. And wishing I had good food. And wishing someone would make it for me. And wishing it would magically appear in front of me. Thus the summer was comprised of
  • a stall in weight loss
  • constant hunger
  • wishing that I didn't have to cook so much every day just to feed little old me
  • mourning that food wasn't convenient or easy any more
  • challenging the elimination diet which turned into an eating free-for-all and a full return to my previous life of wheat, dairy, sugar eating.
Ahhh, the summer. Lessons learned. Time passed. Boundaries tested.

Once again, after plunging back into old eating habits, I was in the midst of that big, loud vortex that takes over my body, spirit and mind. Depression, weight gain, fatigue--it all came roaring back into my life. And when I'm there, no matter how hard I try to convince myself, it is very, very, very difficult to believe that food really affects me so powerfully and that I really do feel much better when I'm not eating those foods. I'm sure it sounds crazy. It feels crazy. I'm not laying all of my problems at the feet of food, but I am saying that eating intolerance-free removes a huge layer of difficulty in my life. It makes my life run more smoothly all around. It helps keep me strong, focused, sane and happy.

So, what is fall going to become? Well, I'm feeling really great about the diet. What needs work in my life is exercise. So, the fall I want to be comprised of working out five to six days a week. I want a plan, a purpose, a goal in my exercise. I want to feel good afterwards. I want to be thrilled to get up each morning and get moving.

So, to fall and to exercise! Here's hoping it will be a success.

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