Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thirty Five Years of Hunger

Question:  How do you stay off of sugar?

Answer:  You eat something else.

This morning I woke up to a splendid feeling.  No alarm was needed, and it wasn't the sun that roused me, now that my husband has turned the bedroom into "The Cave" with blackout curtains.  I was simply completely rested and ready to awaken at 5:30AM.

I felt peaceful, normal, and calm.  I realized that I was looking forward to my first cup of coffee, but I wasn't desperate for it.  I even let in the cat, let out the dog, and fed the fish before turning on the Keurig.

This morning calm is very special to me.  I love to get things done before breakfast: things like getting in a load of laundry, reading, writing, planning the day.  I know that these things sound pretty simple, getting desired tasks done in the quiet of the morning, but for the past week, something has been getting in the way of the simple pleasures of the early morning.

What is that something?  Actually it's a list of somethings: a cluster of consequences from a single behavior.  Here's what I had been feeling on the previous few mornings:

Anxiety.
Fear.
Sadness.
Guilt.
Distress.

Pardon the drama, especially when life is really good because it's full of people you love, and work you love to do.  I'll cut to the chase.  These feelings of malaise were a direct result of what I had eaten and drunk after returning home from vacation in Southern California.

Let me back up a little.  I became a certified personal trainer two years ago, and I opened Gordon Studio last September because I wanted to help solve a riddle that has plagued me ever since I first stepped into a health club back in the late '80s.  The riddle is this:

"Why is it that so many people are working out, but their bodies aren't changing?"

 After my husband and I had our son twelve years ago, I hit the gym hard.  I did step aerobics, spinning, and swimming.  I tried to run on the treadmill, but it hurt to much so I churned away on the elliptical.  I used the big fancy weight machines with the stacks of weights and the pulleys, but I never got any stronger.  I reduced my calories, fats, and portions, and I went hungry every single day- except on the days when I lost it and binged.  In three years of giving working out and dieting everything I had, I managed to lose and keep off 20 pounds.

Now that might have been ok if I'd only had 20 or 30 pounds to lose, but after three years of constant exercise and calorie restriction I still weighed 155 pounds at 5'1"  I wasn't officially obese anymore, but for the next four years I wasn't able to lose any more weight and keep it off for more than a week or two.

That's Seven Years of Dieting and Exercising without getting to my goal of a normal BMI of under 25. I wasn't trying to look like a fitness model or a teenager.  I just wanted to be healthy and normal.  So where does the Thirty Five Years of Hunger title come from?  I'm 49 years old, and I was put on my first diet by my pediatrician at 8 years old.  When I was 43, I discovered Turbulence Training, and I committed to a cheat-free, low carb, moderate protein, higher fat eating strategy.

After three days of complete commitment to that eating plan, and for whatever period of time I've been able to stay committed, my hunger finally receded.  As a trainer, writer, and transformation coach, I have tried to find a way to promote what is popular, nutritionally, and politically correct.  In the fast year, thanks to the success of my students, I've come to realize that the eating solution to excess hunger and body fat is the willingness to discover what works for you, and to take action every day based on what you know to be true.

So where did the fear and anxiety come from last week?  After a long drive home from LA, and eating something on the road that usually triggers me, I lost it and got into the candy, cookies, and I can't remember what else in the house.

What made the fear, anxiety, and self recrimination go away?  Three days of no sugar, no grains, and no chardonnay.  Do I enjoy consuming those items?  Yes I do, especially the wine, but after three days I get a feeling that's better than any wine or sugar buzz.  It's a feeling of calm, energy, and eagerness to so the work I love: training, writing, and dancing.  If I need to trade sugar for this feeling, I'm happy to do it.

So that's how I stay off of sugar.  I eat something else.  As a result, I get to feel great, and do good work out in the world.  This isn't a sacrifice, it's a total bargain.