Deconstructive diet

Some time later

30-apr-2008: short follow-up at 73kg
09-sep-2007: today I had 75kg

Deconstructive diet

I think everything started with the acknowledgment of so many practical impossibilities that loosing weight seemed something simpler and possible. At the beginning it was not even about loosing weight as I just wanted to be able to control my hunger and eating habits and to eliminate the stress – eating (hunger) correlation. I realized rather soon in the process that almost all aspects could be found and rationalised if I payed some attention to myself. I was also motivated by a real example I could see each day which seemed like a model to me.

Some history, the goals

From a time perspective everything started after my trip to Athens when I was brutally faced with a lot of knee pain and the stress common to my job. At that time I was around 96 kg and the lowest level I could remember was 92 kg. I decided not to set goals too distant and not to think of the goals ahead instead to focus on the current moment. I did never planned in terms of weeks, months. Everything was a limited to the time frame of a single day. Achieve as much as possible and loosing as little ground as possible in each minute, each hour, each day from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep. I existed only in the time bubble of this unique moment and the goals where more references to my change. Now I am 79 kg.

The deconstruction

I knew from my previous attempts that I hate the concept of a diet. The outside restriction of food generates in me a profound sadness and frustration. So the restriction had to be replaced by the lack of need. Mostly I had to find out if I need to eat or not. Analysing myself I realized that it was not the physical hunger as much as the mental hunger which was driving me to eat. The stress of my life, bugs, problems, deadlines, practical impossibilities all had found a pressure valve in the process of eating, in the eating frenzy. This was the most critical point. How to release pressure without the eating frenzy?
First it was a question of timing. It seemed that eating after work was where the stress from the day was finding most of the release into a complete meal. This had to stop. During work, there was nothing like a snack to help for a support issue, an unsolvable bug or an insupportable client. This also had to go and it proved the most difficult. All it remained was the meal at noon which also had to be driven only by the physical hunger avoiding as much as possible the eating frenzy. It was also a question of acceptance, to accept the rolling boulder and to let it roll over you without taking you along.

Replacements

It is a question to replace the mental need, the justification to eat with something else and in my case are 2 aspects:

  • eat in order to solve momentary problems such as bugs, clients or support issues. Eating was giving me the equivalent of a short cigarette and since I do not smoke I was eating a candy, a jelly gum, a sweat bar or a some chocolate. Multiply this by the continuous flow of problems and the result was huge. The solution to remove the source of problems was of course not possible so I replaced it as much as possible with the certitude of an element of replacement: a sure action within the time frame of the same day which acted like a loan of energy and tranquility with a very short and visible realisation. I could not make this loan for a long time because I would have lost hope before the maturity of this mental instrument so everything had to be within reach.
  • eat in order to accept and integrate all the stress of the day. From a daily perspective this was located to the end of the day (even if work was not always finished until then) and it was in a good position to be completely replaced with the element of replacement, the actual action of tranquility with I loaned and used during the day.

The mental loan of tranquility

I found out that I could solve partially the problem of the stress and frenzy by making a short term loan into the same day. Like a moment in the future which peace I could use to balance the current moment. For me this moment had a double value since it was both mental relaxation and physical exercise and there is nothing which does this for me better than cycling so I tried to arrange such a cycling moment for each day. I was either a 60km ride to Tancabesti which took around 2h or ridding the MTB through the city in the night as much as possible. Some might say this was mostly a physical exercise but for me the mental side was also very important. It’s the sensation of freedom and the ability to advance by your own power which gives a sense of balance both for your mind and body.

Price

There is nothing without a price and this diet which involved changing the rhythm of my eating so dramatically could have had a price to pay on my stomach. Fortunately I like to eat rice which minimizes this so at the beginning before my body would adapt I sometime eat only rice. This was not premeditated or calculated in advance however. It was just a local adjustment for the current moment. If I felt a bit of irregularity then I decided to eat rice for lunch. I think in order to minimize the price the most important is to avoid that the diet adds a new stress. For me it was a question of mental change and not adding a new set of restrictions. It was the added stability of reducing the stress, of taking and enforcing a new state and taking the time to observe and feel all potential risky changes. Unlike the stressful diet which could blind me more to the state of my body I gained in fact more perspective and detail.

Difficult moments

Sometimes however I was again overwhelmed by the volume of conditions which generated the frenzy of stress – eating and the rolling boulder took me with him. There was work, bugs, travel for work, bureaucracy, rain or all combined and I found that I could either be rolled over or not rely so much on a far away loan. In that moments I eat, I opened the gates of the river so it would not overflow the valley completely but I have tried to see this not a global failure but as a localized, separated moment. It was the moment which had a start and an end which could be considered an irregularity in the new state. Even if my position was fragile and lost for a moment, depressed and blocked by the rain in house I managed to forget everything next day and continue where I left. This happened mostly around the 80kg goal and I sometimes lost hope but the sun came back and I could go cycling again.

The result

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