Thursday, March 26, 2009

crossing the threshold

For as long as I can remember, I've always needed to lose weight. Even when I didn't need to lose weight, I thought I did. Over the years my allowances for what weight was acceptable for my body has changed, depending on my ever-evolving ideology.

Six to eight years ago, I believed that I should no longer restrict myself - that I shouldn't have to - and be able to eat whatever I wanted. I had been on a diet since I was 9. I resented my body and begrudged other people for not having to count calories, points, or second guess every little thing they put in their mouths. I gave up on all the diets and blossomed to an unforeseen weight. I went in for a physical, and my doctor told me frankly that I had to lose weight for my health. None of my clothes fit, and I was uncomfortable all the time.

I did lose weight. I joined Weight Watchers and dropped 40 pounds. I actually didn't mind the point counting and food journaling. I bought all new clothes, and found my confidence was higher than ever. I was proud of my accomplishment, and then I discovered yoga.

Yoga helped to bring me to a place where it wasn't about diets, fads, restrictions, and weight loss - it's about being kind to my body. Being healthy and energetic, and feeling comfortable in my skin. It's not like working out in a gym. In a yoga class, I don't feel like I am on display, something to be judged and assessed. I can be in a full room of yogis and feel completely alone, yet at the same time supported by a whole community. Yogis aren't looking at you, sizing you up and determining whether you are good enough, slim enough, strong enough... they aren't even looking to see if you're wearing the latest Lululemon. If I notice someone in my class that's stronger and more balanced than I am, than I feel that I have something to aspire to. It's not competition. It's finding the edge - your edge - and respecting it. Staying there or pushing it until your body tells you to stop.

Since I've started my ayurvedic diet, I've lost 10 lbs. I haven't seen the numbers on my weight scale this low in a couple of years. I crossed the threshold - that weight is more acceptable to me. It's still not my ideal weight obviously, but it's a milestone that tells me there is progress. Tangible progress.

I also found an amazing cookbook from a local author and co-founder of Lululemon Athletics, Amrita Sondhi:

This is my second ayurvedic cookbook, and by far my preferred one. It's relatable and easy to understand, and the recipes are modern and diverse. Ayurveda taken from the dusty pages of vedic scripture and brought into the modern fast paced western kitchen. I am so appreciative of her approach to ayurvedic cooking. Armed with this cookbook, everyone could feel comfortable cooking ayurvedically.

So what is my approach to weight loss now? Respect. I no longer begrudge the person who can eat fistfuls of food, never work out, and never gain an ounce. All I want now is to feel healthy. To truly feel that I am respecting my body and giving it the sustenance that it needs to remain healthy for years to come. The weight loss will follow. Naturally.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

stevia is my friend

Sugar. A seemingly small thing that infiltrates EVERYTHING.

My ayurvedic doctor didn't give me strict parameters for this 'diet'; just asking that I cut out refined sugar. She said she didn't want to overwhelm me with strict restrictions and inadvertently set me up to fail. It'll take longer to get rid of the yeast, but at least I can live comfortably while doing so. She said it may take up to 4 months.

Funny enough, even cutting out refined sugar is hard to do. And I don't really eat sugar! Or at least I didn't think I did... I don't really have sugar cravings. I can stare at a bowl of candy and never reach for one. But put a bowl of popcorn in front of me and I'm a glutton. That is until I quit eating sugar.

The first week was fine. I found the sugar cravings somewhat manageable, but then again it took me 4 days just to cut out the honey in my coffee. Stevia continues to work for the coffee... oh, did I mention that I no longer drink caffeinated coffee? I took a month to slowly wean myself off of coffee, and I surprised myself - I actually don't miss it. I don't miss the accelerated pick-me-up in the morning. The highs and lows. I still drink decaf in the morning, as I'm not quite ready to let go of the habit of coffee. The sound of the coffee percolating in the morning, the smell, the taste. Eventually I will let those things go too.

Week two of cutting out sugar didn't go as well. A weekend retreat at some lakeside cabins to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday was planned, and I knew I was screwed. I packed my stevia and decaf coffee with the best of intentions, deciding before we left that I wouldn't reprimand myself if I didn't keep true to the diet. I didn't last the first night. Hell, I didn't last the trip to the liquor store.

I suppose as far as booze goes, there are 'better' choices when you're trying to cut back on sugar. Not great, though, as alcohol is essentially sugar. Sugary sugarness incarnate. So, I asked Dr. Barr what my best choices were, and she said wine spritzers and gin and club soda would be ok, but to drink in moderation. Moderation meaning one or two glasses a day. I smiled, knowing full well how cabin weekends went, and knowing my friends.

Needless to say, I enjoyed 'several' glasses of robust red wine, a few beer, and some gin and tonics (realized I hate gin and club soda!). I had no idea tonic has 42 grams of sugar per can. Note: I just found diet tonic water, and you can barely notice the difference....

The weekend was a hit and I was happy with my choice. That was until Monday afternoon when the sugar cravings hit. And they hit hard. I have never experienced that kind of physical and psychological NEED to have something. I imagine that's what smoking might be like? It was driving me crazy. All of a sudden I wanted chocolate, wine, pop... anything sweet. Anything sinful. After relentlessly pacing the kitchen and googling sugar free dessert recipes, I finally found one that made sense. Simple yet effective.

1 cup yogurt strained for half an hour to thicken
1 mandarin orange
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of stevia

It was great. Took the edge off - like taking a drag on a fake cigarette and getting smoke.

Every day after that has been easier. I still cheat on weekends occasionally when I want a glass of wine with friends. But I'm finding it easier to resist. I can now recognize my danger times (mid-afternoon, Saturday night...) and have ammunition to deal with them. Most of the time. I always was a B+ student, so I'm comfortable not getting an A. Maybe I get an A for effort.

Monday, March 2, 2009

a new light

My first week following my new ayurvedic 'diet'. Not really a diet per se, but avoidance of one thing - sugar. It's going ok so far... well, it took me a few days to fully embrace certain things. Sometimes I need to take it slow and ease myself in....

The first day I took honey in my coffee. The next day a little less honey, then a little less... it was on the 4th day when I replaced the honey with stevia. Stevia takes a bit of getting used to, and I can't say it's my favorite, but it is what it is. Stevia sweetens my coffee without being sugar, so I have to accept it and embrace it. IF you can find the right amount to add, you can avoid the bitter taste and slight licorice aftertaste.

Not too bad. My afternoons at work can prove challenging sometimes. The time when I would normally seek out a chunk of dark chocolate or have a coffee (with sugar, of course). I now 'cheat' with chocolate spice tea. I'm trying to trick my brain into believing I've had chocolate when I haven't. It works (to a point).

I have noticed a few things this week. I feel lighter. I feel more awake. And I feel less inclined to procrastinate and skip yoga. Such a small thing to affect so much.