Seven weeks ago I weighed 239 lbs. I am 6’1” tall, and I had just crossed over into clinically obese category. My weight has ranged from 232 to 245 pounds for the last fifteen years or so. During that time I have tried any number of diets with the usual erratic results and recidivism: I would lose the weight and add it back on in endless seesaw fashion with the resulting disappointment and loss of self-respect.
I never really thought of myself as obese until I obtained a copy of my medical record and one of the doctor’s notes referred to me as “sort of obese.” That hit me right between the eyes. I knew I was overweight, but obese was a word you used for fat people. People with no self-control. People with emotional problems. People whose lives had spun out of control. I was just a happy gourmand. I just really liked food.
Okay, that’s not entirely honest. I knew that I was a binge eater. Eating was part of my coping mechanism to deal with anxiety. I knew this because I often found myself not even realizing that I was eating, and sometimes couldn’t remember having eaten or what I had eaten. I was just putting food in my mouth. And I had grown comfortable with that leaden feeling in the center of my torso. In a moment of horrible truth I realized that I wasn’t really even tasting my food most of the time; I was satisfying a craving. But a craving for what, if I wasn’t tasting my food? I was putting food in my mouth to make something go away, something that refused to go away, or that always came right back after the briefest recess.
There are several things I had learned along the way to my failures:
1. If you don’t want to eat it, don’t bring it in the house.
2. Your stomach and digestive system adapts to too much food, and adds capacity to accommodate increased craving. No matter what you ate, the rate of craving was a constant.
3. The rate of weight loss was not rapid enough to provide quick and essential positive reinforcement. Losing weight was like timing a caterpillar with a stopwatch.
4. All paths lead to the kitchen. Houses should be designed with the kitchen and pantry on the far side of the garage. No matter what you’re doing or where you’re going, you always have to go through the kitchen.
5. Losing weight requires way too many decisions. Suddenly my hunger hits and I have to answer twenty questions before I can put any food in my mouth. How many calories, how many carbs, how big a helping, etc. I can’t make all those decisions when I am hungry. I want to eat. NOW.
That’s where I was seven weeks ago. I called an old friend and he told me he had lost a lot of weight about a year ago and kept it off. He said it was quick and the weight “just fell off.” That’s what I needed, something where the weight would just “fall off”. Something simple. Not too many decisions.
Without my asking, my friend sent me a link to a video that had motivated him to get started. The video lasted almost an hour. It had nothing to sell. There was no contact information, nothing to buy. No books, pamphlets, or potions. Just this Australian guy who decides to take 60 days traveling across the U.S. interviewing people about being fat. And during his sojourn he carried a juicer in the back of his vehicle and he juiced only fruits and vegetables. That’s it. Honest. That’s the whole story.
I have lost 47 pounds in six weeks. Three bowling balls. Oh, a couple other things. Before I began, I had my wife photograph me from the side, almost naked. I did not suck my belly in. I wanted to be photographed in all my grossness. I wanted to be disgusted. And I was. I printed out the photo. It helped. Using self-loathing to overcome self-loathing.
It took me about a week to figure out what vegetables and fruits to commingle. I used a food processor because I didn’t have a juicer. A juicer separates the juice from the pulp. A food processor doesn’t. So I drank a lot of very thick “juice” which was more pulp than anything else. So I kept adding water to my concoctions because otherwise it was way too thick, almost beyond pouring.
Some of those really dark vegetables that are supposed to be so healthy for you taste unbelievably gross when reduced to mush. Here’s a few suggestions that the video doesn’t include:
1. Pears and bananas can mask the bad taste of almost anything. After that, apples are best. Mangos and raspberries have too delicate a flavor to mask anything. They are better eaten and savored than processed.
2. Take a sharp knife and cut the stems of the dark leafy vegetables away from the leaves, and discard them. Only juice the leaves. The woody stems add a lot of bitterness to the taste.
3. I would make up an 8-cup container of juice the night before and put it in the refrigerator. I couldn’t bear to do all the processing when I was hungry the next morning, so I did my preparations the night before. I covered the container tightly. I didn’t want the nutrients to get away during the night (to wherever nutrients go when you’re not looking).
4. I cheated. About twice a week I would reward myself and eat an avocado, which I love. About twice a week I would eat a package of a really tasty fruit like kiwi or raspberries or a couple handfuls of mixed nuts. Even radishes if I craved something crunchy.
5. I was never HUNGRY, but I was always hungry, if you know what I mean. By the seventh week my menu was getting boring.
6. My wife ate whatever she wanted whenever she wanted, and made no effort to make it easier for me. I didn’t want her to. I needed to know I could do this without trying to change the world around me. It wasn’t a problem. Sometimes her food looked really good, but I never wavered. I guess it was just time.
I am doing a lot of thinking about what I’m going to do when I come off this diet. The best I have come up with is that I am going to continue using the food processor, but I will eat one small meal each day in addition to my “juice.” I will eat fish about twice a week, and incorporate beans into my diet, and about once a month I will treat myself to a steak dinner. I get enough natural sugar from the fruit in my diet, so I have lost my taste for artificial sweets, and I have never been a carbonated beverage person. I have been without coffee and alcohol for the last seven weeks, and I will add red wine back into my diet a few times a week.
I believe it will take me another six months of constant vigilance to maintain my minimalist eating habits. The fat cells in your body never go away; they sit there empty, and like the plant in The Little Shop Of Horrors, plead with you for the rest of your life “Feed me Seymour, feed me!”
I began this journey in the late third trimester of my “pregnancy” and I have worked my way backwards almost to the orgasm that began it all sometime in the distant and obscure past. I don’t remember when the bad habits began, but I know this is where they have to end.
Here’s the link: http://www.hulu.com/watch/289122
Feel free to send me any questions or comments you have. I would be interested to know how it works out for you.