I did so well at first! Then the evil mistress Myoclonus showed up and that was all she wrote. I decided to do my fast last weekend as Kim was out of town so it would just be me and my grim determination to not touch any of the food in the kitchen. And, again, by the end of the second day, my willpower was nothing but a sniveling heap of defeat.
6:00 A.M. Saturday: Woke up today feeling pretty good, though physically exhausted from my workout on Friday. Wasn’t tempted to eat and had my espresso (no coconut oil) and promptly took my dog to the dog park. After about an hour there, I put Zimmer back in his crate and tackled the poison ivy with both arms. Not literally of course. See, we have had a poison ivy problem in the backyard since I moved into this house, so much so that the very first time I did a bunch of yard work last summer, I did so in sandals and no shirt. At the time, I didn’t even know what poison ivy was, so I attacked the vines that were growing up onto the porch and all around the fences with gusto, not knowing what those vines were but determined to make a good impression with Kim regarding my zeal in housekeeping so she would have no choice but to keep me around.
Poison ivy just looks ornery. The leaves are bristly and don’t resemble their innocuous cousin vines that also grow around the perimeter of the backyard and are kind of pretty and are benevolent. Poison ivy is the vegetative equivalent of my childhood bully, bearing a smile like the rapist in Deliverance but masking the malicious, acrimonious havoc that lies within the oil on its leaves, bent on inflicting suffering for its own amusement (Wow, when I started that analogy, I meant it loosely, but that really is how that bully looked and acted, right down to the smarmy grin he bore with every taunt.) That first time, I was laid up for 3 days with hives covering every inch of skin that had been exposed during that first match. Poison ivy comes up underneath the deck and winds up the lattice work and onto the deck itself. So, this time, in 90-degree heat, I dawned long sleeves, an old pair of khaki pants and hiking boots, pried loose the nails holding the lattice work on the deck and Roundup-ed the crap out of the roots under the deck. Then I took off my hazmat suit and, in my underwear and hiking boots, vacuumed up the ivy oil off the floor and carpet because I had neglected to put clean flip-flops at the back door so I wouldn’t track said ivy oil into the house. I then showered and me and the Z laid on the couch and I caught a little nap.
1:45 P.P. Woke up from the nap and was ravenous. My friend Mitch was hosting a poetry workshop yesterday afternoon, so I got ready for that and while I did, my tummy had a vicious argument with my brain. It went like this –
Tummy: “Woohoo! Time for some post-nap grub!
Brain: “Nope. We’re going out for a while, so you don’t get food. Maybe tonight [Keep in mind, I had no intention of eating tonight, but I had to tell Tummy something so he’d shut up.]
Tummy: Bologna. I’m hungry now. And not the usual hungry. Not even “hangry.” I haven’t had any food since Thursday so YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT TO ME.
Brain: Sorry buddy. We’re leaving now. Maybe later.
Tummy: [Sulking and kicking an imaginary can down the road] Fine. I’ll just eat your liver.
Went to the poetry workshop and saw a man I haven’t seen in 20 years. We used to be drinking buddies in high school and my friend Mitch who I lived with for over a year after the ¾ house (a gesture I will be forever grateful for and even tried to thank him by setting his kitchen on fire) told me he was back in the Program and, according to him, this time for real. It was great to see this Mitch and we exchanged contact info. Then I came home. While I was out, the tortilla chips, ice cream, cheese sauce and peanut butter had a meeting with Tummy and Brain via Skype:
Tortilla Chips: Phew! Thank God. Me and ice cream thought we’d lost you guys!
Brain: Of course you didn’t lose us. And he’s still not eating you.
Cheese Sauce: But you don’t understand! He’ll DIE without me!
Tummy: He won’t die without cheese sauce.
Ice Cream: What about me?!? I’ll go bad if he doesn’t eat me!
Brain: It takes weeks for anything to get freezer burn. You won’t go bad.
Ice Cream: What’s freezer burn?
Brain: I don’t know. But his girlfriend says you shouldn’t eat things with freezer burn.
Ice Cream: What does she know? She throws out food if it’s more than 6 hours old.
Yummy: True. But he’s still not eating you.
Peanut Butter: Look, don’t listen to the others. They’re loaded with carbs and sugar and preservatives. But me? You can eat me. I’m good for him!
Brain: The natural peanut butter behind you is better for him than you, Mr. Skippy. But you still both have sugar. Sugar will bring him out of ketosis.
All: What the hell is ketosis?
Brain: Not sure, but I hear its all the rage and it has something to with fasting and eating a lot of pumpkin seeds and squid. Nevermind. Look, the whole reason I’m making these dietary changes for him is because I have read how significantly what he eats effects how I work. He has to preserve the portion of his brain that’s left, so he needs to change his eating habits pretty dramatically. Sorry guys. You’ll have to wait until Monday when his fast is over.
And with that, me and the Z embarked on a 3-mile walk that left him exhausted and me hungry enough to eat a horse (that wasn’t an exaggeration. If you’d have slaughtered Secretariat and threw him down in front of me raw, I wouldn’t have thought twice.) My Tummy had a conversation with Brain:
Tummy: Okay, I’m dying over here. You’ve GOT to eat something or I’ll shrivel up.
Brain: You mean to a normal size so he can’t eat a whole cow and still be hungry?
Tummy: Look smartass, I got an idea. Just go to bed! When you wake up, it’ll be morning of day 3 and you’ll only have one day left. Piece of cake!
Brain: That’s a helluva an idea. I like it. Let’s do it.
9:24 P.M. – I put Z in his crate and bedded down for the night. I lay there more alert than usual because I wasn’t suffering from a food coma (another phrase I’ve come to hate.) Then, after about 45 minutes, the evil adversary Myoclonus showed up.
10:13 P.M. Imagine you’re drifting off for a well-deserved afternoon nap after a few hours of work in the morning or curling up for the night but you don’t drift off to sleep peacefully. Instead, you get a text from your girlfriend and Quagmire from Family Guy screams “Giggety, giggety, Gig-Ge-Ty” because that’s your ring tone and she’s asking if you’re still awake. You ignore it because you were almost asleep. You lay there for a few minutes before your legs, completely independent from the rest of your body, start an involuntary river-dancing seizure every 30 seconds. I lay there for 10 minutes, knowing full well that if I went upstairs to get another Requip specifically for this neurological problem, the wheels would come off the wagon. And they did. And the wagon drove off a cliff into a tribe of Apaches waiting below to eat all the food in the wagon.
At 10:35 PM, I took another Requip (a medication for restless leg syndrome my doctor said might help with Myoclonus and did a little at first before I had to bump it up to 4x the recommended dose and it still wasn’t working) then, sheepishly, trudging into the kitchen where I consumed 10 Ritz crackers with butter, followed by the last of a bag of some healthy, no grain “tortilla chips” I had purchased at the natural foods store, but with about half a jar of cheese sauce I did not buy at the natural foods store but at the gas station (I guess I felt good about it because it wasn’t the little tin of fluorescent cheese sauce that doubles as fuel for the Airbus A320), and a handful of dry-roasted peanuts. By the time I was getting into the cheese sauce, I had thrown reason, logic and self-control completely out the window and had moved on to frozen blueberries drenched in extra virgin olive oil (Both on the Genius Foods list! Maybe! Hell I don’t know. At this point I was dipping the Onion and Mustard Pretzel Chips in peanut butter and washing it down with kombucha because why not.)
After the feeding frenzy, I stumbled downstairs and crawled into bed. The next morning, I stumbled into the kitchen to see the wasteland of bags, wrappers and thawed blueberries on the floor and felt …
Just fine, actually. See, I had stepped on the scale right before the kitchen and it said …
I haven’t weighed 194 lbs. ever. Not during puberty or football and swimming in high school or when I took up running in college or weight lifting after I got sober or when I ran the half-marathon two years ago. I haven’t weighed 194 lbs. EVER.
So, I calmly cleaned up the wreckage of the night before and took my dog to the park and indulged in a sensible breakfast of eggs, sausage and guacamole. Then I read for a little while, then weighed myself again and again the scale said 194. The next day was Monday, so I resumed my new habit of intermittent fasting and didn’t eat until after work that day, then weighed myself before bed. 196 pounds. Then, after a week of this routine, I weighed myself last Friday. 198 lbs. And 198 lbs. the next two days. So, as I suspected would happen, 2 days of fasting, then resuming my eating schedule as usual, and I’m within shouting distance of my target weight for my body type of 180 lbs. I have never felt this good about my weight in my adult life and I have found the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.
Want to know what it is? It will absolutely blow your mind. Here it comes …
Don’t eat so much.
Forget the dietary tips about more frequent, smaller meals so you are regulating your metabolism. Forget Weight Watchers and Atkins (although curbing your carb intake is definitely a good idea because despite what the FDA or USDA or any other federal bureau says, you don’t need carbs at all in your diet.) Forget low-fat diets and starving yourself. As many of the dietary gurus are saying these days, eat less and when you do eat, eat real food. You will suffer a few bouts of “hangry” when you think you’re supposed to be eating breakfast or lunch at first, but if you don’t indulge those cravings, your body will eventually thank you. You’ll feel better and, occasionally, you can even indulge in a sweet. Like 72% dark chocolate or a few spoonfuls of ice cream.
Maybe even a Lemon Oreo.