Sunday, June 3, 2012

That new plan I mentioned: Ten Pounds Down...

Eggplant veggie burger with Tahini cream sauce and spring salad mix

I’m going to lose 10 pounds. Yes, yes I am. When I first began exploring veganism, my focus was definitely more on improving my health than on achieving any kind of weight loss goal or changing my physical shape. Still, within the first couple months of following a mainly vegan diet, I easily lost around 15 pounds. Nearly a year later I’ve kept about 10 of those pounds off without having to make any special effort to do so. I’m certainly very happy about this. However, I’ve now come (or I should say returned) to a place where I’m not happy with my body. 

A big part of this discontentment is that I don’t feel as healthy as I’d like. The other part is that I have always been very critical of my body and weight and I’m going through another episode of that. I grew up in a family that was, and remains to this day, very weight centric. Throughout my childhood I was essentially praised and, for lack of a better word, admired for being “the slim one”— “Skinny Minny” was my favorite nickname. As I never felt particularly pretty as a child, being thin became very important to me—in my mind it was the one physical thing I had going for me. Although in adulthood I feel a lot more confident in my overall “physical appeal” I still haven’t been able to do away with that weight preoccupation. I’m sure this isn’t an uncommon story.

 So very recently I decided to take an honest look at how I currently feel about my body, to actively work through some things instead of just trying to brush the negativity aside. I didn’t try to silence my self-critique with “you should be happy with yourself no matter what thoughts.” Rather I had a conversation with myself, simplified in the following transcription:

Me 1- Morgan, are you happy with the way your body looks and feels?
Me 2- No
Me 1- Well in YOUR case should there be anything wrong with setting a goal of how you  want your body to look and working towards that? What is fundamentally wrong with that?
Me 2- Good question. Hmm nothing I think.

And so I was resolved.
There are two reasons why I feel like this is ok:

 One,  I’m doing it for my own self-approval (acknowledging that yes the quest for that self-approval might stem from an unhealthy place and being fully willing to explore that if that’s the case). I think the majority of people in my life would at least raise an eyebrow at the idea of me losing 10 pounds. And when I think about that, I don’t give a shit; My goal is to be comfortable with myself and so far no amount of “you look great!” comments from friends, family, or strangers(although they are nice to hear) have been significant in helping me to achieve that. 
Two, and this is the most significant reason, having a goal to look a certain way and lose a specific amount of weight is really just a way for me to incorporate healthy practices that I should already have firmly established in my life. I think if I were already living in a way I approved of health-wise then I’d be more accepting of my body ( this may not be true but it’s my hypothesis for now). I would know for sure that it was already the way it was supposed to be. Knowing that I’m not doing all that I’m capable of to gain and maintain optimal health, especially since that’s something I’m passionate about, however, definitely creates a lot of mental unrest for me. Ok, that’s putting it mildly. It kills me! Lol.

The unknown and "what ifs" kill me. My lack of self-discipline kills me. You see, I’m not planning on doing anything crazy like starving myself. I plan on eating well, sleeping adequately and exercising almost every day—and keeping all of that up for an indefinite period of time. If after doing all of this for a while, I realize that my body actually will not drop anymore weight then I’ll be fine with simply being healthier. But for now I want to see what I can make the ‘ole girl do.

I also realize that this could become an idol for me. It might already be one. I’m going to work through that as well.

The plan is simple:

Food: plant-based and unprocessed 90% of the time. Specifically meaning no meat, no dairy, and no refined grains/ grain products, refined sugars, refined oil (only extra virgin olive and coconut oils) no excess salt, and nothing with additives, preservatives, artificial or "natural" flavorings.  I will make a few  minor exceptions for planned social activities (for example I know I will be eating custard tomorrow because getting custard is all a friend of mine wants to do for her birthday haha).

Exercise: 45 to 60 minutes 6 days of the week, broken down into two 23-30 min sessions if necessary

Sleep: 8 hours every night

See? Simple

Ultimately my goal is optimal health (as far as I’m in control). I have several ailments (and i've battled these for yeaaaaars) that I want to see resolved and I’m convinced (from all the reading and research I've done) that through eating a nutrient dense, crap free, diet, they can be. Sadly my vanity has turned out to be a stronger motivator than the plain awfulness of suffering from allergies, chronic stomach pain, anxiety and fatigue: /. Go figure. I am sure this will change once I become addicted to the feeling of being truly healthy. But for now, it’s Ten Pounds Down to a healthier me.

 Of course, I’ll post regular udpates of my progress. Maybe even pictures! We’ll see.

 Stay tuned!

"Tofu Fish Fillet" with salsa and romaine.