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The Thanksgiving Hangover, Self-Esteem and Weight Loss
This would have been written yesterday but I was hungover most of the day. Not from alcohol, like normal people, but from food. And not from sugar, like normal people, either. My temple's health destroyers are grains and legumes. Starches.
Just my luck: comfort food makes me wish I were dead.
On the bright side, I discovered the self-esteem and weight loss connection. I know how to lose weight (mentioned briefly in the cliff notes) which increases my self-esteem. Makes sense, yeah, but I wasn't expecting the bonus!
Self-Esteem and Weight Loss... Can You Fix One with the Other?
Some people say no. A few weeks ago, one of my favorite bloggers said:
"You cannot fix self esteem issues with weight loss. The two have very little to do with each other."
Whoa, what? To say I strongly disagree would be putting it mildly. Perhaps she meant "in a perfect world where all women are sane because they have never watched TV or read a magazine, the two would have very little to do with each other." Right or wrong, in my world, they are deeply and (probably) irrevocably enmeshed.
What Is Self-Esteem?
"Self-esteem" is a psychology term used to reflect your overall emotional evaluation of your worth. Self-esteem encompasses beliefs (I am competent, I am worthy, I suck) and emotions (triumph, despair, pride, shame). Self-concept is what we think about the self. Self-esteem is how we feel about it.
Nathaniel Branden defined self-esteem as "...the experience of being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and being worthy of happiness." He says self-esteem is the sum of self-confidence (personal capacity) and self-respect (personal worth). It's a consequence of your judgement of your ability to face life's challenges, to understand and solve problems, to achieve happiness and be given respect.
Losing the ability to control my body -- after YEARS of having it do my bidding on a whim -- deeply affected my self-esteem. Weight loss was a problem I used to be able to solve and, suddenly it seemed, I could not. In fact, ask any woman who's hit menopause if your body doesn't turn on you in ugly, uncontrollable ways. Stand out of reach, if you do.
If you haven't gotten there yet, read this list and brace yourself. It is hugely disturbing. Not to mention unattractive. And, hey, notice the first question in the comments is about weight gain.
Back to the Exciting "Grains and Legumes Hangover"
The first of these struck while we were living in Costa Rica, just starting to get serious about cleaning up our diets. I woke up one morning so desperately and eerily-familiarly sick, I feared I'd been struck drunk the night before.
You know the hangover I'm talking about: the kill-me-now headache that takes 10 aspirin over several hours to even BEGIN to address. The inability to get out of bed except to drive the porcelain bus. Which you do A LOT.
Thank goodness I did not have to be anywhere that morning because I was not human until that afternoon. Even my real hangovers, although just as horrific, didn't last that long.
Of course, I was younger then: I stopped drinking at 32yo. Not only a mere slip of a girl, but wicked fit from all those years of teaching body sculpting. That had to have helped.
Once recovered, I needed to figure out how that happened so I could keep it from happening again. Looking back over the food I'd eaten the day before, I made a list of possible culprits. It was pretty easy to spot: turns out that, just before bed, I had a big bowl of warm, fluffy white rice just outta the cooker.
Oh no. Rice? Really?
This was very, very bad news. White rice is an all-time favorite go-to food. No matter how bad things are, eat a bowl of white rice with butter and salt and the world is good again.
At least until the headache pounds down the next morning. Which it does without fail these days after a night of rice or mashed potato debauchery.
Here's an interesting bit of trivia gleaned from a fascinating movie called Kymatica. Fascinating along the lines of What the Bleep Do We Know? and Thrive -- highly recommended. One of the points the film hammers home is the fact that a parasite excretes chemicals to make you want it. Creepy, right?
Well, it seems there are foods like that, sugar being a prime example. You eat some, you feel good from the sugar rush, you want more. Starches -- white rice, potatoes, beans, bread -- are definitely like that for me: I eat them, I feel GOOD, I want more.
But it goes a step farther with me and starches, right into mind-control creepy, like those foods do something to me when I smell, see or taste them that prevents me from resisting or stopping.
Yeah, I said, "do something to me," like those foods were aliens taking over my body.
I know, I know: this sounds like a whole new level of denial, right? But this mysterious compulsion is at the heart of alcoholism: something clicks in a new alcoholic's brain around alcohol so that "just saying no" doesn't even occur to us. We are drunk before we remember we weren't supposed to drink that.
Same thing with starches, my don't-eat-that signal malfunctions just before eating (despite recent hangovers) and my stop-eating-you're-full malfunctions while eating. Consequently, I don't stop until stuffed. Stuffed as opposed to simply satisfied. It's more than shut-off; it's you-are-in-another-world-while-eating territory. I'm calling it starchism. Catchy, huh?
Here's something else: before the Whole30, 90% of my meals had a heap 'o starch in it. Consequently, I spent most of my time overly full and underly satisfied. I'm sure there's a book on this somewhere... I always have my epiphanies AFTER someone else made a million selling a book on the topic. Sigh.
Combatting Starchism or How to Re-Hear the "I've Had an Elegant Sufficiency" Signal
After doing the Whole30, which I realize I hated because, in order to comply, I had to remove every single comfort food for 30 days. This will piss you off. I mean, you take away all the foods that make you happy and what's left? Pissed off. Perhaps a little rage. >:(
I lost 6 pounds during the Whole30. Day 31, dairy and raw honey were added back in so life would be worth living! But grains and legumes stayed out--it was easy now--and 5 more pounds came off. Without exercise, too, not even walking.
And I stopped eating when I was satisfied. I was never "stuffed" on this eating plan. Not once. I didn't have to think about it... it just happened that way. Talk about a bonus!
The weight was steadily dropping until late October when I had to go on the road. Not only is road food ALL industrial and full of starches, but on the road, you need comfort foods. The road is hard on a body, hard on a soul. Food is all you got.
Up to yesterday, I've probably gained back 5 pounds but it's all good. I know how to lose it now. I'm back in charge of my body--at least, the weight part! That does wonders for my self-esteem, that feeling of being in charge of my body, of my life.
So... Give Up Grains and Legumes For GOOD?
Here are my choices with alcohol: I can never drink again one day at a time and live a life worth living. OR I can drink and die one of three ways: in an accident or a hospital, in jail, or in a psych ward. Alone because, if I drink again, my life and I will not be pretty and no one will want to be around us.
Anybody here ever quit smoking? Same deal: all or nothing for most of us.
Well, same deal with starches and me: I can take them off My Plate and be in charge of my weight and my health. Or I can eat starches uncontrollably and be fat and unhappy. Hmmm... let's see... which way should I go...?
Ok, maybe not forever. Let's say for the foreseeable future. Plus, I'm going to look at the GAPS diet, actually read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's book, because maybe my sensitivity to grains and legumes can actually be healed. Along with a bunch of other stuff... wow. It's worth a shot and, heck, I'm halfway there!
But, just for today (we drunks like saying that), starchism is not a problem as long as I don't pick up the first forkful! The insidious weight gain has stopped and I feel FABULOUS.