So I completed my Vegan August Challenge and liked it so much I have decided to keep it going through September. For this month I am adding Intermittent Fasting. Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is where you voluntarily abstain from eating or drinking anything with calories during a specific time frame each day. There are several ways of doing this. My particular route will be approximately an 8hr eating window where I can consume up to 1600 calories and a 16hr period where I no longer can have any calories. (I still drink tea and water).
Day 4 “The wheels of the bus go off and off”
I’m kind of burying the lead but let me digress a bit since I did have a weigh-in. So another 2 pounds off. That makes a total of 8 pounds in 5 weeks. There’s a big part of me that wants to say “Meh” about that, but then I remember if I keep the pace it could be 80 pounds in 50 weeks. Now that would be exciting. So, baby steps.
Alright, as the title implies (or is it infers?, those to always mess me up) but yeah, I fell off the wagon. I kept vegan so I was still good at that. But I ended up breaking my fast. I knew given my late work hours and job stress that coming home after midnight and going to bed without eating anything was going to be tricky. I wasn’t wrong. The weird part was it was totally unconscious eating. I was halfway through before I even realized I was even eating. Mindfulness is essential to success. It’s too easy for my brain to just go into automatic pilot. Especially as brain-dead and numb I feel when I get off work. What surprised me is I didn’t beat myself up. I just thought to myself “alright, what happened?” Then I did an inventory of ways I can avoid the same mistake, I even acknowledged that it may happen again. I will fall. I will even fall often. I just can’t stay down.
Day 5 Mental Hunger vs Tummy Hunger
Probably the number one reason I need to stick with I.F. (intermittent fasting) is I am finally starting to get a handle on the difference between mental and physical hunger. Physical hunger is your body sending a message to your brain that the fuel gauge is getting on “E” and you need to refuel. It is a physiological response. The signal for mental hunger is very similar but the reason is vastly different. There are a lot of people who don’t have eating issues and are at a balanced weight but I think that even they have the response built in them, but they may just react differently. They only person I can speak for is me. In my case, the mental hunger seems to stem from two places hurt and stress. One is punishment, one is reward. If I am hurting it is usually the most common feeling is depression.
Freud said depression is anger turned inward. Up to the point I had read that I never knew what i was actually feeling is anger, to be more precise thwarted anger. I don’t really express anger much. I grew up with a rage-aholic. And all I saw from anger is loss of control. I have a fear if I ever truly get angry I will not be able to stop, like my parent. So I end up swallowing a lot of anger (and a lot of pizzas). I was able to substitute the food for cigarettes in my twenties and thirties but since I haven’t smoked in a long time. Food came back. So I have a pretty warn button to eat when I am hurting. I don’t eat to ease the pain as much as it is to punish me for feeling bad in the first place. This is the worst kind of hunger because it is punitive and can lead to binges. But luckily for me it isn’t that common of an occurrence.
The most common form is stress related hunger. It is usually due to when i am overtaxed mentally or emotionally. Given the stressful nature of my job. (I work nightshirt on a prayer line) I have a real problem some nights when I get home at midnight. This hunger is an attempt to plug the hole, to appease myself or to reward myself for having gotten through. I sometimes do a trade off of sorts.I made it through the night, now I get to reward myself. Both of the impulses are inherently ingrained and it wasn’t until just recently that I could even name them. Naming them is the first step in healing them.
Day 6 “If it ain’t fixed, don’t break it.”
Another pattern I have uncovered is my proclivity to “double down” when I fall of the wagon. By that I mean when I fail to attain my goal and eat something that isn’t on the diet or when I am supposed to be fasting, I just justify eating poorly the rest of the day. “Well, the day is shot anyhow. I’ll just start again tomorrow.” It’s kind of the same logic as saying, “Oh no, I let the battery on my phone run down. Might as well just get a hammer and smash it in to bits”. I did this when i failed to keep my fast the other night, and again tonight when I ate something after my eating window had expired. This is what is commonly called “Stinking thinking”.
In Buddhism the words ‘right’ ‘wrong’ and ‘sin’ (and whatever is the opposite of ‘sin’) aren’t really used. In it’s place are the words “skilled’ and ‘unskilled’. I like that because it doesn’t imply broken, but something with learning you can overcome. Since I am becoming aware of the things I am doing that are ‘unskilled’ I an striving to relearn better ways.
Day 7 “The long Journey home”
Since I spent some time talking about the ways I erred, I would like to commend myself on a few things I am getting more ‘skilled’ (there’s that word again). For one thing, I am glad that even after failing twice in six days, I am still even more determined to maintain the I.F. The strongest incentive is actually because i am now learning how I self-sabotage. This makes me want to break the pattern. I also am working on treating myself more compassionately. How I treat myself is a direct correlation to how I treat others. You can not truly love your neighbor if you deny yourself the same love. It’s odd that I cut through the month of vegan thing like a knife through butter (okay, soy butter) but the I.F. messed me up almost right from the beginning. It’s not going to stay easy. faith is the only way I’ll get through this. (Help me, George Michael!)