Fasting reminds me why I don’t diet anymore

Yesterday, and again today, I have breath tests to take at 1:15 in the afternoon.  In preparation for these tests, I am not to eat or drink anything (aside from water) for at least 12 hours prior. Then, during the entirety of the 3 hour test, I am not to eat or drink anything, including water.  So I will be sans-food and drink (thank goodness I love water at least) from dinner one night until dinner the next.

Despite being empowered by all the comments over at Kate Harding’s post for how to get through one of those days when that overwhelming social pressure to diet starts to take root in my mind; I STILL found that little Inner Demon was tugging on my logic, trying to get me to take these two days of fasting as a little mini diet.  I mean hey, if I could do it (“it” being…you know…not eating) for 12 hours (getting up at 5:30 am to get a half day in at work no less), maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to just eat a tiny dinner and keep it up for a few days.  I mean, it’s all just a matter of calories, right (sarcasm)???

Then, I woke up yesterday.  The day started fine.  I thought to myself “Self, (heehee) you can TOTALLY do this!  You’ll make it through the day until 5; no sweat.” (The little Inner Demon at this point adding “Yeah and you might lose a few pounds… *rubbing his little hands together with glee*”).  I still felt alert, eager to get through the day.

Then I got to about 9 am.  Usually I’ve had a good egg and some toast by now and am heading for my apple or pear snack.  I was feeling a bit foggy but still, no worries, right?  I shrugged off the feeling and plugged along, drinking more water for that temporary fullness feeling.

By 11am though I couldn’t deny that my body was a touch irritated at me and wanted something more than MORE water.  I felt cranky.  My mind wasn’t focusing as well on my work. I didn’t really feel as energetic as I’d (or the little Inner Demon) had figured I would.  Normally I take a 25 minute walk down and up a huge hill at 11:45 as part of my lunch break.  I had to beg off though because I was starting to feel dizzy.  By now I hadn’t eaten anything since 9pm the night before; 14 hours ago (“Awww”, says the Inner Demon, “Well you could stand to skip a few meals, right?”). I tried to ignore the headache that was forming.

Finally, it was time to leave and head to my appointment.  I was more than a little irritable (not really amused with the nurse asking “Are you sure you didn’t eat anything?  No tea or coffee even??”  Um no.  That would have felt like SUSTENANCE!).  I drank that little cup of sugar water (Oh man, tasted great.  Like melted, granular gummy bears or something) and did my first little breath test.

Then came 3 hours of sitting in the waiting room in between those little breath tests.  I started squirming.  No water to drink.  My body felt weak and jittery.  I couldn’t concentrate on the book I had brought to read.  I was dreaming about biting into the two little apples I had brought for after the test.  Salivating over how luscious that first bite would be.

Then, I passed beyond hunger and into the stage, which any rabid dieter will recognize I’m sure, when you are no longer feeling hungry.  That stage when your mind feels a bit light and unfocused, your limbs feel weak and now you feel nauseous.  Yeah.  Still that little Inner Demon tried to persist, “But see?  Only a few hours and you don’t even MISS food!  The thought of it is making you sick!”

When the test was finally over, I slowly made my way to my car.  Once inside, I took out that first apple.  That first bite was heaven.  I ignored the nauseous feeling, kept eating that wonderful, body nurturing, energy giving, life-sustaining apple.  On the trip home I started to feel better.  The second little apple was just as tasty.  I felt my head start to clear.  Felt my limbs grow less leaden.  My mind felt more alert.  Like a machine getting the oil it needs to start moving again, my body woke up and started to work again. I breathed a sigh of relief.  But I refused to stop at those little apples; I would still have a full dinner.  How could I not??? I had lived through a crash course reminder of Diets 101 and I wanted no part.  The Little Demon had to slink away.

After all day literally denying my body any sustenance, how could I have FORGOTTEN how awful it is to do that on a daily basis?? The headache, the loss of energy, that fog that my head was in; that was how it felt anytime I tried to “merely” reduce my calories and increase my exercise in the vain hopes that doing so would magically scoop all that fat out of my body.  All those times that I tried so hard to keep myself under a ridiculous calorie limit… 2,000 or 1,5000 or 1,000.  Why?  So I could be less productive?  Less alert?  MAYBE get slimmer??!?!?   

My good lord, WHY?!?!?  It isn’t as though the body DOES function like a high-precision Grab-The-Toy game.  You can’t just CHOOSE to eat less and tell your body where to take those missing calories from!  One less apple doesn’t mean you get to take a turkey baster to your ass and suck out the corresponding amount of fat.  NO!  Instead your body takes the energy from where it will.  Your mind, your heart, your muscles; anywhere!

Why do we women (and some men) do that??  How is it that a society claiming to protect our health, with our best interests at heart, wants us to do something which so totally destroys our ability to live a full and healthy life?? How is it “healthier” to live in a constant fog from a lack of energy when we deny ourselves the nourishment we need and deserve?  I’m not just talking about fasting, as some might object to the parallels drawn.  It is just that fasting reminded me of all the bad “side-affects” of dieting; of trying to force my body to accept fewer calories (less energy) and still somehow function just as well or better.

Well no more.  My body KNOWS what it needs.  I just need to keep on listening to it and understand what it is saying.  So what if I’m not the conventional size 0?  Or size 8?  Or size 14?  I am ME.  And I refuse to function as a zombie anymore, hoping that doing so will (against all logic and reason) make me “healthier”.  Health is not about my size.  It is about my ability to function as a human being; my ability to use the energy that I feed into this lovely body to dance and sing and love and live. 

So you hear that, little Inner Demon?  I will not be toyed with.  I’ve been down the road of diets and I don’t like where it leads.  My fat body and I will take this less travelled path; and hope others will follow; where we will eat what we need and live the best we can.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

…Robert Frost (The road less travelled)

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18 thoughts on “Fasting reminds me why I don’t diet anymore

  1. Well then, like corseting, I do know that dieting (fasting too) makes me certainly much weaker and less inclined to think sharply on difficult topics that aren’t related to when I get to eat the next few bites so it is a very effective tool to supress 1/2 the population :(

  2. Yes! I know that feeling – and its taken me years to realize that its not a “silly”, lack of will power thing, but my body letting me know that it needs fuel.

    Now, if I could only clue my Mom into the same thing.

  3. It’s a hard path sometimes, FA, I get those little demons sometimes too, I think they must have little pychic prickles like burrs they stick so tight.

    I always like to schedule those starvation tests for first thing in the morning, that way I can sleep through most of the deprivation time. I get not just foggy, but cranky when I’m hungry. As the mother of young children, there’s enough crankiness around here without me adding to it.

  4. I think people with insulin resistance tend to have stronger reactions to these starvation-and-then-sugar-water-load tests. It’s hard on our systems. We tend to get low blood sugar from lack of intake, then we get a flood of straight sugar and a huge insulin surge afterwards, then a crash. It can make you feel pretty darn crappy.

    I don’t know if you are insulin-resistant or why you are taking these tests, but many women of size are insulin-resistant and have experiences like this on tests such as these. It’s especially nasty in pregnancy.

    As you say, it’s a good reminder not to do this sort of thing on a regular basis so you don’t screw with your body.

    Good luck on your tests.

  5. I LOVE your blog!!! You are so hilarious and you are exactly right. I can’t wait to show my best friend! The poem is one of my favorites as well. Thank you for sharing! I think I’m going to be a regular! ;)

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  7. Several things. First of all, the very first god(dess) was the latter–a goddess–and not even faintly similar to today’s idiotic notions of comeliness/beauty/conformity/enslavedness. Secondly, I have a lot of personal experience with overweight people and with every one of them it started with a blood sugar problem. I mean, before the real weight gain shakiness between meals. Thirdly, a lot of what is throwing metabolisms out of kilter has to be human-contributed changes to the environment. In particular the addition of the once-savior antibiotics. If I recall correctly the girls that reach puberty more quickly because of this also have a higher percentage that consider themselves to have weight problems.

    I’m nearly six feet tall and occasionally make it back over 160 pounds again. I lost down to 140 last year–epilepsy. I have a mother, aunts, cousins related by blood, all with weight problems. Go back a couple of generations and it isn’t true.

    And dieting can definitely wreak havoc on your body’s system of balance, whatever you want to call it.

    As far as Freud or behaviorism, there are some fatal flaws. I do actually have a degree in psychology.

    Keep trying to achieve what you want to achieve…so try to define the wanting first. Know you can believe in yourself. Know you’re lightening others’ days and giving them smiles. You’re a good person. But you don’t get to beat yourself up any more. That’s the next resolution in Congress; we have to give up self-flagellation as a way of life.
    –Glenn

  8. As a nutritionist-in-training, all this fad dieting and fasting gets me all worked up! It isn’t healthy, it isn’t going to work, and eating right or working out shouldn’t be about being able to squeeze into your teenage daughter’s jeans (though we’d all like to, sure)! Without the adequate amount of calories, from the right sources (like those apples, toast and eggs) and the right kind of exercise that will burn more fat than carbs, nobody’s ever going to lose anything but brain function. Even people who know better have their Inner Demons, and its good to see so many people taking a stand against them. :)

  9. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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