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The Gift of Hunger

Friday, March 02, 2012

When I first started SparkPeople 11 months ago, I set my goal to lose 100 lbs in two years. So, accordingly, the calorie/fat/carb ranges were not horribly out of alignment with what I was sort of eating already. Cut 500 calories out per day (which really wasn't hard given that I knew where the offenders know) and I'd be able to take off a pound a week for the next two years.

But I'm impatient. And I got bored with the progress. And I slipped mostly off the wagon. Actually, I was sortof dragged behind it (thanks to my Spark Friends!) for most of the last 8 months. So I wasn't completely off, and I gained only a little back, but managed to keep most of my initial weight loss off.

So now I'm embroiled in this Lenten Losers contest and I need more. I need some serious results. I am....ON. A. DIET.

I know. I know. It's a lifestyle. But I've finally figured out that the lifestyle is do-able for me. I'm just extremely impatient to get there. So I re-calibrated my goals, and re-set what I want to do in SparkPeople, and came up with a calorie/fat/carb range that is about half of my BMR.

And I'm finding, through the day, that I'm feeling hunger occasionally. And I'm hearing my stomach growling (most often at night as I get ready for bed).

It used to be that I would hear people's stomachs growling and think "What the hell is wrong with her...doesn't she eat?" Now that I think about it, EVERY last one of those women were of a healthy body size. Some skinny, but none unhealthy. All of them were allowing themselves to feel hunger and then to recognize that true signal and allow it to guide them in their eating.

I'm still getting used to this idea. I don't want another compulsion to replace the overeating compulsion, but feeling hunger is a gift for me right now. It allows me to focus on what my body is saying and really respond. I will admit that it is tough sometimes to wait out the cooking time of my healthy food while my belly is growling. I want to eat everything in sight.

But as I'm getting used to this actual hunger feeling (which is usually accompanied by a headache and a grumpy me), what's more important is that I'm actually figuring out what I am feeling *BEFORE* I get to the point of actual hunger. Who knew there was such a continuum? There are signals my body gives me LONG before actual hunger sets in that are enabling me to start cooking earlier, drink more water in response to the signals and keep the actual hunger at bay, and take the time to make the best choices I can at the moment of putting food in my mouth.

I appreciate that it seems so elitist to say that hunger is a gift when countless others suffer that condition on a daily basis without relief. The irony of the obesity epidemic in America versus the abject poverty of other places in the world is not lost on me. In reality, it makes me appreciate more the wealth and variety of foods that are available to me, 24/7, 365 days a year. How amazing to have anything, ANYTHING I need to lose weight and be healthy so present. I have found a new depth of gratitude in a place where I wasn't expecting it.

And when this losing process is over, and I begin to learn the mysteries of 'maintenance', I know that by experiencing these sensations, I will be better armed for what probably is the more difficult part of the battle...the long term. Really, losing weight is easy. I've done it dozens of times. If I had a nickel for every pound I have lost in my life, I could buy myself the wardrobe I'm going to need in another 100lbs. But it's the keeping it off...the maintaining that will be my final and most difficult (and long lasting) battle. I consider the journey not just about the losing, then, but also about increasing my tool-set for the challenges to come.

So thank you, Hunger. I appreciate your gifts and will do my best not to squander the lessons. emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Well said. I found this post after doing a spark search. I'm realizing I am going to have to face.. hunger. I've never really looked at hunger as a gift.. thank you for your insight!
    2021 days ago
    I rarely feel actual hunger like my stomach growling... at the beginning, I didn't know how to recognize the different hungers. Such as emotional or boredom hunger. Now I still feel those hungers, but I know how to distinguish them. For me, it all came with finding a balance. That being said, I think what you described is part of the journey towards finding that balance and learning how to listen to your body. Eventually you may come to a point where your stomach growling may simply mean you didn't get enough protein or dietary fat during the day. (Fat is the biggest culprit for me... I'm an all or nothing type of girl, so when I watch what I eat I am often way too low on fat and this is when I feel hunger)

    Good luck on your journey!! Everyone's is different but I feel that stomach growling hunger is a step that you may have to overcome now, but not one that will necessary stay with you!!

    2031 days ago
    you have become a real "Sparker"! You have been listening to your body and learning how it talks to you. You will learn how it asks for nutrients, Calcium, Zinc, Magnesium etc in the form of fresh veggies which are not overcooked. It will tell you it would like some exercise and some moisturiser too.
    Here's to your "diet", we are all losing weight/getting healthy by altering our calorific intake so let criticism bounce off you. You know what you are doing, I'm sure you will do well
    2031 days ago
    When I began reading this I was thinking - don't go into the starvation mode as you don't need to be that hungry if you are eating properly. However as I continued to read, I understand what you are saying and appreciate your point of view. Yes, if you want to do things faster, this is what happens. I'm too old to be able to do this. I need the slower method which is working for me. Eating more protein might up my calories a bit but it makes me fuller and without the hungeries. Being a diabetic, I have to watch out for low blood sugar too. No right or wrong, it's whatever is good for each person, ;)
    2031 days ago
    2031 days ago
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