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What We Want and What We Need

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I mentioned in my previous blogs that I attempted veganism once in my past. Some may argue that I wasn't doing it correctly. They would be right. I abandoned it because it is not a lifestyle within my core beliefs. I would never be able to adhere to it. The faux meat substitutes were highly processed foods, and that did not fit with what I wanted for myself. Veganism without faux meat was an even further stretch, and not something that would fit for me either.

At a later point, I tried flexitarianism. I thought it would be the best of both worlds. It's not because I have an ethical problem with eating animal protein because I do not. I take a native American view of hunting and eating meat. The animal gave its life for me, and it deserves respect. By consuming the animal, it is now becoming a part of me.

I attempted flexitarianism because I thought it would be a good middle ground. As I could not be vegan, I knew I could not be vegetarian either. But maybe I could reduce my meat consumption by only eating it for dinner. This seemed like a great idea.

I did it for about a month. I felt fine, and I enjoyed the food very much. No processed frankenfoods, and I didn't have to eat faux meat substitutes. I ate yogurt and cereal for breakfast, quinoa and beans for lunch, and beef or chicken for dinner. It was a diet that I could support for a lifetime.

Except one problem.

My body didn't like it.

Mentally, the diet was there for me. But physically?

I didn't lose or gain weight, however, I was getting fatter. My scale weight stayed the same, but I could tell by how my clothes were getting tighter that I was losing muscle and gaining fat. I was baffled as to why.

The worst was when I looked in the mirror. I had dark circles appear under my eyes. I don't normally wear much makeup, but the dark circles forced me to wear concealer and foundation to cover it up. I also developed a disfiguring stye under my left eye. I didn't understand why I seemed to be deteriorating so quickly right before my eyes. It was frustrating, frightening and alarming.

According to my food logs, I was doing everything correct. I stayed within my calorie ranges. Avoiding meat until supper time meant that protein and fat stayed very low, which at the time I thought was a good thing. This was the best I had ever done to adhere to the standard low-fat recommended diet.

It was only by chance that I eventually linked my symptoms to my diet. I took a 'break' from my flexitarian schedule. With the increased protein, the sunken, black circles under my eyes disappeared. The stye took several more months to fully go away. After that, I concluded that even though I fundamentally liked the diet, I had to abandon it. This eventually lead me towards a lower grain, high vegetable, and moderate protein diet. AKA low-carb.

I'm not a carnivore or herbivore; I'm an omnivore. Veggies+protein, and this is what my body responds to.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I am not saying that because this was bad for me, therefore it is bad for everyone. I can't really know if your diet is right for you any more than you can know if mine is right for me. I'm not you. You're not me.

I have a problem with the dogmatism that there is a one size fits all solution to weight management. Dietary needs can vary due to genetic predispositions, allergies, and/or activity levels. I would eat very differently if I trained for a marathon, for example.

I'm not a fitness or diet professional, and I make no money from it. I don't have anything to gain if anyone follows the same diet that I do. If there's any agenda that I push, it's to suggest that if the diet you're following isn't working for you, then maybe it isn't the right one.

Even if it fundamentally fits your personal vision. The truth is the truth whether we believe in it or not. If your body doesn't like the food and exercise stimulus you're giving it, you don't get the results you want. What we want and what we need are not always in alignment, unfortunately.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm amazed at how you were able to put the pieces together and figure out how your diet was affecting you, more people should look so carefully at that! And kudos to you for not sticking to something that wasn't working for you even though you really believed it was good and healthy.

    1773 days ago
    Great blog! Your journey is a fascinating one for sure lady! I thank you for sharing all that you do.
    1774 days ago
  • BILL60
    Wise words from a wise lady.
    1776 days ago
    Such simple advice! But when it comes to food, diet and weight loss... there is soooo much fog, differing opinions and the poor misguided souls!

    1776 days ago
    I agree with the no one plan fits all point of view. It really is individual and sometimes on here I feel like I'm being preached to or sucked in my everyone & their fads. I eat what makes my body feel good and sometimes I indulge in things that don't but thats not all the time. Its crazy how the low fat/protein thing made your body react so drastically! I can relate in the sense of, my homeopathic friend suggested i try putting some maca root in my smoothies for energy & its supposed to balance out hormones (i have a bit of an imbalance) so i tried it and my body DID NOT like it at all. my face/neck broke out in deep pimples, make my heart race and i felt like I was on something ...soo that little experiment ended quick & now i have a bag of maca sitting in my cupboard. womp.

    Keep on finding whats right for you!!
    1777 days ago
    Absolutely we are all on our own journey and each of us has our own unique combo of foods that "work" or don't. Kudos to your keen sense of tuning into yourself! I have an image in my mind of someone who cracks a safe by carefully listening, sensing the tumblers inside falling into place and VOILA! You've got it!

    1777 days ago
  • _VALEO_
    Great job on listening to your body! You have to follow what works for you, physically and mentally.

    I am a vegetarian, but I never push it--it is usually the others who emphasize it, and sometimes make jokes on my diet. My diet is personal and fits my beliefs: I am in harmony with myself, that's all it matters.

    I hear you about the faux meat, and I don't like when it tastes like the real meat.
    I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but sometimes the lack of time and easy option have the best of our good resolutions.
    1777 days ago
  • AJB121299
    1777 days ago
  • JANET552
    Well said!! I believe we each must find what works for us. There is no one else in the world like you, or me, or anyone else. Therefore, why would it make sense that there could be a one-size-fits-all diet or exercise program. Thanks for the blog!
    1777 days ago
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