It’s a Lifestyle Change, Not Another Damn Diet

Because when your eating is disordered and you don’t want to starve, diets fail

I finally realized that my weight was too much for my body to handle and I was extremely uncomfortable.

6 feet, 285 pounds — my ankles were giving out, my gout was flaring up, the nerves in my legs were numb, I couldn’t twist around and wash my ass like I used to, and I had so many phantom aches and pains that I knew I needed to do something drastic.

But I didn’t want a rigid diet, and after 24 hours of trying, knew that intermittent fasting was no longer something I wanted to subject myself to. I wanted to eat until satisfied, and not starve. I didn’t want to be lightheaded and have headaches because my body wasn’t getting enough of what it needed.

I knew I needed to change what I was eating. As much as I love soda, I know it’s terrible for me, and as much as I want to dig into a steaming pile of white rice with every meal, it was packing fat on my body. I was also eating too much white bread and stopping at McDonald’s far too often.

I was eating to comfort myself — because to me, having indigestion, bloating, and bad acid was better than feeling anxious and depressed.

I knew I felt good when I was at 200 pounds, even though all the BMI calculators and weight charts said I should be lower (148 to 184 lbs.). Right now, I was well above and at 30% fat, but I knew if I could get healthy and move my body more, that figure would fall in line.

It was all connected, but I refused to do it with a starvation diet. I want to eat. I love to eat. But, I also didn’t want to be gorging on cups of butter and slabs of red meat, because I liked my cholesterol right where it was.

Atkins, keto, intermittent fasting — I tried them and hated how I felt, and this was all about how I felt, not how I looked, or what weight other people thought I should be. It wasn’t about showing off a post-pandemic body or looking good for Instagram.

I just wanted to be comfortable. Is that too much to ask?

Now, I eat when I want and how much I want. I eat as much fresh fruit and raw vegetables as I can, whole grain bread in moderation, and free-range and organic meats. I drink a lot of water, more than I have ever drunk. I take vitamins, and sometimes eat 4 to 6 times a day.

I eat much less than I ever did, but still as much as I want if I am comfortable afterward. I don’t eat until I explode. I eat slower, which helps give the food time to reach my belly.

I don’t drink sugary soda (I’m known to drink a Coke-Zero or two), juice, or milk (only because of my lactose intolerance). I avoid white rice, and so far, only rarely crave it anymore. I stay away from white bread as much as I can. I do enjoy a few noodle-based dishes like Pancit Canton and Bihon that fill me up fast and don’t get me sick to my stomach.

I eat what I want, but it turns out what I want is far less than I was eating before. The raw veggies fill all the dark corners and help me stay regular, and the extra water intake does more.

I feel better, so far, even though I am counting everything in baby steps. It was a victory when I could walk a kilometer without my ankle muscles giving out, and I cheered the first few times I finished a 10-minute yoga workout. I love the way yoga makes my body feel. Not only can I feel it work my muscles, but I’m stretching everything, and it is helping with my movement. I’m learning to breathe and using yoga to help my bloating. I relax better after yoga and I don’t feel so stiff.

This week, I’m going to start the 20-minute yoga workouts on YouTube and increase the number of steps I complete every day. I am trying to do 5000 steps right now, but soon that number will double when my legs and ankles can handle it.

After 3 weeks, I’ve lost 17 pounds, although the past week was only 2. I’ve not been trying to focus on weight, but I am also not avoiding the scale. I’m more focused on moving better and losing the midsection that limits my twisting and bending.

Another nice thing is that when I treat my body better and give it what it wants, my moods are better.

Less anxiety. Less stress. Less depression

I am more motivated, and my mind is sharper. I tend to write a lot more when I’m not so uncomfortable sitting at my desk.

My mind is not so chaotic, and the voices have been staying put in the background. I can still hear and feel them back there, but I give them as little attention as I can. For someone whose life has been ruled by the noise and chatter in my head, it feels good to be able to focus on something else.

Just don’t say I’m on a diet. I am changing my lifestyle, changing my life. Diets only fix the weight issue; they don’t consider the disordered eating and body image issues. Diets work on fat because you give your body less, but I want to be able to feel comfortable eating until I feel good.

Yes, I’m changing, and changing is difficult. Yesterday, I couldn’t help having a glass of Coke, when my in-laws forgot and bought a liter with lunch, and on Mother’s Day I ate too much of the kind of food I should be avoiding.

It’s a process and I am taking it day by day.

It feels good changing my habits because my habits weren’t working for me anymore. Just as I knew I had to quit smoking eventually when the need for nicotine was far outweighed by my need to live a long life.

Now, my need to be comfortable in my body and skin is greater than my need to drink Coke or eat a kilo of rice with each meal.

Remember: it’s a lifestyle change, not another damn diet.

Introverted essayist and creator- I am doing it my way and it might take a bit longer. Don't wait up!

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