Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fasting, Dieting, and Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream

I've just ended a 3-day spiritual fast and I didn't die like I thought I would so I'm going to continue with a modified version of it to see if I can drop about 30 of the excess pounds I gained when middle age caused my metabolism to come to a screeching halt and my thyroid went haywire all at the same time. I gained the pounds very quickly so I want to lose them very quickly.

Matthew 6 says I'm not supposed to talk about or brag about fasting but it's over now so I hope it's okay to talk about it afterwards. I won't share any details about the spiritual part but I will talk about the food part and my plan to continue it as sort of a diet. I guess if I get struck by lightening or I gain 15 pounds, then I'll know I shouldn't have said anything at all.

For 3 (excruciatingly long) days I drank only fruit juices, vegetable juices, broth, green tea, and water. I ended my fast last night with a bowl of plain white rice and found it difficult not to eat the bowl and spoon when I finished. My plan for now is to continue consuming massive amounts of mostly liquids (and a multi-vitamin) but I will add a few sensible solid foods each day just to maintain normal brain function and the ability to hold myself upright.
The first day of the fast I went to the grocery store to buy juices and bottled water. That was a huge mistake. If you're planning to fast for any reason whatsoever, take my advice and go to the store BEFORE you get started. It was a cruel punishment to walk up and down the aisles looking at all the food I was intentionally denying myself. I broke down in the ice cream aisle and bought a half gallon of Blue Bell Sea Salt Caramel ice cream. I will reward myself with a small bowl of it when I reach my weight loss goal or when I reach Thursday. Whichever comes first.

Before I go any further I should probably address the juices lest anyone suggest I buy a juicer and live happily ever after. It works great for some people and I'm happy for them and wish them a long and healthy life with their juicer. I have tried juicing. I was not impressed. I found juicing to be time consuming, expensive, messy, sometimes gross, and more of a lifestyle commitment than I am willing to make. I am not looking for a significant lifestyle change. I do need to adopt some healthier eating habits but the key word there is "eating".

Before I started I had to Google for information on exactly how to fast. I researched the different types of fasts, chose the one that I felt led to do, then read everything I could find pertaining to it. Most of what I read said the second day would be the most difficult. In my experience, the first day was the most difficult. My stomach growled all day and was not the least bit appreciative of the gallons of liquids I tried to use to satisfy it. Evenings were the worst but maybe that was because my family was home and they selfishly made themselves food to eat. Food that smelled really, really good.

The second day was actually a little easier and I was surprised to find that there is a limit to how hungry you can get. Well...for me anyway. I have no idea if it works the same for everyone. I thought that each day I would get progressively hungrier until it became unbearable. Instead I found that I plateaued at a level of hungry that was miserable but tolerable. Maybe it was kept in check by the liquids I was drinking, I don't know.

I had initially intended to fast for 4 days but by the 3rd day I could see that I had reached my limit. I wasn't any hungrier than I was the day before but I was still starving, becoming more forgetful than usual, and having unreasonable thoughts such as, "Wow, I sure could go for some moldy cheese right now or maybe some tripe tartare." So I made peace with the idea of ending my fast a day earlier than I had originally planned.

I really didn't expect to last for more than a day but since I made it for 3 days and didn't drop dead or eat anything weird out of desperation (after doing a load of whites, the dryer lint looks an awful lot like meringue), I felt like I might be able to turn this fast into a temporary diet and keep going until I've lost the extra pounds I'm tired of carrying around.

I've never needed to diet before so this is new territory for me. I don't really have a specific diet plan yet but I do have some ideas. According to the girls on those Gypsy reality shows I need to eat a lot of foods doused with malt vinegar. I like malt vinegar and I have a cast iron stomach so this shouldn't  be a problem. I also need to consume some lemon juice every day. I like lemon juice so this will be easy to do as well.

Asians are generally very thin so I thought about what they eat. I know they consume a lot of fresh vegetables but that requires frequent trips to the grocery store or farmer's market which I've already determined to be extremely painful. Plus there's a lot of prep work involved and even when I'm at my best it's risky for me to...ya know...hold a knife. My diet brain is even fuzzier than my normal fuzzy brain so I will keep the fresh veggies limited mostly to what I can buy ready-to-eat, like those baby carrots that I love. I'll make an exception for the cucumbers that I can't wait to soak in vinegar.

Asian people also eat a lot of rice so I'm going to eat that too. I know it's not particularly good for you, but I'm a carb addict and I think a bowl of rice would be slightly better for me than a box of donuts, which is what I'm really wanting right now. I'm going to eat baked potatoes too for the same reason. I love carbs and starches so if I allow myself to eat them in some foods then maybe I won't be so tempted to cheat with that box of donuts. That's my theory anyway.

I am going to do my best to avoid empty calories and simple sugars as much as I possibly can. No ice cream, snack cakes, Oreos (God help me), Thin Mints, chocolate, etc. I will allow my usual fat-free nondairy creamer that I put in my coffee every morning. And I will allow myself a spoonful of honey in my afternoon hot tea. Other than that all sweets will be accompanied by self-loathing and guilt, which I am morally opposed to so no sweets. Except that bowl of ice cream. But it has salt in it so it's practically a vegetable.

Today I have had nothing but liquids and a bowl of tomato soup. I'm making a cup of green tea right now (with lots of lemon) and later I'll have either a bowl of plain Basmati rice or half of a plain baked potato.

It's funny how small amounts of bland foods sound really, really good when they're the only thing you've had to eat all day. Maybe that's why "watching what I eat" has never worked for me before. I didn't allow myself to get hungry enough before I started.

I also discovered that small portions are really all I can handle which is strange because portion-wise I can usually eat more than my husband. I don't think my stomach has shrunk, it's probably too soon for that. But when your stomach has been void of all solids for several days, it sort of freaks out when you reintroduce them. Even the tomato soup I had earlier today made me a little queasy. I'm okay with queasy, it keeps me from overdoing it.

I should probably add a disclaimer: Don't do what I do. This is not a healthy way to diet, I am well aware of that fact. This is an attempt to drop some pounds really fast and then go back to eating normally...but hopefully smarter. I gained this extra weight several years ago but it has remained steady all that time so despite my lousy eating habits I haven't gained any more weight in several years. So in my mind I'm thinking that all I have to do is shed the excess pounds and then I can maintain that weight with little or no effort since I'm not actively gaining. Yeah. We'll see.

If you want to see how this adventure turns out, check my Facebook page. I'll be posting updates there. Or "update", depending on how long I can stick to the plan.