Fixing My Fuel Part 2

I had been searching for another doctor since it seemed time to give getting better another go. On a friend’s recommendation, I set up an appointment and went to see a new psychiatrist. I thought maybe he’d know of some new pill that might work better for me. After about a half hour of talking and listening to me explain my past and my present, he told me I didn’t need pills. He showed me some lamps in a magazine and told me to buy a sun lamp, which I sort of dismissed. He then said something that I remember to this day and has basically been the basis of my coping mechanism since: “Take a serious look at what you are eating. If you are putting garbage into your body, that’s all your body and brain have to work with, and eventually that’s what they will turn into. If it (food) comes in a bag, a box or a wrapper, don’t put it in your body. If you get serious about this for 6 months and come see me then, you’ll be a different person.”

Guess what? He nailed it. I never even went back, he was so right.

I took his advice. I cut out all the processed food I had been eating. I cooked meat and eggs and ate cheese. I had fresh salads, nuts and fruit instead of other snacks. And at the end of just one week, my head cleared and my body started to feel so much better. At the end of a month, all the weight I had gained on medication was gone – 10 pounds, gone just like that. And I kept it up for a good long time.

But then things in my life changed – I began working far away and commuting long distances. I started hanging out with people who drank a lot and ate crap, so that’s what I began doing again. Then I married into a wonderful Italian family. The food at my in-laws was delicious, but not at all what worked with my system. The funny thing was that these people ate this stuff their entire lives and were thin and healthy. But it didn’t work with my system. I also drank a lot by their pool and in front of their TV, which didn’t help either. Then my wife and I had a baby, and on top of my lousy nutritional habits, I stopped getting regular sleep. All of this combined to up my stress levels even higher than they were. I’m certain my cortisol levels were through the roof. I also even began to smoke again to cope.

I found myself having slid back into that nutritional swamp again, with the added issue of smoking again. As I was now over 30, this translated into easy weight gain. I bulked up to about 220 pounds, which was the heaviest I’d ever been. And it was not a muscular 220; it was a fat and sloppy 220. I did manage to quit smoking though. So there I was, 220, fat, tired, stressed out.

I had enough. I cut out mostly anything made of or with yeast, flour, added sugar, preservatives and other garbage. I resigned to eating only foods that came to me with the minimum amount of processing to transport them from production to me. I eat natural/organic meats when possible, mostly chicken. I eat loads of fatty fish. I try to stay away from pork due to the disgusting nature of factory pork farming, and try to limit my red meat intake to grass-fed and organic beef and if that’s not possible, lower-fat cuts. I freely eat anything that grows from plants – tree nuts, fruit, vegetables. I eat some dairy, but have seemingly developed some sensitivity to it, which most adults do by my age. And when you think about it, is it really normal that as Americans, we continue to nurse in adulthood, but in addition, nurse from another animal?

I had read about this diet before in many forms. It goes by many names and is the basis for lots of different types of popular low-carb diets. But the important thing for me is that I know it works for me. You may have to tinker with it to find what particular foods work and don’t for you. But the gist of it is exactly the advice my doc gave me years ago – if man’s hands touched a food more than to simply put it in some container, don’t put it in your body because it’s garbage for the most part. By default, that rules out most of what you see in the interior of any large grocery store. Now, I’m not saying to not take supplements or modern medicines or whatever else your doctor orders. I’m no doctor, and you need to make absolutely certain you consult with your doctor before embarking on any diet or exercise change as radical as this is for most people. But I am a guy who has been very nutritionally sensitive his entire life and knows what works and doesn’t work for me. I have tried low-fat diets. I’ve cut calories down to levels under 1500 per day and done cardio exercise for an hour per day 6 days a week. You know what that gets me? Tired, sick, and so pissed off at health and fitness that I quit caring, go back to beer and pizza and then I end up fatter and more depressed than I was. And then I stop moving altogether, sit on the couch and get more depressed and almost invariably end up with colds or other sicknesses because my immune system, taking its cues from me, quits too. Which brings me to motivation…

…Next time!

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