Happiness and Weight Loss

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By Julia Gumm

I was in a wedding once. The bride was a pushy sort, not exactly a “bridezilla”, but she wanted all the details of her special day to be in order as soon as possible. Among other things, that meant that I had to be fitted for my bridesmaid’s dress about a year before the ceremony. Now, I’m not one of those people who walks the earth taking up the same precise amount of space from season to season, year to year, know what I mean? The bride, knowing this as well as I did, hissed at me between gritted teeth “Now don’t you go losing a bunch of weight or something!”

Well, when the anticipated date arrived, I found that there was a lot more dress to my dress than I had realized. Actually, there was just less of me inside of the dress. Suffice it to say, the bride was exasperated. “WHY did you lose weight?!” She wanted to know, as if I had gone and done it on purpose to screw up the optics of her wedding. “Uh, I don’t know” I stammered, “I didn’t try to…” which was true. I hadn’t! And I had done something else not really on purpose either…it had just kind of happened with each inspiring and exciting experience I embraced building on the last: I got really happy.

Can happiness cause weight loss? I think so. It happened to me. If chronic stress causes weight gain, can’t the reverse be true?

The year that I was quietly dropping dress sizes was spent working full time in a little cafe which specialized in an orgasmic array of homemade desserts…none of which escaped my fork. White chocolate mousse pie, Key Lime pie, bread pudding, chocolate layer cake, homemade ice cream, hot fudge, real whipped cream. I ate it all in excess. We also served sandwiches, and I always ordered mine on a buttery croissant, with extra cheese, please. It was a veritable nightmare to behold for health minded folks everywhere, but I was getting slimmer and more energetic every day. I was pretty surprised by my shrinking waistline, as I was coming out of an adolescence marked by eating disorders and a dubious flirtation with various unsavory and addictive substances.This was the first time in many years that I was sober and eating at will. After an initial period of weight gain, the excess began to melt away as I became happier, healthier and more of a satisfied, confident person.

I adored working at that cafe. I understand that the place waitresses occupy in the hierarchy of societal functions isn’t supposed to be much to get excited over, but I really, truly loved that job. I had a boss who treated me like a valued human being rather than an unfortunate cost of doing business, as so many employers do. This allowed me to put my all into my job instead of withholding my best work out of resent for being unappreciated and unacknowledged, as is so often the case in the workplace.

I believed in the value of what I was doing. If you’re gonna eat, you oughta eat good, and good food was what I was serving up. I believe, with all my soul that people should indulge in wholesome simple pleasures like hot fudge sundaes.  I relished every opportunity to talk unhappy women who were wistfully eyeing the dessert case into just going for it and forgetting about “being good.” Good for what? They looked pretty miserable to me. What I was selling was self-acceptance and the freedom to let yourself go. I was selling it to my customers and I was selling it to myself, too.  And I got paid to do it! Not very much of course, but who cares? I didn’t. It was enough, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

I was thinking past my perceived limitations. After a lackluster showing in high school, I decided to push myself and sign up for a college philosophy class. Previously, I was a straight D student with the attention span of a gnat. In this class, I scored an A. Man, did that feel good. It made me think bigger.

I wanted to explore. I asked a co-worker to drive cross-country with me. We took everyone’s unwanted shifts and worked overtime for months, socking away our earnings to blow on the road. I would work endless hours, double shift, round the clock, but I never tired. We’d blare obnoxiously loud music and dance like idiots while sweeping and mopping after we closed. It was an unusually cold winter that year and I swear, I never wore a coat. I was warm all the time and I never got sick. I ate a heaps of beautiful, calorie rich foods, but I also moved more. Not out of desire to lose weight or whip myself into shape, but out of inspired, energetic spontaneity.

The only thing I did to be “health conscious” was take a daily calcium magnesium zinc supplement. Everything else was on auto-pilot for the first time in a long time, including how much cake I ate (a lot) and how much time I spent worrying about getting thinner (a little). I didn’t embrace a new religion. I didn’t find a new dietary dogma to subscribe to. I didn’t do any goddamned yoga. I simply unmoored myself from beliefs, feelings and disciplines that were holding me back. I let myself go, and lo, I went. In the process, I dropped 4 dress sizes. How ‘bout that?  It was oh-so Linda Bacon…

“I am no longer waiting to lose weight before I live my life fully.  Having freed up all the energy and time that I spent on dieting or obsessing about my weight or food and having let go of my shame about these, I have greater depth and fulfillment in my life, including deeper intimacy with others.  I don’t think about my weight, and it stays fairly consistent.  Oddly, after this new eating pattern became firmly rooted, I actually lost about thirty pounds.” 

So that’s how I became ecstatically happy and lost a bunch of weight. I got a low wage job at a sweet cafe, ate a bunch of cake, took a class and worked my ass off to pay for a road trip taken for no other reason than the hell of it. Pretty easy stuff. Now hold on, don’t rush out and get a crappy food service job. This isn’t the panacea, the universal key I stumbled upon that unlocks the secrets of contentedness. Waitressing for peanuts isn’t going to satisfy everyone- hell, it wouldn’t satisfy me at this point.

But it was what I needed, then. People need to identify what they need where they are at and go for it. One size doesn’t fit all, and you yourself will often need different things at different times. I desperately needed to reestablish a healthy relationship with food, and through eating to appetite (and beyond) the appealing, calorie dense foods that surrounded me, I did just that. I was able to repair an overwhelming backlog of psychological and metabolic damage I had incurred through years of over exercise and calorie restriction. Truthfully, it would have done me a lot of good to get my formerly chilly hands on 180D, because what Matt’s talking about is precisely what I needed then, and have needed at other points in my life when I’ve been stressed, depressed, cold, sad, sick, fat- all that fun stuff. I’ve been lucky enough to eventually intuit what my body needed and run with it, but it’s not always so easy to tune out the noise of conventional wisdom on your own.

Beyond my daily dose of dessert, I was just having fun with life. I had goals that I was meeting, was forming lasting friendships, performing a function I was good at and felt good about…simple stuff. Simple stuff, but so often elusive. Study after study shows the health benefits from being happy and that happiness is tied up in having basic needs met, feeling a part of something larger and more meaningful than oneself,  and somewhat surprisingly, cooperation and altruism. It’s no surprise then that our culture of self-promotion, over-work, consumption and forever keeping up with those damned Joneses can leave us feeling less than satisfied. When I was 19 years old, I experienced a moment in my life where I freely shed narrow beliefs about who I should be like, what I should look like and how good I could ever be. I embraced what was around me, ate what was around me, and chased my dreams, however humble they were. I worked in a cooperative environment. I was kinder, more creative, more confident, and by all counts, very very happy. And svelte to boot! Yep, that bridesmaid’s dress was positively swimming on me. Not that I cared. As delighted as I was to wear the thing for the wedding, I had no designs on EVER wearing it again. I mean really, periwinkle? C’mon.

81 Comments

  1. first?

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    • I’m cracking up. Yea, ok, you’re first and what now? ha ha

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  2. Okay now that I read it….I totally agree with this. I have only ever lost weight when I didn’t try, but it took me years before I realized this. After years of obsessing over my weight it took becoming pregnant with my first child and becoming less self-centered and for the first time amazed at the capabilities of my body. Within 7 months after she was born I weighed less than I ever had in my adult life, without trying! I also stopped eating the calorie-restricted diet that I had and started enjoying my food.

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    • Sara,

      I had a baby 6 1/2 months ago and had the same experience. I struggled the first 5 months to lose the last 8lbs of baby weight, despite healthy eating. I thought maybe it was because of the stress and lack of sleep caring for an infant. I decided 6 weeks ago that I really didn’t care, and caring for my health and my baby was priority number 1. I ate (and still eat) nutrient dense foods most of the time to keep my immunity up and provide healthy milk for my baby. I also eat some foods that would be considered “naughtly” for pleasure, not self-medication but pleasure. No rigid structure, just what feels good and right.

      My mother commented that I looked like I had lost weight (I hadn’t noticed). Out of curiousity I got on the scale, and I had dropped 7lbs without “trying.” I heard Chris Kresser say in a podcast that it’s better to eat the wrong food with the right attitude then the right food with the wrong attitude. I couldn’t agree more.

      Thanks for sharing this blog Matt and Julia and sharing your story, Sara. It will mean a lot to a lot of women, especially.

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    • Oh, sorry, Sara—you did have more to say. Loved this comment. What do you think caused the switch to happen. I could say you were really busy as a new Mom but I know it’s more than that.

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  3. sara r., that’s exactly my experience too (struggled and restricted, had a baby, became less self-centered, lost loads of weight without trying, now eat what I want with no guilt and don’t spend much time thinking about it anymore). What a relief!

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  4. I feel like I’ve made one big circle. I started out by eating whatever when I was younger, however, once I hit 16 and started getting “nutritional” “get skinny” noise in my head I started restricting and eating “clean” not listening to what I really wanted. Id eat an apple rather than icecream yet I still wanted the icecream after the fruit or other healthy food choice. Stupid! Thank you Matt for bringing me back to earth and sanity.

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  5. Just an observation, you look fatter than you were before (comparing you in your youtube videos). Looks like you put on quite a few pounds of fat.

    There is place for caloric restriction, that’s how bodybuilders (and just plain fitness enthusiasts) get stage lean and, if they are want (and are smart enough to know how to), not go past 10% body fat which is actually pretty damn lean for off season bulking (no e-standards, 10% is much leaner than what the majority thinks).

    I’m not hating, but your hate on caloric restriction in these posts is starting to piss me off (even though I kind of realize that you recommend a slight deficit instead of starving to lose weight, which is the way to go, but you aren’t making the impression of that in these posts).

    You’d better off making some posts about PUFA’s or fructose/sucrose/glucose and whatever else you can think of but not beat about the bush anymore.

    A recent discovery of mine was that fructose actually helps to preserve body’s stored minerals (copper, calcium and I’m not exactly sure about the others). Would be cool to know some other stuff you have in your head.

    Besides, happy new year! Have you set your goals for 2013 yet?

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    • Are you talking about me? You obviously don’t follow my youtube videos very carefully or you would know that I did a Morgan Spurlock-esque overfeeding thing for 3 months, mostly on McDonald’s and ice cream – gaining about 30 pounds in that time frame.

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      • Speaking of youtube videos, I check every day, looking and waiting for more of your videos. You haven’t done one since “I’m hating it.” I’ve laughed harder than ever watching your Utube videos and then they just stopped. Oh, give me some more. I want more, please.

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    • Hi Edgar – it seems impossible to make a “slight deficit” in caloric reduction – who the hell knows what the true caloric content of food is, let alone what their own metabolic output is? Ya just guessin’. I don’t personally find bodybuilders good role models for the average person. The level of commitment required is more than above average – I mean who wants to exercise for hours a day and eat brocolli and chicken breast every day? Not me! I hope Matt hasn’t been suggesting a small calorie deficit is the key to everything otherwise I have completely and utterly misunderstood his message. My understanding is to not force anything (i.e. by consciously reducing calories/macronutrients), eat the food (food you like), relax, sleep lots, move around, get some sun and be happy. Let your body do the rest.

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      • couldn’t agree more, Tanya! xx

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    • Edgar, if I may, there is a bit of passive aggressiveness in your post. Which, I imagine, could be because you have set some goals for yourself – maybe in term of weight and calorie restriction – and reading some people saying that this is bullocks or didn’t work for them is attacking your belief system or what you think you’re doing. Just re-read your post and you’ll see that the tone used is less about what Julia wrote, and more about your frustration to what she said….I let you ponder on this anyway.
      I totally agree with Tanya on bodybuilders not being role models. I have good results with the body hypertrophy program from Abel Scott, but when I bought his “fantastic” weight loss + muscle gain diet plan I was sorely disappointed. The technique is to undereat 6 days a week and bulge and eat 3 to 6 times the usual amount of food one day per week. From his point of view it is totally sustainable, healthy and normal if you want to reach your goals. That is when I understood that I am not interested to reach these goals with such means – I might not get a perfect 6 packs ever but eating a can of tuna and 2 broccoli 6 days a week and a whole cheesecake plus 3 pizza on Saturday is not my idea of a guilt-free regimen for life. Sorry!

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      • Who is “Abel Scott?”

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        • Coatch Scott Abel. Google is your friend.

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          • “Coach”

          • I know who Scott Abel is, I have talked about him and defended, praised, and –albeit much less frequently– criticized him in my comments in this site on various occasions.

            I just thought it was funny and somewhat telling that somebody who claims to have “bought his ‘fantastic’ weight loss + muscle gain diet plan” would make the mistake of calling him “Abel Scott.” That’s all.

          • If English isn’t your first language, and you didn’t grow up with people named Scott or Abel, it can on occasion get confusing. Even after living in the States for years and almost forgetting my native language, I still get names all messed up!

          • I wasn’t trying to be an ass and make fun of Laurent. In my second response to Laurent I intended to mention (I somehow edited that part out) that I thought it was kind of funny because when I first ran across Scott Abel I would also sometimes mistakenly call him “Abel Scott” during conversation. I have no excuse: English is my first language, I’m just bad about remembering names!

            Laurent and Josefina, I apologize for any misunderstanding or hard feelings my poor editing skills might have caused!

          • Oh, no problem!! No hard feelings:). I don’t know anything about Scott, but I’m sure I’d get his name all wrong in conversations too;).

          • Really no hard feeling either, but I’ve got to say I am still unsure what is first name is LOL. The irony was indeed lost on me!

      • @Laurent Your comment about the Bodybuilders made me think of this video:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI1HaM7LMvU

        They all talk about dieting,not enjoying food,just seeing it as something to put in the mouth etc.

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        • Dutchie I shall try to watch it. I think the pleasure they get into shaping their body is actually taking over real physiological pleasures such as palatability, food reward etc. And I am sure a trained mind can indeed substitute a mental pleasure over a physical one. I doubt this is totally healthy when it comes to food however.

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          • As someone who has restricted diet for bodybuilding purposes,
            I think even a trained and disciplined mind who is getting pleasure from shaping the body ( as I do),
            can still fall into the pit with dieting.
            Because at the end of the day- dieting to a super skinny weight involves hunger, deprivation, starvation responses from the body, obssessively focusing on food etc..
            At a pure biological level I dont think it is possible to avoid the body’s response to such a regime;
            and this involves potential unbalanced eating, chronic weight rebound upon cessation of the diet, mental screwiness, etc etc.

            Can some people do it without negative repercussions? I dont know,
            but from observation and experience, I would say most cant!

    • Ultimately, yes, I agree: Losing weight, whether it is lean-mass or body fat, requires a calorie deficit. No amount of wishful thinking or shaking our fists and gnashing our teeth at cold, hard reality is going to change this fact.

      Moreover, I part company with many on this blog who seem to believe that forcing reduced food intake, which is the standard way of invoking a calorie deficit, is “harmful” and “metabolically damaging” regardless of context. To the contrary, I believe that the long term effects of caloric reduction depends on the overall health of the individual, how and why they do it, and the length of time that they reduce calories. For example, if the individual about to engage in the practice of forced food reduction already has certain health or metabolic issues, such as (hypo)thyroid problems or hormonal imbalances that amplify catabolic activity, this approach is ill-advised. In addition, if they are indeed healthy enough to force reduced food intake, how they do it is very important: It is crucial that the calorie restriction thus created is “relative” (above basal metabolism) and not “absolute” (below basal metabolism) and proper nutrient or calorie cycling (refeed days, etc) is practiced. Furthermore, perpetual, long term reduced food intake seems to be detrimental even for healthy individuals. People in the health and fitness who seem to have genuine knowledge will not only have “refeed days” but periods of time lasting weeks or months where bodyweight is maintained or even increased based on biofeedback. There are indeed sensible, healthy ways to lose weight via forced reduced food intake. The nuance and details merely have to be properly addressed. In short, context matters. A lot!

      Observe that I have somewhat laboriously and redundantly used the phrase “forced reduced food intake” and variations thereof. What I mean by this phrase is that the food reduction is achieved by calculation and against ones inclination or appetite. One can also possibly force themselves to exercise enough to create a calorie deficit; however, this is very difficult to do. Contrast this approach of force with weight loss achieved through spontaneous food reduction or spontaneous increased exercise (or both). By “spontaneous” I mean a result that emerges naturally over time as a result of increasing ones health and listening to ones body. Heal the mind and body, feed it properly, and improved body composition will generally follow. This is what Matt and others are trying to achieve. But there is nothing magical about this: Weight loss is always and everywhere a phenomenon of calorie restriction, no matter how willfully and adamantly people may want to believe otherwise. …No matter what kind of half-baked theory people might make up to explain this fact away. Reality and the laws of nature pay no heed to the pleading of mankind!

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      • I should have more accurately said “…Weight loss is always and everywhere a phenomenon of calorie *deficit*….” in my third to last sentence.

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    • Yo Edgar. Personally, I’d say there’s no doubt that calorie restriction can make you drop weight, sure. But what I’m advocating for by telling my story here is health, generally. Not intentional body fat reduction. And what I’m pointing out is simple: if you’re happy, you just might lose weight. It’s not a prescription for specific results- more of a suggestion, backed up with a true story, to allow yourself to skip out on the self-hate and see what happens. I think Matt calls it taking a dose of Fukitol. For many people, especially a lot of folks who find 180D, re-establishment of a healthy self-image and proper relationship with food is the first and most crucial step towards achieving their health goals.

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  6. Great and inspiring post!!! I’m still too scared of sugar though, but slowly talking myself into eating it again….

    So, I recently remembered from reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price that when he gave a highly nutritious whole foods meal to some school children, they got total caries control despite eating pancakes and syrup every day. Leading me to believe that it’s possible to have health and eat things that are considered unhealthy, just as this blog suggests. Also, his text indicates that eating a lot, having a good appetite were factors in health. This is exactly what Matt Stone is saying also. Plus, there is not one sentence in his entire book about the traditional groups drinking lots and lots of liquids all the time. Only the whole milk but that was not sipped all day long either….

    Although I have noticed more of my allergies and regular colds since I began eating sweets again, I can’t be sure that’s the one reason.

    “The primitives’ methods of living give them excellent appetites, enabling them to provide a good factor of safety for the essential minerals and vitamins.”
    p 455

    “Since many of the children took “seconds”, their intake of these minerals was much higher.”

    “It is important to note that the home diet which had been responsible for the tooth decay, was exceedingly low in body-building and repair material and high in sweets and refined starches. It usually consisted of a highly sweetened coffee and white bread, vegetable fat, pancakes made of a white flour and eaten with syrup and doughnuts fried in vegetable fat.”
    p392

    “…it is obvious that this one meal a day, plus the other two meals at home, provided a factor of safety. Clinically, this program completely controlled the dental caries of each member of the group, as determined by x-ray and explorer examination.”

    “…two different teachers came to me to inquire as to what had been done to make a particular child change from one of the poorest in the class in capacity to learn to one of the best.”
    p 393

    Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
    Weston A. Price, DDS

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    • I think the key words in your quote from Weston Price would be “vegetable fat.”

      Yep. That’ll do you in most assuredly, especially fried.

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    • Could that possibly be one of the keys towards weightloss and health over the long time? That it isn’t so much what one eats,as long as it’s homemade? Bc most products consist in fact of usually about 4to5 ingredients…..and not the entire list you’ll see on labels nowadays….

      And yes,most foods weren’t prepared with vegetable oil either….

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  7. I think this method starts to fail as you approach 40.

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    • Hmmmm, I don’t think I agree with you there, Tierney. I’ll be 48 pretty soon and have been eating ‘irresponsibly’ the last year or two. Finished the obsession with fibres, vitamins, raw veggies, green smoothies, fish oil capsules … I gained a few pounds after the first six months, probably because I slept and rested a lot. They were gone again after I got more energetic. I’m not *very* energetic, and my ‘conditions’ (reumatoid arthritis and asthma) are not really miraculously improved … But they’re not worse, either, and above all my mood has improved about 500% … Stable and good. And I’m not cold anymore! Digestion is very good, and I sleep very well.
      I have been baking and eating a lot of cakes and cookies and bread. Cutting down on water and tea, eating more salt and not worrying about sugar at all. Most of our food is homecooked and PUFA-free. The kids are a lot happier with just a few veggies and a lot of potatoes and gravy and dessert.
      The worst thing is being quiet when my friends talk about how fattening everything is. How they need to exercise more, cut out wheat, avoid dairy, salt, sugar, butter, drink a gallon of water, swallow vitamins… Well, perhaps I’ll think differently in a year or three. But for now, it’s such a relief to be just a human being who eats the food, whenever and whatever.

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      • I feel the same way listening to people complain about calories and the like. It’s almost like nails on a chalk board for me! Just eat food and enjoy life. My big hang up is GMO’s…

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        • I dunno Erin, that might be an ok hang up to have. In my humble opinion.

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          • Agreed!

          • “But for now, it’s such a relief to be just a human being who eats the food, whenever and whatever.”

            Best statement right there. I’m with you there. Also with the lip biting when people start talking about how fattening things are, or how they want to cut extra salt out of their kids’ diets.

      • Thank you–excellent.

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    • It could be that hormones do change this effect of happy only weight loss. However, this does have truth to it. More than likely, just being busy, happy and productive means the Focus is OFF food. She ate when she was hungry and happy and kept very busy. All that Does help, no matter your age.
      hag
      BtW that dog pic made me laugh so hard, thanks Mattie :-)

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      • I gotta tell you, the focus was decidedly ON food! I’ve always been pretty active, and waitressing can take off weight, sure, but I had already been waitressing pretty hard for two years at that point. Also, there was a shake up in management and for that year I had an extremely laid back boss. I went from being allowed one small scoop of ice cream per shift to being encouraged to wolf down all the profits in the form of layer cake- and I did. I went really crazy on the food. I never ate when I didn’t feel like it, but let’s just say I felt like it all the time. I think there’s something to be said for just feeling good and it’s anti-inflammatory effects, the ease it puts on digestion, etc. And I betcha that at 19 it was easier for me to melt off the weight than it would be for a 40 year old, but perhaps 40 year olds are just not meant to be as skinny as teenagers?

        That dog picture kills me, too. Nothing funnier than animals in party hats.

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    • I’ve been hoping for an article about Reubin Andres, who argued that better health could be found if you gain about 6 lbs per decade starting in your mid-40s.

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    • Maybe. I am 42 and 6 weeks in, I am getting some good results so far..

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  8. This was such a great read. While I am gaining a little being a bit liberal with my food currently (granted, it’s the end of the year, so we’re talking copious amounts of crap here)… I actually feel so much better. This is the first year in many that I haven’t tried to “Paleo-fy” desserts or pass up on everything for the sake of being ‘good’. While I’ve got a few extra pounds, I am really confident my body will find it’s ‘happy place’… also… I’m just feeling really good lately. No pains, good digestion, getting good sleep. (Oh. And slightly bigger boobs. :D Hahaha)

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    • Yeah dude. I have cleavage for the first time, ever. It’s so novel!

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  9. Seriously perfect timing. I have a great relationship with food now, but it still bothers me that I’m still wasting time thinking about being ‘skinny.’ I’m trying to focus on the positives, like the fact that I’m cheerful again, having normal periods, and eat whatever I want without a second thought. There is so much more to life than your weight…I wish I would’ve realized this 2 years ago! Thank you for this post.

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    • I hate to get all chick-flicky, but I reread and rewatched Eat Pray Love recently. Know what I’m talking about? Anyway, it’s the story of this woman who woke up in her marriage and her life and realized it just was not making her happy at all. She didn’t recognize herself in her life anymore. So she goes traveling around the world and the first place she goes is Italy. She was depressed and skinny and miserable, so she went to Italy for four months and just immersed herself in “pleasure” which involved a hell of a lot of gelato and pasta. All that babying of herself helped her to heal, so then she goes to a Hindu Ashram in India to relearn some necessary discipline and to eat a little lighter for awhile. Then she goes to Bali to try and balance them all out. I watched an interview of the author (Elizabeth Gilbert) and she was talking about how if she had gone to India first she would’ve just hit the wall. She just did not have the spiritual, mental, or physical strength to live such a rigorously rigid lifestyle at that point. She had to go gain a bunch of weight eating melon and prosciutto in Rome before she could regroup herself.
      Point is, sometimes, when we’re in a bad place, it’s a good idea to just baby ourselves for awhile. Eat the pie, as much as you want. Relax. If you’re in tune with yourself, when you’re ready, you’ll get back up and take up a more moderate approach. You’ll crave celery and a brisk walk. There is an equilibrium in us all that we can find if we allow ourselves to, but we have to first accept that who we are may not be what the culture holds up as most valuable- and to value ourselves anyway.

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      • I have read the book and I didn’t realize the parallels until you just pointed them out! I’ve been eating the food for five months now, and I already notice my body wanting balance. I don’t crave as much rich food as I did at first. I can’t imagine myself craving exercise, but maybe that will come haha :) That being said, I loved that your article wasn’t focused on just food- you were happy what you were doing. I hate my job, and I’m convinced that its holding me back. I’m quitting in January and traveling to Asia and Africa in March, something I’ve always wanted to do. I enjoyed reading the similarities in your story!

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        • Ack! I’m so jealous!!! Take me with you!!!!

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      • Beautifully said. Thank you so much. What a breath of fresh, relaxing Air. Eat the Food, for sure.

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  10. Dear Julia,
    What a wonderful story. So true and so inspiring! Thank you for this beautiful and elegant reminder about how important it is to chill out… relax, live more, love more, eat more, smile more, and appreciate more. I have learned so much from this site and my personal sessions with Matt, and reading his guest bloggers just like yourself, and so far, just about everything feels good. It just feels right. Thanks again! ~Alana

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  11. Love this post!

    I have been scared of wheat for a long time. I still ate it periodically, but I always told myself how bad it was. And in the back of my head, I always criticize my food choices as “not good enough.” It was a few months ago I just came to the conclusion that I cannot live in fear of food. I am overweight, yes. I even had weight loss surgery (stupid). And my metabolism is screwed up. I love the Chris Kresser mention of eating foods with the right attitude. That is my whole mindset now. No matter what it is I’m eating, I affirm that it will nourish my body, mind, and soul. Otherwise, my neurotic nature takes over and words like “gliadin” or “opioids” or “glycemic load” spring to mind. Lord help me.

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    • I think the only thing about caveman eating habits that is useful to apply to your personal diet is that they had no fuckin’ idea what a glycemic load or gliadin was:)

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  12. Im following your eat for heat thing now.
    I have struggled with esp water retention all my life and esp if i consume more salt wich also leads to drinking ALOT more water then i blow out.

    I also have low body temperature. Im restricting my fluid intake now but its really hard because i feel so SICK ASS thirsty like my mouth just screams for water. Why does this happend? should i increase more salt or why is it that i feel so thirsty?

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    • When I started to cut back the liquids (water) a few weeks ago, I did have some days where I was really thirsty. What I did that seemed to help, was put a large pinch of salt and sugar in a glass of water, stir then drink to satisfy thirst.

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    • You know what I did? I started eating an apple every time I was thirsty. I have always noticed that when I get thirsty, I crave fruit! I used to drink a bunch of agua instead, to wash away that nasty food craving, but now I go with it. You end up consuming way less fluid, but by the time you’re finished with it you’re pretty satisfied. And you’re getting some sugar to help keep your “soup” in proper balance. Not to mention fiber and malic acid! I used to drink WAY too much water, and it’s so true that guzzling begets guzzling: the more you drink, the thirstier you get. It’s been really great for me to get it under control.

      Try the apple thing, see if it works for you!

      Reply
      • Thanx a ton.
        Will do that for sure.
        I have said a goal to maximum consume 1 liter of water for the day so i will try to keep that up. Gonna do the apple thing everytime i get thirsty now for sure

        Reply
        • I’ve been testing eating apples when thirsty and find it makes me too chilly to manage the winter weather. I’ve had better luck with whole milk (when really thirsty) and eggnog (when cold/thirsty).

          Reply
          • I drink whole milk mixed with half and half when I’m thirsty, or sometimes a few sips of gatorade with added salt when I’m really thirsty. Usually have about 6 oz of grape soda a couple of times a day that I put my magnesium chloride drops in.

            Something odd that I’ve noticed: either my hands are cold or my feet are cold, but not both at the same time. In the evenings at around 8pm, my feet freeze until I fall asleep, even if I eat my warmest then (I do). My hands are toasty warm. I’d eat more during that time, but I’m full. Anyone else have difficulty with stubbornly cold feet and/or alternating chilly feet and hands? Thanks — I think this website ate my earlier post, so I’m just going to keep trying. Happy New Year, all!!

          • It’s true it was warmer when I did the apple thing- but I still do it after exercise when I’m burning up. It’s refreshing.

          • It’s my nose that gets cold. I almost never can tell with my hands and feet–they are always warm. Ice cream always does the trick to warm it up.

          • I always do the apple thing, too. Although for the past few weeks its been oranges. OMG! So good and juicy.

  13. Oh, how I wish I knew how to embrace this! It would be so wonderful to just enjoy food and life instead of being obsessed with weight, food purity and quality. I spend a ridiculous amount of time researching, preparing, sourcing, buying and worrying about food. I don’t think it’s supposed to be this difficult to eat well.

    Reply
  14. Don’t get down on yourself for researching your food. The world we live in now is vastly different than the one we’re hard wired for. Our instincts have yet to acquire the ability to deduce the necessary info about the ingredients in Twinkies and Mountain Dew by a mere whiff or taste. Science, agriculture and progress have really changed the game, huh? So it’s ok to be informed. Just don’t let it rule you. Neurosis is worse for you, physically, than any Twinkie ever could be.

    Reply
  15. Also what about buying fruit juices or something?
    In terms of fluid what is the best solution and what yo buy? fruit juices and add some salt to it ? anything other?

    Reply
  16. I see grape juice is 12gram sugar for every 100gram so in 1 liter of that fruit juice how much salt should i add?

    Reply
  17. I had a very similar expirence over Christmas, I had not had a menstruation for fifteen years of eating a pretty well balanced high calorie diet of health food “doctors orders” , I decided to give it a rest and eat three meals of whatever I wanted and to start smolking again “but just until 1/1/13″.Lost 5 lbs and got my pireod on Christmas! without going on birth control pills.

    Reply
    • It’s a Christmas miracle! Bring on the figgy pudding!

      Reply
      • That’s funny. I had the opposite experience. I found myself late for my period the days after Christmas eating the food for a couple of months. Either knocked up or my progesterone is through the roof!!! A bit confusing at the moment…

        Reply
        • We’re all different. Intense stress usually increases my luteal (pre-ovulation) phase of my cycle, thus making my period later. I ovulated like four days later than normal this month, but I’m sure it’s from non-dietary stress.

          Reply
          • Ahhh!!! Another one who actually knows her cycle and what it all means! My husband and I do NFP and I love the health and body awareness that comes along with it so you are a girl after my own heart!!
            Ps I LOVED the article. What a great anecdote.

  18. I think you meant follicular phase. I understood what you meant. I have had delays in ovulation from stress in the past. Luteal phases are pretty constant, though. That’s the thing. I know when I ovulated (on day 13), and I usually have a 13 day luteal phase (the days after ovulation), which puts me due yesterday or today. I normally have many days of spotting (like a full week) before I get my actual period, which is a pain, but just my pattern (probably low progesterone). It’s been that way for years. And this month I had NONE, zilch, nada, zippo, and I’m still waiting for the full flo, though I just started a little spotting today. So I think I might have been a little bit preggers (it’s a distinct possibility if I look back) and it didn’t work out, OR my progesterone levels have suddenly improved!! Ah well, such is the way of all nature…many seeds are planted but not all make it to fruition. This would not be the first time this has happened. I had two super early losses and one loss at 8 weeks. Sad, but I’m okay with it either way, and improved progesterone would be awesome. Tests all say no, BTW.

    Reply
  19. ??? who knows if it will come on schedule or even regularly, all I know is it came when I started just eating “civilized food” like rice krispy treats with a layer of mascarpone and jelly spread on top! for breakfeast!

    Reply
    • Sounds interestingly yummy, that. :-) It sure is interesting what a short period of time eating the food can do for the hormones. Truly amazing. We both seem to have had such drastic changes so quickly that it was stunning. :-) We’ll see what happens in the future.

      Reply
  20. :( Yeah, follicular. You’re right.

    Reply
  21. I thought of this post this morning when I made cheese crepes with strawberry sauce and whipped cream. I noticed my hands and feet were on fire. I guess that’s a good thing. I was really warm and felt really happy. My muscles and joints didn’t ache and I just felt well (even after a really crappy night of sleeping). That’s the first time I’ve felt that way in a long time after breakfast. Even with eggs and hashbrowns cooked in coconut oil, I don’t feel like that. I don’t know if it was what I ate or the fact that I was really looking forward to eating it and it was just what I wanted. Food has such power on our minds I think. I have come to realize that life is too short to eat shitty food.

    Reply
  22. Julia….when is your site coming online into fullfunction? I keep checking it,but there’s nothing to click on/articles etc. to be found. :)

    Reply
    • Ha ha! I guess I’ll have to change that to January 2013! Soon!

      Reply
  23. This whole sugar desert thing is really misleading. Do not fall for this trap. I promise you a road to obesity is inevitable. Sweets are some of the most highly addicting substances known and pack a lot of calories yes CALORIES. You have to count CALORIES at some point instead of this voodoo-metabolic stuff. Most people who consume milk , various sauces and fruit get enough sugars. Forget white sugar, white flour,cake, chocolate and deserts in general. The odd exception is okay but not more going from my own experience.

    You will raise body temp even on a low-carb diet with enough protein and calorie intake. you can easily gain weight on low-carb if needed. Just try huge T-bone steaks with all the fat.

    I don’t advocate low-carb but be sensible. Go ‘medium’ carb: 120..200g unless you are in active competition – many are not. Ask why you are here as most have been through endless diets . Chances are things will be great for a while then a new set of problem will emerge and you will be on yet another blog, another ‘protocol’ .

    Reply
    • I’m not advocating a protocol. I’m advocating living well. There’s no trap. If anyone is reading this and thinking I’m telling them that eating cake three meals a day will help them lose weight, then they’re missing the point.

      If you think eating dessert leads to inevitable obesity for all, I’ve got a few rail thin, cookie-pounding friends I’d like to introduce you to. And I had a 300+ pound mother who ate less desserts than the average American, by far, and only ever drank water.

      Reply
  24. Even the “great” Dr. Andrew Weil (who has a great deal to answer for in all of this, I feel) noted a million years ago that he tended to lose weight when he wasn’t trying, and how odd it is that something about having a houseful of guests over to enjoy a rich meal often has no affect on the waistline.

    Anyway–I am so effing tired of eating by the dose/regimen/etc. that regardless of what happens, I’m done. If I’m going to be 200 pounds anyway, I’m going to be 200 pounds with cake every now and again.

    Reply
  25. Well, When I was in my 20’s, I ate everything I wanted. I honoured my cravings. I loved food. I was really thin but healthy. I slept well and felt good. Then I turned 30 and started believing all the calorie-counting/low sat fat/clean eating/sun block propaganda. I was already thin, but 10 years of eating “healthy” caused some pretty significant heath problems: depression, anxiety, insomnia, painful periods, CONSTIPATION, PMS, hypothyroidism, adrenal shut down, and weight gain. At 40 years of age, I was in bad shape. Now, I just completely avoid PUFA’s, but I eat everything else: saturated fat, wheat, eggs, bread, meat, carbs, carbs, carbs, whole milk, cookies, cookies, and cookies. I feel and look awesome. My weight is back to what it was when I was 20 (not that I really care), and best of all, I’m pooping– A LOT. Oh glorious poop. …

    Reply

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