Duffy’s WFPB Journey — November 2014

Sliced Apple for Duffy

Note from Jane: This is the latest in a monthly series by Duffy, who went whole food, plant-based late in 2013 with the goal of losing over 200+ pounds. To see previous posts, choose Duffy Chronicles from the Stories menu.

When Jane broached the subject of my writing a regular blog post on her website, I was hesitant. Even if I did it anonymously, I would be putting myself out there in a big way. And what if I failed? It wouldn’t be a private failure, but a public humiliation.

I have not failed… but I have not succeeded in all the ways that I want to yet, either.

To put first things first, I will state up front that I have kept my New Year’s resolution to stay 100% Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB), no oil.

I haven’t lost weight since summer, however. I had gotten to 72 lbs lost and then I bounced up to where I was only down 62 lbs and that is where I’ve stayed. I think it started with nuts (daily)… then came the bread and lemonade (daily). After that there was a time when I ate all three of an evening. (Note: While these are all plant foods, they are higher density plant foods that need to be eaten sparingly for weight loss.)

A few of weeks ago I reached a point of realization where I had driven to the store with the intent of buying the usual loaf of oil-free ciabatta bread, Simply brand raspberry lemonade, and oil-free roasted and salted cashews from the bulk section (talk about a daily calorie binge!) and it was raining so hard I didn’t want to get out of my car. So I sat there in the parking lot and thought about how badly I really wanted those things. Interestingly enough, I found that I wasn’t actually truly hungry at all, that I didn’t really want those things so much as I wanted to stuff down the emotion, and that I was basically on autopilot. I drove back home empty-handed, read for awhile and went to bed. My newfound abstinence lasted two days.

Then came the all-natural peanut butter and strawberry preserves on oil-free Ezekiel whole-grain bread. Comfort food. (Peanut butter and jam are also higher density plant foods that need to be eaten sparingly, if at all, for weight loss.)

I wanted to wait to write a post until:

  1. I was in a good place, emotionally
  2. I was back on track and losing weight again

There was also the hesitation about putting this post out there when Jane’s website has gotten so much new traffic. I don’t want to discourage any newcomers from the WFPB way of eating. I believe it is aligned with the Word of Wisdom, and I believe there are great health and restorative benefits to eating in accordance with the WFPB diet, and even greater spiritual and temporal blessings to eating in accordance with the Word of Wisdom.

That being said, Jane has let me know that some of the regular readers of the Duffy Chronicles have asked when I will post again. So here I am. Posting. In my metaphorical pajamas (and maybe in my literal P.J.s too). Because that’s where I’m at right now.

I have Clinical Depression. In the severe to profound range. And sometimes I do better than at other times. This has been a rough season for me. I’m in the second year of a three-year Doctor of Education program and the stress has ratcheted up significantly. In addition, I work full-time in a helping/service profession where I am required to be “on” much of the day. For an introvert like me, on top of the depression, this is incredibly draining. I find at the end of the day that I want nothing more than comfort food and sleep.

Unfortunately this way of “taking care of myself” is not really taking care of my body, mind, or spirit. So I know what I need to do… I simply lack the energy to do it. Or perhaps I find the idea of being healthy and thin more engaging than the steps necessary to achieve it. For something I have daydreamed about for as long as I can remember, even as a child and teenager, and now that I have the knowledge about how to accomplish it, why do I find this so difficult?

One answer, for sure, is food addiction. Another is the depression, from whence the lack of energy stems. And still another is found in the essay below.

This essay was published on Facebook in the “McDougall Friends” group by Lori Fryd, to whom I give full credit and share with her permission.

Tanya and the Apple

Tanya was a casual acquaintance, a former work colleague of mine who had coincidentally moved into my neighborhood a few years after we stopped working together. We would bump into each other every now and then and I always enjoyed catching up with her.

Last summer, Tanya called me out of the blue, very distressed. She had been driving down a nearby street and caught sight of me on one of my daily walks. She noticed that I had lost weight and was feverishly getting myself back into shape. She was extremely upset that her weight had ballooned and her eating was totally out of control. Could I help her, she asked? She was miserable and desperate and vowed that she would do anything it took to get healthy again. I assured her that I would try.

Over the next several days, we spoke frequently over the phone. Tanya was so excited to be changing her life and her enthusiasm was boundless and infectious. I suggested that she might like to walk with me at our neighborhood park and she assured me that she would love to. But, many things were going on in Tanya’s life and she couldn’t find the time. I suggested a few documentaries that she could watch and she swore to me that she was very interested in seeing them. Unfortunately, a number of issues were preoccupying her right now, but she would view them very shortly.

After several other failed attempts at instituting some form of change in Tanya, I simply said to her one day, “Tanya, do you like apples?” Yes, she assured me, she liked apples. “Tanya,” I asked her, “do you have any apples in the house?” Yes, she said, she thought she had a few apples in the fridge. “Tanya,” I instructed her. “Go to the kitchen, get an apple and eat it.”

“Now?” she asked me.

“Yes, now.”

“Well, I’m not really in the mood to eat an apple right now.”

“That’s ok, just have a few bites.”

“I like the red ones. These are the green ones.”

“No biggie, I’m sure you can take a few bites out of an apple, even if it’s not your favorite kind.”

“You’re right, you’re right. And I will. But, let me finish telling you about…..”

And, there we went, off and running onto another conversation.

A few days later. “Tanya, did you eat the apple?”

Tanya was honest. “No, sorry, not yet. But I will eat the apple. I promise.”

A few days later. “Tanya….the apple?” Um….not yet….

On and on it went. A few weeks passed. I continued to speak with Tanya at length about the benefits of plant-based eating and she was excited and enthusiastic about losing weight and becoming healthy. At the end of every conversation, I would inquire, “Tanya, have you eaten that apple yet?” Invariably, because Tanya was a truthful person, she would admit to me that, no, she had not yet eaten the apple.

After about a month, Tanya stopped calling and I was fine with that. It seemed to me that, for Tanya, the actual doing of a thing (rather than the excitement and anticipation of the doing), would have brought Tanya too far out of her comfort zone. There is no doubt in my mind that Tanya was, indeed, miserable and had a sincere desire to change. However, like many people, Tanya’s excitement over changing her life – and the thrill she got when she envisioned how happy she would be at some point in the future – once she was slim and healthy again, was more compelling to Tanya than the actual steps she needed to take to accomplish her goals. The willful, affirmative act of actually eating an apple was too puny and insignificant in Tanya’s mind. Instead, she contented herself with the idea of eating an apple and the idea of eating healthy foods in general and the idea of taking a walk in the park and the idea of being healthy.

Tanya and her uneaten apple taught me an invaluable lesson. In fact, very few people have so motivated and inspired me on this journey of health as Tanya did (although probably not in the way she would have wanted). Often, I find myself thinking about how great it will feel when I can walk even faster, be even slimmer, swim even longer, eat even cleaner, etc. etc. etc. And off I go into that fabulous world of dreams and wish fulfillment. I know what Tanya liked about it. It’s a lovely place to be.

BUT, that is when I FIRMLY take myself in hand and stop myself dead in my mental tracks. “Lori,” I ask myself, “Have you eaten that apple yet?”

Uh-oh.

I get up off the couch and reluctantly leave dreamland. I get a Golden Delicious from the fruit bowl in the kitchen and start munching away, feeling the sweet energy filling me up and bringing me back to the planet Earth.

No matter how small the action, no matter how insignificant it may seem, the actual doing of the thing is the only way I have ever found to make my dreams come true. And the blessings of this healthy life have far exceeded any dreams I could have ever dreamed anyway. So, it is better to do the thing.

How about you?

Have YOU eaten that apple yet?

Love, Lori

Reading this essay was like looking in a mirror for me. I am Tanya in this story. And I am trying to learn that it is better to do the thing than merely dream about it.

If you’ll excuse me, I have an apple to eat.

Love, Duffy

Comments

  1. Duffy: I am AMAZED at what you have accomplished this year! You’ve been 100% whole food, plant-based diet AND dropped over 60 pounds. Wow! I think you are way too hard on yourself and don’t realize exactly how awesome you are. You’ve done so much, especially in the face of so many challenges. You are a success, and I look forward to more successes in the future!!

  2. Wonderful essay and story, Duffy! Thank you for sharing this and being so honest. Jane is right – the 60 lbs is amazing and staying plant based is a great victory! I know you’re thankful for all that and I hope you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished.

    I’m a Dr. Fuhrman fan. He teaches weight loss patients to eat 1 lb of cooked (non-starchy) and 1 lb of raw vegetables daily. If you can’t eat that much, that’s OK but the point is that you eat those things before you eat the higher calorie items. A friend of mine told herself frequently “If you’re not hungry for beans and greens then you’re not really hungry.” Recognizing and responding to true hunger is a quest for all of us and something that will lead to real health!

    You’re doing great and this lifestyle change will just get better and more refined as you stick with it! Best wishes with your education and your health!

  3. Duffy, thank you for your courage. I am also a compulsive overeater and I know this is the hardest thing to talk about in my life. I could admit being alcoholic or drug addicted easier than this because those addictions get so much sympathy when the addict is trying to make changes. This is a tough time of year for me and many other food addicts because our “drug” is being offered to us by the very people who are our spiritual support otherwise, such as church members and neighbors. I’m coming up on 10 years of abstinence on December 23rd. It’s not easy; I think the first years were hardest. But eventually my body got the idea too, and stopped asking for food that didn’t nourish and increase healing. Your post came just as my neighbors left us a big container of stuff that will be carefully hidden in our garbage tonight. Thank you for the reminder and your strength, hope and experience.

  4. Duffy, I’ve read all you submitted above and while doing so I kept trying to find an answer or two that would uniquely help you. You may want to quickly sidestep[ this possible step toward full self-mastery, but I suggest that you carefully and even prayerfully consider doing something that you probably never have thought of doing.

    In the following paragraph which, I quote from what you submitted above, I will make a suggestion I hope you will “prayerfully” if that is part of your repertoire, and I hope it is, could dramatically help you find resolution to your eating addictions:

    “Unfortunately this way of “taking care of myself” is not really taking care of my body, mind, or spirit. So I know what I need to do… I simply lack the energy to do it. Or perhaps I find the idea of being healthy and thin more engaging than the steps necessary to achieve it. For something I have daydreamed about for as long as I can remember, even as a child and teenager, and now that I have the knowledge about how to accomplish it, why do I find this so difficult?

    One answer, for sure, is food addiction. Another is the depression, from whence the lack of energy stems.”

    Because you mentioned above, “for sure, is food addiction. . .” I’m recommending, although I don’t know if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not, but nonetheless they would accept you into their addiction recovery group whether or not you are LDS, that you find out from your LDS bishop if you are LDS or through one of your LDS friends how to contact an LDS Addiction Recovery Group leader of a group that is nearby from where you usually function. Not all of those groups deal with food addiction, but if you or someone you want to help you could find out by asking the group leader of a nearby LDS Church Addiction Recovery Group meeting, if he could advise you where there is one of their Addiction Recovery Groups that specialize in food addictions.

    Best wishes to you. I’m glad you are in contact with my eldest child, Jane Birch, Neil Birch

    I believe you would be amazed at how dealing with your cravings as addictions and by becoming actively involved in such a group could actually amaze you about how relatively easy it is in overcoming food addictions when you harness the help of an LDS Addiction Recovery Group which specializes in food addictions.

    I pray the Good Lord will bless you in your earnest efforts you may soon be making to overcome your food addictions! Neil Birch!

  5. I’ll remember to eat an apple next time I want unhealthy things. Thanks…

    I’ve made a few mistakes, since adopting this lifestyle. One was nut butters, just like you. It ballooned me in no time until my old friend anaphylaxis told me to quit already.

    My husband and I went to Hawaii this fall. On Oahu, there is a really cool swap meet with all sorts of aloha junk for sale. It’s the same stuff they have downtown in Waikiki at 1/10 the price. Anyway…there are also fruit vendors and…bake sales…I LOVE pastries and bread, but don’t partake for allergy reasons. We walked by two women eating head sized cinnamon rolls and I began to drool. After we passed them, I said they looked good. Meaning no offense to the ladies or me in any way, he said. Eat like that; look like that. Now, every time I get a craving or temptation to eat off plan (Dr. Fuhrman says to think of those things as poison), I say to myself. Eat like that; look like that.

    Before my husband’s statement causes an uproar, I must explain. My husband still struggles with his weight. I do not. AND he didn’t mean it to make fun of those ladies. He really meant eating poorly will bring health problems that those women likely do or soon will have. Coming from a beloved family of obese people, he has great compassion for issues surrounding obesity.

    Anyway…did you eat that apple yet…eat like that; look like that. You keep on trying; you’re worth it.

  6. Duffy, I really enjoyed your post. You shouldn’t worry about posting your honest comments. You need to remember that most of us are in this because we found our bodies failing us and we found the WFPB life as an answer to our prayers. We have also caved in from time-to-time. But you just keep getting back on the bus… and each time you’re on the bus a little bit longer. The only bad thing is not getting back on the bus. It sounds like you have been doing a very good job on trying to stay on the bus. You should be proud of yourself. We have enjoyed reading your continued journey in the WFPB life. You are definitely not failing!!! You are, in my book, a hero! I admire you, especially your honesty. People who write everything is all roses all of the time are not being real with themselves or others. I would much rather read the “real” story of a person’s journey than 100 pages of happy lies. Instead of discouraging newbies, you are giving people (newbies & veterans) courage to go on when they hit those “low points”. I am getting to the point in my journey where I am having fewer and fewer desires for foods from the S.A.D. way of life where I spent my first 58 years… I am fast approaching 2 years of being vegan… about 6 months of WFPB vegan. It’s getting easier, but, as Justine said, this time of year is hard for us with friends gifting us foods we choose not to eat for health reasons that used to be our way of treating ourselves. Especially at times when we are feeling down already. We are all routing for you. I think Neil had a great idea. Check it out and see if you can get the help you need that will put you at the top of the mountain again. God bless you, Duffy, as you have blessed us with your story!

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