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:
- I was in a good place, emotionally
- 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.
“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?”
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?
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.