ETL Friday! is back this week with one of ETL’s Lifers :). Her view of “Nutritional Excellence” gave me another way to look at Eating To Live, and that’s always a good thing! I can think of few as knowledgeable as Claudia, and I love-love-love what she shares here; it’s truly insightful and wisdom from which we all can benefit.
But , I’ll give you Claudia and stop gibbering :D:
I’m here today on ETL Friday to talk about how I discovered the Eat to Live diet-style, and how it has transformed my life.
Most of my life, I have struggled to try and keep my weight down. I did a lot of yo-yo dieting, losing weight only to eventually gain it back again. I always experienced dieting as a form of deprivation which I could not keep up indefinitely. At some point I’d always start to feel too confined and unsatisfied, and fall back into my old habits of eating anything I wanted to, whenever I wanted it.
Before ETL, I was a food addict, and if I went too long without food I became very uncomfortable. My experience of hunger included headaches, weakness, shakiness, and stomach grumbling and discomfort. When I was dieting, I would obsess over food, and think about it all the time. It seems like I was hungry quite often, and always ready for my next meal.
One of the major things that ETL has done for me is to cure me of my food addiction, allowing me to lose all the weight I needed to once and for all, and to permanently maintain an ideal weight without it being such a struggle.
The first time I heard Dr. Fuhrman speak was in Philadelphia’s Chinatown, at a vegan conference on ‘Chinese Plant Based Nutrition and Culture’, where he gave a lecture called ‘Greens: The Super Food’. While I was impressed with his speech, I wasn’t quite ready to make any major lifestyle changes right away. I was just having too much fun enjoying all the great vegan restaurants that Philadelphia has to offer, and my waistline was showing it.
Eventually, I decided that it was time to go on a diet again, but I chose to follow the McDougall plan because eating all the starches seemed more do-able and less confining to me. It really didn’t work out though. Although I managed to lose some weight, I was not so relaxed about it. I was white-knuckling it, and always thinking about my next meal. I was still the same old food addict who was afraid to go too long without food for fear of becoming hungry. Besides the discomfort of being hungry, it tended to cause me to freak out and want to eat anything in sight that wasn’t nailed down. Back in the days that I had followed Weight Watcher’s, I remember they used to tell us that if we went for more than 4 hours without eating, then we were just setting ourselves up for failure. Besides the hunger issue, all of my starch based meals had become rather colorless, and I was also rather pale and colorless as well. Another problem was that my skin become very dry, which I believe was from the lack of any nuts or seeds in the diet.
Meanwhile, I had a health issue that had been brewing for quite some time. I had a fibroid uterus that had grown to the size of a 6 month pregnancy, and I discovered that Dr. Fuhrman was an expert on therapeutic water fasting and had helped women use fasting in order to shrink their fibroids. So, between wanting his advice on my medical issue, and wanting a better diet, I decided that I would become a member of his website in order to get his support. One thing I liked about the member center from the very beginning was the way that Dr. Fuhrman is so totally committed to everyone’s success and has absolute confidence in our ability to achieve it. To make a long story shorter, Dr. Fuhrman told me that I needed to follow his diet, and get close to my ideal weight before he could even consider whether I might be a good candidate for a fast. In the end, fasting did not turn out to be my best option, however, I did end up losing weight faster and more effortlessly than ever before, and the weight has stayed off. Instead of eating a washed out, colorless diet, and being hungry all the time, I now enjoy a delicious, colorful, and satisfying diet, and do not experience the uncomfortable hunger symptoms that I used to have.
When I was new to ETL, I had to go through a period of missing the old foods that I had always liked, and feeling deprived because I wasn’t eating what everyone around me was having. It made me feel left out. Fortunately, I got over that long ago, replacing the old with the new, and thoroughly enjoying my new diet-style. Now I actually feel sorry for those that still struggle with the food addiction brought on by a SAD diet, and who haven’t had the good fortune to be cured of it by ETL. Ironically, many people see my diet as very limited and even feel sorry for me. With regard to this, I have an analogy that is meaningful to me.
In Anusara yoga, we learn to experience greater freedom (of movement) by having structure and setting boundaries. Its a concept that isn’t intuitively obvious, and sounds paradoxical, but it perfectly describes my experience of ETL.
Instead of just letting everything go lax, we use our muscles to achieve proper alignment of the body, setting boundaries that take us places we’ve never been before. Take a look at the picture of John Friend on the cover of this DVD:
John is doing something that takes balance. Balance is something that doesn’t happen by flopping your body around and relying on flexibility alone. You have to engage your muscles and set boundaries in order to get your body to do things never before imagined. This DVD is called the Dance of Yes and No and is all about the experience of freedom through boundaries
I guess the really cool thing about this for me is that ETL is a real life, ‘off the mat’ experience of what John Friend was trying to teach. For me its kind of like an Aha! moment, but its kind of hard to convey this. Its a really profound and deep thing. From the yoga side alone its difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and from the food side alone, its also hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. But it is way cool to experience it from both sides, and to realize that it is all connected.
Many SAD eaters feel sorry for me because they think that I have ‘limited’ myself, and that I’m so ‘deprived’. But, what they don’t understand, is that through this ‘limitation’ I am experiencing a freedom far beyond what they can imagine. I am free of food addictions and cravings. I am free of being ‘powerless over food’. I am not constantly controlled by food. I am more relaxed about food. I don’t need to eat as often, and It doesn’t feel like an emergency every time I get hungry. I’m not climbing the walls. I am not in a constant state of hunger, or fear of hunger in which I obsess about having food quickly available at all times. I am free to enjoy a bounty of healthy natural food with a more enhanced level of pleasure than ever before, while also experiencing the joy of having a fit, healthy body. I am not digging my grave with my knife and fork, limiting my enjoyment of life be cutting it short like the SAD eaters.
It’s all a matter of perspective, and while others may see the ‘limits’ I’ve set as self-deprivation, and feel sorry for me, they don’t realize that by doing this I’m achieving greater freedom. I’m achieving the freedom from food addiction.
It is we ETLers who have the real freedom. We have earned it, and it is wondrous.
Claudia in a handstand; Elijah, with hand creating a resistance to press against for greater extension. Photo by “Sheila-Seattle” taken at Dr. Fuhrman’s Utah Getaway
I love the freedom through boundaries analogy and I’ll never forget that description. It’s exactly how I feel.
This is one of the most poignant and relevant benefits for me because it rings so true. Just beautiful! Thank you, Claudia.