I’ve known for a long time that I needed to change the way I was eating, but I don’t think I ever really admitted to myself how bad my habits had gotten. To put it simply, I was a sugar junkie, craving it morning, noon and night. That meant I might have a bowl of sugary cereal for breakfast â€” no milk â€” a cupcake or cookies for lunch, then dinner and ice cream as a bedtime snack. I know. Terrible.
The night before Valentine’s Day, my husband suggested that we begin a vegetarian fast. We’ve fasted together before, having completed a 21-day liquid diet a few years back. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my life, but we made it all the way, with no cheating. Coupled with prayer and lots of time spent in reflection with my family, the fast left me feeling like my best self. I knew I needed another dose of something like this, so I agreed.
And contrary to what many people believe, a fast doesn’t HAVE to be all liquid. The idea is simply to deprive yourself of something you want. In my case, this “something” is junk food. However, I knew I’d need a stricter regimen if I were going to stick with this. So we’ve gone cold turkey: No meat or animal products (like milk and eggs), no processed sugar, no “junk food” of any kind. And because carbs are also my vices, no white rice or enriched white pasta. We’re eating only whole wheat pasta and brown rice.
We started on Valentine’s Day, so we’re 9 days into our fast. I’d be a liar if I said it has been easy, but I’m surviving. In fact, I’m positively thriving.
I’ve been trying foods that my very selective, sugar-loving palette and good, old-fashioned stubbornness had stopped me from trying before. I’m that person you hate having at dinner parties because she never wants to try anything new and will make up her face at any food that doesn’t past some unknown litmus test. But in the past week, I’ve broken out of my shell a bit, and I haven’t regretted it at all.
For example, last night’s dinner was roasted garlic & herb potatoes, steamed broccoli and sauteed (NOT fried) veggie burgers in mushroom sauce (shown above). Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have touched mushrooms or veggie burgers with a 10-foot pole. Thankfully, my husband is a master in the kitchen, and everything was positively delicious.
When I want to snack, I’ve been eating fresh fruit, raw veggies, and loose granola, rather than granola bars, which often contain a lot of sugar. I haven’t been hungry, and I only craved sugar for the first couple of days. Now, when I want something sweet, I eat an apple or a banana. Or I’ll make a fruit smoothie. I’ve also been drinking a LOT more water instead of sweetened juice drinks.
More important than any of that, I FEEL a lot better. I feel lighter and more alert. I’ve made a commitment not just to exercise, but to do it daily â€” sometimes 2 or 3 times a day.Â I wake up sore every morning, but its the kind of soreness that reminds me I’m doing something good for my body and my health. I honestly haven’t felt this good in a LONG time. It makes me want to continue this type of eating way beyond just a month. While we’ll probably add a little seafood and poultry here and there, now that I understand how easy it is to live without meat, sugar and processed food, I feel encouraged to change my entire lifestyle.
I’m down to 225 lbs. (from where I started at 235), and I can’t wait to see the scale finally show a number that starts with a 1. Whenever I need some motivation, I watch episodes and clips from The Biggest Loser or look at pictures of my girl Renee from Cutie Booty Cakes. I keep telling myself if they could do it, I can too. And you know what? I AM doing it. And I’m pretty damned proud of myself.