Mardy Roux

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The Second of Three Big Benefits of Phase 1 of the Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project

In Fasting on July 15, 2010 at 6:28 am

Benefit Number Two: Reconnecting with the feeling of hunger
There was a day, way back in January of 2010 when I experienced a revelation. Back then I had just begun my Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project and was still in Phase 1. It was an eating day for me that day, and I felt like crap. I had felt the same way two days earlier on my eating day. And two days before that, again on my eating day. Yet on my fasting days I had felt wonderful, and even experienced an odd burst of energy. And I realized in that eureka moment that I didn’t have a problem with “NOT EATING” at all! I had a problem with EATING!!! All these years and all those freaking diets I had been on that had failed me, and I had convinced myself that my inability to lose weight was because I couldn’t stand “not eating”. And it hadn’t been true! It was EATING that was making me feel bad! I had always thought the hunger was caused by “not eating”. It wasn’t. It was caused by EATING. “Not eating” allowed me to experience a real and natural form of hunger that I could deal with. The kind of hunger I had had trouble dealing with was the hunger caused by EATING. And then I had realized that it was on my EATING DAYS when I was being driven insane by that terrible, gnawing thing that I had always thought was “hunger”.

A permanent backdrop of hunger
Over many years of increasing insulin resistance, my relationship with food had become really very damaged. In the world of yo-yoing blood sugar, those of us with long standing insulin over-production, or hyperinsulinism develop a form of what I have heard called “background hunger”. This is a mild to severe nagging physical sensation that becomes the backdrop of our everyday. When it becomes very bad, when our insulin levels are very high, and our body is storing away glucose and fatty acids instead of allowing us to use them as fuel, we become ravenous, starving, and even light-headed and shaky. During those events we often search out sugary, sweet things instinctively as we desperately attempt to raise our falling blood sugar, although in doing so, we will increase our insulin output and our blood sugar will spiral down again, even further. But most of the time we don’t get this far, because we subconsciously decide to keep topping up our blood sugar levels with little snacks and bites of this and that, and lattes and cappuccinos and chais. We do this because our subconscious is reacting to that nagging, underlying background hunger. And we have the background hunger because our body is being starved for nutrients at the very moments it most expects to be fed. Our blood sugar may be propped up by the little snacks we’re eating, but most of the nutrient content is being locked away in fat cells. Background hunger in and of itself is your signal that you are, at that very moment, becoming FATTER.

Rediscovering the sensation of hunger
Background hunger became so pervasive in my own life that over the years I simply forgot what real hunger felt like. It wasn’t until I started my Set Day Fasting that I relearned that feeling that had simply become foreign to me. I relearned the feeling of true hunger. And I learned to recognize the feeling of background hunger, and what was really causing it. Food. Or more precisely, certain foods. As I progressed through my Mardy Roux Obesity Treatment Project I began to realize just how critically important this relearning was for me. By the time I had gained over a hundred extra and unwanted pounds, it had been a long long time since my body had allowed me to experience actual hunger. True hunger comes about because you have finished using the nutrients and energy provided by your previous meal and your body is now ready for a new meal. Background hunger exists because no matter what you’re eating, your body is locking it away from you.

When I started Set Day Fasting I discovered very quickly that the mild lipolysis my body was experiencing overnight, in which the body turns to stored energy while you sleep, would allow me to continue until early afternoon, provided I didn’t give my body any form of sugar. However, by mid to late afternoon, with my calorie intake for the day set to under 500, real, live hunger began to set in. And it felt different from that “hunger thing” I had been experiencing for years. I usually found that if I could get myself through those few very hungry hours from late afternoon to mid evening, that I’d be fine again before I went to bed.

Why you don’t change your normal diet on eating days in the early phases of MROTP
On eating days I continued to eat the same diet that had helped to make me fat in the first place. And so, on eating days the background hunger would return with a vengeance. As the weeks of my Set Day Fasting progressed, I began to understand that there was very real difference between the background hunger being created by the food that I ate, and the real hunger that my body creates when it genuinely wants me to feed it. Understanding and knowing the difference between those two feelings became the basis of my ability to move forward and improve my weight loss! I discovered that I didn’t want to live with that uneasy, slightly hungry and tiring discomfort that had apparently been a part of my life for years and that I hadn’t even realized I had been living with. I discovered that I preferred to not be hungry at all, and I needed to start listening to my body if I was to ever achieve that.

Set Day Fasting in Phase 1, and Alternate Day Fasting which will characterise the next few Phases, each being a month in length, has allowed me to move into a new relationship with my body, in which I can now determine that some things I eat, even though they appear innocent, trigger the background hunger that I am working to eradicate from my life. If I ever get real hunger, I know it, and I can eat. Now, in my third month of Phase 5, in which I have altered my food and nutrient choices I am losing weight without fasting. However, if I had not taken the first four months to understand my body and the reactions it has to the different foods that I like (reactions that are highlighted when you are fasting on alternate days) and to reconnect with the true physical sensation we call “hunger”, then I would not be armed or motivated adequately to make the changes I have made.

When you KNOW how lousy a certain food makes you feel…because you fasted on the days either side of eating that food, and on both fasting days you felt great except for some hunger pangs, then you KNOW that this is a food you may have to change your relationship with. You may have to go from eating it regularly to eating it only once in a while as a treat, if it’s something you love. Eventually, all by yourself, you will take the decision to make yourself feel better. Nobody will have tell you or cajole you or advise you. You will KNOW. Because it’s YOUR BODY. And when you have your eating days, you will naturally begin to gravitate to foods that make you feel nourished and well.

Phase 1 is about learning while you lose some weight
In my MROTP there are food changes that I make. Eventually. But the first two months, Phases 1 & 2, are not about food changes, they are about psychological and metabolic changes. As I discovered, by the time I was more than a hundred pounds overweight I had far more to deal with than just the foods I was eating. I had dissociated from my body in many ways. When you enjoy a fasting day, and on that day you feel HUNGRY, really, truly, HUNGRY, you should rejoice. You are reconnecting with your body. And as you progress through the phases, you will rediscover the joy of truly nourishing your body and all of its cells once again. It’s the greatest irony to me that it was ultimately by rediscovering the sensation of true hunger that I have been able to eradicate the background hunger that has plagued my life all of these long years.

Background hunger means you’re storing fat
One thing to remember, once you have recognized real hunger and background hunger and can easily tell the two apart, you have a potent weapon. If you are feeling background hunger you are gaining weight. If you are feeling background hunger you have stimulated an insulin response and your body is madly packing away everything it can as fat. If you are “peckish” and snacking, you’re probably doing it because you are sub-consciously aware of the background hunger. When you have background hunger, everything you put in your mouth is going to be stored as fat. As you go along, youll discover that this simple ability to tell good hunger from bad will become your compass to losing weight and being in control of whether you lose weight today or gain it.

What to do when you realize you have background hunger

Once you realize that you’re experiencing background hunger, the first thing to do is to accept that you are in fat storing mode and no matter what you eat, you will put it away as fat. Make a mental note of what you might have eaten to trigger insulin in your body. The main suspects will be anything that contains sugar, glucose, fructose or carbohydrates. Then eat a small piece of cheese, or meat or something with protein in it to gently try to stop the background hunger. Feeding it sugar will only make things worse. When I experience background hunger I will take a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a few pieces of walnut or a few raw almonds, and a couple of small slices of cheese. I don’t expect to have lost weight that day, but as there is no weighing or measuring on my MROTP I’ll never actually know for sure and my motivation won’t be affected. The main thing is that the oil and protein ease my body out of the sensation of background hunger and into a sense of satiety. And I then know that every time I choose to eat that thing that triggered the background hunger in the first place, I have chosen to have a weight GAIN day, instead of a weight LOSS day. It’s my choice. In my seventh month, I am still identifying things that cause background hunger. They aren’t always instantly obvious. But with the fasting, you have learned to recognize how background hunger FEELS, that it is not a REAL hunger and now you know how to deal with it.

Seize the Day
All of those years when I was packing on the weight, I was paralyzed. I had read probably hundreds of books on diet and nutrition, and on various diets, and had tried every major diet you could name, and nothing worked. I would lose 15 or 20 pounds at best, stall, sometimes for months and months, and then gain the weight back and more. The weight just kept on coming. So as the weight increased, or plateaued followed by yet another increase, I just froze. I had no tool that I could use to stop the relentless march of the pounds as they crept onto my body. I was confused and desperate and like so many women, I eventually gave up. If you’re like me, you have experienced that awful moment when you weighed yourself, saw yet another jump in weight, and felt absolutely hopeless because you just didn’t know what the hell to do to stop the weight GAIN, let alone to turn the thing around!

When I discovered Set Day Fasting and Alternate Day Fasting, they frightened me. I was afraid of being hungry, although I had really been hungry for about a decade, no matter how much I ate. I was afraid of putting my body into “starvation mode”, because I didn’t know that the fat on my body was actually a symptom of systemic, metabolic starvation. I was afraid of getting an eating disorder, although clearly becoming metabolically resistant and morbidly obese would indicate that a disorder of some kind was already in situ. It took only ONE low calorie fasting day to overcome those fears and begin to connect with my own personal power to endure. That day was nothing compared to what I had already endured. It was a breeze, frankly, compared to the endless background hunger of hyperinsulinism, to my increasing invisibility in public as a middle aged obese woman, to the destruction of my self esteem, to the agony of having to buy new, bigger, cheaper and nastier clothes as I grew larger, to the contempt in which society held me because as an overweight person I was obviously of bad character, to the contempt in which I held myself to the point of not being able to look directly at my own reflection….good grief. A day of fasting is nothing compared to all of those things. And with it came the gift of knowing that I now had a tool I could use to change the direction of my weight.

On the day that you fast you alter your weight trajectory. Never had I had such a certain tool in my hands. All of those years, struggling with failing diets that required significant investment in fees or foods or doctors or time, I never had a single day in which I knew for certain that I had in my power the ability to stop gaining weight on the day of my choice. Everything was always a gamble. Suddenly with my first Set Day Fast I had stopped the weight gain. I now know that at any time in the future, should I feel that I am putting weight on again, all I need to do is to fast the very next day, and I will have interrupted the weight-gain cycle. That’s the tool I never had before. My generation always assumed that special tool would come in the form of a pill. But a one day fast is much simpler and cheaper than any miracle weight loss pill will ever be. It’s the ability to say to yourself, “Tomorrow I stop gaining weight and start losing it” and to know that this is completely in your own power.

After all those years of feeling powerless to stop the weight gain, I now know that I will never be powerless again. I am in control of my weight now. I can choose on any given day whether I want to gain weight or lose weight. And should I ever fear that I am losing control, that single day of fasting will stop all of the weight gain insanity and the keys to the kingdom will again be mine. Veni, vidi, vici.

Mardy Roux

If you are reading this post and wish to know more about the Set Day Fasting approach of Phase 1 of the MROTP, then please be sure to read the MROTP rules and the instructions for Phase 1 which you will find here on this blog.

Always consult your medical practitioner before beginning any weight loss program.

© Mardy Roux 2010