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Whole Food, Plant-based Bikini Model Training – Part 3

Whole Food, Plant-based Bikini Model Training – Part 3

I am 27 days away from my first bikini competition and I am doing it naturally and as a vegan. There are so many things I have learned and come to understand now by doing this competition prep. I have truly been enlightened in many ways. I am thrilled with what I have learned and very grateful for the experience.

Real Empathy, Gained through Experience

I have to say, firstly, that I was deeply naive before starting this process. I think this is normal. We are all usually naive about how to truly understand something until we have actually experienced it ourselves. No matter how empathetic we are, we cannot know until we know first hand. So, with that said, in all my naive bliss, it never, ever, ever occurred to me that in order to look good enough to get on stage, in order to look like these girls, in order to really get lean, in order to even be remotely competitive in this competition —  I would need to eat less. I am not kidding. It never occurred to me. Not really. Not deeply. Not first hand.

But now, here I am at 7pm, like so many nights in the last few weeks where I am hungry but I am out of calories for the day. Now, I have two opinions about this and I think many people would agree with both — if they can hear me out long enough.

Opinions about Hunger

The first opinion is:

#1 If you’re hungry, you should eat!

The second opinion is:

#2 Just because my stomach is rumbling, does not mean that my body needs more calories.

Which one do you agree with?

Well, obviously, when I feel hunger, I agree with #1 because I feel the pain of hunger in my belly and that is not a comfortable feeling and so in order to get rid of the uncomfortableness, all I need to do is eat.

However, I have a goal. And that goal requires that I eat less. Why? Well, in order to “get lean”, in order to actually see the tone and definition I have been working my butt off in the gym for, I have to get rid of some of the fat that covers my body so you can actually see my muscle definition.

So, now we come to the second opinion – just because my stomach is rumbling, does not mean that my body needs more calories. It simply means that there is no food in my stomach to digest, that’s all. That is what those hunger pains mean. They do not mean I am starving (but tell that to my brain!).

Self-care and Suffering

I know there is a whole school of thought out there who are horrified that I would not feed myself if I am hungry. There is no nobility in always giving ourselves what we want. There is no learning, there is no gain, there are no lessons if we never struggle. Some may say, these “struggles” I am experiencing are self-inflicted. Why would I inflict any struggle on myself. Well, I ask, what other way is there!? I live in America in the 21st century. I make a decent salary. I have every single thing that I could possibly need. I literally need nothing more. And on top of that, I get almost every single thing I really want (not the mansion and private jet sort of stuff, I mean the regular person stuff). I have never once known starvation. I have always had access to clean water. I have always had access to a shower. I have never once been without somewhere to lay my head at night. I do not ever have to suffer through any weather in order to reach my job or to get my food. I simply jump in my car that is in a covered parking garage and drive to the grocery store that is FILLED with loads of any kind of food you could possibly imagine. I buy whatever I want and I go home to my cozy little house with all my kitchen supplies and cook up whatever I want. I have never known suffering. Not real suffering. And I have never known starvation. Not truly.

Real Self-harm

There was that one time when I was in high school when I literally stopped eating for about a year. If I did eat, I made myself throw it up. That was 20 years ago now. And, at the time, my father was drinking himself to death right before my eyes. So, I do not believe that it was a case of starvation or even true anorexia or bulimia. I think it was anorexia and bulimia ONLY as a result of life circumstances. Yes, I do think there is a difference. It is a similar difference to someone who feels depressed vs. someone who has diagnosable depression. Or similar to the comparison of a person who drinks excessively vs. a real alcoholic. Hard to see the difference, I know. Only one person knows the real difference.

Benefits of Lowering your Caloric Intake

So, now, 20 years later, with mountains of scientific research about the extreme damage caused by the excessive caloric intake of Americans and the amazing health benefits of reducing our calorie intake, here I am. It’s amazing to me really, how eating only the amount of calories that my body expends could be judged. That people really think I should eat more energy than I need. Only in America!

Eating Energy

Wait, eating energy? Yes. Food is energy. There is only one way calories work – as we learned in Science class. Calories are not magic. Calories are energy. Literally. If you consume more energy than you burn, it has to go somewhere and since it is in your body and you didn’t burn it, it stays in your body. If we do not burn off more than we consume, we accumulate excess energy. This is the process of “storing fat”.

So, in order to lose that excess, I need to monitor how much energy I use in a day and then just make sure I don’t eat more than that. Super easy!

But, I’m hungry.

Haha… So, let’s go back to the original two opinions.

Back to Square One

The first opinion is:

#1 If you’re hungry, you should eat!

The second opinion is:

#2 Just because my stomach is rumbling, does not mean that my body needs more calories.

Obviously, when I feel hunger, I agree with #1 because I feel the pain of hunger in my belly and that is not a comfortable feeling and so in order to get rid of the uncomfortableness, all I need to do is eat.

Is this true?

The Emotions around Food

Anyone who has tried to lose weight or who works with people who are trying to lose weight will tell you — no way. Eating to stop the uncomfortableness of hunger pains is not the only way to solve that uncomfortableness. Food is extremely emotional. It is not the uncomfortableness that needs to be solved. It is our inability to sit still with ANY amount of uncomfortableness — that’s what needs to be solved. And so, we eat quickly to makes sure we never have to feel uncomfortable. Or, in other situations, we indulge in whatever the behavior is, so that we can avoid actually feeling uncomfortable. This is very much the psychology of addiction and yes, I think so many of us are addicted to food.

Real Self-care

So, what happens when you know you have given your body a full days worth of the energy it needs, that you ARE healthy, that you ARE treating yourself right. That you ate entirely plant-based, whole foods, which included fruits, vegetables and grains and did NOT include processed foods, oils, or bad fats. That you did not take any supplements or weight loss assistance drugs. That you exercised reasonably and well. That you exerted yourself and tried hard. But those hunger pains still come… as they will if there is no food in your belly. What happens?

Can you sit with the feelings that arise?

Some days, yes, absolutely. Some days — no, no I cannot.

This is what I am learning.

 

 

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