Eat to Live: 3 Weeks Down, 6 Weeks to Go?

Revised, 2010

So I’m three weeks in to the Eat to Live program and should only have three weeks to go. I mean I just signed up for six weeks. But, yesterday I was reading how long it really takes to make a habit. Normally experts suggest it takes 21 days. Some studies have found it likely takes 60 days.

This makes sense to me, since I have failed quite a few times in making positive changes. (I have also succeeded quite a few times!) Who out there hasn’t failed now and again? A prime example would be when I quit smoking many years ago. (Yes, I know. I too can’t believe I used to smoke. I blame it on my mom (not really) but out of four kids, she only smoked when pregnant with me, and I’m the only one who took up the habit — interesting, don’t you think!) When I “first” quit, I used the nicotine patch. That program only lasts like 4-6 weeks. I can’t remember exactly how long, but perhaps I would have been successful the first time or sooner if I focused on it for 9 weeks (or 63 days). Anyway, I’m going to give this Eat to Live plan nine weeks to see if it becomes more of a habit for me to eat this way.

What I’m going for is that when I’m hungry my first inclination is to choose whole, unprocessed foods and not something quick and easy from a package. I also need to be in the habit of planning my meals. Or, when I’m agitated — say someone pisses me off — I choose to practice my yoga or some other positive behavior rather than eat emotionally. Of course, eating emotionally never results in eating healthfully.

With that said, I got off to a shaky start on day one, but overall have been doing pretty good. On the first day, I woke with a headache and popped an ibuprofen by 9am. It was my first day back to work after a week off. Work can do that to me. According to the book, I should have suffered through the pain as it would eventually go away as my body rid itself of toxins through this process. I’m not much into suffering though. I have taken a total of four over-the-counter pain relievers which is a huge improvement for me. I have only had a few headaches over the last three weeks. I’m not certain if it’s the Eat to Live program, the fact that work has calmed down a lot, my new yoga practice, or if it’s a combination. No matter why, I am feeling better! So I’m doing something right.

By the third week, I actually started to wake up with a clear head rather than all the stuffiness I typically feel. This in itself is a big payoff. I have also lost about five pounds which is great, but honestly feeling better when I wake up is more important to me. I would say I have followed the eating plan about 95%, which I feel good about because it is not easy. I have veered off the path a few times. Here are some of my transgressions:

  • Salad dressings with oil. I finally started making my own using the vegan ranch recipe from Eat for Health. It’s pretty good after switched up the spices a bit.
  • Cans of beans with salt although I do rinse them before cooking. I didn’t know until a couple of days ago that Whole Foods sells cans of unsalted beans. How did I overlook that? I know I could buy bags of beans but too much trouble for me at this point.
  • Dinner has consisted of air popped popcorn a few times. Sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking when I get home from work. I’m not a huge fan of air popped popcorn by the way, but I’m a HUGE fan of movie popcorn. I’m adapting.

The first time I popped the corn was an experience in itself. I bought a popper at Target made by ChefMate. Do not buy this product.The first time I used it I had popcorn and kernels flying all over my kitchen. Wow. This was the most poorly made product ever. I wish I had taken pictures to post. It was actually quite funny but obviously I had to return the popper. I imagine the ChefMate product folks testing the product and laughing their asses off thinking how this would be such a fun product to sell. I found a better-made popper at Macy’s by the way.

  • I have eaten dinner out a few times. I have made good choices for the entrée but then had dessert (and it was not for my birthday!).  I did choose raw desserts both times, which at least do not have straight up table sugar but are not part of the six-week plan either.
  • Some days I’ve eaten too much fat, i.e. more nuts and avocados then allowed in one day.
  • Birthday weekend: Started on Thursday with two vegan cupcakes even though my birthday wasn’t until Saturday. A co-worker who is not vegan made me vegan cupcakes for my big day. How could I refuse a cupcake?! I guess the bigger question is why I needed two! What I noticed, since this was the first time I had white sugar in three weeks, is that I had a headache by the evening and it was still hanging around when I woke up. Another pain killer taken. Friday night I had vegan cheesecake. Didn’t like that so much. Saturday on my birthday, I skipped cake and just had vegan chocolate mousse from Whole Foods.
  • Yesterday, days after my birthday was over, I’m still craving sugar. I gave in by 3:30 in the afternoon and had four squares of dark chocolate. Sugar is a tough one to crack but here’s the worst…
  • The most blatant transgression of all occurred on the 21st day. After a frustrating Sunday of phone call after phone call — not a big fan of talking on the phone — I broke down and went in search of potato chips. I was craving something salty which I always knew was my first love over sugar.

The most difficult thing about this diet for me is eating out. I love to eat out and this is when I see my friends. It’s been challenging for me to practice the necessary discipline to eat at home most of the time. The only way to completely manage that I eat what is allowed on the plan is to eat at home. Ughhh. Friends, I’ll see you soon I hope! Nonetheless, accepting these transgressions, I trudge forward. Like Dr. Fuhrman says in his books, just because you get off track at one meal or snack doesn’t mean you can’t get right back on track the next time you eat.