Since I’m only two days out of my day of destruction, I don’t have much by way of results to give you just yet. What I really want to share with you right now, is something surprising I learned…and got really pissed about. You’re going to have to forgive me. I will be writing something next week on what actually happened with the inflammation and day of destruction. Hint: it wasn’t great. For now, though, I have to take you on a tangent with me as I bitch and moan about the world at large.

The biggest thing I learned from my testing was actually something unexpected. I expected to see all of the signs of inflammation. Bloat, a distended stomach, an uncomfortable feeling like someone blew up a balloon in my insides. I even expected the headache and brain fog.  I figured it would take a few days for it all to go away. As I sit here, Labor Day, typing in the only air conditioned room in the house I realize that the biggest takeaway from this whole thing was something that I learned in the days leading up to it:

We’ve been hoodwinked. And it’s bullshit.

I have to start by saying that the intention of this was not a weight-loss experiment.  Losing pounds was not my goal. I did not wake up every day with the intention of seeing a lower number on the scale.  I want to make it very clear that I do not think success lies within skinniness or being thin or lean. I believe health trumps all, and that when your body is properly nourished, it finds it’s healthy and appropriate state. I’m also not saying that was I did would yield the same results for anyone. This is not a mapped out plan. This was based on me needs and what foods I do well on. Food is not a prescription. It’s not cookie cutter. It varies person-to-person. What I learned about it, though, made me real darn irritated.

My goal was, and is, to be healthy through food.  To eat foods that help my feel and perform my best. My goal was to heal my gut.  To make all of my insides happy. Losing body fat was an unexpected side effect. It just happened. Somewhat effortlessly, actually.  I was eating a ton. A ton of fat. Just a ton in general. That made me curious. I think it’s safe to say that most women have ‘struggled’ with weight at some point in their lives. It’s virtually a right of passage as a teenager to worry about being skinny. We’ve all read the magazines with their ‘easy’ weight-loss plans that never worked. I found it interesting, that when I was spending four weeks strictly focused on gut health, that suddenly, that little bit of weight I carried started to fall off. Why was it, that after all of these years of ‘doing everything right’ did things just now, at 28, start to change? Then it happened. My curiosity got the best of me and what I saw sent me into a spiral of rage. Rage that bubbles up even now as I sit here typing this.

Let’s first talk about my month to get ready for D-Day.  We’re going to use weight because it’s an easy thing to measure. I started out at 147.4 lbs on Aug 3. In the next 27 days, I would not change my workout routine. I would not restrict my calories. I limited my carbs to veggies/some fruit, which naturally keeps them under 100g per day. I drank ample water I ate lots of gut-healing foods like coconut oil, bone broth, grass-fed butter, and kombucha. I ate when I was hungry, and stopped when I wasn’t. On the morning of August 29, the day before shit got crazy, I weighed in at 138.0 lbs. That’s right. I lost almost 10 pounds in 27 days. Of body fat. I kept lifting. I didn’t change a thing other than what we talked about in part one. No booze, no sugar, no grains, nothing inflammatory. I must’ve been starving myself, right? Working out twice a day or doing tons of cardio? Nope. Same old 1 hr CrossFit classes 4-5 times a week, just like I always have.  Starving myself? Let’s take a look at what my nutritional breakdown looked like.

dailyThat’s right. Over these four weeks, I averaged 1940 calories, 141g of fat, 113g of protein and 65g of carbs. Almost 2000 calories per day. There were tons of days that I went up to 2300-2400 (A few days I was accidentally quite low, 1500-1600, and that brought the average down). Have you ever seen that on a weight loss plan? 64% of my calories from fat? Looks very different from all of those low-fat meal plans in women’s magazines. That got me to thinking. So I googled “How many calories should I eat to lose weight?”. I was taken to the weight loss calculator on CaloriesCount.About.com. I input my numbers. My starting weight of 147, my ‘goal’ weight of 138 (where I ended up), and my goal date – 27 days away (the length of time I’ve been tracking). What did it tell me?

For a ‘moderately active’ 28 year old, 5’8″ women to do what I did…

calories

Apparently I’m too aggressive. Don’t worry though! According to this website I can SAFELY reach my goal by consuming a whopping 1281 calories per day. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! WHAT THE FUCK IS SAFE ABOUT THAT?!

Please excuse my language but I was absolutely livid. The more I thought about it, the more angry I became. I thought about all of those times I went to websites like this, typed in my goals, tracked every single calorie I put into my mouth and then found myself devastated (and tired and goddamn hungry) at the end when it didn’t work.  All of the time I spent on the treadmill to increase my ‘calories-out’, just so I could eat something. Yes. I have done the 1200 calories a day. Over, and over, and over. I read every single ‘flat belly day diet’ Shape Magazine could throw at me with their 300 calorie meals and whole wheat, low fat, pasta dishes. As someone of the female species, I’ve had it hammered into my brain for as long as I can remember that I should be eating around 1400 calories, 1600 at most. For what? To have enough energy to sit there and look pretty? Certainly not to have enough energy to actually do anything.  It’s been so engrained, that even knowing what I know now about food. That calories-in-calories-out is a myth. That quality trumps quantity.  I still shuttered everyday as I plugged in my food and saw myself encroaching on that dreaded 2000 calorie mark. I had to keep telling myself to ignore it. That all of that dogma was wrong. That I was proof that it was wrong. Funny, I never reached my fitness goals until I threw all of that out of the window.

It’s not the fact that I lost weight that made me mad. It wasn’t even my goal.  It’s bigger than that. It’s the fact that, armed with the knowledge that we’ve been told over and over again that we need to ‘get that six pack’, or ‘bikini body’ or whatever unattainable standard is staring at us, we’re given absolutely incorrect information to make sure we can never get there. We focus on restriction. Praise it, even. We don’t focus on health. We don’t focus on what’s best for us.

The very thought that somewhere, some girl may be typing these numbers into her computer and it’s telling her to eat 1300 calories a day so she’ll be ready for prom, or her friends wedding, or whatever it is, and I know she’s going to try to do that….THAT is what makes me mad. Not the fact that she won’t lose the weight she wants to. She might. The fact that the road being laid out in front of her is not only unsafe, but flat out wrong.

To say I was enraged when that 1281 came back out of my computer screen is an understatement. We’re still being told that we need to starve ourselves, and that our bodies are a simple math problem. First of all, to say my goal is too aggressive, fine. It might be for some people. I can appreciate that. Maybe 10 lbs in 27 days is too much.  Is it unsafe, though, if I ate an average of 1900 calories a day? If all I did eat was whole, nutrient dense food? If my performance wasn’t suffering? Maybe…just maybe…there’s more to it than numbers. Regardless, to then tell me that 1281 calories per day is my SAFE option is ludicrous. I know, it’s just a computer program that spits out numbers. Isn’t that the point? When are we going to realize that our bodies don’t work that way. We aren’t all the same. We aren’t an algebra problem.

At the end of the day, it’s simply not profitable to say “Just eat real foods and workout regularly. Ditch the packaged stuff. Eat as you need to.” That doesn’t sell. Why? Because that solves the problem. A solved problem means no demand for quick fixes in glossy pages. It means no traffic to weight-loss websites and food journals. It means no money. Smell what I’m stepping in?

All of these magazine covers: Drop a Jean Size! Look 10 Years Younger! Bikini Ready in 7 Days! Slimmer by Next Week!

All of that shit only sells if a) we’re kept in the box of believing that a little bit of fat is horrible, and b) we’re idiots if we can’t get rid of it – look how easy they’ve made it for us! c) If you can’t follow this article and drop a jean size in 21 days, YOU have failed and must’ve done it wrong.

If any single one of these articles got it right, you wouldn’t need to buy the next months issue with the EXACT SAME HEADLINES.

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Again, I have to make very clear that the goal of this experiment was not one of weight loss. That was not what I set out when I started, it just happened. I’m not trying to encourage you to lose a bunch of weight really quickly. What I do want you to understand is that we’ve been lied to. Why? Because it’s easier.  It’s easier to simplify you down to calories in, and calories out and tell you do simply eat this much and you’ll get everything you want. Why is that easy? Because when it doesn’t work…it’s YOUR fault. The math was right there, laid out for you. You must’ve done something wrong. And you did. But it wasn’t your fault. You did it wrong because you were fed a plate of bullshit. A continuous cycle that you’re not good enough and unless you can muster the will power to stop shoving food into your fat mouth, you never will be. Guess what, ladies? If anything you read in all of those women’s magazines worked? There would be no more need for women’s magazines. That’s why we keep buying them, isn’t it? Maybe this one will work. Maybe this three minute workout will give me flat abs. Maybe if I just eat raspberries I’ll finally lose the baby weight. AH!! The more I write the angrier I am getting. This could very easily turn into a novel. They prey on us. On our insecurities. On the fact that we don’t look like the airbrushed model in the pictures. They tell us that it’s will power. That it’s so easy. That if we just eat the 100 calorie packs advertised in their pages we will finally be what they tell us we need to be. Whose goals are we even working towards? Do we even know whose idea of beauty we’re trying to achieve anymore? I know one thing, now. Restriction is not, and never was, the answer. It’s becoming more and more clear to me that health, above all, is.

Maybe it’s all of the grain and sugar clearing out of my system.  Maybe it’s the booze. Maybe I’ve just actually managed to lose my mind for real this time. Either way, if this post makes any sense at all, if you take anything from it let it be this:

You are not the number on your scale.

Eat real foods, lift heavy, and run fast.

Your body isn’t a math problem. When nourished properly, it will shed unneeded fat naturally and perform how you need it to. You will sleep well, have ample energy, and better mood.

Magazines do not dictate your value.

If anyone ever tells you to eat 1200 calories a day, tell them to go fuck themselves.