Saturday, January 7, 2017

Food is fuel – not fun

Food is fuel – not fun (with apologies to Bruce the shark in Finding Nemo).

Someone recently asked me what I eat. As I thought about it, I realized that I tend to eat a lot of the same things. Holly, my wife, has been very supportive of my lifestyle change, but I know it has been hard on her as she has felt like she can’t make a lot of the foods that she wants to make for me.

In conversation with someone, I was able to finally explain clearly what I feel about food at this point.

Food is fuel – not fun.

I use that analogy very specifically. For the longest time, I have used food for a source of comfort, and something to look forward to. In the past, foods like pizza, pasta, soda, milk and bread have been a staple of my life, and I have enjoyed eating them.

So why change how I was eating? Because for me, they were the wrong type of fuel.

Let me explain it like this.

If you inherited a really nice car, and that car ran on premium unleaded, what kind of fuel would you put in it?

You could put premium gasoline, or economy gasoline…or you could try any number of fuels like alcohol, aviation gas, kerosene, jet fuel or even diesel.

Sounds stupid right – you know what your car needs to run smoothly and without risking damage to the components, so that’s what you put in it… right?

Why is your body any different? You wouldn’t put a lower efficiency fuel in your car, so why would you put a lower efficiency fuel in your body.

So yes, I do eat a diet that is probably less varied than other people. And yes, there are times when I would like to indulge in something that would probably taste really good.

So why don’t I – simply because I have a WHY.

In my mind, I have a very specific set of reasons as to why I am eating and living the way I do.

For me, weight loss is not just about looking better, although that’s part of it, but it’s a small part. The WHY for my weight loss involves serving my family in the way I would like to. It involves having more energy to be able to do the things that I need to do for them. It involves being able to increase my income, and finally give them the lives I want them to have.

Whatever your reason to change your life, the intensity of your WHY has to be stronger than the difficulty of the HOW, so you can achieve the WHAT that is going to make all the difference to the quality of your life.

So I choose to fuel my body for performance and function, and not focus on the emotional aspect of eating. Focusing on how food made me feel emotionally is a big part of what resulted in me weighing 340 lbs.

If I can find some enjoyment in food along the way, fantastic. Great benefit, but it’s not the overriding factor in what I choose to eat.

Sometimes I get tired of eating the same kind of foods – so what? It’s just fuel. If I can change it up and make it less boring within the parameters of my food program – then great, let’s do that.

But I will not sacrifice my progress or my possibilities in the future just to appease how I feel emotionally. That’s not what food is about.

Food is fuel, not fun.

So if you find yourself reluctant to make a change that you know you need to, chances are it’s because food is an emotional decision in your life, not a physiological one.

Ask yourself – what foods am I unwilling to give up? Then try to decide why that is. Because if you are making emotional decisions about food, my guess is that you are probably struggling with self control over the things that you eat.

Emotional eating is dangerous, since it allows us to avoid confronting the problems that we want to ignore, and increases our weight at the cost of our health.

Emotional eating, coupled with a diet that is high in carbohydrates, is a sure fire way to end up dealing with obesity, diabetes and death.

So even though it’s hard, and boring sometimes, and frustrating, I choose to make the choice of fueling my body with what it needs, when it needs it, regardless of how I feel about it.

Food is fuel, and it can be fun, as long as it stays within the guidelines.

Wherever you are, I hope you have a wonderful day. It’s freezing cold where we are, and another winter storm is headed our way. More snow, and freezing temperatures, on top of already packed ice and crazy road conditions. Going to be a fun weekend!

Stay safe, and eat well.

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