The void

Overeating is the norm. It is the American way. We pride ourselves on our large portions. We have contests to see who can eat the most. We challenge patrons to eat the 72 Oz steak.

The week leading up to my weight loss journey, I ate a large pizza almost every day. I ordered fried drive-through chicken, fish, potatoes and onion rings, two to three times per day. I ate a quart of ice cream every night.

The stress of my job, the pain in my joints and other places, and the anxiety associated with my health problems were greater than I was equipped to deal with. Food was the only place I looked to deal with my problems.

I could not fill the void.

Redefining healthy

“Healthy” has been redefined by modern society. Now it means large. “Healthy portion,” “healthy appetite,” healthy size.”

But most of us are not healthy. Healthy-sized portions are too large. Healthy-sized individuals are too massive. And healthy appetites lead to overeating.

We have become fascinated by human muscle. We look for extra protein to grow muscles. Workout strategies include weight lifting to grow muscle because “adding muscle helps you lose weight faster.”

That may be true, but I have yet to lift a single weight since I began this journey some five months ago. Perhaps I am the exception to the rule.

But I do know, statistically speaking, the higher your body mass index, the more prone you are to disease and death. And muscle adds to your BMI.

Now, I am not against weightlifting and support those who use it to get healthy.

But I no longer agree with society’s definition of healthy.

Redefining proportions

Several years ago, I had an amazing neighbor who invited me over for dinner almost every night. I was on a weightlifting plan at the time and worked out at the gym twice per day. I noticed something, her portion sizes were much smaller than I was accustomed to. Because of my overeating problem I would eat before sharing at her dinner table. And after.

I justified my behavior by saying I was big boned and needed more Nutrition than she did. I justified it by saying I burned more calories because of my workouts. I justified it by saying I needed to build more muscle so it required more calories and more protein.

But when my gym habits changed, and my eating habits stayed the same, I ballooned up in weight very, very quickly.

And this time weightlifting was not an option, according to my cardiologist.

I had to find a way to reduce my food intake.

Reinterpreting hunger signals

Through my plan, I reduced the size of my portions overnight. It was easier than I thought it would be. At times, the biggest challenge was remembering to eat.

My body learned to interpret hunger in a completely different way. It was like hitting a reset button.

Now I eat smaller portions than my good neighbor served me. I remain full to the next meal time. I continue to lose weight.

Smaller is my new normal.

Photo: Duncan Little Theatre production photo of actor with grimaced face.

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