Of Diets, Cellulite and Patriarchy.

imageMy daughter stood on my tummy the other day as I lay on my back and lovingly asked me : “Daddy, can I jump up and down?” Oooouuch, who could say no to her angelic little face. “Yes, but just once” I said as I tightened the few remaining muscles in my abdomen. She jumped up and landed back gently and was quite delighted. “Daddy, your tummy is soft like a jumping castle”, she said adorably with her characteristic lisp. That’s love alright but did she have to use that metaphor? Jumping Castle? Really? The D-word started flashing in my mind. Yes you guessed right, diet. Political correctness demand that I call it a weight-loss programme. Stuff PC, I’ll call it a diet.

The women in your family have probably at some stage in their lives embarked on a diet. And men. Mostly on Mondays. It’s not me, it’s scientific research that says most people choose to embark on new diets on Mondays. And most have quit by Tuesday evening. Now I see why Monday is not people’s favourite day of the week. No one looks forward to starving, oops, dieting.

Society being as patriarchal as it is, a man declaring “I’m going on a diet” gets one of those frowns that accompany men who admire David Beckham’s grooming as opposed to his soccer skills. So I’ll be damned if I’m going to declare that my daughter’s likening my tummy to a jumping castle made me want to “go on a diet”. But I do go on diets, periodically. Nothing radical. I just ditch the sugar and its relatives and eat the way human beings are meant to eat. But then again, what is that way?

My most favourite living scientist, Professor Tim Noakes goes into a quite a bit of scientific detail in his book, Challenging Beliefs, about how and what our ancestors hunted down and ate. They obviously hunted down protein, so we must have strayed from their healthy meat(protein-based) diet to today’s carbohydrate-laden diet.

But then again man stopped being a hunter and became more of a gatherer at some point and relied more on agriculture(greens) for survival than on meat. Was this a good move or not? My kids, and most other kids I know would vote against the fundamental values of the Agricultural revolution, purely based on the way vegetables taste. I love kids so I agree with them. I too hate cauliflower. I maintain flowers belong in vases on Mother’s Day and those rare occasions when you can’t afford diamonds for your loved one, not on my plate.

Anyways, being the closet tree-hugger that I am I have a strong natural aversion to ingesting a pill or medication that is supposed to make me lose weight. It’s a science thing I guess, the simple understanding that nothing man-made can “melt away” human fat in a living body, never. Granted, one can mess around with appetite or metabolism but anything beyond that is a bunch of hot air.

Read this quote I came across recently on the often-misunderstood cellulite.

“Amazing how magic creams keep getting sold to help the world get rid of cellulite.Fact is, there is no real difference between cellulite fat, and regular fat. All of the cellulite sponges and creams designed to “dissolve” cellulite and other gimmicky devices are all ripping you off. Unfortunately, cellulite is actually caused by muscular atrophy, a condition that occurs when the layer of muscle becomes weak and undefined, and separates from the skin, making the unattractive fatty deposits visible. So the first thing you need to know is that cellulite treatment has nothing to do with your skin and everything to do with the muscles underneath the skin. And remember, cellulite removal has NOTHING to do with weight loss. Even the skinniest of girls can suffer from cellulite.
The good news is that there is a way to reverse muscular atrophy, and banish annoying cellulite forever. And no matter how much you weigh or how old you are, you can do this naturally without popping pills or using phony lotions. Exercise…”

So you are probably wondering right,if he claims to know so much about human physiology and weight-loss how come he looks BMI-challenged, with a jumping castle for a tummy?

Because, my friend, our relationship with food is not governed by our brains but by our emotions. Basic biology, sympathetic nervous system vs central nervous system. Everything you’ve read until this point comes from my brain(central nervous system) but what I eat, how often I eat and my addictions to ‘nice’ foods are governed by the not-so-logical sympathetic nervous system. I have not mastered the mind over matter technique as yet, mental illnesses do not help either, hence my little problem with accumulating body fat where others can notice it, like my tummy area.

Whilst willpower can help you whittle away the unwanted extras, anybody who’s ever gone on a diet will tell you it takes more than an iron will to keep those pounds from returning. It’s that old adage: reaching the summit is rarely a problem, it’s staying on top that’s the issue. So instead of focussing so much of our energy on losing weight and eating right we should zone in on “feeling right”, reaching our perfect emotional and mental state. More balance than perfection really.

We all know it somehow, it’s been encoded into our genes: When I feel good I eat well, I don’t binge on food, alcohol and other nerve-calming things. But upset your internal balance and you will pay through your waistline. That’s why people say “I tend to eat a lot when I’m moody”.

So, on this, my tenth day on the protein-rich diet based on Professor Tim Noakes scientific based conclusions, as I look forward to more steak-filled days ahead, my mind wonders to why I could not keep the weight off the last time I tried this diet.

I whittled away the fat like a living, walking fat-burner. The amount of clothes I gained back was really amazing. The running made it even easier to shed the kilos. But like all good things, it all came to an end. Sadly, the process seemed to reverse itself. And the fat cells seemed to come back more aggressively this time around, hence my jumping-castle experience with my daughter.

But even as I started the search for a solution, I knew deep down that the fatty deposits on various sections of my body were a result of an imbalance in my emotional make-up than how and what I ate. Yes the sugar made me a bit BMI-challenged, but I know deep down that to return to healthy eating ways I need to get my chemical mental balance right.

I could go all organic and eat cauliflower and a lot of greens or even start organic farming. But I’m not easily taken in by “new things”. See, my grandmother farmed organically long before it became a fad. She had to grow food for us to eat so we could live. Simple as that. Not much of a choice. See, it’s a bit like people who eat mopani worms or locusts/grasshoppers as a delicacy at some fancy do, I pity them. For long periods those were a major source of my protein growing up. I will not willingly ingest them now so I can feel adventurous. I had far too many of those adventures in my youth. Ditto organic farming.

Not that I have anything against healthy organically-grown food(or even organics bought from Woolworths), no, I’m just ok with them. Ok.

So if I could offer you advice on not developing a jumping castle tummy, it would be simple: 1. Get your mental health right(emotions etc) 2. Feel good about yourself 3. Eat lots of proteins, and some vegetables and 4. Some exercise won’t hurt.

Thank me later, oh you want thank me now, you’re welcome!

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7 responses

  1. So true. And also, everyone has to find their own way to stay healthy – it’s not a one-fits-all scenario. I find my tummy doesn’t like lots of protein, but lots of vegetables are good, some protein and some carbs. And a bit of exercise helps keep us fit and in the right kind of shape we’re meant to be. State of mind is one of the most important things in staying healthy, though, there’s no doubt about that. When I’m stressed, I get lazy. Then my neck starts aching and I get even lazier and make up for it with chocolate. I don’t put on weight but I feel sluggish and yucky and need to drag myself out of the dumps back into being energetic again. As for my tummy… after 2 kids… that’s just how it’s going to look! Sure wish I could run like you do, keep it up, Sydney!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for reading Heidi. You are so right, everyone should try to find their own way, but the weight-loss industry is based on the one-fits-all scenario. Trying to sell every overweight person on earth the same solution. I have figured for me, mental wellness comes first and the rest follows.

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  2. Personally I love my veggies, best way to shed off the pounds to the point of anorexia and taste great when steamed. My boyfriend tried the Tim Noakes diet. The weightloss was constant but he didn’t have regular cholesterol checks which apparently the diet shouldn’t cause but given the amount of fat eaten, I wasn’t convinced.
    Let us know how it goes. I’m curious.

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    1. Reabetswe, thank you so much for reading. I wish I loved veggies as much as you do. I guess your boyfriend and I have the same opinion of veggies, to be eaten in moderation, lol. If Prof Tim Noakes’ science is right, then cholesterol is not as important a health marker as was previously believed. This is considered “controversial” science right now but I’m convinced he’s onto something. I will let you know how it goes. (If I stick it out that is, lol)

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  3. It is (almost) funny Sydney, how all I ever have to do is come visit you via your blog when I want to hit the re-set button on my life and find a wee bit of balance through the perspective of common sense. So thank you Sydney. Again and Always!

    For the record, I have never lost an ounce or gained any energy and vitality by focusing on getting them. All three appear to be a natural side-effect of staying true to myself, my values — a side effect of satisfaction if you will. I suppose I am thanking you for reminding me of the important ‘whys’ in my life — found reflected by the mirror of your humor and forays into introspection.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Hey Sydney, your message really resonates with me. When my mind is well, my body follows suit.
    One problem with this is sometimes our minds are just not well (due to no fault of our own). That is when I find it important to “allow” yourself to be imperfect. It’s not all or nothing to me (any more, haha!) – as you say, BALANCE. And balance is NOT perfection.
    I also run for mental wellness, as well as the physical side effects. I find the best way to eat is for fuel. Fuel to exercise, fuel to think, work, play, and eating it in such a way that you can sleep by the time you need to as well. Respect your body, and it will respect you right back, all the way into our old age. Thanks for the good read!

    Like

  5. Always good reading from you Sydney. Lots of well articulated ideas about life, and I believe some of the more arcane research supports what you are saying! Seems there are some ‘feelgood hormones’ that are related to good weight/fat management by the body. I shall have to find that article again and share with you.

    So being authentic to one’s joy helps give one more reason to be joyful: what great feedback! I have experienced this in my life 🙂
    Food quality is a factor too: we need to eat happy food, grown in happy soil (soil that has been lovingly managed) (raised in a happy environment) and the happiness circulates 🙂

    Like

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