Monday, May 25, 2009

Listening to my body

I will never forget when I was 13 or 14 I was astonished how my uncle stayed so thin and he never finished what was on his plate. I remember saying to him, “How do you know when you are full?” He replied, “I eat until I am satisfied and then stop.” I remember thinking, “What are you talking about?” I have never understood that concept and I still don’t. I am a member of the “Clean Plate Club.” My grandmother really drilled that into my head because I had to eat for the starving kids in China and Russia. All these years no matter what was on my plate I always have to finish everything. I feel like I have been out of touch with my body for a very long time and the truth being known probably about 30 years since I was 13. That is when I started eating to stuff down my emotions after my mother passed away two months before my Bar Mitzvah.

I realized quickly that if I ate enough food at the right times that I didn’t have to feel whatever feeling was going on at the time. By overeating enough at the right times I could go to sleep or just “veg” out in front of the tv with food. As I got into my mid twenties I noticed that I had a lot of gas and was going to the bathroom a lot. When I had these “episodes” it would be smelly enough that I could have probably been used as a weapon. Years and years went by and I was never able to correlate what was going on with my body in relation to what I was eating. At some point I just surrendered and said to myself, “This is just the way my body is.” Meanwhile I was struggling with food and always feeling hungry.

In 1999 after I found a 12 step group for compulsive eaters. I learned a new way of eating and started eating 3 meals a day. That is where my work began in relation to my eating issues. That is when I learned that I didn’t need white sugar or white flour anymore. That is also when I learned about eating different vegetables. Still through all of this I was still having my issues with gas and having to go to the bathroom a lot. Again I just assumed that this is what my body is like and I never pursued anything further.

Fast forwarding to March 2009 I am still dealing with those same issues. I have gained back 80 of the 100 pounds I lost and feeling horrible in many different ways. I was having such issues with gas, bloat, and diarrhea. Just plain feeling horrible and at the end of my rope. I was gaining weight like crazy and I was certain that it was water retention and bloat. The crazy thing was that I was eating what I considered to be healthy. What I didn’t realize was what I was eating albeit healthy was making me sick.

I finally decided to call a friend of mine who is into holistic health type work and knows a lot about nutrition from her own learning’s. I told Vicky what was going on and she asked me to tell her what I was eating. I proceeded to tell her what I was eating during the whole day. Then when I told her that I was eating 1 pound of raw vegetables with lunch and 1 pound of raw vegetables with dinner she couldn’t believe it. She asked me if I were a horse and she said that I was eating enough rough vegetables for a small family every day. We then further discovered that my problems were happening after lunch and dinner. She immediately made me change my diet. For one week I was not allowed to eat any vegetables at all and only simple grains like oatmeal, yams and sweet potatoes. I couldn’t eat anything that was loaded with fiber. That night when I had my new way of eating at dinner I felt so good it was crazy. After a week I gradually added a little bit of vegetables here and there. She also told me that if my body did flare up that drinking mint or chamomile tea would help calm things down.
What I learned out of this is I can no longer not listen to my body and I have to pay attention to what my body is telling me after I eat certain foods. I have had to give up spicy foods for now because of how it makes me feel. I can’t eat the quantities of raw vegetables like I used to. Vicky taught me how to eat all over again and I haven’t felt this good in years. I started losing weight again. I only weigh myself once a month but as of the last time I weighed I lost 10 pounds. I hadn’t lost any weight for such a long time I didn’t think it were possible anymore. My mind is so much clearer now. I think because of how my body was interacting with what I was eating it was causing my depression and also my body wasn’t absorbing the food it was eating. I discover now that I can eat slower, eat more wholesome foods and feel fuller longer. I have made the decision to eat for the most part totally organic. I will only by organic grass fed beef and organic chicken. I also increased my water intake to half of my body weight in ounces. There are times when I make a mistake and my body flares up. I whip out my mint or chamomile tea and usually that corrects it.

What I learned out of all of this is we are all different and we have to do what works for us. Knowing what I know now I would have done this a long time ago. I feel so good these days and haven’t felt this way in a long time. There is a wealth of information out there that tells us so many different ways to eat. If what we are doing is not working and we cannot figure it out then we have to go to someone who can help us. If I didn’t have my friend Vicky to go to I would have gone to a nutritionist. We have to listen to what our body is telling us otherwise we don’t know the damage we could potentially be causing.

I was sharing this with some friends of mine recently and unbeknownst to me one of them went to a nutritionist because of her issues. After going to this doctor she has found out that she has an ulcer. Had she not gone to this nutritionist she would have never found out that she had an ulcer which could have caused other problems down the road. She came up to me a few weeks later to share with me that after I shared with her what was going on with me that she too hadn’t been listening to her body.

Although we want to fit in and we want to find an easy answer to help our bodies. We have to remember that we are all different and our bodies may require different things sometimes. There are experts out there to help us when we cannot help ourselves. I am so grateful to my friend Vicky who has forever changed my life.


  1. You hit the nail right on the head Rob. Our bodies have been telling us a lot...for a very long time. If we had listened sooner we would be in better shape, but at least we're listening now so we can stop the madness that is going on within us. Hopefully other people will learn from this and start listening to their bodies too!

  2. Keep up the great work Robbie. Your stories are inspiring and heart felt. - Eric