A tiny fragment of insight this morning…

A few months ago I realized that just working out wasn’t helping me make any progress on my goal of getting lean. I’d been seeing quite a few people on fitocracy.com talking about the success they were having with Intermittent Fasting and LeanGains. I read up on these (different but related) plans and realized that I was unlikely to be willing to put up with the careful menu planning and calculations that I feel are needed or at least implied by LeanGains, so I decided to go with IF—along with a sloppy-casual nod to LeanGains, meaning I’d try to generally estimate my macros. I knew that this approach would slow down my fat loss, but I’m fine with that. I’m not in an particular hurry, and I’ve heard for years that losing weight fast tends not to be sustainable.

Anyway, before starting on IF in early March, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to stand the fasts. I have been eating huge breakfasts all of my life, often having two full breakfasts in a single morning. I was surprised and gratified to discover that I could skip breakfast with no huge hunger pains. My biggest ‘symptom’ was a sort of antsy feeling that I should stop for breakfast on the way to work. I also miss my morning eggs, so I’ve been trying to have breakfast-type foods now and then for dinner.

So, I’ve been doing 16/8 fasts most days for three months, life is good, and I can tell by looking in the mirror that I’m gradually getting leaner. Sometimes I get frustrated by not making faster progress (despite my best intentions, I’m often not very patient), and I know that part of the problem is simply that I’m still eating a lot of food. I am eating about the same size dinners, but my lunches have grown.

This weekend, more or less by accident, we ate very lightly. I had a salad for lunch on Saturday, dinner was chops and more salad. On Sunday I had leftover chops and salad for lunch, and supper was spinach salad with grilled chicken. Four meals in a row that matched my concept of “what I should be eating.” I even kept my ice cream consumption to a minimum.

Today I found myself walking around at work feeling …skinny. And I realized that I was alarmed by the sensation. As I became aware of all of this, a tiny light bulb lit up in my mind.

I equate being skinny with having cancer.

The last time I was this lean was probably back in late 1995 into early 1996, from the time I started having symptoms related to my stomach cancer through my surgery and recovery. I went from ~195 lbs in August to 155 lbs in December of ’95. Since then, I’ve been as heavy as 198 and as light as 178, but mostly have hovered around 190. Even when I weighed 178, it was ‘skinnyfat,’ meaning I wasn’t very fat, but I had no muscle.

I believe now that some (at least) of my overeating is a way for my subconscious mind to fend off being skinny!

I’ve got to work through this in my mind, because I really want to get down to about 10-12% BF!

Author: Jorah Lavin

I grew up in New England, moved to the Carolinas in ’98 to start working at what was then a large regional bank and is now a really big nationwide bank.

I work doing intranet content management and intranet site management for said bank. After work, I watch movies & eat.

I’ve been studying Aikido since 2014, and I ride an old Honda Shadow. Someday I want to go skydiving.

  • That is a very, very interesting insight. I think we all have these unconscious associations with this “unknown skinny state” that hold us back, and it’s only when we spend time getting to know our bodies and the sensations we feel in them that we can really break through them. I hope you can start to associate this “skinny feeling” with being healthy, more flexible and more resilient and leave those cancer days behind.

    And, as I read this morning, it doesn’t matter how slow you go. You’re still lapping everybody on the couch. 🙂

    • Adriene, thank you for your kind reply. Now that I know what to pay attention to, I think I’ll be able to make that shift you describe… to associating ‘lean’ with ‘healthy.’

  • infinityplus1

    “Sometimes I get frustrated by not making faster progress (despite my best intentions, I’m often not very patient), and I know that part of the problem is simply that I’m still eating a lot of food.”

    ^^ I just posted about this on fitocracy, I get impatient with my (lack of) progress as well. When I should focus on the positive that I AM making some progress, I am at least not losing ground. My body fat is going down, the weights and reps keep increasing (slowly). I need to keep in mind to focus on the positives and not the negatives.

    It is great to be able to have these epiphanies when we realize certain types of thinking and how they are affecting us. Then it is just up to us to change how we think.

    Keep up your good work man, you are a huge inspiration to many many people.