I’m still quitting stuff

It’s early August now. The last time I wrote here I’d just spent the month of March avoiding dairy. I’ve been mysteriously silent since, not in the mood to write anything. Despite the silence I’m still quitting stuff and trying to exercise my self control.

A month off meat

April was to be a month off meat. I lasted 12 days. I learnt more in those 12 days than I had in the first 3 months. I’ve been pretty much paleo for the last six years. I consume more dairy and alcohol than that diet prescribes but very rarely eat grains or legumes. As I started my month off meat I just removed the meat, like the name suggests. That left me with vegetables, nuts, fruit and actually quite a lot of cheese straight after a month without it. After 4 days I was exhausted and so decided to introduce a significant amount of beans into my diet. And even more cheese.

From there until day 12 I felt bloated and blocked. I realised then that my microbiome is an amazing thing, well trained to digest meat but not at all impressed by beans. If I stuck it out for the whole month my microbiome would perhaps have fully adapted but then it might take me another month to adapt back to my old diet. Plus, I’d put on 2 kilos in 12 days.

The moral aspect of eating meat is a challenging one. I eat the most ethically raised animals I can find and that’s just about enough for my conscience. After learning how the dairy industry really operates I’ve felt more uncomfortable about consuming cheese than meat. It’s funny that some moral vegetarians still love their cheese.

So after twelve days I gave up on that challenge. April was not a happy month.

A month off sugar

In May I took a month off sugar. It wasn’t very hard or interesting. Being pretty much paleo I don’t eat much sugar anyway. It meant going without fruit, the odd square of chocolate, gin and tonic and switching to Pinot Noir. I didn’t lose any weight with this regime, so presumably the amount of fruit and chocolate I was eating was not really significant.

A month off New Balance

At the start of June I was a little bored of restrictive dieting and I didn’t want to quit caffeine. There were unexpected consequences last time I tried that. So I decided to do something quite different: not wear New Balance sneaker for a whole month. As inconsequential as that sounds, If you know me you’d know this is a significant challenge. I own about 30 pairs and accessorise them to my outfit every day. Only and always New Balance. Why? I bought my first pair 15 years ago I think because Steve Jobs always wore them and I thought they made the coolest retro sneakers. It kind of snowballed from there. For me New Balance is pretty much my connection to brand name fashion and I’ve been wearing them almost every day under 30º for five years. Birkenstocks on hot days. I even wore sneakers that time I had dinner with Julia Gillard. My best pair of course. She didn’t seem to mind.

So this was about understanding my relationship to fashion. Not wearing them was unusual at first but it was easy enough to just wear the same pair of desert boots every day. A little embarrassing wearing my daggy Asics to the gym but I got over that. I didn’t expect it to be hard and it wasn’t. For me the big question was at the end of the month would I look on my quirky/obsessive fashion choice with new eyes? And the answer is no. I happily went back to colour co-ordinating my outfit with my sneakers. Fashion is fun. Having your own style is also fun.

July. And August.

I’ve come to accept that what I consume is not a great influence on my happiness levels. Drinking too much red wine does leave me feeling a bit blue but not drinking it only gets me back to neutral. It was wishful thinking that I could just cut something out and my world would suddenly be filled with puppies and rainbow unicorns.

Some things do affect my metabolism and weight though. Specifically dairy and alcohol. So I decided to quit them both again for at least a couple of months. I have not had milk since I quit dairy for March but I went back on the cheese. I’ve decided to eat minimal cheese from now on. Poor dairy cows.

I have to say a life without cheese and alcohol is somewhat boring. It’s healthy though. Through this journey I’ve now lost 10kg in 10 months and I’m healthier than I’ve been in more than 20 years.

I’ll have more to share sooner or later.

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