Hunger Strike

Lunch Masterpiece! (A masterpiece mostly bc Garrett made it for me)

A little over two years ago when Garrett + I decided to embark on this Paleo adventure together we were both a little leery. It was so different from what we knew that neither of us could really envision what this lifestyle looked like long term. We decided to commit for a short period of time, but after only a few weeks things felt so dramatically different that we decided to just wing it and learn as we went.

One of the most memorable of my positive Paleo consequences (and trust me there were quite a few in those first few months) was that I noticed I stopped feeling REALLY hungry. That ravenous feeling that would overtake me at about 10:30 every morning and would show up again during that mid-afternoon slump was basically gone. It wasn’t that I never wanted to eat, but I remember constantly feeling satisfied to my core — no will power needed. When I finally read It Starts With Food a few months ago, one of the most compelling things that stuck out to me was the explanation of why that happened.

It turns out Satiation (that feeling of fullness and satisfaction) is set up to work as a direct reflection of your body’s nutritional Satiety. Plainly said, your body is naturally programmed to indicate fullness when your nutritional needs have been met. I always thought they were just two forms of one word, but in fact they are different functions in your body. When you are eating a diet full of a variety of whole foods, your body let’s you know what it needs. It’s when we start eating some of that marginal, processed crippety crap that things get a little trickier. (The book continues to explain this, but I don’t plan to keep going because me explaining science is just sad. :P)

But it makes so much sense. It’s why it is so much easier to consume 600 calories worth of potato chips than it is to consume 600 calories of broccoli. Your body registers fullness in fairly direct proportion to the nutritional density of the food you’re eating. I think this is something that I’ve always understood at a physiological level, but it was interesting how simply the book explained our hunger mechanism. And ever since reading that I have enjoyed paying attention to it in my everyday life. But it’s not only at the dinner table that I am noticing this to be true.

I had a pretty serious discussion with Garrett this weekend that started off kind of light. We were talking about what we have on our plates through the end of the year and he mentioned how it would be awesome if we could just “be normal” for a little while. After doing a Whole 30, finding a stray dog (with bonus digestive issues!) prepping for my presentation in Colorado and then following that right up with embarking on my Skin Care Experiment which most notably had me giving up my beloved caffeine for 30 days – things have been slowly building up to a fever pitch of overwhelm. And all the while, just for shits and giggles, I have also been prepping to run a half marathon, which will finally come to fruition on Sunday (more on that later this week.) Things eventually went from a light-hearted funny discussion, to both of us admitting we are pretty exhausted from all of the juggling.

And if I am being honest, despite my Very Full Plate, I am NOT overflowing with Life Satiation right now. Mostly I just feel tired, and even sometimes lately I feel a touch sad. It’s not that I can’t look around and see the wealth of awesome things I have going on in my life, because I can (and I do!) But mostly it is that I can’t quite kick this nagging feeling of hunger. I spend a lot of time making lists, setting goals, trying new things, and pushing myself through new challenges. I am ambitious, accomplished, and the badge I wear most proudly: I AM DISCIPLINED. At this point though, my discipline is just a way of life and it’s somewhat scary to contemplate operating on a different level. But I’m starting to think my Type A Drive To Achieve is really just a whole lot of energy consumption, without a whole lot of nourishment. My life is currently the nutritional equivalent of a very bountiful basket of Halloween candy. And right now I’m not quite sure what to do about that.

It’s not a bad thing, really, it just kind of *IS* right now. So I am doing lots of thinking, lots of resting, and lots of marinating. Also, I’m breaking rules. You see despite my October Intention of reducing my commitments, I am making just one more that I plan to honor for the next couple of months. I’m committing right here in this moment, and in this space (you all are my witnesses!) to figuring this stuff out. I’ve been going on and on about it for some time so I think it is finally time to stop some of the crazy making and figure out what it is that I am truly hungry for.

And if my Paleo journey is any indication, I am hoping in the end that it will feel like second nature and that it will taste delicious.

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21 comments to Hunger Strike

  • Britney
    October 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Holly, I have no idea if there is a connection but I can tell you this. I made the switch to a mostly paleo diet – I’d say 70 – 30 and felt great and lost 10 pounds easily (the muffin top I had been battling for years). Since things were going so well and I couldn’t get past coffee with sugar in it, decided to quit coffee. After two weeks, I know some people say it takes longer, I just felt sad and a little low too. I decided what the hell, I am fit, happy, healthy. I don’t eat a lot of junk but I love my morning coffee (2 cups a day)so why not have it? I started back up and have been all the happier for it. Just my two cents, because you are awesome and rocking your lifestyle change and you are an adult and you can say “enough.”

    • Mallory
      October 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

      I, too, recently quit caffeine. I didn’t want to give up my morning coffee, so I just switched to decaf. I had a few different reasons for wanting to give it up, and Holly introducing me to the Whole 30 pushed me over the edge.

      I later realized that I had been in a terrible mood for two or three weeks. These weren’t necessarily withdrawals–I had weaned myself off the caffeine by mixing more and more decaf into my daily cup. I never had a withdrawal headache. But I found myself very down, and traced it to the time I had quit caffeine. I did a little research and found stories like this one http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/09/27/140837983/caffeinated-women-may-be-fighting-depression-with-every-cup that validated my suspicion. I have since been drinking 1/4 to 1/2 caff in hopes of finding a happy medium.

      • Holly
        October 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        Also — Mallory, I never really thought about the relationship between the two, but that article was super interesting! About a week into no caffeine is right when all of this sort of tired, down in the dumps feeling started. I thought maybe I just had less energy because of no caffeine, but who knows. Maybe it is bigger than that!?@!

    • Holly
      October 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Yeah, I am definitely going to go back to drinking coffee in November. I certainly won’t drink as much (man, my system probably wouldn’t even be able to HANDLE THAT, crimony) but I really really do enjoy it. I’m with you — I don’t have that many vices, and if black coffee is one of the worst, I’m doing ok!

      • Mallory
        October 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm

        Your system will definitely not be able to handle even a fraction of what you used to drink. I had a regular coffee the other day and I had energy out the wazoo! I was bouncing around, jittery (not necessarily in a bad way) and full of life. It was crazy!

        I will say that I have suffered from depression before, so I pay a lot of attention to my moods and changes in my life that could be causing them–perhaps I’m TOO quick to jump to conclusions–I don’t know. Everyone is different!

  • Cami Sebern
    October 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Holly,
    You are the most wonderful, charming and empathetic young woman. We are all blessed to have you sharing your triumphs and challenges with us. Your honesty and humor are so incredible. Keep on doing what you do best and that is just being your real self with your fans and followers.

  • mellissa@ibreatheimhungry
    October 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    As usual I can totally relate to most of your post Holly! We love reading about your awesome life but I can see how it would be exhausting at times. I have lots of great things going on too but sometimes I just feel SO TIRED and a little sad too. And then I think “what is WRONG with me?” because my life is great and I have so much to be happy about. I think sometimes you just need a break and to “be normal” (that Garrett is wise indeed!) and not push SO hard to do it all and do it perfectly. I hope you find the answers you are looking for and I very much look forward to reading about your journey to life satiation!!!

  • Michelle
    October 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Sending virtual hugs from Colorado. I know EXACTLY the feeling you have right now. I hope you find that more that you’re craving!

  • Mariah B
    October 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I love the correlation between life and food. You always know how to speak to me. :)

    I’ve been the same way lately. Everyone asks how business is going, which it’s busy, but just following up from past work. I sometimes worry about making it through the slow season of January through April without cash flow issues. So I say things are crazy busy, and they respond with “Awesome!” Well. Yes. But.

    Sometimes I’m just so tired. Just like you.

    I know you’ll come out of it… hugs! And good luck with your half!!

  • Elizabeth
    October 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    You are such an inspiration and a guiding light for so many people, myself included. I just wanted to say thank you, for your type a personality, for your honesty, and for the humor. Your posts have helped me so many times when I’ve been feeling low myself. So I’m hoping that by ending my stint as a nameless reader, it helps, even just a tiny bit. Because sometimes all we need is a tiny reminder that life isn’t always what we expect, but with the right encouragement, all things are possible.

    • Holly
      October 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks for the comment Elizabeth! And it did help perk me up, you are too kind. Sometimes we all just need a little encouragement, for sure!

  • Emily
    October 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Holly, I wish I had some helpful advice to offer here but sadly, I don’t. All I can do is say Thank You for being a huge inspiration for me and for sharing your fun, awesome personality through your writing. I do hope you figure out what it is that you are sensing right now… you have to trust that instinct and follow it. My guess is that it will lead to something great for you. Just don’t equate slowing down with some type of failure to achieve, though. I’ve made that mistake in the past (I’m a burned-out, recovering type-A myself). Hmmm… I guess I did have advice :p Anyway, good luck on this next journey and we will be here to support!

  • Linda Sand
    October 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    For me it appears the missing piece is giving back. I used to do a lot of volunteer stuff. What happened to that? Got too busy. Really? Working on changing priorities now.

  • Julie
    October 24, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Hey, Holly, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I’m a big fan (even though I never comment- I just sort of lurk). But this post really struck me. What an amazing analogy! I think that this is my all-time favorite post here.

  • Bre
    October 24, 2012 at 6:01 am

    I agree with Garrett and some of the other commenters…sometimes we just need to be. Be still. Listen. Relax. Let life flow over and around us for a bit instead of trying to soak it all in. If we get so wrapped up in doing, trying, working, and what not we forget that part of life is stopping to smell the roses! Taking the time to relax and enjoy the food of life.
    Great post!

  • K
    October 24, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Marinating. Yes. And ruminating. Rhyme-y but necessary.

    I am in a similar place professionally and, lo, if it isn’t a little scary. To know what to do or tweak or add to the plate or eliminate all together.

  • Mary Catherine
    October 24, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Holly, Such an interesting post. I am eager to see what happens next.

    I’m very list oriented too. I read this post from Zen Habits a while back about having no goals that really stuck with me. http://zenhabits.net/no-goal/

    I have no real idea how it would play out in life –I’m way too scared to try it — but I like to mull it over in my mind sometimes. Maybe you can figure it out for me!

  • Bob
    October 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

    That is an amazing analogy that you described between food satiation and life satiation. I really appreciated that, and I appreciate your openness and honesty. I don’t have any advice to give, but I will be anxiously awaiting more posts from you on the topic!

  • Whole30 Days 10-15 : hey, love
    October 26, 2012 at 6:08 am

    [...] After some research and talking to some friends who eat paleo or have done Whole30, I learned it’s that my body is finally learning to tell me when I’m actually and truly hungry. It’s not relying on my emotions to determine when to eat. (WIN!!!!) I no longer eat that mid-afternoon snack just because I feel like I should or because I’m bored. My body feels satisfied with what it’s getting and it’s telling me when to stop. [...]

  • Giving Up Coffee Forever
    October 31, 2012 at 10:07 am

    [...] If it was a forbidden vice, I let myself have it! And in the end, I was NOT better for it. Mentally and emotionally I just felt so DOWN. But I wouldn’t stop trying to fill the hole. That space for that delicious pleasure in my [...]

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