When “I Can’t!” Defeats Our Best Attempts

A woman recently posted a passionate plea for help on Dr. William Davis’s Wheat Belly blog site. As much as she desperately wanted to engage the Wheat Belly approach to eating, she could not get through the first day without failing. I know her pain — objectively, through the study of brain re-wiring (“Plasticity”), and subjectively, through my own struggles with monstrous food triggers. Here was my “secular” response on this public blog site.

Rick 2014 2016As I read your lament, I think you are fighting mental barriers here at the beginning of WB more than physical ones — the physical simply gives your mind an excuse to lapse back into old habits. Believe, I remember Burger King calling my name (or Sonic, or McDonald’s — oh, the smell of the fries!).

Give me a minute, and I think I can help you make the mental transition that will allow you to go Wheat Belly long enough to taste the physical benefits, which are huge. Which provides the long-term motivation to stay the course for the rest of your life.

Recent discoveries in brain science (since mid 1990s) have caused a revolution in the science community. What once was . . .

. . . thought fantasy is now proven — we think, act, and feel in ways that parallel our established brain wiring, which was set by choices in the past. When we try something new — anything new — our brains resist and pull us back to established patterns. The distance between “established” and “new” is in direct proportion to the level of discomfort (“anxiety”) we feel. It takes time to weaken old neural networks (bad habits, emotional triggers) and strengthen new ones (eating WB) – and that by making intentional choices.

It is *natural* to experience mental anxiety and frustration during the time required to re-wire the brain by making “right” choices in spite of “Don’t wanna” feelings. In our day, anxiety and frustration are things to be avoided. “We are supposed to be happy!” Discipline and sacrifice are not valued much in today’s pop culture, but are absolutely required any time we re-wire our brains (new language? New job skills? New home and neighborhood? New eating patterns?)

For me, Wheat Belly was a jump-off-the-cliff desperate move. I was in such a painful, frustrating, craving, “hangry” state — on the verge of diabetes, grossly obese, and filled with body and joint pain, and guilt from failed attempts — I was ready to “do anything” to make a difference. A friend recommended WB. On the morning of December 8, 2014 I pulled myself out of bed in pain, and found myself at my highest weight in my 67 years. That was my decision day — my initial motivation was high.

But I had terrible food triggers (Burger King, et al) and food Cravings. “Cravings” was as real as any enemy I’ve ever faced.

The first day, despite high motivation, I found myself driving home and “looking for something (legal) to eat.” Bad habit. With every fast food restaurant I passed, I had an (almost) overpowering demand to pull in and salve my “agony.” I was not hungry. But I had wired my brain to eat. I had my (deceased) mother’s voice in my head from 60 years ago: “You must eat or you’ll be sick!” I had food triggers (“double cheeseburger!”) galore.

But I had made a commitment to myself to eat by WB guidelines, and I was determined to make it one month and “then see.”

The mental demands to pull into every passing food place increased the longer I rejected the idea. Sounds crazy, and to tell the truth, it felt a little crazy. Part of me kept asking (rationally) why I was so upset, and another part kept yelling (irrationally and passionately) “You need to eat! Get a taco! . . . A burger . . . all-you-can-eat pizza! Do it now!”

I began speaking (mentally) directly to the cravings. “No! Go home and have some string cheese!” Cravings calmed down a few seconds and came right back. Stronger. I began to speak to them out loud (now I really felt crazy, but I was alone in the car, so I did it anyway.) Cravings calmed down more. But came back. I continued to argue with them until I got home, had a piece of string cheese, and 10 oz of cold water (I realized then I *really* wasn’t hungry at all, but thirsty). I also realized I had overcome 10 different Cravings attacks. It was a first. Felt good.

I made it through the first day — for the first time in a long time I did not “break my diet” the day I began.

The next morning I had lost a pound. I did the same thing the second day, with similar results. At times Cravings spoke loudly, passionately until I rejected “him” several times. Believe me, I wanted so badly to “stop the pain” and eat a “comfort food.” I drank water — and ate WB legal all day. Next morning I was 2.5 lbs down.

Third day the same. . . 1.6 lbs down.
Cravings still fought with me to “stop the insanity of no sugar/no grains” (now I know it was the wheat opiates talking to me – I was addicted to them) but folks on the WB blog site and Facebook page were successful, enthusiastic, and helpful. I chose to listen to them (along of course with Dr. Davis) rather than Cravings.

The 4th and 5th days (I was with wife and grandchildren at a local Christmas-theme resort, an annual 2-day trip) I was surrounded by fast foods, cinnabons, pizza, all-you-can-eat waffles, ice cream, candies, etc –you get the idea). I stayed on WB track by mentally attacking Cravings and eating legal foods (half of my food I had brought with me in a cooler).

Later that 5th day, WB “flu” hit me. Body aches, low-grade temp, miserable. Cravings mocked me, blamed WB (correctly, as it turns out — I was beginning wheat-opiate withdrawal). What little I ate that evening (wasn’t very hungry, despite Cravings) was WB legal. I drank more water.

That night, upon returning from our trip, I felt really bad. I went to bed, where I stayed for two days. High temp, no appetite, sleep, sweats, chills. Two days later my 102 d fever broke. I got up and found all my joint pain gone (a month before I could barely walk without pain). “Cravings” was gone. Appetite reduced 75%. I felt better than I had in years.

Thank you WB! In one week, I had been (partially) transformed. In that one week, I had lost 16.7 lbs, on my way to 26.5 lbs in 16 days. This was mostly fluids (inflammation). My weight loss slowed down dramatically — I’ve lost 16 more lbs in 13 months — but other health issues have continually improved. Blood glucose dropped from 140s and 150s to 100s-110s (still working on getting it lower). Blood pressure is lower. Receding gums (inflammation) reversed. All the benefits of WB continue as I’ve stayed strong against refined sugars and grains/grain-derivatives.

When weight loss stalled, I moved to Nutritional Ketosis, which I consider “WB extreme,” recommended to me by Dr. Davis himself. I have not been consistent on NK in 2016, but solid on WB. All benefits continue, but I’m “stable” in the mid 230s, ~42 lbs down. (I hit a new low of 226.5 January 8).

WB is no longer a “diet” to get me down to a weight where I can go back to all my former favorites. It is a lifestyle. I cannot tell you honestly that “I will never eat another doughnut, or taco, or piece of pecan pie ala mode.” It is too painful a thought still. But I can tell you honestly that “I will not have a doughnut, taco, or piece of pecan pie ala mode TODAY.” And that is enough. I just do it every day.

My brain is re-wired in a new direction. Fast food seldom calls out to me now. When it does, there is an immediate, perfectly automatic and natural rejection of the call. I don’t even have to “think” or struggle about it any more. The “No!” is automatic.

Last Sunday during the Super Bowl, I was surrounded by family and a dozen yummy treats (I won’t list them for you here, but they were family favorites). I had none of them, not a bite. I did feel (uncharacteristically) a bit deprived a few times — I think it was the combination of “treats” and “football special occasion” and “family togetherness” — but I pushed through to a Bullet Proof coffee, and later, a steaming, delicious bowl of cheesy broiled veggies with ground beef and spices (yum!).

As you read the stories of folks on the OfficialWheatBelly Facebook page, you will see similar stories. People who “just choose” not to eat “just one bite” of refined sugars or grains. The trick is to get beyond the mental blocks, the callings of Cravings, to achieve the too-good-to-be-true-sounding benefits of Wheat Belly and, if severely insulin resistant, Nutritional Ketosis. Once the physical benefits kick in — give it a week or two of mental focus — the Cravings begin to leave us alone, and we find it easier to make the proper choices every time. One choice at a time. One day at a time. One week at a time. For a lifetime.

“Lose the Wheat, lose the weight”
~ Dr. Davis M.D. “10-Day Detox”
“Lose the Grains, lose the pains”
~ Dr. Yount, Ph.D. Ph.D., Professor of educational psychology, 1981-

Decide right now — I mean as you read these words — not to eat anything “WB illegal” today.
No “just one more cookie to get me through until tomorrow morning.”
No “run to Braum’s for one last hot fudge sundae.”
We both know where that leads — more weight and a load of guilt and frustration (and reinforced bad triggers. The Food Monsters are big enough. Don’t feed then when they call.

When you go to bed tonight, give thanks for a successful “rest of the day.”
Focus on the good WB day you will have tomorrow.
If thoughts of “foods lost” cry out for attention, go to a pleasant place in your mind and stay there for a while.
Tomorrow, wake up and immediately give yourself “today” to be WB perfect.
Don’t worry about the next day at all. It will take care of itself. Focus on “TODAY.”
Reject any mental calls to eat “just one thing” or “just one bite.”
Tomorrow night, bask in the success of the day. Give thanks.
Focus your mind gently on waking up ready to commit to WB again.
(Any time a temptation beckons, think briefly on the failure giving in to it will be.
Demand it leave you alone. (Shout it down if you have to. . . even if you have to go somewhere private and speak it out loud).
Then refocus on the success of tomorrow. “I did it today — I can do it tomorrow. I will do it tomorrow.”

Pulling for you! I know the agony these (self-destructive) established neutral networks can be. But WB has the right answer for them.

As far as neuroscience is concerned, you can see a “pop” version of the revolution in the program “Biggest Loser,” where emotional and mental barriers are excised and dealt with right along with proper nutrition and 8 hours of exercise a day. Trainers scream “Don’t ever say ‘I Can’t’ again, because “YOU CAN!” — and then contestants do whatever it was that was holding them back. Fears, pains, disappointments — food triggers that packed on hundreds of pounds of weight — are all peeled back, and weight loss follows.

It is the same with us. It’s just in private places, and not on stage. The mind dynamics are the same.
Blessings in the journey!

When “I Can’t!” Defeats Our Best Attempts

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