All right, I’ll admit it took diligence and dedication to the program. But I’m not afraid to work hard to get the results I’m looking for. If this is all it takes to get permanent results, I’ll consider it easy. Seriously easy. The 21 Day Challenge, as I’ll refer to it, is the Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge designed by Chef AJ and John Pierre. They are two of the most inspirational and supportive people I know and I am so happy I decided to participate.
The thing is, I thought I already knew what I needed to know. Eat better, exercise more. I have attended numerous lectures on nutrition. I have watched YouTube lectures, watched all the documentaries on healing through food, and I’ve read loads of books. I have learned from some of the best minds in the plant based world. I had even read Chef AJ’s and John Pierre’s books. I had taken bits and pieces from everyone and had some great success. But I had a hard time following my own rules when I was faced with temptations. A latte here led to a vegan cookie there, then popcorn at the theater. When eating out it became annoying to ask for special meals, so I just went with whatever the best option seemed to be, even if it had a little oil. Then even if it was fried. And then even if they warned me there was a little cheese in the breading on the ‘eggplant parm without the parm sandwich’ (did you follow that?), I was ok with it. “This little bit won’t hurt” rang through my brain and justified one poor decision after another. Eventually I found myself munching Dorito’s at a tailgate and it didn’t even seem all that horrible. Wait, what?! I had to admit at that point, I was no longer a whole foods plant based eater. I was a junk food vegan. And shamefully, my drive toward unhealthy food had lead me so far astray I was even willing to eat non-vegan baked goods and junk food just because it was in front of me.
I was on a tiresome journey circling the airport of optimal health without the proper landing gear. After a private phone consult with Chef AJ and a good read of The Pleasure Trap by Drs. Doug Lisle and Allen Goldhammer, I was convinced. I wasn’t weak. I wasn’t lacking in resolve. I was being tricked. I was relieved. I became empowered. I got right to work.
The food-like substances I was consuming even if only occasionally, were exerting some very simple yet very powerful effects on my brain. Every time I ate a processed food, which is by definition a highly concentrated source of sugar, oil, flour, or salt, my brain was getting a little jolt of dopamine telling me one very clear message – ‘Thank you, Ma’am, may I have another?’. This is a simple biological process that evolved in humans to tell us when we were doing something good, so we would continue moving in that direction. In a natural environment, sugar is good. It comes in a neat little package with fiber and water called fruit! It’s how we learned to eat raspberries instead of poison ivy berries. So how do we navigate a modern world filled with landmines of highly concentrated processed foods if we’re equipped with an ancient brain that gets hijacked so easily?
These two YouTube videos from Douglas Lisle, PhD and Alan Goldhammer, DO, the authors of The Pleasure Trap offer a great abbreviated version. They’ll explain it way better than I can, and if you’re anything like me you’ll want to read the book for even more info too! This is where I found my big breakthrough in understanding. Stay tuned and I’ll explain how I put the knowledge to work.