Ryan: Unfinished

A couple of weeks ago I went to the library to find a good book to read.  I walked around the shelves, pulling out random selections based on nothing but the title, the font, the colors.  It’s my favorite way to find a book; it feels like letting the book find me.

I signed out a thick piece of fiction about a runaway virus that turns millions of people into vicious vampires.  It appealed to me on all levels. I love post-apocalyptic stories. I love monsters. I love observing people in extraordinary situations.  I love the contradiction of very human stories in fantastical circumstances.

This should have been a great read.  It promised all the things I enjoy. It was even recently made into a television series, and I’m a fan of comparing books to screen adaptations, even though the book is always better.  But for whatever reason, it didn’t work for me. Was I too tired? Was I too distracted by TV or my phone? I couldn’t invest in the characters, and I could barely remember what was going on in the plot each time I picked it up.  300 unsatisfying pages and still going….

I’ve always had a problem leaving anything unfinished.  I’m not sure why, but it stresses me out. It feels like failure to me.  I’ve read more bad books, watched more bad shows and  consumed more lousy meals than I care to admit, all in the spirit of finishing something that I started.  

I recognize it as irrational and cognitively inflexible, even as I continue to do it.  The websites I continuously check. The YouTube videos I play but barely watch. The stubborn refusal to come in from the cold until the snow banks are just so.  Why can it be so difficult to abandon the things that aren’t really working?

One of the biggest things in my life that didn’t work was the endless string of diet programs that I hoped would make me thin.  Deal a Meal. Weight Watchers. Overeater’s Anonymous. Paleo. All in the joyless pursuit of finishing something I started, desperately clinging to the latest set of rules as the one true way to success.  I abandoned diet mentality when I finally recognized that it wasn’t working.

I chose to trust the process of intermittent fasting, even though it was the polar opposite of the conventional wisdom I believed for so long.  I let go of the idea that to be healthy I had to be hungry. I abandoned the idea that any particular food group is “poison”.  I let go of the belief that my body was broken or different from “normal” people’s bodies.  I discarded the notion that stepping off the path of a prescribed diet plan was guaranteed weight gain.

Instead I embraced the freedom of eating foods I like.  I adopted a new mindset that working with my body’s design is better than actively fighting it.  I accepted that the joy of eating for tradition and celebration far outweighs “finishing” a diet.  I realized that the process is more important than the outcome.  

Yesterday I returned that post-apocalyptic vampire book to the library.  Unfinished. It just wasn’t working for me. Instead I’m re-reading Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, one of my all-time favorite for the simple joy of the experience.  

Wait.  I guess I’m more flexible that I thought I was.

The whole story of our personal transformation is in our new book, Unbelievable Freedom:  How Intermittent Fasting Transformed Our Health and Happiness, available on Amazon using the link below.