Dealing with Challenges on the Anabolic Diet
This article is about some of the challenges involved in transitioning to the Anabolic Diet.
When you take on a new task or make a big change in your lifestyle, it pays to identify the challenges you’ll be facing so you can adequately prepare for them. If you want to move to another country, you should probably learn the language, or at least make some provisions for dealing with communication difficulties. You’d need to find out as much as you could about the culture of your new home so you can make as smooth a transition as possible.
Beginning the Anabolic Diet is a little like moving to a new country. It doesn’t require learning a new language or even packing a suitcase, but it does require adjusting your lifestyle in ways that probably run counter to your culturalization. Food is very closely tied to culture, and our eating habits have much more to do with social factors than they do with nutrition and health. Changing your eating habits is likely to cause some clashes in your interactions with real life: family, work, friends, social events. It’s like a mini culture shock.
I have experience with moving to another country, so adjusting my lifestyle is nothing new to me. But that doesn’t mean that adjusting my diet has been easy. I’m going to share some of the challenged I’ve faced (and continue to face) during my first month on the Anabolic diet.
Firstly, I should probably mention that I live in Japan. Geography is easy to overlook when we’re considering making personal changes, but it can have a big impact on the foods that are available to you and the socio-cultural impact on your lifestyle. The main staple of the Anabolic Diet is red meat, which just happens to be extremely expensive in Japan. So is dairy. Nutritional supplements too. As a result, my meal plan is not going to look like those of other AD users.
Rice is the foundation of the Japanese diet. Japanese people usually eat rice more than once a day, and many feel that a meal is not complete without it. When you go out to eat, most of your menu options will include rice. Not eating rice during the week is a challenge here because rice is everywhere.
Of course, most of you don’t live in Japan. You might not have these issues with rice, but how about bread? When I lived in America, almost every meal I ever ate included some kind of bread or pasta. Go to a restaurant and try finding a menu item that doesn’t include either bread or pasta. You’ll have your best luck at an Asian restaurant – and then it’s back to rice…
The Anabolic Diet book gives a lot of information about what to eat for the best results. Depending on where you live, certain adjustments may be required. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not AD is for you. Recognize any possible geographical challenges and plan accordingly.
On The Job
Another challenge we all have to deal with is scheduling. I began the Anabolic Diet over winter holidays, so it was not problem for me to cook whatever I felt like eating. If I didn’t have something, I could just run to the store. No problem. But on day eight, I returned to work and had to start thinking a little more about how to manage time for shopping and cooking.
The thing about working for someone else is that we get paid for giving up control of our time. I’m a schoolteacher, so my work is going to be between the hours of 8 and 5 until I die or change careers. Not only that, but my daily schedule is pretty much fixed with four or five classes a day and lunch at a specific time.
That doesn’t leave a lot of dietary freedom. I have to plan ahead. I keep stashes of almonds and walnuts in my desk. I bring raw vegetables every day. Since I’m trying to cut back on my caffeine intake, I also keep bags of herbal tea around to reduce the temptation to drink the vile instant coffee in the staff room.
My girlfriend works at an office downtown with no fridge or kitchen. She has to leave the office everyday and find something to eat at a restaurant or convenience store. If I had to do this, I don’t think I would be able to stick to the anabolic Diet. Take a hard look at your work situation to determine if compliance with the AD principles is feasible for you.
Humans are social animals, so merging our choices with social norms and personal relationships can cause a lot of friction. This is especially true of diet choices, since so many of our social interactions involve food and drink.
Though I mentioned it before, rice comes up again as a social issue. Japanese people already have a strange attitude towards people from other countries, but they find it especially bizarre if that person doesn’t eat rice. Don’t bother attempting to explain that rice offers almost zero nutritive value (aside from calories) – they “know” it’s healthy. When you have dinner in someone’s home, you will be served rice, and they will expect you to eat it.
You might not have to deal with pressure to eat rice. How do you turn down the muffins your coworker baked for everyone in the office? The point is that, no matter where you live, people around you will assume that you eat what they eat. Dealing with their reactions will play a big part in your day-to-day success on any diet program that is radically different from the norm.
People will not believe that a diet this high in fat can be healthy. They wil argue with you until they are blue in the face that you are digging your own grave. I’ve had people tell me that, at the rate I eat meat, I’ll be lucky to live another five years without a heart attack. Of course, these people are well-meaning (usually) and uninformed (always). StrongLifts has a good post about dealing with people who tell you that the Anabolic Diet is unhealthy.
After hearing about heart disease for the hundredth time, you may decide to limit your social eating for your weekend carb-ups. This is probably a good idea, especially if you’ll be drinking.
For those of us who live with a significant other (and possibly children), it can be even more complicated. My girlfriend is very supportive of my choices, but it can be a real challenge for us to eat together. For one thing, she’s Japanese, so seldom a day goes by that she doesn’t eat rice. Most of the dishes she knows how to cook include rice. To complicate matters, she has her own health issues and needs, e.g. she can’t eat a lot of red meat or foods that are very oily or spicy.
But we manage. We compromise and plan. We usually cook one thing that we’ll both eat and then something else for each of us. For example, I’ll broil a big hunk of meat while she cooks up some tofu to eat with her rice. Then we’ll share a big salad or some cooked veggies. It sounds complicated, but we’ve got it down to a pretty solid routine now. The only real problem is fitting such a variety of foods in our refrigerator.
This article has focused on social and logistic challenges to the Anabolic Diet, but we also have personal challenges to overcome. I love drinking beer and eating ice cream. For all of my adult life, these have been my two dietary vices. I try to keep my carb-ups clean, but after five days of no carbs, I sometimes find myself parked in front of the fridge with a beer in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. As long as I keep my meals during the week pretty close to the ideal, I don’t worry so much about treating myself in moderation.
The key to managing a vice is being aware of it. When it comes time to carb-up, I know I’m going to be having some beers and some ice cream, so I don’t go crazy with cakes or other sweets. It’s a good idea to evaluate for yourself what your weaknesses are so you can work around them or make up for them in other areas.
Plan To Overcome
The key to managing challenges is to plan for them. Take some time to consider some of the difficulties you’ll have to work through should you decide to make a radical alteration in your lifestyle. The Anabolic Diet requires more of you than simply eating different things – if you want results, you’ll have to make your dietary choices a part of your life.