2020 will be remembered for many reasons; not many of them positive. However, I’ve had a major change in my life that was – shifting some pounds and getting back to a healthy weight. All thanks for meditation, fasting and psychedelics.
Before I launch headfirst into what worked for me, I want to emphasise the point that this is what worked for me. It may not work for you.
I’m not a dietician or a psychologist and I’m certainly not an expert on what is good for you. But, some of the things I say may resonate and help you too.
My own personal battle is with my chimp mind – my inner voice.
It’s a daily struggle to control the chimp rather than let it call the shots. Most days I win, some days I don’t, especially when I’m suffering from a migraine or homeschooling – thank you 2020…
The chimp paradox by Steve Peters expertly explains that your chimp mind is the fastest part of your brain to react to a situation. Working on instinct, emotions and before it knows all the facts, your chimp is your best friend but also can be your worst enemy.
For me and my chimp to get on, I use meditation to calm it down and get it to shut the hell up. Psychedelics have also been amazing at helping me understand my inner chimp, but I’ll talk about that later.
My morning starts with a Wim Hof inspired cold shower and 30-minutes of Chi Kung – a great way to feel fresh, motivated and ready to go. Chi Kung involves a standing meditation that helps you refresh your body’s natural energy.
When looking after my two boys during the recent lockdown, binaural beats have been a great tool for me to use when meditating over lunch or at the end of the day.
At the most basic level, binaural beats are a way for me to block out the outside world and focus on meditating.
At their most beneficial level, binaural beats create a unique frequency in your brain. Helping you change your wavelength for the better.
Binaural beats have truly been a game-changer. They’ve helped my meditation by making it easier for me to focus inward, quieten my inner voice and go deeper than I did before.
Another act of meditation has been fasting. With fasting, you feel the hunger in your stomach, accept it as a feeling, but let it go and not act on it until breakfast.
Before fasting, at my heaviest, I was a 210 Ibs – 15 stone – walking Scottish cliche…
- Ate processed food
- Drank too much
- Loved a takeaway
- Partied a lot
- Didn’t exercise
I hit the low end of obese on the BMI scale, but was happily married, enjoyed my job and had a good life. The problem was my chimp really enjoyed eating shit, drinking and partying.
To be fair to my chimp, we were enjoying life in Brighton and didn’t have kids. I was happy to say “Fuck yeah! Let’s go to the pub!” and let the chimp take charge.
My mind started to change when baby boy number one was on the way – I didn’t want to be a fat dad. I cut back on the booze during the week – most of the time – and started to cook some meals rather than heat up a ready meal.
Doing that helped me shed a total of ten pounds, not a bad start, but I stuck at around that weight for the next four years…
As this blog goes live, I’ve shed 35 Ibs and sit at a healthy 175 Ibs. I’ve achieved that through fasting.
My regular fasting routine is Sunday through to Thursday, but can be as little as Monday to Wednesday.
I’ve heard of some crazy fasts which involve drinking only water for anything from three days – like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey – to 28 days.
To me, that sounds nuts and won’t lead to a change in cooking and eating habits. If anything, it’d make me more likely to crack and order a pizza.
I’m much more inspired by Michael Mosley’s approach with the 5:2 – five days of eating normally and two days of fasting per week. But, I needed to go a bit deeper with my fasting to change my habits.
On a fast day, all I eat is breakfast and lunch, which means there are about 14 to 16 hours in the day when I’m not eating. Doing so helps my body get into a state of ketosis and burn up my excess fat.
Breakfast is usually made up of a cup of tea and a bowl of Rice Crispies. Lunch is a wrap and salad, made up of leftovers from the weekend. A Thai Green Curry wrap is my absolute favourite!
I’ll maybe sneak in a Toffee Crisp at this point too – shh!
All in all, I’d say it took me about four weeks to begin to get properly into the flow with fasting.
At the start, I had trouble sleeping as I’d wake up hungry. And when I was awake, I’d have strange urges, like eating chocolate from the bin… I didn’t, but I sooo wanted to.
On my non-fast days, I eat what I want and LOVE the food I’m eating. I appreciate it more and take the time to cook good food, including new meals I’ve never done before, which is improving my life skills.
Now I’m near the end of my weight loss journey I’ll continue to fast as it’s good for my health, will help me live longer and has been fantastic for my mental health and happiness.
Over the last few years, psychedelics have played a significant role in my life. Initially, as something to party with at Glastonbury or even watching a movie at home – Almost Famous is an outstanding film, even more so on mushrooms.
More recently, my approach to psychedelics has moved from the party side of things to seeing them as the plant medicine they are.
Mushrooms and ayahuasca – an incredibly potent combination of plants found in the Amazon – have been my plant medicine of choice as they transport you to the DMT realm where healing can occur.
I won’t go into detail here – I’ll write a separate blog on my deep dives with plant medicine – but I will say they have helped me immensely. They’ve helped me change my mind, change my approach to life and be reborn as a new person.
After my first ayahuasca circle, I read Michael Pollan’s book How to change your mind; the new science of psychedelics which was a fantastic read. Amongst its amazing facts and insights was one description of destructive patterns that stuck with me.
When you ski on fresh snow, you create an imprint that wasn’t there before. If you ski down the same part of the hill, you’ll likely go down the same track as it’s easier to ski. Go downhill again and you continue on the same track until that’s the only route you use.
Patterns of habit – good or bad – are the same within your brain. Once you do something a few times, it’s far easier for your brain to keep on doing it. The more you do something, the harder it is for your mind to choose any other way than the track you’ve formed.
If the track is a good habit, fantastic. If it’s not, it can mean you’re stuck in a destructive cycle where you carry on overeating, or you feel depressed, or you can carry on drinking too much.
Whatever your vice is, it can feel like you’re stuck with it.
Psychedelics have the immense power of being able to knock you off that track and start creating new habits with fresh snow to take you there.
Ayahuasca and mushrooms are not a one-stop shop. You can’t expect to take the medicine once and be cured.
Instead, it’s a 50/50 relationship where you also have to put the effort in to change habits. You have to appreciate the medicine for what it is, medicine. It’s not just an excuse to get high.
Plant medicine gives you a massive leg up, helping you see a way forward and alter your brain chemistry through neurogenesis and stimulating the birth of new brain cells where your brain is remapped and dancing to a new tune.
For me, plant medicine – ayahuasca in particular – has helped me focus on what I want in life and given me the push and motivation to lose weight.
Fasting and psychedelics go hand in hand. In preparation for an ayahuasca circle I’ll fast seven days a week and have a stricter diet of no red meat, alcohol or caffeine, along with decreased amounts:
- Dairy product
- Fried foods
Plant medicine is not for the faint-hearted, but when used correctly, with the correct set and setting, it’s a rewarding experience.
It’s also not just about the time you spend under the influence of the plants; it’s about integrating what you learn into your day-to-day.
If you’re new to psychedelics, don’t go jumping in headfirst. Find an experienced person – shaman, psychologist or psychonaut – who can take you on a guided journey and support you before, during and after your experience.
My weight loss journey is not complete, but now it has changed track to being a weight control journey. It’s about keeping to a healthy and stable diet, while still indulging in things that like.
However, what I want to indulge in has changed. Instead of smothering my chicken in BBQ sauce, I now create tomato relish from fresh cherry tomatoes, red onion, garlic and chilli. Much tastier.
And overindulging is more than fine. I know I’ll just need to fast a day or two longer the following week.
My next nut to crack is regularly using weights and doing yoga. Time to tone up and sort out that inflexible, painful back of mine
The only negative to all of this is it’s costing me a fortune in new clothes…