Photo: iStock

You know the old adage, “opinions are like assholes; everybody has one?” Well, apparently, the same holds true for diet plans—everyone is sure they have the answer and is insistent that theirs is the best one for you. So, after only two days of publicly sharing what could most accurately be described as a dietary experiment, before we continue, I’m here to share a public service announcement:

Some of you must be making the overweight people in your lives miserable.

I say this because quiet as it’s kept, people who grapple with their weight aren’t generally in the dark about nutrition—after all, many of us have been studying it obsessively since before puberty. We know about all the plans, and metabolic loads, and intake vs. outtake, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam you’re making me nauseated. In fact, most of us have even experienced major weight loss in our lives, as I have twice—once by eating in the style that would later come to be known as Paleo, and once by cutting out absolutely no food groups, sugar or alcohol at all, and simply following a little-known plan called Weight Watchers. (Fun fact: I lost the same dozens of pounds on each plan, within the same timeframe). I’ve even been vegan before; for nearly a year, in my 20s. And for years in my 30s, I’d occasionally spend 10-14 days on the Master Cleanse; you think I’m afraid of going without meat and dairy for three weeks? Nah.

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Speaking solely for myself, what caused me the most trepidation in approaching this challenge was not the restrictive diet, but doing it publicly. While I welcome the challenge of accountability, I was not looking forward to the inevitable onslaught of critique from the peanut gallery about what I should and shouldn’t put in my mouth, because in my (very extensive) experience, there has always been more than one way to skin this particular cat (and to the commenter who recommended I get a dog: not only am I not a dog person, but I’m pretty sure a furry dependent is the last thing I need when I’m already struggling to focus on myself). Like most overweight people I know, my issue isn’t knowing that I need to eat healthily and move, or even how to; it’s giving myself the time and emotional space to do so.

My point? There’s no magic bullet to weight loss other than discipline; and trust me, your fat friends and family already know this. They’re not asking for your permission—or your advice (unless expressly requested). What they’re asking for is your support as they try to exert positive force against what often feels like an immovable object, made so by lack of confidence, resources or physical or emotional stamina (because never underestimate the impact of mental health upon a weight loss journey). Do you really think your loved one is going to benefit from condescension and bullying? Nine times out of ten, weight gain is a side effect of the love we haven’t been giving ourselves, so any positive momentum should be celebrated, not criticized. If we’re already trying to do better, how about you be a pal and not pile on by telling us it’s not good enough? I promise, your fat friends and family will appreciate you.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk Day 2 of 22 Days. Truthfully, I can’t help but feel I’m still cheating a bit; though I stayed strictly vegan on Day 2, my schedule simply did not permit me to prepare any of the recipes on the plan, because, well, I failed to plan (note to self: spend this weekend meal-prepping). Instead, I relied on some of the semi-fresh options available at my local Trader Joe’s—their Super Burrito (filled with quinoa, sweet potato, and veggies, covered with their Salsa Verde), is the deliciously filling five minutes-or-less option I need to stay on pace for the day, while their coconut creamer is helping my coffee habit stay satisfying.

What I did manage to do was whip up a few plant-based faves that have been in my life for years: kale, tomato, and red onion salad massaged with a carrot-miso dressing (also courtesy of TJ’s), and garlic-roasted cauliflower, which I could seriously just eat by the head daily. Add a half cup of brown rice, and dinner was served...and while it may not have been pretty, it was pretty delicious.

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Photo: Maiysha Kai

So, Day 2 down, and all I have to say is this: Be nice to each other, folks. Life is hard enough.