A summer of Dukan?

Ethics class flashback? No!!!
Ethics class flashback? No!!! (Actually, I quite enjoyed drinking from that particular fire hose.)

I find myself between a rock and a hard place. Or as my ethics professor would point out, there are goods in conflict. (Meaning literally that on the one hand you have something good, but on the other hand, you have something else good – and you can’t have both at the same time. You have to choose one over the other.) 

It’s this Dukan Diet. As I’ve pointed out in previous blog posts, the silly thing actually works. I’ve never managed to do any other diet for more than the initial 8 hours (as you might imagine, willpower isn’t my middle name), and doing it this time is in many ways easier than the first time, because doing it the first time taught me a lot of good lifetime-type habits that I’ve managed to maintain. So maintained, the second time around there’s less to master, and less to overcome.

So that’s great, then, right? And I’m ten pounds lighter than I was when I started it back up again, which means that my summer clergy shirts fit me once more and I don’t have to make new ones (a task I was dreading). And that’s a double great – I have professional shirts that fit, and I didn’t have to make or buy them.

There is but one snag, and it was unforeseen. You see, last year when I did this, I got married in the middle of July. And a bit before my wedding I said ‘to hell’ with the diet and that I was eating the food I was preparing for my guests. And that attitude sort of lasted the entire summer, to be honest. So I never experienced what it is like to be on the diet full-bore during the summer. And for other people this probably isn’t a problem, but I have a vascular condition which makes it one. It’s called vaso vagal response, and I have the type that is predictable (which is so much nicer than the unpredictable type) and I’ve had it my whole life. Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I even have controlling it down to a fine art that I largely do without thinking. Grand. Spiffy. Except.

Dukan is kind of throwing me for a loop with the ‘fine art’ and ‘without thinking’ things. It’s no longer a fine art, and I have to do a whole lot of thinking. The way the diet works plays with your hydration levels (there’s a lot of explanation, but that’s part of what it does, and it’s the essential part for my issue), and my hydration levels are not things to be fucked with lightly. It means that my likelihood of experiencing heat exhaustion while sitting down in the shade (or at my desk) and drinking plenty of water is exponentially higher than it ought to be. I lost a week of work before I realized what was going on, and started to make plans to manage it better.

And so I find myself between a rock and a hard place. I know enough about my body and how it works that I no longer have panic attacks when I treat it badly and it goes into rebellion and I experience increasing levels of fatigue, nausea, migraines and finally fainting, and I can usually spot it at the first signs of fatigue and do something differently. But I also feel like that’s walking on a wide, high promenade – once you know what the edge looks like, it’s easy to not walk over it, it’s easy to stay within the 30 feet of the nice, wide promenade. And the Dukan diet is like walking across a 2 foot wide structure that is 200 feet high. There is actually plenty of room for you to walk, but it doesn’t have the gently sloping sides of the promenade where you will be able to catch yourself if you fall. And also, on this 2 foot wide structure, you’re always near the edge and even if you don’t look down, you can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it in my chest right now even as I write this – the feeling I get when my veins aren’t happy with me, when something is on the cusp of going wrong.

And so I am in between a rock and a hard place. The longer I can hold out, the longer I can walk this balance beam, the more weight I can safely and (relatively) easily lose. And this isn’t cosmetic weight, either. I’m a very overweight chick. I’ve still got eighty pounds to go to what a wise nutritionist considers healthy for me, and I’m a full hundred away from what I sometimes dream about, but realize is unrealistic.

I think, now that I realize what is going on with my body (last week I was in the dark), I may possibly continue this for a very small amount of time before I shift gears in the diet and consolidate what I’ve lost. And certainly I think I shall avoid being in this intense phase of the diet again during the summer… But now that I’m here, and losing weight, and learning all over again to manage my vascular health, I do kind of want to stay here just a bit.

I think.

[Editorial side note: Sare reserves the right to completely change her mind within three minutes of posting.]


  1. I want to know more about this diet. I could google for it, but maybe if I ask you’ll tell me and I’ll get some nice human interaction. :)

  2. Web MD gave this diet a bad review…. says you don’t get the nutrients that you would get on a truly healthy diet:
    “There is no question this very restrictive diet will lead to weight loss, if you can actually follow it. But the elimination of healthy food groups, and the unpleasant side effects, makes The Dukan Diet an unlikely choice for the long haul.
    Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, but it cannot stand alone. A truly healthy diet includes all the food groups — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy and healthy fats along with lean protein. Your body needs the nutrients these foods provide.
    Skip this fad diet. Instead, choose a calorie-controlled eating plan that you can stick with for the long term.”

    They give Weight Watchers a great review, and you can do it with out without going to meetings. An online membership is cheap and easy, but the support of going to group meetings is really great.

    • You make some excellent points. It does have its extreme moments, I will say that. And there are definitely less extreme ways of doing a similar thing with similar results.

      On the flip side, this whole eating-dieting thing is the only place where I really have stress in a completely self-induced way. I mean, as I consider it, the list of things I refrain from doing (and whose lack causes me zero stress) is quite long – no smoking, no drugs, no drinking to moderation (to say nothing of excess), no completely sedentary days, no prescriptions of any kind… And on the plus column I adore my job and it’s a source of joy, not stress, I have an excellent network of friends, an extremely supportive husband, creativity oozing out my pores and a rigorous and delightfully demanding spiritual practice. Almost every aspect of my life is manageable and low-stress. (And with that list, I wouldn’t have you think I’ve hit enlightenment yet… I’m still stressed by church politics, the embryonic nature of my income streams and failing to listen to the Holy Spirit.)

      All of this to say… I’m weirdly okay with stressing my body in this way, for a long-term gain, in a short-term fashion. At least, I am for now.

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