I’ve decided to formally conclude my Healthy Hermit diet, and reintroduce other whole plant foods besides fruits and vegetables. This is not because of my recent illness, but for practical reasons. My partner doesn’t share this way of eating, and it’s inefficient for us to eat separate meals all of the time. As he hasn’t had time to cook he’s been buying more packaged products, which negates much of the environmental benefit of me shopping from farmers markets. While I have made a few dishes we can both eat, we’d have a wider variety if I could use beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, which I can do without compromising my nutritional goals.
During the 24 days of this diet I lost ten pounds and about two inches of fat off of my waist. That’s quite rapid weight loss for someone who wasn’t heavy to begin with, though having a lower appetite due to the flu was also a factor. I currently weigh 120 lbs and have a 28 inch waist, which on a 5′ 4″ body is considered by many to be downright scrawny for a male, but would be considered chunky for a female in many circles, which just goes to show how arbitrary beauty standards are in our society.
I don’t, however, feel that body measurements are entirely useless. Rather than arbitrary height-weight charts or body mass index, I believe waist-to-height ratio is a better indicator of health risk, but that too is only one factor among many that must be considered. And regardless, as I’ve written before, no one’s size besides my own is any of my business.
An issue I have with all of these health charts is that they normally ask for a binary sex to be specified. Unlike with some web forms where sex and gender are clearly irrelevant, there are legitimate differences in height and weight for cistypical male and female bodies. I, however, do not have a cistypical body; I have a transsexual male body. I’ve been on testosterone for enough time that my body has “masculinized” to a certain extent, but it could be several more years before the changes are complete. My height is fixed, but my muscle mass and many other characteristics are not.
So when I filled out my nutrient profile, I specified male. But had I specified female, different target numbers would have come up for calories and various nutrients. These differences aren’t completely arbitrary; a menstruating woman will have a higher need for iron, for example. But not all cis women menstruate, and some cis men may have higher iron requirements for various reasons.
Even in the medical realm, when it comes to sex differences, lifestyle choices cannot be ignored. When I elected to begin testosterone therapy, I needed to sign a consent form that said, among other things, that by taking this hormone I might be taking five years off of my life expectancy. I asked the nurse practitioner how much of this discrepancy might be due to men engaging in more high-risk behavior (smoking, drinking, violence) than women, rather than internal physical differences brought on by hormones. She said she honestly didn’t know because there hadn’t been studies on FTM patients in this area.
Regardless, I intend to keep my body as healthy as reasonably possible. Avoiding smoking, drinking, recreational drugs, and junk food isn’t a matter of personal purity for me; it’s a matter of finding pleasure without resorting to artificial, short-lived highs. Whole plant foods, clean air and water, exercise, and sunshine can provide what I need to be fulfilled.