Week Three of the Code

Wednesday is my weigh-in day. I started finding daily weigh-ins frustrating, so once a week is good for me now. This morning I discovered two things. One, I’m down another pound and a half (that’s 10.5 pounds in 3 weeks) and two, my scale is garbage. My home scale will give you a different weight every single time you step on it, so I’ve decided to just go with the first weight I get and stop stepping on it more than once. I did it this morning out of curiosity, and now I know: My scale is unreliable. Since I don’t have anywhere else to weigh myself I’ll just have to look at it as a rough guide. I sometimes think I can see a difference in my body already, but 10.5 pounds on my frame is basically negligible so it could just be wishful thinking.

I also learned this week not to fast on a day I wake up with even the smallest vestiges of a migraine, because pain is infinitely increased by hunger, there’s a bit of a runaway-train effect. Both are magnified.

In migraine news, I’ve only had 2 non-alcohol-related migraines since I started this new way of eating three weeks ago. I would like to say I’m definitely not going to drink red wine anymore but jeez, how many times have I said that? It’s almost never worth the pain and yet I persist. Anyway, migraines seem to be down since I’ve cut out sugar, flour, and artificial sweeteners. Dammit.

My husband recently read my copy of The Obesity Code and the day he finished it he walked into the kitchen and threw everything with refined carbs in it out of our refrigerator. That’s teamwork, baby!

Grocery shopping has been interesting – our cart is full of fruits and veggies, meat, cheese, and eggs. That’s about it. We are making all our meals from scratch now and I’m, surprisingly, enjoying it. No more frozen Lean Cuisine lunches – the food I’m making now is much more tasty and filling.

One other thing I noticed – after the first couple of weeks, my urge to snack between meals has disappeared. My body has adjusted to the new schedule and no longer demands constant snacks throughout the day. Yes, I’m very hungry by the time dinner rolls around, but a normal amount of healthy food fills me up just fine.

And to replace diet soda and combat hunger on fast days, I’m making my own sodas now, using seltzer water, a squeeze of lime juice, pinch of salt, and a little cider vinegar. Sounds weird, but surprisingly tasty!

Cracking the Code

Ok, it’s been two weeks since I finished reading The Obesity Code by Jason Fung. The first week I intended to implement his program I did two days, including my first fast day, and then ended up spending 6 days with my husband in the hospital and ICU. I was not about to fast during that traumatic experience, as I needed to be alert and fully fueled to advocate for him in the medical system. I did, however, implement two of the recommendations from the book: No snacks (because there was no time for eating snacks between meals in the hospital with all the other chaos and craziness that was going on), and no artificial sweetener.

A week ago on Wednesday, after having been home for a day, I weighed in to find that I was down 5 pounds from my previous weigh-in of 225. So, last Wednesday I started at 220 for this week’s experiment.

Before I jump in, I just want to point out that getting down to 220 was a huge piece of motivation and excitement for me. I haven’t gotten down there since I got back from my vacation in February and had been trying all my usual methods and seeing no results. So that was a great place to find myself after a week of the worst stress and fear and terror of my life.

Here’s how my week went:

  • Wed: Followed Obesity Code regimen: no sugar, no sweeteners, no processed food, no snacks between meals. Upped my fat content eating avocados, olive oil, cheese, and nuts.
  • Thurs: 24-hour fast, 30 minute run (no problems running while fasting)
  • Fri: Regular Obesity Code regimen as described above on Wednesday.
  • Sat: 24-hour fast, 35 minutes of weightlifting
  • Sun: regular eating regimen as described above.
  • Mon: 36-hour fast, 30 minute run
  • Tues: regular eating regimen described above.

This morning’s weight: 216. Down 4 pounds! This is huge. I had been trying for weeks to get down to 217, my “weight I never ever want to be above” using my usual methods with zero success. This is success, finally! Obviously I need to continue my experiment, because losing 5-10 pounds on a new program then stalling out and losing no more is a very common tactic my body uses to frustrate me, so I need to see if this trend will continue or this is the extent of my success here.

Notes on my experiment:

Ditching artificial sweeteners has been a revelation to me. Previously, I was under the impression that the caffeine in coffee, if I drank it without eating any food, would give me a very unpleasant “jittery, weak & lightheaded” feeling that I didn’t like. So I would always make sure I ate something with coffee, or not have it. It turns out that the feeling I was getting wasn’t from the caffeine, it was from the sweetener. I’ve completely ditched all sweeteners – in diet soda, coffee, tea, anything. I can drink coffee now without that awful feeling I used to get if I didn’t have food with it (and sometimes even if I did). Will never go back. I’m learning to drink my coffee and tea without sweetness and it’s going…ok. Can’t say I love it but I love that I can drink it without feeling bad.

Fasting hasn’t been as bad as I’d feared. It turns out that my “all or nothing” personality makes fasting a pretty easy program to follow. I love having to make zero decisions on a fasting day. I never have to agonize over whether I can eat this or that – I already know I will not. I have several hunger-reduction tools I use: Coffee, tea, or my favorite new concoction: sparkling water with a little lemon, salt, and cider vinegar in it does wonders to curb my hunger during a 24-hour fast. Oh and broth, that’s a big one to supply sodium. My husband has been making the broth here at home from scratch.

Further on fasting, though: The 24 hour fasts are definitely going to be what I will stick with. I tried one 36-hour fast and it was a miserable experience, not a thing I intend to repeat. Starting dinner on Sunday night, I fasted until breakfast Tuesday morning. I was fine throughout the day Monday, but uncontrollably hungry Monday night and ended up having a lot of trouble sleeping due to the hunger, which left me feeling grainy and cranky on Tuesday from lack of sleep. I will stick with the 24-hour fasts from now on.

Migraines: I haven’t had one since Friday in the hospital (almost two weeks ago now), and I’m pretty sure that one was due to two days of extreme stress and no sleep. Other than that, it’s been over a week and a half now without a migraine. This is very unusual for me! Dammit.

Constipation: If you are prone to it, fasting will exacerbate it (less input to the system = system slows down). If you are prone to it already, then you have an arsenal of tools for dealing with it, and employing those will help.

I must note for the record that last year around this time I re-started HMR to lose 10 pounds and in the first week I lost a single pound. I continued to slowly and laboriously work my way down until I finally lost those ten pounds but it took me almost 8 weeks to do it, 8 weeks of arduously following a strict diet plan to see very slow, very grudging results. I’ve lost 9 pounds in 2 weeks already. So either this is the solution I’ve been looking for, or any kind of change-up to the system was what my body needs.

Another thing I’ve been thinking: The diet industry has been pushing their “6 small meals a day” advice with the reasoning that if you snack between meals it will keep you from binging on your meals due to hunger. I have found that I do NOT binge, either after fasts or at my 3 meals I eat on regular days, because my body seems to be reducing the amount I can eat during those meals. I.e., my stomach appears to be shrinking by giving it breaks between meals.

So that’s how it went. I’m continuing this week, curious to see if the loss will continue or stall out.

The Vacation Detox – This Time Take 10!

I’ve been following my program for eating right since I got back from Antarctica. I don’t really have a name for how I eat, it’s just, “I eat these things and don’t eat those things and my body feels good.” I don’t have a fancy term for it like, “clean eating” or “paleo” or “the zone” or “gluten free” or whatever the fad diet of the day is. I just eat the right amount of food, lots of fruits and veggies.

Did you all see the news that came out this week? It says that we should all be aiming for 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day, not five like previously recommended. I’m so down with this! When I’m eating right I’m usually averaging 7 or 8 servings of fruits and veggies per day, but I love having a stretch goal! Having an additive goal is even better (vs a subtractive goal like, “Don’t eat X” which can be demoralizing and counterproductive) so I’m going to aim for 10 fruits and veggies per day now. Of course, the online comments are infuriating. I actually saw some jackass comment on one of the articles that “If I ate that much fructose I’d feel horrible.” Listen, dickface, you can eat all your ten servings as veggies, it ain’t that hard to figure out. Willful ignorance drives me up a wall.

Considering how small the portions are for servings in this recommendation, I don’t think anybody should have trouble getting closer to ten servings if they make even a small effort. So…I’m going to make a small effort. This mainly means replacing anything not made of fruits or veggies or protein in my diet with fruits and veggies, or supplementing/boosting existing recipes with more veggies. Easy.

This morning I did a light workout. A “light” workout is not something I really have much experience with, because I tend to go all-out when I exercise, but I’m still reeling from the stupid cold I brought home from my trip. So I did some gentle yoga tailored for back pain. I don’t currently have back pain, but it’s something I’ve struggled with off and on my whole life so combining that with my light workout made sense. I still finished it thinking, “I could have worked harder.” But, that’s the point – I don’t want to overdo it while I’m still recovering. This morning my urge to fall into fits of coughing is noticeably reduced so I’m taking that as a good sign that the end of this cold may be in sight. It’s been a full week now, which seems entirely too long for a cold to linger.

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Southern elephant seals – continuing my Antarctica pictures!

Take 5! Or more if you like

That’s how many pounds I gained on my vacation. Five. It’s not huge, but it’s not nothing and it needs to be dealt with. While I’m at it, I’m going to look into making some further changes to my lifestyle to maybe drop a few more. The weight I’ve been maintaining over the last year or so is ok, but I’m not happy with what I saw in the photos from this trip, and it’s not five pounds that does that.

But start with five.

I’m still hacking up phlegm regularly, so vigorous exercise this morning wasn’t in the cards. I did 30 minutes of yoga, though, just to get my body moving and back on track (although it was obvious I wasn’t yet at 100% when I was doing it). Yesterday I went to the grocery store and stocked up on healthy food – fruits and veggies, mostly. I was very pleased with two of my purchases, the big and small end of the citrus spectrum:

  • Sumos – Have you seen these guys? Sometimes you have to look for them, but I get them at my local Safeway. My friend Sandy turned me on to them last winter. They’re like giant clementines, sweet, seedless, and easy to peel, but big and filling, too! They’re my favorite form of citrus right now. Normal oranges can kick around in my fruit bowl for weeks not getting eaten, but sumos are the first thing I grab when I’m hungry. So delicious!
  • Kumquats – Not for everyone, but I love them! Sweet then tart, they’re like little candies to me. You roll them between your palms with a little pressure a few times, then pop ’em in your mouth, peel and all. I just found this tutorial for how to make them sweeter when you eat them, and I’m going to try that next. I ate several last night after dinner for dessert.

I’m hoping that I can drop these pesky vacation pounds in two weeks. That seems reasonable, right? It took two weeks to put them on, so two weeks to get them off? Right?!

Just FYI, that logic isn’t actually correct. There’s a hard limit to how much you can lose in a week due to physics, but there’s absolutely no limit to how much weight you can gain in a week. The sky’s the limit there (thanks, Universe)! I still think two weeks to get them off is reasonable though. Will let you know how it goes.

Also I’m gonna keep posting some of my favorite pics from Antarctica. Who doesn’t like penguins??

I Went to Antarctica and All I Got Was…

I’m back from an amazing adventure! My husband and I just went to Antarctica! Yes! For vacation! It was amazing! Guess what I got there?

Penguins!! In Antarctica!

Penguins!! In Antarctica!

Fat. I got fat.

Ha ha! Just kidding! That’s a pre-existing condition for me. Like, they should have printed it on my birth certificate. But 9 days on a cruise ship, in which 4 of those are days you don’t get off the boat at all (the Drake Passage, two days to cross each way) and they feed you gourmet food the whole time, will completely exacerbate the problem. I did my part, obviously, not having dessert with every meal, choosing the lighter options where I could. But a lot of times the options were…pastries. And a lot of times I wasn’t doing my best work. It happens.

Anyway, I got fat, beyond the point of denial, beyond the point at which I can reasonably look at a picture of me and tell myself “everything is fine I look good,” and it’s time to Deal With It.

Except I also caught a cold, whose hallmark is a phlegmy, hacking cough, which causes coughing fits so bad it gives me a migraine. Yeah, that’s been today. So I can’t start today with any sort of exercise. But I can start with the food side, which is, as I always say, 80% of the equation. I already hit the grocery store to stock up and fruits and veggies. Upside: I’m totally sick of carbs and sweets right now due to the recent indulgences, so lean meats, veggies, fruits, and steely determination it is!

I’ll weigh myself tomorrow morning and see where I’m starting from and how much I need to lose once I know where I am.

Here we go again. Let’s get it done.

Yes Before No

There are so many theories and ideas out there about how to eat or not eat to manage weight. I like to go with what I call “Yes Before No.” Basically, I have a list of “yes” foods that I can eat any time I want, as much as I want, without restriction. And I have a set of characteristics that make foods “no” foods, but they’re not forbidden.

A lot of diets, or at least, a lot of the old-school diets I grew up with in the 80s and 90s, give you a big list of Nos. For example, “No cookies, no candy, no baked goods, no dessert, no potatoes, no fat, no sugar, no life, no fun.”

Jesus, who wants to sign up for a big list of forbidden things? Nobody. All that’s going to happen if you give me that list is I’m going to fixate on all those things I can’t have and then they’ll be the things I crave desperately on hard days and can’t wait to get finished with the program so I can go binge on them. That’s counter-productive.

How about a list of things I can have? In fact, how about a list of things that I can not only have, but I’m required to meet a minimum? Here’s my yes list:

  • Fruits – any kind
  • Veggies – any kind

I can have as much as I want of all the fruits and veggies in the world. In order to not get bored, I can find new recipes and experiment with as many different kinds of fruits and veggies as exist at my local market. In fact, I am required to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day (but for me a day when I only eat 5 servings is extremely rare, I usually average around 8-10 per day).

A serving is one medium-sized piece of fruit, or a cup of veggies (leafy greens like lettuce or spinach are more like 3 cups when raw though).

I can eat as much as I want though! I don’t have to restrict myself whatsoever, and most of the time I don’t measure anything if I’m eating fruits and veggies. Why bother? More is better – my only restriction is a minimum, not a maximum! That’s how I get through things like parties and barbecues – I graze all day long on fruits and veggies, so I’m never hungry and I can munch away like a normal person.

Now that I’ve shown you my yes list, here’s what’s characteristic for a no: Stuff that’s highly processed, deep fried, or wouldn’t be recognizable as food to my ancestors. But it’s not a “No Forever.” It’s a soft no. The real no for me is: No eating other stuff until I’ve had something on my yes list first. I know I have to eat a minimum off my yes list, so if I’m feeling a craving for something that’s not so great for me, first I need to find out if it’s actual hunger, or just a passing craving based on an emotional fluctuation (like with chocolate when I’m down). After I’ve eaten some fruit or veggies, I can have the thing. Most of the time I don’t want it then.

Food is fuel, so I try to eat the things that fuel my body in the most constructive way. I know the things that are going to make me feel sluggish and bad, and a good way for me to avoid them is to stick with my yes list first. Maybe this is something that will work for you – focus on eating more of the good stuff you can have, without feeling deprived right off the bat by setting up a big list of things you can’t have. Set a goal that’s a minimum, not a list of don’ts.

Also maybe bring less of the non-supportive food into the house. It should take effort to sabotage yourself.

BBQ Weekend Ahoy!

Yes! Three day weekend coming into view! Let’s do this!

Everybody, remember to:

  • Eat before you head to the parties and don’t arrive starving!
  • Bring something supportive to throw on the grill – like veggie skewers, lean protein, or even fruit – BBQed pineapple FTW!
  • Drink non-caloric beverages to stay hydrated – alcohol isn’t your friend, just an acquaintance with bad ideas!
  • Get your workout out of the way first thing in the morning before the partying begins!
  • Keep your hands busy – take pictures, or play with the dog!
  • Hang out where you can’t even see the food table!

We can do this! We’ll get through without shooting a hole in our long-term goals! Keep your eye on the prize! And…GO!