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.

Brief Delay

I told you all that I’d give the recommendations in The Obesity Code a try for a week and let you know how it went.

Instead I spent a week at a hospital, with my husband in ICU for four of those days. So I haven’t done that yet. I just wanted to mention here that I still plan on doing it, but there’s been a brief delay. I’m starting today and I’ll let you know (barring any unforeseen circumstances) how it goes.

PS: He’s expected to make a full recovery, but it was a very scary time.

Math is Hard!

Ha! Just kidding, math isn’t hard. It’s logical and follows basic rules of operation. What is apparently hard is tracking days. I weighed myself Wednesday thinking it had been a week because 5 days back at work feels like a week on vacation I guess! And I found I’d only lost a pound and I railed and moaned because I was hoping for more. But reading back, I didn’t start out by weighing in last Wednesday (how could I? I woke up in an airplane over Cuba), I started weighing in on Friday.

So fine. I weighed in this morning. Down a pound and a half. That’s much better. I credit it to two things: 1) yesterday I finally felt up to my usual 3-mile run again after shaking that cold I had, and 2) Thursday night is my usual “cheat” meal, because I have dinner with some friends on Thursdays and relax my rules a little bit and also have wine. Actually the second one probably has more to do with why I didn’t drop more, but it’s a good mental health activity so I’ve refused to give it up.

This morning’s exercise was Jillian’s HardBody DVD, which is one of the harder workouts I do. I still have the occasional tickle in my throat and coughing fit, but I consider myself well enough to push hard. It’s better for me to work hard, it will clear out the dregs of the sickness better than anything else I know.

Speaking of Biggest Loser trainers (was I?  I guess I was), I’m sure you  heard about Bob Harper having a heart attack while working out. He’s ok, but in general it’s kind of a reminder that all the exercise in the world can’t really overcome genetics. Although, being in top physical shape probably had a lot to do with him actually surviving that rather than just dying on the spot (I am not a doctor so I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about and just made that up with zero evidence or knowledge to support it, just thought it sounded good but seriously this freaks me out that you can do everything right and still almost die if your heart just decides it can’t even).

Have a good weekend everyone. Remember to track your food choices, keep your portions reasonable, and work your body a bit every day.

Grudgingly

I got on the scale today to see how I’m doing getting those 5 vacation pounds off. First it flashed the same exact weight as last week, then it grudgingly flashed its final answer: Down a pound.

Damn. I expected two or three, because that’s what a normal result would be. I drastically changed my eating and cleaned it up – no cheats or treats this week. I drastically increased my exercise (from zero to daily, but not all they way back up to pre-vacation levels due to the cold I also got on vacation). All that for a measly, grudging pound.

I guess my previous goal of losing those vacation pounds in two weeks needs to be revised. It looks like I’ll be lucky to lose them in 5 weeks.

In case you were wondering, this is what a broken metabolism looks like. I have no doubt that my lifetime of dieting, then gaining, then dropping again have completely fucked my metabolism and now dropping anything at all is going to be a grand struggle. But, as always, what other choice do I have but to keep shoving that boulder up this mountain? I guess simultaneously work on loving and accepting my body as it is now. As it has become through all these years of trying to figure out how to keep and maintain it.

I know less now than I ever have. Don’t ask me for weight loss advice, it’s clear I don’t know shit, and what I’ve done not only hasn’t worked long-term, but has screwed things up beyond repair.

Vacation Detox: Phantom Hunger

Continuing to re-acquaint my body with healthy habits. What I mean by “vacation detox” is that my body grew accustomed to certain things – too much food, too little activity – and now I’m having to readjust.

The first thing I noticed is that I’ve had several “hungry days” in a row now. Hungry days are those days where no matter what you eat, or how much, your body won’t stop sending you the hungry signals – phantom hunger. I know they’re false, but they’re still there. I think they happen because my body gets used to me eating much more than I need, more often than I need, and when I revert back to my regular, healthy patterns it takes some time to convince my body I mean it and I’m not going to feed it cookies or pastries (or cocktails, if I’m being honest) just because it claims hunger. I have a couple of tried-and-true methods for dealing with those signals.

-The best one is a hot beverage. Hot tea, usually, will make my stomach settle down and stop sending the hungry pangs for a while. The weird thing about the pangs is I can get them right after I’ve eaten on a really bad day. The messaging gets completely screwed up by too many days of overeating and I know it, so I have to find ways to distract myself or short-circuit the network.

-Another strategy is to eat, but eat something supportive. A piece of fruit, or a hard-boiled egg usually fit the bill, if it’s been a reasonable amount of time since I last ate.

-Exercise can sometimes do it, a hard workout will often suppress my appetite. This one’s tricky, though, as it can also sometimes backfire and leave me MORE hungry. Also hard to do when I’ve been getting through a cold.

-Worst strategy, but often used: Just gut it out. Accept that my body is telling me it’s starving but I know it’s not, and read a book or do something distracting, and drink a lot of water.

Today’s workout was 30 minutes of quiet cardio. A hard workout despite the name, and my weakened state made it seem that much harder. (Bane of my existence: Chair pose. Why, yoga? It looks so simple but it kills me!) My cold has been receding nicely, much less hacking today. I’m optimistic that I will be able to go for a run tomorrow morning. A short one, of course, I don’t want to push it too much but I need to get back in the swing of it.

I’d definitely be open to hearing your tricks for dealing with phantom hunger. Does anybody else have this issue, and how do you suppress it?

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Your daily penguins

 

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??