How Dare I?

I maintained this week. I expected a huge gain, like 4 pounds, but I was exactly the same. The reason I expected a gain is because I wasn’t counting calories and exercising to exhaustion every day, which my previous 14 years of experience had led me to believe is the only way to not gain. My new world is exciting and delightful.

I had two “cheat days” last week, because Saturday one of my best friends got married and I ate whatever I wanted, including two pieces of cake – with lots of frosting (OMG I LOVE FROSTING). But no gain.

I eat so much now that I start thinking I should cut back. One of my biggest pleasures, that was denied to me for so many years of my life, is nuts. I may have a pistachio problem. I eat pistachios like candy, piles of them. The sorts of volume that I would have trembled in fear at just 6 months ago. They, clearly, are not a problem for me following the new method. I don’t even fast much, I skip breakfast a couple of days a week and that’s about it.

What all this tells me is that if I did decide I wanted to drop some pounds it would be easy because I currently feel the opposite of deprived. I feel so satisfied, so sated, that sometimes I think maybe I’m abusing my privilege, or getting away with something naughty, by eating so deliciously. How dare I enjoy my meals and eating experience so much without gaining weight and beating myself up mentally? How dare I be so happy when there are starving dieters in America?

And yet here I sit, perfectly happy with my body, not willing to cut back to drop some pounds because I love myself just the way that I am. What the hell, seriously, HOW DARE I?

Temporary Setback – Happy Anyway

I was up a pound and a half this week. This was not a surprise, honestly I was surprised it wasn’t more, considering how I ate last week. That’s the thing about the term “cheat day.” It’s not plural! Ha!

It’s already coming back down though, as I expected, and I’m not concerned by it. *shrug* Some weeks are just more celebratory than others. Yes – that’s the word I am going with – celebratory!

I have decided to modify my “no snacks” rule, because I have been getting migraines almost every day for over two weeks recently. A couple of days ago I realized that the 7 hours between lunch and dinner are usually when those start. So I’ve started having a small snack – usually a piece of fruit and some nuts – about halfway through the afternoon stretch. No migraines the last two days. So that may be a thing I need to do to keep my head out of the migraine trap. I will continue to monitor to see if this causes my body a problem on the scale.

Regardless, my gain this week hasn’t thrown me down the depression hole, weirdly, and I can only say that the thing I noticed last week – where I don’t feel deprived so I don’t feel resentful about my life so I don’t get mad when I don’t see a loss – seems to be holding. This feels pretty amazing after over a decade of feeling resentful about my restrictions and getting pissed off about my body not doing what I want when I was trying so hard and giving up so much. Giving up sugar and flour have been easy for me. Getting back healthy fats has made it completely worth it.

Oh – one more thing. I’ve modified my workouts at bit since I became a convert of The Obesity Code. I’m not killing myself anymore. I do yoga, I go for walks, I lift a bit. But I’m not killing myself with high-intensity, hardcore, feel-like-I’m-dying workouts every day anymore because why should I? I’m getting great results without doing those things. Some days my schedule means I can’t fit in a workout and I don’t beat myself up about it now. I used to think exercise was 20% of weight management (and food/intake was 80%). I now agree with the book that exercise is about 5%, and my recent modification to my regimen seems to bear that out. Exercise is a “nice to do” for me now, not a “beat myself up & feel bad if I don’t” activity. Since I’m not planning on doing a body-building or weight-lifting contest anytime ever, this is fine for me.

Maintenance Magic

No loss this week, which means I’m maintaining. I’m not even upset. That’s actually magic, in my world. To not lose any weight and be totally fine with it. And the reason is because I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself anymore. I’ve discovered a way to be fine with my body – by not fighting it and depriving it constantly. And also by not giving hunger power over me. Now that I recognize that yes, I will feel hunger for an hour or two before meals, but that it’s not the end of the world and is totally normal, I can disregard its urgent pleas.

The program: No refined carbs, sugar, or artificial sweeteners. No snacks – 3 meals a day, period. No processed foods, and no restriction on dietary fats. One cheat meal per week. No alcohol (that’s just a me thing, it gives me migraines and they’re not worth it). Last week I did a 24 hour fast on Sunday. This week I may do one fasting day as well. I’m still not convinced they’re something my body approves of, so my thoughts on them are still evolving.

My clothes fit comfortably again. I’m happy with maintaining where I am, and eating how I am eating. So…that’s all I’ve got this week. But that’s a big thing in my world.

Loss Has Resumed

Slowly, but it has resumed. Considering that I do not consider myself on a diet, any loss at all is great. This morning I was down another half pound, which I am pleased with. Here are the changes I made this week:

  1. Spiked my insulin one day last week. That’s right – I purposely went out and ate bread with dinner, and had ice cream after. I don’t know if this is a scientifically proven method, but I sure enjoyed it.
  2. I stopped fasting. I had a suspicion that the fasts were too hard on my body, so I gave them up and focused solely on eating only 3 meals a day no snacks, and avoiding sugar, refined carbs, and sweeteners.

And that’s it. I know my body pretty well after all these years, and I had a strong suspicion that the fasts weren’t doing what I wanted anymore, and I was right. So this week I am going to keep on trucking just like this.

This way of eating has been a revelation to me. Even more, I’ve managed a transition I never though possible. Not only can I go without snacks between meals, I don’t feel any discomfort doing it. Conventional diet wisdom tells you to eat every 2-3 hours, and I’ve been doing that for almost 15 years now. But it had become a real burden – I didn’t go anywhere without packing snacks, and if I went too long without eating I started to feel light-headed and weak, similar to how I imagine a low-blood-sugar crash feels.

Now that I have accustomed my body to whole foods and longer periods between meals (and yeah, those first few weeks WERE hard, I will freely admit it) I can go as long as I need or want to between meals without crashing, getting a headache, or feeling overly hungry. I am no longer a servant to my body’s constant desires.

As an example, last week I was invited to speak at a large gathering for work. I was on the schedule for 11:30am, however since it was a long list of speakers I figured they would be running late. I ate breakfast that morning around 7am, and when I showed up at 11 to prepare for my speech it was clear that I would not be speaking at 11:30, they were already 3 speakers behind. They had also opted to work through lunch to get all the content in before they lost the room later in the afternoon. I was able to hang around and wait until my turn, do my presentation, and take a barrage of questions without any issues. I don’t think I got to lunch until 2:30 or 3pm that day – and I was fine! Previously I would have had to sneak out while I was waiting to eat a snack just to keep from crashing – maybe more than once, but now that my body has transitioned to this new program I had no problems going 7-8 hours between meals!

It feels amazing, it feels like a new lease on life – I feel free! I don’t have to lug around snacks everywhere I go! I don’t have to constantly plan to eat, I can not eat if it’s not convenient and be fine! I finally have control over my body again, after years and years of being in service to its whims and desires.

Also I cook with butter and olive oil, I eat all the full-fat dairy I want, nuts are a regular snack, I eat avocados like I’m not scared of them anymore, and I don’t count calories. I don’t feel like I’m on a diet. I feel like a normal person and for me that is a BIG DEAL. So even if I hadn’t seen any kind of loss this week, I’m going to stick with this program. For me it’s a revelation, and it’s how I want to live.

Fasting Observations

Week four has gone pretty well. I have definitely noticed a drop-off in hunger pangs now that my body is more accustomed to both the fasting days and the longer periods between meals (ie, no snacking). The first couple of weeks I will admit I was very hungry between meals and during fasting days, some days it was distracting how hungry I felt all the time.

Today is a fasting day for me (I’ll break my fast at dinner) and it’s the best one so far. I’ve felt very little hunger, and what I did feel was easily dealt with by drinking either tea, coffee, bone broth, or sparkling water. These are my go-to options, by the way, for when I feel hungry and it’s not a mealtime.

I’ll weigh in tomorrow and I’m going to try not to get my hopes up. I’ve lost 10.5 so far and that’s about the limit when I’m working on this on my own, so it would be completely expected for me to not have lost anything this week or even to have gained. I hope that’s not the case but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much because prior experience, and I have a lot of it, tells me not to. My plan, if the scale isn’t down, is to switch up my fasts and see if that helps.

Tomorrow I have an all-day meeting I need to attend for work at a Marriott (I’m also presenting). That means I’ll cross my fingers and hope there are some lunch options I can put together without refined carbs or sugar. I’ll do my best, but my understanding about this method of eating is that it’s somewhat forgiving.

This weekend we (we = my husband and I. He’s totally on the bandwagon too) did some creative problem solving. We thought* we were going to have evening plans both days, so instead of showing up famished to dinner by fasting all day one of the days, which isn’t fun, we decided to fast until lunchtime both days. Technically I guess that’s an 18-hour fast, but in the real world we just call that skipping breakfast. We skipped the same number of meals as if we’d done a 24-hour fast one of the days, but made it work with our schedule.

(*We ended up cancelling everything because my husband got bronchitis, but the intention was there!)

In other news, I took this course on FutureLearn: Body Weight: How Our Brain, Behavior and Genetics Influence Appetite and Food Choices. It’s a three-week course if you go at their pace but I completed the material in two days. Registration is, I believe, still open, btw. It was vaguely interesting but did not conclude with any recommendations or suggestions. I guess that might be implied from the title of the course, but I always hope courses will have advice on how to apply the things you learn and this one didn’t offer anything like that. The major takeaway is that it’s complicated and no one factor causes or reverses obesity. In case you didn’t know that already.

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.