That’s a First!

Guys, I want to tell you something but I want to make sure you’re sitting down first, and also that you don’t freak out but instead just laugh like I am. I had my weekly weigh-in this morning. Are you ready?

I gained 9 pounds this week.

RIGHT?!

That’s crazy! How is that even possible? How much of Cake Mountain did I shovel into my face to make that happen?!

It’s definitely a record! In my life, I’ve never gained 9 pounds in a single week, and honestly there’s just no math that makes it a feasible result. I have changed NOTHING in how I ate this week vs the last 3 or 4 months. Nothing.Yes we had a three-day-weekend but I didn’t go on a full-scale cheesecake rebellion or anything. I didn’t do anything different.

I got off the scale and got back on again a time or two just to double-check and yes, I have indeed gained 9 pounds this week.

You know what changed? I went off a medication I’d been on for a while. That’s the only change in my life, and the reason was to reduce migraines – the medication was causing migraines that I couldn’t stop with my Rx medications for them.

You know what else? This completely vindicates the basic premise of the Obesity Code book: it’s not about calories in vs calories out, it’s about chemistry and hormones. I drastically changed my chemistry this week and my body reacted boldly and swiftly.

Wow. I have no idea what’s next. I have no idea if my body will settle back down or this is my new weight now.

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.

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.

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!

More Numeric Ruminations

Last week Trystan commented here that despite the number on the scale, I still do a healthy lifestyle better than almost anyone. I am hugely proud to hear that, but also it reminded me that people don’t just come here because I’m specifically keeping off 200 pounds (because I’m not), but for other reasons and living a healthy lifestyle may very well be one of them.

So, today I’m going to ramble about last week’s numbers. Last week I burned 3,780 calories in exercise. That’s well above the 2000/week recommended by a lot of programs – almost double, in fact. All that, and I even took Saturday as a rest day! How did I get there? Well, I could break it down and tell you that represents 305 minutes of activity (a little over 5 hours) that week. That’s an average of 12 calories burned per minute, but I don’t exercise in averages. A majority of my exercise was at a high intensity (running, kickboxing), which using my ballpark calculations I estimate at 14 calories/minute. The rest of it was at moderate or medium intensity (walking, yoga, weightlifting), which I ballpark at 8 calories a minute. These numbers are based on my weight and change when my weight does – when I weigh less I burn less per minute, when I weigh more I burn more. Most days I do 40-60 minutes of exercise.

I also did a great job last week at journaling my food intake (except Saturday which was unusual). I saw a steady downward motion on the scale – started at 224.5 on Monday morning and by Sunday morning I was at 221.5, excellent progress.

Yesterday I went for a long, hard run. I didn’t have anywhere to be, and the usual symphony of bodily complaints was at a mere whisper, so I decided to go for it. Not my longest route, but a portion of it which was 5.5 miles and included a serious hill in the middle. It is a steep, high hill and I don’t attempt it very often because it is HARD. But when I do attempt it I have only a single goal – to not drop into a walk on the way up it. That’s it. That’s the only thing I want to accomplish on that run. On Sunday I powered through and made it up the hill, then back down again. By the end my legs were burning pretty hard – not only a longer run than I have done all year, but a seriously strenuous section in the middle. That run took me about 90 minutes, and burned ~1260 calories. I took a long nap after that run. Yesterday I consumed approximately 1600 calories all day. Pretty good in/out ratio there!

So naturally, as you can imagine, I woke up this morning to the highest weight I have seen in years – 225. That’s right, runningĀ  shoots my weight up. Always. Running harder than usual will spike it higher than usual. That’s just how it goes. Maybe not for everyone, but always and without fail for me. At this point I’m just looking at the numbers out of objective, scientific curiosity. “Oh, huh, that’s a surprising number to see after yesterday. Wow. Body, you never fail to confound me.”

I started reading a new book I bought on Rianh’s recommendation last week, The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. I’m about halfway through, so nobody spoil the ending for me (the butler did it, right? It’s always the butler!), but so far it makes a lot of sense and I am hoping there will be a “how to do this” section in the back, because I will probably want to give his ideas a try. What do I have to lose, other than all this fabulous and exciting fat?! I’ll keep you posted as I go.

Brain Games

I’ve noticed something interesting going on in my brain. It has to do with the scale. You guys know I have a fraught relationship with the scale. I try to get on it as little as possible. In fact, I haven’t been on it since November. I am trying to learn to maintain and manage my weight by eating healthy and exercising. I don’t want to spend my whole life on a perpetual cycle of weight gain followed by fast loss through a program. I want to eat naturally, not shakes and pre-packaged foods I buy from a weight-loss system.

What’s weird is that I’ve been doing this since 2003, and I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I still feel like I have no idea how to lose weight. I have lots of friends who know exactly what you should do to lose weight and will happily expound at length on The Answer for Weight Loss. It is, of course, whatever worked for them. The further I get with this whole thing the less I know for sure.

Anyway, the brain thing.

I try not to weigh myself too often, usually because I just can’t bear it. I don’t want to be on the constant merry-go-round of hope, fear, disappointment, elation…it’s too much. Just too much. I just want to live a quiet, maintained life with my weight. So I do my exercise – 40-60 minutes of vigorous, breathing-hard, sweating, red-faced, hard exercise 5-6 days a week. And I watch my intake – lots of fruits and veggies, portions that aren’t too big, the occasional indulgence (but not too much). And I don’t get on the scale until my brain freaks out.

That’s what happens. I go for a few months and then my brain freaks out and convinces me that I’m DOING IT ALL WRONG and I’m clearly enjoying food too much, my eating is out of control, I must have gained tons of weight enjoying myself and I AM A FAILURE. My brain completely freaks out. I get depressed because I suck at this and I’m gaining weight and failing and all my exercise is for nothing because I must have gained 10 pounds since the last time I got on the scale.

And my brain starts making me notice things I hadn’t before, which are a sure sign that I’ve gained a ton of weight. Suddenly my hips are present to me in a way they weren’t before. My belly looks bloated. My legs feel sluggish and large. Clearly I’ve failed and am gaining weight and I need to get control of all this before I’m back up to my highest weight ever. I moan about how bad I’ve been andĀ  how much weight I must have gained and, always, my husband says, “You look the same to me. Are you sure you’ve gained weight, or are you just guessing?”

Darling. I’m just guessing. I can’t face the scale so I don’t, I just guess that things are bad because my brain is telling me I’m a failure.

So after a few days or weeks of this I decide it’s time to Take Things In Hand. I need to get on the scale, get a handle on just how bad things have become, and start working on losing whatever huge amount of weight I’ve gained since I’ve been enjoying food and out of control. So this morning, after weeks of my brain convincing me I’d gained 10-20 pounds over the holidays I gave up and got on the scale so I could quantify the problem in order to begin working on it.

Up a half pound since the last time I weighed in November. That’s within regular fluctuation range. I am maintaining, my weight is extremely stable. Everything is going fine, I haven’t gained anything over the holidays, my system is working. It’s my brain that’s disordered.

I need a better system for brain management.

Aging Skin Does Weird Stuff

I feel like I start every other post with, “Gosh it’s been a long time since my last post.” Sorry, I’ve been battling mental rebellions over this whole “needing to be vigilant every day” thing that my life is.

Since my last post I’ve done the thing I said I was doing – eating sensibly, not starving myself, exercising for about an hour 5-6 days a week, not getting on the scale. But then a couple of weeks ago something happened that really rattled me. I noticed a new angry red stretch mark on my belly just above my belt lipectomy scar. Then a few days after that I noticed a bunch more on my abdomen above and to the left of my belly button (I have some old white ones there already from when I was ~400 pounds). Then a couple of days ago I noticed some on the other side that mirrored those ones above my belly button.

I freaked out. I worried that my negligence of the scale meant that my weight had somehow ballooned up without me realizing it into previously unknown highs, so high I was getting new stretch marks. That didn’t even make any sense! I’ve been 400 pounds in my life, when I had the belt lipectomy they didn’t take any skin in a vertical direction, only horizontal, so there should be plenty of space there. I couldn’t have gained THAT much! I’m certainly not getting any taller!

I told my husband about the situation, and he said, quietly and meekly (because he knows what a minefield this topic can be for everyone), “You look the same to me, I don’t think you’ve gained a bunch of weight, sweetie.” And then he said even more quietly, “Maybe all those twisting, stretching core workouts you do are causing them, maybe you need more room for all of the badass ab moves you are doing?”

There was nothing for it but to get on the scale this morning. I braced myself for the worst, but I did not find that the worst had happened. I weigh exactly what I always do when I am not starving myself or otherwise trying to lose weight to attain the mystical goal weight in my brain. I weigh the normal, maintenance, enjoying-my-life-while-still-being-careful weight I always revert to between diet programs. The weight I should probably just get used to and accept. That weight.

So what the hell, body?

The only thing I can guess is it’s a combination of what my brilliant husband said, and my aging skin. It’s been drier than usual lately, noticeably so. And I do really work my core with my workouts – many of them incorporate Pilates and yoga moves that twist, stretch, and otherwise pull at my midsection. That’s the best I can guess. Pass the cocoa butter, please?