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The Science is Good; the Conventional Wisdom is Unwise

Saturday, February 19, 2011

This morning's round of measurements show me 1.25 more inches down - yay! Better, my waist-to-hip ratio is down to .77, which makes me a pear (better than an avacado). I'm pleased!

I've lost 15 pounds and over 8 inches since January 3rd following Tim Ferriss's "4-Hour Body/Slow Carb" plan, which is very similar to a Paleo or hunter-gatherer diet, except Ferriss adds beans to each meal because just eating protein and vegetables does not provide enough calories. There are no grains or dairy on this eating plan (although cottage cheese is fine), and the plan includes one cheat day a week.

Beginning today, though, my personal trainer has put me on a 2-week "Fast Start" eating plan, which is very much like Paleo, with some permitted fruits and fats (olives, raw nuts, almond butter) standing in for the beans. Sticking with this eating plan for 2 weeks also means eating even more protein and snacking more frequently than I have done on 4HB, and skipping a cheat day, so well see how it goes. While 15 pounds is good for 7 weeks, I have slowed down quite a bit. Hey, summer starts in 3 months - speeding up a bit would be great! I can stick with this Paleo plan for the long term, though I'll probably go back to my cheat days and putting cottage cheese in my eggs after the 2 weeks are over.

My only problem thus far has been the frequency of eating. This morning, I forgot to eat my required snack because I'm just not accustomed to eating more than 4 times a day now (as opposed to my old 7 times per day when I was on your classic high-carb/low fat diet), and I'm not hungry much, so I have to watch the clock. I understand the point is to make sure we don't get too hungry or have blood sugar drop too far, but since I've been sticking to a plan very similar to Paleo for the past 7 weeks, my appetite is already lower. When I become hungry, it's actually stomach hunger, which is a relatively new experience for me.

On the subject of appetite and non-traditional eating plans ... I was reading "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes last night, which I'd checked out of the library. I ended up buying it for my Kindle because I want to keep it. Together with several other books I've read about the dangers of our typical, extremely sugar-laden American diet, It's going to be valuable as a resource when I have to respond to Doubting Thomases who think high-protein, carb-restricted eating plans are unhealthy or a "fad," and that we're all going to die if we don't eat Cheerios or oatmeal.

Here, I'm going to share an extremely simplified version of the section of Taubes's book that I read over and over and over again, thrilled to see it all written so clearly.

Added 2/20/2011 - I'm adding a disclaimer to this blog because of some of the comments I've received. I'm not surprised - I knew I'd receive comments telling me I'm wrong and that I'm focusing on "one man's opinion." I want to make clear that Taubes's bibliography is dozens of pages long, and the book is voluminous - this is not one man's opinion. Moreover, Taubes is only one of many authors I've read who write compellingly about the ills that simple carbohydrates bring upon us. The smartest authors I've found (there are many) all invite skepticism and further exploration. For example, I'm following 4HB instead of the low-carb eating plan that Taubes offers at the end of his more recent book because his is too low in carbohydrates, and I don't like the whole "ketosis" thing (more about that below). I just happened to have had my "aha" moment reading Taubes's GCBC book, which is full of information. I'm sharing what works for me and because I see it starting to work for my mother, who is not athletic and who has serious thyroid and health issues relating to her weight. If your experience shows that you can eat bread and pancakes and still lose weight, consider yourself VERY lucky. Believe me, I wish I were like that as well! But not all of us can eat like that, and I think the weight loss industry and FDA have taken their sweet time figuring that out. That's why I wrote this blog. Disclaimer done.

As you read my paraphrase below, remember that EVERY carbohydrate - even whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, legumes, vegetables and fruits, Little Debbie snack cakes - all of it turns into sugar in our bloodstream. Our brains use carbohydrates for food, so we must consume some carbohydrates. I'm not trying to demonize the naturally occurring ones like fruit and tubers. The rest of our organs and muscles need us to eat protein and fat to be nourished.

*Calories in/calories out as a widely understood and accepted concept has repeatedly been demonstrated as an oversimplification of our vastly complicated endocrine systems and how our bodies store and use fat.
*The concept DOES work, however, if you look only at fat cells. When there is too much insulin in the blood - prompted by too much sugar, a hormonal defect, or both - more fat is going into the fat cells than can come out. Picture 25 people trying to push their way into a NYC subway car while one person is trying to get out - that one person is out of luck.
* Because fat cannot get out of the fat cells, organs, muscles, etc. are not receiving adequate nourishment. No matter the size of the person, the body is starving.
* In response to this state of internal starvation, appetite increases.
* The bigger the person = the more nourishment is needed, so the bigger the appetite.
* The person must eat more food to nourish the body until the body gets the nourishment it needs, even if the side effect is to increase weight to an unhealthy level, until the body says "enough, I have the nourishment I need to function."
* Both lean and fat people go into energy conservation mode (i.e., they are sedentary) and are hungry when their bodies are starving.
* When the fat can get out of the fat cells, the person becomes more energetic.

What about exercise? There's no magic calculator in our bodies that says if the treadmill reads 300 calories, then we've actually burned a 300-calorie meal. Exercise cannot burn fat unless the fat is released from fat cells to be used as fuel. With the body in starvation mode, exercise doesn't do much except making us hungrier.

Taubes has analyzed tons upon tons of studies that have shown that carbhydrate-restricted diets, made up of vegetables, some fruit, increased protein and fat, have these effects:
* Insulin goes down.
* Fat is finally able to get out of fat cells.
* Muscles and organs are being nourished by the fat coming out of fat cells as well as the protein and fat being eaten.
* Appetite decreases because the body is no longer starving.
* To quote Taubes (this was the "aha" statement for me), a person "would be eating less because his fat tissue was shrinking; his fat tissue would not be shrinking because he was eating less."

In this scenario, we do end up eating fewer calories because we're not as hungry - but that's not why we lose weight. We're eating fewer calories as a response because we're able to lose weight. It's the reverse of what the conventional wisdom tells us - and yet, to me, it seems so much more logical than counting points and telling myself I'm "satisfied" on half a cup of pasta with non-fat cheese.

Taubes's book also expains that numerous studies have suggested that carbohydrates increase appetite. I don't know if he will explain why (I'm only about 2/3 of the way through the book), but I can tell you that 1/2 cup pasta with non-fat cheese is going to send me to the cookie jar. However, the 4 ounces of ribeye, cup of broccoli, and 1/2 grapefruit I ate for lunch following today's hour-long workout were almost too much for me to squeeze down; and, four hours later, I'm just beginning to get hungry again.

In my own history, I find Taubes's words not only compelling, but very applicable:

* Every time I've gone on a typical calorie-restrictive diet that does not restrict carbohydrates, I become voraciously hungry, need to snack 3 or 4 times a day at least and am still hungry, feel lethargic, am cranky, etc. And, if I lose anything at all, it comes back in a heartbeat. Consider that I've tried Weight Watchers 4 times and have gained weight (and suffered from really extreme hunger!) each time. Obviously, such eating plans don't work for me!

* The two times in my life I've gone on a carbohydrate-restrictied diet -- 9 years ago (when I went from 230 to 165 pounds) and now -- I've had no problem at all staying on the plan, I've lost weight easily, and I had/have a lot of energy. I have even more energy at 47 than I did last time I did this (at 38) because this time, I'm eating whole foods and have cut out entirely grains (except for the aforementioned beans and cheat days). Since this eating plan includes a cheat day 1x/week, that's enough for me to be able to socialize, have holiday meals, etc., and still eat properly the other 6 days of the week.

[In case you're wondering, my weight did creep back up from 165 to 190 pounds after I stopped following the carbohydrate-restricted diet. I chose to stop because my body entered ketosis, and my breath became horrible - I couldn't stand it. That doesn't seem to be happening this time, but I'm doing things differently: I'm eating enough carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, with a little fruit and beans, so that my brain is nourished, and my liver doesn't have to produce ketones to feed it. But, I have kept off 40 pounds just by making sure I exercised and had protein at every meal for over 7 years, and I think that's pretty impressive!]

There are genetic and even evolutionary reasons behind why a body like mine cannot handle much insulin. That's my theory about why this works so well for me, and my doctor didn't choose to argue with me about it. Weight loss on whole foods = good = keep doing what you're doing. I choose to believe what the Paleo guys say about insulin (that humans have been on this earth for millions of years, agriculture for just a few thousand, and we haven't had time to evolve to the point where we can handle all the sugar that goes into our bloodstreams). Also, Taubes suggests some people really do have an obesity gene, which makes their fat cells extremely insulin resistance. I don't think that's me, but I'm sure there are people out there suffering greatly because the conventional wisdom labels them as slothful and gluttonous. Such labels are are surely cruel and may be terribly unwise.

I find the science pretty fascinating. Even if I weren't reading, though, I'd still know that a higher protein, carb-restricted whole food eating plan works extraordinarily well for my body. Two pounds a week and 9 inches off my body since January 3rd - without hunger - don't lie.

Many of the good studies that Taubes cites were done in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, when my mom was a girl, and I hear her words from when I was a little girl: Starchy foods will make you gain weight. We avoided (or ate in moderation) corn, pasta, potatoes, bread, and sweets, although we didn't know why they would make us gain weight.

Michael Pollan, in "In Defense of Food," explains that politics are the reason that the starches we avoided 30+ years ago have become "low-fat, heart-healthy foods" that we're all supposed to be eating. Golly gee - if we were all thin, healthy, with no heart disease or diabetes, I'd believe what the FDA, politicians, lobbyists, and for-profit cereal companies tell us to eat. Their interest lies in profit and ego, however. Looking around me, I can see they are doing us a horrible injustice.

I'm very heartened that my 20-something personal trainer gave me this carb-restricted, whole-food diet, which she follows herself (with a cheat day every week). Maybe this means the new breed of dieticians, personal trainers, and physicians coming out of school now will start looking at what the science and obvious (moneymaking) failures of low fat/high carb diets have been demonstrating for years. Maybe, they will toss out the conventional wisdom - along with the FDA food pyramid and commercials for Frosted Mini Wheats- in favor of making real wisdom more conventional. Then, maybe we'll see a return to the not-so-distant past (as recent as the early 20th century!) when diabetes, cancer, alzheimers, obesity, heart disease, and other diseases of our modern time weren't as rampant.

Hmm, that's food for thought - I think I'll sign off now and go eat my Paleo dinner of a big omelet with vegetables and salad!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SMUDDIE 2/24/2011 12:16AM

    It's good to hear of your success with the slow carb plan. I admit, I have not been very successful at giving up all the carbs. I love fruit and oatmeal! I am going to give it a try, though. It's taken much time and reading for me to be willing to admit that maybe all I've learned about dieting is wrong, and that maybe some of the things that I think are no big deal, might be a big deal after all.

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LAURA1152 2/21/2011 12:34PM

    It's ridiculous that I sat in my doctor's office the other day arguing with her about the cause of my weight loss - she refused not believe it had anything to do with dietary changes! (She chalked it up to my ceasing to take a certain medication at the end of January - ignoring, of course, that I'd already lost 9 pounds before I stopped taking it.) The bottom line is that many of us are not helped and are even harmed by low-fat, high-carb diets, and it would be responsible and appropriate for the FDA and other big voices in the diet world to present alternatives that respect the fact differences in food and fat metabolism.

I think, in basic terms, we're in agreement, although I disagree with your opinion that this "isn't science." However, since I'm paraphrasing something it appears you haven't read, then it's a useless disagreement. Anyway, thanks for the follow-up comment.

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GRACEFULIFE 2/20/2011 11:01PM

    I have a copy if you really want it back. In fact, I surely could do a better job editing it into better literature. But hey, it's just a blog comment, not a PhD thesis.

My first paragraph says this isn't science. My second paragraph agrees with some of your points. My third paragraph makes a new point. And my fourth paragraph clarifies how I think one should apply this AND actual scientific data to individual situations. This part you even suggest that you agree with. I don't see how any of this is much controversial or argumentative.

I may write in a more objective tone than you are used to, however I assure you I softened my tone before I posted the comment. Anyway, like eating, this shouldn't be emotional. Not if you want to venture into the realm of science.

I never directly said YOU were wrong. And I didn't say Taubes was wrong, period. He is, in fact, correct on some points. And on some points he is incorrect. Like the rest of us.

The Spark approach is about moderation and taking a reasonable middle path, not about cutting things altogether or calling them evil. Finally, the world is not black and white, nor does it happen in Powerpoint. Length is occasionally required in order to have appreciable content.

Might as well end with my usual cry. BEEFCAKE!

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LAURA1152 2/20/2011 9:43PM

    I received a comment on this blog that said Taubes is "wrong," and I deleted the comment because of its excessive length and what I felt was a disrespectful tone, which may or may not have been intended. However, it was wrong of me to delete it; I only realized after I'd done so that others may have appreciated seeing it. It is a public blog, after all. In case others are curious, I addressed the concerns of that comment in a disclaimer I've added to the blog (dated 2/20). Since conventional weight loss plans tend not to work for everyone, I felt it important to share my thoughts and experience and invite you to agree or disagree - however, I take exception to declaring Taubes is wrong unless you've taken the time to read him yourself. The comment's writer does say that everyone needs to do what works for him/herself, and in that, we're in agreement.

Comment edited on: 2/20/2011 10:06:13 PM

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AZMARC 2/20/2011 6:37PM

    This is great information. Thanks for taking the time to share it. Congratulations on your progress with the diets. I admire your willingness to experiment. I know Ferriss would too.

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AWESOMEANI 2/20/2011 3:56PM

    Great post! Thank you.

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XIMERAGREY 2/20/2011 10:08AM

    Very interesting -- thanks for sharing. I'm doing 4HB and loving the "slow carb" diet. I've resisted the low carb diets in the past for two reasons:

1. They villainize "carbs" across the board. Carbs are a necessary macronutrient. (It also REALLY annoys me when someone spouts the evils of carbs while munching on fruits or veggies. Hello -- those are CARBS!)

2. Ketosis. So many of the low carb diets have a phase where they put people in ketosis. Sorry, but my brain uses carbs, and I'm not going to starve it. Ketosis just isn't necessary.

I love Tim Ferriss precisely because he doesn't do either of the above things. He doesn't waste energy fighting against the stuff he doesn't want you to eat. He focuses on the good stuff and provides solid science and practical applications and results.

Comment edited on: 2/20/2011 10:10:32 AM

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WRTRGURRL88 2/20/2011 12:04AM

    Thanks for sharing your research and personal experience. Calories in/calories out wasn't doing much for me either and I knew there was an answer in science somewhere. I just started and had a difficult first week. But now I think it will be much better. My youngest daughter is considering a career in personal training and I hope to influence her with my success with 4HB. She's helping me with exercise. Cheers to continued success!

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RIVERCITYTOM 2/19/2011 8:16PM

    Paleo Dinner sounds interesting. I will have to check out the book. Sounds interesting.
Thanks for sharing.
Have a great Paleo Supper.

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Ramping up some things in February

Sunday, February 06, 2011

In my last entry, I crowed about having lost 9 lbs and 3.75 inches as of the 3rd week in January. I'm still so proud of that! This morning, I measured and had lost 2 more inches, but I haven't seen any weight loss at all since January 31st, when I hit 180 (that was 10 lbs lost in January). In fact, my weight has inched up a little - 182.5 this morning - and while I know part of this is due to muscle and water weight, I'd still like to see more encouraging results.

Or, let's put it this way - I'd like to make some changes in February and see if they lead to greater success. If they do - wonderful! If they don't - Hey, I tried, and maybe the loss of momentum is due to being a middle-aged woman who's VERY prone to gaining weight and retains water like a sponge half of every month. (Aargh. I hate hormones sometimes!)

Here are the changes I'm starting this week:
* Last week, I tried to switch to a total Paleo eating plan and substituted beans with nuts. No go. I like nuts too much, especially since we were snowed in WITH the nuts about half of last week. So I'm back to eating 4HB, all protein & vegetables with some beans at 2 meals/day (that's how I do it, anyway), and no fruit or dairy except on cheat day.
* More fish, a little less beef - not because I'm worried about beef but because beef could be contributing to my water retention issues.
* Trying to eat between 20-30g protein per meal. That's difficult!
* I'd already cut back on bottled salad dressing - I'm going to cut that out completely for the rest of February and have only olive oil and balsamic vinegar on my salads and see if that helps the water thing. I tried olive oil and lemon juice but didn't like the taste. I might try a little olive oil with salsa on my salads, also - sometimes I grow weary of balsamic vinegar.
* I'm increasing my daily fish oil and magnesium/zinc supplements.
* I followed a link on Tim Ferriss's website to this morning and ordered a set of supplements he recommends, as well as more (purified) fish oil. I'll start taking these supplements based on Ferriss's recommendations as soon as they arrive.
* This week, I added "swings" and a couple of other strength-training exercises to my circuit days. I also added interval training to my cardio. That is, I'm focusing on intensity more than length of my workouts, and I'm going to follow Robb Wolf's ("Paleo Solution") recommendation to do yoga/stretch every 3 days or so. My schedule doesn't enable me to stick to Wolf's workout schedule exactly, but I can manage a schedule that's very close.
* I'm thinking of trying "intermittent fasting" on the evening/morning of cheat days. Tim Ferriss does this for 19 hours, although I'm not sure I can handle that around my workout schedule. I'll try at least 15-16 hours this coming weekend (no food from 6PM Friday until after my workout on Saturday morning, then follow with cheat lunch/dinner); we'll see how that goes.
* I began wearing a pedometer yesterday (Saturday). I entered a goal of 10,000 steps yesterday and reached that by about 4PM yesterday; clearly, I don't need to worry about # of steps on the weekend! But I do want to monitor how much I'm moving during the week.

Things I'll continue -
* Vegetables and protein at each meal; very little fruit, if any
* Every morning - 30 ounces of ice water with lemon juice
* Cinnamon in my coffee.
* Kids and I are trying to eat more local produce and farm-raised meats. While I didn't make it to the proper stores to buy meat this week (too hazardous to drive much), we will resume doing our shopping at the Market Bistro or Homegrown Market next weekend or as soon as possible once the roads are improved. I baked an organic, free-range chicken last weekend - wow, it tasted amazing!!!

It's a plan - it all sounds very complicated and like hard work when I write it all out like this, and it is hard work in some ways. But I'm single, I'm organized, and my kids are VERY supportive. All of these facts tend to help make all this possible. If I could just have a self-cleaning kitchen, life would be perfect!!

Thanks for reading, and good health to you.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURA1152 2/19/2011 5:39PM

    Thirty ounces in AM gets me 30 ounces closer to my goal for the day - that's the only reason. It's better to get a head start and reach my quota at dinnertime than get to dinner and still have 30 ounces left to drink. I sleep better in the evening when I have more in the morning.

Following the 4 Hour Body plan, I add ice and lemon juice to my water in the morning.

Finally, we become a little dehydrated overnight, so a good amount of water in the AM is physically good as well, whether it's one glass or three.

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EGR2BEME 2/19/2011 9:09AM

    Good luck with your plan? Can you tell me why the 30 ounces of water in the morning?

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EGR2BEME 2/19/2011 9:09AM

    Good luck with your plan? Can you tell me why the 30 ounces of water in the morning?

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AZMARC 2/13/2011 5:37PM

    Thanks for sharing all this information. It really helps to see what others are doing with 4HB and related. I ordered supplements last week too, from VitaCost. I'm going to try doing PAGG. I'll be interested to hear how it works for you. I take a decent number of supplements already. I'm always a little concerned that it's too much, or that there might be a conflict of some sort, but this seems like a reasonable addition.

Keep up the good work!

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MELINA05 2/6/2011 5:41PM

    Very good!!! Just taking the time to write everything down it will keep you on track.

It's an amazing plan, keep with it and you will have an amazing month!!!


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NETGNAL 2/6/2011 1:55PM

    Wow! You can do it! Congrats on your January success!

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Success for the first time in at least a year!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I posted this morning to one of the two 4-Hour Body/Slow Carb diet teams to which I belong on Sparkpeople and realized my post was more like a blog than a post. So I'm copying it here and sharing some changes in my measurements.

I looked into and then started on Timothy Ferriss's Slow Carb diet because I know from my own weight-loss history that eating higher protein/lower carb works for me (I used to weigh 240 pounds), plus a guy at work lost 170 pounds and has maintained it for several years. I find the meal planning to be simple; I'm down from eating 6-7 times a day to 4-5; and after at least a year of frustration, hunger, and ZERO weight loss, I am officially 9 pounds down as of today's weigh in! That is, 190 down to 181.

(The 200 that begins my little weight tracker on my Sparkpage is what I weighed when I joined Sparkpeople a few years ago. I lost and kept off that 10, although Iíve been yo-yoíing below and around 190 since then, and Iíd been sneaking up towards 200 again throughout 2010. My period of 240 pounds was 10 years ago, following my younger son's birth and during the breakup of my marriage.)

I adjust the eating plan a little because, while I've never been told I'm carbohydrate sensitive, I feel strongly that I am, and I'm a little leery of how many carbohydrate grams are in beans. I tend to eat something carb (1/4 cup beans, half a grapefruit, or a little cottage or feta cheese) with my eggs in the morning; I have 1/3-1/2 cup beans with my lunch and dinner; and I eat 100% protein for snacks.

I am almost never hungry. Actually, I take that back - I get hungry when it's appropriate (like after I haven't eaten for 4 hours or after I work out), but it feels different. It's not that desperate sugar-crash hunger where I feel like I could eat the tires off my car if I don't get something right now!!

Saturdays are the best cheat day for me, and the last two Saturdays, I've had some roadblocks to my actually being able to enjoy my cheat days (I was on the road one day, eating M&Ms to keep awake; and I was recovering from oral surgery last Saturday, eating ice cream). Today, I'm looking forward to lunch & dinner meals that are NOT on my plan, and maybe some ice cream. But after today's weigh-in, I'm looking forward to getting back on my eating plan tomorrow more!

In addition to weighing today, I measured. I last measured on January 3rd and measure no change in my neck, arm, or calf sizes. (Iím bummed about the arms.) However, I do have some really great improvements to report, in just the past 19 days:

1.5 inches lower on my waist measurement and 1.75 inches lower on my hips Ė that also calculates out to .4 improvement in my waist-to-hip ratio (i.e., Iíve gone from 0.85 to 0.81 Ė yippee! Iíve almost graduated from Avacado to Pear!).

Iím also .25 smaller on one thigh, so I'll assume .5 inches overall on both thighs. I did work out this morning, but it was a brisk 32-minute walk on the treadmill Ė I donít know if that measurement would have been more positive had I measured right when Iíd gotten out of bed this morning, but Iíll take 1/2 inch!

That's (drumroll) 3.75 inches in 3 weeks. Wow. Plus, my chest. I realized I havenít been measuring my chest, but believe me Ė itís smaller. Thatís the first thing that goes when I lose weight! Of course, at 240 lbs, my chest was so large it got in the way of nearly everything I did! So Iím good with the idea of growing a little smaller and maybe having to buy new lingerie. Iíll deserve it. And one of the nice things about being middle-aged (I'm 47) is that my chest *should* remain a little on the large side just because of menopause.

Iím pleased with my progress and my experience on this eating plan. I hear people say, ďI couldnít do that all the time; Iíd be hungry,Ē but theyíre wrong about the hunger thing. The diet gets a little monotonous at times, but I shake it up with different meats, different vegetables, and switching out my carbs at breakfast sometimes. The AWESOME thing, with my limited schedule, is that itís super-easy to pack lunches to take to work. It takes, like, 5 minutes, and I'm done. More time for my kids! And using the copy-forward function and the food groupings on Sparkpeople has made logging my food extremely easy, too. There's something to be said for monotony.

Since most people I work with know my coworker lost 170 pounds on this same eating plan, theyíve been inquiring when they see me microwave my container of vegetables/beans/protein, and Iíve had the opportunity to spread the word a bit! Many of them knew me at 240 pounds and have watched my struggles over the 13 years Iíve worked there, and they are very supportive. I hope they will applaud me when I reach my goal of 145 pounds; I know my kids are pleased to see me shrinking, and I'm just tickled. I bought new jeans in December, and I'll be really pleased to give them to charity once they're falling off me! Luckily, I've been hopeful and have held onto my smaller won't cost me a fortune to lose weight.

As I said above, today is my cheat day. I ate a breakfast that was on program, and I just had Ĺ grapefruit as a post-workout snack (that helps decrease insulin production later, according to Ferriss). I have plans to treat myself to a wicked lunch that includes lots of cheese and tortilla chips (but also lots of protein and vegetables) at Qdoba later on, and dinner might just be a huge salad with cheese (I miss dairy!) or some soup and half a sandwich at Panera. I am looking forward to some ice cream later. However, I've been doing a lot of reading about insulin, leptin and other hormones; and how excessive carbohydrates (even "heart healthy" whole-wheat bread) messes with them. Wow. That's all I can say. I'm floored by what I'm learning. That information, and my easy weight loss, suggest that despite a yummy break today, I wonít have any problems going back on my plan tomorrow.

My blogs are usually much better organized than this (I'm a writer by training, if not on the job now). I feel like my ideas were all over the place this morning. So, thanks for reading my disjointed thoughts!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AWESOMEANI 1/24/2011 10:38AM

    I love this post. Thank you for sharing.

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PAMMIETAJ 1/23/2011 5:09PM

  Laura, like you, I think there might be too many carbs on this program for me to lose weight if I follow it as written. I'm doing more research on the paleo thing. (c: It's good to see inches moving down pretty quickly (or so it seems to me) for you, even though you feel the weight number isn't moving fast enough. Maybe you are growing some muscle with your fat loss?

Keep up the good work!

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AZMARC 1/23/2011 11:14AM

    Congratulations on your progress! I enjoyed hearing how things are going for you with the diet. I'm early into it and still trying to get into a routine. I don't quite have the lunch packing thing down. Keep up the good work!

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BARB0927 1/22/2011 4:13PM

    Congrats! I can relate to the great feeling of eating low carb & high protein. My high protein diet has produced success as well! What types of bean dishes are you eating? It feels great to finally see the scale move after a 6 month plateau. I wish I would have thought to take my measurements because I'm finally fitting back into what were my super tight size 4 jeans! I've been losing 2 pds a week and have kept it up despite not working out.
Wishing you continued success. emoticon

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One more day of 46! and All About Emotions

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I got home from work a little while ago, ate a snack (some Oscar Mayer sliced chicken and water - sounds boring, but I'm not too hungry) and thought, "Hmm, what should I do for 15 minutes before leaving for my son's orchestra concert at school?" How about blog? I thought it would be good to check in, the day before the day before my 47th birthday.

I thought about my 40s this morning and realize they have been filled with a lot of emotional ups and downs. I started my 40s at about 165 pounds. I remember this because that's what I weighed when I met my now-ex boyfriend right before I turned 40. Now, at almost 47, I weigh about 185. (I can be more specific next week after TOM has packed her bags and gone.) Wow, that's only 20 pounds! I say "only" because my weight has been all over the map - at least a 165-200 pound map - since I joined Sparkpeople. Hmm, let's analyze:

165 at 39 years old - started slowly gaining weight - then I joined Spark. That was February 2008.

195ish - someplace around there, I started going to Overeaters Anonymous.

200 - I'd stopped being active on Spark and was going through some emotional and hormonal things (got an IUD, not good for MY body!). Began being active on Spark again.

165 - Between Spark and OA, I managed to get back to that magic 165 number.

Someplace in there - I drop out of OA in part because my BF complained about the time - in a candid moment, he admitted jealousy because I was doing well on my program, and he wasn't doing well on his. I'd already lost the habit, though, and didn't go back.

192 - nearly 7-year relationship breaks up in a way that still has me shaking my head with disbelief. At least, if both of us were on Maury Povich, they'd be throwing tomatoes at my ex for being such a dismal insensitive jerk, not at me (unless you want to throw tomatoes at me for sticking it out so long and trying so hard ... okay, I admit, I'm dealing with some humiliation here!).

185ish - my 47th birthday is on Saturday. I'm happy to be under 190 for my birthday! I'm happy to have started the 4-Hour Body/Slow Carb Diet at the end of December because I'm able to lose weight, and I'm not starving.

I'm happy for some other things -
* That I didn't go through this breakup at 48, 49, 50 or (gulp) older ... I'm still young-at-heart enough that men in my age range can also be young-at-heart, fit, and kind. I keep kicking myself for wasting too much time, but really, I should be glad I'm only 47!
* That I have a healthy body that serves me well.
* That I have wonderful, amazing children, family, friends, and co-workers.
* That I have a great job (in medical IT)
* That my kids and I are not on the streets.
* That I have far less debt than I used to.

What would I prefer to happen when I hit 47? To be debt free and even wealthy, to be in a stable/loving/mutually supportive relationship, to weigh 165 or less. The reality is that none of those things will happen before Saturday, unless I win the lottery, and I don't have time to go out and buy lottery tickets tonight or tomorrow. So, I am where I am, and it is where it is.

But things could be so much worse. They could be 200 or 240 again.

I plan to write another blog on the eve of my 48th birthday and share my one-year journey at shrinking from 185 to 145- you just watch!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LINDAHICKAM 1/25/2011 12:00PM

    How great to blog on this important day! Happy Birthday indeed! Counting the things you are grateful for is a wonderful exercise, glad you did that. You are not a whiner and you are strong!

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LINDAHICKAM 1/25/2011 11:58AM

    How great to blog on this important day! Happy Birthday indeed! Counting the things you are grateful for is a wonderful exercise, glad you did that. You are not a whiner and you are strong!

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HDHAWK 1/16/2011 12:06AM

    Happy belated bday! I hope it was a good one! I've been through those ugly break ups more than once. Ugh! Be proud of the fact that you haven't given up, but you keep on moving forward. I'm in "starting over" mode too and have been on Spark for over 3 yrs. Looking forward to your update next year!

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January 1st, 2011

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The "31 Days to Unbreakable Resolutions" calendar on Sparkpeople starts with a reminder, on day 1, to settle upon our top goals for the year. I think people quibble too much about the concept of New Year's Resolutions, as if just calling them "resolutions" means a person won't meet them. The trick is to make them measurable and reasonable, to have a plan to stick with them, and then to "make it so," as Captain Picard used to say. Resolutions or goals, whatever - to me, the name is less important than the goals (or resolutions) themselves.

I've followed the advice on the calendar and identified my top goals for 2011. I had already identified them early in December, but they needed tweaking. One or two are quite personal, and I'm not sure yet whether I'm willing to share them publically.

My weight-loss goals remain the same as ever: For my body shape and height, but especially my bottom-heavy muscle/bone structure, a healthy weight for me is around 145-150 pounds. Unfortunately, that's about 45 pounds less than I am now. I spent the first 3 weeks of December tracking my food religiously and adding weight training to my already nearly daily workouts (I work out 6 days a week, at least 35 minutes on weekdays and 50 minutes on weekends, consistently, including cross training), and I didn't lose anything. Indeed, I got bigger, and I assure you I wasn't pumping iron THAT much! Talk about frustrating!

I was browsing the and Amazon Kindle websites a couple of days ago and saw a book called "Why We Get Fat" or something like that, by Gary Taube. I downloaded a sample to my Kindle, and I ended up buying it and reading it virtual cover to virtual cover because it described the reasons behind how I was able to lose 70 pounds several years ago, with the help of Dr. Brenda Wells in Rogersville, MO. That is, I lost the weight by eating high protein, low carb (only vegetables and some low-glycemic index fruits add carbohydrates to the diet). I'm not sure Dr. Wells is as low carb as Taube (or Atkins or other such eating plans) recommends, but what caught my eye was the scientific detail around insulin and its job to keep our fat cells fat. Indeed, for those of us who have a tendency to hold onto weight and gain it easily, Taube explains we actually overeat because we're overweight, and our bodies are storing so much fat that we need even more food to get enough nutrients. (This sounds insane, but consider that even Dr. Phil has written about overweight people suffering from malnutrition, and there's a lot of obesity in many poor cultures, especially in women.) I also liked that Taube seems almost angry at BMI measurements that take someone shaped like me and call us "obese" when, in fact, genetics and tendency to gain weight are often the reasons, not sloth or gluttony.

Hmm ... insulin and tendency to retain fat (especially as I grow older) COULD explain why being really "good" through the first few weeks of December resulted in a 2-pound weight gain and no shrinkage at all. So, based on my previous success with weight loss by limiting carbohydrates, and my knowing I can look at a carrot and gain 5 pounds, I'm going to start out 2011 by following Taube's advice to eliminate most carbohydrates (except vegetables and a little low-glycemic-index fruit) to decrease the amount of insulin my body creates and, hopefully, begin burning fat instead of storing it away. I lost 70 pounds about 10 years ago, and I have kept about 50 of it off just by making sure I eat protein with most meals, drink lots of water, eat lots of vegetables, and exercise daily. So clearly, this should be a good plan for me.

Today was day one of the Taube plan and a little challenging, but I found it surprisingly easy to stick to, and I'm not hungry. Last time I lost weight this way, I suffered from halitosis, which stinks in more than one way, and I'm not sure yet how I'll deal with that. I researched on line, and it's supposed to be temporary. We'll see. At least I'm single and have no one to kiss at the moment!

Besides trying this low-carb approach, I plan to lose the weight by tracking every day and eating out as little as possible. I also plan to blog more, hopefully to answer to more than just myself and my food planner.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BARB0927 1/3/2011 12:23AM

    Thank you very much for the offer to borrow the weight loss books you downloaded to your Kindle. To be honest, I don't buy weight loss or diet books. Dean has several, all of which have been gifts from you. He rarely reads them past the first few chapters. I did buy and read "The Spark" and found it contained many things I had access to on the site. Not that it didn't have some good suggestions, but I find using the Food & Fitness Trackers most effective for keeping me accountable.
My success at keeping off 65 pds has come from tracking & measuring food calories and exercise on SPark. I was thinking of getting Dean a copy of Atkins for him to try since it has some of his favorite foods and generous servings.
Thanks again for you for offering to share some of your many diet & weight loss books with us!

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BARB0927 1/2/2011 8:40PM

    How very interesting that Dean printed out the exact same "31 Days to Unbreakable Resolutions" calendar yesterday and has begun the Atkins diet with only low glycemic fruits and lots of veggies. Hoping both of you have success with this eating plan.

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