Tuesday, January 19, 2010
(Reposted from a message board reply, and modified slightly for this blog post.)
When we think about controlling insulin, we usually think of diabetics. How many of us actually know what insulin does? I didn't!
I hover around 130 pounds and 33% body fat. While I am healthy, this is more body fat than I want. So I started doing research. I started studying bodybuilders, how they lose fat before a competition. What I found is fat loss really IS 80% nutrition and 20% exercise! While I eat a healthier diet than most Americans, rich with veggies and fruit, the nutrition component that I seem to be struggling with is managing insulin. Note that I am not diabetic, nor do I have high blood pressure. However, managing insulin seems to be key to keeping the fat burn switch turned on. This is just more important for diabetics because their cells no longer respond properly to insulin.
The nutrition is a little more than just calories in/calories out. For example, you can't run a car with just gasoline. You also need oil and water. All three don't serve the same purpose, are all used differently by the car, and are all essential.
So that's what carbs/protein/fat are. (Not exactly the same as the car analogy. For example, the body can convert one type to another, to some degree. I'm just simplifying it for this example.) Body fat is stored glucose. If we have excess body fat, then we want to encourage our bodies to use more fat. So you should eat less carbs. Note that does NOT mean NO carbs, just FEWER carbs. Ratios of about 40/30/30 are ideal for fat loss according to the research I've done. We HAVE to have SOME carbs from our meals every day because our brain, heart and liver won't function on the type that body fat gets converted to. But the idea is to eat fewer so the body has to get the rest of the energy from stored body fat.
Also, I've found the reason why we are told to avoid refined sugars and processed carbs. It's not just the excess calories. There's a chemical response. When we eat something like a donut, our pancreas produces insulin in reaction to the sucrose and glucose. When insulin is present, the body switches fat burn off. The body already has enough glucose from the food, it doesn't need any more from stored fat. Insulin also turns ON your fat storage mechanism. If you have more glucose than your body needs, the excess gets stored. Refined sugars and processed carbs causes this to happen really fast. Whole grains take longer to digest, so this happens slower. While fruits have sugars, there's a lot less fructose in fruit than sucrose/glucose in a donut, plus it has fiber. Basically, if you want to lose fat, you need to control your insulin.
How to do that?
- Exercise. Exercise helps controls blood sugar and insulin.
- Eat more veggies. Veggies do not trigger insulin. Veggies are carbs, but because we're omnivores, not true herbivores, we don't convert vegetable carbs efficiently.
- Get plenty of protein. Protein builds and repairs tissue.
- Don't avoid carbs. Don't eat too many.
Now I'm not a dietitian, so I might have got a few things wrong and I'm still learning, but from my research, this seems to be why I'm having trouble. I've modified my diet to eat at or near 40/30/30 carb/fat/protein, whole grains, small starch portions, and no sugars other than fructose. So far, it seems to be working. I'm liking what I'm seeing enough to keep at it.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Like with most weeks, last week was a mix of progress and not quite hitting the mark. That's ok. As a recovering perfectionist, I've learned that you don't have to hit all your targets in order to be succeeding. One week is a small part of the big picture.
That said, I can't believe it's week three of the new year already!
- Did three days of workout videos, counting as toning/strength training and low impact aerobics. Definitely felt the burn, and afterburn for days!
- One day at the gym for cardio.
- Week two skiing class completed. Successfully skied down a blue run!
Areas for Improvement:
- Increase HIIT cardio days. Need 2-3 days of cardio at the gym. My gym schedule is thrown a little off track because we are moving next weekend and I am packing after work.
- Managed to eat pretty close to 40/30/30 ranges. Most days about 45/20/35. Only 1 day 60/20/20. Not sure it is making a difference, but I'll keep trying it.
- Lost one inch off the hips.
- Successfully took salad and fruit to work for lunch and snacks. Back in the habit!
Areas for Improvement:
- Working on eating less sugar and carbs. Trying not to stimulate too much insulin production while trying to burn fat. Attempting to stay around 40% carbs.
- Average calorie consumption for this week was about 1700 calories. A bit on the high side. I did strength training 3x this week, so hopefully the higher calories will stimulate muscle strength. I lost an inch off my hips, but the evidence is circumstantial. I'm guessing the truth is the effect is zero sum. Goal for week three is now to drop to lower end of calorie range and stimulate fat burn.
- Still drinking too much wine. I've appealed to the boyfriend that instead of drinking a cheap glass of wine every night from a $5 bottle, to save the money and buy one nice $15-20 bottle for the week. He's not committed yet, but I'll keep working on it.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Yesterday was my second ski lesson. The day didn't start off well. Somehow, the alarm clock was turned off, so I didn't get up when I should have. The SO claims he didn't do it. The cat says she's innocent. It's an unsolved mystery.
I scrambled around getting my stuff together, and ran out the door with ski equipment in tow. Fortunately, I got there in time. Early, even.
Ski conditions were much better than the previous week. It wasn't pristine powder, but it was soft. My skiis turned when I told them to. We weren't ice skating.
We worked on side slipping and hockey stops on the easy slopes. The lines were short, so we were able to get a decent number of practice turns in. Snoqualmie certainly isn't a world class ski resort though - the runs are so short.
For our final run, we went on the Triple 60 lift - the blue/black run. We didn't go down the face of Triple 60, though, which is the "black" part. We did a short cross country trip over to a blue. I was able to do it! Yay! My instructor is pretty much a 'sink or swim' kind of guy. Practicing the slide slipping and edging helped, though. I suppose I felt a little more confident that I could get instruction if I got in trouble and wouldn't have to commando crawl again. It was great! I felt a lot more confident!
We got to the bottom and called it a day. I would have stayed to practice more, but since I had to rush out in the morning, I didn't get a decent breakfast and was running out of fuel. My energy level was low, and my tummy growling. I didn't want to pay for resort food at resort prices, so I headed towards home. I stopped and had another Chipotle steak fajita bowl before making it home, exhausted.
I came home and adjusted my boots so they fit a little looser. They are a bit tight on the calves. I also bought a pair of thinner socks from REI. The conditions at Snoqualmie are not very cold, more spring-like.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Two years ago, I went to the dentist for the first time in like 10 years. My heart almost dropped out of my chest when she said I had early stages of periodontal disease and some bone loss. However, in early stages, it is a reversible condition with proper care.
We scheduled four deep cleaning sessions. Four different hygienists took shifts scraping hardened tartar off my teeth. I had two fillings replaced. It was painful and expensive with no dental insurance.
I imagined being toothless, with dentures, and unable to eat apples at the age of 35. Predisposition to gum disease is passed down to me in my genes. My body chemistry builds more plague and tartar than average. It was enough to scare me. While I was brushing the recommended amount by the dental association, years of not visiting the dentist left me with large build up of tartar that probably wouldn't happen with most people doing the same thing.
I started brushing three times per day and using mouth rinse. My visits to the dentist have progressively got better and better reports. Today, my hygienist said my gum health is looking great. Once you have bone loss in your teeth, you can't ever get it back, however, healthy gums will fill the gaps. She says we only have to see each other twice a year instead of three times per year! Yay! I'll get to keep my teeth and eat apples!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I was inspired to write this because some message board posts and blogs I've read recently really shocked me how some people speak to themselves. I can't imagine anyone would say these things to another person, yet they say it to themselves. It is truly heartbreaking.
Would you ever say this to your best friend?
"You're fat and lazy. You shouldn't have eaten that cookie. Why didn't you work out? I hate your thighs. Your butt is huge. You'll never lose the weight, so why even try?"
So why say it to ourselves? Why do we talk to ourselves this way? Isn't what we usually say:
"I'm fat and lazy. I shouldn't have eaten that cookie. Why didn't I work out today? I hate my thighs. My butt is huge. I'll never lose the weight, so why even try?"
Next time you have a down day, I challenge you to speak to yourself as though you were your best friend. What would you say? Imagine you were saying your thoughts to your best friend. What would your reaction be if you were him or her?
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