1-99 SparkPoints 16

Realizing the Connection

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Every few weeks or so, my husband and I make a day trip up to Charleston, SC. We love to walk around the town and on the beaches at the Isle of Palms. While we are there, we bring large coolers, and stock up on groceries at Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. We don't have them locally where we live.

Eating as much organic meats and produce as we do is expensive. It is also harder to do where we live because it's not really a trend here. Thus we'll load up when we are in a neighborhood with these stores, then stash them in our large freezer. Wild caught fish, and organic fruit and veg are cheaper when bought in the freezer section, so this is another way I stock up. I still have to buy a fair amount of conventional meat and produce out of necessity. I try to minimize when we can.

Trader Joe's...well there isn't a better place to buy inexpensive wine! I became a wine drinker when I lived in Washington state. A decent bottle of table wine cost as much as a six pack of beer. I don't think I could tell you the nuances of a fine wine like a true connoisseur, but I know what I like. We found an amazing deal on organic wines at Joe's for $4 a bottle. We only bought a couple because we wanted to taste it first.

We came home, unloaded groceries, then made dinner. Ribeye steaks, roasted vegetable medley (onions, bell peppers, carrots, and celery), and mashed yukon potatoes. We opened the organic white wine, and it was amazing. It tasted of nectarines and honey. I'll be buying a case of this the next time we make a round.

The serving of mashed potato was maybe 50g. About the size of one portion from an ice cream scoop. This is a far cry from my days when I ate about 200g in one sitting.

As I took a bite, the potato burst with flavor. We seasoned it with just a little salt, pepper, butter and green onions. It was creamy and naturally sweet. I said to my husband, "I enjoy eating low carb, but sometimes a potato just tastes really good."

I'm not a role model for any particular health paradigm. Every diet can probably find a flaw in what I'm doing. I have definitively abandoned the low-fat diet, though.

About 2 years ago when I stalled on my weight loss, I thought eating too much protein was to blame. I cut back to about 40g per day, which was 15% of my total. Since I cut back protein and fat, I made up the calories difference with more carbohydrates in addition to my normal veg and fruit - brown rice, quinoa and potatoes. Protein only one meal a day. This was pretty close to an Ornish diet - 10%fat, 20%protein, 70%carbohydrates. This nearly wrecked my health.

One day in the mirror, I wondered why I suddenly looked so old. My eyesockets were sunken. I had ugly dark, almost blue-black, bags under my eyes. I got a stye under my left eye, which added to the growing grotesqueness of my face. I wore heavy amounts of concealer to try and hide my darkened bags. I wore lots of dark eyeliner under my eye to hide the stye because concealer and foundation enhanced it.

Despite my double chin from excess bodyfat, my face looked strangely gaunt. The skin on my cheeks seemed to sag as though they couldn't hold themselves up. My belly got bigger - I was getting fatter. It was mortifying. I could see myself deteriorating in the mirror, and I couldn't understand why. I didn't immediately connect it to the protein deficiency.

I couldn't stick with it. I abandoned it because I couldn't sustain it, not because I consciously realized what I was doing wrong. Once I started eating protein at every meal again, the dark bags under my eyes disappeared. My weird accelerated aging reversed. As the muscles in my face rebuilt, the stye under my eye disappeared so it no longer stuck out.

It was only then that I realized the connection.

I eat yogurt and cheese regularly, so I'm not quite paleo. I eat 60-80g carbs with potatoes and rice on occasion. I found that I can maintain ok if I eat a starchy carb once per day. I'm focusing on fat loss again, so I've cut back to once per week. I still drink wine and beer regularly.

I'm not an exemplar for low carb purism. I'll probably never be voted most popular blog because I think I am still too bitter and angry about being told low-fat is the only healthy diet, and actively deterred from something that would work for me. Perhaps I still harbor too much resentment to be truly persuasive or convincing.

I can't tell the story that people seem to want to hear: "I just counted calories, stuck with the plan, drank skim milk, and it all worked out!" This wasn't my story.

I don't believe that my diet is the end all be all diet for every person. But I'd appreciate if certain experts would stop trying to place blame that low-fat didn't work for me because it was somehow a failing on my part.

I'm really glad that someone (Dr. Mary Enig) challenged the belief that margarine was healthier than butter. I'll keep challenging that the FDA food pyramid (or plate) is the only healthy diet. It didn't work for me.
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  • no profile photo CD5785843
    I LOVE mashed potatoes! My mom skins them completely and whips them with a hand mixer, with milk and BUTTER. They are SO GOOD, and a few weeks ago when I was too sick to eat much of anything, it was the best comfort food. Soft, gentle, and the doctor told me to salt them liberally. Most awesome stomach flu ever.
    3153 days ago
    SMILINGTREE: Not so long ago, I used to kill myself at the gym 1hr 5x per week trying to burn off calories. It did work for a time, and then it didn't. I eventually found that macronutrients really did matter, and was easier to manage. On the same number of calories, I lose with 30 min 3x per week exercise. I usually do more because I'm so bursting with energy, I can't wait to get into my exercise clothes. I wish this was more normal for everyone.

    If what you're doing works and can sustain it all the way to your goal, then it is the right thing for you. Good luck!
    3153 days ago
    I'm always pleased to find how much more sensitive my palate is to ALL foods now. When I do break down and eat something carby the taste fairly explodes on my tongue. At work I allow myself one M&M-with-peanuts every couple of hours and every single one of them tastes as delicious as if it were the first time I tried them!
    3153 days ago
    Isn't it interesting how different we all are? I cannot simply count calories and come out okay, either. In fact, if I don't work out, often and to exhaustion, I do not lose weight, despite the fact we all "know" 80% of weight loss happens in the kitchen.

    I've had the opposite struggle than you have - I have to work hard to eat "enough" protein. I'm not convinced that my body needs as much as is recommended.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It's always interesting to read about what works and what doesn't for different people, especially when it isn't what works for most people.
    3153 days ago
    Trader Joe's has excellent prices on their frozen fish. I think their wines are really good too. You certainly can't beat the price. If you get a chance, try their riesling. it's a little more than the table wine, but very tasty.

    Also, have you been going to your local farmer's markets ? That's how I have been saving on veggies. I hate the heat of the summer, but I love going to farmer's markets. their produce is soooo much better than supermarkets. Every time I go to the supermarket, I am appalled at what they are charging for veggies.

    Oh and I hear that Charleston is supposed to be a really pretty city. One day I'd like to see it.

    3153 days ago
    EATNBOOGERS: It would be interesting for me to go back and collect data from what definitely didn't work for me.

    Here's what I found on my food tracker during the period when I tried an Ornish Diet-like plan.

    Carbs: 176g | 53%
    Fat: 44g | 30 %
    Protein: 53g | 16%
    Calories: 1341

    This was beyond disasterous for me. The feedback report on the Spark tracker praised me for meeting all my nutritional goals...

    I'd never be able to eat 800 calories without giving in! If you see anything like that on my food tracker, it's because I only tracked part of the day. I didn't undereat, in fact, the opposite effect happened. This diet left me so hungry, there were days when I ate over 2600 calories.

    There is a baseline minimum for protein. Active people should eat 1g protein per 1g lean mass. Generally .6/1g lean mass for sedentary people. For me that currently means 90g protein per day.
    3153 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/16/2012 9:45:59 AM
    A lightbulb went off for me... I forget that you're really tiny and that therefore, you probably eat and need fewer calories than I do. 40 g of protein is *nothing*.... 20% of my calories coming from protein is *at least* 60 g, but it's generally more like 70-90. Were you only eating 800 cal? That seems like you'd throw your body into starvation mode. I'm not going to look it up, but I also wonder if there's a certain "baseline" of protein that one needs. I'm not talking about a percentage of calories; I'm talking about a baseline amount that a body needs to function. So one thing I'm wondering is whether these calories/nutrient ranges do a good job of taking into consideration the differences in body size/type....
    3153 days ago
    Most of the "popular" blogs are just telling people what they want to hear, fitting into a comfortable and popular paradigm. I get very little out of them, most times.

    You just keep doin' what you need to do.

    3154 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4892468
    Ugh, the most popular blogs kind of irritate me. Sometimes I read them and I find out later the person is like ONE week into their weight loss journey...still on that beginner's high.

    Come and talk to me again after 4 or 5 years of trying to lose weight and maintaining weight loss. THEN we'll see how ya feelin' HA! I guess I'm negative too!!

    I hear you on the protein. It works best for my body too!!

    What was the brand name of wine...I love wine too, but I don't drink it often because I'm paranoid it will slow my weight loss down even more, but I sure would like to enjoy a glass or two per week!!
    3154 days ago
  • CATH63
    How do you vote for "popular blogger"? I nominated you for Spark Motivator last week. Did they notify you or do they keep that a secret?
    3154 days ago
    I think one of the great things Spark might be missing out on is the fact that eating healthy.... while different for everyone.... can make us more aware of the messages our body is sending us and how we can then adjust our eating to meet our particular needs. I found I need more protein to keep myself feeling full.
    3154 days ago
    Hey, I think I voted you popular blogger once....I'll do it again to be sure!

    It's pretty amazing how you can fine tune your intake and correlate various foods with how your body reacts....not sure I'm there yet, only because I'm not sure I have the patience to control individual variables as much.

    Funny you should mention Mary Enig.....I just started reading "Eat Fat, Lose fat" and would not have known who she was before this past friday night.

    I think you are all over this! You have found what works for you, researching the science and taking the best of breed to make it work for you.

    Now, just find a quick and easy way to tackle those pull-ups, write a book about it, and you'll really be in the money!
    3154 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/15/2012 11:26:57 AM
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