Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekend Update

182 lbs.

I'm posting my weight.  It's hard to have it out there, but then again, when I think about my intentions involving this blog, it has been to be honest about my experience, both for my sake and for whatever benefit/encouragement/information might be felt or shared by readers.  I do want to reiterate that I'm only one person, and my journey might not follow your experience using similar or different nutritional strategies.  As I get older, I appreciate this more and more.

I'm also finally getting the courage to listen to my body and make nutritional decisions based on how my body responds to food.   In the last few months I've learned a lot, and as I am still looking for a good mix of macronutrients and calories to help me stay healthy, I have had ups and downs.  It's a big step for me because I'm a rule-follower by nature, and it was easier to believe that just because it was recommended by X or worked for X that I should respond in the expected way.  Well, as a pre-menopausal hypothyroid woman, I may need to tweak things and adjust my own expectations as well.

Gaining weight after a loss is embarrassing to me.  Embarrassing and frustrating.  I believe that if I had been binge eating sweets or pizza or fast food every day, then this weight gain would be more understandable.  I have a greater empathy for those who regain and it is rooted in how complex and unique our systems can be.  Maybe the recommended maintenance diet isn't the right one for everyone.  I am also living proof that you can't out-exercise a bad diet.  Unfortunately I have to live with raised eyebrows and the assumption that I must be going back to my old ways of eating and living, since I've put some weight back on.  This is incentive for me to really buckle down and at least stop gaining, if not lose a few of those pounds.

I'm closing in on one week eating LCHF (low carbohydrate high fat), and it has felt great.  I had only a couple of hours that might be considered "keto flu" which isn't so bad.  I added more salt to my diet, and I've been taking magnesium and potassium.  I didn't really cut back much on my exercise, as I love my new BodyCombat classes and I had the chance to go on a beautiful hike on Friday (pics below).
Hike at Torrey Pines, an iconic place in San Diego.  Views, even on a cloudy day were stunning.

This is a view South.  Such a stunning place to walk.

When I first learned that we were moving to SD, I saw pictures of these beautiful sand cliffs up against the ocean view.  I couldn't believe my luck, and the stunning beauty of this place.
I felt awesome climbing the couple of good sized hills that were needed to get to the trails and then back to my parking spot about a mile away.  It wasn't a strenuous hike by any means, but I just felt wonderful the whole time.  Really full of energy, actually.  And the views really filled my soul.

So for the first week of tweaking the fuel source for my body, I felt great. According to many sources, my body should be switching over from burning glucose as a primary source of energy, to burning ketones, in the next couple of weeks.

I'm also feeling very flexible about this week because I'm experiencing my monthly cycle right now.  So I if my weight just stays stable, I'll be thrilled.  If it goes up, I'm also not going to freak out this week, as most women will understand.  I'll weigh myself weekly at the clinic and try not to obsess over it.

What Have I Been Eating?  Hint:  It's not pork rinds (not that there's anything wrong with that)

My favorite meal of the week has been my breakfast of Trader Joe's Southern Greens, sauteed with 2 slices of bacon.  It's almost as God intended them to be cooked! (my southern friends will nod their heads in approval)  I have that with an egg or two and I'm fine until lunch.  Though I didn't have any this week, I also love to have a whey protein smoothie, and it will fit in just fine to support my nutrition goals.  The protein mix I use is very low carb/low sugar and tastes great.  I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk, but will probably add a splash of cream to raise the fat and make it taste even better.

My lunch selection hasn't changed much because I love it.  Salad with avocado, feta, tuna, tomatoes, cucumber.  This week I added some toasted pecans to the top -- yum. I added some olive oil vinaigrette and pepper.  The protein toppings change based on leftovers from dinner or what I have around the house.  I like canned tuna and my cat likes the empty cans :-)

Dinner this week was three nights of salmon because I cooked up a big salmon filet from Costco.  It feeds my family of four for several meals.  I baked it in foil with olive oil and lemons on top.  Some salt and pepper.  Nothing fancy, but very versatile.  It comes out for breakfast, lunch and dinner for various members of my family.  Every night I make a different veggie.  We do a lot of cauliflower and asparagus because those are liked by most of us - sold in quantity at Costco.  I like either sauteing them in olive or avocado oil, or roasting them.  Mushrooms, broccoli and peppers also make the rounds.  I'm not shy about butter, either.  I love to add some to the sautee of the day.  I had a dinner gathering with friends this week and we had Thai food.  I skipped the rice and enjoyed the coconut sauces over meat and vegetables.  My favorite green papaya salad has a sweet dressing, so I just had a little bit of that.  Going out to eat is always a challenge because if it's fancy or complex, you can never be sure of the ingredients used.  Since it's just a couple of times per month at most, I just do my best to make thoughtful choices and enjoy the tastes.

Snacks:  Before my hike or exercise classes this week, I measured out 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pistachios in the shell for snacking - great source of sodium, fat and some carbs.  We get a big bag at Costco. Cheese is another go-to snack this week.   Most of our shopping is at Costco or Trader Joe's - my food log look like an advertisement for those two places, but we are frugal people.

For dessert my hubby, who has also started eating a more keto diet to lose a few pounds, bought some sugar free chocolate candies that we are parceling out carefully.  I also had a couple of squares of 78% dark chocolate, which I feel is a wonderful treat.  Home made whipping cream turned into chocolate mousse was also a treat once this week.  I'm looking forward to finding some other dessert options that will fit into our way of eating.  There are some great recipes online.  If you have a favorite, I'd love to hear about it!

I have to say that making the decision to remove sugar and grains hasn't required much of a change in how we have been eating since I lost weight.  The kids miss having fresh sourdough around lately, but we give them whole grain bread when they want a sandwich, and if we go out to eat, they can enjoy a treat of fresh bread/rolls.  It should be a special treat for them and not an every day indulgence anyway!  They are not complaining at all, so that's great.  I love my supportive family!

So when I look at the above, I don't see an unhealthy way of eating.  Fruit wasn't there this week, but I won't be shy about adding a few berries and counting the carbs.  I'm getting some excellent vitamins and fiber.  Real food all the way!  Per some suggestions, I've also upped my calories to 1600, and have not noticed a gain so far, so that's wonderful. My inclination is to keep it closer to 1500 but I won't stress about it and just see where my hunger level takes me.  Hunger has not been a problem at all.

On Monday I'm starting a new Healthy Balance class (looking at mindfulness, nutrition and exercise) at my clinic.  I realized that it would be helpful to plug back into a support system in addition to a wonderful monthly "booster" class that I go to.

I've also dived into some published research studies on LCHF as well as conventional HCLF diets.  It is empowering to go to the original sources, and luckily I have a scientific educational background and can get through the information with a few look-ups of terms here and there.  It is so easy to be swayed one way or another by books or websites that express a strong opinion about the "right way to eat", so it's nice to dig through their citations.  I'll write more on this as I process through it, but I'm finding it to be very interesting and surprising.

Let me know if you have any recipe or food suggestions.  I'm always looking for some.  Happy Weekend to you all!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hello Friends, Sorry I've Been Away

Right from the get-go I want to thank folks for the sweet and supportive comments on my last post many weeks ago.  I'm sorry to have disappeared off the face of the earth, and I know, as a blog reader, how I can be left wondering when bloggers just stop.  But it is not my intention to stop writing.  I am still very much a work in progress, and not afraid to talk about it.

This Spring just became very busy for me.  Much of it very good and productive, as I mentioned in previous posts.  I made some very positive strides in household organization and we also demolished a deck, got the house painted, got a kid through AP tests and planted a very small Spring garden (due to California drought).  I got to travel to wonderful Portland, OR for a family event, and was able to hike some beautiful forest trails.  

But I also needed some space to process this "maintenance" experience.  It has left me confused and often at war within myself.  That old fight between what I want to eat and what is best for me has challenged me. Old habits and mindsets die hard.  I didn't quite know what to say, so I waited until I could hopefully coherently share my experience.

On The Diet Front

I have made some valuable discoveries for myself and my body.  I experimented with many levels of calorie restriction and eating "good carbs" but quickly saw my weight jump up and my frustrations continue to rise.  Well, I haven't come this far to fail, and I won't.  

But it will be a challenge until I can reign in my weight and get it moving back to a normal level.  Yesterday I read, cover to cover, a book that I had heard about, and finally downloaded onto my kindle.  Gary Taubes' "Why We Get Fat:  And What To Do About It".  I owe a debt of gratitude to this writer for doing the legwork to examine the nutritional research and make a strong case that sugar, carbs and insulin are the culprits in weight gain and a multitude of related diseases. (I am hearing some of you say "duh!")  Some people are more sensitive, especially those of us who have been obese.  He addresses many of my weight-related struggles.

One of the most interesting concepts that he shares involves clinical studies on animals and humans to explore if "a calorie is a calorie."   One group was put on a very calorie restricted diet that included carbs.  The other group had no calorie restriction and was placed on the same diet.  Despite the calorie differences, BOTH groups gained weight/fat.  Taubes noted that physiologically, people who have some degree of insulin resistance (most overweight people) will gain weight and fat while eating carbs, even if they are on a low calorie diet.   Some may even gain their weight back on a carb restricted diet (depressing thought) regardless of their best interventions.  This is because there are receptors on the fat cells that are primed to get first dibs on the glucose/insulin in the bloodstream after a meal that includes carbs.  This comes at the expense of "feeding"  other cells in muscles and organs, etc.  The studies showed that in the presence of low calories, all the nutrients go into the fat cells first, leaving the other cells starving for food, and thus making the person hungry and tired.  

I know that my explanation is not doing this justice, so I highly recommend that you read the book for this and much more interesting information on the history of nutritional research and how policy makers have turned their backs on it without conclusive evidence to the contrary.

As I read the book, I nearly cried.  I do believe that THIS is what has happened to me post weight loss.  This is why after logging my food, keeping my calories at about 1400 (most days), hiking, running, walking miles per week I am still gaining weight.  I swear that it's not like I'm diving head-first into sweets every night, or even every week, but for the past several months I have let more carbs/fruit come into my diet.   I eat lots of veggies and drink plenty of water, but I also have been eating berries, some bread, more wine than is necessary. I've been discouraged by this steady weight gain despite living an overall very healthy lifestyle (at least according to some). Now I finally might have an answer and a possible solution to my individual problem.

Is my metabolism still stunted from my weight loss fast?  Maybe.  Will I need to make peace with eating under 1200 calories per day in order to lose weight?  Maybe, until my metabolism heals.  But probably I'm one of those people who are lipophilic (my metabolism wants to retain fat), and I'm going to have to keep my insulin response very, very low in order to reduce the storage of fat in my cells.  I'm willing to go there and see what happens.  I ate like this earlier in my maintenance, but got sidetracked.

I'm starting to eat very, very low carb, without fruit (for now). Moderate protein, high fat whole foods, healthy greens and healthy oils will be the bulk of my diet.  I just want to see if I can enter a strong state of ketosis and lose a few pounds as a result.  I am keeping my calories at 1400 for now on MFP and will track my food.  My goal is to stay under 20g carbs and around 100g of protein.  I will also continue to exercise.  If I have some luck, then I know that la vida low carb is probably best for me.  I will keep you all posted, of course.

My Exercise

Though Taubes cautions against too much exercise during weight loss (because of added hunger and lack of evidence that exercise aids weight loss), I love how exercise makes me feel and will find a way to nourish myself so that I can stay active. It's funny how I have gone from an "exercise to eat" mentality to an "eat to exercise" mentality.  As an obese person, I just couldn't move without lots of pain and embarrassment.  Now I feel liberated and love to move and hike outside and commune with people, surrounded by healthy, positive energy.   Ketosis is supposed to suppress appetite, so hopefully this will help.

As a present to myself, and a symbol of my commitment to a healthy life, I rang in my 48th birthday last month running/walking a 5K race with one of my good buddies.  It was her first timed race.  We had a blast, and I got to meet some wonderful people from a Facebook group that I belong to (From Fat to Finish Line).

Here is a pic of me bright an early that morning.  My hubby isn't an early bird, so he really showed his love by getting up and driving us 40 minutes to the race.  One of my sons came along to cheer us on.  Great birthday presents!

I'm scheduled for one more "virtual" 10K race in August, and then the crazy fun Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas in November.  This is a night time race, right down the strip!

I've also started sampling the wonderful fitness classes at my gym.  I've taken Zumba and BodyCombat so far, and have LOVED the instructors for these classes.  They were cheery, positive and encouraging, and I felt great afterwards.  When I was much heavier, these classes would have exhausted me for days.  But I was elated by my ability to push myself and feel the cardio benefit, but not to the point of needing to keel over.  I was pleasantly surprised by this and was left feeling a good kind of tired. 

I'm still not 100% healed on my right arm from my earlier hiking accident, so I'm holding off on upper body weights (I abstained from planks and push-ups in my classes).  Next week I'm thinking of adding a couple of leg lifting days to the mix.  I know that building muscle will help my metabolism and help my running as well.


Thanks for sticking with me and for all of your loving support.  I look forward to catching up on my blog reading and reconnecting to a wonderful blogging community that inspires and challenges me in my continued weight loss and healthy life adventure.