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.


Gwen said...

Welcome back, Christy! I'm glad you found a way that might work for you, and I hope it does. I was pretty successful at abstinence, and yet, I wasn't. And then I'd beat myself up over that. I also got a little obsessive over the whole nutrition thing, and I knew it wasn't an emotionally good place for me. I'm very honest about the fact that I'm struggling a bit, and trying to morph into whatever I need, which seems different today than in the past 2.5 years. I'm leaning on another book, The Diet Fix, to help fix (I hope) my emotional issues with foods. I am pretty clear and free of processed foods and's sugar that still lures me in. I'm hopeful that if I continue to keep the grains at bay, a little sugar occasionally, with the right mindset, won't be a health deal breaker for me, or an emotional deal breaker. We'll see. I'm certainly rooting for you, and so glad to have you back amongst us bloggers. :)

happyinca said...

Hi Gwen! All I can do is keep looking. All I want to do is learn how to MAINTAIN! Since I didn't lose my weight in a traditional manner, this whole year has been figuring out what my body needs (food wise) in order to maintain my weight loss. So I have no choice but to keep looking for what works for my body. But to your point, I want to strive to find the best WOE for me, in a loving and accepting way. Will I never eat anything with sugar, ever again? Not a likely scenario. But I hope to find a way of eating and living that will maintain my weight well, so that I don't have to worry and obsess, and that when life happens and I eat something, I know what to return to. Basically, I'm still searching for that steady state. I'll find it, and I'm not ashamed to keep learning about science, and my body so that I can make an educated hypothesis and try it out. It's always a good thing to identify what's not working and to be willing to change. So I am rooting for you too in that regard!

Siobhan said...

I first read Gary's book several years ago and like you found it so informative. I also have figured out that I need to be careful even with "good" carbs like fruits and vegetables. Good luck with figuring out where you need to be.

happyinca said...

Thanks Siobhan! I appreciate the heads up. I'm sticking mostly to a few veggies per day, but will get most of my kcals from fat. Looking forward to seeing how that feels. I'm taking it day by day.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Christy!! So lovely to hear from you and hear all the great things you've been up to. I read Taubes' book last year, and wow, what an eye-opener! I can't remember if it was from that book or other things I've read that I really got the message not to "break my metabolism" - i.e., don't eat too low-cal for too long, or your metabolism WILL slow down to meet (eliminate) that calorie deficit. I'm nodding my head along with your protein and carb goals, but your calorie goal I think may be too low (not that you asked my opinion :/ ) You may want to experiment with eating a bit more calorie-wise, if needed, so long as you stay at/around your carb goal. I think of the carb goal as a "max" (but it's a guideline, for me, not set in stone), but the protein goal is more like a "minimum", meaning you NEED to hit that one, and if hungry, maybe that's where you eat more.
You look great in your photo, thanks for sharing! Again, welcome back!

happyinca said...

Wendy, thanks for your advice. I'm going to take it! I had such a great time catching up on your blog posts. You are an amazing writer with a gift for translating the scientific literature. Since my weight loss with Optifast, it seems I've needed to eat lower calorie, but I bumped up the levels on MFP last night and will eat a bit more protein. The keto literature warn against too much protein, but I'll play around with it. Bottom line, I think this WOE is what my body needs, and hopefully I'll find a beautiful steady state with it. You are looking healthy and wonderful, so congratulations on embracing this life -- it agrees with you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chisty - I enjoyed reading this and one thing I'm learning is that everybody's body is different, and what works for one may not work for another. That’s one thing I don’t like about MFP – there’s a lot of group think (IMO). I think I'm lucky in that my metabolism hasn't slowed due to the Optifast program - I am able to eat at close to what MFP and Fitbit calculate for my recommended calorie intake. I do try to keep carbs at around 35% or lower and try to avoid as much “added” sugar as possible. I find fats and protein are much more forgiving than carbs. 1,400 calories seems very low, especially with exercise, but I know you’re living it so you know what you need. In any event hopefully you can eventually kick those calories up. Great to see how active you are – keep up the good work! Ted (KeepTheFaith9)

happyinca said...

Hi Ted! Nice to see my online worlds collide! Yeah, I'm really struggling with why I'm not maintaining or shedding weight, actually on this level of calories. March was a brutal month when I tried to introduce "healthy carbs". My carbs went way up, and my calories did too. It appears that my eating got pretty out of control at that time. My weight shot up. In my switch-up to low carb, I've decided to listen to my body and eat when hungry and not be concerned with how high my calories go. So I bumped MFP to 1600 calories. I hate seeing red, so if I find that I'm eating more and not gaining weight (please, sweet Jesus!) I will keep bumping up the calories since it's not my primary concern. I'm planning on keeping to my carb macro, though, with virtually all of the carbs coming from fresh veggies, which, frankly give me the most culinary joy. Loving my collards and kale cooked in butter and bacon. Yum.

Anonymous said...

Love your plan you outline above, Christy. Undereating can indeed cause weight GAIN, paradoxically.
I know there are some voices in the keto community that caution limiting protein (I've isolated 3 of them), but I strongly disagree with them, and of course other keto experts say the opposite! Note that SOME of those recommending limiting protein are suffering massive regain or health problems, and can't figure out why. Well, starving your lean mass for years causes problems. Problems you and I don't want. I'd really recommend you to the higher protein recommendations used by "biggies" like Atkins, Westman, and the Drs Eades. It's at least worth a try. And stay away from the scale during the transition (muscle weighs more), and instead use things like how do pants and bras fit to tell you if/how your body is changing.
Oh and thank you so much for the kind words. You are a very sweet, generous person.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christy, so glad you are back to your blog... I was wondering how things had been going for you -- sounds busy! All the activities you do sound fantastic & fun. Glad you are finding (fingers crossed) something that will work for you, here's to CarbKillerChristy :-) My mom was insulin resistant and held off diabetes for a decade by staying with low GI carbs only. Everyone is different, so you just have to find what works for you. And have some fun with the Zumba / Body Combat / Hiking & races. Best from SimaN2014

happyinca said...

Hi Wendy and Sima!! Wendy -- all good points, thank you so much for taking the time to send suggestions, keep 'em coming, please! I've upped my calories and am finding that my protein is naturally landing above 100g. No weight gain or loss so far, but it's my TOM so I'm just thrilled to see it stay put. I'm reading Phinny right now and have read the Westman/Atkins book, so all of the concepts are starting to take shape. I am going into this with confidence and hope.

Sima, thanks so much for stopping by the blog! Being a CarbKiller sounds so violent (LOL)- but I guess I'm roundhouse kicking them to the curb. Actually, I'm eating lots and lots of beautiful vegetables. Those, I never want to part ways with :-) Hope you are enjoying a beautiful Swiss summer with your little one :-)