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.
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.