Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Low Carbing and the Swing in Your Thing!

Today I had another low-carb epiphany! A bright light went off and I suddenly understood that the low-carb lifestyle is akin to a life-long, intra-personal Metabolic Arm-Wrestling Match.

Metaphorically speaking, my Mean Metabolism and I are engaged in a constant struggle. For the first decade of my life, she was my friend. She was just "Miss Metabolism" then. But puberty came, and Miss Metabolism changed. It started with slow changes - turning the slim child into a "pleasantly-plump teen," no matter how active I was.

By the time I was in my 20's, Miss Metabolism was very unfriendly. Once I hit my 30's, she was downright mean. In the Metabolic Arm-Wrestling Match, of which I was an unwilling partner, she got me all the time. Why? Because, lurking in the shadows, insulin resistance had turned my former friend into a vicious monster. As it turns out, the only way to help Miss Metabolism (and myself!) is by healing her - even though she wants no part of it.

For many long years (decades, in fact), Miss Meanie Metabolism maintained complete control over me - all because I did not know what had gone wrong in our relationship. I didn't know that to help Metabolism means to get that insulin resistance under firm control - and keep it there. Once that happens, Meanie Metabolism will start to heal, but we have to understand that insulin resistance will always be waiting in the background, ready to take over Metabolism once more.

The situation reminds me of what happened to Peter Parker in Spiderman III - when an alien and evil symbiant sneakily turned the usually decent and hard-working Peter into one aggressive stinker. Once Peter figured out what was going on, he struggled with the "false high" the alien gave him - but he inevitably made the right choice, and found an unusual way to defeat the allures of the symbiant.

What the evil symbiant did to Peter Parker is what insulin resistance does to our poor Metabolisms. For insulin resistance is our inner symbiant; it makes us crave the carbs that are bad for us; it gives us an artificial high that, in the end, will change not only the way we look but what we are, inside. It will destroy us. Just like Peter, the symbiant is not only bad for us - but for those we love, and for those who love us. Kickin' carbs is the only way to control it (because, unlike Peter, we can't totally be rid of insulin resistance) .

For those with Metabolic Syndrome, kickin' carbs results in a slimmer and healthier you. (On top of that, wouldn't you just love to once more have that swing in your thing? LOL!)

So - back to my epiphany. Things are a little different now - because, like Peter, I now know of the 'unusual' weapons against insulin-resistance and I must use them! At this point in my intra-personal Metabolic Arm-Wrestling Match, it seems that the Mean Metabolism and I are of equal strength. Sometimes her arm goes down, and other times my arm goes down. But she has been at her tricks a lot longer than have I. Eventually, as I keep using all of my low-carb strategies, I will overcome insulin resistance, and that means transforming Miss Meanie Metabolism back to my former friend, Miss Magnificent Metabolism!

Today's update, by the way! Divine: 3 lbs. down, for a total of 15 lbs. in 7 days (hear the crowd roar!)/Miss Meanie Metabolism: Zilch!

Meanwhile, I've initiated a Challenge at LowCarbFriends called The 100 Day PLUS Challenge. It's as simple as it is straightforward: a set of 'mini-challenges' for anyone who is low-carbing.

The Goals: To help each one of us stay on plan (whichever low-carb plan you choose), with 'mini-challenge' after 'mini-challenge' (all within one Over-all Challenge). Individually, we set our own goals. We are not challenging each other, but supporting each other while proving to ourselves we can stay 'on plan' 24/7 - no matter what!

End Results: 1) Each person who is faithful to plan will be well on their way to healing their own Metabolisms. 2) Each one of us will see outer results of weight loss and enjoy better health with inner, hidden results (lower blood pressure, better cholesterol numbers, lower incidences or complete disappearance of GERDS, etc.). 3) We build comraderie and support each other, day after day, week after week - right through the last days of summer, early fall, Halloween sweets time, Thanksgiving carby-time, and all those Christmas goodies, everywhere we turn! (Oh, that Mean Metabolism - how she tries to trick us to use her very own weapons against ourselves!) With a strong support system, we can not only manage low-carbing but excel at it and revel in it! (And each one of us will inevitably defeat that Meanie Metabolism, whether yours is a Miss or a Mister!)

The first mini-challenge ends on September 8 (a Tuesday) - because many people have a hard time with the Labor Day weekend bar-b-q's. That mini-challenge started just two days ago, but you can join anytime.

Then we move on to the next 'mini-challenge' - and so it will go, until we get to New Year's Day, 2010!!! Anybody who is low-carbing (or wants to!) can join us at any point in the 130 days of challenges. I'll be glad to see you there - just be sure to post a note in the "100 Day PLUS" thread and throw a holler at me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Whoosh

Wow - I am thrilled to report I dropped 12 lbs. in 4 days. That has to be the biggest initial "Induction" loss I've ever experienced in 2 years of earnest low carbing!

How did I manage that? Well, it seems I did it again. That is, once more I "cycled" my low carb lifestyle. One the first day, I had lean proteins, one smoothie (which wasn't as low-carb as I wanted), and a small piece of cheesecake. The next day I did my version of Stillman's (some Pam spray, a teeny bit of butter) and all proteins. On the third and fourth days, I went super-low carb with real fats and fattier proteins only - technically, that's either VLC (Very Low Carb) or it might be considered ZC (Zero Carb), only Dilletante-style (since I did have eggs, and eggs have a tiny bit of carbs).

Over the last two days, I also drank 36 oz. of hot green tea lemon (Carrington brand), with the juice of 1/2 fresh lemon in each cup. In other words, I used the hot lemon water trick, only this time I added a tea bag of green tea lemon to each 12 oz. cup. Lemon water is great for getting rid of swelling or bloat, getting the insulin resistance under control, and more - and boy, did I need it! I'm also taking supplements, like the Super B's, Omega 3's, acetyl-L-carnitine, etc. (I'm out of a few of my usual supplements, so it's time to restock!)

I fully expect that great loss to slow down - if not completely stop for awhile - but it's ok. The point is - I'm back on track, having lost almost half of the 25 lbs. gained since August 3 (the day I quit smoking). Most importantly, I am rebuilding my confidence.

My plan is to keep cycling the low-carb lifestyle - from VLC to ZC and perhaps a day or two of Protein Power as I feel I need it. That's because I know I'll have to change the eating pattern, since my metabolism catches on very quickly. In other words, I'll just keep "Shaking It Up to Shake It Down"!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Whooshie Time!

My update for yesterday (Friday) morning: It looks like I dropped 5 lbs. That was a nice overnight Whoosh, and I didn't expect it. It had to be water, but who cares? As I always say - it's water that had no business being in my body, anyway.

As for the menu, I'm sticking with proteins for now. Every so often, I may decide to have a small salad. That is, I'm in the mood to do my Stillman's cycling trick (for more info, please see my post, "Another Way to Cycle with Stillman's Plans"). I realize that I sound indecisive - Induction one day, Stillman's the next - but I did say in yesterday's post that I was also incorporating the Lindora approach of 2-3 days of all proteins. That's because I mean business. After all, I know how my body responds (to a point, that is). Fall is just around the corner, and that change in the weather means an even worse battle with water retention. So my first mini-goal is to get this month's mean bounce off my body - asap.

The fastest way to get the weight off is Stillman's and loads of supplements. But that can only last up to 2 weeks, and then anyone doing Stillman's has to switch. I'm mulling whether or not to do 2 weeks of Stillman's, or try the Lindora approach of 2-3 days of lean proteins (no carbs except for the few in eggs), then switch over to low-carbing for the rest of the week. Right now, I'm in the mood for proteins; I don't even want a salad.

Once my system is "rebooted" by those all-protein days (for however long they last), I will then switch over to Induction (or as I should say, Protein Power's Intervention Level) and those daily total carbs of 30. Having a small salad or two (heaped with proteins) and a 4 oz. cup of sf pudding or jello will seem like a treat. And I have to have those good fats; anybody does. I'm giving myself the next month to get that 25 lb. gain off. But it's also when the real struggle begins anew - to again reach and then get past my previous low weight, where I've been stuck since November 2007.

There is definitely an interlude in which one must avoid the scale; that's when our bodies are "defragging" and so we're not seeing anything happen when it comes to lost pounds. That's the time to avoid the scale, since that is the exact time that "The Scale Doesn't Tell the Whole Tale" (another thing I often say!).

But this is not one of those times. I already know I am going to have to keep a close eye on "the precious" - that evil thing we love and hate the most: the scale!

So - we'll see what "the precious" says later this morning (Saturday). And it had better give a good report, or I'll throw it into the fires of Mt. Doom. (Can you tell I'm an enthusiast of The Lord of the Rings?)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Induction Junction: What's Your Function?

I'm typing in red because it's a RED LETTER day - it's back to Induction for me! With my apologies to Grammar Rock, I have a new spin on its famous old song (Conjunction Junction). Here's my version: "Induction Junction, what's your function? Cuttin' back carbs to get healthy and lean..."

Not only is it true that "Man shall not live by bread alone," but it is very possible and very healthy to live without it!

My personal health issue is simple: Over two years ago, I lost alot of weight and inches (within 6.5 months!), my health greatly improved (for which I will be forever grateful) - but, but, but - I never hit goal weight.

My goal weight is not just a vanity issue. I truly needed to lose another 40-50 lbs. Sometimes I feel embarrassed even thinking about how much more I had to go, which is simply ridiculous of me. All that weight gain was really not my fault; it was all due to a medical condition. But our absurd culture ingrains into our heads the silly idea "It's your own fault," and it's hard to completely overcome it. The truth is that insulin resistance is a nasty thing with which to live, and still the medical world (overall) doesn't recognize the real problem. So one must be very determined to stick with the low-carb lifestyle. As I've said before, the battle really begins in the mind, and that is also where it ends.

Since the embers of my inner fire were recently stirred, I want to keep that fire going. In fact, I want to have (and be) a blazing fire of motivation. It's very true that when we help others, we are also helping ourselves. And since stoking the inner fire of perseverance is entirely up to me, I went looking for the (proverbial) wood to feed that fire.

What I did: I opened up my original Low Carb Journal, and then my old Fitday entries, and it really helped. I do not mean to sound conceited, but I have to admit that in reading all my older entries, I amazed myself. And I asked myself, "From whence did all my determination come?"

It came from being fed up. Fed up with pain, illness, and (gulp) obesity. Fed up with "diets" and exercise that worked (fabulously) for almost everybody else, but never for me. What was I doing wrong? I was determined to fight back - determined in a good but competitive way, determined to win the battle against the raw metabolic deal I'd been dealt.

In again reading the first year of my personal Low Carb Journal, it was almost like reading about someone else's life - almost, but not quite. After all, it was only 2 years ago. It is not that I had not forgotten; I (usually) have a good memory. But the 'impact' of it all had lessened in time. And in the past 10 months, I've been fighting setback after setback.

It's not easy to describe how I felt when reading it all again, but I can say it was worth it - living again all the painful effort to make the menus easy but low-carb (painful only because I was in physical pain), the edgy remarks, "You mean you're never going to eat a piece of bread again? How about a potato? What about spaghetti? Well, you've tried it before - what makes you think you'll do it this time?" (thank goodness, these remarks did not come from my husband); all the effort it took to first get into a public pool and exercise (despite my embarrassment and my exhaustion), and then reading again of my euphoria the day I could walk without a cane...a euphoria that lasted for months. Truly, the results of the initial 6 month, low-carb journey was very much like a miracle.

So, all that has happened in the past 10 months are merely a setback. A temporary setback. So what? Ten months does not a lifetime make. I had yet another setback because I quit smoking (again, for my health) but breaking that habit, as everyone warns, means weight gain. (Sometimes I have to wonder if just breathing makes me gain weight, too.)

One way to overcome the smoking habit is to replace it with a good habit. Induction is one good replacement, and finding a new exercise I enjoy will be another. This weekend, the indoor community pool will close for 2 weeks (clean up time) I may start walking the track. Or riding a real bike! (I haven't done that in years!)

As for Induction...I've learned a lot about it through experience.

Back in the day (not so long ago) when I went on "The Woe that Shall Not Be Named" (sounds like Lord Voldemort, "He-Who-Shall-Not-Be Named," doesn't it?), I had first interpreted the direction about using just enough fats "to make it work" in this way: Use "real fats" without going overboard. I was still thinking in Atkins-ease (which really was a blessing in disguise, and which is not "The Woe that Shall Not Be Named"). Therefore, I carefully measured real fats (butter for scrambling eggs, "real" dressing for salad), and I did not use any "low-fat" products.

It was only later that I switched to the "low fat" option. Those were difficult months, because the weight loss was downright weird. However, by learning to 'tweak' the low-carb lifestyle, and by faithfully working out in the pool, I did lose 50 lbs. in 12 weeks. Then it all came to a screeching, painful halt.

That led me to further experiments in cycling fat, protein, or carb grams. I kept exercising, too. I lost a little more weight, but it was ridiculously slow - too slow for a person so far from goal. Eventually, the weight loss came to another grinding halt. At the beginning of the sixth month, I turned to Protein Power - I upped my protein intake a bit, I divided carbs carefully per meal, and I also measured real fats. I then lost the final 28 lbs. out of 100 - and then it all stopped. After that, I entered "Bounceville," and couldn't get out (it was something like the Hotel California!) - how maddening, especially when I was only 20 lbs. from Onederland!

Still, as it turns out, my first interpretation on the use of fats was the correct, healthy one.

Of one thing I am certain: pulling back on the protein grams is not good in combo with "low-fat." All that does is lead to Starvation Mode. Since I kept reading books and website on low-carbing, eventually I discovered that we really do need fat. It's just insane that we're culturally trained to despise the word "fat." Being fat is one thing, eating fat is another. In most cases, including real fat in one's meals means "fighting fire with fire."

I see it this way: In the pioneer days, people knew that one way to fight an approaching raging fire, sweeping the prairie, was to dig a trench around one's house (not too close), and then set a new fire on its other side. (That is, of course, if there was time to dig such a trench.) A ring of fire then went around the house, and when the bigger fire finally hit and consumed the smaller fire, the whole fire then died down. Amazing strategy, isn't it? That is what is meant by the old adage, "Fight fire with fire."

So - the way to fight too much body fat is with clean, consumable fats. Butter, olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil - they're all good. (But stay away from oils like corn and canola. And watch out for those sneaky "spreads" that pass themselves off as butter!)

Sure, there might be times to "cut back" on the fats - but that should not last for more than 2 weeks (ala Stillman's). And by "cutting," I don't mean switching to low-fat margarine, dressings, and that sort of thing. If anything must be cut, it seems the first thing to cut is either the carbs or the proteins. If one's carbs are too low, then up them and drop the protein grams a bit. Cutting back on real fats means simply that - use 1/2 tbsp. instead of a whole one when scrambling eggs. Lightly drizzle meats instead of soaking them.

But don't give up the fat for good, because the good we get from real fats is too good to forsake.

In the meantime, today I restart my personalized version of Induction, with a touch of Lindora and Protein Power (2 or 3 days of all proteins and 'just enough fats to make it work" - to kick my quirky metabolism in the caboose - then switch to 30 total carbs per day, instead of the Atkins Induction Level of no more than 20 carbs a day). After all this time and experience, it makes sense to start at a higher level of carbs and then lower them.

This time, I'm gonna make it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Battle of the Bulge Continues

I know just how Tinkerbell feels. I'm stuck, too - but the battle must continue!

Considering my terrible neglect in sharing any of the deliteful designs of my humble life, I was grateful to return to the blog and find a few followers. Shari and Jen, you inspired me to start bloggin' once more. Thank you - and I'll catch up with you dear ones asap...

Quick Update: All this while, I've been hanging on the periphery of the lowcarb world, alternating as always, and still I lost no more inches or pounds. The old body simply won't budge. I admit I am tired of the battle, but then - I honestly don't want to give up.

Then a few weeks ago I quit smoking (again, for the upteenth time) - and though I refused to look at the scale, I could feel the gain. Water retention got me with a vengeance. And, oh, the headaches! Out came the lemon water to fight the swelling. To add insult to injury, Hormonal Flux recently hit, and the resulting blah-bloat joined the party.

I knew I was losing the battle. I had to know the numbers - because if they were scary enough, I'd get mad and do something about it.

So tonight I gave in. Yes, I got on the scale, which likes to beckon me with its siren song. It dutifully (and perhaps gleefully) gave its report - but I will not repeat how I replied to it (because it really was not polite). The bad news is that 25 lbs. added their nasty selves to my frame in the last few weeks.

Frustrated beyond belief, I finally complained to my husband, who started out well enough by remarking, "Well, you've done really great so far. You can do it again." He should have stopped right there, because that's really all I needed to hear. After all, just a little vote of confidence takes me a long, long way. But no, he thought he'd be very helpful by adding, "But you're right - you can see that you've gained weight."

As any woman in her right mind would understand, I was not pleased with my beloved. However, I decided to bite my tongue because an immediate vision of Jabba the Hut (female version), wearing my clothes, literally waddled thru my mind. (Actually, did Jabba waddle? It was more like a grotesque slithering, wouldn't you say?) At any rate, it wasn't a pretty picture.

And then it happened - that old glow of determination, like the dying embers of a fire, suddenly stoked. You can call it being ticked off, mad, extremely annoyed or whatever - but when that glow hits, I take stock of what needs to be done...and then I do it. The only problem is - I've low-carbed in earnest for over two years, and though I lost so much weight, I cannot lose anymore. (And I really do need to!) I can, however, easily gain. What do I need to do - stop eating any carbs? I have to say I didn't like the Zero Carb approach one bit. (That's just me - it works for others who are quite happy with it. More power to them, too!) Other options I've considered: Try calorie-counting? I do that already with Fitday, along with counting everything else.

So, in other words...Now what?

I know the benefits of the low-carb lifestyle. And I chose not to lose them.

Low carbing and some form of exercise just has to do it. Those pounds really must go! The only thing I can think to do is return to Induction - whether it's Atkins, EFGT, or Protein Power. How to decide which one, I'm not sure, since I've done them all. Maybe I'll just close my eyes and say, "Eenie-meenie-miney-mo" and pick one that way. The point is: I have to believe that determination and perseverance will eventually pay off (in spades, no less!).

In any case: What the good-guy character Rick McConnell in the "The Mummy" once said to the Scorpion King is what I say to those extra pounds..."Go to h-ll ---and take your friends with you!" ;>

Ok, enough with being "naughty." (!!!)

Today, because I felt so ill, I wasn't very hungry. But I was very good to myself with proteins, a bit of fats, and a soothing smoothie. For all I know, I had gained 30 lbs. this past month (would that I could lose that much in the same time frame!), so perhaps I'll start dropping the enemy pounds in another day or two. (Except I found out that the one and only smoothie I drank today had a bit of sugar in it, since my 'baby' son, now 11, wanted to pamper Mom - bless his heart - but he forgot that Hershey's syrup is a no-no for me. I thought that chocolate-flavored whey protein was just a bit too sweet, and I was right.)

Ah, well. As Scarlett once said, with stars in her eyes:

"After all, tomorrow is another day." (May I have her determination, without her faults!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Declaring War: A Simple Low Carb Strategy that Works

"Keeping it simple" with the low-carb lifestyle means no daily fussing over what to eat. I'm not talking about special occasions, where we have no control over planned menus (but there's a strategy for those times, too!). No, my subject is the every-day menu. It's no help to work ourselves into a tizzy, especially if we're just starting, dealing with a stall, fell off plan, etc. All we have to do is keep it simple.

The real secret is in those three little words. I have a few more to share (please take your pick which you like best!): Make it so. Just do it. Stay on plan. Kick the carbs.

Ok, so how to keep it simple? The answer features three easy tips to remember.

1) Eat clean.
Focus on real fats and proteins first, with a small helping of lc veggies for lunch and/or dinner. That means real foods, no lc or 'sugar free' snacks, whether store-bought or homemade, no sugar-free ice cream, and no nitrates, sulfates, or aspartame. An extra tip: For the first two weeks of low-carbing, totally avoid nutmeats. (Nutmeats are good for us, but it's very easy to over-indulge.)

2) Eat to satisfaction, not to the point of being stuffed.
If you're truly hungry between meals, eat a small protein snack with a full glass of cold water or with a cup of tea with half-n-half or real whipping cream, or brewed, natural green tea lemon. [Whatever you do, please avoid starving yourself - that sets up your metabolism for Starvation Mode. Ask me how I know.] Want a sweetener with your tea? Try natural stevia...there's a lot of scary news about aspartame out there (just search the Net!).

3.) Take your vitamins!
(For general ideas on what you will need, please see the sidebar for "Do You Know What Your Supplements Are?")

Due to my own experience, my honest opinion comes down to this: The 'simpler' we keep the menus, the 'easier' we hit our goals for health and fitness. If we get too wrapped up over 'what' we are going to eat for our daily meals, we might talk ourselves right out of our healthy resolutions. Sure, eating is meant to be enjoyable, but who says simple can't be good?

After all, we can save the lc treats for very special occasions - and I mean very special. After all, a treat is supposed to be a rare thing, not a regular indulgence.

Dr. Atkins once said 'just one bite' of a 'treat' is the kiss of death to everything so far accomplished. It can and probably will take one full week - yes, seven days - for our quirky metabolisms to get chugging again. Who needs the agony of self-recrimination? "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." Some people accept what happened, accept the consequences and get right back on track; others have a much more difficult time, falling into the same old traps repeatedly.

I have a simple solution for that one: Imagine a huge skull and cross bones on that 'treat' - and nip that temptation right in the proverbial bud. Then laugh at that stupid 'goodie' and think, "Hah! Lead me not into temptation" - and walk away. We are definitely strong enough to refuse the poison - and we're worth it, too!

Our real aim is proper nutrition to force our whacky metabolisms into working as they should, which means adequate calories (1200 being the absolute lowest for a woman, 1800 for a man), enough fat intake for the thyroid, enough protein to maintain the body's repair systems (so "Ye Olde Metabolism" won't dig into our own protein and muscle reserves, which is bad news), and a lot less carbs to force the metabolism to draw on its fat reserves.

After all, people, this is war! War against Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome or insulin resistance - different names for what is essentially the same metabolic issue. How we plan our lc menus greatly depends on how much we want to win all the battles. The direct, simple approach works beautifully. Even if one battle in the war is longer than we expected, we should have every intention of winning the whole war with flying colors, wild fanfare and lots of trumpets!

For those interested in 'keeping it simple,' I'm happy to share an example of today's menu (which is also quite appropriate for Atkins Induction):

B: 3 hb eggs, 2 slices of fried hard salami, 12 oz. black tea with 3 tbsp. half-n-half

L: 2 cups lettuce, 6 oz. chicken, 2 tbsp. cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp. real bacon bits, 1 condiment pkg of full-fat ranch dressing

D: Ditto lunch plus 1 slice baked bacon

Liquids for the day: 135 oz. water and 12 oz. tea with half-n-half. (Oh, and a few Sugar-Free Rockstars!)

Vitamins and Minerals: Micro-K (Potassium), Vitamin E, Vitamin B Plus (Super B's), Acetyl Carnitine, etc.

Calories 1693
Fat Grams 109
Carb Grams 15 total (not net)
Protein Grams 147

For the low-carb lifestyle, those are good numbers...they are not too low, not too high, but 'just right.' (Alright...Say goodnight, Goldilocks!) :>

An Invite to Readers of This Blog - Aka Followers

Having just added the Followers option (top right margin) to this blog, I'd like to invite those of you who regularly check this blog to add yourself as a Follower!

Should you also have a low-carb blog, too, please join the Followers list of Delightful Designs of the Divine Miss M...and I'll return the favor!

In a world wherein the "low-carb lifestyle" is still viewed with a jaundiced eye, those of us who know the great health benefits of low-carbing really have to stick together!

My Renewed Focus on Fitness

As of the first Monday of February 2009, my goal is not only healthy, low-carb menus but a renewed focus on exercise. The last few months of my life didn't allow for any kind of regular exercise. It really didn't, because there were various, legitimate setbacks. That's the way I look at them - just setbacks.

Focusing on EFGT (Eat Fat, Get Thin) had good results - to a degree. That is, I lost 14.6 lbs. total - three times in just a little two weeks. The scale simply wouldn't go lower. In fact, it bounced. Every Saturday, I hit the same number. On Sunday, the scale number bounces right up. No change in the woe, no cheating. And it takes days to get that 3 lb. overnight bounce off. I don't blame EFGT for that problem. No, something else is going on, and it's been going on for well over a year!

Since the end of November 2007, the 'stall-gain' has been my "Never-Ending Story." Well, it's time for that story to end! Not only am I tired of it, I'm sure those who read this blog are tired of hearing about it. Either way, that doesn't seem fair - and you know, it really isn't.

Obviously, the low-carb lifestyle offers all kinds of great health benefits. Slower weight loss, as one approaches goal, is expected. However, no weight or no inches lost or, even worse, stall-gains for welll over a year is plain insulting and downright demoralizing! Some time ago, I concluded this finickety body must have reached a point where it needs increased exercise, even as I alternate it.

Though I reached that conclusion awhile back, I did not want to act on it. That is because I tried the alternate route before (alternating exercises from toning to cardio, etc.) - and it didn't work for me. I hurt myself when switching to toning/cardio exercises, even though I followed instructions at a local workout place. The 'hurt' was not due to incorrectly performing the exercises. Nope - it seems fibromyalgia was the real cause.

Even though I previously worked out faithfully for 5 months, building myself up for the next phase of exercise, it seems I can't handle machines, even set at the lowest weights. Fibro muscles can manage them for awhile but not for long (in my case, within one short week of M-W-F workouts, I was experiencing severe breast tissue pain. Doc says the tissues were inflamed from the toning exercises. It took a month to recover!).

Seeking an alternative, I discovered Callenetics. They don't hurt me. Yep, I feel the muscles stretching, but the next day there is only very mild soreness. That, I can handle. Callenetics are challenging, providing a total body workout that stretches muscles first. There are no pulsing movements but graceful and steady 'holds' of position. Once I finish a set, I find myself totally relaxed and ready for sleep.

That said, I'm not an afecionado of workout DVD's. Maybe it has to do with doing exercises in the house. I prefer to go out and 'do something.' Still, preferences about where to exercise don't matter if I can't get any exercise accomplished!

So one thing at a time. First, I'm going to start anew with my favorite exercise, and alternate it with something different. My ultimate goal is to exercise each day. For now, it might be every other day, to let my muscles rest and repair between workouts. I'm not going to worry too much about time, but my goal is at least 1/2 hour of daily, focused exercise - steady walking, Callentics, or water exercises. I'm also seriously looking into Zumba, because that's my idea of plain, old-fashioned fun!

I admit I don't like the idea of lots of exercise, and I'll say why:

First, I'm a regular Jane, who must take something from her day to get that exercise done. (Believe me, if I could live in a sunny, low-humidity state and swim and exercise in the pool all day, while my personal chef made our family's healthy, low-carb meals, and my nanny watched the kids, and a tutor taught them at home, that would be my equivalent of earthly paradise.)

Second, I do ponder the future and wonder if I will have to not only exercise daily but will eventually have to increase it. That's a scary thought. How will I get the time to do it?

Housework, unfortunately, isn't enough exercise. Walking up the steps a few times a day doesn't quite get it, nor does standing at the sink washing or drying dishes, and that sort of thing. On the other hand, low-carbing and my self-designed Water Workouts now allow me to stand at that sink without pain. Ditto with the steps (even though I still creak at the knees!). And I can walk now, standing straight up - without a cane. No cane, very little pain. I couldn't do that before low-carbing and thrice-weekly Water Workouts. The point is that I refuse to lose all the good I've "gained."

So...alternate the exercise it is! I know, too, that exercise has to get one to the point of a windedness. (Not gasping for air, but just enough so that one can only speak a few words as one exercises. Then you know you're pushing yourself to the right limit.)

Anyway, regular exercise (along with low-carbing) is the goal for this month. I figure 14.6 lbs. in a few weeks is very good, but seeing that scale jump right up 2 more lbs. on February 1st got me plain mad. Mad as in very determined.

As the old saying goes: When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Keeping It Simple, Sweetie!

As of this past Saturday, I dropped a total of 13 lbs. in six days. I honestly don't know how I drop like that. I also don't know why I more easily gain, even while remaining on the low-carb track. I do suspect hormonal imbalances, as well as a leptin issue. (It seems everyone and every "thing" today has "issues," doesn't it?)

Because experience has taught me that quick drops usually result in effortless rebounds, I've decided that this week I am not going to step on the digital scale. Although fat loss keeps tempting me to be my my greatest goal, that attitude isn't going to help me. Keeping my health is the real aim. After all, weight gain is just one of the many symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome.

Healing the metabolism is the answer.

So this is the plan for the upcoming week: I will make a list for the family menus (check out the low-carb pyramid above - although I'd slightly alter it so that fats come first, low-carb is healthy for them, too!). If the winter weather doesn't inflict yet another snowstorm on us, I will get back to my Water Workouts. If that last part of the plan isn't 'do-able,' out will come the exercise mat and the Callenetics DVD's. I'm also going to stock up on absolutely needed supplements, of which I've run short.

Making low-carb menus for the family is a great deal for everybody. Who could possibly disagree that meals featuring fresh or frozen green vegetables (drizzled with butter or saut├ęd in extra virgin coconut oil) or a tossed salad (with an Italian or other full-fat dressing), a satisfying main protein course, and the occasional sugar-free dessert is not nutrition-packed? Truth to tell, dessert is not a regular deal in this house. But when I make low-carb (that means "sugar-free") cheesecake with an almond meal/flaxseed crust, everybody wants it! (I think that the rare lc cheesecake or sugar-free mousse are the real reasons why dh and the kids get geeked when Mom plays in the kitchen.)

It's also surprising how motivational it is to create good, low-carb, nutritional meals which are very simple. Help in the "Motivation Department" is a boon, but neither do I want to waste too many precious hours in cooking, nor do I enjoy obsessing over 'what to eat' or 'what to serve' today. If I may say so myself, I'm a good cook, for a crowd - on a daily basis - is a real challenge. Sure, it's a necessity, but there are other things I need to do, too. At this point in my life, I just want to make this cooking-eating-clean up business (for a family of eight) as fast, easy and enjoyable as possible. (Thank heaven for crockpots!)

As the old saying goes, "Keep it simple, sweetie!" Sounds good to me.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Back on Track

Today marks the beginning of Day 5 with EFGT (Eat Fat, Get Thin) . While expecting to lose a respectable amount of fat and water this week, my total loss from Monday-Friday morning is 11.4 lbs. (I know, my lower jaw hit the floor, too!) Men can usually drop weight like that, but not women!

After analyzing my menus of the past five days, I realized I have used EFGT with a "reversed Lindora" approach. That is, I began with the EFGT recommended protein gram amts. (only I rotated the amount just a bit every day), aimed for the recommended fat grams (never quite made it), and took the full carb load (up to 65 carb grams but consuming the bulk of them first thing in the morning after eating my proteins). In other words, I ate my fried-in-butter eggs first (with 4 thin slices of salami on the side) and saved the toasted bagel (with 1 tbsp. butter on it) for last. The rest of the day's meals were fat with decreasing amounts of protein, or protein with a teeny bit of carbs (like a light dinner of 6 oz. of deli turkey wrapped in 2 thin slices of Swiss cheese).

It seems the bigger breakfasts, moderate lunches, and very modest dinners play a big factor in making the metabolism happy as it loses fat. It simply makes sense to "fuel up" for the day, take in enough at lunch to keep the body going without any extra carbs to stow away into fat, and consume a very modest dinner, when the body is preparing for sleep and repair. I'm sure as times goes by, I will probably have to lower the daily carb amounts. For now, though, 65 net carbs, mostly consumed with the first meal, seems to be working very well. (That's an understatement!)

The first week of Lindora, on the other hand, begins with three "all protein days" and negligible carbs (like those found in eggs). Then it rotates to 4 days of limited protein amounts (measuring by ounces, not grams) and 50-100 carb grams. With EFGT, it seems I've done the opposite, starting with protein, fats and carbs. Besides reversing the carb order over the 7 days, I'm not taking the low-fat option.

Initially, my plan was to follow the "more generous" EFGT guidelines for 3-4 days, then drop to the lower carb option while remaining with the EFGT fat and protein amounts - and that's still the plan for this first week back on track!
Next week may be another story - but it will be a low-carb one!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Magic Shot: True or Not?

Well, today's news is a thrilling experience for me. It makes me wonder about something called "The Magic Shot."

"The Magic Shot" is the name of a theory regarding weight loss results between first time low-carbers and 'returning' low carbers. That theory states first-time low carbers do wonderfully well as they start out ("The Magic Shot"), but that "returns" - that is, individuals who started lowcarbing, lost some weight, left the lifestyle and then eventually returned to it - don't experience the same success the second time around. In other words, the theory says "returns" will lose the fat but not at the same rate as they did the first time. Hence, first time low-carbers are warned not to blow "The Magic Shot."

I don't know if my 19 day "hiatus" from low-carbing (after living the lc-ing lifestyle since May 2007) applies to that Magic Shot "rule." Perhaps those 19 days was just long enough (but not too long) to convince my metabolism that I was up to no good - for good. If so, I'm glad it's been tricked!

Since re-starting just 2 days ago with EFGT (Eat Fat, Get Thin), I have already lost 7 lbs.! Now that's the sort of loss 'newbie' low-carbers usually experience. However, I can't say that happened to me. Way back when, I did lose an average of a pound a day. In fact, I dropped about 28 lbs. back in May 2007, a loss which I still regard as incredible. Then I hit the infamous 3 (or 4) week "stall."

I've also read that lowcarbers will find that returning to 'regular' or 'normal' eating (while calorie counting) - for a very short time, perhaps a week or two - can reverse "stall gains" or kill plateaus. Maybe that's what did it. Nineteen days of 'normal' eating, and then sliding easily into a 'lower carb" lifestyle of 65 grams might have kicked the metabolism where it needed to be kicked.

Hmmm. All these "if's, and's or but's" can get confusing. But that is also why I'm not afraid to tweak or try something 'new' when it comes to low-carbing, like rotating carbs and fats. Those of us who discovered we need to low-carb for health and fitness have that one thing in common. Still, just because we know low-carbing is our answer does not mean we are metabolic equals. What works for me may work for you, or it may not.

I maintain that low-carbing is not the same for everybody. Some can use one lc plan and stick with it and get to goal, with nary a problem. Some can stick with, for example, South Beach and experience wonderful progress and success. Others could never tolerate the carbs allowed on SB and so follow Atkins or Protein Power. Some of us - like me - have to experiment with various low-carb plans by rotating them, because we get stuck in one place for too long a time. There is the difference between men and women. Everybody knows that men will lose fat quicker than women. Not fair but it's a scientific fact. The differences between two low-carbing women can be just as great as between a man and a woman. We have to find out if we must be tweakers or not. I already know I have to tweak, and it can drive me crazy. I'd much rather stick with one plan. But that is now how my metabolic dice rolled...

So after 19 months of low-carbing (with 12 of those months one mean stall, along with its evil fraternal twin brother - the intermittent stall-gain), I went "off plan" because I was heart-sick, tired, and fed up. I can't say I was calorie-counting during that time, because I was not keeping a food log. I had walked away from all that, taking a total break from my usual low-carb routine, which usually includes weighing myself right away plus faithfully recording activity and menus in FitdayPC.

I can say I did not go overboard with 'normal' eating. However, as mentioned in a previous post, I did eat things I usually avoid like the plague.

Restarting with EFGT seems to be a good choice for me. Of course, it is too soon to tell but I am elated anyway! Perhaps this woe will help me figure what in the world has been going on the past year. Perhaps I need even more fats that I thought I did. Or perhaps it is because I took in most of my proteins, fats and carbs first thing in the morning, lessening the amounts with the remaining two meals of the day. That is because I followed the EFGT recommendation, which goes like this:

In the morning, eat like a king. At lunch (or dinner, as it is also called), eat like a prince. For supper, eat like a pauper.

My daily protein intake is about the same (90 grams, since I decided to try the higher end of the EFGT guidelines. On EFGT, my lowest daily protein gram intake should be about 70). With Protein Power, the recommended protein gram amt. was 120 grams but I have long cycled between 90-120 grams. The highest amount of EFGT carb grams (65) are more than my usual low-carb intake (20-30). Fat grams were 75 and 85, respectively, over the last two days - technically, I should have had much more on EFGT. I think that, when I lower the daily carb grams, I'll up the fats.

Actually, I'm quite surprised at the good results so far. That surprise is not due to the woe, but to the way my metabolism has been misbehaving the last few months. I honestly didn't expect such quick results!

Naturally, I'll stick with it as long as it works (let's hope it lasts for at least a few weeks!). I still have the same goal to lose 8-10 lbs. a month. I would bet money that scale losses will significantly slow down after that (please, Lord, not before). I'll be fine with that if the inches start to defrag themselves and keep defragging. :)

During this quiet time in January, I think I'll again re-read all my low-carb books, too. Every time I go through them, I find gems that didn't apply to me before but may be what I need now.

Know what I mean, sugar-free jellybean?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Boomerang Diet: A Losing Battle

I see there have been comments to some of my previous posts, so I hope that this update answers a few of the questions received.

First, I should reiterate that, yes, I really lost 100 lbs. from May 2007 to November 2007. (Sometimes, I can barely believe it myself.) After that, it was a roller-coaster, so to speak. I usually stayed in the same lb. range, but I could (and did) easily gain weight all through winter, usually about 10 lbs. up and then down. As I've said before, the gains were not due to cheating. It just seems I've hit 'the plateau' - and how!

Through the summer of 2008, I tried different tips and tweaks, including Zero Carb. The result was a slight drop but then it would come right back. Mentally, I began to call my lifestyle of diet and exercise "The Boomerang Diet." You know how that one goes, right? You stay on plan and then ---you lose, you gain, you lose, you gain. The weight you lost keeps coming back to you, just like a boomerang. Get it?

It seemed my body kept re-setting the number at which it wanted to stay, so that my total fat loss was 95 lbs. I'd get back to 97 lbs. lost, and then the boomerang hit again. Sometimes the boomerang effect was over-kill. The scale wasn't budging downward and neither was the measuring tape.

Going upward - ah, that was way too easy!

From this past October thru December (2008), it was the same story. I fought back like the dickens but, once the early snow began in October, it's been a losing battle (no pun intended). If you read this blog, you know that snow and high humidity get me with water retention, every time. As you can imagine, I was really disgusted when the scale kept going up.

After my late November surgery, I gained 10 more lbs. in one week, just by eating chicken noodle soup and, once or twice a day, regular soda (clear liquids). Water wasn't getting it at that time, and I figured regular soda was better than aspartame-laced soda, but...Talk about carb intolerance and insulin sensitivity! Then I got sick for the holidays and throughout the holidays. I'm only now beginning to regain some strength.

Frankly, at that point, I almost gave up with the low-carbing. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. After 1 year and 7 months of steady low-carbing, I threw in the towel, although I promised myself it would be temporary.

On Christmas Day, my attitude was plain and to-the-point: "To heck with this," and I decided to stop weighing myself every day, stop lowcarbing for awhile and just eat "normally." When I say 'normally,' I do not mean going wild in the kitchen and leaving a path of empty, tossed bags of carby junk behind me. I just ate like people without Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X do - you know, people who don't have certain health issues. That means I ate a bagel with my eggs and sausage one day, or I added toast another day. I had a cup of mashed potatoes with dinner a few times. I had soup with little bow-tie noodles. Once I had pasta. Another day I had pizza; it wasn't satisfying - that I can say, so I said no more of that. I ate nutmeats when and as I wanted them, and also some baked goods like banana bread. Usually I ate just twice a day. It wasn't alot but it was enough to do some damage. And I did that up until this past weekend, but all the time I was worrying about it.

End result: I gained 10 more lbs. Total weight gain since October 1: About 40 lbs.!

And you know what? I didn't need the scale to tell me. I can feel it. My newer and smaller clothes are uncomfortably snug, my face is rounder, and I feel 'wobbly' and 'jiggly' in places that should not wobble or jiggle.

So enough of that. Sure, I had to have surgery and then I got sick with some nasty virus...those were setbacks. Yes, I've been grieving and worrying, and I still am. Yet I know that those whom I loved and who loved me, and those still here who also love me and who I love, too, would not want me to lose the health I've so far regained.

As of Sunday just passed, I realized that I will not have a defeatist attitude. Instead, this will be my view of the whole situation: I had to let go for awhile, so I could "spit on my hands" and get a better grip.

There is also this reality: Even if I never get to my dream goal, sticking with the 95 lb. loss is much healther than slowly regaining all that weight. Do I want to be in constant pain again, perpetually walk hunched over again because my herniated disks can't stand the strain of all that weight, use a cane and wheelchair again, have high blood pressure again, endure GERDS again, and have to take meds again? No. Never "again"!

So here's my plan. I'm re-starting just like I did in May 2007 but this time, I know a bit more than I did then, like...

-I know how to cycle or 'rotate' carbs.
-I know about drinking clear water, and how much I need to drink.
-I know the lemon water trick, too, and I know the carbs are negligible, especially when one thinks of all its benefits.
-I know that I have to change my exercise routine every 3 weeks, because the body is a smart cookie (oops, sorry) and catches on to energy output and input.
-I know there are certain natural supplements that help me - alot.
-I know many other 'tricks and tips.'
-In other words, I know how to live a low-carb lifestyle and I know how 'shake it up.'

As the old saying goes: Knowledge is power!

The first step is simply to start and to start simply - just by eating low carb. As I regain my strength and even more motivation, I'll restart with my favorite form of exercise - water aerobics! I would love to get in the water every day, but the weather here is not conducive to 'water workouts.' In the winter, I have to make sure my hair is completely dry and give all the body pores time to close before I leave the community center, otherwise I will get sick. That's just the way it is.

If the weather doesn't cooperate, then I'll go to Exercise Plan B: Callenetics. They really do work on stretching and strengthening the muscles! They're also very relaxing. I'll do Callenetics for 3 weeks (and pray that winter passes quickly so I can return to the water), and then I'll rotate to a completely different form of exercise, like weight training.

Yesterday, my woe was EFGT (Eat Fat, Get Thin)...and I lost 2 lbs as of this morning. Today I planned on doing Protein Power. However, after looking at today's food log, I realize it was still EFGT. That's ok...the important thing is that I have started anew.

Who knows? After a few days of EFGT, I may just try Lindora.

How's that for a "shake up plan"?

Make Each Day Count

It has been too long since I posted, because so much has happened in my personal life! One of my most vibrant aunts, only in her 60's, passed away. We knew her time was coming, but once it comes and the initial grief is over and life 'seems' to resume to 'normal,' it never really is the same...September and October came and went, although they seem to be a blur. In early November, my mom suffered a terrifying and life-threatening event, twice in one terribly agonizing week. Both times,we thought we had lost her. Then I had surgery on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Four days later, a beloved friend of 22 years unexpectedly died.

There are some people who are so 'real,' so full of the joy of living, so quick to love, so compassionate, and so strong - physically and emotionally - and who possess the funniest (but endearing) quirks that they always have an alluring aura about them. When they walk into a room, one is immediately aware of that presence and happy for it. When people like that die, as we all must some day, it just doesn't seem it could have happened so soon.

To all of us, circumstances occur that make life worth living. Some things take life out-of-balance, because we have lost, or know we will soon lose, someone so very dear to us. I learned that lesson young. Every time worries and sorrows come, the lesson is relearned.

When life gets harder, it's time to hope and pray and go into a 'quiet place' in one's soul. I had to get off the proverbial saddle and 'walk' it again for awhile, to think and ponder and thresh out so many things.

Although in the past months I didn't have the heart to write about low-carbing, a thought about it dawned on me. I knew it before and yet, once in a blue moon, one experiences an "epiphany" about something one has long known. That is, we see a truth of which we've always been aware, but we see it in a brief and beautiful glimpse of light which helps our own understanding of that particular truth deepen.

The lessons about life and love and joy and loss and sorrows and death have everything to do with why we're living a low-carb lifestyle. We do it because we want to live the lives God gave us, not just endure them because we too early lost our vitality.

In reality, what we eat and whether or not we exercise is just a part of our lives. Other things, especially people, happen in life that are even more important.

Absolutely, we can make low-carbing a path to a healthier life, but let's be sure to enjoy life as we low-carb, too. While we should try (very hard!) not let other things get in the way of our low-carb goals, neither should we let that goal get in the way of enjoying our loved ones and our lives. There's no reason we can't do both.

Especially since I began low-carbing in earnest, my personal motto has been: This day, I will stay on plan. It meant I wasn't going to mess up any day with a useless cheat, one I would later bitterly rue. No, I was sticking with the plan, day by day. It meant I didn't overly worry about tomorrow or the weekend. "Let the day be sufficient to itself." Isn't that what we're supposed to do in all things, not just when it comes to the low-carb lifestyle?

So, with just a simple addition, my personal motto is now "updated and improved":

This day, I will stay on plan and make each day count, in time and for eternity.