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.