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!)