Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

10 weeks

January 10, 2013

The obsessive craving for spicy pickled pepper seems to have abated, and with it my intake of salt. Which has helped me keep my weight more or less under control. I seem to have gravitated to about 202 – 203 lbs for the last few week. I’m hoping to hold it there until the end of my first trimester. At that point I’ll have a full appointment with a midwife and can find out what a reasonable weight gain is for someone of my original weight during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Monthly Cycle

September 27, 2012

I know at some point in women’s cycles women retain water. I think that’s fairly common knowledge. What I have always understood is that women retain water during the week leading up to their period.

I am wondering if there are other factors in a women’s cycle that influence weight loss. I have noticed a definite cycle to my weight loss. I lose the most weight right after my period. I will sometimes lose over half a pound a day. Then, around the middle of my cycle my weight will level off, dropping to very small increments, staying steady or even going up for a few days for no apparent reason. The overall trend will still be down, but it will be very slow with frustrating jumps that put me back a week or more so that I’m repeating the same loss for two or more weeks.

I’m reasonably sure this is all normal, since it seems to be part of a cycle that is consistent over months and is keeping me in a healthy weight loss zone, but I’d still like to know why it seems to kick in for me around day 10-14 of my cycle instead of day 21 which would be the last week.

Positive vs. Negative

September 13, 2012

I work in a health-related industry. What does that mean? It means I work with a lot of information about health but I am not a health practitioner like a doctor, nurse etc… As such, I get a huge volume of information about health, and despite that I still struggle with weight. So, I’m pretty much case in point that you can have all of the information and it will not change your life.

One of the debates in health information, specifically about diet and exercise is if it should be communicated in positive or negative language. Is it more effective to warn people about the dangers of certain foods, the dangers of inactivity and tell people what not to do? Or, is it more effective to focus on positive language about what people should do, easy tips to increase activity and what foods you should eat. The reasonably simple answer here is that both types of information must be provided. If the patient / consumer doesn’t know that pop contains two cups of sugar and sugar will do all sorts of bad things to your system then they may think it is part of getting their daily intake of water. Likewise if you tell someone who has been raised on a steady diet of pop to stop drinking pop you also want to give them healthy alternatives and suggestions for how to transition off of pop.

As an individual I find that the positive vs. negative speak still merits a lot of consideration, especially as I think about food.

Common wisdom on the internet seems to lean towards the positive side. That when attempting a life style change that the direction should be to think about what foods you can have, what healthy foods you enjoy and to avoid focusing on what you cannot have and what you are not allowing yourself. Increasingly there is a push to not deny yourself foods so that you don’t end up binge eating on foods that you have denied yourself.

I believe all of this is very good advice. Especially if you have grown up on the Standard American Diet.

However, I am finding that the negative food speak is actually working better for me. It is not entirely one or the other. I still think a lot about what I do like to eat and what I do enjoy. However, to keep myself on track I am finding it easier to have a simple check list of “do not eat”. If I run down the checklist to make sure it does not have:

  • Dairy
  • Refined sugars
  • Grains
  • Legumes

Then I am all set to go. I feel confident in what I can select. I know what I’m cutting out and I don’t feel panicky about if I am going to go over my calories if I eat that piece of cake. I’m not going to eat the cake unless it’s a flourless cake. Simple.

I know this approach is not for everyone. I also realize it would be too restrictive for many and would result in a dive off the wagon and into the bag of chips. But, for me it is working so I thought I’d put it out there.

Paleo Recipe Review: Budget Friendly Balsamic Mustard Chicken and Roasted Veggies

June 7, 2012

Image From EveryDayPaleo.com

I don’t hate cooking, but it’s also not something that I consider lots of fun. This means that I don’t spend hours, or even minutes, trying to come up with recipes. I depend heavily on the lovely people on the internet who have blogs with recipes for free.

The good news is that there are tonnes of paleo recipes out there. The bad news, I found, is that many of the paleo internet chefs really want to be amazing gourmet chefs. These people LOVE their food. I usually look for three things in a good recipe:

  • Simple ingredients
  • Can be made with minimal kitchen equipment
  • Limited advance prep work (I may make a recipe that requires marinating on the weekend)
  • Minimal steps in cooking. (e.g. if it’s a french cooking technique beyond sautee, I probably don’t know it)

It took me awhile to find a source of recipes I liked, but once I did I find myself sticking with it.

My recommendation for best paleo food blog is: Every Day Paleo

One of the first recipes I tried was Budget Friendly Balsamic Mustard Chicken with Roast Veggies.

It’s insanely simple to make. The sauce is really easy. I tried her baggie technique the first time I made it and used tupperware the next few times.

The prep work is minimal, I chopped up the bacon, brussel sprouts and zucchini in about 5 minutes.

Cooking is very simple: 2 pans, one in the oven (veggies) one on the stove.

And, it’s delicious. I’m not a fan of brussel sprouts but bacon grease makes a lot of things tasty. The chicken is really moist and delicious.

I did have to make a small adjustment to this recipe because of my pork allergy. I switch pork bacon for a variety of other ‘bacon’ you can get from your local butcher and sometimes the grocery. I used beef-bacon in this case since I thought it would get more fat than chicken or turkey bacon.

Leveling Off?

May 31, 2012

After my brother’s death I had a lot of problems with food. It took me almost two months to make it back onto solid food, and I had lost nearly 20 lbs. Of course, as I know from previous failed starvation diet attempts simply depriving the body of food is a terrible way to lose weight and keep it off. I was expecting to gain approximately 2lbs for every pound I lost… and maybe that still will happen, but I hope not.

I took it easy getting back into food. The first foods I was able to eat were really crap high sodium soups like Lipton cup of soup. I gained five pounds of water retention almost right away. From there I worked my way up to soft foods like mushed up avocado… or to make it sound better “hurray for guacamole!”

Aside from the soups which had some noodles once I was off those I have more or less managed to stick with a paleo diet. Although I’ve decided not to worry about it too much when I eat out. I may have to re-think this if I eat out more frequently.

I gave myself two weeks to adjust to real food before deciding to actually start monitoring myself for any kind of weight loss. My weight did bounce around all over the place in the first week and started to stabilize in the second week. I realize a week is probably not enough time, but I need a starting point so I drew an arbitrary line in the sand on Monday.

And there it is: 225 lbs.

That is just over 10 lbs down in total. So it looks like I gained back half of my starvation diet weight.

This number feels odd to me right now. A year ago this would have been one of my heaviest weights of the past two years and would have me feeling bad about myself. But, coming down from 237.8 the comparatively lower 225 lbs feels good.

My clothes have returned to fitting, whereas at 237.8 I was beginning to feel like I would need to buy new sizes.

It also means I have met several rewards that I need to give myself:

1 lb – manicure – done!

2 lbs – lip / eye wax – done!

5 lbs – movie rental – done!

10 lbs – pedicure – need to do.

What About Exercise?

May 24, 2012

Diet and exercise.

Healthy Eating and Active Living.

They are almost always paired together. But, there is increasing evidence that it is diet, not exercise that plays the key role in weight loss.

I encountered this idea the first time I hired a personal trainer. At some point the trainer said something to the effect that weight loss was 80% diet and 20% exercise. More recently I’ve started to see numerous articles published citing that it is diet, not exercise that is key to weight loss.

MSNBC: Diet, not exercise plays a key role in weight loss.
Time Magazine: Why exercise won’t make you thin
Mayo Clinic: Better to cut calories or exercise more?
Guardian: Why exercise won’t make you thin

As this idea gets unpacked a familiar food-politics theme emerges: the role of the food industry in our health and nutrition. More specifically what the food industry will do to protect their profits at the expense of the health of the public.

Here are some more articles on this topic:

University of California Berkley: Lecture, Dr. Marion Nestle How The Food Industry Influences Diet and Health
How The Food Industry Influences Diet and Health (book)

One of the best examples I have seen recently of food-politics promoting exercise over nutrition is Coca-Cola Canada’s partnership with participACTION and sponsorship of  Sogo Active. This campaign promotes getting youth active.  It has great examples of programs that get youth active, but it completely fails to mention that drinking Coke is really bad for your health.

This is not to say that exercise is not important. Exercise does some pretty important things like: strengthens bones and muscles, improves mental health and mood, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer.

I will credit my reasonably active lifestyle with the fact that although I am in an obese BMI range I have not faced any serious health problems, or even minor health problems. Except for the fact that I am fat, I’m healthy. The fact that I’m healthy, and reasonably active led me to my own conclusions about the role of exercise in weight loss.

Each time I have tried to lose weight in the past I have included exercise as a key component of that weight loss. And, I have generally been more successful at getting myself active than I have at being mindful about what I am eating and how it is effecting me. My general assumption was that I don’t eat a lot of junk food (I think), and if I’m exercising everyday and eating reasonably ‘good’ foods then I should be able to lose weight.

Sadly, this has never, in ten years proved true. My assumption at this point for why this hasn’t works are two-fold.

First, I don’t think I have taken a close enough look at what it means to have a healthy relationship with food. To truly make a food lifestyle change. I’ll come back to this in other entries.

Second, I think that I am proving case in point that while exercise is good for my health, and is likely the reason I am as healthy as I am, it is not having any significant impact on my weight.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to give myself permission to shun all physical activity. I will however, be placing much more emphasis on learning to eat well, in a way that makes me happy, healthy and facilitates weight loss. I will not be putting a significant amount of emphasis on if I made it to this gym each morning.

Why Paleo?

May 17, 2012

I’ve mentioned the Paleo Diet in the last few entries without explaining why I’m trying it. If you want information that will tell you why it is awesome, or that it will help you shed pounds or feel better, increase muscle mass and cure your long term illnesses then you are looking for a different blog.

The reason I am interested in this diet is mostly pragmatic. I’m not supposed to eat dairy or gluten. The Paleo diet suggests you don’t eat dairy or grains… and a few other things. So, this is not about trying to strictly follow an ideological diet that I believe will produce particular tangible results for me. Instead it is about finding a food philosophy that other people are likely to recognize and publish recipes for, so that I can use their hard recipe work to make healthy meals for myself.

Food Acceptance and Food Allergies

May 10, 2012

When I first started thinking about this journey again the biggest question in my mind was what can I do differently this time that will help me succeed when I have failed so many times before. It was at this point that I came across the Fat Nutritionist. A friend of mine who also struggles with personal health and fitness issues introduced me to the blog via Facebook and I was hooked.

Instead of talking about what food you should and should not eat, she starts with going back to the basics of teaching yourself to eat again. Her main theory is that people who are over or under weight, have at some point, developed an unhealthy relationship with food. We have disconnected food from our body’s signals. We are no longer able to intuitively manage our relationship with food in a healthy way. So, instead of staring from a place of discussing what you should eat (and shouldn’t) she starts with instilling good eating habits.

The first and most important of her habits is permission. She has a few long entries on the subject of permission, I suggest you head over there to read them if you are interested. In a nutshell what it boils down to is the idea that so long as you are punishing yourself for what you are eating you are cultivating a negative relationship to food. Permission means acknowledging that you are giving yourself the permission to have the craving and satisfy the craving. You are not powerless over the chips, and you do not have to punish yourself for eating the chips.

From the concept of permission she works through a number of eating lessons that can help a develop a self-awareness of what I am eating, when I am eating it and why I am eating it.

All of this sounds really good, and I began to implement some of it. Specifically acknowledging and accepting my cravings, trying to be aware of my level of hunger or fullness and scheduling regular meal times.

I was also keenly aware that I fell into many of the traps she identified. Things like “the last supper syndrome” , blaming and shaming my food habits and more. So, I was thinking of joining one of her regular eating groups to get a handle on my eating.

There is however one complication: food allergies.

I have one anaphylaxis allergy – Pork

One long-time food allergy – Dairy

One newly diagnosed food intolerance – Gluten

Avoiding pork has never been much of an issue for me. Even once I started eating meat again after years of being vegan my meat is generally fish, chicken and sometimes beef.

Dairy has been more challenging. Because it is a non-life threatening allergy that generally just comes with a lot of discomfort and some ugly digestive side effects I sometimes allow dairy to slip into my diet. Sometimes cheesecake tastes good enough to take the pain.

A few years ago I was noticing even when I was not including dairy and was specifically avoiding it I was having similar digestive problems. At the worst a bad dairy attack can make me feel like I have a flu for up to 48 hours. And without the dairy I was still feeling the same. I eventually brought it up with my doctor who after some referrals for tests and nutrition tells me I’m also gluten intolerant. This is not good. Bread and Pasta are two of the great loves of my life.

So, I find myself in this odd space between trying to accept my food and food cravings while feeling resentful and limited in what I can actually eat and feel well. Enter the Paleo Diet.

Revisiting the plan

May 3, 2012

Before the grief there was a plan slowly starting to form.

While I am comfortable being a woman of size, I am not happy with my current size and it is beginning to effect my quality of life. I am not interested in becoming stick thin again or inviting the health and psychological problems of trying to get there.

The challenge I had put before myself was to lose weight and size slowly and incrementally. I wanted to do it this way so that I could:

  • Be evaluative of each step and when I felt good and wanted to stop,
  • Ensure that the slow approach would keep the weight that I lost off,
  • Not pressure myself to lose X lbs in Y time frame and beat myself up when that didn’t happen,
  • Truly evaluate what works for my body,
  • Explore what nutrition means to me, what tastes good to eat and what feels good in my body.

There were three main tools I had set up to try to achieve this.

1. Weight loss rewards

I have never been a rewards person, but I think this may have been a mistake. There is part of me that thinks that achieving a goal should be reward enough. However, my track record tells me that this is not enough for me. So, I set up a chart with a goal of a 20 lb weight loss. I set rewards at 1, 2, 5, 10, 15 and 20 lbs. The idea was to keep myself motivated and then evaluate at 20 lbs. Decide if I felt up to going for another 20 or if I wanted to simply try to maintain for some time. In this way the parameters were either weight loss that was not constricted by time, or time for maintenance with no weight loss expectation.

2. Self acceptance monitoring

This is harder to articulate as a tool. Although I am not comfortable with my current size I am comfortable being a woman of size. I like curves, breasts, hips, tummy and softness. I am also generally happy with my life and the parts that I am not happy with I feel that I can do something to change. Part of the slow incremental weight loss needs to be a mindfulness to keep an eye on my positive sense of self.

Wading into the weight loss challenge is a good way to turn negative. To start to degrade my body and my self. Some would see it as self empowerment, but I find this is only true while success is happening. If success is not a straight road – which it rarely is – then it is easy to slide into self depreciation. Once the downward cycle begins then it is hard to appreciate any success. Small success are no longer enough, it becomes a game of the long goal in the distance that is never achieved.

To help with self-acceptance I am making sure that I keep subscribing to Plus Model Magazine, which is where I get many of my images and keep reading size acceptance blogs.

3. Paleo Diet

Through various failed diets I have realized that I do need some guidance for what I put into my body and that guidance has to be more than calorie-based. I came to the idea of trying the paleo diet not from a weight loss perspective but from the ability to help me manage some of my food allergies and still eat a well balanced diet. It also promotes local food and seasonal food as well, and helps me increase my protein intake which I know is needed.

PLANNING IS FUN!

April 30, 2009

Sort of…

After two weekends of intense pain I slacked off from going to the gym on Tuesday (as planned). Wednesday was a triumph of backwards logic. After the Tuesday debacle I decided I would go to the gym Wednesday after my morning meeting. Morning meeting was cancelled, and thanks to some mental gymnastics this meant that I now couldn’t go to the gym as I somehow magically erased the two hours free time I had for the gym and ignored the extra two hours I was given…

So, I guilted myself back into the gym this morning. Yay me! Totally unplanned by the way.

I think it is now time to admit that I have taken on too much at the gym. I really like the New Rules of Lifting program and it is an intense work out. I can also feel how much is taken out of my body after that work out. So much so that doing a HIIT workout seems dreadful afterwards.

The double workout is also taking me much too long. It takes me two and a half hours from deciding to go to the gym to stepping out of the shower.

So… here is the new plan: TA DA!!!!

NROLFW up to three times per week. NROLFW must be spaced out by at least one day (i.e. M,W,F or T,TH,ST…. not M,T,W).

HIIT workouts up to three times per week. HIIT cannot be done in the same work out as NROLFW. Alternate between HIIT and NROLFW workouts so long as there has been a full day from the last NROLFW work out.

Three days per week at the gym = success (at least until the end of this 12-week period – June 27th, 2009).

So, my possible workout combinations could look like this:

Most Likely:

Monday: NROLFW
Tuesday: None
Wednesday: HIIT
Thursday: None
Friday: NROLFW
Saturday: None
Sunday: None

Moderate:

Monday: NROLFW
Tuesday: HIIT
Wednesday: NROLFW
Thursday: HIIT
Friday: NROLFW
Saturday: HIIT
Sunday: None

Too Ambitious

Monday Morning: NROLFW
Monday Evening: HIIT
Tuesday: HIIT
Wednesday Morning: NROLFW
Wednesday Evening: HIIT
Thursday: HIIT
Friday Morning: NROLFW
Friday Evening: HIIT
Saturday: HIIT
Sunday: Mental Breakdown

In general, assuming I keep my head about me, I think this is a better program, it will allow me to get the HIIT in and I could get it in on a NROLFW day, but later in the day if I want to. It also has the added benefit of shortening the actual gym time which will be necessary when I start my new “actually need to go into the office” job.