A Personal Experiment

I am almost afraid to put this out there.

If you began reading this blog in the early days….you know that it began because I wanted to “get back in control”, find the fit version of myself again, feel better, lose weight, and …I guess just feel better in my own skin again.

I began with increasing my exercise regimen and maintaining better consistency with it and going on a strict calorie restricted diet.

The results were both “successful” and disastrous. I induced a round of relatively severe depression that reminded me of my teen years, a level of depression over a longer time period that I have not experienced in a long time, despite the “success” on the scale and “feeling good” about my weight.

Oops.

Anyway, based on my research, I know/believe that the disastrous part of my diet was due to severe fat deprivation (best way to reduce calories is to cut out the fat-or so I thought).

So….here goes. A personal experiment and terrifying proposition, let me just flip what I did on it’s head and see how that goes? *note- I make it sound like a willy-nilly, uneducated idea but I actually did serious reading and research and made a well thought out decision….I hope?

What I am about to do:

1. I will STOP weighing myself for 3 months. Just saying that scares me. Like, nail biting, white-knuckled, I don’t know if I can do that, addiction level fear.

And that’s exactly why I should do it. After 3 months, I will have to decide to weigh or not weigh…and I am genuinely curious about how I feel when it comes time.

Instead, I will measure the success of this new…plan, by how it makes me feel. How does my body feel? Energized, tired, good, yucky? How does my mind feel? Negative, positive, happy, sad, calm, anxious, relaxed, upbeat, depressed?

And, I will judge my “weight loss” by how my body feels in my clothes, how my muscles show or don’t show. I would say how it looks, but I have a wee problem there. I see myself in a disordered way, so judging that way is potentially a slippery slope. I don’t want to start a new obsession standing naked in front of a mirror analyzing each part…that’s even more disordered than standing naked on a scale staring at a number.

2. I will NOT count calories. Again….kind of scares me. But, did you know the “calorie count” of foods has absolutely ZERO relative accuracy to how the body metabolizes and uses the energy stored in food? For example: 5 different foods can be “200 calories” and all 5 have a different level of actual cellular energy created when digested and metabolized in the body. Is it possible that the entire idea of a calorie as we know it….is stupid? Maybe.

I will (Again, this is based on sound research not just a wild hair of an idea):

*eat as much healthy fats as I feel like and make a point to eat a lot more than what I have been doing. No, I will not make Keto balls of coconut oil and butter…that is a bit silly in my opinion.

>healthy fats = organic and/or grass fed butter, coconut oil and coconut cream(hello Thai curry, here I come!), extra virgin olive oil(but never heated, used raw), nuts, cheese, avocado, and eggs (I do love eggs, eggs are yummy).

I will generally avoid all other vegetable oils and spreads, especially the highly toxic heated versions. Say goodbye to all commercially fried foods (don’t like em anyway), and all products with soybean oil (almost anything in a package that isn’t an even more toxic non-fat product). Note: I’ve noticed that soybean oil makes me feel sick…for good reason. I suggest you do your research on soybean oil….and then avoid it.

*I will avoid sugar and grain products. Not exactly low carb, but very close to it. I will eat some beans and limited fruit (So that’s why technically not low carb).

*I will continue to enjoy unlimited veg. I love veggies and think they are the one food no one has ever demonized.

So….universally accepted as healthy eats.

Gotta say, I’m looking forward to a handful (or several) of nuts and some cheese when I’m hungry and need a snack.

*I will eat as much or as little meat as I want, and eat meats I enjoy. I will NOT eat ground turkey and chicken breasts instead of beef, if beef is what I want to eat. I will eat ground turkey or chicken when and if that’s what I want to eat. I will still avoid processed meats due to their toxic nature, and I find them yucky anyway.

>I will continue to seek out organic and grass fed versions, for obvious reasons.

*I will eat when hungry, stop when not hungry. I will NOT eat dinner if I’m not hungry just because I am supposed to eat dinner. If I’m hungry, I will eat. If I’m not hungry, I won’t eat. If I’m satiated, I will stop eating even if there’s still food on my plate.

*I will avoid alcohol.

*I will have a weekend night where I “just don’t worry about it” and eat or drink whatever I feel like, nobody likes feeling deprived. And, if I crave pasta all week, it is easier to tell myself I will wait for Friday than to tell myself I can’t eat pasta. Same goes for a jelly doughnut (truth- haven’t had or wanted one of those is years, but I do love a good chocolate old-fashioned once in while).

3. I will continue to exercise most days and include a lot more muscle building more consistently. I will still run, but I won’t necessarily push for miles. I will explore and enjoy other activities that keep me active but aren’t formal exercise.

4. I will keep a daily log of how it’s going. Food/activity record plus how I feel each day-mostly for research purposes. I want to observe any possible relationships between my eating and activities and how I feel both physically and mentally.

5. I will reserve one day each weekend for complete rest. No yard work, significant housework, workout….etc. real physical rest.

So….here goes.

*I will do initial weight and body measurements, just so I have the option to quantify results after 3 months. After today/tomorrow I will refrain from weighing or measuring until November 1st.

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Ha! Doing push ups and dips while walking the Camino de Santiago del Norte?

In my last post I imagined that I would do push ups and dips and ab work each day while walking the Camino.  I want to laugh so hard at that!

See, the Camino is hard. HARD. And I get plenty upper body and core work lifting (several times each day) and carrying (for 10-15 miles each day) my 20 pound backpack.  Push ups and dips…what was I thinking?

The Camino kicks my butt every day.  That is enough for me, thank you very much.

I have been making 95% healthy choices and 5% enjoying something as a reward for my hard work.  I find ways every day to get veggies and protein despite the fact that I’m not eating much.  Walking the Camino leaves you so exhausted you really only have the energy to eat one meal a day.

Something I’ve noticed: hiking at home usually involves lots of rest stops every few miles and trail mix and energy bars.  Most of us (including me) walk 10-15 miles minimum each day, carry heavy packs…and barely stop, rarely eat.

I find I rest every 6 miles or so (a 10 min rest after 2 hours of hiking), my “snack” is usually to stop at a bar for a coffee with milk.  I carry nuts and fruit, but rarely eat it on the trail (usually end up having these snacks instead of dinner).

I might be losing some weight…judging by how my body feels and my daily tightening of my pack straps.  But, I have no access to a scale, nor do I want one.  Maybe I will try to go 6  months without weighing myself.  That thought is both terrifying and liberating.  The fact that it scares me is, in itself, scary.  What does it say about me?

Anyway…if you are interested in reading about my daily progress on the Camino…

Travel blog

 

 

 

 

 

It has been awhile, for some reasons

I’m not fully aware yet of all the reasons, but they will bubble up to the surface eventually. If I mixed up all the various things 1cup depression, 2 cups disillusionment, a gallon of disappointment, and a pinch of wtf and make a cake with it, I would call the cake “withdrawal”.

I withdrew and curled back up into myself. Sharing out via the blog got blocked by some internal force that said “Not now”. I had moments of peeking my head out, but then just didn’t quite get the courage again until now. Needless to say, probably, is that my strict diet went out the window, but that is probably a good thing. I did gain about 4 pounds right away, then a slow creeping up….eventually I gained back 13 of the 21 I had lost.

I’m not quite sure where I am with the fitness and weight loss stuff, still feeling discouraged and a little reluctant. I very much want to find that delicate balance between being successful in the short term, sustaining long term healthy weight, and to do all of that in a health-focused way. My workouts have still been steady-ish but I have 1-2 missed days every week. My eating has still been “mostly healthy” in my head at least, but I do wonder sometimes if the “mostly” is a lie I tell myself. Do I still intend to eat lots of veggies and healthy fats? Yes, but do I actually do that consistently? Maybe not as much as I think?

I do wonder now why weight is creeping on, it feels like I get VERY little wiggle room in what I do. Like pounds are there waiting for me and the slightest break in my resolve results in a siege. So….an endless work in progress. And right now, I am still processing and coming up with how I want to address/attack it this time.

But……part of why I am here on the blog again is that I am traveling again for the summer😁. Currently in Bilbao, Spain and on Monday resuming my walk on the Camino de Santiago del Norte. If you’re interested in my daily exploits or reading about my adventures and misadventures from last summer, please visit and follow my other blog: travel blog

What I do understand is that my relationship to food and to my body is disordered. What name you give it, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anyway. What is true is that I do not have a healthy view or relationship with my body and I have “issues” with food.

However, the reality is this for me: it seems like obsessing over food and exercise is necessary if I don’t want to go back to being over 300 pounds. If and when I stop obsessing, I gain weight slowly but surely.

The question now is not how to stop….maybe someday I will get there…but the question for me right now is how to channel the obsession in a way that is as healthy as possible (both for mental and for physical health).

For the next couple of weeks, I will be walking the Camino de Santiago del Norte, and exercise won’t be a problem. I will be hiking 10-15 miles most days carrying a 20 pound backpack. I would like to also do some pushups, dips, and ab work each day too. Hmm, if I don’t make a specific plan/goal it definitely won’t happen…So I guess I need to come up with one.

Each day I will: do 40 pushups, 20 dips…abs might be a challenge because I need a space to lie down and that might be difficult depending on my accommodations. If I find floor space for abs, I’ll do some yoga too.

I did bring my vitamins, greens powder and protein powder….despite trying to keep my pack lighter I did “splurge” on weight for these items. At least it means my pack will get marginally lighter each day.

Anyway, onward and forward!

Fat: why not getting enough of it is a serious health risk, my story and what I found out about fat intake

My last post mentioned a revelation I had about my diet and how maybe I was getting too much protein and not enough fat….

I’ve been looking into this and the realizations have been profound.

First, I was in my 20’s during the apex of the “low-fat” craze.  The “lower-fat is always better” mentality got ingrained, even after I learned that fat isn’t bad and that most of the reasoning behind the low-fat mentality has been disproved and debunked.

Still, many health websites and recommendations mention limiting fat intake for a healthy diet.  The one big exception is the Keto folks.

Anyway, in my quest to limit calories and up my protein intake, I cut fat even further down….way down….too far down.   I got less than 20g of fat most days since January and probably still less than 40g of fat before then for a long time.  So that you know, a “low-fat” diet is considered limiting fat to 50g per day.

It turns out, eating that little fat is bad.  There is actually a REAL problem with not eating enough fat, lots of problems actually.  There’s even something called “Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency” where you don’t eat enough of the “essential fats”.  Those would be the Omega 3’s and 6’s.  They are essential because our bodies can not make them and we do need them to function.  (Just like the essential amino acids that most of you know all about).

It turns out, my list of developing health concerns and odd observations of my body and mind….line up with every single symptom I found on the effects of not eating enough fat.

These include:

*unrelenting hunger/craving even when “full”

*extremely dry skin, eyes, and other mucous membranes

*poor temperature regulation/always cold

*Specifically: dry cracking skin on lower extremities

*Hormone disruption and irregularity

*extreme mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory problems

*depression

*physical fatigue

*sore joints and muscles

Some personal notes:

Dry skin: About a year ago (maybe more), I started noticing an odd crackling pattern in my skin on both of my shins.  It looked like the dry cracked earth in the bottom of a dry creek bed.  It wouldn’t go away no matter how much coconut oil and other lotions I rubbed in.  I never suspected it was diet related…I saw “clinical fat deficiency” pictures of “lower extremity dryness”…it looked like someone snuck in and took pictures of my legs.  So THAT’s what that WAS?!  Since increasing my fat intake -it improved immediately and it is still present but is almost gone.

When I starting adding fat…in the shower one day I suddenly exclaimed, “oh, my GOD my skin is SO SOFT!”  I was so shocked that I called my husband in and said, “feel my skin!”  He said, “damn, your skin hasn’t been that soft in a long time”.

Hormone disruption: lately my cycles have me telling friends “I feel like a cat being swung around by it’s tail!” and have also described my cycle as “Mr. Toad’s wild ride”  Since I’m 46, I thought…here it comes…the dreaded change.  It is too early to tell, but could some of that be hormone disruption I was experiencing from fat deficiency? (I HOPE so, since eating more fat will help make it better if that is the cause.  If not, then I guess I have to “batten down the hatches!” cause that storm’s a-coming.)

Poor temperature regulation:  Up until recently, I was a “warm” person.  You know, there’s those people who are always cold/never warm, then there’s people who are always warm/never cold.  I was the always warm and never cold type.  I wore shorts in the winter, overheat easily in summer, positively WILT if it is over 95 degrees outside.  Except, this winter I could not get warm.  I was cold, even in a hot bath…cold from the inside-out.  I couldn’t seem to get warm.  Now I know why.

Mental fatigue/memory/concentration: I’m generally pretty sharp, focused, and quick-witted.  I considered my mind one of my greatest assets.  But lately? Issues there across the board.  Trouble concentrating, “can’t think” , making odd distracted math errors, stumbling on my words, blanking out…I was really worrying and wondering what the hell was wrong with me.  I had scary fears that I would maybe develop dementia like my mom, when did her’s start?, etc…

Since eating more fat…it’s like a thick brain fog is clearing.  My mental clarity, sharpness, and concentration is coming back, I feel like I’m firing on all cylinders again.

Fatigue:  I felt like I had the flu, bone-deep tired.  I would get tired more easily than normal and need to rest more often.  I thought, “is this me getting old?”

Since more fat…more energy, more “get-up-and-go”, more “motivated”, less tired.

Sore joints and muscles:  I’ve been more sore lately (often for no good reason) and developing some joint pains.  Not sure if upping my fat intake will help, this one is on “see what happens” status.

Depression: you may have read about my recent struggles in previous blog posts.  I have had more difficulty with depression in the past 5 years in general, but the worst bout of it was recently, not long after this new “diet” started.  Again, I’ll have to see what happens, but I can say I feel more like my normal self since I increased my fat intake.  I simply feel better.  Will it last?  Hard to say, but I guess it is another “see what happens” moment.

 

So, we will see what happens, but I can see and feel the difference since I stated eating more fat and the improvements have been dramatic.  So, for me the conclusion is that I was definitely not eating enough fat and many of my health issues were or likely were caused by not getting enough fat.

Oh, and I read many articles and websites the course of my personal research.  This one is a must-read for everyone!

 

 

 

 

The Body’s Wisdom: a story of too much protein not enough fat? Too much not listening when my body says “something ain’t right!”

This is one of those…where do I begin? posts.

As you may know, I started this new phase in January and began this blog as part of that.  My first post  explains where and how I came to that place, including my gastric-bypass and long history with weight and body image issues.

I felt pretty good…for about 3 weeks.

I had some things right, and some things possibly very wrong.  Knowing myself, I went “all-out” at the beginning (right).  I decided to only give myself one rest day a week at first (right), but then carried that out for several weeks (wrong).  I didn’t set a pre-decided time limit on when I would scale back to “reasonable” limits (wrong).  So, every time my body said “TIRED!” I ignored it and kept pushing (obviously wrong).  I pushed until my physical and mental status declined terribly.

Oh, but wait, there’s more.

See, I had a misguided idea that more protein is better, always better.  You can’t eat too much protein.  I designed my food plan to limit daily intake to about 1200 calories with what ended up being about 120g of protein most days.  This is the upper end of what some say bodybuilders should eat and double what the “don’t eat too much protein” people would recommend.

Another GIANT mistake was not caring about the other macro’s (fat and carbs), I just cared about maximizing protein and minimizing calories.  It turns out, in my quest to keep calories low and protein high, I was minimizing fat.  Not because I believe in a low-fat diet (I know better than that!), but because of the misguided ideas above.

 

The combination of all this meant that, as the weeks went on, I felt shittier and shittier.  Physically and mentally I declined.  Slowly at first, the rapidly.

What I now realize/believe is that I was going into an inflammatory state and that caused several “symptoms” like:

*my joints started hurting and getting sore – more than what would be “normal” for me.

*I felt terrible, my energy bottomed out, and I felt like I had the flu all the time.

*My muscles would get extremely sore for no good reason – even light workouts would leave me very sore sometimes…and it took me twice as long to recover.  Once, a light leg workout left me unable to walk right for TWO days.  What I did should not have left me sore at all…much less hobbling for two days.

*I started getting very depressed, WAY more/worse than what I would call “usual” for me.  I wondered why I suddenly struggled so much more and worse than normal for me.

*I daily had the thought, “what the heck is wrong with ,me!?”

See….my body sent out the signals louder and stronger every day “something ain’t right!”

But I didn’t listen…so I just kept feeling worse and worse.

Then I just happened to do some reading about eating too much protein.  I wondered about it.  I experimented this week with cutting back on protein…and began feeling better.  I looked at my eating plan this weekend.

I read something about how too much protein combined with not enough fat can be disastrous for your body.  I decided to see how much fat I was actually consuming in my plan.  I did the math….OH CRAP.  I was eating less than 30g of fat a day, most days hovering close to about 20.  Even a “low-fat” diet says 50g a day, I was less than half that most days!

So, I made some adjustments.

*I  upped the calories to 1400-1500, which is more reasonable for my activity levels AND still a deficit so I can lose that last 10 pounds.

*I cut protein down to about 70-75g per day.

*I upped my fat intake to 45-55g per day (maybe still too low but better!)

*I added a rest day on Wednesdays (now 2 days rest per week).

*I am remembering the importance of the mind and making meditation an important component of the plan.

 

So far, I am already feeling MUCH better overall.  I felt better on my run yesterday than I have felt in a while!  When I woke up feeling yucky today (my husband and I both seem to be coming down with a cold), I did some of my workout to see how I would feel (body work, then a 1.5 mile run) and I could tell my body was really saying “not today” after about a mile, so I headed home early.

I will keep trying to listen to my body and stop over-riding it’s wisdom.  Let’s see how this goes over time….

Flight of the Bumblebee…

I realized suddenly today that my life and mind feel like the flight of the bumblebee lately…

A video that pretty much sums it up.

Can you believe that I forgot about meditation?  Seriously, I got/get so caught up in it all that I forget that meditation can help, can cure what ills me.

I’ve been spinning around with:

*a significant home renovation project (this week half the house was covered in plastic as the walls and ceilings got “put back” with drywall) , now we have what furniture didn’t get moved into the garage last weekend covered in plastic as we begin priming ceilings and walls…

*trying to keep up with a daily workout regimen and making “eating plan” meals…

*trying to keep the house in livable condition while “everything is everywhere”

*calling the vet about the skin issues my young Doberman is having that are driving her and everyone crazy..

*speaking of said young Doberman…trying to keep up with the SAGA of destruction of this dog.  Seriously….she ATE two, yes TWO, pool vacuums, EVERY sprinkler head in the backyard, she manages to move 50lb rocks we strategically placed to prevent her from digging in certain “favorite” spots…then she digs it all out.  It feels like a full-time job just trying to have a yard that doesn’t look like a war-zone with an increasingly green pool.

*teaching full-time while serving as Union rep, on the school Site Council, being the senior class advisor, helping to start the new music club/choir….and trying to keep up with planning and grading, keeping up with the constant revolving door of kids going out on “independent study” (read as: parents wanted to take 2 week vacation during school because it is cheaper).

*working with my sister to deal with and find solutions for my mom’s advancing dementia and my aging dad being overwhelmed by her needs.  This included spending an entire Saturday deep-cleaning their kitchen and bringing dinner and visiting every Wednesday – helping with chores and things while there.

*designing a new camper van that I wish I had time to actually buy and work on! (gotta have something FUN to think about!)

 

I kept feeling like I need rest.  I need a break…I want to just run away from it all and live in a hut in the forest! (or in a van down by the river!)

Today, I remembered meditation…but I thought of it a new way.  “Mental REST”

I realize….I have rested my body (not enough, but some).

But, I haven’t “rested” my mind.  It just works and works and works, crunching away on one problem after another…finding solutions, making plans, realizing new problems, trying to find solutions for those, remembering this appointment, and then that thing that needed to get done yesterday and this other thing I need to do right now, and then…and then…and then…and then…and OH crap I’m late for ___!  Shit, I forgot to___, Damn, I can’t do ___right now, because that ___is in “emergency” status!

Calgon, take me AWAY!

Then…today I remembered meditation.  I said, let me just take a “mind break” and just let all this shit go for a minute.

I did a favorite exercise that I developed some time ago (and forgot about):

I breathed in and said “rest” to my mind.

I breathed out and saw my breath as a gentle breeze blowing thought my brain and clearing out all the “dust and clutter”.

With each “rest” breath, that gentle breeze blew out just a little more “mental dust” (thoughts)…I know one breath won’t blow it all away…but each breath blows just a few more granules…after a few breaths my mind feels…cleaner.  All those thoughts are miles away, blown far away on that gentle breeze of my breath.

I find some clarity again, less rushing around in there, less making everything such a big deal, more letting go.

And suddenly this little bumblebee finds a nice little flower to rest on and laughs at all the insanity (instead of finding myself all caught up in it).

 

 

Having it vs. MAKING it.

Time, energy,  motivation, you name it.  Is it about having it? Or making it?

This post is inspired by the thought I had about 5 minutes ago, “I need to post something new on my blog, but I don’t have the time.”

Don’t have Time? Nah, that’s the lie I told myself.  I haven’t made time for it.  I have time, lots of it.  I’ve just been choosing to allocate it in ways that puts this blog thing at a lower priority.  Which is fine, it’s just better to be honest with myself.  I have the time.

We lie to ourselves often.  It makes things easier to swallow, I guess.  It’s easier to say you don’t have the time or have the energy to do something, than to deal with knowing you choose to not make the time or save the energy for it.

Even when something is a priority, it doesn’t mean it is enough of a priority to get past every single obstacle in the way to getting there.

When you’re life gets too full of priorities, you end up having to….prioritize your priorities!  The reality is that we are human and our capacity to make something “top priority” is pretty limited.

So,what am I saying?  I don’t really know…just that I feel a little overwhelmed sometimes by all these priorities clamoring for my time, energy, and attention.

Sorry, blog…you got bumped down the list lately.

Weight loss update: meh. I have stayed the same for a bit (both good and bad news).

I am on and off lately…trying to be more on than off…but struggling with it.  I got exhausted.  Funny, when I, as a person with depression problems, get tired….I have lots of worries about it.  Oh no! Am I getting depressed? Am I just tired? Maybe I’m getting the flu? Or, am I over-training? How do I interpret this feeling in my body and how should I best respond?

See, if tired = sick or overtrained, then REST is the cure.

If tired = early mild depression, then PUSH THROUGH is the cure.

The misery of that….is completely opposite responses.  Misdiagnosing the cause and responding incorrectly could mean making it much much worse. 😕

How am I to know what kind of tired it is?