Results … Month #4

Results … Month #4

This is big. No … it’s huge. Results Month 4

And I’m now a little less huge after 4 months of this DIY hybrid diet!

Only avid students of diet might understand how big this is but let me see if I can explain.

This past month, the 4th month of my weight loss attempt, probably qualifies as one of my top 10 more stressful months. The physiological response to stress inhibits weight loss. And as most overweight people can attest, one of our typical responses to stress is to seek comfort in food. And I did that. I lost weight while under a burden of stress, and I was stress-eating. But I still lost some weight. If I wasn’t so stressed, this would be cause for great jubilation and celebration. Instead, this morning, I am simply grateful.

The other big thing about this is that I lost weight in the 4th month of a diet. Many of my previous weight loss efforts resulted in a plateau far earlier in the attempt. More often than not, the first plateau hits after about two months. Many times, this is justification for bailing on the diet. On those fewer occasions where I successfully made it past the 2 month mark, there is less doubt that a stall would have occurred in the 3rd month. And it was pretty much guaranteed to have happened by the 4th month. But not this time. And I’m not being cocky here, quite the contrary, I’m now stressed about when that stall will finally happen!

My regular reader might attribute this month’s loss to that 4 day fast I did during the 2nd week of the month, but that’s not the case. Whether it was stress, or a reaction to the extended fast, I pretty much binged ’til I regained almost all the losses resulting from that fast. And I then spent the rest of the month getting to this morning’s weight. Which is still slightly above my post-fast weight. I’m not discounting the value of an extended fast for weight loss. But I think I’ll wait for a more serene month before attempting another!

I should also disclose that I didn’t eat particularly well this month. There were more French fry days than I would have liked. I was adding more chocolate, much of it not the dark stuff, to my home made ice cream. And there were more ice cream days than a better planned month might have had. My body was screaming out for something green and I think I had my first salad of the month yesterday! Looking for the positives in all this chaos, the program seems pretty robust. If I can lose weight during times like this, while eating that poorly, this might be a good diet for me. Real life carries on, regardless of our weight loss goals. And we need a diet that can handle real life.

I’m not taking it to the bank yet though, who knows what pitfalls lie ahead. I’m expecting November to match the past month for having to worry about things. Hopefully, some solutions will fall into to place and all will turn out well. But if not, I hope the diet continues to do its thing for the next month regardless.

Wish me luck!

Speaking of luck & diet … I don’t think I’ll go Trick-or-Treating tonight! 🙂

And a Happy Halloween to all!

WHEN Should We Eat?

WHEN Should We Eat?

Time to Eat

Time to Eat!

There is a growing body of research that supports the old saw about doing breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Along with its impact on sleep, circadian rhythms, and so on, the mounting evidence suggests that we handle food better when we eat early too. A meal eaten in the morning doesn’t cause as big an insulin release as that very same meal eaten in the evening. Having lower insulin levels present at bed time allows our body to get into recovery mode more rapidly. And likely with greater potential for weight loss.

Last week, I had the good fortune to meet up with an old work buddy that I hadn’t seen for a while. He looked pretty trim. While he and I have battled the bulge for as long as we’ve know each other, to my wry eye, he never really put on very much weight! And when he puts his mind to it, I’m guessing he wins far more willpower-dependent dietary battles than I do too.

We didn’t get an opportunity to speak about diet during our get together but we emailed back and forth later. Turns out that he’s been using an “eat early” fasting strategy. Doing a more restrictive version of something our grandmothers might have recommended: eating a large breakfast, a small lunch, but no dinner. And he is quite adamant about eating nothing after 5:00pm. But he also mentions that, while this dietary approach has worked best for him over time, it is beginning to feel like a losing battle. His parting comment was this …

I know, it’s brutal … and the plan will start cracking over holidays, during birthdays and tradeshows!!!

I get that!

My friend’s program is essentially an 18:6 fasting regimen, done the right way up. I have gone through periods doing something similar. However, I do my eating in the evening! Mine is more like a 20:4 schedule where I skip breakfast and lunch, then I eat dinner, with seconds, sometimes thirds, and more often than I should, dessert. But all in a four hour block between 6:00pm & bedtime. Did my upside-down version work?

Despite the added insulin it might produce, and even with that shot of the fat storage hormone coming at the worst time of day, it did. I like eating in the evening and that’s what I mostly choose to do. Could I have lost more weight, or at least more rapidly, doing it my friend’s way?

Probably.

But I generally don’t find my way of eating to be brutal!

And that might be a bigger deal than just about any other when it comes to long term adherence to a diet. There are so many ways we can derail ourselves that we should take advantage of all the bright spots. Imperfect though they might be.

As it happens, I have a celebratory work lunch on the menu later today. While I’m happy with my coffee and cigarette for breakfast, maybe I’ll stop eating after lunch today. Just to see how I fare. And to feel, just briefly, how my friend might feel all at time.

There is nothing like variety when it comes to diet and weight loss! 🙂

Stress & Weight Gain

Stress & Weight Gain

Hunt & Gather

Hunt & Gather!

I seem to need a little stress in my life to overcome procrastination. I loudly proclaim how much I detest deadlines. They are never far enough out to allow me to get things done, perfectly, before the due date pops up on my calendar. But the reality is that I seem to need deadlines to get stuff done. Maybe hard deadlines aren’t the best choice when it comes to diet and weight loss.

A little stress may have some motivational value. But too much stress is not constructive. And it doesn’t look like it helps me much, when it comes to hitting a goal on the scale. Quite the contrary, it can promote weight gain. My recent adventure with fasting illustrates the point well. I’ll save the actual numbers for the month-end review (one of those deadlines I like so much!) but I can tell you that I lost a big chunk of weight during my four-day fast. Yes, of course there was water loss. But I know there was fat loss too. By some twist of fate, I found myself under some heavy-duty stress during the fast. And it increased immediately following the fast. It was nothing to do with the fast, it was just a perfectly timed little stress-storm, coming from both the work and home fronts.

Among other things, stress produces a hormonal cascade of cortisol and adrenaline to help us do what our ancestors had to do in times of stress. Back in our caveman days, some might have grabbed a spear and went out to do battle with the saber-toothed tiger. While others made the choice to run away, hoping they weren’t the slowest runner in the group! It’s the fight or flight response. The hormonal rush gives us a big sugar boost, to meet that high energy demand, in times of stress.

Today, in times of stress, we tend to grab the tub of ice cream and plonk ourselves on the couch for comfort. And no, I didn’t totally lose it after the fast … I only ate my homemade, no-added-sugar ice cream! I actually ate almost-kinda-somewhat reasonably well in those days following the fast. But I tried to handle my stress by stuffing my face, while lying on the couch. This isn’t the best way to handle stress. I got away with it for the first couple of post-fast days, but the scale punished me badly for a few days after that.

I really do know better. But the stress burden somehow prevented me getting out. And I didn’t even have to worry about battling any saber-toothed tigers. Just a leisurely little walk by the water would have done wonders.  That’s not what I did, of course. And as I indulged in my awful, modern, couch-based, stress-handling technique, I restored about 75% of the fasting losses.

I’m just going to make believe that it’s mostly water gain! And that doesn’t count, right!?!?

Do as I say. Not as I do! 🙂

A Lifetime Achievement Award

A Lifetime Achievement Award

Greek Salad Fast Breaker

Was so looking forward to eating that I forgot to take the pic before diving in! Oops!

I gave myself a lifetime achievement award yesterday … and the reward was one of my childhood favourites: egg ‘n’ chips for dinner, three fried eggs and the entire basket of French fries. All for me! This was followed by an utterly decadent blueberry ice-cream, with chocolate. Then I ate the rest of the chocolate bar!

Why this self-bestowed award?

Because I did my longest fast ever. At 89 hours, I was mere hours short of having not eating anything … zero, nada, nothing … for 4 full days. I had absolutely nothing but water, carbonated water and coffee the entire time. This all came about from doing the one day fast I spoke of in the last post. I’m not sure what came over me but, having done the one day, I just felt compelled to go for the second. Somehow, that managed to turn into this four-day thing.

So how did it feel?

Day 1 was, as you might expect, a day of thinking about not eating. Which meant I was only thinking about eating! The first half of Day 2 was about the same. But by the afternoon of the second day, there were no hunger pangs. No desire to eat. Not even when smelling and seeing the curry fried rice, the pulled pork sandwiches, and who know what else I had to watch everyone else eat during that time. Once my body started supplying its energy needs from my very ample storage depots, the feeling was … one of almost ecstasy, freedom, liberation, I don’t know. But it was something that left me feeling unshackled. And I was bright, alert and doing everything I had to do. And no, I wasn’t irritable and grumpy. Though you might need to get some external corroboration on that last one!

Due to the attendant water and electrolyte losses, I was adding pink Himalayan salt to my coffee on the 2nd and subsequent days. This will sound crazy but you should try your favourite coffee with a little salt and some heavy cream, it’s really good! Or maybe not if you’re already eating the high-salt diet that comes along with eating processed foods. Though perfect for the first two days, I was sneaking in a little cream by the 3rd day. By mid-morning on the 4th day, I was feeling a little light-headed. I did a couple of salted coffees but it wasn’t working. I decided to break the fast and have lunch. I had intended to have bacon and eggs at a local diner, though I hadn’t quite decided on whether or not to have the home fried potato too. But as we took our seats, a ginormous Greek salad was delivered to an adjacent table and I switched to that. The bacon was still on my mind though, so I added a side order of bacon to be crumbled atop it! The dinner and dessert we spoke of earlier followed later.

So what was the outcome?

From a weight standpoint, you’ll have to wait and see … I only log numbers at the end of each month! But I feel I have opened a new door with this longer fast. One not only with weight-loss potential, but with other potential health benefits too. Perhaps for the body and the mind.

Keeping Busy When Fasting?

Keeping Busy When Fasting?

One Pot Cooking - Beef Roast

One Pot Cooking – Forgot to take a pic of the ham, oops! This is a beef roast that received similar treatment. Clean-up is a breeze! The fat is in there because of the Omega 3 content in grass-fed beef. And it’s so tasty!

I thought I’d try a fast day at the weekend. My fast days are typically shortened when I give in to temptation and eat dinner in the evening. That’s not all bad but, every now and again, I would like to do a full wake cycle fast. Aside from weight loss, there are supposed to be all sorts of health benefits associated with fasting and I wanted some of that. I started out the day committed, very committed. But then don’t I always! 🙂

I knew I needed to keep busy and watching soccer on TV is not keeping busy. Knowing you can’t eat is exactly what triggers thinking about food. Almost non-stop. It’s the old story about what happens when someone tells you to not think about the elephant! I wondered if I could turn that around and use it to get a positive result.

And so, I decided to spend my free time cooking!

I had a nice ham in the fridge. Pasture raised pork, what could be better? I’m not a fan of clean up so most of my cooking happens in a single pot or pan. One Pot Cooking has been a thing for me since my school years. I browned a chopped onion and half a dozen cloves of garlic in olive oil first. Tossed in the ham and covered it with two liters of organic chicken broth (what can I say, again it was all I had to hand, that’s bulk buying for you), a little rosemary, salt and pepper. Now I had some food to focus on!

This thing bubbled along its merry way for about 4 hours before I lifted it out and put it on a plate to settle. It was falling off the bone tender and it smelled so delicious. While everyone else enjoyed their meal, I was eyeing up the pot of liquid. A few more chopped onions, three diced potatoes, and a bag of frozen peas later, the pot was bubbling again. A tablespoon of curry powder and another of coriander, along with a couple of habanero peppers from the garden, and my nose told me I was done. When it had done its thing, a few minutes bouncing the hand blender off the bottom of the pot gave me this luxuriously thick, heavy soup. I added back some of the shredded ham to finish it off.

What do you think I did next?

I apportioned the whole pot to a set of containers and stuck ’em all in the freezer. Along with the rest of the ham.

But I made it through one complete fast day without anything other than coffee and water. The answer to the opening question is that to avoid eating on a fast day … I cook!

Attaboy Paul!!!