Results … Month #5

Results … Month #5 (Down 33.8 lbs)Results Month 5

Is this a diet that is beginning to fail or do I have a good excuse for such a modest loss in this, the 5th month of the program?

I’m going to claim that I’ve got a good excuse! And I will use that same excuse for being almost two weeks late in posting my weight loss for the previous month. I think I’ve just come through the most harrowing couple of months of my life. I’m not talking the extreme stress that might be the consequence of the loss of a loved one here. Nor am I talking financial ruin, nor any major health issue. What I am talking about is taking one of those life-changing decisions that saw me pick up all the dominoes & just toss them in the air!

In a nutshell, we decided to move to the coast. At the 11th hour, following a vacation, we changed direction & switched coasts! Our house sold quickly. With a short closing. And the maelstrom began. I won’t bore you with all the details but let me share one anecdote from the adventure that that typifies how totally upended our lives have become. En route to our new destination, we left our hotel room to eat. When we returned, the cat was missing! We were stressed enough already, this was just too much. Had housekeeping opened the door to let our moggie escape? After half an hour of searching the room, wandering the lobby and corridors of the hotel, we finally discovered our missing pet. She had, somehow, found a hole in the fabric of the box-spring and made her way inside the box-spring base of the bed!

Amid all the turmoil of fast-closing houses, finding a replacement home with a short closing was a huge challenge. Scheduling movers, cancelling services, signing up for new services, & all the stuff of moving are challenging at the best of times. Doing all that over long distances more so. Having to do everything under the pressure of such short, & tight, deadlines gave me an enduring dose of stress the like of which I had not experienced before. And it’s not over yet.

Needless to say, eating well ceased being a priority. And yes, I’ve eaten all the bad stuff you could imagine over the course of the past six weeks. I’ve had fish ‘n’ chips, Chinese take-out, & I’ve even eaten pizza, bread base & all. I’ve munched cookies & sucked on sweets to keep me alert as I’ve driven through snow storms. I’ve fallen down so many times that I can barely recognize which way is up any more. Mea culpa.

On the bright side, since I started this whole exercise, I have learned a lot about what & how I should be eating. And I seem to have developed a penchant for doing the right thing. Even under such pressure, I have a noticeable bias towards making better food choices. While bread is so easy to eat on the road, I veered towards better eating following every bread binge. While the sugar fixes kept me going on long drives, I tended to avoid sugar the following day. The upshot of it all is that I was down two pounds in a month of some serious stress, some serious dietary abuse, along with a total lack of routine & familiar surroundings.

All in all, given the circumstances, I’d say that my two-pound loss wasn’t all bad for that particular month.

Now, in advance, I’m trying to come up with an excuse for this month’s possibly disastrous outcome! And if our new appliances aren’t delivered before Christmas, it might be a turkey sandwich picnic on the beach for Christmas dinner! 🙂

PS … I carried the scale with me on the drive to our new home. The weight recorded is the weight on December 1st. My intentions were good!

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!

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! 🙂

The Chicken or the Egg?

SunriseWhen it come to what to eat, the short answer is both. But leave the skin on the chicken! That, however, isn’t the topic. Stress eating is. Do we eat because we’re stressed or depressed? Or does bad eating cause the stress & depression? That may be as difficult to answer as to whether the chicken or the egg came first.

One thing my wife knows for sure is that I’m a far nicer guy when I’m eating well. Now my own opinion is that I’m a nice guy regardless of my diet! But I have to admit … I do feel better when I’m eating well. I don’t mean that when I’m eating less, just when I’m eating real, whole, good food. The association between depression & diet is one that has long been made. Very often, studies are done on the basis of who’s funding what. Or which dietary program is trying to prove it’s the best. But long before diets were a marketable commodity, people realised that there was a dietary influence on mood.

I’ve been eating better for a month & a half now. Is it just coincidence that I’m getting up early, and far more often, to catch more sunrises? The therapeutic benefits of those early mornings by the water give me a shot of calm that endures for the greater part of most of those days. Feeling less stressed can help with weight loss too. Which of those came first? Did I have to be less stressed & depressed in order to jump out of bed early? Or did I overcome the “stuff” to get down to the water a time or two before the stress reduction cut in?

It’s all a bit circular, isn’t it? But it probably doesn’t really matter. Because the two things I am sure of are these …

I am better for eating better.

And I am better for the water & sunrise therapy.

I can highly recommend both. And if you didn’t make it up early today, here’s a pic of my morning sunrise for you. Don’t fret if you missed it, there’s always tomorrow.

And please … take a little time to enjoy your day.

Dancing With a Broken Knee

Dancing With a Broken KneeSalsa

It can’t be done at my weight! I have no clear recollection of where it comes from but I love Latin dance. Salsa, bachata & merengue, I love them all. After years of sporadic attendance at class, I’m still a beginner but I love it anyway. It just feels so good. I’ve also come to love the music. Though, as a fat older white guy, I’m sometimes a little self-conscious as I drive around; windows down & Enrique Iglesias or Romeo Santos blasting out at levels where I’m old enough to know better. I remember slow dancing at the disco to some of Enrique’s Dad’s songs! LOL

About a month ago, I blew out my knee. It’s not right yet & I am hopping around favouring the good one, so no dancing at the moment. Evening time is one of my greatest challenges when I try to lose weight. Lying on the couch, watching TV, is a recipe for failure. It’s one I keep on testing & it works every time: I snack & get fat! During most weight loss attempts, & when my legs worked, I’d pop on my headphones, head to the deck, & bop around for the duration of a song or two. Sometimes, the music would get to me & I’d abandon the TV, in favour of an hour of music listening.

Music has a lot to offer towards weight loss. Not only can it stave off a snack-attack, it gets us up & moving. I don’t think the calories burned make much of a contribution. Rather it’s the stress reduction that comes along with moving to, & listening to, the music.

I’d like to do more of this. And I’d really like my knee to get on with repairing itself. Dancing on two legs is challenging enough! 🙂