Friday, July 23, 2010

Week 10: A Little Bit of This, A Whole Lot of That

A quick update on Week 10 nutrition...

I started integrating carbs back into my diet in a very controlled way. Brown rice was first - with no problem - and oatmeal was second. Also no problem.

Meals are way more frequent, and much smaller. I'm eating five times a day with small servings of protein (3 0z), brown rice (1/2 cup), and green vegetables (plain, unlimited). I start the day with 1/2 cup oatmeal, a half scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of flax oil or coconut oil.

My exercise program has completely changed. I eliminated all cardio except for 40 minutes of high intensity interval training one time each week. I'm focusing my efforts on weight training and taking a day off with yoga or pilates.

I feel good. The scale is down seven pounds (although it doesn't matter) and I'm down a dress size and even bought a child's size swim shirt last week. I'm pretty much ready to throw on a bikini for my upcoming vacation.

But I can't eat like this forever.

For one, it's boring. Rice, chicken and salmon are great. But four times a day? Not so much.
It's also time consuming. If I'm leaving the house for any length of time, I have to tote food with me. Cold rice and cold chicken and salmon are not good. I'm also cooking a lot of protein each day, just to have on hand for every meal. Too much work.

Once I'm home from vacation, I'll go back to something that resembles high protein, controlled carbs and more food options.

And no, on vacation, there's no way I'll eat like this. I'll definitely steer clear of desserts but I plan to fully enjoy yummy meals at every opportunity.

As for the exercise, I don't know when I'll make the switch back to cardio. I'm finding that I enjoy the weights much more.

I will say that the biggest rewards from being on 10 weeks of the program are the compliments from friends and clients. I definitely feel like I worked hard, harder than I thought I could, and it's nice to get a little validation from all the effort.

I'll check in during the first part of August.

Be well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Week 9: Momentum and Intution

I am roughly nine weeks into my nutrition program and I'm feeling the effects of extreme deprivation and hard, hard physical activity.

When I think about the last nine weeks, I'm amazed that I've been able to keep pace and stay the course with this rigid plan. My momentum was, up until last weekend, pretty darn stellar. But as is always the case, momentum can be both good and bad.

Last weekend, it was bad.

I was at my sister's house and she had a whole spread of food. Never mind that she had stocked up on protein and veggies for me. All I wanted were the things I couldn't have.

So I had them. And I had a lot of them. I'll spare you the details.

I got sick. I was sick for two days.

I asked myself, "why?"

The thing is, the momentum that saw me through nine weeks turned on me, this weekend, and became the most slippery slope. I couldn't stop with the margarita and the beer. I couldn't stop with the chips and salsa. I couldn't stop after the cookie. But I had to stop after the pie.

And that is what deprivation will do.

There's a reason that cheating is encouraged on diets. It's a built in way of allowing pleasure. Because without pleasure, food is no fun. Admittedly, that's how it's been for me for too long.

Nine weeks is too long to go without a treat!

And nine treats are too many to have in one sitting.

Do you see the point here? I do. I see it oh-so-clearly and now I get it, too: Indulge periodically. It's OK."

So, that's my soapbox moment on momentum. Go with it, but give it a break now and then too. Otherwise, it will turn around and totally beat you up.

Now, on to the semantics of the program.

At Week 8, I checked my weight and it was the same as when I started the program. Up a few ounces, in fact. But if I've learned anything during this program, it's this: the scale doesn't tell the whole tale and it never will.

I had my nutritionist check my body fat and my lean muscle mass. Body fat was down to 19% (from 25%) and muscle mass stayed the exact same (which is good).

So, once again, I have a good reason to throw out my scale, because it just doesn't provide an accurate picture. Ever.

I am pretty happy at 19% body fat. I've been as low as 16% before and that's not the greatest look for me. I could stay at 19% and be quite happy.

It is likely that the nutrition program has helped "reset" my endocrine system and thyroid and also likely that I will come off that medication in the next month. I haven't had a migraine since the program started which is huge and my doctor thinks that there is also a correlation between my nutrition and my headaches.

All this is good.

However, I've been starting to do more strength training and less cardio. I'm tired. My body doesn't feel like it's getting what it needs - in the way of energy - to sustain moderate lifting at the gym and long pilates sessions.

This is not good.

I'm waking up hungry at night and I'm ravenous in the morning. Eggs aren't cutting it. Neither is salad. I can't get back in the "ketosis" zone. My body is definitely talking to me. I don't want it to turn on me again.

Meanwhile, I have another eight weeks on my current program and my nutritionist isn't "allowing" for modifications just yet. I hope she's not reading this.

A colleague of mine, who happens to be a competitor for figure competitions, and who has the body of a supermodel, took one look at me and said, "You're not getting enough carbs. You look tired."

I told her about my diet. She gave me some ideas. Basically, if I'm going to be lifting weights and doing some cardio, I have to have grains. She suggested eating every three hours. Five mini-meals a day. I have to re-calibrate my protein. Less at each meal. Three ounces. And only brown rice as a carb, with the exception of a half-cup of oatmeal in the morning.

So, now, instead of four eggs in the morning, I'm having two, with the oatmeal. Then, four small meals of lean protein and a little brown rice and some green vegetables. I'm also keeping the flax, since it such a great supplement, and the apple cider vinegar, too.

No sugar. No other refined carbohydrates. No fruit. Lots and lots and lots of water. With a few tweaks, my friends says I can continue "re-setting" the thyroid, but in a way that supports my physical activity and output, and allows for more energy (hopefully).

I'm taking a week long break from my nutritionist. We'll see how I feel in a week. While I'm not opposed to going carb-free again, I certainly don't feel like it's working for me right now.

My intuition has always been one of my most powerful tools. Having body awareness is a huge component of good intuition and it's served me well in the past. I trust that it will now, too.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weeks 6 & 7: The Final Piece of the Puzzle

I am almost back to my old self. Except that my blood pressure is way too low.

The blood pressure issue has been the last - and the most puzzling - piece of the endocrine puzzle and I think I'm finally on my way to a completed picture.

Meanwhile, the nutrition program is going forward without any glitches and I'm feeling sooooooooo great! It's a whole new mindset for me; this eating with a very structured plan. I like it. My body likes it.

I've been on the list to see a specialist here in Sacramento for a long time. One of the best docs in the area - who happens to be on my PPO plan - agreed to see me months ago and our appointment was today. What I am about to share next is truly unbelievable: he spent an hour and forty-five minutes with me. He is, in a word, unbelievable.

He is also very perplexed by my blood pressure and thinks that it is somehow tied in to the entire endocrine shut-down. He even thinks that I could give up the endocrine meds, and that I could sleep better and that I would be much more energetic during the day. All this is possible: my heart just needs to beat faster!

While I was in the office, the doctor did an EKG and the nurse took my blood pressure no less than eight times. It almost became comical: "Stand up, sit down, lie down, do a back flip." You get the point.

The doctor got the point too and he is ON IT. I feel completely confident in his ability to figure this all out. He's even going to send me for a sleep study to see how my heart does during rest.

On the nutrition side, I feel like there's been a complete shift in my mindset about food and eating. Structure works for me; handfuls of convenience foods - always on the go - do not. I'm planning out meals now and selecting my favorite sources of protein. Sitting down with a meal that I've put the time and effort into creating is really, really rewarding.

My willpower was truly put to the test this last weekend when I joined a group of friends in Lake Tahoe. The kitchen was loaded with every type of junk food that you can imagine. I had volunteered to do most of the cooking so it was easy to put together meals that were friendly to my program. It wasn't even that hard to make my favorites, polenta and bruschetta for everyone else.


Some of the girls spent an afternoon baking cookies and cakes. The kitchen smelled delicious. In the afternoons, everyone would gather on one of the decks and enjoy wine and cheese. And crackers. And chips. And beer. Those occasions were hard. It was also difficult to make banana bread for the group on the second morning and not have any.

Going into the trip, I vowed to myself that I would not be high maintenance about the food; I would not be that girl. But that commitment required a stash of Atkins bars and a carton of eggs. It worked. Despite having a few vodka/diet 7up concoctions each day, I stayed in the ketotis zone and ate as much protein as I could.

Coming into Week 8 feels like a major accomplishment. I can't believe that I've reached the halfway point of the program and the thing is, I think that this way of eating is going to be with me for life.

I am happy to share information about my new doctor and/or ideas for low carb meals. Please find me at the gym or email me directly.

And do come join our Wednesday night yoga group! We're back; stronger than ever:
Del Norte Club, 7pm.

Best of health,