Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weeks 13, 14, 15: Lessons Learned, Uphill Battles, The Shortest of Leashes

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of travel, lavish food, great wine, not-so-great road food, high quality vodka, low quality carbohydrates, late nights, early mornings, hard work-outs and not-so-easy lessons.

Three weeks of "doing whatever," relative to eating, has taught me that I'm no longer wired to "do whatever" and that when I "do whatever," my body is going to turn on me.

For starters, I made the uneducated decision to stop my endocrine medication. I believe that any decision regarding medication should be discussed with a medical professional. I'm not a medical professional and I don't know why I don't take my own advice more often.

But what's done is done and I learned that the endocrine medication needs to be with me probably for life. The symptoms of a faulty endocrine system are not fun and they do not go away easily. Combine complete disregard for nutrition with zero medication and the end result is hell. Self-induced hell, I might add.

What's very interesting to me - and to my nutritionist and to my doctor - is this incredibly unique scenario that I'm in. In an effort to boost my metabolism and encourage my thyroid to be more effective, I began a hard physical training program of strength training a month ago. Very little cardio, heavy emphasis on weights and resistance.

My nutritionist tested my body composition after four weeks of training. The results were amazing - I dropped nearly 10 pounds of body fat, and replaced each pound with muscle. On paper, it was a perfect scenario. Except for the fact that my basal metabolic rate did not change at all.

The basal metabolic rate for any individual is the amount of calories the body naturally utilizes on its own each day. When I began the program, my body was using 1,600 calories. Once my body composition shifted, I expected to see a sharp increase in caloric expenditure. After all, more muscle mass equals more caloric output. In theory.

In my body,that's sadly and simply not the case. My endocrine system is still too suppressed to allow my metabolism to shift into a higher gear. My basal metabolic rate was raised by a mere three calories despite the fact that I gained so much more muscle mass.

So this is going to be an uphill battle; one that will only be won with proper nutrition, thoughtful exercise and a good dose of Western medicine.

When I look back at the previous month, I can easily see that weight loss and overall well being is best achieved in my body through a high protein, controlled carbohydrate eating plan, with very little sugar, limited dairy and absolutely no wheat products.

For me, that means five small meals a day with oatmeal and brown rice as the carbohydrate mainstays and lots of green vegetables. I can get by with a small serving of fruit, provided that it is a low sugar choice (such as berries or cantaloupe).

I also think that oils really helped me get from meal to meal, without getting too hungry. Flax and coconut are my favorites. I love almonds, walnuts and cashews, along with all the nut butters, but I found that each are incredibly hard to digest. That didn't stop me from double and triple dipping into Ben's salty cashews each day.

Three weeks of straying taught me quite a lot; mostly, I learned that I am on an incredible short leash and that I have to work harder to stay on track and keep my endocrine system happy. It almost has to be looked at as a project, as much as I dislike how "high maintenance" that sounds.

In all honesty, I have been reluctant to get back to "brass tactics." But I need to. I can feel all the bad choices in my energy level. The gleam in my skin is not quite as noticeable. Afternoon caffeine feels like a mandatory sentence. My body has once again started to crave more protein, even though I have tended to give it sugar instead.

So, I'm back to it. After devouring white rice and a big piece of cake at a work function today, I knew I had reached my threshold.

In the spirit of sharing information, I'm being candid here because I think that other people - particularly women - may benefit from my experience. Many clients have come to me with weight loss challenges - they seem to be doing all the "right" things, yet the weight just won't come off. Sometimes a simple blood test can provide a myriad of answers, although the solutions aren't easy or quick.

I'm back to it today. Finding my own answers and feeling better.

As always, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me. We're all in this together!

Wish me luck as I take on my own project of wellness,

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