Tuesday, January 30
The L&L Plan
"The L&L Plan" -- by me.
This stands for: "Live and Learn."
I am an expert at getting fat. In fact, I ought to have significant authority to opine on the getting-fat subject, since I obviously excel as a practitioner. If anybody can look back on their "success" at getting fat, it's me.
So until I decide on something better my plan goes like this:
Whatever I did that clearly made me fat,
Now I am going to do the opposite.
THE 17 COMMANDMENTS (so far) OF LIVE & LEARN:
1. I only ate once a day usually. Sometimes not even that.
L&L: I will eat several small meals throughout my day.
2. I lived pretty much on starchy carbs and insufficient protein.
L&L: I will avoid most starches and avoid making carbs too big a part of my diet -- not ultra low carb, just definitely not high carb, and maybe not even moderate carb most the time. And, I will always make sure I get enough protein.
3. I ate huge amounts of gluten containing foods, which I am sensitive to. In fact I nearly existed entirely on foods with either gluten or caseine, both of which I am apparently sensitive to.
L&L: I will avoid eating stuff my body thinks it's allergic to. I may not be impeccable at this but I will make it a much higher priority.
4. I drank almost no water, and lived on caffeinated sweet sodas.
L&L: I will drink almost no sodas, and live on lots of water.
5. When I did eat, I tended to pack way too many calories and everything else into a single meal.
L&L: I will keep my meals in sane and preferably even small proportions.
6. I ate dominantly late in the day, especially carbs right before bedtime.
L&L: I will eat dominantly early in the day, with any late-day food lower in carbs, and not eat right before bedtime (and if I do, make it close to zero-carbs).
7. I was a chronically stressed out trauma queen.
L&L: I will get over it. Anything that makes me rant, I will meditate and pray about. By this age I shouldn't need a mommy anymore.
8. I was chronically sleep deprived.
L&L: I will get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Maybe sometimes more.
9. I worked 100+ hours a week. I never, ever took sick time (having the gift of getting ill on Friday nights and being well by Monday morning!). I never took vacation time either, though in entrepreneurial, start-up and contractor work there isn't much of either of those.
L&L: I will not work over ~45 hours per week except in emergency situations. I will TAKE sick leave sometimes, even if I'm not sick just to have a day off, and I will TAKE vacation leave. (And next time I will actually go ON VACATION and not work the entire time!)
10. I ignored myself entirely, putting work and others as more important than myself. I ignored my growing size. And I openly despaired of being metabolically cursed, in part based on a high-carb/low-fat diet not working for me and a whole family of women diets never seemed to work for.
L&L: I will pay attention to myself, do nice things for myself, and outside of my child, any contest between my welfare and someone else's is going to put mine first. I will weigh and take measurements and calculate body fat% weekly. Not daily to obsess, but weekly to evaluate. And I will not despair of anything at all, because I can do ANYTHING, and assigning my own destiny or fate (I mistyped that 'fat' - what a pun!) to some whim of nature is BS. You get what you concentrate upon. There is no other main rule.
11. I lived on fast foods, frozen foods and boxed foods.
L&L: I will not touch a fast food. If given no choice whatsoever I will consider having a chemically-treated salad but I will scold myself for not planning better. I will not touch a boxed food, aside from relatively healthy things like a little oatmeal. And the only thing frozen I will consider is fruit and veggies. And a very rare lowcarb treat.
12. I never planned for anything. Each day when some mealtime arrived I would always find that I was too busy, or it was too inconvenient, to eat, spawning chronic starvation-effect. Then each night when finally ready to leave off for the day and wind down, I would massively overeat because again, I never planned for food, I just did what was at hand and what I felt like at that moment.
L&L: To the degree possible, I will plan my food ahead of time, prepare it ahead of time, so that I seldom or never find myself at a loss for healthy food to eat.
13. I never exercised. Between serious protein deficiency, a zillion extra pounds to carry around, nutrient depletion, and overall sedentary entropia, my chronic exhaustion barely allowed me to get through a day -- thanks to intense "mentally driven" qualities -- let alone put the slightest physical effort into things.
L&L: I will eat in a way to support a healthy body, good nutrition and muscle mass, and I will EXERCISE whether I feel like it or not, to aid my metabolism, my energy level, and my general health.
14. I never prayed or otherwise meditated on my goals and weight issues. I put prayer in the spiritual category and my computer, weight and car in the real world category. To me the two categories were unrelated.
L&L: I will bring my relationship with God, Spirit, or whatever I am calling Him/Her this week, into all of my goals, especially those that relate to my personal health. Even the most skeptical look at self-influenced psychology would agree that any goal benefits from our prayers and meditations. I will remind myself every time I feel like whining about a pound, that it's only by Grace -- of one sort or another, I'm not always sure on the detail -- that I am here to whine about it at all. "Thank you for my life."
15. I avoided other people like the plague. I avoided leaving the house, dreading the horror of seeing someone I used to know. I didn't talk about my weight anywhere online, lest people lose their respect for me, or react like it was an indictment of my character. Basically, I was alone with it.
L&L: I will make it part of 'being more active' that I get out of the house, go and DO things, whether it's a trip to the park, the mall, or the bookstore. I will make a point to stay in a strong, supportive community of friends online who know me and know the BS I try to put over on myself sometimes and will call me out on it... while at the same time supporting the things obviously important to me. I will NOT be alone with it ever again. And I will find a way to help ensure that others still on this journey are not alone with it either. 'Social awareness and response' is a big part of motivation.
16. I ate literally zero fruits and vegetables and herbs, in any fashion. If I ever had a few bites, it would only be pure starch or sugar like a potato, apple or banana.
L&L: I will make a focus of my dietary intake (outside of protein) fruits and vegetables. I will experiment with ways to eat them so I can learn to like more of them. Carbs issues aside, nobody on earth ever got fat from eating too much broccoli or grapefruit.
17. I paid zero attention to my food intake both minimal and maximal. I never, ever worried about calories (as I felt there was no point; I was already fat).
L&L: I will not obsess over my food, or make counting it some dieter's version of Midas in the chamber with his gold. But I will at least pay enough attention to avoid eating very much less than or more than the 'range' of my adjusted-BMR calorie requirements per day. If it's easier to just eat and figure it out later, and eat more or less another day once I've learned better, fine. But what I DO eat should be recorded. I'm not really limiting any count, and I'm not counting it with 3 decimal precision. I'm merely paying attention to it so I don't do anything stupid without noticing.
I will add other rules if I come up with them.
For now, this is the eating plan I'm on.
Well ok. I've begun it, with some walking, and slightly relaxing carb intake, but I probably won't officially begin it until this Monday (February 5).
This is experimental. I'm trying to track body fat percentage, more than weight. So I'm going to have to see what I am losing/gaining each week, and then tweak stuff based on that. There is no established diet for someone who weighs nearly 400 lbs! And every body is different. Eventually I should have something that works for me.
Body fat % is the number I am going to be using from now on as "what matters". It does me zero good to lose weight if it isn't fat being lost -- that is harm, not help. I think the focus on scale-weight is destructive, as a result. I will only be weighing and measuring about once a week or 10 days, but that is what I'm going to judge my results by. I'm increasing carbs, so I'm sure to gain weight initially just from water/glycol. That's fine with me. My goals are somewhat larger than the day to day scale.
Q&A I've gotten so far (this posted on my journal last week):
Q. So how many carbs are you eating per day?
A. I'm not really limiting it, though I'm "watching" it. The only 'carby' things that are really allowed to be on my menu are vegetables (dominantly), the lesser-starchy fruits (I actually am allowing very small amounts of high sugar fruits like oranges and bananas, as long as they are fresh and only eaten with a lot of protein and fat and fiber to blunt the insulin spike), small amounts of whole-grain, Ezekiel or gluten-free breads etc. (not much of breads mind you), old-fashioned oatmeal or Ezekiel cereal (not much of those either), or some of the protein foods that also have carbs (like peanut butter, plain yogurt, etc. though no focus on those either).
So far, my highest-carb days hit around 60-70, and that's when I had like every carby thing possible all on the same day. Usually it's about half that, not because I'm trying to keep it low, but because I've adapted to eating ultra lowcarb! Once I establish a fairly set number of calories (it'll take awhile to work out what is right for me), I'll work on some kind of carb/fat/calorie-variance plan.
Q. How many calories?
A. I'm actually watching calories, but not with any obsessiveness. I'm hoping to get 2200-2500 calories a day. The problem with my extreme weight is that my official BMR is way too high to actually eat. So no matter what I do, I'm eating too few calories for my body, and if I ate enough to match my BMR, I'd certainly gain weight (can you imagine trying to eat 4000 calories a day?!). Yet, not eating enough really does slow down the metabolism, and losing weight too fast generally does mean losing lean weight as well as fat, so it's kind of a dilemma. I'm just going to do my best. I mean, I'd love it if I had some cookie cutter plan with exact numbers and a food list and it was all a no-brainer, but the reality is, I have to experiment and find what works for me. Eventually, if all goes well, I will be closer to a normal-weight, and estimating things like calories and body fat percentage will be a lot easier!
Q. How do you measure your body fat?
A. It isn't easy. It's not easy even when you're a normal-size. My calipers don't really fit around the giant roll of fat I've got at 1-2" above the right hip -- assuming I can accurately find that spot anyway. There is a nifty online body fat % calculator that uses height, weight, age, and body measurements, to estimate. It may be a bit high, but what matters more than the number is the "change over time," so I am using that. You can find it here: Body Fat Estimator. Mine registers as (don't faint) 60.99% as of 10 days ago, via that. Well, it can only get better, I guess!!
Q. So what kind of exercise are you doing?
A. Right now, I'm walking, and doing mild weight lifting. I got a heart rate monitor watch, and I'm working on walking at least 3 times a week. The freezing weather in my region has not helped this, but that should resolve before too long, it's not usually this cold consistently. (I've been going up the block and walking around the double driveway at the fire station -- the only place that wasn't covered with ice. If it doesn't snow in the next couple days, I should be able to go to the college track.) The weight lifting I'm doing is very entry-level, partly because my house is so crowded I only have room for the simplest exercises. My soon-to-be-ex husband is leaving February 8th, so as soon as I get his room cleaned out, we're making it an exercise room, and I can get into the weights a little more formally. Eventually I'd like to do the kind of exercise in 'Slow Burn' and 'The Power of Ten', but right now, it doesn't help me to learn how to do pushups really slowly if I can't even do one pushup, right! I'm working to force myself to be more gradual and careful than my personality is by nature -- I tend to be an extremist -- I don't want to hurt myself. I want this to work.
Q. So if you're eating moderate to lower-carb, and you're eating whole grains and oatmeal and yogurt and fruit, and exercise, how does this differ from things like SouthBeach, the Zone, Body For Life, etc.?
Well, it differs because I am not following their rules (and I have nothing at all against saturated fat in my diet, which differs from most of those). I'm not an expert on any of them to know how I vary.
Q. You lost 100 lbs on lowcarb in less than four months! So if it's working for you, why are you changing?!
I lost 100 lbs, and I believe that a significant amount of that was water, glycol, and lean body mass. I'm not dissing it! Lowcarb rocks! And I will continue to eat in a way that qualifies to most the world as generally low carb, even though to the ultra-low plans like Atkins/Eades it might better qualify as a 'maintenance' not loss LC plan. I mentioned in a previous post my thought processes regarding why I felt I was losing lean mass, and issues I see in the LC world that I think I want to account for in my own eating plan. Hell, if it wasn't for LC I might be dead already, I'm its biggest fan. I am not 'rejecting' lowcarb. I'm just shifting to a slightly more moderate dietary plan. If it doesn't work for me in the long run, I'll be back where I began. I can only experiment, gradually tweak it to make it worse, and see where I end up. I am just finally learning to listen to my body and I am not an expert on it yet. I want to give it the chance to show me what it can do, not just assume the worst about it, assume it's completely metabolically incompetent, etc. I want to eat well, lower carb than normal but otherwise just 'healthy' the way an LC maintenance program would, and see if over time I can bring my metabolism back to something halfway normal.
Q. You mentioned your kid going on lowcarb with you. Is she doing this plan with you?
As of Feb 9 when her dad is gone, she is walking with me in the mornings, and our house is 'healthy food' and nothing else. I'm also seriously considering starting to pack her a lunch for school, as soon as I get a lot more adapted to this new version of eating. I'm inspired by Regina Wilshire and her blog and the stuff she says about kids and nutrition (and her own kid) really makes me want to take a more proactive role in all my kids' food. My daughter is chubby now, and they continue to feed her breaded chicken strips, tater tots, canned fruit salad in syrup, a white roll and milk for lunch. For godssakes. It's amazing the whole school isn't diabetic already. She's been really great about walking with me so far, and I got her these cool japanese Bento Box lunchboxes so it'll be fun, but I don't think I'll do the lunch for another month or two. Meanwhile we'll be working our butts off on making our house into a nice place to live, with a cool place to exercise, and a focus on a healthy kitchen. We'll be painting the whole kitchen! Me and a 10 year old. That ought to be interesting... and it will probably qualify as nightly exercise for quite some time. ;-)
Q. But so... you don't have ANY rules? For quantity of carbs, meals, fat, etc.?
A. Well not really. I want to keep calories in a range but that's just so I can see whether I need to go lower or higher. My main rule is HEALTHY FOOD which creates built-in limits (how many calories can you eat a day in broccoli and chicken and oatmeal, seriously?). I am RECORDING what I eat. Not limiting it. (I have no problem with overeating, my problem is with undereating and too few eating times per day. If I can make myself eat several times a day, I'm doing pretty damn good by my measure. Being organized helps a lot!) When my food is recorded, I can look at my progress, and consider tweaking something about what I am doing if it's not working. But I refuse to buy ANY eating plan's assumptions at the moment, since I truly believe all bodies are different and I don't think I know enough about my body to make any final decisions. I am just eating what I consider healthy -- and which happens to be a fairly low carb approach, partly because I'm used to this, and partly because I know very well if I eat a bunch of pasta I'm going to pass out from the blood sugar crash afterward and that tells me I really need to pay attention to not doing massive carbs at one meal, especially without other nutrients to muffle the impact. It's hard to eat so many times a day. Just eating 6 times a day fairly healthily is a miracle of its own that ought to do me good.
I'll worry about the details once I see what my results are.