Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's Time to Try Something New

Hey Readers!  I hope you guys don't mind that I took a break last week.  I wasn't taking a vacation.  I had homework, research, and decisions to make.  Let me explain.

I knew that losing weight by using calorie restriction would only get me so far.  Our bodies are very smart, and they adapt very quickly.  In my case, I have a tremendous amount of weight to lose.  So at the beginning, eating less and moving more was a no brainer.  The weight fell off quickly and steadily.  In that time, my body was most likely in shock thinking, "WTF does she think she's doing?  I can't keep up with what she's doing!"  But, eventually, it did.

When your body adapts, the weight loss tends to taper off and stabilize - the dreaded plateaus.  I'm sure I would still be able to lose weight, but it would be slow-going and frustrating.  When this happens to a lot of people in my situation, they become despondent and start falling into dangerous old patterns, and eventually the weight may comes back.  I refuse to accept that!  So, I need to evaluate what I'm doing, and decide if I need to make a change.  (FYI - this may be a long post.)

So, what am I doing right now?
  • I make my food choices based mostly on calorie content. 
  • I exercise pretty much every day.  I now rest on Sundays.
Looking at these items, it didn't seem like I was doing anything wrong.  I know the exercise was a great choice, and I'm keeping within my calorie range to make sure I continued to lose weight each week.  It can't be all that bad.  I lost 120 pounds doing this... so why do I feel like I've come to a screeching halt.  I thought a lot about this, and it could only be one other thing... The Food.

Looking at my food diary, I realized that my breakfast and lunch was pretty simple.  Instant oatmeal. Granola bars. Egg beaters.  Fiber One bars. Sugar free fruit cups. Lean Cuisines.  Fresh fruit.  That's not bad, is it? 

Possibly.  Why?  Because most of it is processed.  The only thing that wasn't was the fresh fruit.  My breakfast and lunch was filled with mechanically manufactured, processed, easy-to-eat food filled with additives and artificial sweeteners.  When I asked for an expert opinion about my food choices, and if I was making poor choices.  I was met with a enthusiastic head nod, "YES!"  So, then I ask, "what do I do?"  Response, "Read this book."

My trainer passed along a very enlightening and frightening book, "It Starts with Food," written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  It pretty much blew my mind.  It's a very easy read, written in a conversational style that felt like the authors are sitting with you around the kitchen table having a chat.  Some of their beliefs are controversial.  I'm still skeptical about some of the things I read.  But, I'm willing to give their plan a try.  Why?  Because I do believe that my food choices are poor.  I'm eating the easiest, quickest foods I can find - processed food.  I want to make sure I'm fueling my body with the best choices out there so I can excel. 

The Whole 30 plan consists of following a holistic eating plan for 30 days and removing foods that fail their Good Food Standard.  The Good Food Standards are:
  • Foods that promote a healthy psychological response.
  • Foods that promote a healthy hormonal response.
  • Foods that support a healthy gut.
  • Foods that support immune function and minimize inflammation.
The book provides amazing detail on how certain foods and food groups either promote or violate the good food standards. I won't go into all the deets here, but believe me, it was eye opening and scary.   I mean, is it really possible that the hip pain I feel may go away based on my food choices?  I don't know.  So, I'm going to give it a try.  Thirty days isn't all that long.  I'm going to be my own test dummy, and you all can be my witnesses. 

Starting today, the following foods and food groups will be ELIMINATED!
  • Sugars, Sweeteners, and Alcohol
  • Seed Oils
  • Grains and Legumes
  • Dairy
No splenda.  No sugar free fruit cups.  No greek yogurt.  No egg beaters.  No granola bars or fiber one bars.  No whole wheat bread.  NO CANDY!  The list goes on and on.  Everything pretty much has grains, seed oils, and added sugar and sweeteners (except whole food).

So, what can I eat?
  • Meat, Seafood, and Eggs
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Healthy Fats
Now that may not seem like a whole lot, but there is a lot you can do with these items, and I'm looking forward to discovering some new favorites.  There are other items you can eat that are semi-processed like canned olives, broths, and sauerkraut.  The authors provide a laundry list of items that you can include if you wish.

What are the rules to the Whole 30 Program?
  • Eat from the approved food list (seen above).
  • Do not consume any foods that violate the "Good Food Standards."
  • Do not cheat and recreate junk foods by using the approved food list.
  • Do not step on the scale during the entire program.
I'm actually happy about that last rule.  I'm also happy that I won't have to count calories.  Counting calories it tough.  I found a way of getting around it by using as much prepackaged food as I could.  With this program, our authors provide us with a food guide that allows for simple planning without portioning, measuring, or counting.  So... no more calorie counting.  As a matter of fact, I did not track one thing this past week, and I was able to lose weight.  I'm frightened about it.  I'm so used to doing it that I don't feel right when I don't.  It did feel quite liberating after the third or fourth day.  I know I can do this.

What do I hope to accomplish?
  • Rid my dependence on artificial sweeteners
  • Better manage my blood sugars without the use of medication.  My doctor feels I should see a tremendous difference.  I'll be seeing him during my 30 day program so we will be having a medicine discussion.
  • Improve my gym performance - remember, I'm training for a half marathon.  I need all the help I can get.
At the end of the 30 days, you begin reintroducing grains, dairy, legumes, and other foods one at a time, taking note of how your body responds.  The goal of the program is to give your body a "reset."  It can pinpoint foods that may be causing inflammation within the body, cravings, and digestive problems.  If you can pinpoint these items, you can make better food choices and decide what foods you would like to keep as a permanent part of your diet.  It DOES NOT suggest eating this way permanently, unless that's what you choose to do. 

As I start this new journey into discovering food, I'm glad to be able to share it with you.  The first two weeks are going to be tough.  I should expect being very tired and irritable.  My workouts will probably suck over the next week or so.  I'll be Miss Crabby Pants! They call it the "carb flu." I'm suffering from refined carbohydrate and sugar withdrawal.  After the first two weeks, I should expect amazing changes in temperament and physical performance... boundless energy.

So this past week, I enjoyed a lot of my favorites for One Last Time... Just kidding!  I'm always going to eat my favs, but I'm going to try to put them off until after the race in May.  I'll provide more insight as I get further into the program.  I think it's good for me to journal how I'm feeling during the week so I can share it with you.  I'm going to be spending a good deal of my time today in the kitchen getting acclimated with all this new food I bought on Saturday.  Until next week...