Friday, August 29, 2008

Settling In To the Routine

I was down another 1.4 lbs this morning, though I weighed a couple of hours later than usual.

I also tested my fasting blood sugar and it was at 84. This is a nice side affect of eating this way as my FBS has been creeping up closer to 100 lately.

The thing that amazes me about eating this way is the energy that I have. When I tried low carbing and when I tried low calorie, I would just feel like dog crap. Drag around all of the time, feeling like death warmed over. I never got that energy boost while low carbing that some people report.

Now I'm just bouncing around and feel energetic, though my motivation to exercise is as low as usual. Laughing I think that eating at true hunger must somehow raise what is called Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT), which is calories burned through increased movement, like fidgeting, being up and around more, etc. I will say, though, that I know from experience that if I am going to do something very physical, I need to eat something beforehand, even if I am not hungry at the time or I will bonk.

There is also a nice mental side effect from not having a restive diet. Last night, I was up late and was watching the first part of the rebroadcast of the Chiefs' preseason game at midnight and the ice cream was calling my name. I wasn't hungry, though, and it was surprising easy to resist. For one thing, I didn't want to mess up my weight loss. The main thing, though, was that I knew I could have some when I did get hungry, if I really wanted. I don't normally have ice cream when hungry, because I want to put decent, protein based fuel in my body when it needs it, but just knowing I could have it when I got hungry took away the temptation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Post Vacation

Vacation went well, with a total of a 1.2 pounds lost. Pretty much the first time I have ever lost weight on a vacation, except for went we went to Disney for a week and walked miles every day.

Eating intuitively while staying at someone else's house wasn't terribly difficult but I couldn't be real strict about it as meals were somewhat out of my control. I was rarely hungry at breakfast but usually had a couple of bites of something, like a deviled egg, before heading out shopping as I didn't want to have to deal with trying to find something I could eat while out running around.

I got around this by just having small meals when it was time to eat. It was usually a medium sized piece of meat and a few vegetables and possibly a scoop of rice or potatoes. Not much at all, and no second helpings. I also had a small bowl of ice cream several hours after dinner (which is why I wasn't hungry in the morning). I wasn't hungry then; I was just being polite. Wink

All in all, it was fairly easy to do while eating less than perfect foods, but I am glad to be back in the mode of being able to just eat small amounts when I am actually hungry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I am not dramatically down this week so far, about .6 pounds since Monday. I have still had some struggles with dinner. Part of the problem is I have been busy in the evenings and just kind of wolfed down my dinner. This is a recipe for overeating. If I eat too fast, I feel deprived, since I didn't really taste it, and feel like I need a second helping. I need to get back to slowing down and paying attention to my food.

We are leaving for a trip for the next week this afternoon. The good thing is that I haven't "pre-vacation" eaten. I frequently let my diet go to crap a week or so before vacation and haven't done that this time. I hope that is a good sign for the actual trip.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back On Track

I've learned a lot so far this time. I found I can easily drop weight by weighing every morsel and counting the calories. It is relatively painless too (wasn't starving or anything like that). The problem is that I have also learned that I can make it about two weeks before I get sick of weighing everything and entering it into a food log. :? It's especially true if we have any meals that are complex when it comes to ingredients, like a stew.

The holy grail has always been to find a way to lose weight and maintain the loss without a bunch of complex rules or total deprivation. A way that can be incorporated into daily life (Duh, right?).

With this in mind, I returned after vacation to the only thing that has ever actually worked for me - eating only when physically hungry. I managed to maintain my (post-vacation) weight through most of the summer without much effort. The problem was that I wasn't losing.

I recently read of a study that got me thinking a little differently. The study was supposedly about binge eating but was actually about intermittent fasting. In the study, they took seven women and had then eat a certain daily amount of calories spread over three meals and a snack for several weeks. Then they had the women eat the same amount of daily calories but all in one meal a day for four days.

It is a very short term study with a small number of participants but it had one result that was worrisome - the women's leptin levels dropped, despite not having a calorie deficit. Leptin levels usually fall in response to either fat loss or calorie deficit (usually happens at the same time). Lower leptin levels will slow the metabolism and ramp up the hunger levels in an attempt to maintain fat stores.

In the paper itself, the authors wrote that it had been proven that leptin levels are higher if one spreads the calories over six small meals than three meals and the new study shows that one large meal a day results in even lower leptin levels, even at the same calorie level.

This got me thinking back to when I first lost weight using an intuitive eating approach (which I am going to call IE, because it's a lot easier to type out than "eating only when my stomach growls" :wink: ). I ate a very small amount each time my stomach growled and I would end up being hungry several times a day. The weight just poured off of me and I maintained the loss for several years.

Over time, though, I started eating more each time I was hungry. It got to where I would only be hungry twice a day. This is when the weight started creeping back on. I think now that this "binge and fast" eating pattern lowered my metabolism (which was already suppressed as I hadn't eaten enough protein and had lost some muscle mass as well) and let the fat come back slowly, even though I wasn't really eating a lot more.

Over the last week, I went back to eating small amounts during IE and the weight has really started coming off again (4.6 pounds the first week). I have been trying to aim for around 300 calories each time I eat, except for dinner. Dinner has still been a struggle not to overeat. I am still working on that part and feel like I will get there.

I really think there is some "magic" there hormonally, when you get the right balance. I don't think I can intuitively eat and get down to sportin' a six pack but I know I can get down to a healthy weight. I don't think that single digit body fat is particularly healthy anyway and there is a reason the body fights it tooth and nail.

A difference between now and what I did before is that I am trying to make my meals protein based, though not necessarily really low carb. This is partly to prevent muscle loss but also in response to something I read a while back.

A scientist (I don't remember his name right now) has theorized that animals have a certain protein level that they will intuitively try to reach. They will continue to eat until they hit that level, eating a lot of low protein foods or a little of high protein food. This has been shown to be true in animal studies but no one has tested it in humans. However, it makes sense to me. There are no essential carbs and it takes a surprisingly small amount of fat to reach the essential fats requirements. However, protein is critical to maintain the structure of our bodies and can not be stored (except in lean tissue). It makes sense that protein would be the primary drive behind our appetites.

Anyway, that is where I am now. I have a test almost right away with a trip to Salem later this week (for about six days). Trips always derail me but I am confident that I can do better this time. When I get back, I intend to keep posting about different studies, thoughts and struggles.