Crushing a craving in real time

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It's 11:57 p.m. Sunday. I'm combing through a bunch of emails and I keep resisting the urge to go to the kitchen. 

I want a piece of leftover chicken.

But I'm not physically hungry. I just ate a little snack cup of peaches packed in juice, like 5 minutes ago.

All I can think of is the chicken.

But then I watch a clip from an exercise DVD and I see people doing moves that I want to do.

"You could probably do them if you were thinner," I think to myself.

I talk myself out of eating anything more and grab for the water bottle next to my computer.

And, scene.

(... and bed.)

Words of Wisdom Wednesday: From 'Winnie'


And by "the enemy" I'm talking whatever stands in the way of your success, be it Nutella or Netflix.

(A little geeky backstory -- I was going to use Churchill's "Never, never, never give up" quote but it turns out HE NEVER SAID THAT. And me, being the good editor and fact checker, I have to run the real deal. Here's exactly what he did say, according to the Churchill Centre (and you'd think they, of all people, would know): 

"Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

So, I have a nice coffee mug emblazoned with something that Churchill kinda, sorta said.)

Sloppy and Cocky have left the building

Met with my dietitian today and I told her I hadn't lost any additional weight from the 4 that basically fell off me the first two weeks. 

I also told her that I knew why.

I got sloppy and cocky.

Sloppy in that I'd skip a day or so of food tracking and staying on the program. Cocky in that I thought I had it wired. Here's what was going through my head:

"Well as long as I'm not eating wheat/sugar/dairy/etc. I don't really have to worry about how many nuts/avocado/hemp seeds I eat."

Turns out I do. 

While not eating those foods, I have been adding in more calorically dense foods, and if you eat too much of them, you won't lose weight.

Another thing that was happening was what I'll call "sugar creep." I had gotten a bunch of raw vegan snacks in the mail and they were freaking delicious. The sweet ones contained dates as their sweetener, and while dates are a fruit, they're a dried fruit and super high in sugar.

It hit me when an article showed up on my Facebook feed, titled: "Dates: Healthy Sweetener or Sugar Bomb?" It was from the I Quit Sugar blog (which I really need to read more often), and basically it says that dates are, indeed, sugar bombs and the sugar found in them is largely fructose, which is metabolized differently than glucose in the body. It tends to get stored as fat more easily than other "-ose" sugars.

So, basically, I've been stuffing my face with date-y snacks.

Today I was much more aware of the sugar creep and my afternoon snack was a hard-boiled egg and a handful of almonds. Those wonderful Rx Bars I discovered are sweetened with dates, but they also have a lot of protein and fiber so the impact is mitigated a bit. Funny thing is, I don't eat them as often as I thought I might but it's nice to have them in the pantry.

Fitbook whitneyI'm also tracking a lot better -- I just got my fancy new Fitbook and it's lovely motivation. (I'd link to it but it was a limited edition and it's sold out. Here's the regular one.) I write down what and when I eat so I can see how my meal spacing is going. I'm shooting for at least 3 hours between meals and snacks. Waiting longer between meals helps regulate leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger. When you're constantly sticking food in your face, your body becomes less sensitive to leptin and you wind up leptin resistant. And hungry all the damn time. 

On another, somewhat related subject, I told her about my IT band situation. I went to the sports medicine doc last week and I actually diagnosed myself correctly! It was indeed my IT band, plus a little patellar tendinitis thrown in for fun. In fact, the physician assistant chuckled when he manipulated my right leg. (Don't worry, I laughed, too.) Nice thing was, the X-rays all looked good. So it's all bands and tendons. I immediately walked across the parking lot to their physical therapy office and made an appointment, which was this past Friday. 

The physical therapist was equally impressed with my lack of flexibility in my IT bands -- both of them! -- and we got to work on fixing that. I now have three exercises I do every day to loosen that area up, and a bunch more PT appointments.

So why did I mention this to my dietitian? I'm supposed to be taking two Aleve every morning, and while taking one Aleve every now and then doesn't bother me, taking two Aleve every single day has been giving me an all-day stomach ache. So she told me about a dietary supplement called Enflamen, which is a more powerful anti-inflammatory supplement than others I've tried in the past that just didn't do anything. I took a couple when I got home, and I really felt the stiffness and achiness melt away. 

Don't try looking for Enflamen at the drug store -- I think it's only sold through medical professionals. All I know is it seems to work as well as an NSAID without the tummy trouble. (You can read more about it HERE.)

So, that's about it. Did my strength training by heaving around microwave ovens -- the old one broke and the new one was damaged in the box so I had to drag it back to the store and exchange it. Lots of heavy lifting today!

Tunes for Tuesday: Blame It On Me, by George Ezra

I'll admit, I hadn't heard a peep about this guy until he showed up this past weekend on "Saturday Night Live." Then again, I found out about Sam Smith that way, too. Someone at that show has a great eye for spotting British gems and inviting them across the pond. I asked my new Amazon Echo to "play George Ezra" and that silly robot started playing Charles Aznavour, so I guess George hasn't caught up with robot music fans yet.

Stupid Cousin IT

image from www.monsterbashnews.comJust quickly popping in to say that the highlight of my day was making a doctor's appointment. My IT band (at least I think it is) has been acting up the past month, so I'm FINALLY going to the sports med ortho about it. When I'm at the gym, everything is just dandy -- I'm pushing 110 pounds on the leg press, doing the hammy machine, riding the bike like a champ. 

Then I get home and the rest of the day is ow-ow-ow. I had been working out Monday through Friday but this ache has had me taking Tuesdays and Thursdays (my all-cardio days) off, which I don't like because the weather here has been divine and I'm stuck on my butt with ice packs.

Hopefully I'll get some physical therapy sessions so I can figure out what I might be doing wrong with my workouts and how to fix it. 

So I can get back to being awesome.

'Play time' is over

After that 4-pound loss, I've been maintaining it because, frankly, I've just been enjoying how good my digestive system feels and kinda eating with abandon -- snacking, really. 

I'm still largely dairy, sugar and wheat free. Every now and then I'll try a little dairy or sugar -- at nowhere near the amounts I used to eat. I'm finding it really easy to say no to wheat and have no interest in it. 

Cookie monster
(OK, except for last night when I had a craving for cookies. Cookies! I never really buy or make cookies, but all I wanted was cookies. I ate an apple and some almonds.)

But I've been a little too free and easy with the between-meal snacks, so I'm going to tighten up on the freeform snacking and make them a little less frequent and a little more structured. 

The cool thing is, in the past, if I just ate, I'd gain weight like {snap} that. This time I'm not. It was kind of a brain-freeing experiment, but now that experiment is over and it's time to get the scale moving down again. I'm still not counting calories or macros or anything -- just writing the food down. And I love it.

A moment of silence, please, for the Angry Polar Bear

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Remember the Angry Polar Bear? 

I introduced you to the bear back in September 2012 but it had been around much longer than that. I fought with it, tried to ignore it, made deals with it and sometimes was tackled by it.

Until recently.

I can't find the bear. Sure, I'm still working through the muscle memory of reflexively walking to the kitchen at night, but then I look in the fridge or the pantry and I go "Ehhhh, no. Not hungry. Really not hungry."

There is no bear to wrestle with (sorry, I'm just not writing "with which to wrestle"). I went to elementary school in Chicago -- we put "with" at the end of everything. ("Wanna come with?")

A major part of what my dietitian is doing is tweaking my hunger hormones back to normal -- but what is normal? I've been dieting since the age of 10!

OK, so she's tweaking my hormones to act like they're supposed to act. So I'm not hungry 24/7, ravenous late at night, craving sugar all the time. There are specific nutrients that help coax hormones back into working like they're supposed to, and they include things such as calcium d-glucarate, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and  L-glutathione. 

Yes, extremely geeky. 

Hormone-Reset-DietI sat in a few nights ago on a webinar by Sara Gottfried, M.D., who is a board-certified gynecologist who specializes in natural hormone balancing. The webinar was actually for doctors and other medical professionals but I hopped on, hoping to make sense of terms like dyscircadianism, leptin resistance, and dysestrogenism. I found it fascinating, and also noticed that a lot of the nutrients she mentioned were in Meryl's supplements. I also ordered a copy of Dr. Gottfried's new book "The Hormone Reset Diet" (HarperOne, $27.99) so I could jump into more hormone talk geared toward non-medical professionals.

You also can hear a great podcast interview with her HERE at The Model Health Podcast.

I find this all fascinating because I thought I was doing all the right things and taking all the right supplements -- but I was getting nowhere. Yes, I lost 30 pounds but then I got stuck and stayed stuck until now.

And what's most different now is that I don't feel like I have to struggle or fight or count every calorie or macro or feel bad about not working out every day. I'm not eating anything I don't want to eat, I get to make smoothies every day, I can fairly easily eat at a restaurant from time to time, and my body is finally telling me "Yes, you've had enough food. You can stop now."

I don't think I've ever heard my body say that.

So, farewell Angry Polar Bear. I will not miss you.

4 pounds and 3 inches off the waist: Let's do more!

Met with my dietitian today and told her the good news -- not only have I lost 4 pounds and 3 inches from my waist, I also dropped my total cholesterol from 210 to 174, increased my HDL, lowered my LDL, improved my ratios and dropped my triglycerides from a longstanding 200 to a stellar 93.

Sounds like something is working!

After the high-fives, we talked over how the 2-week plan went and the week after that. I kinda kept the ball rolling and ate basically the same way using my own plant-based protein smoothies. And since I want to keep this ball rolling downhill, I'm going to do another 2 weeks, this time with a formulation without glucomannan. While the fiber supplement is great for many people, for me it's just not and does the opposite of what it's supposed to do (and I will leave it at that). 

I wanted to know what it was that made me feel so good, killed my sugar cravings and took the weight off.  Was it removing sugar? Wheat? Dairy? Soy? Artificial sweeteners? She said it was basically "everything." 

I don't really miss eating any of those foods -- especially when I'm seeing such good results -- so reintroducing any of those foods isn't a priority for me now. Conversely I'm not afraid of those foods either, so tonight I'm making chicken enchiladas and I'm going to add a little sprinkle of cheese. So where before dairy and, yes, sugar, was a mainstay of my diet, I'm going to use them sparingly and just from time to time, not making them the focus of a meal. (Remember, I lived on Greek yogurt and honey.)

Fitbook lite
I also mentioned that these past few weeks have also been a "diet for my head" by taking away the calorie counting and macro balancing that I used to obsess over. Seriously, it's so freeing! Instead I'm simply writing down my meals on paper in my Fitbook. The one above is the relatively new Fitbook Lite, which is a 6-week book instead of the usual 12-week book so it's thinner.

It wasn't all roses and sunshine (but darn near). I did mention my struggle with finding something to put in my morning coffee that wouldn't taste wretched. I ran the gamut on unsweetened seed and nut milks and finally gave up and used an almond-based creamer that was too sweet. She said that for the amount I use, I might as well use organic half and half, so -- deal!

I also mentioned my occasional, irrational cravings for a diet soda now and then. I really don't drink them at all, but man! last night all I wanted was a diet orange soda. I held firm and used one of the many stevia-based water enhancers I have on the kitchen counter and she was cool with those. There's no artificial sweeteners or colors, so yay! (BTW, my favorites are Water Sensations and Stur.)

Rx bar
And did I mention my protein bar find? I was trying to find one that was dairy, soy and gluten free with no added sugar and a decent amount of protein. I found one -- the RxBar. It gets the bulk of its protein from egg whites and is sweetened with dates and figs. They're 210 calories so I don't eat them too often, but I used one in a pinch for an on-the-go lunch last week, and half a bar is a decent little snack. They come out to around $2 a bar if you buy them on Amazon, which isn't too bad for a "fancy" protein bar. 

 So that's my "weigh-in" for the week. I'm psyched, pumped, motivated all all the other happy words.