Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29: Evolution

Charles Darwin said,
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Nowhere is that more true and less believed than in the world of weight loss.

Most people find a plan that works for them and that they are able to stick to.  Then, they grimly stick to it, through ups and downs, ins and outs, and plateaus that seem everlasting.  If they stick to the plan and work the program, they hope through sheer force of will, they will get to their goal.

That's not always true. Just as different journeys may require different modes of travel, weight loss is also a journey in which you need to be flexible.

So far, I've followed three plans.

1.) Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Diet - this was good for the first 20 pounds.
2.) Basic calorie counting at a reasonable deficit - this dropped another 5 pounds.
3.) Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss Plan - this has taken off 11 pounds.

Different things have worked at different times.  Let's go a little deeper into this.

I began my weight loss journey following the Eat-Clean Diet.  At the time, it was exactly what I needed.  I learned a lot about basic nutrition, the additives in food, and the overall ick factor in processed foods that had made up almost the entirety of my diet previously.  Because it was such a drastic change from my original eating habits, I lost weight very quickly and was extremely motivated.  After about a month and a half, though, my weight loss slowed almost to a halt.  I slogged through another two weeks and then began to research other plans.

I found some excellent websites after my weight loss on Eat Clean subsided.  I've recommended many of them before, but here are the two where I got the most information.  The first is Oxygen Forum.  Many of the participants here are extremely knowledgeable.  It can be a little intimidating, because it's not really a lovey-huggy kind of place in the training and nutrition sections.  People will tell you like it is, and, honestly, we all know, like it or not, that's what we need.  The other is Lyle McDonald's website, Body Recomposition.  This is another place you won't be coddled.  But deal with it, because you won't get better information anywhere.

At this point I switched over to counting calories.  I kept a fairly high deficit, but wasn't really losing much.  Then I began weighing my food on my handy-dandy food scale, which helped a little.  But still, I was on a plateau that just wouldn't quit.  Finally, people much wiser than I convinced me to go on a full diet break, which is technique described by Lyle McDonald on his website.  I will say right now, those two weeks were the hardest weeks of this entire journey.  Letting go of the control I had worked so hard to gain was mentally painful.

The full diet break is designed to bring your body's hormone levels back in line after a certain length of time dieting.  The plan is to eat at or close to maintenance calorie intake for two weeks.  I only hit maintenance a couple of times, and I only stayed on the break for 12 days - it was honestly all I could handle.

After the full diet break, I was astonished to see that I had actually lost a pound over those two weeks. I was now ready to move on to something different.  I was completely determined to break out of this plateau.

And this brings us to my current plan, which I've been blogging about over the past couple of weeks, Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss plan.  So far this plan is working amazingly well.  The past few days, the scale has been unfortunately still, but I have faith that it will start moving again.  I intend to stay on this plan another 3 and a half weeks.  At that point it will be time for another full diet break. (Eek!)

This may sound like a lot of disjointed rambling, but there really is a point.  You have to be willing to experiment.  Every diet will not work for every person.  That doesn't mean that you can't lose weight.  It means that you've chose a plan that's inappropriate for you at that given time.  Find another sensible plan and keep plugging away. 

Moreover, the thing that works for you at first may not work for the entire time you are dieting, especially if you have a lot to lose.  As your body changes, your needs change, your metabolism changes, and your mindset changes.  Sometimes you have to evolve to continue to be successful.

I'll leave you with a quote from a man much smarter than I, that I know I've posted here before .

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 27: Free Meals on RFL

Unlike most people, I really don't enjoy free meals.

Don't get me wrong, if there's an occasion to attend, I'm fine to loosen up and enjoy the food offered, within limits.  But just having a free meal because the week is almost over and I haven't had one yet - wow - that's tough for me.

On the Body Recomp forum, I had asked about the necessity of these meals, and the guys I was discussing it with asked me "why" I didn't like them.  I just find it a lot harder to get back on track after having a free meal.  I'm one of those people that can eat the same thing over and over with no problem.  Sure, I'll spice it up differently, but I'm at my best when the basics stay the same.  The free meal throws a monkey wrench in my plans, causing me to yearn for foods I can't have for the next day or two.

So a wise recommendation was this:  make it good, but not great.  Hmmmm......that makes a weird kind of sense.  So tomorrow, instead of going all out, I'm going to have some steak and oven fries.  If I really feel like walking on the wild side, I'll have a banana or some watermelon for dessert.

Hopefully the milder version of the free meal will allow me to be on track the next day without fighting off cravings with a whip and chair.

Today's eats aren't really picture-worthy.  Breakfast was the normal egg white omelet with broccoli.  Lunch was a can of tuna.  Dinner was broiled tilapia and some cucumber slices.  I've discovered that I do NOT like tilapia.

Here's hoping that the free meal doesn't make life tricky for me!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

When you are overweight, you become an expert at dodging reflective surfaces.  Like the most secretive vampire, who does not want to be exposed by his lack of reflection, perhaps if I dodge the mirrors and the big store windows, I won't have to see how big I really am.

I also have a particular hatred for having my picture taken.  I honestly have spent time thinking about where some horrid side view photo of me eating popcorn at the park with my daughter might end up. 

When faced with my reflection, either in film, a plate glass window, or the bathroom mirror, I have to face the reality of what I have let happen to my body.  God didn't give me a body scarred with cellulite and padded with rolls and bulges.  I took a healthy, fit masterpiece, and added all of those things myself.

Over the past few years, my glances at the mirror have been rudimentary - making sure no fat roll was horribly highlighted by the shirt I was wearing, putting on my makeup, fixing my hair and focusing only on that, not on my body.

Today I had a long day of job hunting.  I was pleased that I fit into my size 12 dress pants.  But when I checked in the mirror for those horrible rolls of back fat that poke out from under my bra band, I did a double take.  They weren't there.

I decided that my bedroom lighting wasn't bright enough to find the flaws, so I relocated to the bathroom, where the mirror was bigger and the light was brighter.  I looked at the mirror and someone different looked back at me.

The person in the mirror wasn't a fat person.

I stared and she stared back.  I turned, as did the woman in the mirror.  I checked her out from every single angle. The woman in the mirror was a woman of average size. She was not slim but she wasn't fat either.  I couldn't believe it was me.

So I took a picture.  Pictures always show you how things really are.  Pictures show you that you have deluded yourself when you got dressed in the morning and thought something looked good.  I loaded it into the computer and the same, average sized person peered out, frozen in my computer screen.

Here is a photo from 7 months ago, a month before I started my diet plan.  Beside it is the photo I took today in the mirror of my bathroom.

It's like an identity crisis, noticing this.  Little things have happened lately, like noticing my pants were too big in the waist.  Or taking in a couple of dresses to the fitting room, only to find out they are both too big.  I feel happy, yet peculiar, about this. 

How does an average person behave?  A heavy person tries to slink around and be unnoticed - at least this one does.  A fat girl doesn't turn her head when guys whistle, because she knows it's not for her.  What does an average woman do? 

Can I now go into those intimidating stores where I couldn't fit into anything before, causing me to slink out  in humiliation?  Will the shop salespeople ignore me like they did before, realizing I would figure out that nothing there was for me? 

As a fat person, I was invisible.  Salespeople didn't notice me, men didn't meet my eyes when we talked, and when I tried to make polite conversation with the person ringing up my groceries, it was with obvious effort that she answered politely. 

Will I be more visible now, as an average person?   And what will happen when I am more fit than the average person?  Is a layer of fat like a cloak of invisibility that decreases in it's effectiveness to hide the wearer as layer after layer of fat is stripped away?  And finally at the point that the person is not just average, but "hot", what happens then?  Is all invisibility right out the window?

Don't get me wrong - I am thrilled with the difference in what I saw today.  It's overwhelming, though, because it seems like it happened overnight. I wasn't mentally prepared for this yet, but despite that, I can't stop smiling.

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24: RFL Recipes

As promised, today is recipe day.  I'm posting a few of the recipes that have kept me sane on such a stringent plan.  (OK, sane is open for discussion.)

Protein Pizza


Cooked chicken breast in appropriate serving size

1 tbsp marinara
Veggie pizza toppings of choice ( I used mushroom, tomato, garlic and onion)
FF or LF Mozzarella

Slice chicken breasts horizontally for the "crust".
Spread thinly with marinara, top with veggies, then with cheese.
Bake in the oven fat 400 *F for 5-10 minutes until hot all the way through and cheese is melted.
192 calories 2 carbs 5 fat 32 protein

(this serving contains 4.4 oz chicken and 30 g of low fat cheese)
Chicken Chop Suey

Whatever your svg size is of cooked chicken breast, very thinly sliced

 1 cup of shredded cabbage or the bagged coleslaw mix of red and white cabbage
thin sliced onion, mushrooms, minced garlic and peppers to taste
big handful of bean sprouts
Seasonings to taste: ground ginger, onion powder, and garlic powder
Soy sauce to taste (I use 1 tbsp)

Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray.
When the pan is hot, add chicken, onion, mushrooms, garlic and peppers.
Stir fry.
Meanwhile, steam the cabbage in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
When the cabbage is done, throw it in the pan and add seasonings.
Add soy sauce and turn heat up to high, stirring constantly so nothing sticks.
When everything is nicely browned and coated, add beansprouts, stirring them in until they are hot (about 1 minute.)

Break out the chopsticks!
188 calories 9 carbs (8g from veggies) 2 fat 32 protein
(this is based on my serving of 3.3 oz chicken)

Protein Float

1 serving of vanilla protein powder
1 can of diet soda of choice ( I recommend Orange Crush or Root Beer)
lots of ice

Add half the can of root beer and the protein powder to the blender.
Mix until the protein powder is well blended.
Add ice and process until you have a slushy consistency.
Add the rest of the root beer.
Blend for about 3 seconds.


Macronutrients on this are based on your protein powder.  Nothing else has calories or carbs.

Low Carb BBQ Pulled Chicken

1.5 cups of very strong coffee

2 tbsp diced raw onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp yellow mustard
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 packets of sweetener
dash of cloves
salt to taste
spicy paprika
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup diet Coke

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and puree until the contents are liquid.
To make a BBQ flavored pulled chicken, put chicken breasts in the crock pot and pour this sauce in.
Cook for 8-9 hours until chicken is tender and falling apart.
Remove chicken, shred with two forks and return to cooking liquid.
After the chicken is removed from heat stir in an additional 3 tbsp of tomato paste to thicken the sauce.

For the entire recipe of sauce:
cal: 46.5 carbs: 10 g  fat: 0.3g protein: 1.7
To determine the stats for your serving, divide the above numbers by the number of chicken breasts you cook. It won't be exact, but it should be pretty close

Yesterday I posted a recipe for coleslaw.  That slaw is delicious with sliced grilled chicken mixed into it. (That was lunch today.)

Have a great day, and to my Canadian readers, Happy Victoria Day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 23: Day 12 and a Refeed

What is a refeed, you may be asking.  A refeed is a certain period of time in which you must consume a certain number of carbohydrates.  That magic number is calculated by using your lean body mass.  The length of time is dependant on your bodyfat percentage.  For me, today I had to consume 177 grams of carbs in five hours. However, you are to limit yourself to 50 grams of fat or less, and you also have to remember to consume your allotted amount of lean protein for the day.

Sound easy?

Not really!  Especially when you are used to existing on very low calories and and nearly non-existent carbohydrates.

We had a party at our house today for my youngest daughter's baptism.  This definitely gave me a lot of options for the refeed carbs.  See?

This is what I ate during my 5 hours of carb-driven indulgence:

At the party
1  pc of DQ ice cream cake
1 honey garlic meatball
 3 baby carrots
2 oz grilled flank steak
2 oz grilled chicken
 1 tbsp spinach dip
2 cubes pumpernickel bread
1 tsp creamy dill dip
2 Ritz and 2 Triscuit crackers
2 cubes of cheese
small scoop of Caesar salad

After the party
2 pcs Ezekiel toast
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 lattes with milk and sugar


6.7 oz chicken breast
1/2 piece of ice cream cake

and finally, right before the bell, I topped off my carbs with
1 tbsp of honey

If I moved, I think I would waddle.  Oh my gosh.  Wow.  That is a LOT of food.

Surprisingly, all of that, and I'm still under maintenance calories for the day, finishing up at 1740 calories.
I went over the recommended fat grams by 4 grams (yeah, I know, the ice cream cake).

Are you wondering how I kept track of all of this?  I'm going to sound obsessive.  I tucked a little notebook and pencil in the drawer of the bathroom so I could keep track of how much I was eating.  Since everything was bite sized it was easy to weigh some of the meat after everyone left so I could be precise.

I have the hiccups now.  I feel like a drunk that has over imbibed.  My poor tummy is very bloated.  Thank goodness it waited to bloat until everyone left.  And not everyone is lucky enough to have a refeed during their period.  PMS heaven.

Oh - if you're interested, I had a small omelet for breakfast with no cheese - I didn't want to use up any of my fat grams on breakfast!