Previous month:
January 2015
Next month:
March 2015

February 2015

Meeting with the dietitian: Loved it!

I thought I'd write about Thursday's meeting with the dietitian this evening because I had a feeling I'd be wanting to occupy my hands, like EAT YOGURT/EAT CHEESE/EAT SUGAR, which I cannot do for the next 2 weeks.

Meeting with Meryl Brandwein was unlike any other dietitian appointment I've ever had. She knew that I needed more than the "why don't you try eating salads?" advice that most dietitians seem to dish out to everyone, regardless of their nutritional background. 

I am a nutrition geek -- SPEAK TO ME OF THE KREBS CYCLE! -- so we got super technical with metabolism, liver function, lab test recommendations, and other wonderful geeky nutrition things.

This is exactly what I was looking for -- not a "diet" but a way of eating that can get me to optimal health with weight loss as a side effect.

To kick that off, I'm doing a 14-day plan. I hesitate calling it a "cleanse" because that conjures images of silly maple syrup concoctions and deprivation. This has none of that (especially the maple syrup). Instead, it involves two pea-protein based smoothies, one "real meal" and snacks. To be honest, I've never been a fan of pea protein because it tastes like pea soup, but by the time I made the second smoothie of the day today I realized that if I didn't smell the smoothie it tasted better. So I'm going to use the lid on the Nutri Ninja cup to mask the legume-y smell. 

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

My afternoon snack made me super happy -- half a chopped avocado, drizzled with salsa. I can totally get behind a plan that includes avocados.

Here's where it gets tricky -- RIGHT DAMN NOW (10:19 p.m.). This is when I reflexively head to the kitchen. Am I physically hungry? Ummm, no! And I'm not craving anything at all. That's the point of taking out the dairy and sugar -- two things that I'm apparently deeply, deeply in love with. I had an apple and a tablespoon of almond butter for my nighttime snack and it satisfied any creamy, sweet, crunchy urges. 

So it's not my stomach that needs wrangling tonight -- it's my head. But not having any physical hunger or cravings makes it a bit easier.

Tunes for Tuesday: Careful, by Kami Thompson

This was one of those songs I found by sticking my phone in the air at Starbucks and hitting the SoundHound app. Folk-rock was my jammmm! when I was in high school, so I know all about the musical pedigree of the Thompson family. British folk legends Richard and Linda Thompson are Kami Thompson's parents so it's no surprise that she's got the chops.

Just when I thought I was out ...

Ha, ha -- just a little funny for those of us in the throes (maybe? who knows?) of perimenopause. 

But, hey, at least the 2 months of PMS cravings are gone -- silver linings!

The hormonal roulette wheel really messes with my appetite and cravings, so I just made an appointment with a registered dietitian who has, as one of her specialties, hormonal imbalances. 

A couple years ago, I applied to be on the Lifetime show "Mission Makeover," and while I didn't make the final cut, I've continued to watch the show, which is filmed in my neck of the woods. Meryl Brandwein is the nutrition expert on the show and I like her approach so I'll be seeing her on Thursday morning.

The appointment with the dietitian stems from my yearly physical last week. My doctor and I talked at length (yes, I get to talk at length!) about weight and health, and while he says I'm "perfectly healthy," he understands that I really, REALLY want to get this weight off. I told him all I want to do is get below 200 (so 30-something pounds), and he assured me that I can do it.

But he knows first-hand how difficult losing weight can be -- he once weighed over 330 pounds and lost weight only after having gastric bypass surgery. And while he has gained back some of the initial weight that he lost, he's nearly 100 pounds lighter. 

For him, the only way the weight comes off is to spend a couple hours at the gym six days a week and slash calories. But that's him -- he doesn't ascribe to a "one size fits all" approach to weight loss, which is why I like going to him. I have "fired" doctors in the past who glibly told me to "just push away from the table" and other such nonsense.

Why's it nonsense? Did you see THIS article last week? In a nutshell (mmm, nuts ...):

"Once obesity is established, however, body weight seems to become biologically 'stamped in' and defended," wrote Mt. Sinai Hospital weight management expert Christopher N. Ochner and colleagues from the medical faculties of the University of Colorado, Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania.The human body, evolved to endure through periods of food scarcity, has adapted a host of methods to ensure that lost weight will be restored, the authors say. It will respond to weight loss by powering down its use of calories as fuel, pumping out hormones to increase hunger, boosting fat storage capacity, and tricking the brain to demand overconsumption.

Some of my Facebook friends posted this story and found it depressing. I'm long past that feeling. Instead, I found it fascinating (because, science!), and when I saw my doc, I pushed a printout of the article into his hands and said "OK, how do we get past this?" He said with a laugh: "Surgery." But he also said that I don't qualify for surgery (I'M TOO SKINNY for that -- my words.)

image from
This year, baby.

So I need a solid plan. Because, people, THIS IS HAPPENING THIS YEAR. (Whoo! Made myself giddy just typing that.)

He told me, though, that for any program to really work, it should be supervised, and I agree. I'm not really good at "winging it," which is what I've been doing the past week after leaving Weight Watchers. I told him I had dropped the program because it wasn't working for me, and he agreed -- if it's not working, find something that does. 

So I'm hoping my meeting with the dietitian can produce a plan to circumvent my homeostasis and get the excess fat off.

I'll report back Friday. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to fill out a 20-page health questionnaire.

Why, hello there 'invisible calories'!

How am I doing? Quite well, thanks. I'm down a little more than 2 pounds from the last time I stepped on my home scale, which was the end of January. 

I'm tracking my food on My Fitness Pal, and today I decided to track ALL my food. What does that mean, you ask? 

In the past, I wouldn't bother with a squirt of ketchup, a couple slices of tomato, a tablespoon of psyllium powder, etc. I just now added up all those incidentals and -- whoosh! -- my daily calories went from 12 hundred something up to 1500. 

This was something that was nagging at me as I watched the scale stagnate while on Weight Watchers. What about all these "zeroes" -- aren't they counting for something? 

Now that I look at my food diary, I can see that they add up, which lightens my psyche. All those zeroes may have been tipping the precarious see-saw from weight loss to weight maintenance. 

What exactly did I tally today that I would have ignored?

Breakfast: 1 tablespoon psyllium husks - 15 calories

Dinner: 2 tablespoons ketchup - 40 calories; 3 big slices of tomato - 66 calories; 2 slices Vidalia onion - 32 calories

After dinner: another tablespoon of psyllium - 15 calories; 2 tablespoons aloe juice 2 calories.

(I know -- ridiculous. Who logs 2 calories? Bear with me; this is for SCIENCE.)

image from

I just wanted to see how many little bitty things add up to move the needle.

Weekly Weigh-In: A visit from the (Doctor) Stork

Boy, did I need to talk to Dr. Travis Stork today. I had missed my Weight Watchers meeting due to unbelievable traffic from a Whole Foods grand opening (missed my kid's marching band performance, too!) and was planning on going to a Saturday meeting but then I thought to myself "Whoa, hang on. You've been a member since October and you've lost 2 pounds. You are NOT getting your money's worth."

So I cancelled my membership.

Shortly after I did that, I got on a phone interview with Dr. Stork, host of "The Doctors," one of the more commonsense medical shows on TV today.

I gave Weight Watchers a valiant shot, and I know it works wonders for many people, me included (when I was decades younger). I used the online tracking, went to the meetings, stayed for the entire meeting, even sitting in a few times on the new member info. I stayed within my Points allowance, used a moderate amount of the bonus Points and exercised regularly. 

All that for 2 pounds.

I have my yearly physical next week, and I can't wait to bitch to my doctor about this. His specialization is diabetes, so he has plenty of overweight patients. (I chose him not because I have diabetes, which I don't, but because I never want to get diabetes.) 

Dr travis storkSo what about Dr. Stork?

He's working with Kellogg's to talk about ways to recharge your New Year's healthy resolve. I asked him how people can get back on the bandwagon or even switch bandwagons.

"You're not on a bandwagon or off a bandwagon. You're on a lifelong journey to good health, and I think it's all about creating good habits, and habits that are sustainable over the long term," he said. "Anyone who knows me or has watched me on 'The Doctors' knows that I'm very much a pragmatist, and I've always joked that anyone who tells me 'Oh, I've gone on a diet and I'm eating twigs and berries' -- I laugh because nothing like that is sustainable over the long term." 

So maybe this month is a time to rethink what we've been doing and perhaps set a new course.

"February is a time, whether you've been on a diet or something new, a resolution that isn't sticking -- it's time to sort of reprioritize and ask yourself 'What do I really want to accomplish for my health for the rest of my life and how can I sustain it over the long term, and, really, it's not some gimmicky resolution, it's putting a plan in place and that's what this [Kellogg's] campaign is about -- it's planning."

Talking about breakfasts, I couldn't help myself -- I asked him about the fad of butter-and-oil laden coffee.

"I did try that, by the way on the show," he said with a laugh. "That gets back to the whimsical nature of new year's plans and resolutions and diets -- to me, in terms of long-term weight loss, it's about the more mundane tasks of 'What am I eating for breakfast?' Am I getting protein, am I getting whole grains, am I getting fruits? Am I getting the kinds of foods that are good for my health over the long term, and it doesn't need to be some fancy diet or some Bulletproof coffee. A lot of times it's the really simple stuff that we overlook. ... It's all about what works for you."

Thank you, Dr. Stork!

So while my Weight Watchers trial is over for now, I'm still going to do what is working for me -- plan my meals, not overthink them, space them out over 3 to 4 hours and track them (back to My Fitness Pal).

Weight Watchers Wednesday: My plan is working

"My goodness, do I feel good!"

I actually said that out loud in the shower after I got back from the gym today. And it was true -- my stomach had stopped giving me fits, my hot flashes had all but disappeared and my left achilles had stopped acting up. I still have some tightness with my right IT band but it's getting better.

Now, would I have said the same thing if I hadn't lost 2.4 pounds this week?

I sometimes feel that so much is tied to how I did on the scale.

But I knew it was going to be good news on the scale because I PLANNED FOR IT TO HAPPEN.

Menu planning
On Sunday morning I printed out a weekly meal planner and filled it all in -- breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. That way instead of just winging it I'd look at my planner and grab the right food.

So what did I fill in those squares with? I call it the Dr. "Phoz" plan.

I've been reading and listening to the audiobook of Dr. Phil McGraw's "20/20 Diet." No, it's not another "miracle diet" with goofy rules and lots of restrictions. Instead the eating plan focuses on specific foods that have been proven to increase satiety, thermogenesis and reduce cravings. For example, cod is one of the foods encouraged because a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that cod has the ability to keep you fuller longer than, for example, beef. Other power foods in the plan include almonds, apples, Greek yogurt and prunes.

The meal plans were designed by Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian I really respect.

Another thing I like about the book is Dr. Phil's tough love approach. He's not afraid to call people out on their nonsense. Take this passage:

"Until you acknowledge that not all 'hunger' means you must stuff something in your mouth immediately or risk passing out and dying from starvation, you can't have successful weight loss."

I've been listening to the audiobook on my walks, and while I wish it were Dr. Phil's actual voice talking to me, the narrator does a good job getting his folksy approach across. And if you get the audiobook version, there are printouts of the meals, recipes, shopping lists and exercise plans.

Another thing I've been doing is spreading out my meals and snacks longer than I've done in ages. I was one of those people who ascribed to the "eat every couple hours" rule but often that would end up being grazing through the day and night. This week I took Dr. Phil's words to heart and, guess, what, I didn't die of starvation! As long as my meals were a decent size, I could go 4 hours between meals. I used to think that was sooo loooong, but really, it's not. 

There are a bunch of suggested meals in the book, and the plan is broken up into three phases. Right now I'm focusing on the first phase and tossing in a couple meals from phase 2, which introduces more power foods, like avocados and oatmeal.

But at the same time I was digging into Dr. Phil's book, I happened to catch the Dr. Oz Show the day he introduced the Total Choice Plan for weight loss, which was developed by the Cleveland Clinic and the Dr. Oz Show. Cleveland Clinic Florida is where all my doctor peeps work so I checked out the plan and really liked the meals, which were designed to assuage any cravings you might have.

I know how the Cleveland Clinic eating plans work because a few years ago I went though its nonsurgical weight-loss plan and had a custom eating plan designed for me, which is buried somewhere in my office.

I was torn -- which plan to follow? Then I decided to create "Dr. Phoz" -- one day it's the Dr. Phil plan, the next day it's Dr. Oz's. 

Both plans have a lot of my favorite foods and both plans are designed scientifically to keep you happy, full and not bored, and so far I'm loving both.

On the exercise front, I've gone back to my old routine of strength training at the gym three days a week and walking the other two days. And this sight made me very happy as I left the Weight Watchers meeting this morning:

New planet fitness

The workout machines were being delivered and installed at the Planet Fitness that will be three doors down from my Weight Watchers meeting -- how convenient! It's supposed to open next week and I can't wait. (I can't believe I'm so excited about a gym opening.)

So, to sum up:

  1. Meal planning
  2. Meal spacing
  3. Dr. Oz + Dr. Phil = Dr. Phoz
  4. New gym anticipation!

All of these are adding up to a renewed motivation to keep the scale moving.