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February 2015
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March 2015

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

image from

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.

Was I eating the wrong foods for my* weight loss all along?

(* I say "my weight loss" because everyone's system is a special snowflake.)

Special snowflake
Got on the scale yesterday and I was down another pound, making a little over 3 in less than 2 weeks. I'm really happy with that.

I was all about the Greek yogurt and whey protein and organic soy creamer and cheesesticks and organic honey and low-carb tortillas and ...

I haven't had any of those things in nearly two weeks. 

Do I miss them? 

I would be lying if I said I didn't want to sink my face into a bowl of 2% plain Fage drizzled with honey and walnuts RIGHT THIS MINUTE. 

But I'm using the mantra "not right now," which I learned 11 years ago from a weight-loss blogger. (HERE'S the post; I'm so glad things live forever on the Internet.)

I used to say this from time to time but I never really-really-REALLY set my mind to it, until now.

I always just assumed that one day all those healthy foods would finally "work" for me and I'd lose weight just like everyone else. 

But I'm not just like everyone else.

Apparently, I lose weight better by setting certain foods aside for a little while, resetting my metabolism and healing my cravings.

Oh, yeah, the cravings -- they are gone. I used to graze all night long on whatever was in the fridge or pantry. I'm not doing that anymore and the difference between now and all the times I thought I had my nighttime eating under control is that the angry polar bear has disappeared. She doesn't go into the kitchen and roar in hunger anymore. (Let's revisit this post from late 2012, shall we?) Back then I was pretending the polar bear wasn't around. I was trying to ignore it but these past couple weeks I can't find it at all. It's just not there.

I had to revise the 14-day plan a teeny bit because I discovered (rediscovered, really) that glucomannan and I don't get along. I kept getting stomach pains and couldn't figure out why it felt like I had ingested cement (get the drift?). Then I looked at the ingredient list and saw the glucomannan. I've tried using it a couple times before and both times it had me doubled over and feeling sick. So I found another plant-based, no-sugar-added protein powder and subbed that in for the PaleoCleanse Plus packets. The powder I found is Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Protein, which I bought in chocolate. No beany taste, no added sugar, no grit! That's all I ask for in a plant-based protein. It also has 17 grams of protein and only 100 calories. Score!

Believe me, I love me some whey protein but if plant protein is one of the magic bullets I'll switch it out for as long as it takes. 

It has taken me a long, long time to grow up and make the tough choices to get the scale to move because I thought I didn't have to do that. But a Facebook friend posted this photo earlier this week and it struck a nerve with her and a lot of our friends:

image from



I'm very glad I don't give up

Never never never give up mug

Got myself a new mug today to celebrate the fact that I do not give up. (I also bought brussels sprouts, lemons and a rainbow of hummus). 

I was commemorating the 2-and-change pounds I lost the first week of my dietitian-prescribed 2-week "detox cleanse." And I know it sounds corny but I feel like I'm detoxing. 

That sad, powerful craving for yogurt and cheese has waned (although the ad for the Irish cheese had me wistful). I don't miss wheat at all (well except for those Cuban sandwiches I bought for my guys). The sugar thing isn't a real issue but MAN! is it hard to find unsweetened non-dairy, non-soy creamers. I've kinda settled on either unsweetened cashew or flax milk (believe me, I've tried all the nut and seed milks this week). 

But as you can see, the craving landmines are more situational. I don't sit around pining for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a slice of pizza. But when those situations and occasions spring up, I nimbly sidestep them, even on my birthday.

I did have a couple items on the "no" list yesterday -- I had one glass of Riesling at the vegan restaurant, and instead of birthday cake, we went to TCBY where I had a serving of fro-yo made with Silk almond milk. 

And, y'know what? I felt kinda gross late last night. So it was back to business this morning.

The thing that has been freaking me out is not knowing really how many calories I'm eating in a day. I'm journaling my food, but I'm just writing down what I eat, not the stats of every food. It's making me feel more secure in my food choices knowing that I can eat like this and still lose weight. 

I also officially got over my ALL THE OLIVES AND ALMONDS! snacking of the previous week. I don't know if it's the supplements I'm taking or the food I'm not eating anymore but I'm MUCH more aware of my satiety. And I can stop!

This week, aside from Birthday Sunday, feels like it should be equally successful. I dropped 2 inches off my waist circumference and just feel better, which is the whole point of this. 

I don't know what to expect after this 2-week plan is over, but I can't wait to meet with Meryl again on Monday and find out.