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A post-FitBloggin' call to action: WHO'S WITH ME?

Most of my FitBloggin' friends have been posting wonderful recaps of last week's conference in Denver, and I love reading them as well as seeing all the great photos. (If you're unfamiliar with FitBloggin' you can find out more about it HERE. Over the past six years, it morphed from a healthy living blogger conference into a social media lovefest with around 175 of your closest friends.)

 I posted lotsa stuff on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, including this picture of some of my fellow Enell ambassadors showing off our Raspberry Zest sports bras.

Enell ambassadors

But I'm doing something different. I'm going to toss out a little tough love (something we talked about at FitBloggin' 14) and toss out a call to action.

Three hundred and sixty-something days.

That's how long we have to make a real difference in our weight-loss/fitness/health goals before FitBloggin' 16.

I was watching the Today show yesterday morning and Penn and Teller were on, doing their magic schtick. Before the end of the segment, Penn Gillette talked very briefly about his 100-pound weight loss that he accomplished in the past year. 

I thought to myself "Shoot, I don't have to lose 100 pounds -- maybe half of that. Why don't I do that this year?"

No, I never expected Penn Gillette to be my weight-loss inspiration, but there ya go.

I've been taking a different approach to eating this year -- finding out what foods work for me or against me, which foods make me feel great and which ones make me feel gross. I've become largely dairy, wheat, peanut and sugar free, and my gut has never felt better. (I say largely because I don't have any serious intolerances or allergies to those foods -- I just feel better with less of them.)

After I got back from Denver, I met with my dietitian to go over the results of a really detailed blood test I took back in last May. Instead of the garden-variety blood test that checks the stuff your doctor wants to know (cholesterol, thyroid function, etc.), this test checks your blood for antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids and even things like mitochondrial function and toxic exposure.

To my surprise (because I eat healthy and pound down supplements LIKE A BOSS), I discovered I was low in B vitamins and REALLY low in vitamin D. What am I full of? Vitamin C, zinc and plastic residue. But I'm heavy metal free! (It pays to be paranoid about tuna.) So I'm fixing the deficiencies with some vitamin D drops, better vitamins and more, more, MORE plants.

With these results in hand, I really feel like I know what I should be eating more of. What should I be eating less of? To keep things simple, basically things that are not plants. 

So, getting back to the call to action: I, you, we ALL have plenty of time to either get to a happy weight or make great strides to get closer to one. 

image from baseballnewssource.com
Scale twinsies!


How will I personally accomplish this? I will make it my JOB to get to my happy weight, whatever that may be. Right now I weigh approximately the same as Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. But he's 6-foot-6 and I'm 5-foot-5. What I'm getting at is while 240 pounds is perfectly fine for a jacked home-run producer, it's too much for a middle-aged mom. 

While I was flying to and from Denver, I decided to finally start reading State of Slim, which I bought last year, before I was willing to really make the tough choices and really clean up my eating. Now that I discovered that I won't wither and die from just setting aside some foods for a certain period of time, I feel ready to embrace the book. In a nutshell, State of Slim looks at why Coloradoans are so darned fit and healthy. It's written by weight-loss experts Dr. James Hill and Dr. Holly Wyatt, who are associated with the Anschutz Center for Health and Wellness at the University of Colorado (which we passed many times in the car while we were in Denver; I made sure to genuflect in their direction).  They studied thousands of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off, and the book outlines what people need to do to repair their metabolisms that have been "broken" from years of dieting.

So, that's what I'm doing. Nothing faddish, no miracles. 

OK, here comes the tough love.

Like I have said COUNTLESS times, I've been at this since age 10. While at FitBloggin' this year, I saw a lot of people getting emotional over weight and body image issues. I don't get emotional about weight any more, probably because I had that talked out of me from a few years of therapy. Instead I still get frustrated and, frankly, amused at how difficult losing weight can be. 

Let's stop crying about it and do something about it.

I'm pretty sure by now we know what to do. Let's apply all that knowledge and GET THERE.


Better an overuse injury than an underuse one, right?

I haven't really talked about this much but I've spent the past month cutting back on my exercise and going to physical therapy twice a week. 

Yesterday was my last session (we had a ceremonial tossing out of the "stim" pads), and I'm happy to say I'm much better. I went back to the gym this morning and did a top-to-bottom strength workout and made sure to stretch when I was done.

That's what caused the problem in the first place.

I get so obsessed with RESULTS! that I tend to ignore things like stretching, rest and recovery. (Where's the fat burning in that?)

My PT just shook his head when I told him of my old mindset. Apparently thinking like that is what keeps that office in brisk business.

But I learned many valuable lessons in my month of twice-weekly physical therapy.

  • How to do squats properly. I've been doing them wrong forever! In my zeal to go straight down, I've been starting with my knees instead of sticking my butt out first.
 

Graduated from PT today, but this will remain a friend for life. #fitbloggin #fitfluential #sweatpink #stretch

A photo posted by Gail Gedan Spencer (@ggspencer) on Apr 30, 2015 at 12:27pm PDT

  • That this strap is better than a yoga strap. I ordered this OPTP Stretch Out Strap, which came with a booklet, on Amazon, and I am committed to using it every day. It's like a yoga strap but there are a bunch of hand-holds throughout it so you can get a better grip.
 

Is Prince still calling himself this? #fitfluential #sweatpink #fitbloggin #kttape

A photo posted by Gail Gedan Spencer (@ggspencer) on Apr 15, 2015 at 7:23am PDT

  • How to tape myself. I've had this roll of KT Pro tape for a couple of months but I've been too intimidated to use it myself. The physical therapists showed me how to do it and it's fairly easy. They also mentioned that I don't have to keep it on all the time, just when I feel like I need some extra support. 

And I also surprised myself yesterday. I hadn't weighed myself in quite a while and was feeling a bit nervous since I haven't been obsessively counting calories or balancing macros or any of that "diet mentality" stuff. I stepped on the scale and found that I was actually down a pound from the last time I checked.

Right now, it's not as much about losing weight as it is about undoing DECADES of diet damage and restrictive thinking. 

Kinda like rest and recovery for my brain.


Of Sam Smith, snacking and a smack upside the head

I just got Amelia Freer's book "Eat. Nourish. Glow." in the mail over the weekend. I first learned of the British nutritional therapist when I saw Boy George raving about her on Instagram, so I was intrigued and preordered it back in March.

I flipped open the book and stopped on this very page:

Stop snacking

Oh, holy moly, you got me, lady. It was like a smack upside the head.

Hi, I'm Gail, and I'm a snacker.

Aren't you supposed to eat every 4 hours? Or is it 3 hours Or every couple hours? Yeah, that's my problem, especially after lunch and all the way up to bed.

Snack, snack, snack.

Now, I'm not talking Doritos or ice cream bars. No sir. We are snacking HEALTHY. Apples and almond butter. Protein bars. Maybe some more almonds. A salad. A can of sardines (Who eats sardines as a snack? Only the healthiest eater in the world!!!). Some hummus and baby carrots. Hummus and my index finger. 

Get the picture?

Then I hopped on the bike at the gym this morning and saw this:


ABC Breaking US News | US News Videos

OK, OK, I'll read the book!

I knew that Sam Smith is also a client of Amelia Freer and he's been looking fantastic. This morning he was on "Good Morning America" talking about his relationship with food and his weight. Imaginary Gay British Boyfriend, I can so relate. I have those chubby kid photos, too. 

Today at my dietitian appointment, I handed over my Fitbook for her perusal and she agreed -- too much snacking.

So my latest task is to not restrict at meal time so that there's no need to snack. I still have that diet mentality of keeping mealtime calories under a certain number of calories. I haven't been counting calories for a couple months now and it's sooooo freeing! But I still tend to restrict myself somewhat  at mealtime. But all that does is leave me hungry. 

Meryl's suggestion is to look for ways to nutritionally supercharge my meals to keep my insulin levels from see-sawing and increase satiety. So it's all about the healthy fat and fiber. Today at lunch I added a tablespoon of Nutzo and a tablespoon of uncooked oatmeal (seriously, it's great!) to my smoothie. Oatmeal is one of my "magical foods" that keeps me full for ages. (I've got a recipe coming up this week that'll show off one of my new favorite breakfasts.)

We're also working with circadian rhythms and making lunch the biggest meal of the day. So I added a chicken breast alongside my smoothie. (Update: It's now 6:11 p.m. and I have absolutely no interest in making or eating dinner.)

So tonight I'll be settling down with "Eat. Nourish. Glow" and perhaps a Sam Smith album as inspiration.


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!


'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.


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 quotlr.com

 

 


Motivation Monday: So far so good

My dietitian said this 2-week cleanse was not calorie restricted and I've been trying to focus on the food and not the calories. 

NONETHELESS!

I have lost 2 pounds since Saturday. I also checked my Withings dashboard and lean mass is up while fat mass is down -- exactly what it's supposed to do.

Yesterday was the first day I simply wrote things in my food journal and didn't plug them into My Fitness Pal and overanalyze my macros. I did do that on Friday and Saturday just to see how my days added up and it was more of a Zone-like 40ish carbs, 30ish protein and 30ish fat. So that's all I needed to know to break free (at least for a little bit) from the online logging. It's all about breaking the diet mentality, which has been my M.O. since the age of 10. Ten!

I feel so untethered! And really, that's part of our game plan -- to make me less obsessive about constantly counting and take a bigger-picture approach to food and wellness.

I finally got over the "ick" factor of the pea protein -- I find that a couple teaspoons of fresh ginger helps as well as half a frozen banana. Most of the time I save my "real meal" for dinner so we can all eat together as a family instead of me making something for the guys while I suck on a smoothie. That's totally within the plan's parameters. 

I've been catching up on episodes of "The Great British Baking Show" on PBS, which is kinda hilarious since dairy, sugar and gluten are off limits right now. Perhaps I'm getting my fix that way. 

As for those cravings, they're pretty much gone, which I find astounding because I was seriously jonesing for some plain Greek yogurt the first day. Maybe it didn't help that the day before this 2-week cleanse I had it for pretty much every meal (gotta use it up!). 

Blue diamond low sodium almondsOne thing I have been reaching for, perhaps a little too often, are the low-sodium almonds, although a couple handfuls a day doesn't seem to be derailing things. Hey, I've lost 2 pounds since Saturday so I must be doing something right! 

I can't really call them cravings anymore, but if I want to have something creamy as a snack, I reach for an avocado half, which I've been sprinkling with lime and a little salt. A few really good olives are also great if I want something salty, and the almonds for something crunchy.

Notice a theme here? They're all fats. Yep, fatty-fat-fat. But just one serving of one of those things seems to satiate me and keep me going for a few more hours. I add fat to my smoothie in the form of a tablespoon of either chia, flax or hemp seeds. I added 2 tablespoons to my first smoothie (because I was being greedy!) but the shake came out like fruity cement, so 1 tablespoon is all I need.

I haven't been eating a lot of fruit between meals because I add a half serving of frozen fruit and a frozen banana half to my two daily smoothies, which seems like plenty of fruit.

And those first couple days with My Fitness Pal showed something really cool, too -- I've been eating around 40 grams of fiber a day, which is fantastic.

But the biggest thrill of all? I'm now on day 3 of one Prevacid and I'm not having rebound heartburn. Over the past couple years I've been slowly working my way down from 40mg of prescription Nexium to my current 15mg of Prevacid and the goal is no PPI's. Meryl says it can be done and I believe her.

That, ultimately, is why I'm loving this plan. It's more about repairing my "overly interesting" digestive issues and weight loss will be a happy side effect of that. 

I'm basically on the same 2-week cleanse as the members of "Mission Makeover" were introduced to a couple weeks ago on the show. You can see more about it in the video below:

 I'm not a big fan of the words "cleanse" and "detox" -- this is more of an anti-inflammatory eating plan that reboots your digestion (and my dairy-and-sugar loving brain). In the past I've thought about doing something like this but stubbornly held on to my yogurt like a security blanket. I really thought I would be miserable but, to be completely honest, I feel great. My stomach has calmed down a lot and my energy level is increasing.

(No, I did not give up coffee. We made a compromise on that one -- I could have one mug of coffee a day if it was organic and I only added an unsweetened nut milk to it. I'm struggling a bit with the unsweetened nut milk -- great in smoothies, bleah in coffee -- but I'm slowly getting there.)

I've always been "almost there" with making the hard choices to get the scale moving but I've been so reluctant to cut certain things out of my diet, permanently or temporarily, to see any change. For most people, all they have to do is make a few tweaks or cut down on certain things and the weight just falls off. Not me. This time my mantra is "compliance." 

So now it's off to the gym! My neighborhood Planet Fitness just opened last week and there's nothing better than brand-new gym equipment. 


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 img.pandawhale.com

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


Project Earlybird begins ... NOW!

image from images.fineartamerica.com
The husband and I came up with a plan that's a win-win for everyone involved and it begins tomorrow morning.

His drives to work have become longer and longer (let's develop all of Miami and not improve the roads!) and he's not really fond of waking up at the buttcrack of dawn to workout before work, so he's going to leave for work earlier to beat the morning traffic and work out in his office's gym. 

That means I'll be taking the teenager to school every day, and for me that means I need to wake up at 6:40, which is a lot different than my waking up at "whenever" (one of the perks of working from home).

I've attempted the waking-up-earlier thing but it never stuck but now it has to or the kid doesn't get to school. (Outside influences work better for me than self-motivation.)

So no more midnights!

I just set my Fitbit to buzz me awake at 6:40, and that's an alarm that you can't ignore. Speaking of Fitbits, I'm hoping my new Charge HR is in the pipeline. I ordered it a couple months ago from Brookstone but the release was delayed. I then got an email saying that they were in stock, but only in black. I ordered plum and decided to wait for that color. I'm the most impatient person on the planet, so holding out for purple was a big deal.

I'm looking forward to the heart-rate monitoring on the Charge because I really want to step up the weight training again, and that exercise doesn't do much for regular activity monitors.

On the eating front, I'm also experimenting with eating all my food within a 12-hour window. I know some fans of intermittent fasting cram it all into an 8-hour period but 12 hours is better than what I was doing, especially late at night.

Oh, but the Pavlov's dogs are barking! I can't tell whether it's head hunger or gut hunger but man, am I hungry right now (9:15 p.m.). I've been pounding down water but I just yelled uncle and ate a pear. 

I think with my new, earlier schedule, my window will be 8ish to 8ish, which seems do-able. 

I'm looking forward to getting more done earlier in the day. I have a tendency to procrastinate, and knowing that my workout will be done before breakfast will go a long way to increasing productivity everywhere else.