Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Start Again

It is funny and frustrating the path life takes you on. Or you take yourself on. Though sometimes the journey is necessary. I have taken the long way to essentially realize I need to do what I did nearly twenty years ago when I first started thinking about making some healthier choices. Back then, it was more to lose weight than be healthier because that’s what 20-something me worried more about. Now here I am, nearly forty, thinking more about health than weight. But also a bit of vanity is swirled in. Though it’s about 30% of it, rather than 99%+ of it.

Now I’m thinking about my blood pressure. I was put on a low dose last year for the first time. And feel like I could probably get back off, at least in the short term, if I lose a little weight and work on my endurance.

I’m also thinking about how much harder it is to start the more sedentary I become. Everything is harder now than when I was a similar weight in my twenties. How much harder will it be in three years? Ten years? Twenty? NOW is the easiest time to start.

I’m thinking about my distant future. What a future looks like for older people I know who have taken care of themselves and made health, diet and activity a priority, versus those who haven’t. Retirement definitely looks more fun when you’re mobile and aren’t lassoed with many health issues. I know NO path guarantees health. But some paths guarantee less freedom. I want to stack the cards in my favor and enjoy retirement.

I work on future planning at work, and some of this thought has made me want to develop a mission, vision, goals, strategies and an operating plan for ME. It is a bit nerdy, but successful businesses do it. Why can’t a successful person? And part of success is checking in. How can I figure out what I would like to do and check in on it?

Over the past year, through having a horrible experience with a coach I have realized.

  • No one knows me better than me
  • No one can ever learn or understand the whole of my experiences or my unique body
  • Coaches simply tell you to eat less and exercise more, and mostly are placating you when they listen. Not hearing, understanding or remembering anything.

I can do all of these things better. And I will see success on my own!

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Health Beyond Diet

This topic is a bit convoluted. Over the past several months since I quit the relationship with a coach because it wasn’t going anywhere but toxic, I have really been diving into my relationship with food. And finally I had to step back and ask, “Is there even such a thing as a healthy diet?” Is there even, universally, a diet or parts of a diet that are considered healthy?

My first instinct is fruits and vegetables. Though, keto alone says fruits aren’t healthy, and some vegetables aren’t. What is health? Macronutrients, micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, low carb, high protein, low calorie density? There is simply no one answer.

So what if there IS no answer?

As there isn’t one specific diet that’s ever worked for me long-term, what if I accept that as truth? Not with the intent of giving up, but with the intent of being the best version of me, independent of diet.

It is hard to find support of this approach, even on the Internet. Though I did find an answer on a Quora that came the closest. Giving the benefits of exercise independent of diet.

Three things that are promising:

  • Decrease risk of chronic disease/increases heart elasticity- the primary reason I’m trying to be health!
  • Improve mood and sleep/energy – two things I struggle with
  • Improves stress adaptation

I had a hard time choosing just three (and combined a few), and am bummed I left some off my list. So, that’s a pretty good argument for exercise. Plus, improving strength and endurance in general makes everyday life easier.

So why am I stuck on diet? Why am I stuck on weight loss? Weight loss doesn’t equal health, despite what many internet trolls say. I feel like I’ll be healthier, more agile, and more capable by focusing on exercise over diet, and I enjoy exercise more. I have plenty of workouts I look forward to, and lots of options for variety.

Diet, on the other hand, is letdown after letdown.

So I’m trying it. I’m not weighing. I’m not measuring. I’m just working out. I’m not over-eating, but not restricting and not trying to eat more or less of anything. It’s better than nothing, that’s for sure. Whether it’s the long-term solution is to be determined!

The Newcastle Diet – Day 5

Well, today was the easiest day by far. I’m short 100 calories for the day, and feel like I won’t eat them unless sudden hunger hits as I try to fall asleep. I’m one of those people who it can take awhile to fall asleep, and my hunger has been the worst in those moments on days 2 and 3. Last night I ate half f a protein bar right before crawling in bed and it helped. Tonight I’m not hungry at all and right now don’t plan to.

In fact today, I ate a later than normal lunch AND fasted through breakfast. I even had a protein bar more as a treat, because I wanted to try it (got some new ones today), and not after staving off hunger. It’s pretty freeing to not think about food all day long!

I was down 3.6 pounds this morning. I know a lot of that is glycogen stores water + less food in general in my body. But I can’t help but believe so few calories won’t result in weight loss.

My energy levels are good, surprisingly so. Though I haven’t tried lifting weights yet. Just a light 15-20 minute workout most days to keep moving. I’m trying to not be too obscene.

My only struggle is sleep, which is a struggle no matter the diet. I’m going to bed early tonight and hoping for a rested day tomorrow.

So far, this might be the best diet I’ve ever been on! I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ll transition off, which I guess is the biggest trick with this diet. And I haven’t decided, yet. Right now I imagine staying high protein and veggies with some treats a few days a week. I strangely haven’t even had any cravings so far! I told myself if I were insane hungry I’d eat one big meal Saturday and carry on. Right now I have no reason to eat more.

I’ll keep checking in!

The Newcastle Diet – Day Three

Well, I’m on day three. Day two, evening was the worst. Maybe because it was day two, and I had to work for the first time. Maybe because it was the day before my period. Day three has been, generally, a breeze. We’ve reached the evening, I haven’t had dinner, yet, and feel like it will be a far better evening than yesterday.

I am getting about 90-95 grams of protein per day, and 25-30g fiber. I’ve even had energy to do short workouts each day. I’d love to get to a point I feel like I have the energy to do a strength workout to further increase my muscle maintenance. I’m worried those workouts will spike my appetite, though.

I have been drinking a ton of water, so I’ve been peeing like crazy! I don’t drink the water because I’m thirsty, but more because it’s taking the place of eating. My strange treat today was eating raw carrots, which sounds silly. But they were so satisfying. I’ll take more to work tomorrow.

I’ve also still been playing with veggie soups. I haven’t quite found the holy grail, yet. And some soups have been mostly inedible, haha. But some haven’t been terrible. I’ve also purchased more protein powder and bars, as I want to have powder that isn’t too chalky and separates less.

I’ve also considered the potential of working some actual meat into the diet, and what that might look like. It’s definitely more work, and it would be small servings, but if I craving meat, is it a bad idea? It seems like it would be ok. I also ended up with a huge serving of soup tonight that let me add some cheese, which I have been craving more than anything. So I’m sprinkling some cheese on my soup and living like a queen.

The first milestone I want to see is comfortable in size sixteen jeans again. I can put them on, but I have a decent muffin top. So to feel comfortable wearing them for a whole day will be a good accomplishment.

I also have my first restaurant challenge tomorrow. Luckily, I was able to find simple, steamed broccoli and a chicken breast on their menu, and it won’t throw me off, really at all!

So far, I like this FAR better than full on fasting. I also love it leaps and bounds over keto. I can’t even explain how much. I have moments of hunger, but on keto, it was constant hunger, and I only lost water weight and some fat, but so, so, so, so slow (about a pound a month). And that was probably more because I realized I couldn’t just keep eating because I was hungry. In this case, I have snacks as low as 30 calories, or I eat half a protein bar, or some soup packets that are 70 calories. It’s just a lot of low calorie, high protein, high fiber food. All. Day. Long. It’s far, far easier, so far, than even eating in moderation but trying to control calories, which seems insane.

I do think my body likes lower fat better than higher fats. And I have said before that lots of veggies and lean meats was kind of my way to success but I was letting “fat is good” diet talk with paleo and keto get in my head. So what if low fat was a fad of the past? If lower fat foods work for me, then I need to accept that.

I’ll see if I feel the same next week, and a month from now, and two months from now. But I am trying to be aware of what’s working because I’ll need to find a lifelong approach that works for me!

The Newcastle Diet – Starting and Why

I’ve decided to give The Newcastle Diet a try. It’s a bit extreme, so let me tell you why. I’m not diabetic. But I’m sure I’m not a terrible way off if I keep gaining weight. I’ve been having tons of sweets cravings lately, and simply doing moderate or slightly lowering calories wasn’t working. Over the past two years I’ve done two things that have helped me lose some weight:

  1. Keto
  2. Fasting

And I don’t mean intermittent fasting, which I found didn’t work at all. And I was endlessly miserable, similar to lowering calories. I mean a full-on fast. I lost a great amount of weight in two weeks, mostly water, and when all was said and done, kept off 6-8 pounds. That weight is still off.

After that stabilized and I couldn’t lose anymore, I dabbled in keto. I lost water plus some fat on that, but was endlessly hungry, and never had that energy surge. I had trouble with constipation and found the restriction on veggies to be, quite frankly, dumb. After I plateaued for almost two months, I lost interest. Once the water weight came back, I maintained for awhile, then started to gain back.

Next I tried simply walking. I walked every single day, usually for 40-60 minutes, and tried to work on emotional eating. I lost some of the keto weight again, but again stalled. So I started to wonder, what if I use extreme diets to lose some weight, come off the diet, stabilize, then move onto a new extreme diet? Whatever that is. And instead of doing it once per year, just keep consistently working to not gain back, and slowly tick away at weight loss.

The Newcastle Diet is a very low calorie (800 calories total) diet. They used shakes for 600 calories, then allow for 200 calories of non-starchy veggies, and that’s it. I chose it because low carb, high fat did NOT work for me for appetite. And I needed some fiber for regular stools. When I try to cut calories, I often do it by cutting fat. Extra fat makes me feel sick to my stomach.

When I fasted, I lost muscle. This diet attempts to retain as much muscle as possible by going high protein. Those who participated, after 3-4 days, claimed their appetites leveled off, and it might be some combination of what happens when you fast longer term (first few days suck, then you adapt and hunger comes in short bursts you can outlast, intermittent fasting, for me, was essentially the worst few days over and over and over, and when I adapted, I never lost weight, I just ate more during the eating widow), as well as all of the fiber from the veggies.

Instead of only doing shakes, which I am doing, I’m also adding in high protein soups, which will give me a savory option. And then protein bars when shakes (which are only an option for me at home) and hot water for soup aren’t convenient. Then I’m planning to adjust veggie options each week. Maybe some roasted veggies, or soups with veggies, or simply raw veggies to chew.

At this point, my plan is to go 6-12 weeks. I haven’t decided if I will be strict the entire time or give an option for an off meal once a week. Sometimes an off meal gives me a compromise so I stick to it longer term. Sometimes I’ll go a few weeks then really need a one meal break. If I do one meal, I usually bounce back. Longer than a day (a whole weekend) is often hard to recover from. So, I’m leaving that option open. Though I’d like to make it through the month of March, if possible, without a break. I WILL allow myself some berries if I really want berries. Or even a small amount of potato. It seems silly to quit entirely if fruits or veggies are what I want!

So, there it is! I started today. 217 pounds for those keeping track. My goal “weight” is actually a pants size. I’m kind of between 18s (wearing most of my 18 jeans) and 16 (wearing 16 dress pants). So first goalpost is 16 jeans. Then 14 dress pants. And we’ll see how it goes! I ave a small headache and am kind of fussy, but otherwise, not terrible!

Hunger versus Distraction versus Habit

These past weeks I’ve been trying to pay attention to not only what I’m hungry for, but if I am actually hungry. Or am I in the habit of eating now? Or just looking for a distraction. And it is maddening how hard it is to know!

If I think too directly about eating, at any point, no matter how recently I’ve eaten, I swear I feel hungry. But that can’t be. And often times when I want to eat I’m just looking for a distraction. A distraction scrolling though my phone might feed if I weren’t trying to avoid my phone at work. Or a conversation with someone near me might quench the need, but I shouldn’t talk. I should just stay focused, but I can’t, and lunch is a good excuse.

I’ve also found as lunchtime nears, I think about eating. Am I eating my lunch or cheating? No! Not cheating. It’s not cheating to eat what you’re hungry for. So many things to unwind, every single day. And habits are the worst. Whether it’s remembering I’m not eating terribly one last time, or eating some great food because I think I want it because it’s forbidden, or simply eating because it’s lunchtime. Whatever lunchtime is. When people get up from their desks and go to lunch alone, or with friends, or simply to the microwave. They get a break! It’s time!

But mostly, when I am hungry, am I always hungry? Is this real hunger? Now I’ve thought so much I’m over-thinking. I’m encouraging myself to consider the lunch I’ve brought. Do I need to go out? Or just want a break? Does something actually sound good? Or does eating always sound good?

How do I lift all of these heavy, tangled up layers off one at a time? Or All at once and I tangle them? Can I cut them apart? Or do I need to somehow figure out how to get them back the way they once were? Were they ever even piled up correctly to begin with? Or have they always been tangled and they’re not meant to be sorted? And, instead, I’m meant to figure out the trick is to not overthink, to not be perfect, and to not try to determine the answers to all of these questions? But if I don’t answer these questions, where do I go next?

Helplessness, Hopelessness, Disconnected and Weight Loss

First, I’m not suicidal. Just to be very clear. There is a wide space for depression. And I’m in a space where I feel helpless, hopeless and disconnected. And I can’t decide whether my inability to lose weight causes some of these feelings and reinforces it. Or if these feelings are largely there because I feel like a failure.

I’m trying so hard to NOT restrict and to eat intuitively. But my intuition doesn’t seem to be WORKING. And by working I mean I’m not losing and feel like I’m gaining. Or at the very least I’m bloated and lethargic.

I’m having a terrible time with social media lately. First, we all know social media is where we pretend to be who we want to be. I’m a very honest person, so for some reason watching people lie makes me uncomfortable and even bitter. It’s like the truth exists in a separate place than social media spin. But we all pretend the spin is real.

I’d love to find friends who don’t use any social media, and who don’t text. That sounds insane, right? But the disconnection makes me feel detached and it’s easy to stay isolated because alone or with people who are obsessed with a PR spin, or scrolling on their phone, feels the same. At least alone I can do what I want. And I don’t have to put on nice clothes.

I have been doing a workout every single day. And that’s not helping with my melancholy. I’ve started to be more intentional about taking vitamin D, my iron supplement and B vitamins. Today I dug in the bottom of my vitamin cabinet and found St Johns wort, mucuna l-dopa and l-tryptophan. Things I’d taken in the past for these feelings.

I probably should get on antidepressants, but honestly, finding someone to prescribe and starting the long road of finding the right medicine also feels overwhelming. I do feel like if one or two things would go my way, my mood would turn around. I’ve been putting so much into working out and improving my relationship with food, that it’s mostly the one thing that isn’t working. Of course, my job is also endlessly frustrating and that doesn’t help. And my friends and family all have their own lives and families that take their times. So I just mostly exist. I’m also largely unhappy with my state in this political climate, but can’t find a job elsewhere. So I am also stuck.

I don’t want to be fat anymore, but don’t want to starve myself short term and gain back. I don’t want to keep existing with family and friends I’m low on the priority list of, but I’ve found that most people get married and the friendships I had dissolve once that happens. Most people want to be married, so there’s not much point in finding a new group of friends for the fourth time. And my job sucks, but it pays the bills. And all jobs suck.

So I just wish I could figure out weight loss!

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