Fasting – An Experiment in Desperation

No, I’m not desperate to lose weight easily because it’s the fastest way. To the contrary. I’ve tried so many approaches – low carb, lowish carb, low calorie, high protein, macro counting, paleo, primal, AIP (autoimmune protocol), I’ve even dabbled in various directions of the last three.

I think it was about five years ago. I was in a similar boat. I wanted to drop some weight, but I was struggling. I also was struggling with high triglycerides, and decided to give paleo, which at the time commonly was low-carb, a shot. I dropped 10-15 pounds really easily, felt pretty good with how I looked, my triglycerides swung into a good place, and I felt pretty good. Except suddenly eggs were making my face break out. Six months later, peppers were doing the same thing, and the weight was creeping back on. 

Cue the over-obsessive, exhausting and frustrating next five years. I’m about ten pounds short of my highest weight right now. Those ten pounds the first weight loss I’ve seen in five years, but so stubbornly so. And they came from eating low carb. But the loss came quickly with five or six pounds. And the other 2-3 have been dragged out over three months. Was I low carb the entire time? No. But I was long enough to know it wasn’t working for me like most people.

Within the last year, and mostly just to see if I could I did about a five day fast. And I lost weight! The first two days sucked, but after that, it wasn’t terrible. Genuinely, I missed eating when I was at work. And that’s the true reason I broke the fast. I wanted to eat. More than hunger, I missed the act of eating. At the time I thought I’d try a second fast again soon to help maintain my loss. But, sadly, I never did it. 

So, I’m back. I want to try this for real this time. I want to see if I can lose any weight for real. I know about water weight loss. I know about losing muscle mass, including vital organ mass. It’s all scary and frustrating. But the truth is, it’s hard to lose fat without muscle, and I’m desperate. It’s not healthy to be overweight. Excercise is painful. And I plain don’t like how I look. My goal isn’t lofty. I won’t even move into a healthy BMI. But if I can feel better about myself, and be a weight where running is doable, and harder workouts aren’t as hard on my body, it will be time well spent. I just need to stay focused. And work on my food issues. So, here’s what I’ll do:

  1. Fast for 5-14 days. Only water, diet soda (no judging) and maybe some broth.
  2. No strenuous exercise. Walking only. Maybe light yoga.
  3. Journal journal, journal to work through some food issues. 
  4. Make a plan for post-fast. Maybe an every other day fasting plan. Maybe the 2:5 plan where you fast two days of the week, and eat normal five. Maybe a 5:2 plan where I fast during the week and eat on weekends. If fasting is what works, I need to commit to it.

Ideally, I’ll get on a roll losing and after an initial long term fast, the shorter 1-5 day fasts will allow me some workouts on eating days. I can build up my running endurance and maintain some muscle mass. 

Right now I’m a size 18. I’d love to be a 12. But, honestly, I see pictures of me where I’m a 14, and think if I could get this bloated look out of my face, I’d be very happy. 

So, there it is. Starting after lunch tomorrow, fast. 5-14 days. Hopefully I’ll see a loss, and be able to keep it moving to a size and healthier place I’m comfortable with. 

Revitalized and Excited for the Future

For those of you who have been following my disjointed journey, I’ve been struggling for the past five years with post-workout fatigue, food allergies, and lots of various minor health maladies. I say minor not because fatigue or allergies are small things. But for me, compared to bigger things like cancer, heart disease, or anything else I may not have been able to work out with time, in hindsight, these are small things. I think my struggles all hinged from burnout at work. I ran my body into the ground, and was surprised when it finally revolted. Actually, that’s not true at all. But I was surprised despite the revolt, “fixing” me wasn’t simple.

Note: Just looked back at my stats. Things started to go awry in late 2010/early 2011. And really came off the rails in late 2011/early 2012 (it makes me sad to see the “WHY?!” that I was noting waist size increase, no weight loss, etc.), but I didn’t accept it until later that year and beyond. I remember that year was the year I went paleo, and I was able to glean some weight loss because of the (lower carb, switching up my workouts, etc.). But you’ll be not-so-happy to see my stats now. I’m trying to stay NOT FOCUSED on that. It’s going to be a 40lb gain. Work to do, but I’m more excited for endurance and strength than weight loss.

It was a complex combination of learning to sleep normally again, avoiding allergy foods, using AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapeutics) to fix a magnesium allergy, finding a vitamin C that worked for my body so I could absorb iron, and using B-12 almost excessively, but D-3 sparingly. I also went through a phase of food obsession (ever heard of orthorexia?), let the pendulum swing back to horribly unhealthy eating out of frustration, and now have settled into a more sustainable way of eating. I went almost five years with no real workouts to speak of. This was the worst part for me. More

Overweight People Aren’t Lazy Idiots – Maybe There’s Another Cause (Besides “Genetics”)

Here it is. The death rattle heard ‘round the Internet. People are posting links to this article and either saying it’s disheartening or “another excuse.” And despite my better judgement, I read every comment. Every single one. Full of people who think their experience never gaining weight, their experience easily losing weight, or their experience losing weight and keeping it off negates that there’s an issue. Rather people are lazy excuse-makers. No one sees an overweight person as a person. Rather they’re a sub-human form of life who is disgusting and lacks willpower. I’ll stop you right there if you’re one of those people. I am overweight, and I am not lazy. I am not worthless. I have willpower. I work on projects for work that everyone else has abandoned because they require too much work, too much attention to detail, and too much follow-through. I lack nothing that these assholes are saying fat people lack. I am a very goal-oriented person. I bet I have more money saved than the average American my age. I get delayed gratification. And I am a smart person. I have access to good food. And I eat it. And I don’t eat 6,000 calories a day like many people assume. But I hear you, you judgmental jerks. You don’t WANT heavy people to lose weight. You don’t want there to be more to the story.

In my opinion, this article was the perfect avenue to open up dialogue and brainstorm other potential causes  or approaches. This was a great scenario to consider other things that might be playing into the story. Maybe it’s not as simple as people are eating way too much because they’re glutenous sloths. Maybe most overweight people WANT to lose weight, but they’re struggling. Maybe simply eating less and exercising more really isn’t working. Maybe you can take them at face value and be part of the cure, not the perpetuation of the disease (of fat-hate).

Somehow an article that seemed to me like a suggestion to look at other approaches has pitted those who struggle against those who have never had weight issues or lost weight once and kept it off (even if that time is less than two years, as mentioned in the article – those who have lost weight recently think they’re safe from regain). Hell, a friend called fat people “fucktards.” How is that helping? I’m glad you know every person in the world. I’m glad you’ve experienced every scenario. I’m glad you know everything about everything, ever.

So, as a fat, worthless, lazy fucktard, what do I think? More

The Affliction of the Naturally Thin

Before I get into this, I want to disclaim, I’m NOT judging those people who have problem putting or keeping weight on. I think those who struggle to keep their weight up are in a similar boat as those who easily keep weight off. I’m also not addressing those who easily maintain their weight without much effort but don’t say anything snarky. This post is narrowly considering those who keep a healthy weight without much effort, but tell others to “just” do some super-simplistic approach to weight loss (or gain, but I can only speak to loss).

I was a skinny kid. My parents used to worry I wasn’t eating enough. I always had good energy. And don’t remember having a favorite food beyond cheese and cola. I do remember foods I hated (mostly vegetables, but I also wasn’t fond of meat or egg yolks). I remember being excited when my mom made ice cream or brought it out to us after swimming, but I don’t remember begging for ice cream or other sweets. Food was just… Food. Those were the days, right?

I hit puberty and suddenly had hips and thighs and a little stomach pooch. But I wasn’t fat. I maintained this “not quite a thin girl” look all through high school and the first few years of college. During middle and high school I definitely started having an affliction for fast food (especially McDonald’s cheeseburgers and pizza). After a breakup, a bout of depression, finding solace in food, and unlimited freedom to eat all of my meals out, I gained weight. I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a struggle to lose the weight I gained mostly on impulse. Mostly in a fit of self-pity. Mostly over a term of several months.

And since then? I get it. I get why weight loss is this national phenomenon. I get why it’s a bajillion dollar industry. More

I’m Back!

Although it’s unfair to say the plan I was working on didn’t work, I can say fairly that it’s no longer working. My support system is no longer supportive. And I’ve stalled.

I haven’t been around much in the past several years. I found a community I really liked. One that was supportive, encouraging, welcoming, and offered a different perspective. Unfortunately, that community has grown a lot and now supportive has turned into competitive. Encouraging has turned into judgmental. Welcoming has turned into snobby. And different perspectives are just ways for people to try to prove how smart they think they are. People regurgitate “advice” that’s popular on the site. The difference is:

  • Instead of telling you to be more careful with calories or eat less when you haven’t lost weight, it’s common to tell you to eat more. What? Neither mindset works for me.
  • Instead of focusing on more and more and more cardio, depending on who you’re talking to, they want you to start doing x, y or z instead.
  • No one on the site (or any site, really) has any appreciation that every body is different. Every one. One diet doesn’t work for all of us. One workout plan doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, maybe you can get by on zero cardio, but I actually need it. It brings up my moods, and gives me much-needed cardio endurance.
  • In all, my experience is weight loss/health sites are prowled by selfish people looking to stand out. I’m not selfish. I don’t want to compete. I want to compete with myself to be better than I was yesterday. I want to work toward a goal of health (which includes losing weight, and becoming strong, but still able to run around 3 miles, hike for hours, and swim). I don’t want to be the best at one thing so I get recognition on the site. I want to be the best me I can be.
  • I don’t want to compete with what I eat. There’s definitely a movement for who can be the most/best at diets. That’s not me. I don’t think that’s healthy. It’s definitely the direction health/fitness is going, though.
  • I also don’t want to compete for best cook. I am a good cook. But why is it a competition? I feel as frustrated where I am (or was, I guess) as I was looking for a site before I found this place. Too bad it’s changed.

In short, it’s not working for me. At all. More

My Journey To Here – Which Isn’t Really Anywhere, Yet

I just looked back, and this blog is three years old. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it also seems like an eternity. This is the longest I’ve ever stuck to health as a commitment, not just a fad or a means to losing weight. Of course, it started as a goal to lose weight, but along the way I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself, and improved a lot of things. So, here they are. In celebration of three years, the things I HAVE changed/discovered/improved:

  • I now fall asleep in about a half hour on average and maybe wake up once per night. An improvement from taking 3-4 hours to fall asleep then waking up at least 10-15 times a night. I feel endlessly better from sleeping better. A few things I did to improve this: I actually cut back on super-aggressive workouts, but still got in workouts. I walked more, and did harder workouts 1-3 times per week (rather than 5-6). I took my clock and other electronics out of my room. And bought blackout curtains. This is the single biggest improvement I’ve made.
  • I’ve discovered I’m all autoimmune diseased up. Yes, it’s true. But knowing is a good thing. These diseases aren’t debilitating, but they’ve actually helped me focus on overall health, and how what I put in my mouth affects not only my health, but the “flares” from these diseases, and general feelings of unwell (fatigue, joint aches, irritability, etc.). I still struggle with all three AIs, but for the most part one is in almost total remission. One is sparked mostly by stress (which is much less of a factor), and one is an almost non-issue – mostly just cosmetic.
  • I used to eat carbs at all of my meals. I’m nowhere near a low-carb diet, but my intake is down to a more normal level (approximately 30g or less per meal – 30g is a meal I actually “splurge”, whereas it was almost impossible to get less than 50g when I first started). And thanks to that, my triglycerides have plummeted from around 230 to the 60s. Victory!
  • Wheat/gluten gives me anxiety. I didn’t believe it until I quit it for a long stretch (a month). But once I got off of it, three things improved: My overall insatiability (I was hungry ALL THE TIME), my moods, and anxiety I didn’t even realize I had. And it’s the anxiety I didn’t realize I had, that once it was gone, that’s motivated me to continue to stay away from wheat.
  • I can lift a lot more weight than I ever thought I could. I bench pressed 100 pounds. I deadlifted over 200 pounds. And I squatted 165 pounds five times. Then I hurt my back. And have been on the road to recovery, still staying active, but doing more lighter-weight endurance lifting, more walking, some sprinting intervals, TONS of mobility and yoga work, and even some aerobics workouts. I just cut back on heavy lifting. And now I’m back at it. I benched 75 pounds last night, and squatted 100. And I feel like my form’s improved a ton on both.
  • I am actually spending LESS on food now than I was. I know most people say eating healthy is expensive. But even if I buy a chicken at three pound chicken at $3.50 per pound and eat it over three meals, and buy some organic veggies to go with it, it’s still cheaper per meal than my $5 extra value meal. Sure there are some $3 meals, but more often I was getting a $5 or even $8 meal. Hell, Chipotle, which some people tout as health food, is never cheaper than $6.50. I can eat like a queen if I cook it myself!

I feel better than I have in years. Three years ago I was tired. So tired. And so irritable. Work had me on edge, and I always felt foggy brained. I felt like I needed a nap, all the time, but couldn’t ever fall asleep. My diet seemed like it was healthy, but now I eat more whole foods than I ever have before. I stock my freezer with beef, pork and chicken from a local farms, getting away from hormones and GMO-fed animals. I avoid all GMOs like the plague. I still eat out occasionally, but much less often.

More

Rough Week

After two or three straight weeks of weight loss (isn’t it funny I’ve already lost track of the details – this is probably why we forget what a struggle it is to lose!), I think this week’s going to be neutral, and for a variety of reasons. Work was particularly stressful, and I’m notorious for letting stress “win.” I’ll stress eat. Be emotionally and physically exhausted so I can’t will myself get up early or am too tired to workout at the end of the day. I met a friend for “stress drinks” which also turned into a shared appetizer platter. Then went to my work holiday party, which turned into a lot of drinks because I don’t care for those things. I got back on the wagon first thing Sunday and have done well today. I did workout a few times, and got in three hard workouts this weekend. Maybe in the end I’ll still be down a small amount. And this week I’m re-focused on getting back to bigger losses (and bigger gains in strength training)!

I’m also contemplating buying this squat rack. I’m already up to enough weight squatting that it’s getting dangerous to try to hoist the bar (and weights) up over my head. I’m worried I’ll need an olympic barbell… But I wanted one anyway. So if I have to get one, I have to get one.

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