Showing posts with label IF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IF. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Health Coach - Part 1

It's been a month and a half since the retreat and I've spent that time trying to sort out my goals. As with most things in life, having that experience was transformative and enlightening, but not at all in the way I thought it would be. Going in to it, I was feeling extremely good. I had hit a good rhythm with activity level and what I was eating. I thought the retreat would just cement those positive changes and spur me on to even greater things.

Since I had the great honor and privilege to attend the retreat as a work-study person, I had a somewhat different experience from the other guests. I am eternally grateful to the organizers for giving me this chance. Huge thanks to Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet, Whitney Ross Gray, Kamal Patel, Laura Schoenfeld and her mother, Pam Schoenfeld. I had a singular opportunity to learn from the best, and value all I absorbed from the daily lectures, cooking demos, and informal discussions. 

The break in routine really through me, though. Also, with hindsight being so clear, I have noticed a few other things that conspired to knock me off course:

  • Slightly less sleep than normal
  • Higher carb consumption than what I was doing with my version of PHD prior to the retreat
  • Less downtime than I'm used to
  • More social interaction (I'm an introvert, so I need quite a bit of alone time each day to recharge even though I love people)
  • Intermittent fasting (we ate only from 12:00pm-8:00pm each day and I was up at 6:00am; I've determined that I really do need a whack of protein in the morning to feel my best)
  • Vitex (I was taking this supplement for several months to try and regulate my hormones -- I finally realized it was having the opposite effect from what I was intending and it made me very moody, emotional, and increased my PMS and menstrual symptoms, things it was supposed to help relieve. I finally found some info that noted that some people can react this way so I'm pretty sure this was the biggest culprit).

All of this is to say -- I came home not feeling that well at all so this post is mostly about how I'm working to get myself back on track. I've had to move past a lot of self-blame for not being more resilient, flexible, and adaptable -- all qualities I've always thought of myself as possessing. I've finally come to the conclusion that I truly was not myself at the retreat. It was not a failure of me as a person, rather a failure to recognize or address the issues I outlined above. 

Since I initially blamed my mood/exhaustion issues all on the carbs, I resolved to go low carb again shortly after I returned since I always felt so good when eating that way. This time, it didn't seem to "work". It took me some time but I finally realized it was the Vitex and stopped that just last week. I already feel better. Go figure!

To help bring clarity to my situation and get an outside perspective, I've decided to work with a health coach. I have a new game plan that I'm working on with her help. I will lay it out in Part 2, since this is getting so long!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Carbs! (Perfect Health Diet Experiment)

OK, so are you SICK of all my food experiments yet? You know, the ones I start and am so excited about and then… [radio silence]. Yeah, me neither! Needless to say, the ketogenic dealio sort of petered out. First I got sick of tracking, then I got distracted by All. The. Cookies. It certainly did seem to “work”. If I kept my calories to about 1650 and under 75 carbs (I was shooting for under 50), I seemed to slowly drop weight. It really seemed to be more about the calories and less about how many carbs I ate, quite honestly. But tracking calories gets BORING and I sort of started to rebel against the idea. Then, I started baking. Need I say more?

Yes, all the baking I do is grain-free. But almond flour combined with things like maple syrup and chocolate chips? Kinda calorie-dense, as they say. The wonderful thing about this whole Paleo thing, though, is that due to how spot on everything else is, I’ve managed to stay in my current cache of pants. I call that a win! I haven’t been weighing myself but apart from noticing an ever so slightly more poochy belly, all of my clothes are fitting just fine. Whew. Bullet dodged. This is particularly remarkable because this spiral into daily cookie baking (I’m serious – it was pretty much every day) coincided with a relatively nasty back injury which kept me away from my normal level of activity for the same period. Hmmm… maybe out of the ordinary pain is correlated to cookie baking? Makes sense!

On to the real subject of this post… The Perfect Health Diet (PHD). A new version of this came out this week so the author, Paul Jaminet, was doing the Paleo podcast circuit (like the Fat Burning Man Show). I have to admit that I always dismissed the whole “safe starches” thing as completely bogus. As far as I was concerned, the fewer the carbs the better. Period. But, I decided to listen and something sort of clicked for me. The PHD is not a high carb diet, it’s just not as low as more traditional versions of Paleo, especially as it’s articulated for weight loss. Sure, athletes should eat more starch and fruit to correlate to their activity, but us fatties trying to shed a few pounds? Low carb was the way to go. And it was – I lost 50 lbs. that way. But then, I didn’t. Whether it was looser compliance or some sort of adaptation that made it stop working, I don’t know. A combination? Regardless, it just got harder. It came down to me having to count both calories and carbs explicitly in order to shed pounds. I came down with some serious diet-fatigue. This is like a part-time job that never ends!

Listening to (and then reading, after I bought the book) Paul Jaminet talk about eating things like rice, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes started to make those items swim in front of my eyes! Could I really be able to eat those things? I’m still not sure, but his argument started to resonate. Whether it’s wishful thinking or not, I’m willing to give it a shot. If, for no other reason, then to mix things up and relieve some of that diet fatigue. What really made me think was that this plan is shooting for sufficiency for all nutrients – macronutrients like Carbs, Fat, and Protein as well as Micronutrients like Vitamins and Minerals. The key, according to Jaminet’s theory, is to get just enough of everything. Not too much, not too little. Both overdoing it and underdoing it have consequences. If you are deficient in any of these variables, your appetite will be high, trying to get you to eat what you’re missing. If your diet just doesn’t contain that missing thing, overeating will result in added weight but still leave you malnourished, continuing to seek relief through eating yet more. This made perfect sense to me.

The basic idea is to shoot for 30% carbs, 15-20% protein, and 50-55% fat by calories. Jaminet does admit that to lose weight ultimately a calorie deficit must occur. He contends that for most people, it will happen spontaneously based on the satiation of this macronutrient ratio coupled by the recommended supplements which should also bring micronutrients into sufficiency as well. I haven’t started any of the supplements yet, although I already take Vitamin C and a multivitamin (not necessarily advocated with the PHD) daily as well as fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend which offers a good deal of Vitamin A, D, and K2. Even so, the last couple of days of higher carb meals have left me extremely satisfied! I used to think that any appreciable whack of carbs would automatically send me into a carb binge. This has not been the case so far. I really think it IS wheat and sugar in particular for me when it comes to trigger foods. Starchy foods and even fruit seem to be OK so far. And I must be honest – just the novelty of being able to eat these things is making me extremely happy without any desire to go crazy with them. Amazing! I also haven't baked any cookies for 4 days even though I have a ton of dough in the fridge (for our upcoming cookie themed holiday party - smart thinking, that one!)

I am plugging stuff in to My Fitness Pal again (I know, I know, the calorie counting DOES make me crazy) but just for the short term. I don’t yet feel confident in my eyeballing skills to get me to the right ratios. I’ll give it a few weeks and see how I do. It’s new and fresh again – it’s interesting to see how it all works out when I’m aiming for different goals. Hopefully, after I build my confidence a bit, I’ll be able to let go of the training wheels. The general idea is this:

  • Skip breakfast - can use Bulletproof Coffee since fat doesn’t interfere with benefits of fasting. Yes, I AM returning to this and giving caffeine another shot. It’s a great easy way to start the day and allows me to eat more later, when I really want the food anyway. I am in no way forcing this. If I am hungry before noon, I’ll eat.
  • Protein – 12-16 oz of meat/eggs/fish per day, which works out to two good 6-8 oz portions at lunch and dinner.
  • Starchy Carbs – four fist-sized servings of starch per day (potatoes, rice, etc), which works out to be 1-2 fists at lunch and dinner; it’s key to eat starch coupled with fat, non-starchy veggies, and some sort of acid like lemon juice or vinegar for blood sugar regulation reasons.
  • Sugary Carbs – up to 3-4 fruits or sugary veggies a day (probably more like 2-3 for me).
  • Non-starchy Veggies – add to meals for flavor, micronutrients, and the blood sugar modulating effects of fiber.
  • The above should work out to a plate consisting of 1/3 meat, 1/3 starch, 1/3 veggies with fat used at will to make things taste good but not be greasy.

That, in theory, should make things balance out to the intended ratios. But, I’m still new at this so I’ll dutifully measure my portions and track in My Fitness Pal for a bit to get the hang of it. So that’s it in a nutshell. I will keep you posted on how it goes (or not, and then you’ll know I’ve flaked out again). Anybody else have some good food experiments going or is just me with this particular brand of crazy?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More on Bulletproof Coffee and the Fasting Protocol

I’ve made some tweaks to the regimen over the past few days, all for the better. I’ve added in the recommended MCT oil in place of the coconut oil, which has made the concoction even more smooth, creamy, and energizing. I also added in some Xylitol, a sugar alcohol favored by the Bulletproof Executive. As you can tell, when I try something new, I tend to go all-in. I like to give the recommendations a fair shake by incorporating as much of the advice as possible (without breaking the bank, of course!) Xylitol is not favored by Paleo-types but has some advantages – it has been shown to be good for your teeth and doesn’t have the aftertaste or bitterness problems exhibited by other non- or low-caloric sweeteners. So, I gave it a try. Over the weekend, I did have some GI distress by using too much (oops!) but it was minor and now I know to start off with small doses.

Without further ado, this is how I’m currently making my Bulletproof coffee (makes two tumblers, each about 16 oz):
  • 3 heaping TBS of Upgraded coffee beans, freshly ground and brewed in a regular drip coffee maker with 32oz of water
  • 2 TBS Unsalted Kerrygold butter (grass fed and can be bought at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and even many regular supermarkets)
  • 2 TBS MCT Oil
  • 6 drops of liquid Stevia
  • 2 tsp Xylitol (from birch trees; not from corn!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Dash of cinnamon

I blend up all of the above, drinking one tumbler with my morning vitamins and glob of Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend (cinnamon flavor). The other half goes into my new handy dandy Thermos Backpack Bottle . It literally goes into my backpack and doesn’t spill, making it all the way to the office without a hitch. That is what I sip on all morning until 2:00 pm, when I start eating for the day. It still amazes me that it works and I am not starving and ready to eat my desk by the time 2:00 pm rolls around. I’m purposely not 100% rigid about this. If I’m hungry at 1:30, I eat then. If I have a social or work lunch (like today!) I eat whenever that is. This is to make my life easier, not make me crazy or even weirder in the eyes of those around me!

I can say that I’m feeling really great on this protocol. I wind up having a much more manageable appetite and have lost that panic I used to have around food. I also enjoy food more when I’m actually physically hungry for it (imagine that!) The current plan remains the same – start each day with two mugs of Bulletproof Coffee, eat whatever low carb Paleo food I want between 2:00-10:00 pm, and repeat Monday-Friday. On the weekends, I’m still making the coffee, if I want it, but starting my eating earlier in the day to keep my system guessing. It also gives me a chance to make yummy breakfast foods like eggs and bacon from US Wellness Meats. So delicious! I just put in this month’s order and I am very much looking forward to enjoying that bacon this weekend. Although buying local would be the ideal, they really aren’t matched for relatively affordable quality, humanely raised meat. I keep an eye out for their frequent 15% off promo codes that are often included in their newsletters, so I feel good about what I’m getting for the money. That was a serious tangent, but I feel so strongly about supporting this type of business and getting the best food I can afford. Having good quality food on hand and ready to go has been one of the most important factors of my success with this way of eating. I feel nourished and having that sense of abundance about food helps me not feel deprived. So, if you’re not sure where to get grass fed beef or other meat in your area, US Wellness is an option worth looking in to, in my opinion.

Another note: since I’m back on the sauce (coffee), I thought it might be OK to just pick up a cup here or there. I did this twice and both times were a mistake, resulting in almost instant headaches, jitteriness, and fatigue a few hours later. Maybe there is something to this whole contamination thing? Or, it could all be in my head. Either way, I’m staying away from regular coffee. It’s just not worth it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Trying Bulletproof Fasting

I should say first that although I am focusing on my weight and fat loss in this post, it is not my primary goal. Improving my health and maximizing my life is what I’m all about. The fat loss is just a side effect of getting myself healthier. A healthy body is in balance, including a balanced level of fat stores to lean body mass. I’m just one of the lucky ones that wears her imbalances on the outside. Yes, I said that I am lucky. Our culture puts (way too much) emphasis on weight and how we look. We can argue about whether that’s good or bad, but it is what it is. That social pressure to conform is very strong and is painful for those of us who are overweight/obese. That is what leads us down so many torturous roads looking to get the weight off. My history with this has been long and painful, but it brought me where I am today. Without that, I never would have realized that my eating habits were slowly killing me or that it wasn’t normal to be exhausted before you even started your day. There are millions of people who look just fine on the outside but suffer many of the same problems I did or much worse – things like autoimmune conditions, cancer, heart disease. However, just because they’re not fat, they see no reason to change their diet or lifestyle. It’s much easier to stay content and take the (inadequate and often side effect causing) drugs and make do. Sure I wish I didn’t have to live the last 25 years in a fat body struggling to figure out how to set myself straight. But without that struggle, I’d never have persevered to find the path I’m on now. For 25 years I’ve been going about this backwards – trying to lose weight to get healthy. Now I know I really need to get myself healthy in order to finally and permanently lose the extra fat.

I’ve been on this Paleo journey for over a year now but I am far from having it all figured out. Early on, I was so amazed by my increased energy, lack of cravings, and slow, deliberate progress towards my fat loss goals. It was wonderful that I could eat however much I wanted – the feeling of abundance really resonated with me after years of counting, measuring, etc. I even got to enjoy treats in the form of baked goods made at home with almond or coconut flour. Over the course of the year, I was able to shed 50 pounds pretty effortlessly. But since the start of 2012, I’ve stalled. As much as I love mining the interwebs for information about health and nutrition, sometimes there can be an overload. I started reading things about “safe starches” and how keeping your carbs too low can cause some health problems. These niggled at my brain and kicked a little crack in my armor. I started eating a bit more fruit… a sweet potato here and there. Dark chocolate almost every night. Although I never really fell off the wagon, I was definitely dragging my feet behind it, slowing myself down. The little monster of doubt crept in along with the extra carbs.

As much as I wish it wasn’t so, I am extremely carb intolerant. It should come as no surprise after 30+ years of abusing them. I’m just fortunate to have caught this before I developed Type 2 Diabetes. It was certainly the road on which I was headed! I tried to set my ship right earlier in the year with a Whole 30, but wound up including the fruit and sweet potatoes in there as well, although I did nix the dairy and baked goods. It really was a wash – even “healthy” or “safe” carbs can really slow my progress. Since then, I’ve shied away from the baking but have been using chocolate quite a bit for my fix.

All of this spelled the return of my cravings, which is NOT fun. I decided to play around with some amino acid supplementation recommended in The Diet Cure, but those actually didn’t do much at a low dose and made me tired and irritable at a higher amount. I really don’t think that is my issue. When I’m eating low carb Paleo properly, my mood and energy are generally just right. The tweaking I attempted really threw me off. So… back to basics! Grassfed/pastured/wild caught MEAT, VEGGIES, and healthy FAT. What it really means, though, is that I’m just going back to what I know works best for me. After a couple of days, the craving monster has already quieted down and I woke up feeling calm yet energetic this morning. I remember this person! And she’s me :)

The other thing I’m super excited about trying is intermittent fasting with Bulletproof Coffee. OK, this might seem weird since the best part of this diet for me is that I can eat whenever and however much I want (kind of the opposite of fasting) and I quit coffee/caffeine almost a year ago. So what’s going on? Have I finally lost my mind? It’s not as bad as you think. On the weekends, it’s generally not unusual for me to not eat for the first time until after noon, without even trying. Sometimes it’s because I’ve slept in, sometimes just because I’m not hungry yet. This lets me know that it’s possible.

So what is intermittent fasting (IF) with Bulletproof Coffee? It’s basically just finishing dinner by 8:00 pm and then having your next meal 2:00 or later the next day. This creates a 6 hour window in which you eat (thereby causing you to fast for 18 hours). The cool part that makes this different from regular IF is that you get to have Bulletproof Coffee (BC) throughout the morning for a good dose of fat and energizing coffee. But doesn’t the fat negate the whole “fasting” thing? Nope. As long as you don’t eat carbs or protein, the beneficial effects of fasting still apply. Cool loophole, right? As for the BC – it’s a special type of coffee free of mold and lots of toxins that have most coffees leaving you all jittery and wired. The creator of this protocol, the Bulletproof Executive, explains how to find toxin free coffee on your own (it’s not easy) or you can buy it from his site, which is what I did. Yeah, I know it might be hype, but some people I trust really could tell the difference (and they have no vested interest) so I’m willing to give it a shot! The other component of BC is the fat – grassfed butter and Medium Chain Triglyceride oil. The latter is just a purer (and tasteless) form of the type of beneficial fats that are in coconut oil. Between the two you get a good whack of fat soluble vitamins and a lot of energizing fatty acids.

I haven’t received my coffee in the mail yet and I am leery of returning to a caffeine dependent state, so I’m waiting on that part. But I’m super excited to get started so I made my own version of Bulletproof Cocoa, instead! I used a cup of heated unsweetened almond milk (25 out of its 35 calories are from fat, so I think I’m safely staying under the fasting radar) with a tablespoon each of Kerrygold butter and coconut oil (I’m holding off on getting the MCT oil since it’s pricy and coconut oil gives similar effects). To that, I added a spoonful of cocoa, some vanilla, a dash of cinnamon, and a few drops of liquid stevia. I had some this morning before I left for work and took another 16 ounces or so of the stuff with me in a sealed container. I had half of it while typing this up:) I’m saving the rest for a little later on in the day.

Also, I’m easing into this thing. I am not making the eating window absolute right now. The only goal I have is to replace breakfast with the cocoa or coffee until lunch. I’m not worrying about finishing by 8:00 pm or waiting all the way until 2:00 pm to eat. It’s going to take some adjusting so I’m going to take it easy. My goal today is to make it to at least noon, which shouldn’t be hard considering it’s already 10:30 am and I have another cup of cocoa to have before lunch. Feeling good!

My main goal with all this is to really force my body to stay in fat burning mode aka ketosis for longer each day. This will encourage my metabolism to take advantage of the smorgasbord that is my generous fat store. I think that my leftover anxiety that caused me to eat often was holding me back. Since I was so traumatized by my horrendous blood sugar swings in my former life, I always felt uneasy if I didn’t have some sort of emergency food on hand. I also tend to eat preemptively like the idea of actually getting hungry is the scariest thing in the world (which is WAS when I was a sugar burner). This behavior had me taking in a lot more protein much more often that is strictly necessary. I suspect that was keeping me partially dependent on glucose instead of shifting completely over to using fat due to how our bodies can make glucose from protein if there is an excess. So now, my body will have no choice – adapt to using fat, or crash. Our bodies are smart; I know mine will choose the former :) The fact that I can drink the cocoa or coffee throughout the morning really helps with that psychological hump I need to get over about being hungry as well. It’s moving me in the right direction without activating the panic mode of feeling like I’m intentionally starving myself. The fat is nice and satiating so I won’t have to worry about being hungry, which is awesome.

That being said, this is a step on my journey and a little experiment I feel ready to undertake. I would not recommend this for anyone first switching from a carb heavy diet. At least for me, making the switch to a completely free eating low carb diet was a necessary step to help me get over the dieting mindset and switch to thinking of this a just a new way of life. At this point, I’m very much looking forward to this kick-starting my fat loss and getting an even better grasp on my relationship with food.

I will keep you posted on how this goes.

Have you tried IF and if so, how do you feel about it?

What do you think about coffee?

Do you think that mold and other toxins in most coffee can affect people or does that just sound like BS?