Day 15: making progress

It’s been just over two weeks, and things are going well.

You know that theory where people say your stomach shrinks? And you supposedly start to feel less hungry, as you adapt to cheerily having two broadbeans and an apple per day? The thing that never, EVER happens?

Well guess what, it’s happening!

I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but my appetite is shrinking.

Now, it’s hard to explain how much of a feat this is without you understanding how spectacular my appetite usually is.  Let’s just say that, apparently, my ex flatmate’s dad still talks about the amount of pasta I ate in one sitting over six years ago.  You have Mount Kilimanjaro, you have Mount Everest, and then you have that plate of pasta.

So when teatime came around this evening and I cooked for my partner, I heard someone say the words: ‘I don’t really fancy anything, I’m not hungry.’ After some confusion, I realised those words had been spoken by me.  ME.  And I’m still not hungry at 9pm.  It’s a miracle.

The running is also going well… ish.  I’m starting to adapt to the low-carb regime (rules here) and my body is reluctantly surrendering all the fat it’s been greedily holding onto.  I ran 6km on Friday, and 5km this morning.  Still a reduction on what I’d like, but it’s something.

I’ve also lost 11lbs.

Yay!
photo credit: Rev Dan Catt

So for now, it’s going well.  However, I am constantly teetering on the brink of a malteser-related disaster.  I’ll keep you posted!

Read more about low carb dieting.

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Day 5 Diet Blues

Not happy
photo credit: lovestruck

In my experience, the first four days of a diet are quite easy.  The motivation is strong, the initial weight loss is fast, you’re thinking: ‘Yes, go me, I can do this! I’m a lean mean vegetable eating machine!’

Then you hit day 5.  Suddenly you have been on a diet for several lifetimes.  You become irritable.  Everywhere you go, people are just doing things like talking, and existing.  And worst of all, eating.  There’s always that one person who eats a two-tiered box of Milk Tray as a between-meal snack, yet looks like Kate Moss.  That person becomes particularly prevalent on day 5.

On day 5, you are faced with the choice many women have to face at some point: am I going to be fat, or starving? On Day 5, the former seems the more appealing of those two options.

As you may have guessed, I am on day 5.

(You can read my dieting rules here).

What I could murder right now is a family sized Domino’s pizza, followed by a slab of chocolate fudge cake, washed down with (non-alcoholic) beer.  But I’m not going to. I’m going to eat this DELICIOUS packet of mixed nuts, served with a side of air and maybe a sprinking of dust.  And I’m going to LOVE it.

Also, day 5 is the day the weight loss stops.  The scales stare back up at you, immovable and smirking.  You try standing on one foot, you take off your underwear, pluck your eyebrows, think ‘light’ thoughts.  But they won’t budge.  Past experience suggests that number won’t budge for at least another decade, in fact it will probably arbitrarily go up, laughing in the face of your disciplined starvation, until the moment comes when you fling the scales out of the window and gleefully watch them get run over by a bus.

So this is day 5.

See you on day 6 for more sunshine and light!

PS.  I went for a run yesterday.  It was a monster.  I managed just over 3k; my blood sugar was on the floor and it was hard.  That and somebody had broken in during the night, taken away all my muscles and replaced them with lead.  But I will try again tonight! What is it they say – things can only get better 🙂

Low carbing: progress so far

Lose weight now
photo credit: Alan Cleaver

Today is Day 4 of my low carb adventure (read the rules here). 

So far it is going well: I have constant amounts of energy rather than bursts and falls.  I feel much healthier and more in control.  My appetite has also virtually disappeared (which is extremely unusual for me!)

I have also – wait for it – lost five pounds! At a rate of over 1lb per day I’m not complaining.

Now, I know this is lies.  I know it’s impossible to lose 5lbs of fat in three days, and that it’s just water, bla bla.  I know all that.  But it’s hard not to do a little dance of happiness when I get on the scales in the morning (an internal happy dance – dancing is not on the agenda at 6am).

My diet today is looking something like this:

Grazing during the day at work.  I have a selection of:

– mixed nuts

– a vegetable smoothie (avacado and low fat yoghurt)

– olives

– fat free cottage cheese

– anchovies

When I get home tonight I’m going to do a big stirfry with lots of veggies and tofu.

I’m also going to get my backside to the gym for the first time since starting this plan: 7km is supposedly on the cards, but it depends how much of a pounding my body is prepared to take.  Will update you tomorrow!

Low carb eating – the rules

THESE ARE THE RULES OF MY HEALTHY, LOW CARB EATING PLAN

No meticulous measuring

No calorie counting

No beating myself up if I fall off the wagon

No ‘all or nothing’ thinking

All I am going to do is follow these rules:

1. No grains, wheat, etc

Bread

2. No sugar

Sugar
3. As much veg as possible

Fruit and Veg

4. Unlimited good fat

Avacados for Guac

5. Minimal saturated fat

Bacon

6. Unlimited protein

Cottage Cheese Salad w/Olives, Grape Tomatoes, & Fresh Tarragon

No carb weighing. No calorie counting. No portion control. I follow the rules above, eat when I’m hungry, and that’s it.

When I take this plan seriously, I find it beneficial in numerous ways:

  1. I have bags of energy. I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist, so I’m not really sure why this is. However, my lay-person’s guess would be that my blood sugar is level and my brain isn’t engaged in controlling insulin.
  2. I’m not hungry. Ever. Even if I want food, I don’t have that gnawing feeling, where you’d run over your own grandmother for some food and your stomach sounds likes a the mating call of a humpback whale.
  3. My skin clears up. Again, I’m not an expert on why this is, but after consulting the unquestionable and totally reliable oracle of Google I suspect this is to do with hormones. Eating cake and producing too much insulin can cause the things to punish you with a patchwork of zits. Thanks hormones.
  4. I lose weight. Everyone knows that dropping the carbs is the fastest way to lose weight.

However, this is deceptive: a lot of this is water lost from the liver and the muscles (the body’s glycogen stores).

So as soon as you start celebrating, a well-earned biscuit crosses your lips, replenishes the glycogen and BOOM you gain a stone in one day, and spend the next 24 hours wailing into a bowl of coco-pops and resigning to a life of fat.

In short: weight loss from a low carb diet is not reliable. It’s best not to do it solely for this reason.

This diet isn’t for everyone. It works well for me because I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth (I’d much rather have a slab of cheese than a piece of cake any day). I am also a little sensitive to sugar, and if I overdo it I end up with the shakes three hours later. So generally I feel much better this way.

What is your view? Is low carb dieting a good thing? Or is the age old wisdom of ‘eat a little less, move a little more’ still the only adage that counts?

Photo credits from top to bottom: rprata; Uwe Hermann; sjdunphy; ericskiff; kjetil_r; kellyhogaboom

For more about my low carb healthy eating plan, read here

Low carb dieting

Cheese selection
photo credit: richard_north

Low carb eating has a bad press, and often with good reason.  The very low carb diets such as the notorious Atkins plan involve extremely high levels of saturated fat (bad news for the ticker) and protein (which, so I believe, can damage the kidneys in high levels).

Despite this, I frequently experiment with low carb diets.   I never stay on it for too long – mainly because I get the calling from chocolate fudge cake, haribo, or pizza.  (Damn those carbs and their peer pressure).

But when I’m on it, I feel so much better: I have more energy, my skin clears up, and I feel more in control.

As I’ve mentioned, one of my goals is to lose weight.  So far that plan is going extremely badly.  Despite bashing out the miles on the treadmill week after week, those fat cells just keep storing up every morsel I give ‘em like a hamster shoving food into its cheeks for the winter.

So today is DAY 1 of my new eating and exercise plan.  I will be blogging about it here and I expect you lovely readers to keep me on the straight and narrow.

So here’s what my plan looks like.  It is not based on any particular diet but bits from all of them – and it is not no carb, but low carb.  It is also low in saturated fat (in theory), thus avoiding the major health pitfall of typical low carb regimes.

It is also meant to be something I can stick to long term.  Which means the following:

–          No meticulous measuring

–          No calorie counting

–          No beating myself up if I fall off the wagon

–          No ‘all or nothing’ thinking

All I am going to do is follow these rules:

1. No grains, wheat, etc

Bread

2. No sugar

Sugar
 

3. As much veg as possible

Fruit and Veg

4. Unlimited good fat

Avacados for Guac

5. Minimal saturated fat

Bacon

6. Unlimited protein

Cottage Cheese Salad w/Olives, Grape Tomatoes, & Fresh Tarragon

(Photo credits from top to bottom: rprata; Uwe Hermann; sjdunphy; ericskiff; kjetil_r; kellyhogaboom)

No carb weighing.  No calorie counting.  No portion control.  I follow the rules above, eat when I’m hungry, and that’s it.

When I take this plan seriously, I find it beneficial in numerous ways:

  1. I have bags of energy.  I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist, so I’m not really sure why this is.  However, my lay-person’s guess would be that my blood sugar is level and my brain isn’t engaged in controlling insulin.
  2. I’m not hungry.  Ever.  Even if I want food, I don’t have that gnawing feeling, where you’d run over your own grandmother for some food and your stomach sounds likes a the mating call of a humpback whale.
  3. My skin clears up.  Again, I’m not an expert on why this is, but after consulting the unquestionable and totally reliable oracle of Google I suspect this is to do with hormones.  Eating cake and producing too much insulin can cause the things to punish you with a patchwork of zits. Thanks hormones.
  4. I lose weight.  Everyone knows that dropping the carbs is the fastest way to lose weight.

However, this is deceptive: a lot of this is water lost from the liver and the muscles (the body’s glycogen stores).

So as soon as you start celebrating, a well-earned biscuit crosses your lips, replenishes the glycogen and BOOM you gain a stone in one day, and spend the next 24 hours wailing into a bowl of coco-pops and resigning to a life of fat.

In short: weight loss from a low carb diet is not reliable.  It’s best not to do it solely for this reason.

This diet isn’t for everyone.  It works well for me because I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth (I’d much rather have a slab of cheese than a piece of cake any day).  I am also a little sensitive to sugar, and if I overdo it I end up with the shakes three hours later.  So generally I feel much better this way.

The one snag is getting up the energy to go running.

dog on treadmill
photo credit: normanack

Obviously running is much more difficult if you’re running on empty, and the general wisdom is that running on a low carb diet is not to be recommended.

I find, however, that doing the bulk of running with a depleted glycogen store teaches my body to burn fat for energy.  This massively improves my stamina.

I’m told that there are precisely a gazillion miles’ worth of running stored in fat cells, if only we could access to them. (Nothing like a bit of scientific precision to back up your point).  So, bizarrely, I find my running actually benefits from doing some low-carb training.  Then when I do a long run, or take part in a race, I eat some carbs.

This is all controversial and not proven, and again it’s not for everyone, but there is a school of thought that this type of training can be beneficial (known as ‘train low-compete high – you can read more here: http://dinedashdeadlift.com/2012/04/12/train-low-compete-high-irunnerblog-post/ )

Unfortunately, I am not very disciplined and I slip up on this diet quite frequently.  I’m the kind of person that has one biscuit and thinks: ‘Well, diet’s ruined now, I might as well get started on this family-sized pie.’  But I am quite convinced that if I would just engage myself and stay the course, this plan is by far the healthiest and most effective – for me.  Not for everyone.

But whatever the experts say, I do think it is sometimes worthwhile listening to your body.  Cavemen didn’t evolve on a diet of bread and pasta – which is something worth thinking about.

Would you ever consider eating a low carb diet? Or do you think the low-fat paradigm is sacrosanct? Let me know!

Today’s run

Running
photo credit: Kekka

A day off from work provided a nice opportunity to bash out some miles on the treadmill.  A pre-run fuel-up of, um, chocolate fudge cake with whipped cream (I know, not top of the list of Runner’s World recommended nutritional items) turned out to be a surprisingly good boost.

I clocked up just over 10k in total, but again this was in bursts of varying speed rather than all at once.  Unlike most runners, I prefer intervals to long runs… probably due to having the concentration span of plankton.

Anyway here’s how my run went:

2k – outside (in the sun! Hurrah!) meandering my way to the gym, with a few hills thrown in despite the trauma of last time.

Arrived at the gym.  Dying.

6k – on treadmill, starting off slow and gradually building up the speed

3 x 500m at speeds varying from 12k/h to 15k/h, depending on how much my lungs felt they were going to actually explode

1k – slow jog home

Feeling good now, but I will feel even better once I’ve had my post-run recovery snack of the other half of chocolate fudge cake.  Maybe Runner’s World are missing a trick there! 🙂