Confession: I’ve fallen off the wagon

Wagons West

photo credit: Echo9er

…the diet one, not the alcohol one.

So many wagons!

Anyway, I haven’t posted about my weight loss efforts in a while, and there’s a reason for that.

So let me explain.  Other Half and I have been off work all this week.  It has been a lovely opportunity to reconnect with each other, touch base with household chores and…ummm… stuff our faces.  Unfortunately, O.H has the constitution of a beanpole and can happily munch on maltesers every waking minute of the day.

I, alas, am not so lucky.

Yesterday had been going well.  I was attempting a ‘semi-fast’ day, à la the 5:2 diet.  I’d had some avacado, Greek yoghurt, houmous and veggies.

Then, last night, I got a virus on my computer.  It was one of those vicious ones, where a message locks down your screen saying something like: ‘the police are watching you, pay a hundred pound fine’ yada yada.  After some frantic thumbing through the manual, I managed to restore my computer and remove the virus.

All’s well that ends well, right?

The thing is, I am very sensitive to anything I consider to be hostile or confrontational.  Even though, rationally, I *know* these virus makers are not attacking me personally – that they are just hoping to find some mug who will cough up – I couldn’t help feeling shaken up.  I found it difficult to comprehend that I live on the same planet as people who make viruses for fun.

So what did I do?

Erm, yeah.

At 10pm last night, I legged it to the shop and bought:

– 2 x chocolate/cream eclairs

– a packet of cola bottles

– 2 x microwaveable pizzas

And I ate THE LOT.

*Feeling the shame*

Anyway.  Today is a brand new day.  I ignored my smirking scales this morning, daring me to come over and survey the damage; I’m now sitting with a cup of hot coffee, listening to McAfee whirring away in the background (yeah, thanks McAfee, really did a good job there didn’t you?) Today will be better.

On the plus side, my running has been going well.  The day before yesterday I did an 11k-er and today I’m hoping to do something similar.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Why I don’t stick to a running regime

Couch to 5K Screenshot
photo credit: DBarefoot

A quick flick through any running magazine will throw up countless running regimes:

– couch to 5k!

– run a marathon in 6 months!

– take on Usain Bolt at the 100m at the next Olympics!

etc etc.

A lot of runners swear by them.  When trying to arrange a night out on a Saturday, it is not unheard of for a runner to say with reverence: ‘Sunday is my long run day’, as if this was added as a footnote to the 10 commandments.

Such runners stick to their regimes religiously: Monday is intervals, Tuesday is hill running, Wednesday is “rest day” (but not a rest day involving burgers and re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy, but 100 laps of the pool or a quick 100km mountain biking session).  Thursday is tempo run, Friday is ‘core work’ (I’m still not quite sure what this is)… and so on.

I’m not meaning to mock the running regime.  They are structured like this for a reason, and runners who follow one will no doubt produce consistently faster times.

My problem is that, as soon as I feel like I have to do something, it becomes a chore.

I don’t know about you, but my life is full of chores.  I have to go to work, I have to clean the bathroom,  have to cook tea, I have to clip my bunny’s claws, and so on.  For those with children the whirlwind of chores must chew you up and spit you out.

For me, running is an escape from all that: I don’t want it to become an addition.

Sure, Tuesday could be tempo run day.  But what if Tuesday comes round and I don’t feel like doing a tempo run? What if I feel like doing some intervals? Or heaven forbid, kicking back with a box of Thorntons and channel hopping for five hours?

This sort of attitude goes against everything they tell you.  Many a motivational poster quote boils down to: run whether you feel like it or not. 

But the thing is – and I know this will come as a surprise to many – I am not an Olympic athlete.  Truly.  I know! Unbelieveable.  Anyway, I’m not.  So my times might not improve, I might never get rid of that roll of lard round my thighs, I might never scoop that alluring <50m 10k time.  But does it really matter?

I get up in the morning and think, do I feel like running today? And because it’s not a chore, because it’s not something I have to do, half the time the answer is: yes, I do.

Sometimes I’m out running and, after 2km, I’ve had enough: I go home.  Other times, I feel like I could run forever, Forest Gump-style, so I pull out an 18km from nowhere.  But if I had woken up that morning and thought: I have to run 18km today, because my running regime told me to.  Well, it becomes a chore.

You’ve probably guessed I don’t like being told what to do.

Anyway, this is how it works for me.  As a result, I run reasonably consistently and have done for 8 or 9 years.  I am relatively fit, but not stupidly so.  I love running.  But sometimes I love not running.  There’s a lot to feel guilty about in life.  Don’t let running be one of them.

What do you think? Do you worship at the alter of running programmes? Or do you prefer to take a free and easy approach? Let me know!

The misery of hill running

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.

Dieting progress – back on track! With one major drawback…

After the onslaught of misery and negativity I dished out the other day (er, yeah, sorry about that), I feel back on track.  I feel good.

Now it’s day 11, and I have lost 10 lbs.  I have more mental clarity, I feel lighter, I feel more in control.  I feel, dare I say it, happier.  Everything is going well.

I’ve been eating reasonably healthily and keeping to my rules (most of the time… the incident with the block of cheese never happened.  IT NEVER HAPPENED.)

I made myself a truly delicious Greek salad for tea that was filling and nutritious (see below).

photo (1)

Salad including rocket, spinach, watercress, avacado, fetta cheese, olives and a dressing of olive oil/lemon juice/taragon. Yum.

So what’s the problem?

The problem, dear readers, is what they might call the fly in the ointment.  This diet I’m on has so much to recommend it – it offers rapid weight loss, clear skin, mental clarity, constant energy; and if done in the right way, it is extremely healthy.

The problem is: I can’t run.

I mean, I can run.  But all the joy has gone out of it.  I’ve been running a few times since I started this diet, and each time has been miserable.  I have had to stop after about 4k; one time in the gym I ended up with my head between my knees, about to faint (an excruciatingly embarassing experience, if you’re interested: all the gym posers looked at me warily as if I might suddenly whip out a machete).

So what do I do?

I love running.  When I don’t run, I feel like something’s missing.  When running is going well, I feel like air moving over the Earth.  That’s not how I feel now.  I feel like a bull seal moving over a hill.

So now I have a dilemma.  Do I carry on with this until I reach my target weight (11 pounds to go), or do I find a more moderate diet which allows me to run, but without all the other benefits which go with the low carb regime? Decisions, decisions.

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