Sunday, November 19, 2017

And Another One

So, some observations about 16:8 intermittent fasting:

1. Thyroid. TSH below 5 is normal. They don't necessarily treat until you hit 10. Mine was 6 or 7 when I started Synthroid. My puffy face got better, some weird aches and pains and itching (especially areas with hair, for whatever reason) eventually resolved.  But in spite of a steadily increasing dose my TSH seemed to be rising too. My endo tells me hypothyroidism is a progressive disease, so okay. I was futzing around the 5-6 range. Started intermittent fasting, what is it? Two weeks ago? Had some frequent waking and other weirdness and asked for a TSH. I was 0.6. The doctor was happy with that, but I don't like feeling so revved, so we agreed I will back it off a little, dropping one pill q 2 weeks (or maybe 1 week) and recheck. Did I heal my gut? Is leaky gut A Thing? I'm starting to think so. Maybe just the longer faster period meant I absorbed the med better.

2. Hot flashes dropped off dramatically. I only get them at night and only once or twice, and I DO sleep with the Human Torch. I've tapered off the black cohosh. We shall see.

3. Weird aches. My hips, right worse than left. Worse at night, better when I get up and move. It was bad a few days ago. Getting better. Thyroid? Old age? My weeny version of fasting? This is also apparently a thing (I Googled it), described even in 100 year old literature. Apparently it gets better. My favorite theory I came across is that your body, freed from constant digestion, has to find other things to do, so it decides to work on old injuries and get them cleaned out. Sounds dubious, doesn't it? But I like it, so I'm going with it.

4. Smaller but no real weight loss. My pants are looser. It's weird. Don't know what to tell you about that.

5. BP is highish. 130/80. Usually it drops when I exercise as I have been doing (just swimming/water jogging and occasional Zumba). Age? Fasting? ??

6. Get very tired and sleepy after eating, especially lunch.

7. Lower tummy dwindling. Clearly my system's favorite place to pull from when a snack is needed.  Again, not quite the usual pattern.

8. I've been tracking calories out of curiosity. Easier when you eat only 2 times. I stay under 2000 without much difficulty-- I don't think I broke 1500 today.  Normally 1500 calories would be very difficult for me but that was all I wanted, if you don't count wanting breakfast which I didn't eat.
But it was a mild want, not that urgent desperate feeling I used to get. Of course I don't want a slower metabolism from Biggest Loser style restriction, but I feel fine and fewer calories are supposed to be good for you. Less oxidative stress, whatever that is. Sounds like rusting, doesn't it?

9. Steel cut oats are the bomb. I don't know why it took me this long. You make up a bunch and heat them up later. With a little cookie butter, it's a happy happy thing. Plus they keep you full forever.

10. Out of interest to no one but me, I had brunch at 11:15-- smoothie made with coconut drink from Trader Joe's, frozen fruit, and apple, a leftover pork chop, and steelcut oats with cookie butter and pecans. (OK, I eat weird things.) Dinner at 6 was a plate of beef stew and 2 figs. I wasn't even particularly hungry for it. Weird.

11. I should care more about my weight. I am still very close to obese by the charts. But I feel fine, I think I look all right. I would love to lose 30 pounds but I'm not in a hurry or terribly worried about it. I'll try to write more about fitness because I don't have anything dramatic to share on the weight loss front.

12. Which brings me to current fitness regime, which is a weeny 2 or 3 times a week of swimming/water exercise for 30 minutes, and maybe one Zumba class a week. Still doing my 1 Sun Salutation with 30 second plank every day.

And that's the news, folks.

Monday, November 13, 2017

18:6 Checkin

So I have been streaming a lot of Jason Fung lectures :) DH and I have been keeping our eating window from about 10 to about 6.  Couple of observations for the record:

1. Hunger spikes about an hour before breakfast and lunch. I usually eat a big lunch and I'm not that worried about dinner. I'm thinking I've been overdoing the refined carbs in the morning, hence the excessive hunger. Even making an effort not to eat a lot of sugar, I ended up with 80 grams today-- 40 of that from fruit. I had this weird-ass lunch trying to avoid excessive refined carbs without having been to the store-- so a tiny portion of leftover beef stew, all that was left, a chunk of cheese, almonds, and some steel cut oats with a tablespoon of cookie butter. I think I'm ready to market my new diet.

2. I am more tired and sleepy in the last few days. Not sure what's up with that. I do appreciate the better sleep, since my sleep has sucked since menopause hit a few months ago. Or perhaps it's just that my DD just finished with the high school play. She had a lead so much visitation of friends and relations-- all good, but tiring. (She was awesome.)

3. My face and tummy are thinner. Very pleased. I've been No-Sing for 8 months and really happy with the results (better blood sugars and very little weirdness around food, if you don't count strange lunches like the above). But it's nice to actually look less fat. BMI 29.something down from 31. something. I eat a ton (2200 calories today at least) and don't struggle with food except on the weekends when I let myself have sweets. Then it can get a little hairy.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Obesity Code: The Upshot

One of my hobbies since like 1990 has been Weight Loss Science. Which leaves me vulnerable to whatever line of thinking is prevalent at the moment (can you say "T Factor Diet"? Covert Bailey, anyone?) How many dry turkey sandwiches did I force myself to eat? Not that I'm knocking 1990s weight loss experts. Far from it; they were using the best science available at the time. We are all looking for the magic bullet and I suspect there is blind-men-with-an-elephant-thing going on-- everyone is getting a little piece of it. Most things seem to work in the short term. Relatively few seem to work in the long term, and they don't seem to be the same things for everyone. That said, I do think Jason Fung is seeing more of the elephant than usual in The Obesity Code. The upshot? Per Dr Fung (a Canadian nephrologist who works with obese Type 2 diabetics):

*Obesity is a hormonal disregulation, not a character flaw (THANK YOU FOR THAT).'
*It isn't as evolutionarily adaptive as people claim. If you are very fat, something is amiss.
*Based on twin studies, 70% of obesity is thought to be genetic (we knew this).
*You are not doomed.
*Hormones, mainly insulin, drive obesity.
*These very fat folk we so see so often these days (ahem-- yes, me) generally have high insulin and insulin resistance, perhaps through too much grazing or eating sweet and processed foods. If you can lower insulin resistance and insulin levels, hunger and satiety hormones will get into line and the fat person will achieve homeostasis at a lower level of body fat.
*Calories count, -ish, but not in the way we're used to thinking of it. Think the Biggest Loser study. Long term calorie restriction results in reduced metabolism. Not to mention frustration and a longing for homemade apple pie with all butter crust.

OK, so we have stated the problem. What's the solution?

*Fasting protects metabolism.  Who knew? I always felt like crap not eating so I assumed, reasonably I think, that it was bad for me. But studies do not seem to show harm from fasting. Unlike long term caloric restriction, it spares metabolism and lean mass. And once you have conditioned your body not to fire insulin at random, you feel okay. Good, even, although I can't address that beyond the weeny 16 hour fasts I have been doing. When 8 of those hours are overnight, and you have cut out snacking for six months (NoS), this is not particularly hard.
*Fasting lowers insulin and insulin resistance. Don't make me look up the citations. It's true.
*Fasting is actually GOOD for you.  All the cool scientist kids in the area of time meal restriction seem to eat 1-2 meals a day, and many of them do 4-5 day fasts at least yearly. These people are not fat and they don't do it for weight loss. They do it because it appears to be protective of health and longevity, apparently partly through autophagy, which is another post or you can Google it. Feel free. It's cool.

So, in short, per The Obesity Code, fasts of various durations have health benefits, don't hurt you, and allow for caloric restriction and fat burning without triggering metabolic slowdown. 

So what am I doing? I have edged my NoS (no sweets, snacking or seconds) into an 8 hour window. I eat breakfast around ten, lunch two-ish and dinner at 6. I try to eat mostly whole foods (definitely not perfect with this) and I avoid most sweets except on the weekends.  I've been swimming/water jogging with the DH about 2-3 times a week, hit Zumba once a week, and I don't worry about it too much otherwise.

Stay tuned :)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Systems Approach

This blogger is all about systems. Persuasive stuff. There's the goal, the general target you want to hit, and the system, which is how you get there. Even if you miss or surpass the goal, the systems will still be helping you motor in the right direction.

I've had some success Minihabits (you know--that guy).  You know, overcoming the awful barriers to getting started. Since this is my weight/health/fitness blog, this would be a good place to review my fitness goals and systems, to wit:

1. I am over 50, which is in some ways awesome, because I don't have to bust my ass anymore. It's not good for over 50s to bust their asses. Science proves this. I can focus on consistency and gentle improvement which is much more my cup of tea anyway.

2. Aerobic fitness is good.  Zumba!

3. So is weight training.

4. Swimming is awesome. Have been a couple times with the Spousal Unit and had as much fun as a little kid being taken to the pool.  Plus, it is very soothing to middle aged joints.

5. Extreme moderation in diet is what I'm going for.

Are those goals? Ish? Last week I swam twice and took a Zumba class. I was pretty good with my no-sweets-snacks-seconds practice, though not perfect.  So not too bad but consistency is the thing.

I looked at my calendar for the week-- my usual Zumba class is Thursday, but I won't be able to make that. Let's say weights on Monday, Zumba Tuesday, and swimming Wednesday and Friday. That's weights only once this week, but what-the-hell-who-cares. I'm over 50.

Stick with Vanilla No-S. This week's habit-to-watch being plating the meal before I start nibbling.

I'll report in later in the week.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Problem with Moderation

... it's not very interesting to talk about. I've been following the No S Diet (it IS a lifestyle). I've been doing well with no snacks and I'm starting to zero in on the no seconds and no sweets. Some thoughts:

1. My relationship with food is 90% comfortable. Cravings are relatively rare, I have happy meal times, I don't second guess myself as much.  Honestly I would do it for that alone.

2. Weight training does seem to make you less fat, doesn't it?

3. Have adopted the mini-habit of 1 Sun Salutation a day, with 30 second plank. Not much there but it's consistent.

4. Focusing more on No seconds/not popping food as I'm preparing the meal.

5. Still rejoicing about the drop in A1C I noticed at my last bloodwork.

One small but happy effect is seeing how my younger daughter may be hungry but prefers to wait for meals. She knows she can depend on a good family dinner every night.

So that's all good. I'm still fat, of course, but less fat, and now that the Menopause Fairy has come to roost, it's good to be counteracting the "ten pounds around the middle" my gynecologist warned about.

Planning for 11 am Zumba-- I'll report back :)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Screen is Cracked

My phone dropped out of my purse at the gas station. I have a cute, not very protective case I bought at Cath Kidston in Bath,  a nice reminder of our overseas trip.  But I knew in the back of my mind it wasn't tough enough and sure 'nuff, my screen is madly crazed. And it really bothered me at first, because it meant disorder and ill luck and poor planning and poverty (I don't want to spend the $$ right now). Then I started getting used to it, as in, well, I don't have to worry about that anymore! (Mind you I could still drop it in the toilet, as happened with my last phone). And I am wondering if there is an analogy to obesity in here somewhere. It's already cracked, right?  So if I screw up, it's no worse. Those bothered, upset feelings are receding, and I'm accepting the situation.

Our natural tendency is, scientists tell us, is to revert to baseline happiness. So whether you win the lottery or lose a leg, a year later, you're about as happy as you were before. Mostly I think this is absolutely wonderful. I have found it helpful in decision making, helping me move through Optimizer's Paralysis.  I will get so used to this cracked screen I'll accept it as normal and push on.

Except I'm not really, and I'm getting the damn screen fixed as soon as we pay the IRS the money they unexpectedly demanded.  The screen is not beyond my resources to fix, and while I'm not sure it directly impacts my happiness much, it does have an effect on my quality of life.  They key thing-- not beyond my resources to fix. So, okay, my analogy is falling apart, but the point is: the initial alarm and dismay I felt when the baby weight did not come off faded a long time ago. And I'm pretty sure that a BMI of 22 is beyond what I can manage with the changes I'm willing to make. Fair enough. But am I really meeting a reasonable standard, for a middle aged woman in good health with reasonably good resources of time and energy (even if my screen is cracked)?  Can I look at each day and say, that was a decent effort? What does a decent effort look like? 

To me-- 3 meals a day of 80% whole food. Not much sugar. 1/2 hour of fairly vigorous exercise. 

Fair 'nuff.


1. Still NoS-ing.  I have a couple of mods-- I avoid snacking every day and I am not as strict with sweets, though I reserve baking for the weekends.  My N days don't look too different from my S days. I haven't been plating my meals dependably. Two things that might prove to be part of a Reasonable Effort.
2. My A1C was only 5.5, which is normal, woo-hoo. I credit No S and what I believe is the improvement in insulin regulation.
3. I didn't train really for the half. My husband decided not to do it which is probably wise, as he would have crippled himself finishing. I walked ten miles and got one of the nice young men to drive me back to the finish line in a cart.  Could barely lift my left leg for 24 hours but no permanent after effects. Many of the finishers had BMIs higher than mine. Inspiring.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interesting Bits

First, a research study.  I eat 'em up.  Whether or not it's a good study, I leave to the editors of the Lancet, although I believe they once published a discussion on whether the touch of a menstruating woman could turn a ham rancid, although that was back in like 1893.

In more modern news, this study takes us a little further along the hey-wait-a-minute road regarding fat intake and saturated fat intake in general, and it has some interested observations about diet in general in terms of longevity. This is a global study which followed 135,000 people over 7 years. Bearing in mind that diet studies are notoriously hard to conduct, it does reach some interesting conclusions:

* Optimal longevity was seen with a diet that was about 35% fat, 55% carbohydrate and (presumably, unless the Lancet has their own version of math) 10% protein.

*When carbohydrate edged above 60%, that was not so good.

*No mention of protein percentages specifically in what I read, but we know how to add. 10% tallies with other stuff I've seen which found that a relatively lowish percentage of protein was best for preventing certain kinds of disease, that correlation mostly evaporating when it was vegetable versus animal sourced protein.

*Get this:  higher saturated fat was associated with lower risk of stroke. Oi.

*Lumping fruit, veggies, and legumes together, eating more than 3-4 servings a day was not associated with much increased benefit. Huh.

*Of those, fruit was associated with the most benefit. YAY.

*Raw veggies better than cooked.

So, all very fascinating, and also reassuring for those who like to think our bodies kinda want what they kinda should have, so long as they have not been confused by excessive snacking, desserts, and processed foods. The authors point out that the lower need for freggies is good news for countries where food in general and especially fresh food is expensive.

So in a spate of ADD hyperfocus, and also I'm back to working part time this year, I resurrected my nutrition app and put my meals in, fiddling with the macros. My breakfast basically fit the profile:  1/2 cup oats, a chopped apple, 1 T each walnuts and raisins, and 2 t each raw sugar and butter. It was delicious but a little too filling, erg.

In other news, I have been NoS-ing since last March. I am really pleased with not feeling too hungry or thinking much about food between meals, which I believe to be a victory of insulin regulation, but I'm still eating too much at meals to lose weight. I counted yesterday, was over 2000 calories, and was down a bit on the scale this morning (because let's face it, 2000 was a little less than I've BEEN eating). So I'm going to track meals for a few days to get a sense of things. Will report here dutifully for follow up.

Read Minihabits for Weight Loss, which was recommended elsewhere, and have acquired 1 successful mini habit, which is one (count 'em, ONE) sun salutation per day, but I do do a 30 second plank, so that's worth something, right? Right!