Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ugh II

Daughter number two is laid up with a bad sprain, and daughter number one just called me late last night from West Philadelphia where she is staying for an internship.  She had flank pain and wasn't sure how to get to the emergency room. Poor kid. She's on antibiotics for kidney infection and feeling better, but I am 3 hours away and not able to leave or help because I'm volunteering at camp. It's a wonderful camp and the people are beautiful, but it is very hard not to be able to leave to help either daughter or my poor stressed out husband.

I do have time, because the camp has been quiet.  I read this article which is nothing new to people who read a lot on the subject-- the research suggests exercise alone doesn't help all that much with weight loss.  My personal view is that lots of continuous movement helps quite a lot, but occasional bursts like Zumba three times a week don't accomplish much from a weight loss perspective. I'm glad to see the beauty of exercise emphasized in the article-- as in, don't give up on it just because it's not the answer to obesity. It is interesting that of my chosen weight loss reads this year (not such a shocker, since I start with a bias), none of them endorse hard exercise for weight loss.

If you're looking for an amusing tool, here's the USDA's Body Weight Planner which is linked in the article.

Have been trying to figure out my new techniques at a place where I have limited choice over what I eat. It's been a little awkward-- what do you do when hate the only entree?-- but with the help of a stash of nuts and chocolate, I've been making it work I think. When I nipped back to bring my injured girl home, I stepped on the scale and I had lost four pounds since I started less than a week ago, but my weight fluctuates a lot and I don't want to get too hung up on the numbers.  I do check regularly, because (a) it's just a number, and not a measure of my human worth and (b) I don't like bad surprises. It's like giraffes on the savannah-- you keep that lion in sight, she's not going to hurt you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


So, when last we visited our heroine, summer was going great.  Up like a rocket, down like a stick. I found out Friday I have Medical Things that have to be dealt with-- hopefully it will all be okay in the end, but testing and visits and possible surgery are in my future.  And then on Monday my beautiful, sweet 14 year old broke or badly sprained her ankle 2 weeks before her fancy ballet Summer Intensive in Seattle. So lots of crying over the last week.  Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery, etc.

I have to say I am really on board with the Fat Me Not system.  It fits me to a T and very much accords with my own views on weight control. It's super easy, and it's portable. I'm at camp right now and all I have to think about is filling my plate appropriately and drinking water with and between meals. I love that I can have my sweet treats but I don't get those urgent cravings, perhaps partly because I have been awash in misery, but I think my body is happier too.  My problems with gas and GERD are better. I enjoy my food more and think about it way less. I've lost a few pounds but I am hoping to eat this way going forward regardless, because I feel way better whether or not I lose significant weight. I do think it results in fewer calories generally.  I am not sure why this one clicked-- I think it's the way she presented the information, and key for me is the 18 grams of sugar at a time guideline.  I used to put my reluctant kids to bed with the reminder, "More fun tomorrow!" and I use that when I eat six blocks of chocolate or 1 cookie-- more fun next time.  So combined with wearing my fit bit and the relative ease in summer of getting 10K steps in, that part of my life is going well.

So if anyone is reading this and wants to try it, here are the key concepts, though I recommend you buy the Kindle book for $2:

1. Eat meals off a nine inch plate, half for produce, one quarter starch and one quarter protein.

2. Limit sugar to 18 grams at a time.

3. Drink 8 oz of water before and after meals (basically a poor man's gastric balloon)

4. Eat every 3-4 hours, 3 meals, two snacks.

Gorgeous day, I have 4500 up on my Fit Bit.  I could do work, or I could ramble around outside a little bit.  All things considered, I think I'm going for the latter.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


So it’s summer, which is incredibly awesome when you work for a school district. After a dark and bummer spring, it’s been bright and gorgeous and blowy. I’m out on the porch enjoying 81 degrees with a little wind and some puffy clouds.  This is the time of year when being me is an awesome gig-- wholesome cycles of work and relaxation, lots more physical activity comes in naturally, and there’s nothing in particular at the moment, knock wood please God, hanging over my head. I get to just exist in a space of feeding my family, working in my garden, arranging helpful activities for my loved ones, a and snuggling with my SO. So, yay.
That said, I’m still too fat. My GERD has been better but it’s still a thing. I’m on thyroid meds now-- my 24 year old was diagnosed with moderate hypothyroidism last fall, prompting me to get mine checked. My TSH was a little high with some symptoms, so I’m taking Synthroid for it. Overall I think the Synthroid is a good thing-- not losing hair constantly, more energy, don’t have the burning eyes or weird muscle aches. Getting titrated has been a thing but I’m feeling good at this point.
My weight is at the very tippy top, even though my behavior hasn’t been too out of line. I suspect peri-soon-to-be-menopause (cycles have been way off since I started Synthroid) and of course the thyroid stuff. I will be 50 in two months. How about them apples.  Something needs to be done, and I’ve been kind of hemming and hawing. Five factor/clean-eating with cheat day is certainly a viable option, but I am kinda not sure the cheat day thing is the best in the long run.  Anything highly restrictive or requiring lots of forethought is of course Right Out.  I tried the 21 Fix in the winter, got rather hungry on it, changed it to clean eating and then sort of fell off while on vacation at my dad’s. So no lasting weight improvement from that-- not the program’s fault, it just didn’t match my needs that well.  I was looking at some weight/health articles (always looking at some weight/health article) and I followed a thread for the Slimplate System, which is basically just portion controlled plates.  While the plates are too $$ for me, I bought the book on Kindle and liked it quite a lot. I have read so much on weight regulation and dieting that my skepticism is highly tuned. I am particularly annoyed by claims that sound good but do not actually hold up under what we know about weight control, or haven’t been tested.  
So two options I have explored this spring:

  1. Harley Pasternak’s Five Pounds
  2. Fat Me Not, by Myo Nwe and Sandeep Grewal

Harley’s earlier book, the Five Factor Diet, has been the only diet to get me below 185 pounds since I had a kid 24 years ago.  I kept much of it off for several years, and only in the last year or two have I returned to my high weight.  So I was anxious to hear what he had to say. His focus was on lots of gentle exercise (walking 10,000 steps daily), short, focused weight training (5 minutes of a single exercise daily), good sleep (shutting off the phone and getting the blinky red lights out your room at night), and of course clean eating.  He has moved to 2 cheat meals instead of a cheat day.  And that’s the part where I couldn’t really embrace it.  I like my jam and my chocolate and I just can’t quite get behind eating those things only twice a week.
I like Myo Nwe’s book for a number of reasons.  I like her pragmatic view of obesity: not as a personal failing, or a non-problem, but a metabolic disorder in which regulating mechanisms are not operating as they should.  The goal of management should be to get all those metabolic processes in the gut, muscles, and hormones going in the right direction.  She discusses a number of weight control studies, but the bottom line appears to be, eat less, especially less of the wrong things, and your gut biome and hormones will start pulling for you and not against you.  So how do you consistently eat less, without counting calories, which is a pain in the ass, or restricting the type of food you eat, ditto?
Well, you eat off a nine inch plate, and you portion it, and you also drink an 8 oz glass of water with meals. There’s more-- you don’t eat more than 18 grams of sugar at a time, stick to real food to maximize the calorie burning your gut has to do, avoid artificial sweeteners, eat every 3-4 hours, take your time.  But the bottom line is modest plates with normal food.  She insists it’s not difficult, and that it works.
I’m on board. Let’s see where this bus is going.