Shrinksy

If nothing changes, then nothing changes

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Oh, sh*t.

This whole eating thing started out as a diet, then went to an empowered stance against the whole dieting industry, then turned back into a…diet.

I’ve become really neurotic about food. And although yesterday I had 1750 calories and about 60 carbs (vegetables included), I’m gaining weight. 

How do I know I’m gaining weight? The last pair of pants that fit me after the miscarriage no longer fits me. I don’t dare weigh myself because I am already getting pretty neurotic, and that number on the scale is likely to get really overwhelming for me. I don’t want to “feed” the neurosis, if you will.

Where I Intended to Go

Here’s what I want: 

I want to be able to have food be no big deal. Like it was last summer and fall. I was eating, but not acting like a total spaz about it. I ate healthily, but with treats. I never want to count calories. I want there to be harmony between my mind and body.

I want to exercise because it’s good for me and because it helps manage weight, not because I feel guilty about something I ate, or because I feel so nervous about weight gain that I need to run off the energy. I don’t want to invite injury with lots of running (been there, done that) or have to join an expensive gym unless they have awesome dance classes.

I want to go shopping for pants and fit into a 16. I’ll take 16. 14 or 12 would be nice, but I’ll take 16. 18’s no good. I don’t want to keep gaining and gaining throughout my lifetime. I’d like to weigh under 200. 

I want my skin to keep looking healthy, because I think that’s a sign of good nourishment. Plus, I’m proud of having good skin. I may struggle with weight but my skin and hair are awesome.

What I have attempted to do to get what I want: 

Atkins-style induction (<20g carbs), then Primal Blueprint-style eating (50-100 carbs) for about a week and a half. Three weeks in total. Lots of veggies, eggs, coconut milk, bacon, beef, chicken. Nothing processed whatsoever. Occasional alcohol. Occasional yam. Occasional rice. A bit of dark chocolate.

I’ve started exercising, a la Primal Blueprint. I think Mark Sisson’s exercise protocol is quite sane. I’m doing wall pushups and planks and squats. I’m doing HIIT once per week. That all seems like good stuff.

Where Things Have Gone Awry

Although I have dealt with weight issues for my entire life, I’ve never become eating disordered. I’ve always had too much of a sense of self-preservation. I get like, “Wait a minute. Why am I making myself crazy for this? So other people can approve of my body? Oh, hell no.” 

But for the past three weeks, I’ve starved myself, induced heart arrhythmia, given myself some acne, low energy, and total anxiety - all in the name of weight loss. “Effortless” somehow doesn’t apply here.

And I can’t stop thinking about food. I’m thinking about it all the time. Should I eat this? Or that? What about this nutrient? What about what this person says? And let me also say that every single thing I read about nutrition and weight loss is contradicted elsewhere. I want to email one of these experts and bleat, “WHO IS RIGHT?? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?? JUST TELL ME!!”

I’ve become obsessed with food, to the point of major anxiety. Last night, the anxiety and obsession were really strong. I was Googling all about different diets, different people’s experiences. Paleo Hacks, Mark’s Daily Apple, and finally, the Perfect Health Diet. Feeling my arms, feeling my belly, uncomfortable in my body. Had trouble sleeping. Actually had to take a Benadryl to get to sleep. I am an awesome sleeper, so that’s not good. Not good at all.

Where Do We Go From Here? 

Well, I’m going to eat more carbs, for one thing. Apparently there’s this Golden Chance thing that happens with low-carb dieting, where it only works once in your life, after which it doesn’t work. Okay, fine. I need a sweet potato, really badly. I’m going to eat one.

I read Perfect Health Diet, which advocates a fist-sized serving of carbs at each meal. In other words, um, normal eating. They also advocate reducing fat intake. What? WHAT?? That’s the whole thing about Paleo - you’re supposed to be able to eat fat! But it seems to be making me fat, so…I guess it’s worth a try.

I’m going to try to just chill the fuck out and be nice to myself and eat less meat and more plants. Although everything will still be a whole food, I’m not going to eat bacon and 4 eggs for breakfast anymore.

I’ll let you know.

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It worked. It didn’t, and it did.

So, Day 10 was a turning point.

I didn’t tell you this at the time, but I was really weepy and emotional that day. Call it hormones, call it baby stuff, but I was not a well person. My heart was starting to do an arrhythmic thing. My thyroid felt funny. It seemed like any sane person would see that although it would be nice to get through to Day 16, it wasn’t going to work out. I’m not sure why. 

I decided to eat some carbs at dinner. I decided that if Mark Sisson says it’s OK to stay between 50-100 carbs a day, then it’s OK for me.

I ate them. About 40g worth. 

Dear readers, I felt amazing. I no longer felt hungry and desperate. I no longer felt depressed and wild and sad and hopeless. 

So, predictably, I read Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint that night. It was a Thursday. Friday morning, I ate an apple (25g carbs) with some almond butter (5g carbs). I almost felt like I’d taken speed. 

Oddly, the never-hungry feeling finally arrived. With a little bit of carb, I’m doing fine. Easy to stay well below 100. Wine now, as before, gives me that weird tickly restless feeling in my feet. My weight seems like it’s moving, but it’s pre-period time and I know my body is very slow to lose, so I’m not jumping on the scale anytime soon. I feel that sense of my fat moving downward on my body - almost like a real spare tire that’s not mine, instead of an apple-shaped body that suspends the fat upstairs.

Oh - and now it’s very clear to me: I had gotten myself out of ketosis while I was pregnant. My theory was correct. I was like, “I’m eating low-carb breakfasts, so why am I hungry right afterwards?” It’s because when you’re not in ketosis, your body wants glucose to eat - not protein. For some reason, habits are habits. You’ve gotta stay within that 50-100g range enough of the time that the body thinks it’s the norm - or else, hello, fat!

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Day 10 addendum

Felt icky from breakfast to lunch, but did not feel like eating more. Kind of felt like, what’s the point? 

Ate lunch, got super hot, and…wait for it…I don’t feel desperately hungry. I feel OK.

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Day 10. Too far to turn back now.

Last time I did this, here’s what I wrote on Day 10:

"My mood is s t a r t i n g to level off. No weight loss yet. Gone from cranky and sad to just sort of bored. Wondering if I’ll lose weight."

This morning I woke up and felt different. That “sort of bored” feeling. I didn’t feel desperately hungry or f’d up. Then, when I ate breakfast, I did start to feel that way. Now I feel like, heavy and strange, just kind of weird. It’s the tail end of my cycle and I’m worried that if I’m starving myself of carbs, it will kill any maybe-babies that would be hanging around in there. And then I think, Don’t kid yourself. (No pun intended.)

I cried this morning. Partly to do with baby stuff, partly maybe because of hormones, partly because of how I feel physically. Mostly to do with baby stuff. I have been considering starting an infertility blog because baby stuff is really kicking my ass. 

In the evening, I get a bit crazed and panicky. I think, this is forever, this feeling is going to last forever, I’m damaging myself, I’m hurting myself with this weird starvation. It really does feel like starvation, which is tough because I’m actually eating a lot. For breakfast I had 4 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, onions, lots of spinach, a little feta, and half a chicken sausage to top it all off. Then, an hour or so later, 2 cheese sticks. Right. So why am I hungry?

I Google a little, just for reassurance that the “low carb flu” is not a permanent experience. Although I’m almost 39 years old, I’m still learning that feelings are not forever and that they do not always spell the truth.

My current line of reasoning is that I’ll give it 16 days, that I’ve made it pretty far at this point, and if I don’t feel better eventually, I’ll give in, eat normally, and let nature do what it’s going to do. If I have to be a size 18, then I have to be a size 18. Whatevs.

Health update: My skin looks awesome - it cleared up and it’s starting to have that ketosis glow. I also have a strange UTI-ish feeling. Not pain, just that weird feeling that signals that something’s up, down there. Unusual, when I’m not having any sugar or alcohol.

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Day 9. Figured some stuff out.

Yesterday I ate breakfast, plus a few handfuls of nuts, because I was trying to see what satiation would do to help me get through to lunch.

I ate lunch late because of meetings. So, I ate around 2. I was hungry, but not desperately so. I had a big lunch (zucchini noodle lasagna, yum) and felt good afterwards.

I was also given some advice from someone I respect: that if I was doing all this to get pregnant, it wasn’t necessary. Lots of people get pregnant eating everything under the sun, she said.

I got it into my head that I need to go easier on myself, and maybe add some carbs in at dinner. My skin has been breaking out, and I’ve been feeling good sometimes, but (physically and emotionally) crappy other times. More on that later.

Then, on the way home from work, I hit traffic. A commute that usually takes me 35 minutes took me about an hour. I was pissed, and getting hungrier, and panicking. I ate the rest of the can of nuts that I’d been working on in the morning. I got more anxious because I had the thought that eating the nuts was probably fattening, and then I got angry at how hard it all is, and then I got into Fuck-It Mode. 

I ate a small bowl of gluten-free pasta for dinner. 

It didn’t feel as good as I expected. I felt kind of itchy. I thought I’d feel at ease, but I only felt more panicky. And what do I do, my friends, when I feel panicky? I GOOGLE. Yes. It is a habit that does me as much harm as good. But when it does me good, it does help.

So here are some things I figured out: 

1. Some people are “metabolically inflexible,” i.e., less Neolithic and more susceptible to weight gain, sugar addiction, overdoing everything involving sugar and alcohol, etc. These people do not always lose weight on induction. (Surprise! I’m one of these people! Duh!) Induction may take longer for us because our bodies don’t just switch over to fat-burning easily. Notably, we also build muscle more easily and suffer fewer bad side effects from low-carb eating. There’s got to be some ancient advantage in there somewhere. 

2. The point of induction, for me, is to get the conversion done. I am trying to get The Feeling, the Never Hungry Feeling, the one that is peaceful and non-craving, non-desperate. I’m trying to get to the point where my body is burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. It’s not important that I lose weight during the conversion, just that I survive it. Once I’m there, I can reduce my calories however I want. In the meantime, cheese sticks and big lunches are my saving grace.

3. Here’s why I think I gained weight: I think that while I was pregnant, I ate sugar/carbs to survive the morning sickness, and my body slowly converted back to glucose dependency. I wasn’t eating enough calories to gain weight (yes, calories/amounts do count, it sucks, it sucks, I know, I know) but I was, in fact, back in the danger zone. Once I had the d&e and started partying with food, whoosh - back came the fat. I do think hormones played a role, too, but I’ve got to assume that any future calorie reduction will override that.

4. The conversion period makes me anxious and pissed off. There’s something in my biochemistry and/or in my psychological makeup that gets very freaked out by the feeling of starvation. I mean, now that we’re talking about it, it’s not so surprising that starvation freaks me out at an animal level. But I have to account for that or else I’ll obey it and eat. 

5. No matter what, getting the Never Hungry Feeling back is key for me. Otherwise it’s hungry, hungry, hungry, angry, ashamed, hungry, angry, fuck it, Tostitos and wine.

This makes sense for today, dear readers.

PS:

Breakfast = 4 eggs, bacon, feta, spinach, onion, half-caf iced coffee

2 cheese sticks

Lunch = zucchini noodle lasagna, decaf iced coffee

2 cheese sticks at 3:00 PM

Feeling OK. Not amazing, but OK, like I’m not going to tear someone’s arm off. Able to forget about food for a few minutes at a time. It could all fall apart if I get hungry again, though. We’ll see. 

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Day 8. Standing on the shoulders of…me, from a year ago.

It’s frustrating to go through a low-carb induction and not lose any weight, and not be sure how that’s going to change. But I wrote that on Day 8 of the last induction I did, and then soon after, I hit a stride. I went through all of my old posts this morning to try and find some encouragement. It’s amazing how quickly I lose faith in this process when it’s not going my way instantly. Last time it took 3 weeks, all told. And then my weight started moving. And then it was easy peasy for, like, a year. And I could eat nachos and ice cream and still lose weight. 

Debating whether to add in carbs at dinnertime.

Pros: 

I’ll probably feel better

Cons: 

I don’t know if it’s too early; if it is, it will derail my weight loss and I won’t know why; I don’t want to go through all this awful detox stuff and then not have it pay off; I won’t be doing what I said I would do, which is to go 14 days. I mean, it’s only 7 more days. I did the hard part already.

There’s just this constant gnawing feeling in my stomach, telling me I need more food for the sake of my blood sugar. And with that gnawing feeling comes a sense of failure (yeah, this is the psychological part); like, if I was Someone Else, I wouldn’t be hungry, because I had four eggs and some nuts for breakfast. And if I was Someone Else, I would have lost weight already. Like, shame and fear.

I guess it’s OK to add this in, though it’s not 100% on topic:

Infertility causes women to go crazy. I have taken quizzes online that have told me that I’m going less crazy than other women in the same boat. When I went off wheat a year ago, it was partly because I was hearing that Paleo and/or gluten-free-ness helps women with fertility. It has not yielded me a live baby, though. And I wonder - is this all some sort of crazy diet that I never really needed to do? Should I just get a croissant and be done with it? What do these detoxes mean? Do they harm my fertility by driving up my cortisol, because they’re so stressful? Or, if I stop doing them, will that harm my fertility? Or what if my fertility’s never been broken, and it’s my husband that has the problem? 

And here’s the really scary thing: WHAT IF THE DOCTORS CAN’T DETECT IT, AND WE NEVER GET IT FIXED, AND WE NEVER HAVE A KID? 

My husband said something wise to me this weekend, something that I’ll never forget. He was talking about all of my Googling and my attempts to figure this out on my own and my diets and herbs and acupuncture and yoga and meditation and counseling. He said:

"Although it’s hard, it would probably be the best thing if you could just listen to the doctors and do what they tell you to do, then let everything else go. I mean, it’s the only thing you haven’t tried."

Hmm. Maybe I should start an IF blog.

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Day 7. Weigh more. Sigh.

I’m at 203 as of this morning. I’m still eating nuts between meals because I’m getting hungry, but I’m not as desperate as I was last week.

Obsessing about two things: whether I have some sort of subclinical diabetes, because I feel like Someone Else would have lost weight, and how it is that Paleo people make treats n’ snacks with honey and molasses and fruit and look all thin.

I want an ice cream.

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Day 6.

Yesterday I ate my breakfast, and then went to see a family friend at my mom’s house. There were muffins. I didn’t eat them, not that I normally would, but I noticed that I didn’t even see them as food, really. My hunger was gone - totally gone. I was psyched. I stayed until about 1 (when I would normally eat lunch at 12) and I ate a few cheese sticks. Felt awesome.

But then I got hungry around 2, and it was like, wham! SO hungry. Felt kind of like, blood sugar-unsafe-scary hungry. System fail-hungry, even wondering if I should drive. We were in traffic on the way to a restaurant and I started to get really pissed off and crazed. When I finally ate, I had a burger with chili on it, ate the bottom half of a gluten-free bun, some salad, and two of my husband’s fries. I loved eating, but I was still hungry afterward, which I take to be because the food I ate was low-GI, so my blood sugar was rising very slowly. I didn’t feel well again for about an hour. We went to Home Depot and I got a small bag of cashews in the checkout line. After eating 3/4 of that bag, I felt OK.

This morning I ate my breakfast and got very hungry afterward. We went grocery shopping at Whole Foods (I know, snobby, but it’s the only place I can get good meat around here) and I got a small amount of Caprese salad from the deli bar. Once I ate that, I was fine. it’s now 11:08 and I’m about to do yoga. My body feels like, “Food? I don’t need food.” But I bet that if I don’t eat lunch by 1, it will be trouble again.

So I’m trying to stay ahead of my hunger, because somehow when I don’t, I have to eat a lot more to catch up with it. Huh.

Oh, PS - my fat feels a little bit loose! Eeeee!

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Some OK-ness. (Day 4)

Woke up this morning and felt really hungry. So I ate my usual 4 eggs/feta/onions/bacon. Had a 1/2-caf iced coffee. Weighed myself before breakfast: 201.5.

A couple of hours later, I felt really hungry again, and had a bunch of almonds. I know that over the long term, it won’t be good if I’m eating nuts in between meals, but right now I’m just trying to manage the hunger so that it doesn’t overwhelm me. If I am doing this right, my body will adjust and I won’t miss snacks.

Lunch: big salad with tuna from the cafeteria at work. I threw in a few chickpeas. Another first-week cheat, meaning that I am deliberately using a few high-carb things to get me through the first week without any sugar, grains, or root veggies.

Before and after lunch, I’m actually feeling pretty good. Again, it’s that peaceful feeling, like I don’t want to chase more food. I’m still foggy-headed and a bit low-energy. My joints hurt a little. But I also sense that there’s a floor in my stomach, instead of a bottomless sugar/carb mill. It’s a safe feeling, like I can think about something else besides food. It’s liberating.

I’m placing a lot of emphasis on getting enough fat. If I understand correctly from my reading (Gary Taubes, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf), it’s not protein-heavy meals that I want, it’s low-carb, high-fat meals that I want. I love how much that flies in the face of the “fat free” orthodoxy. Eating fat feels like saying “yes” to myself. You can eat fat! In fact, you SHOULD eat fat!