Recap

A great many things have happened since my last post.

The short and sweet version: I did get a second opinion about my symptoms, and a wonderful doctor was able to diagnose a cardiac condition I had been unaware of that had been causing my symptoms all along. I then applied for and was granted a medical transfer to a new station in the Pacific Northwest nearer to medical facilities. It’s been an amazing change from the previous station, which was a very cold and remote arctic post. I am so happy that I can now eat wonderful fresh food regularly and pursue many fulfilling hobbies that I couldn’t do up North.

Unfortunately, the change has been a little too good for my mid-section! The convenience and abundant availability of fast food coupled with a busy and often draining work schedule has proved all too enticing on many days when my husband and I drive home from work. I weighed 146 before the move and now weigh in at 156.

Fast food in itself is not really the problem, though. This past year I was practicing Intermittent Fasting (IF) in addition to Intuitive Eating (IE), two principles that have a few conflicting ideals. IF helped some of my symptoms before my diagnosis and stabilized my glucose levels. Additionally, IF combined with bicycling to work made my weight drop to 142 very quickly, which made IF very alluring. But that weight loss was short lived, and I increased back to 146 when the weather turned bad and I started driving to work again.

IF also meant I skipped breakfast every day in order to eat only in an 8-hour window. But the benefits of fasting did not outweigh the concessions. For some reason, I was constantly hungry in the morning, unlike many others who practice IF. Even after a year, I was still very hungry up until my first meal of the day. This hunger led to often eating past satiety and feeling entitled to more than I needed because I knew that I would be going without for 16 hours at a time. Overeating + fast food is a recipe for weight gain pretty much any way you look at it!

So I now weigh 156, and have decided that IE is a much better long term plan for me. I don’t like feeling even slight anxiety about when I will get to eat next, and I don’t like feeling out of control with food. I still skip breakfast occasionally when I am not hungry, but as a whole, I am going to just concentrate on IE. If I happen to do 14 hour fasts, great, but I m not going to be planning for them. I also can’t wait until my husband and I buy a house, as our current kitchen is somewhat awful and keeps me from wanted to cook healthful foods for us, something I normally love to do.

All in all, things are good. I feel good about doing IE full time again, especially now that I live somewhere where I can truly satisfy my cravings. Today the hubby wanted Wendy’s, and my Apple Pecan Chicken Salad was fantastic, and I feel great after eating it. Well, most of it. Enjoy every bite, but finish nothing! :)

Intermittent Fasting

It has been a while since I have written. Things have been busy, but here is a re-cap from my recent post at 3FC. I promise I will explain more later. ;)

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Hi all! I guess I will stop lurking now and say hi. :) I kept meaning to drop in, but things have been too busy for me to write while I’m at work.

I have been doing IF for two months now and I can’t believe how well it is working for me.

A little background: I have been an Intuitive Eater for a year and a half, which worked well, but I plateaued about a year ago and never hit my original goal of 145. I chalked it up to 152 being my body’s ideal natural weight until I read about IF.

This winter I also began to have problems with my blood sugar being too low. My doctors tested me for hypoglycemia (I’m borderline) and put me on a micro-meal diet with more protein. My meals were already small and frequent due to Intuitive Eating (IE), but even with the extra protein I continued feeling miserable and low-energy all of the time. I would test my blood sugar every morning and it would be in the 70’s. I started counting my calories and found myself in the 1500-1600 range most often.

I read about IF and wondered if the micro meals were part of my problem. I remembered that I usually didn’t have symptoms when I traveled with my husband, who inadvertantly had me fasting for 14 hour stretches because he isn’t a morning or breakfast person. And I remembered that I usually lost a little weight during those trips, despite eating larger meals in restaurants. So, I finally tried IF, and I carefully monitored my blood glucose to make sure I didn’t hurt myself.

The first few weeks were a little rough symptom-wise with headaches. I probably should have started with a 10 hour window, but I was too eager. Then I continued to have headaches when I dropped back to a 10 hour window, so I figured I might as well keep it at 8 hours. I noticed I had more energy with an 8 hour window anyway. Eventually my symptoms disappeared, although I occasionally still feel ravenous a couple hours before I break my fast.

I’m happy to say that my glucose woes have disappeared. Now my glucose is always in the 90’s when I check it in the mornings. I feel so much better than I did with the micro meals; no more dizziness or fatigue.

I initially wondered if IF would be completely opposite of IE (with ignoring the hunger and all), but I’ve found that the two plans can work well together. I have simply pushed my hunger to a more convenient time and can absolutely say I am eating for true hunger when it is time. My body is now used to 2 or 3 larger meals and its cues respond accordingly.

And… I finally hit my goal weight of 145, which my body has maintained for almost a month now.

Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself, share my story, and thank everyone for sharing their stories. Without you guys, I would still be feeling miserable and not knowing why. I feel so blessed now. Thank you! :hug:

More Fiber?

IE has been challenging for me lately. I visited my doctor again during my last trip to town to follow up concerning dizziness, brain fog, low energy, occasional insomnia, and a fainting episode I had at work last month. I have been monitoring my glucose levels and it seems to be correlated with low blood sugar. I start feeling bad in the 70’s. It was 55 right after I fainted (which was weird because I had eaten breakfast an hour earlier). But for whatever reason, my doctor doesn’t think it is hypoglycemia, which my mom had. I did a 5-hour glucose tolerance test last week and I reacted toward the end with severe sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, chills and anxiety, but he said my test was normal.

Well, that test really messed with my “thintuition.” I ate a ton after the test and since then I have been feeling anxious and almost protective about food. Plus everything I eat now tastes too sweet. Things are getting easier now that I am home, but on a whole, it was not a good experience. Now I am looking into a second opinion and maybe a new doctor. I like my doctor, but he isn’t terribly concerned about my condition and doesn’t seem compelled to do any more tests or diagnose the problem. His only advice was to eat lots of smaller meals with more fiber.

Anyway, I have been looking into protein/complex carb pairing and have started incorporating it into my IE, at least until I figure out what’s wrong with me. I notice that having both in a meal is more satisfying for me anyway.

Yuck

Bad restaurant experience today. :(

So, I drove a couple hours to the nearest rural town for groceries today. They have a small grocery store with usually-not-the-very-freshest produce, a couple gas stations, and a “hometown” type of restaurant with burgers and steaks. I usually try to wait and drive to a real city for groceries when I have a few days off, but the trip is 3-6 hours longer each way and I often need to overnight at a hotel. I didn’t have that kind of time and I didn’t want to waste money on the trip, so I went to the small town to get me by for another couple weeks.

Like always, I asked the hubby if he wanted anything from the restaurant. This time, he asked for fry baskets and battered deep fried mushrooms. I ordered the Southwest salad to go, which sounded fresh and full of tasty veggies.

Well, needless to say, I was disappointed when I arrived home two hours later. The fries and mushrooms were the same as always. I didn’t even try those at first because I was excited about my salad. Unfortunately, this was the “heartiest” darn salad I think I’ve ever seen. The breaded chicken was still glistening with oil, the salad was smothered in shredded mozzarella, and there was literally as much dressing as there were lettuce leaves. I have not seen such a soggy mess of a salad in all my life! The whole thing tasted limp and heavy. Not all all the fresh, light treat I had been dreaming of.

 My dogs were more than happy to help with the chicken and I picked the choice veggies out and enjoyed them, although they were covered in ranch. I threw the remaining 1/3 of the salad in the garbage. Still not satisfied (although I’d had enough food), I sampled my hubby’s fries and mushrooms, hoping for some satisfaction. Nope. There was nothing really wrong with them, but the fat/oil in them tasted very bad to me (not rancid, just not what my body wanted). I gave up after that.

I guess this experience shows how IE has changed my relationship with food. Three years ago, I absolutely loved the mushrooms and fries and would have polished off my plate and someone else’s. Now I don’t even like most fried foods, except for vegetable tempura. :P

Lesson learned. From now on when I do take-out at the restaurant, I will order a trip to the salad bar to go and make my own salad so that I can thoroughly enjoy everything it.

I do wonder how much better IE will be for me when I eventually get transferred back to civilization. I really miss having fresh produce available to me 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I suppose I’m spoiled, but I think it will become much easier to find satisfaction with better choices available.

Ugh. I feel heavy and tired, and I still have a greasy aftertaste in my mouth from the meal, even after brushing my teeth. I don’t like feeling like this.  No more fried foods for a while! :(

Declaring Maintenance

I am declaring maintenance! After much consideration and a recent re-evaluation of my goals, I have decided that I am happy with my weight loss. I aim to continue Intuitive Eating as usual, but without such focus on my scale. My original goal was 145 lbs, but I have steadily weighed in between 147-153 lbs. during the past year.

I have given a lot of thought to this and I feel that my body has settled into its ideal natural weight. I had been so focused on the numbers that I failed to see many positive changes in my body that the scale did not reflect. I failed to notice that my thighs have lost much of the cellulite and dimpling I so dispised. I wear short shorts now, for the first time in my life! My legs are also leaner and more defined, especially in my calves and ankles. My posterior and trunk areas have noticably “lifted.” My breasts, which sagged a little at first, have tightened up and are still a pleasant C cup that fits my figure. I have maintained my muscularity, which I very much need in my line of work. I still have small “problem spots” like most people do, but overall, I am satisfied with my body.

And what does this mean for my journey? Well, not much. While it is wonderful to have finally made peace with my body, the journey does not end. I will still eat intuitively and continue to learn about my body and myself. I will continue to exercise because it is healthy and my body loves it. I will continue to strive for balance and peace in life and love. And I will continue to blog, because it helps me process the things I have learned, and possibly pass something on that others can use.

Cheers! :)

Perfect Goal or Natural Ideal?

I have been thinking about my initial goal weight, which I had set at 145 lbs. when I started IE. I now realize have been a too hard on myself these past few months. I was upset because I started weighing in around 151-153 after getting a new scale and a long summer of weighing in at 147-149. I felt like a failure, and I was secretly afraid that my weight would creep back up to 165. However, that has not been the case. It’s nearly February and my weight is still stable. In fact, my weight loss has been stable for over a year now. I am now beginning to think that I might be at or close to my body’s ideal natural weight.

I recently read an older IE book called “Seven Secrets of the Naturally Slim” and I think I have gained some very practical perspective from it. I am struck by the emphasis that book placed on one’s bodily uniqueness. No two people are exactly alike, so it is only to be expected that no two bodies will have the same metabolism or ideal shape. Short, tall, muscular, skinny, curvy– we don’t really get to pick these things. Which is why it would not make sense for me to think I should look like Gwenyth Paltrow (random example) at my ideal weight. I am tall and athletic with much more muscle than Gwen. I would literally need to starve my feminine curves and muscle mass away to look like her, not even taking into account the fact that my medium mass bone frame is probably larger and heavier than hers.

An acquaintance of mine recently lost about 50 pounds in six months by counting calories. She is tall and medium/light boned and now weighs about 125 at 5′7″. I would never tell her, but I don’t think this new weight looks good on her. Her bones now protrude from where she once had curves. She’s lost most of her muscle mass and now appears to wear an AA cup instead of a C. When she was overweight or normal weight, her pixie face had a soft, angelic appeal. Now her cheeks are sunken and her skin isn’t bright like it was. She doesn’t look like a lean, fit model. She literally looks like skin and bones in her new size zero dresses.

Now, when she first posted on her Facebook page that she hit 125, I was envious. That always seemed like the perfect weight to me, and it was always far below whatever I was able to achieve in my dieting days. I had never seen my weight dip below 147, even on a very restrictive diet. On the other hand,  I have weighed in at 146 while being on IE. I digress.

I guess my point is, I never want to be as bony and thin as the girl I know. That is not me and that does not look healthy to me at all. I like my curves, my muscles, my breasts. I have fully realized now that “perfect goal weights” aren’t the same thing as “happy, healthy, attractive weights.” I have been slightly obsessive over a number that does not represent my body with any justice.  125, 130, or even 135 would be a terrible mistake for me. I will not sacrifice my healthy tissues, my temple to blindly forge my way to a number that simply looks good on paper.

I have forgotten that my body is unique and that I should treat it as such. Just because many other people don’t have “summer” and “winter” weights does not mean that I won’t. My seasonal weights have fluctuated by about 5lbs. for as long as I can remember. I am done obsessing over the scale and playing the comparisons game. I will continue to weigh infrequently, but those numbers will no longer dictate my sense of success. My actions, my health, and my mirror will.

Halfsies and Other Alien Habits

So, I have been experimenting with sandwiches cut in half in my lunches at work. PB & J, salmon salad, tuna salad, breaded chicken, hamburgers, you name it. And just like the results in my first experiment, the “halfsies” are very satisfying one at a time, and I now find that I need less food to get me through the day at work. Some days I’m not even hungry for both halves and I only eat one. What a breakthrough!

And an added bonus: My husband, whom I also send to work with halfsies, has noticed my behavior (without a word from me) and has also been eating one at a time this week.

I have also been trying out new habits with other foods. Today I experimented with my hot chocolate. It was very cold in the office today and I was lightly hungry and craving something sweet. So I made a steaming cup of gourmet hot cocoa and topped it with marshmallows. Yummy, right? Well, not all of it.

The first few sips were fantastic. It totally filled my craving. Then I tried some marshmallows. They tasted too sweet, sickening sweet. Normally, I probably would have eaten them anyway, but I was especially mindful today. So I scooped them out and threw them in the trash. Then I continued enjoying my cocoa. But halfway through I began to realize that the thrill was gone. Now the cocoa was too sweet. I had reached my satisfaction level and I was no longer hungry. So I dumped the rest out in the sink and continued my day.

What strange behavior, but I feel very good about it. Looking back, I’ve often felt “sugar sick” after enjoying a whole mug of cocoa. My body was trying to tell me that it was too much, but I never listened. Now I hear it loud and clear. And today, I felt great. No icky aftertaste. No sugar crash.

I’m also being more careful about gorging on other fluids. I often end or accompany a meal with tea. Today, I had one cup with my light dinner and prepared a second cup to finish off.  But halfway through the second cup, my tummy was full. I knew from experience that continuing would stretch my tummy uncomfortably. So I went and dumped that tea out as well. After all, I was no longer hungry or thirsty, and I could always have more later.

Many of these behaviors still seem a bit foreign to me, especially with familiar foods. But I think this is a very good thing for me. I think I need to be challenging all of my food, even the familiar things. Who knows what other things could I be overlooking?

My Dear Brother

Several days ago, I read yet another thread on 3FC with an obvious slant against IE. I started writing a response, but I didn’t finish since I had to work that morning. So I saved it to my hard drive. Then things got busy and I never did respond to the thread. While I don’t feel compelled to wage an IE battle or right every wrong, I thought the discussion was interesting and I wanted to share my opinion and see where the conversation went. Since that never happened, I decided to share my thoughts here.

In the discussion, one poster commented on how Europeans have fewer weight issues than Americans and how they often eat smaller quantities of rich foods rather than larger quantities of diet foods. This correlation has always struck me as a rather large culteral factor in the US’s obesity epidemic. And as an Intuitive Eater, I most certainly see the benefits of eating satisfying foods in small quantities.

This also got me thinking of my own weight problem, which started very young with me. What part of my culture led me to become overweight? And that made me think of my inspiration for Intuitive Eating: My brother.

Now, my brother is NOT a model Intuitive Eater. He’s actually a very mindless eater. But, he’s just like countless skinny people I have known through the years that eat what they want and don’t gain weight. Many people chalk it up to faster metabolism, which may be true, but I don’t think that is the full picture. I think that many simply get more exercise and eat smaller quantities of regular food. 

Enter my brother. He is the only one in the family who never had a weight problem. Not coincidentally, he also has/had ADHD. He was constantly in motion while the rest of us sat quietly. The rest of us cleaned our plates and sometimes had seconds or even thirds. My brother would eat the tastiest portions of his plate, leave the rest, and go bolting out the door to find something more interesting to do.

 He never snacks. I don’t think he ever thinks about food until his hunger is loud and uncomfortable enough to distract him from his other interests, even now in his mid-20’s. His dinner plates still look half eaten disaster areas with the best stuff missing. Food has no hold on him.

Me, I was different. I weighed 188 lbs in high school. I ate emotionally. My portions got bigger and bigger, but they seemed normal to me. Overeating was learned socially from the rest of my family. I was obedient and I cleaned my plate. I also got hunger headaches when I went too long without eating, so I learned to eat lots, and often. I think the only thing that kept me from tipping over the edge into obesity was high school hockey and track & field (mostly field, lol).

One year I decided to try and lose weight by constantly skipping breakfast and sometimes lunch. This only lead to constant headaches and ravenously eating huge meals of highly processed junk foods when I got home from school. Talk about a metabolic disaster. It is no wonder I ballooned so quickly. It’s actually a wonder to me that I didn’t get larger.

So anyway, being that he is my genetic brother from the same two parents (and yes, he looks just like Dad!), I think that our different views on food are derived more from behavior than genes. I’m not sure what it is in his brain that places food at such a low priority. When he has it, he seems to enjoy it very much, but he doesn’t think about food all the time like I do.  I wish I had a little more of that, whatever it is. But since I don’t, I will eat intuitively and mimic the habits of the naturally thin. And you know what? It seems to be working just as well for me. :)

 

Straight Ahead

I had a good day today. Lunch was a good ol’ fashioned PB&J. I haven’t had one in quite a while, but that’s what my taste buds wanted this morning. I remembered a line in the Weigh Down Diet where the author commented on how filling half a sandwich could be. Ten years ago when I read it, the concept seemed beyond impossible for me. But then, my eating habits were far different at that time than they are now that I am 30 pounds lighter.

So I gave it a try today. I ate half my sandwich at lunch time with a mandarin orange and water, and I was not hungry again for several hours (when I ate the second half). This is interesting to me because I could normally eat a whole sandwich and still be hungry again several hours later.

I think this ties into the Eden Diet’s theory of eating until you are satisfied and/or when you first feel the food hitting your stomach (whichever comes first). Not neccessarily the same thing as eating until you are full. Today, after lunch, I would say I was at a 5 on a scale of one to ten on fullness. Not totally full. Not hungry either. Somewhere in between. And… it worked. Apparently my body does indeed need less fuel than I have been giving it.

I may play with this again tomorrow.

Also, I worked out again today. I did 30 minutes on my elliptical. Same as yesterday, only I felt like pushing the pace more today. I feel good!

The “New Scale” Follies

So, my nearly one year old cane corso pup decided to snack on my bathroom scale a couple weeks ago. Apparently the rubber pads on the bottom looked like enticing morsels to him. Unfortunately, they were attached to metal weight calibrators which (surprisingly!) don’t work when completely detached, chewed, slobbered on, and flung around the room.

I bought a new scale. My husband showed preference for the glass models, and I wanted something to measure body fat, so we ended up getting a completely different model than before. Unfortunately, this model has proven to be more accurate than my old one. It now shows me 4 pounds heavier than my last scale. In the back of my mind, I knew the other scale was a little light because of the 3-4 lb descrepancy every time I visited the doctor’s office. Still, I loved that sweet little liar!

Now I must accept the truth and move on. It was very disheartening to weigh myself at first. The scale suddenly read 155 when I hadn’t seen that number in six months. But, it is slowly declining as well now: 154.4, 153.4, and today, 152.2.  Hooray for small victories! I will be elated when I dip below 150 again.

On a different note, lunch went well today. I had salmon salad and crackers, which was very filling and satisfying. Dinner was also grand: a grilled tortilla with cheese, guacamole, and pineapple salsa.  I did eat several handfuls of trail mix and chips while I was cooking my meal, which I did not need, although the salt tasted good to me. I need to be more patient in the future and wait for the satisfying foods. Good things are worth waiting for.