Oct 012014
 

My brother recently sent me this New York Times article, Always Hungry? Here’s Why. While the article in itself wasn’t new information, I really liked the way they broke down the science and explained it for the readers.

“Since fewer calories are available to fuel metabolism, the brain tells the body to increase calorie intake (we feel hungry) and save energy (our metabolism slows down). Eating more solves this problem temporarily but also accelerates weight gain. Cutting calories reverses the weight gain for a short while, making us think we have control over our body weight, but predictably increases hunger and slows metabolism even more.”

Yes! This makes so much sense to me. I’ve always wondered why I could be SO GOOD with my calories and yet I don’t see a change on the scale and I feel hungrier than normal. I chalked it up to hormones but really it’s probably WHAT I am eating, when I’m eating it as well as genetics. This became most evident recently when I realized that I have crashes on my rest days.

While this isn’t a new thing for me, I just started making the connection in relation to my rest days. I wondered why some days I felt hungrier–like an insane hunger I couldn’t satisfy–and why some days I had crashes in blood sugar and energy and ended up eating junk. I do not eat enough calories on my rest days. Historically I’ve used exercise as a way to eat more. This makes sense; I burn 500 calories in the gym, that means I’m going to be hungrier and will need to eat more calories to fuel my body. Weight loss/maintenance means I need to create a calorie deficit (at least a few hundred calories a day). So when the rest day comes around and I’m not “earning” those extra calories, I do not eat more.

It sounds logical and correct. But the reality is, I’m eating around 1600-1700 calories on rest days and that isn’t enough for the body to REPAIR itself from my hard workout the day before. So I’m not eating enough and then mid-afternoon I get the blood sugar crash and feel hungry and cranky and I end up eating candy. For some reason when I get that crash it’s sugar I reach for. Then I regret eating the sugar and while it makes me feel a little better, it certainly doesn’t solve the hunger issue.

“The more calories we lock away in fat tissue, the fewer there are circulating in the bloodstream to satisfy the body’s requirements. If we look at it this way, it’s a distribution problem: We have an abundance of calories, but they’re in the wrong place. As a result, the body needs to increase its intake. We get hungrier because we’re getting fatter.”

The solution to this is to eat more calories on my rest days to avoid that crash. But it needs to be the right kind of calories. A few summers ago I realized that eating avocado satisfied that hunger in a way no other foods have really done for me. I’m guess it’s because of the healthy fats:

“One reason we consume so many refined carbohydrates today is because they have been added to processed foods in place of fats — which have been the main target of calorie reduction efforts since the 1970s. Fat has about twice the calories of carbohydrates, but low-fat diets are the least effective of comparable interventions…”

This makes so much sense! The “non-fat” and “low-fat” diet fads may seem healthy on the surface but they really aren’t because the low-fat foods were just pumped with sugar as a substitute. Which probably triggers the blood sugar issues. When I started having a snack of avocado and gluten free toast or avocado and crackers, I saw a huge change. I didn’t need to eat very much–just 1/4 of an avocado would do it for me–and I’d feel full and satisfied for so much longer than any other foods I eat. It’s the fat! It satisfies the body. (This was a great article: 6 Signs You Need to Eat More Fat.)
healthy-fats

There’s hidden sugars in so much of the food we eat. It’s no wonder we’re always hungry. That trigger is sabotaging us. So I eat avocado and eggs and salmon on a fairly regular basis. I feel healthier, I feel fuller longer. It’s good stuff. I can’t remember the last time I ate a white potato. If we do eat potatoes, it’s sweet potatoes and even that isn’t very often. I can’t remember the last time I ate pasta, and even that is gluten-free these days. Finding what works for your body is so crucial.

Now I know that I need to eat more on rest days, and I need to be smarter about what I eat, I need to figure out what that number looks like. The fact is, people who were obese and lost the weight will always have to be more mindful of the food they eat. Check out this article:  Why is it so Hard to Maintain a Reduced Body Weight? for an interesting perspective.

“A full year after significant weight loss, these men and women remained in what could be described as a biologically altered state. Their still-plump bodies were acting as if they were starving and were working overtime to regain the pounds they lost.

After you’ve lost weight, your brain has a greater emotional response to food,” Rosenbaum says. “You want it more, but the areas of the brain involved in restraint are less active.” Combine that with a body that is now burning fewer calories than expected, he says, “and you’ve created the perfect storm for weight regain. (source)”

I recently got an email from a reader asking me: “Hi! Saw your blog for the first time – WOW! Very inspiring! I need to lose 110 lbs too! Question: How did you break your sugar addiction? That stuff is killing me!” I wasn’t sure how to answer her question honestly. I don’t know that I HAVE overcome my sugar addiction. I find ways to manage it (by not completely denying myself things, but eating it in moderation) but I still struggle. It’s a hard habit to break.

It’s not all bad news, though. I think with trial and error (and perhaps assistance from a registered dietitian) we can figure out what that happy medium is for weight maintenance when your body is fighting against you. What worked before may not work now. I might need to re-evaluate my own diet.

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Sep 292014
 

“When you think about quitting,

think about why you started”

-unknown

There are a lot of ways for your diet/fitness/resolution can get derailed. Too many to count. Other people, eating the wrong kinds of food, having unrealistic expectations, etc etc. The list is endless. This post is address just a few of the big ones–the ones I definitely struggled with when I tried to lose 100 pounds. These are universal experiences! I know that every one of my readers can relate to at least one of these. So how do you resist? Or how do you recover?

Hunger

I think this is a common problem with newbie dieters…severe restriction! You wake up one day and decide that’s the day the diet starts so you stop eating or skip meals or severely restrict your food “I’ll just eat salad today!” and then all of a sudden your body rebels because it thinks you’re starving it. Then you binge eat…then you restrict…and the unhealthy cycle continues. Instead, eating WHOLE FOODS and including healthy fats in there will help stretch those calories through the day. Also, eating smaller portions and more frequent meals can help curb those hunger pains that can become overwhelming when not attended to. The reality is, if we starve our bodies, they fight against us and we stop losing weight.

Lazy Tracking

I know I sound like a broken record on this but it’s so key to losing weight and keeping it off…track what you eat, be honest and be ACCOUNTABLE to yourself. It’s easy to over-eat when you don’t really know what you’re eating. That awareness really opens up your eyes. Derailing the diet by not tracking is a big one. I call it food creep. The bites, the nibbles, lying to myself about portion sizes, not accurately tracking what I eat…all those calories add up fast and if you stop losing weight, this is the first place to look. Are you being HONEST in your tracking? Check out some of these posts to help inspire you:

Maintenance 101: Beware of Food Creep

How to Lose Weight – Week Four

How Do You Track?

How I Maintain 110 Pounds Lost

How I Get Back On Track

Toy-Train-Derailed

Boredom

Eating the same foods every single day and doing the same exercises every single day will get old quick. When I was trying to lose 100 pounds I pretty much ate the same thing every day. I had these “egg McMuffin” things I made at home with egg beaters (lower in calories than real eggs), an English muffin and half a slice of cheese.  Lunch was a turkey sandwich with a serving of Wheat Thins. Dinner was a Lean Cuisine and a salad or side dish vegetable. I ate that for like a year. Too much! Now the idea of a turkey sandwich is just revolting to me. So spice up your diet and change up your exercise routine when you start to feel like you are in a rut! And read this post: Married to My Workout.

Giving Up

This journey is going to be a hard one. The weight doesn’t just melt off with zero effort. It takes time, it takes patience–there will be frustrating plateaus and temptations EVERYWHERE. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. If you keep at it, it WILL work. If you don’t believe me, look at this post: Weight Loss Log. It shows my weight loss journey and clearly illustrates just how long it took and how many plateaus I experienced! Here are some more posts:

P is for Plateaus

Busting that Plateau

When The Diet Stops Working

donut-tower-298x232

 

Weekend Binge

Ugh, this is a hard one! You do SO WELL all week long, then the weekend comes and there’s temptation everywhere. BBQ’s, parties, exhaustion that leads to eating fast food…This is probably the biggest issue for most people trying to lose weight. I have several friends who vow every Monday that they are going to REALLY DO IT THIS TIME. But then the weekend comes and the cycle starts over. Read these two posts for some ideas on how to avoid this trap:

The Weekend Eater

An Excuse to Eat

Final Thoughts

It’s easy for me to say some of these tips and it’s a whole lot harder to actually do them. I definitely struggle with each one of these traps at some point. The thing to focus on is that one screw up doesn’t COMPLETELY DERAIL all your efforts–if you catch it in time. One slip up doesn’t mean I have to give up entirely. One slip up can be fixed the next day with getting back on track. Set backs are natural and (currently experiencing one) it can be so discouraging. Check out these two posts about stopping the set-back cycle:

Yo-Yo Dieting

Stop Dieting!

I hope some of these older posts can inspire some of my readers who might be thinking of quitting. Don’t quit. It will get better. You might be struggling right now, you might be angry with the slow progress or set-backs, but don’t quit. Remember where you started from and why you started this journey. INSPIRE YOURSELF. Be your own success story!

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