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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Feb 242014
 

NoCandy
First, thank you for the support and comments on my post T is for Truth. It was hard for me to put it out there because I feel like a failure for letting the binge eating demons sneak back into my life. I thought I had it under control.

In that post I vowed to be more honest with myself in my logging and calorie counting. There were a few things I knew I could do to set things straight, it was just a matter of doing them.

The title of this post probably leads you to believe that I’m cutting out sugar entirely from my life. That is not the truth. I’ve found over the years that completely denying myself things set me up for failure and bingeing. But managing what I eat, paying attention to my portions and recording my calories accurately is what has worked for me so far.

The truth is I need to stop eating candy mindlessly at work.

No more candy at work. THIS I can do. After lunch if I am craving something sweet I can chew gum or have some mints or something. But to mindlessly eat candy just out of habit is what is making me fail. I need to limit my “candy” intake to just dessert. I mean really, how many desserts do I need in one day? One or none. That’s how many.

high-halloween-ecard-someecards
I did pretty well skipping the candy after lunch at work, or chewing some gum. It really was a mental shift. I’d walk by the candy room, see all the tantalizing treats I wanted and think “nope, not eating it” and keep walking.

SWEET

One day I had a small mandarin orange as my “treat” after lunch. Just as sweet as candy and only around 30 calories.

I need to be TRUTHFUL about the calories I am REALLY eating. The truth is I need to manage my portions better.

This is harder but I’ve been doing it loyally for the last week. Even if I don’t want to see the number in my MyFitnessPal App, I need to see it. Portions need to be accurate or what I’m recording as my calories is inaccurate and not helping me!

The truth is I need to stop eating dessert every single night at home.

It’s easy to rationalize eating dessert. If I work out and I have a bunch of calories left over I think, Sweet! I can have more dessert! And then I fail. It’s OK to have some calories left over for the day! I don’t need to eat all of them. AND it’s A-OKAY to have fruit for dessert! Sometimes just having something sweet at the end of the day is all you need.

The truth is I need to stop drinking alcohol for awhile. The liquid calories aren’t doing me any favors.

This is an easier one to accomplish. I’ve cut out alcohol many times before. Sure I miss it once in awhile after I quit but really, I’d usually rather have some chocolate over wine. This time around it’s easy to forgo the alcohol because after being sick for a week I had absolutely zero desire to drink anything. Once I get out of the habit of reaching for that glass of wine, I don’t think about it too much.

The other night we had steak for dinner. It’s been awhile since we had steak. I bought a nice one from Trader Joe’s, Michael cooked it up with a red potato and I topped the steak with Gorgonzola cheese. It’s one of my favorite home cooked meals.

steak

I have to admit, it was hard not to want a glass of red wine with it. In my mind steak and wine go together perfectly and it felt weird not to have at least one glass. But I resisted and just had water. Sure it was disappointing but I got over it.

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One glass of wine a week is something I can allow myself to do and not more often than that. I’m still considering cutting out the wine entirely for a little while. But I had one glass this weekend so…obviously I didn’t start it this weekend! ;)

And again, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a long term thing. Once I tackle the emotional aspects of why I am overeating and get a handle on it, I can look at my habits with a clearer head. Losing a few pounds will give me the confidence in my maintenance. I weighed myself this weekend and am down 1 pound, which was good to see but I sure didn’t like that number on the scale. So that’s where I am at right now. Trying to make some progress.

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