Friday, February 29, 2008

And another Friday

I don't even know what to say, really. Three successive days in which I was, maybe, 1/2 lb. down a day, approaching what my lowest weight has been in this cycle, feeling hopeful about this... and then, today, nearly 3 lbs up. I am fairly sure that this is because I was taking a lot of Naproxen yesterday, pulled something in my leg which was very painful, although it seems ok now. But it's just so damn discouraging.

All these things make fractional improvements but nothing really changes. Not eating wheat this week has made both of us feel better... but it doesn't make any difference to anything else. Or does it? Hard to know. That's the whole thing. No way of telling whether this is all a huge waste of time or not. Well, I suppose that's wrong... it's not a huge waste of time however you look at it. We feel better; I feel a lot better. But the weight does not change.

It is hard not to be miserably discouraged.

I think that if I had to accept that I would be this weight for my whole life, I could deal with it. If I knew that. But Michael could not. For him, the weight is incapacitating. So what do I say? Here, honey, try this thing that isn't working some more, because somehow all the magical stars are going to align, and it will start working. Some days I believe that. Some days, I think I'm just a fool. But what is the alternative?

It's a beautiful sunny morning here, though bitter cold, and I sit here, and I just don't know where to go from here. I have never in my life not been able to lose weight. It is also true that I'm not getting any significant amount of exercise, and that's something that I genuinely could be doing differently, although even that has it's complications. I don't know. I just really don't know. It is hard not to take these things to heart.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Monday...

It's a mixed bag. On the bad side... both of our weights are up again for the week... fractionally. That makes two straight weeks of fractional gains. Most of last week we ate considerably more calories than we have been on average, although not the last two days. Our weights were higher mid-week than they are now. What does any of that mean? I have no idea. In a way, I'm having a hard time taking it seriously; it's just so ludicrous that I almost regard it as one big joke. Which it isn't, of course, but still...

On the good side... we both feel a lot better today. The last two days... I just feel like my mood has lightened a little; I don't feel so low. And Michael actually slept through almost all the night last night, and is not so achy today, hasn't been getting those statin-like pains for the last couple of days. Really feels better this morning. What's different? I don't know. Didn't eat any eggs yesterday is the only food thing. Continued higher protein. A few more things in the supplement pile. Nothing that you can really point at and say, wow, it's that.

Plan for this week: mainly keep up the protein. Just for the hell of it, no eggs. Get some wheat-free protein, see what happens. Don't worry about the calories.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I've been sitting here all afternoon just paralyzed with worry. After swearing that we were not going to fret about all this for a couple of weeks, well... let's just say, the resolution didn't make it through to 24 hours.

The fact of the matter is this. Michael really hasn't felt anything like consistently well since, maybe October. He is fatigued and achy all the time. He never has any kind of energy, and the level of general achiness and pain that he's experiencing verge on the intolerable. This is not getting better, although the last few days, when he ate considerably more protein, he was feeling a lot better. He did not eat a lot yesterday. And today, he's so tired that he had to go back to bed, where he's been for the last hour or so.

I feel really alone with this. I'm going to make a doctor's appointment for a couple of weeks from now... probably the soonest that he can get in anyway, but certainly the only time that my teaching schedule will coincide with the doctor's schedule. But I doubt that this is going to result in anything positive. The only thing that happens is that he harps on about cholesterol levels, and since he's never mentioned the words low carb diet to us, I don't think he's going to be supportive about that, either. He's a great guy; I like him a lot, but the fact of the matter is that I don't think that he's treating the real problems.

So where on earth can I get some help? The trouble is, morbity obesity is the worst-treated problem in this country. There are lots of people in Michael's size group, and the only information that you can get on the internet is advice on bariatric surgery (I'm not against this; it's a lifesaver for so many people, but I don't want to pursue that if we can help it). There have to be treatments other than surgery; there have to be common problems of people at this size; there have to be therapies that help with mobility issues... and so on, just the sort of common information that you'd get if you look up... well, about anything really. But all you see is advice to have surgery or advice to lose weight... and, well, duh! I mean, it's not like we're not trying like hell. It's not like we haven't been trying like hell. For years now.

So, just for the hell of it, because I do better when I write this stuff out, let's consider the options.
  1. The achiness and fatigue is psychological. This actually could be plausible, for a lot of depression-history related reasons that I don't want to detail here at the moment anyway. It could be that these things are not all that different than they were, say, a year ago, but he's so much more aware of them that it's incapacitating him. This story has a lot going for it, but on the other hand, it doesn't explain why on earth someone who weighs 520 lbs. and eats 1800-2400 calories and about 30 carbs/day is not losing weight.
  2. The fatigue is a result of long-term protein deprivation. Slightly plausible. Why? Well, some say that one reason why you can have period of no loss on a low carb diet is because your body is basically sucking up protein to replace lost lean body mass, and so you're losing fat but not losing weight. This hypothesis has a few things going for it... for one, it would also explain why I'm not losing weight but yet I feel thinner. It would explain feeling better the last few days and then worse after yesterday, when he really didn't eat much protein. It would not explain the achiness, but that could be a result of general lack of movement. But isn't there some limit to this? Maybe not... and who knows what the protein requirement for that weight is? The Eades' books only go up to 450... and those are minimum requirements. It's a lot of weight to carry around. Certainly I know that my fatigue level has been dramatically reduced since we started eating low carb and more protein... but I weigh considerably less, and we eat about the same stuff every day.
  3. Something is wrong with the way we eat. Well, ok, but what? We eat very little processed food. We take a ton of supplements. The numbers look ok. We drink a lot of water.
  4. There's something else wrong. Thyroid (ok, but thyroid problems are not so common in men, and his last thyroid test showed more like overactivity than inactivity). Something else endocrine (what?). Insulin issues that aren't showing up in his blood sugar readings (like what?). Something relating to the irregular heartbeat (like what?).
  5. We're just eating too much.
  6. We're just eating too little.
  7. We were in a serious auto accident last May. This caused some kind of problem that no one picked up at the time (like what, and why didn't it show up earlier, and why would that have this kind of weight impact?).
  8. Sleep. Ok, this one is a bit more plausible, too. He doesn't sleep well. Lately, he's been waking up to pee in the middle of the night very frequently... like four or five times a night. His back hurts and then he gets up and sleeps upright on the couch, which is not what I'd call restful sleep. He doesn't sleep deeply. This has been going on for some time... he gets maybe a night or two of good sleep and then a lot of bad sleep. Certainly plausible that this would have something to do with fatigue, if not necessarily the rest of it. Weight gain is associated with sleep apnea... although he doesn't have the conventional signs of that, snoring and stopping breathing, that kind of thing.
I don't know. And I seriously have no idea what to do next except wait and see.


Well, no weight change again. Really bloated. Food yesterday: this is what I logged, calories 1533, carbs 29, net carbs 18, protein 130. All of those numbers were a little off; I had a nut bar at work that I thought I'd logged the data for, but apparently not, plus we had gravy with the chicken, and figuring the calories on that always stumps me. Different every time anyway, so best to just note that I probably had 200 calories or so in gravy. So... probably more like 2000 calories, and the bar is 3.3 net carbs. And we really only ate two meals yesterday, a huge breakfast and then I went off to work for the whole afternoon, and got home just in time to put together dinner.

I'm still looking for that magic combination.

Michael wants to cut down the portion sizes, size of meals in general, and get more of the protein via shakes. I'm not totally against this idea at all... although I think that there are a lot of things that you get out of real food that you don't get out of a protein shake. But his weight is just dragging him down, and who can blame him? The other bit, of course, is that trying to have more and smaller meals is a lot more work and sometime I suppose that I'd like to not be fussing with food always. It's that fine balance between I really don't mind... and yet it all takes up a lot of time.

It is hard not to feel frustrated. More calories less calories more fat less fat more protein less protein more supplements less supplements. I know that there's an answer here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Low-Carb Products #1

One of the things that you notice when you're a recent convert to low-carb is what I think of as the Great Low-Carb Gulf. I think that approximately 2004 was the height of the latest low-carb-as-a-fad craze... and then, like all fads, it dropped off in popularity. And the result of that is that if you look at a lot of the low-carb groups, it's like this great void, like the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs... then and now, before and after. Nowhere is this more clear than in lists of low-carb products and restaurant reviews. Most of them don't exist any more, and it's frustrating to think, wow, that sounds good... only they stopped producing it in 2005 when demand fell off. Oops.

On the whole, I don't see this as much of a loss, because I think that the less processed gunk that we eat, the better, and I am SO not a fan of the Atkins bars and similar items, although I'm sure they're a lifesaver if you're pressed for time. And I think that PJ, the Divine Low Carb, is exactly right when she says that you have to get out of the mindset of making things that are "like" higher carb things... as if they're inferior substitutes for something that you'd rather have. But, hey, it's not like I wouldn't like a bagel now and then.

So having said that, here a few product reviews.

1. Shirataki Noodles. Omigod, are these the greatest gift to low carb living in the universe, or what? I think you have to like Asian noodles, and you DO have to remember that you must rinse them carefully and/or boil them for a while, but they're just terrific. I tried them but didn't really believe that they'd be as good with, say, alfredo sauce, but I was oh so wrong. You can get these online (in a lot of places), but if you live in the Northeast, Wegman's carries them (in the organic foods dairy case), and others report finding them wherever the refrigerated tofu is.

2. Arnold's CarbCounting Multigrain Bread. I probably haven't got the title quite right. The pro: it's the only low-carb bread that they have regularly at the grocery store. The con: it's just not great bread. First of all, it's as if a committee got together and said, we're only going to sell one low-carb bread product, so let's make it appeal to the widest audience possible. Well, fine, and good marketing, but as they say in the marketing literature, you're satisficing. Not getting what you really want. If you really want white bread, it's not. If you really want wheat bread, it's not... or at least not a substantive wheat bread. And, as Michael complains about all the time, it's sweet-ish, like nearly every commercial wheat bread product in the U.S. So I'd give this a 5. We buy it because M. likes a slice of toast with his poached eggs, but on my own, I'd skip it.

3. Controlled Carb High Fiber Plain Bread. This bread I got from LowCarbU, and the single biggest downside is that it's a staggering $6.99/loaf (they have a zero carb version, too, and it's $7.99/loaf). It's sliced thin, and each slice weighs a pretty consistent 3/4 ounce, but the package is labeled for a 1 ounce serving size. For an actual slice, this will net you about 3 carbs, which is not bad if you don't go crazy. It comes in lots of other flavors, too. The pro: it tastes a lot better than the Arnold stuff, and makes a pretty good piece of toast if you don't overtoast it. The con: it's dry. Very dry. This is ok in toast, but I think it would be downright nasty untoasted. This may be because there are no preservatives (you have to freeze it if you're keeping it for any period), and maybe it would be better fresh. Hard to rate overall; has some real pros and cons, and then there's the price...

4. Ostrim. These are Slim-Jim like Ostrich snacks. Ok, we bought them because we just liked the idea of Ostrich Snacks. It just makes you want to say it a few times... here, honey, have an Ostrich Snack. You can get them from Netrition, but we didn't like them. VERY salty-tasting, and they're not all ostrich, and they are low fat but they taste incredibly fatty. It's not that low fat content was a selling point for us... but I just don't like that greasy, fatty taste. We tried the Teriyaki flavor... there are about 4 flavors, I think. Also, they are kind of expensive.

4. Whey Gourmet. Yum. Yumyumyumyumyum. This is a protein shake mix, whey protein obviously, and it tastes better than most milkshakes I've had. I make it like this: for 2 servings, 1 cup water, 2 scoops protein, about 1/2 c. whole-milk yogurt (we like Stonyfield Farms), a good slug of whatever DaVinci syrup you like (I like caramel), and some ice. Blend on slow speed for about 5 minutes (this comes out a LOT better than blending it fast). Whey Gourmet comes in a bunch of flavors. We've had the Dreamy Milk Chocolate and the Artic Cappuchino; both excellent. The price on this stuff varies a lot. The lowest that I've seen is $21; Netrition sells it for about $25, and I've seen a lot of prices around $32. There are about 12 flavors, but most places seem to only carry a few. It's 3 net carbs and 21 g protein.

As long as I'm at it here... I'd like to list my top two food-related irritations of the moment.

1. Artificial colors in EVERYTHING. Michael is very sensitive to both red and yellow colorants (and if you think these things are no big deal, read up on tartrazine. Hope I got the spelling right.). And Nutrasweet. I'm pretty convinced that Nutrasweet (aspartame) is best avoided, but try to find a soda without it! Diet Coke makes a Splenda version (which, I have to say, tastes overly sweet to me), and there's a brand called Diet Rite that is also sweetened with Splenda... BUT, despite making a big deal on their label about 0 calories, 0 carbs, 0 artificial flavors... what DO they have? Colorants in most of the flavors. Sigh.

2. Chicken (and other meats) "enhanced" with broth. We eat roast chicken about once a week... easy, fast meal, everybody loves it... and this week I happened to buy a couple of Purdue whole chickens at Wal-Mart (because I was doing my monthly stock-up on big stuff run). Didn't read the label carefully. Made two lovely chickens, and we both went, weird, really salty. Pulled the labels out of the trash... and, yeah, in tiny print, there's salt and maltodextrin and who knows what else added. Won't ever buy those again. Ditto on Wal-Mart's "Angus Steak House" beef, which is also mostly injected with salt. Awful. I mean, if you're selling chicken, the only ingredient on the package should be CHICKEN.

Taking care of yourself

This is the random stuff that I was thinking over the last two pretty lousy days. Mainly that it's hard to take care of yourself. I see the same thing with a lot of people with weight issues... a history of things that lead to being good at being concerned about the people we love, good about being concerned about things that we are responsible for, but somehow, those lists don't include ourselves. It's hard to make time to do the things that we can do to make ourselves feel better, and it's even harder on a day when everything seems bad. Easy just to let it go, say screw it all for this day, and then... raid the refrigerator is the top thing, although I have to say I don't really do that any more. Skip the exercise. Don't do whatever things make you feel good and taken care of.

Sometimes I think I just missed some essential life-training class, the one where they taught you to brush your teeth and shine your shoes and care about you, you on your own, not you as spouse or parent or employee or son/daughter, or whatever other hats you wear. Trying to learn these essential life skill... well, it's like a language, isn't it? Easier to learn as a child.

Especially with this sluggish weight loss... if you can even call it that at this point... I spend every morning fretting about the scale. And Michael tells me to stop worrying, and he's right. Then by the time we go to bed, he starts worrying. And I tell him not to worry, and I'm right. I think, anyway. But still...

Still discouraging

Yesterday, today, weigh up fractionally. Still under 290, but just barely. Food yesterday: calories 2100 (possibly a little higher as didn't carefully count the ingredients in the leftover fish), carbs 35, net carbs 23, protein 198. Which is about what the day before looked like, too, maybe a little higher carb though. And I'm retaining water again; I can feel it in my hands. Michael hasn't weighed himself, but he's certainly not losing anything.

I don't know what to do and where to go with all of this. We cannot possibly be the only two people in the universe who cannot lose weight on a low carb diet. And if we concluded that was the case, where would we go after that? There are so many benefits of eating this way; I believe in it heart and soul, but at some point, my weight... and more importantly, Michael's... has to change. The higher level of protein lately IS making M. feel better; there's no question about that. I feel physically fine, too, although it's been a rough few emotional days, it's only last night that I got some decent sleep.

Everything I read says, find the right combination for your metabolism. But it can't be this delicate balancing act; it can't be this fragile, can it?

I suppose that you could tell a story here that kind of makes some (though not a lot) of sense. We both have been protein-deprived for some time, so eating a lot of protein is causing our bodies to build lean body mass, which is offsetting the weight effects of shedding fat. Like that story? I don't much, not really. I have no way of measuring anything that would reassure me that it was right one way or another. And I just want to know.

At some point, you have to do something besides let blind faith lead you on. But I have no idea what. Seek advice, I guess. Can't go to the doctor; he'll be no help at all. Maybe ask on some of the low carb groups; tried that on the usenet group and got some help but not a lot.

I think that the thing that puzzles me about this most is that neither of us is losing weight. Our metabolisms simply cannot be exactly the same, although it's certainly true that we've been eating exactly the same things for nearly two years, one way or the other. It makes me think that we're just doing something wrong, although I have no idea what it could be. Other than not really getting any particular exercise, I suppose... but I far more active than M. is, and I am getting some exercise at least, so even that doesn't ring true.

There's some answer to this somewhere.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Thought for the day, though probably completely obvious. Do NOT eat a huge meal late at night. Ugh ugh ugh ugh, and I feel like death today. Michael had a terrible night, too, which he puts down to all of the things that can go wrong with the way he interfaces with the world, but really, I blame the steak. We actually both felt so lousy that we crawled back into bed (fortunately it's the day I teach late), and I never ever do that. Bleah. Don't you just love it when you do things you know you shouldn't and then they turn out the bad way that you could pretty much have anticipated?

This all resulted from something that started actually positive, I think... since Michael's been having all these aches and pains lately, he actually spent some time reading low-carb stuff on Monday, which is pretty much a first. While I think this did nothing to explain the achiness (want to be frustrated? Look up "muscle aches" as a symptom. You get about 500 possible things that you could have, from having broken something to being bitten by something you never heard of), it's the first time I've sort of felt that he might be seeing the logic of all this.

So the upshot of all of that is that he also thought for a while about when he was in the UK, when he could still drive, and when he'd sometimes go to the butcher (sigh, I miss UK butchers and their white aprons and silly hats) and get just a huge amount of meat, pounds, and eat it all, and then both feel great and have his weight be lower the next day... and so, we decided to up the protein once again, try giving him really a LOT of protein for a few days and see if that did anything for his fatigue.

I did work out protein requirements, using the Eades' method, a while ago, and figured... something I don't remember, but that works out to something like, I should be eating about 6 ounces of meat/meal and he should be eating about 8 oz. to maintain lean body mass. We usually average a little more than that these days, but that's a minimum requirement, so that's ok I assume.

Anyway, so with the best of intentions I trotted off to the store yesterday and bought some huge steaks for dinner, which seemed like a great idea except that (1) somehow we missed lunch so the extra protein at dinner was cancelled out by the lack of lunch, and (2) somehow it got really late and so we didn't eat dinner until about 8:30, and the rest is history. It's hard to feel boundless energy from the (supposed) extra protein when you mostly feel like death.

And I didn't keep a food diary so I have no idea what we ate anyway.

My weight is the same as it was on Monday, which is up fractionally from what it was yesterday. Let's see what happens tomorrow. I got up (the second time), made tea and got the mail and discovered that I was supposed to show up for jury duty yesterday, which I totally forgot. This really has the makings of a great day... (However, in this part of NY state, if you call them and tell them you were an idiot and forgot, they just throw you back into the jury pool, so that's actually less of a hassle than it would have been to get excused. Probably not a good long-run strategy, though!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday, Monday

It's the day I work out all the statistics, and it's not good. Weight up nearly a pound this morning, and with everything earlier in the week, this makes my net weight change this week = UP 1.1. I don't mind the day to day stuff but the weekly things are discouraging.

Food yesterday: Calories 2325 (maybe a little higher as it's hard to calculate the chicken gravy properly), carbs 55.5, net 45.5, this is not good, really too high I think. Protein 207. I feel good in general. I wish the numbers didn't bother me.

This trying to eat more calories thing is unexpectedly tricky. It's hard to eat more calories without eating a LOT more calories accidentally... being careless with amounts of fat, that kind of thing. There's a trick to everything.

Up early this morning waiting for the dishwasher guy who is hopefully bringing the new dishwasher which will hopefully actually work properly for some period of time. A week of handwashing everything in a back breakingly low sink really makes you think about (1) counter height, (2) how great having a dishwasher really is, and (3) the fact that everyone in your family has this weird compulsion to use 5 glasses when 1 would have worked just as well.

The problem is, we've been at this weight thing for so long, and with so little result. Not the low carb part, but all of it. And even the low carb part has been... well, really 1.5 months, but another month more than that on kind of starting. I suppose you can't really count that. I've worked myself into such a state of anxiety about everything that my whole day hinges on the scale in the morning, and of course I know that's foolish; it's a setup for disappointment.

And it's not even me that I'm worried about. I'm just the guinea pig. If I can lose weight doing... whatever... then I can take that to Michael and say, here, look, this works, do this. He tries not to be discouraged, at least for my benefit, but for him, these issues are a thousandfold worse. The effects of weight are exponential. For me, it's an inconvenience. For him, it's mobility, it's driving a car again, it's getting on a plane again, it's having a life that isn't restricted in a thousand ways.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Well, ok. Yesterday, the breakdown looked like this: calories, 2603 (I think this is a little high regardless), net carbs about 25, total carbs about 50, fiber about 25. 61% fat, 31% protein, 8% carbs (that gross not net carbs; it's the way the program figures them). My weight is down fractionally today... about 1/3 lbs. (My scale actually weighs in kilos; Michael brought it from the UK, and so you have to start with kilos and convert to lbs, which is why all the fractions of pounds.) Oh, and I played racquetball. And I chugged a LOT of water.


Interesting and strange really.

I wish I were a brilliant writer rather than a merely competent one. I read other blogs, and other people have all sorts of interesting things to say and thoughts of profoundness and what have you. Most of my profound thoughts are not about this... at the moment, most of my irritated thoughts are about this, I have to say! Between the sluggishness of my weight loss and the continued worries about Michael, who isn't feeling good on the whole, for a lot of reasons, I just want... I don't know, something positive. A bright star from the heavens telling me that I'm doing the right thing. A really good day. M. to wake up actually feeling ok for a change. My weight to start falling off, not so much for me but so that I'd have a better case to convince him that this is the way to go. Something. I feel really dreary today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Guinea Pigging (Out)

Yesterday, I made a real effort to eat more. Ended up at about 2100 calories. Michael, who is feeling wretched at the moment, ate considerably less because he has no appetite. This morning: I'm down nearly a pound; he's up nearly a pound.

It's one data point, and it means nothing all by itself. Except food (no pun intended) for thought.

I have never in my life tried to eat MORE calories. Everything about it feels weird. That doesn't mean it's wrong, but the lifetime of conditioning is a little hard to discard totally.

But the fact of the matter is, and I thought about this long and hard after I wrote yesterday.... I weigh about the same as I did two years ago. I've tried changing the composition of my diet: lower fat more carbs resulted in more weight, more abdominal fat. I've tried lowering the calorie content of my diet: low fat, low calorie makes me exhausted, plus I feel deprived and irritable, and it's hard for me to deal with everything. I've changed the composition of my diet again, to low carb: tons more energy, but not that much weight loss. Lower calories with low carb: lose weight for a day or two and then stall. So... by process of elimination, the obvious thing to try would be the thing that everyone keeps suggesting... add more calories. It's the only thing that I haven't made a real effort to try.

So, what the hell, I guess.

But here's the issue that I have with all these sorts of things... how long is a reasonable trial period for minor changes? There are so many day-to-day fluctuations... is a day enough? Obviously not. A week? Better. A month... well, that would really be better, but the months slide by so fast. I don't want to give a whole month to every minor change. I want to get on with this.

Yes, I know. Patience is good.

Friday, February 15, 2008

By the numbers...

Here are the numbers.

Two years ago, I weighed 290 lbs, and Michael weighed probably over 600 lbs. We then started... well, we got married, for one, and then we started a pretty standard food pyramid based low fat diet. Mostly all whole foods, tons of complex carbohydrates, so perfect a diet that the dietician that the cardiologist sent us to really had nothing to tell us. (Yes, I get a little irritated that the assumption is that if you're fat, you know nothing about basic nutrition...) And over the two years, more or less, we ate pretty steadily a diet of around 2000 calories, give or take about 300... me trying to stay a little lower than that. Net result: Michael lost 100 lbs in total, but gained about 40 of it back. I lost about 10 lbs, gained it back plus more, and my abdominal fat increased significantly. A little discouraging, huh? No, we weren't perfect, not every day, not every minute, but over 2 years, we were pretty damn good.

And so, now. At the top of this weight cycle, in early January, I weighed 302.2 and Michael weighed 543.4. Today, I weigh 289.3, and he weighs 521.8. So... the bright spot, he's lost 22 lbs and I've lost 13 lbs. Which is ok. But for me in particular, I lost all of that in about 10 days and have essentially lost nothing that hasn't fluctuated back up. More or less the same thing with Michael, although he's lost a little more lately since we upped the protein.

Have I mentioned that I still hate talking about this stuff and that I'm frustrated as hell?

So, what are we eating? On average, about 30 net carbs, about 150-200 g protein, about 1800-2000 calories. And, usually, drinking a lot of water.

Typical day: Breakfast, eggs and bacon and a slice of low carb toast. Tea.
Mid-morning: Whey protein shake with probiotics and about 1/8 c. whole milk yogurt
Lunch: Usually 6-8 oz protein of some kind plus a big salad with oil and vinegar, a little nuts and cheese (1 T. each).
Dinner: Usually 6-8 oz protein plus 1 c low carb vegetables (with a little butter or oil)
Evening: Another protein shake as above. Sometimes blueberries.
Water, tea, herbal tea. Occasional snack, usually a slice of roast beef with a piece of American cheese, or a few pork rinds, or something leftover. Not at lot, if at all.

I play racquetball a couple of time a week and try to do other things... not so effectively these days, with weather and time, bad excuses but true. Michael doesn't do much for exercise because at this weight, even walking tends to result in injuries.

I would like to know what in hell we are doing wrong. If anything. I feel good. I look like I've lost more weight than I have. But at some point, the scale has to budge, has to do something except move up and down the same two lbs.

Yeah, I am very frustrated, and I have to say that writing it all out makes it more frustrating. I feel like I must be doing something wrong, but it can't be that precise, can it? I've spent a lifetime losing weight (and gaining it), and suddenly I know nothing about it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Well, it's the good news and the bad news, I guess. I carefully reread most of the Protein Power Lifeplan, concluded that we're probably not getting enough protein, and so seriously upped it while at the same time, trying to take it easier on the fats. Last week, Michael was down 4.5 lbs, and I was down 2.5. Have to call that good. But all week this week, I'm bloated and drifting up.

I don't know what's wrong.... or if, in fact, anything is wrong. I haven't been drinking enough liquids, and I know that... that's the obvious thing for me. Exercise... well, no. Played racquetball yesterday but otherwise haven't done anything consistent. I'll play again on Friday. I really don't think that exercise is so important in a burn calories sense (don't get me wrong, this IS important, but the number of calories I burn these days isn't huge, and I'm not eating that much). But it gets everything really moving. I think that if I get some more contract work, I'm going to spring for that ridiculously priced tiny step thing on the Jonny Bowden site and try some interval stuff... but all in all, exercise or not, I'm deeply puzzled about what's actually going on here.

I feel good about what we've been eating. But I do think that the difference between the lower weight days and the higher weight days is that on the lower weight days, I was actually eating a slightly higher level of carbs. Puzzling really. AND maybe leaner protein. I think that this may be part of the key, finding some leaner protein options while upping the vegetables, trying to keep the fat within lines.

But then I think, wow, maybe that's all wrong, and this is what makes me so crazy about all of this.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Discouraging Part Whatever

Yeah, ok, I am discouraged. Weight same as yesterday (which is up a pound from 2 days ago), and yes I should post these numbers, but I wanted to do that all at once. Point is that it's also the end (or beginning, I guess) of my menstrual cycle, and I checked back to a month ago... and, you guessed it, exactly the same weight. It is hard to come to any optimistic spin that doesn't say, you are not losing weight. You feel better, you look better, but you are not losing weight.


I read someone's blog yesterday, and he said that he'd done low carb for ages, didn't lose weight, and then discovered that he was allergic to a particular cheese, and that when he stopped eating that cheese, he lost 70 lbs. I read other things about particular foods, and wonder if it's that... and then I wonder if I'm just looking for a magic bullet that will fix this. I wonder if I'm eating too much. I wonder if I'm eating too little. I am, on the whole, just discouraged beyond belief... and trying not to be.

There are a thousand things that make sense to me, but they all seem like rationalizations today. Ways to delude myself for a little longer that this is working, because I feel better and I don't want to stop feeling better. I don't want to feel deprived so much again. I don't want to have to pay phobic attention to every calorie. I thought that this was supposed to buy me out of that, to some extent.

Oh, hell. Just really discouraged today.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Ok, my weight is up again this morning. Not a lot, just the same pound that goes back and forth and nowhere. It is hard to argue whether or not I am really losing weight. Since the beginning of the year, I have lost nearly 12 lbs. 12 lbs. in 5 weeks is not bad, although it's not staggering, either. But (1), and this part is stupid.... 10 of those lbs. were weight that I'd put on over Christmas so I think it shouldn't count. If you go back to my pre-Christmas weight, it's the same. And (2), after those 10 lbs came off, nothing much has happened.

Michael is kind of the same. He gained a little weight into January with the cold from hell, but if you go to his highest weight this year, he's lost about 16 lbs. Again... not bad overall, but slooooow at this point.

I feel better. I look better. I am not losing weight, or not losing weight fast. And I'm confused. Yeah, the nobrainer is that I need to get more exercise, and so, somehow, does M. But... more carbs less carbs more calories less calories what the hell? I am eating pretty routinely 20-30 net carbs. Michael a bit more as far as I know.... maybe another 20. Calories... 1800-ish. And maybe this is just too much. But it shouldn't be, shouldn't be at my weight, shouldn't be at his either, certainly.

I need a plan. I think that part 1 is to really go back and read ProteinPower all the way through.

Emotional eating

I was watching a story about Lynn Bering this morning on CNN. Her blog is here. She was talking on CNN primarily about emotional eating. It made me think about me, a little... to what extent do I still do this? Certainly it's the story of much of my life, sitting with a book in my hand and whatever's on hand to eat, shutting out the world. I don't do that any more, not really, although it's still true that if I have something to eat, I'm also happier if I have something to read. But that's not emotional eating exactly, although certainly anyone talking about the habit-based parts of eating would say, turn off the TV, put down the book, focus on what you're eating instead of shoving food into your mouth. I suppose I'm still a bit guilty on that one.

I don't know what would happen in some world that was different from this. I'm not so hungry these days, and when I am, it's a "good" hunger, a real hunger. But in the year between moving out of my old house (and marriage) and Michael coming, I was right back to sitting with a book and a pile of food. You know it's not a good thing when your 11 year old son tells you that eating chocolate is not going help anything. (Easy for him to say; my changeling child doesn't like chocolate!) Without Michael, would I be back to square one with this?

I think I make better choices these days, and its partly because my habits are different. But in truth, those habits are partly different because of having someone else to care about. Would they stay? Unanswerable questions, I suppose. I see that it's harder for Michael, a lot harder. In particular, that connection between anxiety and wanting to eat (especially sweets) is strong for him. And boredom eating, the habit bits. These days, it's my goal never to say, do you really want that, because he takes it wrong. But what I mean is, if you want to win the food battle, you have to think about what you eat and why. There's absolutely no way of eating that's going to succeed against the forces of boredom and anxiety and depression, not really. All those extra things just add way up too fast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Calories or not. Time or not. Whatever or not.

Another discouraging weight day all around. Yes, I know I said that one of the things about weighing yourself every day is that you have to not get hooked into the ups and downs. But, hey, sticking around the same weight for basically years is more than a little frustrating. So the upsurges dishearten me a lot. Yesterday... approximately 28 net carbs, 1900 calories... give or take a few on the gravy the I couldn't really figure out quite right.

So... either I'm eating too many or too few calories, either I'm eating too many or too few carbs, or there's something else wrong. And I did play an hour of racquetball, too. Michael's weight up fractionally, too, and that makes me think that this is way more about eating too late and too heavily in the evening.

The trouble is, every time I get stuck on this, I want to change everything, and scientifically speaking, that's a recipe for being able to figure out nothing. So here is my plan for today: change just ONE thing. Try to eat dinner between 6 and 7, and eat less of it. Not fewer calories, but less for dinner.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Supplements du jour

Here's what I'm thinking about today: supplements. Exciting, huh? There are 20 billion supplements out there, roughly, and the same number of people and scientific studies that will tell you what to take, sort of, and they're all different and often conflicting.

People on low carb regimes are often low in potassium. Ok. And fiber... well, this seems to be up in the air. If you don't eat veg, then you're going to be low on fiber, and well, anyone who's switched from a grain based diet to a more heavily meat-based diet probably remembers that, in the beginning, a little extra fiber is probably a good thing. Plus there are studies suggesting that a lot of extra fiber before meals helps with weight loss and may reduce caloric absorbtion a little (see Jonny Bowden, Living the Low Carb Life, for a citation on this one). I don't see how you can go too wrong with this (unless you seriously overdo it). Michael's sensitive to colorants, and we both think that avoiding aspartame is a good thing, so that narrows the range a bit.

But then, what else? A multivitamin, and extra B5 and B6 and E and C and maybe D3 for heart, and fish oils (and maybe krill oil), and green tea, and things that support insulin sensitivity and the herbs of the month, and after you think about this and write it all down and try to find combined supplement so that you don't have to spend hours every month sorting the pills, and then you realize that you're doubling up on things, and you have to work that out, and your shopping cart is already up to $250 and you have a headache. What is the best supplement for headache?

I've tried to work this all out about 6 times now, and I keep giving up, and so we're still taking the collection of stuff that I buy at Wal-Mart (and what about drug quality?). A multivitamin. A lot of fish oil. Glucosamine and chondroitin for joints. Saw palmetto for Michael; prostate health. Iron for me, because I tend to be a little anemic. Ginseng if I have any.


Monday, February 4, 2008

The First Week in February

It's Monday, so we get the weight of the week. Unimpressive. For both of us, the weight loss of the week is an impressive... nothing really. But that's ok. The trend is downward, the moving average charts still point down, and that's what's important.

If you're going to weight yourself every day... or even every week... it's really important not to get hung up on the day to day stuff. Everything you do changes something, when you eat, what you eat (obviously), what you drink (0r don't drink), and so on. I don't think that anything was helped by eating the Unbelievably Salty Stew (note to self: remember that salt pork is NOT the same thing as bacon; it will not make anything better if you put a ton of it in). Oh well, the dog is enjoying the leftovers.

But I want to think GOAL for this week. Me, 2 lbs. Michael... well, 6 lbs. would be a magic number, but 3-4 lbs. would be a good thing. He's trying a slightly higher level of carbs, so we need to watch this like a hawk, I think. No blood sugar lows for him, though, and that's a huge plus.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

In the beginning

Let's start somewhere. Let's start with me, and weight. I have this notion that blogging about all of this will make it... not easier, probably, but maybe more interesting. And it's time to think about this in some different way, like a project, like a new start, not like something that's been a source of shame and anger and a lot of other negative things.

I've always been fat. Or fat-ish... when I look at those childhood pictures, I'm amazed at how much less fat I was than I thought I was. But the last time that someone (including me) wasn't bugging me about my weight, I was 7 years old. I'm 47 now, so, hey, that's 40 years of fat. Impressive. I've been fatter, I've been thinner, but I've never been anything close to what some standard height/weight chart would call normal. I've probably only once felt like my weight was close to ok, and then I was still about 40+ lbs. above the charts. I don't think that at this point in my life, I'm going to get to model-thin... and, hey, the good thing is that don't want to any more. But I do want to be healthier. A lot healthier, and I can see that it's not going to get any easier than it is now. So, no time like the present, right?

And then there's the other motivation, and the love of my life. About 8 years ago now, I met someone who had much more of a physical weight issue than I did, but a hell of a lot less of mental issue... that is, he taught me that it was ok to talk about this, ok to tell someone what my weight was, ok to acknowledge that I weighed something other than normal (funny how we pretend to be average as if no one can see any different). A little less than two years ago we were married. So now, I can talk about this as what it is... just a thing, not something that defines who I am. Something I can change.... or not. Something without the stigma that defined my life.

So now, we're going to lose this weight, and we're going to do it together. We've been trying since we got married... and between us, there's a lot to lose. But, all in all, it hasn't been what you'd call successful. I'll give you some numbers at some point, but I want to check with the other half of this team and see what he feels comfortable with! Anyway, for a year and a half, we ate pretty much exactly what the pyramid folks would recommend. Low-fat, high complex carb, whole foods, limited meat... when the cardiologist's dietician looked at several weeks of food diaries, she couldn't even think of much to recommend, other than to eat more and add some nuts! Were we perfect? No, but we were pretty damn good. Did we lose weight? Ha!

If the calorie charts were right, if a calorie was just a calorie, then my husband should have lost something like 150 lbs. I should have lost maybe half that. He lost... a few pounds. I gained 10 lbs.! There's some idiotic irony there. And my abdominal fat increased greatly. And our collective frustration increased greatly.

Then I started looking for something else, some reason, something that worked, thought about surgery, thought about a lot of things. My friend Jennifer read Gary Taubes' book and recommended it, and I read... well, ok, I read most of it, and I'm still working on it! But I read practically all of the cholesterol part, and it got me started reading the low-carb literature, and here we are. Or I am, anyway. About billion books and blogs later, and convinced that this is the only way to go, and losing a little weight.

It's a start.