Seven weeks of constraint

Just over seven weeks ago, I wrote about how I was going to try this crazy diet, and work out for Lent. You know, to see how it went.

I tried the Four Hour Body diet, in combination with actually going to the gym multiple times. I was actually very compliant with the terms of the diet. I didn’t cheat. Visions of losing like 2, maybe 3 pounds a week floated through my head! For weeks not so much as a stick of artificially flavored gum passed my lips. (It probably would have helped if I’d actually read the book FIRST, instead of relying on blog posts and my husband’s interpretation, as I was actually more rigorous than required.) Annnnnnd. Nada. My weight stayed stubbornly right where it was, which is really frustrating after three weeks of egg & bean breakfasts.

So I took another look. And I decided that the key was that a high protein diet helped you restrict calories. In thinking I could eat as many calories as I desired as long as they were proteinaceous, I was mistaken. Instead, in order to assist in living with a 1500 or 1600 calorie diet without perishing of hunger, I needed to eat a lot of protein. I’d gotten my cause and effect mixed up. I found that at the end of the day, a 50/50 split between carbs grams and protein grams was effective, if the total calories were roughly 1500. That doesn’t allow you to eat much bread, or dairy, and stay full. But you can eat that few calories and not feel hungry if those calories are eggs, beans, lean meats and vegetables.

When I made that change, the diet DID start working. Last time I weighed in, I had lost 8 pounds – or about a third of my desired weight loss. YAY! I’m not sure it really shows (my wardrobe is not designed to reveal small fluctuations in weight) but it was progress!

Mmmm poutine

I had also burned through my available stock of willpower. I am not (NOT!) dieting on my vacation in Montreal, although I hope I’m not being so horrendous that I’ll have gained much back. Then again, I did have poutine for lunch, so… yeah. And I’m planning on caribou steaks for dinner! When in Canada, eh?

Yes, kind sir, she sits and spins

I find myself at an odd confluence of events today. I hope that you know me well enough by now to know that although I pay attention to my body and appearance, I’m far from obsessesed with the Western standard of beauty for women. It helps to have realized it is unobtainable for me.

However, I am starting to think that the pregnancy weight I put on with Thane will not actually come off by itself. Call it a hunch. I would like my maintenance weight to be the weight I was before I started procreating lo eight years ago. This is a matter of 25 pounds. I believe this is achievable, having worked my way back to it before between the boys. So when my husband asked if I would join him in this diet he’s done a ton of research on, and which he has found efficacious before, I figured this was a good time to attempt the challenge again.

The diet is a called the Slow Carb Diet and is more or less a geek’s attempt to optimize weight loss. In some studies, it’s been shown to be more effective than other forms of diet. My husband did a ton of research on it. The basic concepts are this:

1) Eat all low glycemic index foods: lean meats, vegetables and legumes
2) Eat no high glycmeic foods: any form of carb, fruit, diary, sugar, sweetener. Any food that “comes in white” is right out. (With exceptions).
3) Take one cheat day in seven and eat all the carbs you want (to prevent other cheating, and to prevent your body from going into starvation mode)

In practice this means that breakfast is eggs and beans (breakfast is the hard part). Thank HEAVENS I drink my coffee black! Lunch is dinner leftovers. Dinner is a compliant meal like split pea soup, cassoulet, black bean casserole, morrocan chicken, lentil soup…

Snacks have been the hard part. I’ve probably had more nuts than I should. Hard boiled eggs are great for this. Veggies with hummus become the culinary highlight of your day. My husband says the hardest part is that you get absolutely not taste of anything sweet with this diet. It’s true. Even artificial sweeteners are out. He says the flip side is that you “reset” your perception of sweet, so that a glass of milk or an apple seems deliciously sweet.

I’m on day three, and so far I’ve been compliant. We’ll see how it goes. I figure that an attempt is better than no attempt, and that the possibility of success is motivating. My weight is pretty stable, so once I’ve lost the weight, i believe I will be able to keep it off using more normal dietary constraints.

If you’re curious, here is some other information on the diet:

A few weeks ago, I had finally decided that my knee was far enough from right — nearly 18 months after massive knee surgery — I was not content with the condition of my knee. I can’t cross it. I can’t kneel. It hurts with the weather. And most importantly, the differences in strength between repaired left knee and normal right knee are more than obvious enough to be seen in my legs. They’re still working differently, and my body is pulled off center. Like weight loss, I’ve concluded this won’t fix itself. So I went to my orthopedic surgeon – expecting a PT prescription.

Instead, he gave me a prescription for spinning class. Greaaaat. Now, I believe that when you ask for medical help and advice you should consider it, and assuming it passes the sniff test, you should implement it. I suppose I shouldn’t have needed an orthopedic surgeon to tell me that I needed exercise for my knee, but apparently I did. Having gotten that advice, I treat it as sacred as a PT prescription, and decided that logistic impossibilities aside, I needed to comply.

In truth, I am really feeling the need for exercise. I don’t feel strong, or flexible, or powerful. I feel weak and fragile. My two mile a day walking simply isn’t enough, or the right kind of exercise. Of course, the flip side is that I truly do not know where I can find two hours a week to go to the gym. I will simply have to be opportunistic about it. But that is no excuse for not trying.

So I have signed up for a froo froo gym with a gazillion classes* and exercise equipments and the kind of strutting gym rats that have provided disincentives for unathletic, pudgy geeks like me since the gym was invented. Fortunately, I’m no longer 22 and do not care for their disregard.

So here I am, in February, with mounds of snow on the ground, on a wacko diet that means I can’t have Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast and the kind of gym membership that everyone has and no one uses.

I’ll let you know how it works out!

*Critically, it has about 16 spinning classes a week and child care and is less than 5 miles from my house.

Nemo Finale

Looking down our street
Looking down our street

This morning we woke up (late) to a bright, sunshiny, monochromatic world. And a house with no heat. But the bright sunshiny world and temperatures in the upper 30s made today a much better day to have the furnace on the fritz than any other day of the storm. We’re actually not sure what the issue is – the furnace spontaneously began working again about 15 minutes prior to the arrival of the furnace guy. But all this was minimally inconvenient – the sunlight streaming in kept some rooms warmer than the furnace does!

Adam stands on the drifts on the house-side of the driveway
Adam stands on the drifts on the house-side of the driveway

So where did Nemo leave us? According to the National Weather Service, our friend dropped 22 inches of dry powerdy snow on Stoneham. 65 mile an hour winds sculpted those inches in to massive drifts and clear-swept sections – an inequal distribution that was exacerbated by the labors of homeowners with shovels, the suddenly popular owners of snow-blowers and the profiteering-but-slightly-lazy shovel wielding teens.

I thought, as I luxuriated in bed this morning (the covers being even more enticing when there is no heat in the room) that today would be a nice, quiet, peaceful day. We were snowed in enough to intimidate us from making the 20 mile trip to church. But then the furnace happened. Once that was resolved, I had to go grocery shopping. That was epic. The produce section of the store looked as though locusts had descended upon it. I’m guessing that bit didn’t get restocked. Either that, or everyone else in Stoneham also found a pressing need for bananas. This was even more epic because, starting on Ash Wednesday after service, I’m going to join my husband in attempting a Slow Carb Diet. I’m rather unconvinced of my ability to stick to this. Cutting out carbs and dairy is like, um, cutting out bread and milk from my diet. So while at Stop & Shop, I attempted to find slow-carb-compliant foods so I can at least make it a single week. We shall see.

Post Nemo: Locusts attacked
Post Nemo: Locusts attacked

And then more shoveling. Hours of effort yesterday + a borrowed snow blower + a pair of neighborhood teens got the first car unburied and the second car half unburied. Another 2+ hours of snowblower + shoveling and we can use our entire driveway again. These are things you don’t think about in October when you buy a house: where are you going to put the snow for your driveway? When it’s nearly two natural feet plus massive drifts, this becomes non-trivial. Two years ago, I had to walk each shovel full across the street. Fortunately, the next 7 days have highs above freezing, so we should lose a lot of the snowmass. As it is, it’s very difficult to turn corners driving due to lost visibility with the drifts.

If I had to rate this blizzard, I would give it an A for the following reasons:
1) Life time memory: the “boys” spending hours sledding down our street, followed by pancakes at midnight. These are the times you remember in your nursing home.
2) Actual vs. predicted snow: absolutely on target. This snow storm came precisely as billed
3) Loss of life: while there were a few tragic losses, there were fewer than usually accompany weather like this. Partially this is due to the precautions (draconic as they were) taken by our elected officials to shut everything down for an extended period of time.
4) Fellowship: I spent so much wonderful time this weekend with my neighbors and friends – all a stone’s throw from the house – that it was a joy. We played, ate, shoveled, laughed, watched movies, and enjoyed our time together. This is one of life’s great blessings.
5) Inconvenience: we kept power and only lost heat after it was no longer critically needed. It was a liberating inconvenience for us.

So Nemo: would recommend and do it again!

I give persective to the wall-side drifts. A "Before" picture would have shown the tips of the wipers as the only visible parts of the cars. (Due to drifting)
I give persective to the wall-side drifts. A “Before” picture would have shown the tips of the wipers as the only visible parts of the cars. (Due to drifting)