Read and Eat

I’m still fasting 16 hours each day. Last week I was not perfect with the 16 hours and I did not count calories every day. It was a struggle. I have not lost weight or gained weight. This week I have been counting calories. I’m hoping to make it through the week tracking even if I eat a lot and the number is high. I really need to get a handle on what my numbers are and what I should aim for if I want to lose weight. I know how many calories each day used to work for weight loss, but since I’ve been exercising (and not consistently tracking) I don’t know.

I started some research on fasting and metabolism, but so far I haven’t found anything worth posting. I’ve only been through Google scholar and the scholarly papers are tedious and difficult to interpret. I’ve really only found information on rat studies and metabolic measures that I am not familiar with. So, not very helpful, but I thought it was worth looking into. Today I plan to move onto the world wide web to see if there’s any information there that’s helpful that I can share. In the meantime, I’ve made a few interesting dishes I can tell you about.

I love to make a big pot of chili. It’s healthy and there’s always plenty left over for an easy lunch or dinner or to freeze. I’ve been reading Scott Jurek’s book, Eat & Run, and came across his recipe for Minnesota Winter Chili. I’m only half-way through the book, but so far it’s a good read. I love to read about runners. Their stories always motivate and inspire me. Scott made this recipe sound so delicious I just had to try it. I’ve never made a chili without meat, but this recipe is vegetarian. It’s a basic chili recipe with lots of vegetables and instead of meat, add 1/2 cup dry bulgur wheat and 2+1/2 cups water. The bulgur gives the appearance of ground meat, so you might be able to fool a meat lover. The texture is not the same, but still a nice added mouth feel to the chili. I know winter’s almost over here (yay!) but it’s still pretty chilly and I found this dish very satisfying.

chili

Scott Jurek’s Minnesota Winter Chili

I have yet to make the bean brownies that I’ve seen popping up all over social media. So I tried another recipe from Scott’s book, Chocolate Adzuki Bars. I’d never heard of adzuki, but it’s a type of bean. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it was a total failure, inedible. Not to give up, I tried again, adjusting the ingredients and tasting until it seemed more “right”. It tastes okay. It’s edible. But it is nothing like a brownie. I plan to try a different recipe next time! This picture is of the second batch.

 

Looks yummy but it's not.

Looks yummy but it’s not.

Lastly, I can’t forget the St. Patrick Day’s corned beef and cabbage. This year I went to the internet for inspiration. I found this interesting article comparing classic boiled beef with baked. I was happy to try the baked version (they said it was the diners’ preferred version). I did cook it longer than they recommended, 3 hours for a 3 lb brisket. This turned out to be one of the best corned beefs I ever had (and I’ve had some really good ones, some famous ones). Darling said it was “better than”. Isn’t he sweet?

corned beef

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Fasting

I’m still experimenting with fasting. I call it experimenting, because the main reason I’m doing it is for the challenge to see how I respond mentally and physically. I’ve always thought of fasting as being something done for religious reasons or before a medical procedure. And nothing I wanted any part of, since I get pretty crabby when my eating gets delayed (thus the challenge!) It never occurred to me that it might be done for general health reasons until a friend shared an article about it with me. Well, I did hear several years ago Jillian Michaels encourage no eating after dinner which should be low-carb. Which could be considered fasting. Her reasoning was similar to this new information I was reading where the time of no eating allows hormones to adjust/function (whatever) in a healthier way.

I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist and I have done very little research on fasting. It’s a topic that intrigues me. That first article I read was about Michael Mosley, who did a BBC documentary and published a diet book. I haven’t read the book, but did watch the documentary. It touched on a few studies that indicate there might be some health benefits to fasting. The key marker Michael used in the documentary with his personal trials with fasting was his blood level of the hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor – 1). They talked about how lower levels of IGF-1 mean lower incidences of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, dementia and longer life span. Fasting lowers this hormone level.

I would love if fasting could help me lose weight. We’d all do it then, wouldn’t we? I would guess it will do no good unless my overall calorie intake goes down. I know I must eat less and eat healthier. My approach is not to do Michael Mosley’s plan with two days per week fasting (with 500 calories allowed). I am following the method used by Dr. Mercola by extending my overnight fast. So every day I go approximately 16 hours without eating and 8 hours eating. I have no idea if this has the same benefits as other fasting or not, I just know I can’t go a whole day with only 500 calories without biting someone’s head off.

The first week was basically extending my overnight fast until I could reach 16 hours. This was not easy for me. I am a grazer. A morning eater. A believer in breakfast-is-the-most-important-meal. I’d be happier not eating dinner than skipping breakfast. But, thinking of all the headaches that would cause, it didn’t make sense to do it that way. I finish eating by 6 or 7 in the evening and begin eating the next day at 10-11 am. The first week, I ate whatever I wanted in my eight hour window. It was very odd. Starving but shrunken stomach. Very odd to go from, No eating! to Eat whatever you want!

The second week I counted calories and I ate 3 meals a day, usually no snacking. In the last few years, I have taken the concept of 5-6 small meals and turned it into grazing all day. This is a habit I want to break. This is why I am attempting to eat only the three meals in my eight hour window. This week was easier to get to the 16 hour mark, but hard to eat my daily calories in just 3 meals since the meals are larger. I lost 2 pounds this week.

The past weekend I still fasted, but ate way too much. Saturday I ate out all three meals 😦 I gained back the 2 pounds.

This is my third week now. I’m not counting calories, but still eating three meals. I’m just being lazy about the counting.

What I’ve noticed:

  • I am very irritable when I’m very hungry.
  • I have a lot more energy in the morning. I call it being “squirrely”. No doubt trying to take my mind off hunger, but still energy and lots of things getting done.
  • I’ve been sleeping better.
  • It’s difficult for me to switch from not eating mode to eating mode.
  • By not eating when I’m hungry, I’m training my mind to accept the hunger. For this reason, I would think it would be very dangerous for someone with anorexic tendencies to fast.
  • I’m having some digestion adjustments. Constipation and heartburn/reflux. Because of this I’m having trouble getting enough water which doesn’t help constipation.
  • I’m surprised at how well I can still concentrate when I’m very hungry.

I guess I’ll continue with my experiment for awhile and hopefully do some more research. Anyone try fasting? Anyone have any more information about fasting? Know of any studies that support/deny these claims?

Intermittent Fasting

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What happened?

Well, it started out innocent enough by taking a “break” for the holidays and next thing I know, it’s March. Time to get 2015 started…

How to say three months worth of stuff in one post? I’ll summarize and hope this gets me back in the posting groove.

I finished 2014 doing the Run a Mile a Day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s challenge. Except for the Ugly Sweater 5k that I ended up walking, I ran 1-2 miles every day! I was curious to see if I could do it, because I was content with 3 days a week running. A mental block which I busted right through. One mile was not enough and the bottom line is that I started out the new year in worse running shape than the previous autumn, but who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t committed to the challenge.

I gained about 4 pounds over the holidays, which I have since lost. But I have struggled with bad cravings for sweets.

I won a Tranquil Force headband! What, me? Anna at Piper’s Run held a drawing and I received an awesome package in my mailbox from Canada! Thank you, Anna 🙂

headband

I started back on track with fitness at the beginning of the year using this routine:

  • Monday – run, speed work
  • Tuesday – strength
  • Wednesday – run, easy
  • Thursday – run, hill work
  • Friday – strength
  • Saturday – run, long

Yes, six days a week! Increasing my mileage each week by 10%. I was on a roll… until I got sick February 5 (flu and sinus infection). I’m still recovering.

On the fitness end, I also started an Insanity class that meets twice a week, the day I got sick. Because I love it and really need the strength work, I’m letting the class take priority over running while I recover. Plus, there’s plenty of an aerobic workout to the Insanity class. It wipes me out!

insanity-video

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My weight is still staying in the same range it has since last May (talk about “setpoint”). My eating has been even worse since the holidays. A couple weeks ago I started investigating fasting because I had been hearing a lot about it. I liked what I was hearing and thought I would experiment with it. I started a week and a half ago extending my overnight fast to 16 hours. It’s been very interesting, and worth it’s own post. I will say, after a week, my severe cravings for sweets had almost disappeared. Of course, that could be coincidence, but I’m happy about it.

Now to get my running back where it was. I’m trying not to get discouraged or give up or whine. I signed up for a race in June and I’m starting to wonder if I can make that happen. The race is 6.55 miles and I walked/ran that plenty of times last summer, but I’m so off track that distance feels daunting.

smile-05

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