Ditching the Sugar

I got some great feedback from my last post about my 5 pound weight gain and have been trying to implement some of your suggestions. So far I’ve been eliminating sugar, stopped buying junk food, stopped having protein shakes after my workouts, eating real food and posted my Action Plan on the refrigerator.

action plan

Eliminating sugar has been a slow process, but I’m having good success. I still have some sugar in foods, but now no candy or sweets. For example, I have not yet eliminated things like barbecue sauce (and may never!) and the packets of organic oatmeal that include sugar. Once the oatmeal is gone, I will switch to plain. I really like the natural sweetness of whole grains and prefer them plain or sometimes with oatmeal I add a little maple syrup. I have never liked the whole wheat breads on the market because they add too much sugar or honey for my taste. I prefer my sandwiches to lean towards the savory palate than sweet. Well, I don’t eat sandwiches very often, but if I do…

I struggled with bad cravings and frustration over what to eat instead of sweets. But the cravings are becoming less and I’m starting to be more comfortable picking healthy alternatives. Goodness, for a long time I ate very little sugar or white flour, it’s sounds odd to be in this place.

At the same time, I am beginning to reject white flour items also. This is much easier for me since don’t really care for white flour items that much. It’s just convenient to eat a hamburger on a bun, etc. My husband also loves all things white flour, so I think I’ve just let him win the war lately, so to speak.

Without counting calories or restricting my portions in any way, I have lost 3 of those 5 pounds just by eating healthier.

I am still struggling with being well rested. I really need to get tough with myself on this. I need to go to bed at an earlier time. I get up most days at 4:45 to work out. Ha, it was 4:30, but I scrimped out 15 minutes from my waking up time so that I could sleep 15 minutes longer. Not bad, but I really need to just go to bed earlier!

I’m still rethinking the exercise. I’ve basically cut back for now, but for a lot of other reasons too. So, still thinking how to change things up. Here’s a picture from this morning of the park where I run on the bike trail. It’s so peaceful and serene and just beautiful there. A great way to start the day.

sunrise

A family of turkeys is back in our neighborhood this year. Praying none of the neighbors gets any ideas of Thanksgiving dinner. There’s 7-8 little ones ūüôā

turkeys

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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 ūüė¶ 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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The Color Run Racine, Part 2

The colorful shirt we got

The colorful shirt we got

I was hoping to keep this post a little shorter than Part 1 of my report on the Color Run last Saturday. I can tell by how much I have to say that this really meant a lot to me and was a major step in my progress. So please bear with me, I apologize.

The 5k

We were instructed at the start line that walkers should stay to the right and runners to the left. I didn’t really know what I should label myself in that regard, but I didn’t worry about it too much. I was just going to do my thing and either move to the right or left as needed to do my thing. We began running and my friend learned quickly that it would be slow for me. She stayed by my side the entire distance, but my family disappeared right away.

Not even a quarter mile in, we hit a hill and already I was down to walking! I knew the hill was there from looking ahead at the course, so I was expecting it and tried not to get bummed. My friend’s approach was to let me know that was ok and to pick a point where we would start running again (top of the hill).

There were so many people there and lots of groups of friends, family, small children. The groups of walkers didn’t stay to the right so much as they were enjoying each others’ company and in the narrower sections of the course the run involved lots of weaving in and out. We were fortunate to have been near the front of the six thousand and it was much less crowded for us. It was fun to see the experienced runners whiz by dodging us all, not a care in the world. And even more fun, was that I was passing people. (One of my anxious visions was that I would be passed by everyone and come across the finish dead last. A bit ridiculous considering this was a fun run.)

Here’s how my friend encouraged me:

  • Don’t think about how thirsty you are, forget that. The important thing is you’re here doing this. (In other words, don’t think about the negative, focus on the positive.)
  • Check your watch, what’s your pace? Try to monitor your pace as you run and be consistent.
  • There’ll be water at the half-way point, you’re almost there.
  • You can’t stop running until you hit a mile! (The only time she pushed me, I made it)
  • When you need to walk, pick and name a point and get to it before you stop. (One point I picked was a group of walking people, a moving target! Not smart.)
  • Once you catch your breath start running again.
  • Watch out for cracks and uneven sidewalk.
  • Check your watch, how far have we gone? (Sometimes this was not a good thing if it was not as far as I was hoping!)
  • She didn’t push, just encouraged. She let me go at my own pace and decide when to walk and run. This was great the first time, but I can see how I could use a little pushing. I learned that I can push myself.
  • She talked to me a lot, the whole way. This was so nice, but oh, my, I had a hard time answering her since I was so out of breath. (This is the part I hate about my running and why I have to walk and don’t know why it’s such a struggle for me)

The course was very nice. It was in a city I don’t visit much, especially in the last few years. It started and ended in a park along the shore of sun sparkling Lake Michigan, below the technical college where I received one of my degrees. It then wandered over to a small marina and up into town along the main street where I had several memories to think about as I ran. There were two hills, the second one was just before half way and the point where I said (out loud) “Three miles is a long way!” (Really? No, it’s not!) The course finished with a big downhill back to the lake, a road I drove often to the parking lot for the two years I was at that college. I have to say, this is the fun part of running for me, to run along roads where my view is usually from driving. You get such a different perspective. And the weather couldn’t have been nicer. About 65F/18C and bright sunshine.

The color stations were crazy! A huge cloud of colored cornstarch in the air. No escaping it really, unless you found a way to go around. The coloring was a bit slow of course. This is not an excuse for my slow time, I used these stations as a needed walk time by making sure I ran all the way up to them. There were two lines of squirters on either side of the road and you lined up with one or the other to get squirted as you walked through. You had to spin around to make sure you got your coloring balanced.

When I crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch and took a peek. I was hoping for anything under 48 minutes, because I slacked off so much the last month or so. But wouldn’t it be nice to get under 45? My watch time was 44:41. Yay! Looking at this in a positive light, there’s lots of room for improvement!

Pretty fancy finish!

Pretty fancy finish!

After

Crossing the finish line, we were handed a color packet, a bottle of water and a Kind bar. Nice! All my anxiety vanished and I thought to myself that it was just like a really fun workout! I know my next 5k will be a real one and then the anxiety will help me, but in this case, I wish I would have just relaxed and let myself have more fun. Next year!

It was a huge party. There was a stage and a band playing and a big cloud of color over the crowd as people sprayed their packets to get the final two colors of orange and green. We did not end up participating in that part. We were trying to find everyone, none of us had phones to connect with or cameras to take pictures!

We ended up going to the local diner and having breakfast. Scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes. I looked at the menu and thought I should order something really yummy like eggs benedict. But I was feeling so high and so healthy, I didn’t really want anything like that. A little bacon and fried potatoes would be treat enough.

What’s Next?

I plan to sign up for some official, timed 5k’s this summer and fall. I haven’t done it yet, but I want to.

1) I plan to get back to daily exercise with lots of variety. One thing I will focus on is anything aerobic that will help me to not get out of breath while running.¬†I’m thinking: hill sprints, jumping jacks, jumping anything, stairs. My main fitness goal is still to run an entire 5k without stopping to walk.

2) Lose some weight and end this plateau. I still have at least 25 pounds to lose. Any weight loss will help me run better.