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“Do you know what has happened to obesity rates since the introduction of the Food Pyramid?”
I was asked this question recently by the man now known as my Personal Trainer (PT). Being a very studious kind of person I was able to answer correctly: They have risen, and risen, and risen.
“And what happens to carbohydrates in the body?” Hey I know this one too! Carbs are turned into sugar, and stored in muscle as glygogen for immediate use. What can’t be stored in the muscle is stored in the fat cells. And if there aren’t enough fat cells, well the body just makes all new fat cells….” (This is a pretty simplified version, but catches the pertinent points!)
The reason I had the answer to these question right to hand is that by sheer coincidence I had been following a conversation on an internet forum that week that had been discussing this very subject. It seems to me that the field of nutrition is an absolute minefield, with unseen danger in every step. I eat a lot of starchy food. Pasta and rice form the basis of my diet, with tons of fruit and veg, some eggs and cheese, a very small amount of meat or fish, and virtually no fat. This is consistent with the version of the food pyramid instilled into us from the cradle to the grave, but is apparently very controversial indeed!
The conversation was revisited yesterday, in a general chat about my nutrition, while I was simultaneously suffering torture by exercise. The general gist is that protein in the form of meat is good. Carbs in the form of pasta, rice and grains are not so good. I asked whether I should be making my stir fry using olive oil instead of low cal oil sprays, and nearly fell off my Reebok Step when PT replied “you’d be better making it in lard!” He could tell this was too much for my brain to deal with, because I totally lost my rhythm and couldn’t work out how to swap feet for the next few steps, so he modified his advice to coconut oil. I think he’s a big fan of coconut because he recommends coconut yoghurt as well. The full fat version.
We’ve all heard of very low carb diets, Atkins is possibly the most famous of them all. Who doesn’t know someone who has lost a ton of weight on Atkins, only to regain it again when they start eating normally. Of course, regaining the weight is the universal problem with diets, hence the need to find a healthy eating plan that can be maintained for a lifetime. So cutting all carbs out forever isn’t realistic. But moving them from the base of the pyramid to the top of it, well that is the principle behind a Slimming World ”Red” day isn’t it? So I’m going to try some Red days starting from today, but I’m not going to be able to bring myself to use lard. Or buy full fat yoghurt. I would literally find it that impossible to go against all I have been taught for 44 years.
I wanted to write an intelligent post about nutrition. But to sound intelligent, I’d have to understand and believe what I was saying. I’m not there yet.
I thought I’d better write this post today, because tomorrow I shall be rendered immobile, thanks to the workout my trainer has just given me. I would never tell him this, but I came very close to losing my lunch at one point. How attractive!
To the casual observer my workout probably looks pathetically feeble, but to my unfit self it felt like I was being pushed way beyond the limits of human endurance. There’s clearly a masochist lurking within me though because at the end of the second circuit he asked how it was, and I replied with a big grin on my face “piece of piss!” I’ll pay for that next time I suspect. Although I’m confident that he knew it wasn’t true, because I fell into silent determination and he was saying things like “Dig deep!” and “Only another 30 seconds!” and other wildly encouraging phrases. I told him straight, if he wasn’t standing there I’d have given up long ago. There’s something about having someone else present that keeps you pushing through the pain and exhaustion, even when every muscle in your body is shaking with fatigue. When I’m there alone, I stop when it hurts. Just like dieting really, I need to go to class and know I have the support but also accountability of the weigh in. If Slimming World wasn’t there, I’d stop when it hurt.
So it’s all working. The nutrition, the exercise, the support. I am noticeably slimmer and feeling fitter, and have just done the grocery shopping in the grip of an endorphin induced high, which is a very good kind of high indeed! All I have to do is keep doing what I am doing, minus the jelly babies of course…
Loss this week 2.5lb
Total Loss 20.5lb
And Slimmer Of The Month for September!
Good results aside, you find me in the heart of my first crisis of this campaign. My day has been rubbish, I have barely eaten because I haven’t had time, I’m feeling all ragey about something (Year 5 maths homework!) and thus I have less than zero desire to go, at 9 o’clock at night, and prepare myself a proper healthy meal.
So today I have eaten (not necessarily in this order!) 2 eggs, made into syn free pancakes, 2 apples, 2 bananas, 1 yoghurt, half a smoky bean chilli pot (1 syn for the whole pot but I knocked it over when I took it out of the microwave…) and 3 jelly babies. It would take next to nothing for me to blow the whole day right now because there’s the best part of a box full of jelly babies in the cupboard, but I decided to come and write instead. Writing seems a more constructive use of my time than binging.
Do other people have strategies for when the day goes badly, or their emotions are in the danger zone? These are the times when historically I have let things fall apart and I refuse to allow that to happen. Gaining weight isn’t going to improve this day, losing weight might though!
Here’s what should have been lunch. The half I had was totally delicious.
Loss this week 4lb
Total Loss 18lb
This is another unexpectedly good result. Not because I have done anything to jeopardise my weight loss, but because my numbers seem so consistent, it’s almost too good to be true! While I know that one day, probably sooner rather than later, I’ll be brought back to earth with a bump, I am still going to revel in this week’s number because I can! And while my current weight looked horrific when I was climbing up to it and beyond, falling back down to it feels rather fabulous. My clothes already feel loser, which is nice because they were all getting rather snug. And my blood pressure is the best it has been for quite some considerable time. Medicated it may be, but I am now getting very normal readings. If nothing else comes out of this, I would just like my blood pressure control to be, well, controlled. And this seems to be finally happening for me. (111/73 – I love this!)
Over the past several days I have been reading a lot about nutrition, and I think I am learning things that will help me when the inevitable plateau hits. It will involve a very different way of eating for me, flying in the face of everything I thought I knew about food, although still wholly compatible with Slimming World. It’s good to have a back up plan, but in the meantime, my Green days are serving me well and I’m happy to keep going the way I am.
As I vowed in my last post, I went to the gym today. I had to really, having commited it to writing for all the world to read. My plan was just to get through Week One, Day Two of Couch to 5K without having to stop before the end, or jog at the exact same speed as I walked. And in the interest of optimising my chances of doing this, I made sure I had a meal containing both protein and carbs before I went. Scrambled egg on wholemeal toast and I’m still trying to soak the egg off the pan now, almost 12 hours later. No doubt I will get some more exercise shortly when I accept that I am going to have to scrub it.
So armed only with a bottle of water and my iPhone containing the Couch to 5K app, oh and a towel to mop my gently perspiring brow, I headed for the treadmill and set off. I am going to record the stats here for posterity, and so I can look back in the future and marvel at how I have improved. My walking pace was 4.8km per hour, my jogging was 6.5km per hour. I did start off a little faster than that but thought it was more important that I finish, than that I do it fast.
While I was on Jogging for the 5th time, so without doubt a massive sweaty cardiac arrest in waiting, I noticed a member of the gym staff heading my way. He could only be coming to me, I’d made sure I was tucked away on the furthest treadmill to avoid scaring anyone. “Hi” he said, all cheery and breathing like a normal person. “How’s it going?” I managed what may or may not pass as a smile and a thumbs up, and gasped out my hello. He went on to chat to me about what I was aiming to achieve, how long had I been going, did I know how to use the equipment, and did I know that it was very important that I do at least as much resistance training as cardio, in order to build lean muscle and thus burn more calories.
“Gasp – I can’t – wheeze – believe you are – cough gasp – making me talk!” I said. But actually I didn’t do too badly holding a conversation while bursting my lungs jogging at 6.5km/hr. Realistically I should have been lying on the floor with a defibrillator attached, not running along chatting to a stranger.
So the upshot of all this is I am back there tomorrow afternoon for a personal training session – free! – to devise a programme to help me reach my goals, and show me how to use the new equipment. I’ve been here before in 2008, and having just read what went on then, I’m a bit scared now!
Loss this week 4lb
Total Loss 14lb
Well look at me, losing 4lbs in 5 days! That’s a result I am more than happy with! Slimmer of The Week as well. Long may this continue, I am well on course for my 60lb in 180 day target!
I went to the gym on Saturday for the first time in a very long time. I found the Couch to 5K thing massively hard, and decided to try it on a treadmill instead. That was still hard work, but more manageable thanks to the machine propelling my feet along, so I am optimistic that I may be able to progress beyond week one of the programme, as long as I do that hard bit, which is to actually keep going back! The gym has had a makeover since I was last there, some familiar equipment is gone and there are new things to try. I wasn’t brave enough to venture onto new equipment though, because I didn’t know how to use it. I need to locate a staff member next time I go (Thursday. There, I’ve said it!) and get a little one on one personal training.
Today the weather is cold and windy, making my thoughts turn to my winter wardrobe. My winter coat doesn’t fit me, and having looked back over this blog, I think it’s going to take about a 2.5 stone weight loss from now to fit in it. So a new mini challenge is on then – to fit in my winter coat before the winter is over.
Loss this week 3lb
Total Loss 10lb
I bet you thought I’d been bad and either not been weighed, or had a gain and didn’t want to talk about it, didn’t you? Well I’m happy to report that I managed a 3lb loss after our long weekend away. I will confess to not sticking to the letter of the plan, but made a very concious effort to avoid overeating and making poor choices. For example, we ate lunch on Sunday in a little bistro, and I chose the roast dinner, but ate only the meat and veg, leaving the roast potatoes on my plate. Luckily there was a hearty portion of both meat and veg so I really didn’t need any potatoes anyway!
The danger zone came when we were home, because mentally it’s too easy to think “oh I’ve been off plan, probably blown it now…” and escalate a salavagable situation into a disaster! So to avoid that I was determined to find a class and get weighed in ASAP, and then if it was bad news, at least I had a clear point to draw the line and move forward from.
We had a mixed bag of weather while we were away – a massive amount of rain, but some lovely sunshine too. When we arrived, the tent field was packed and it felt almost claustrophobic squeezed in among much bigger tents, but on Sunday afternoon (a beautiful warm sunny day) everyone left and we had the entire field to ourselves.
I was keeping a very close eye on the weather forecast because, being our last camping trip of the year, I wanted to avoid packing my canvas tent up wet, since we don’t have a big enough garden for pitching it out to dry. So I knew heavy rain was due, and therefore took it down in a hurry on Monday morning, managing to have it packed dry in it’s bag about 37 seconds before the rain began to fall. We then spent our final night in a tiny £10 2 man tent from B&M Bargains, and being so cheap and flimsy, I decided the best plan was to put that inside our pop up utility tent. And thank god I did that! In watching for rain on the forecast, I had totally failed to spot the incoming wind! Overnight we were battered by 45mph gusts which that tiny tent would not have been able to survive. Happily my trusty pop up took all the weather could throw at it, and we stayed warm and dry, although I did venture out a couple of times in the night to check pegs and guy lines were all intact. Of course, trying to fold a pop up tent in high wind, and get it into it’s bag, feels a lot like wresting Big Daddy!
So a great adventure to end our camping season. Everything is clean, dry and packed away for winter now, so this will be my last camping photo until next spring. *Sob*
I have my first test ahead – a weekend camping. We are off to Frodsham tomorrow for 3 nights in our little tent, and I will have to find a way to stay on track. I know it can be done, I’ve certainly done it before. But it is hellishly easy to give into the urge to eat things like sandwiches and crisps, chippy for tea, and a few drinks before bed.
I usually prefer “Green” days, ie those laden with pasta, rice, veggies, pulses and so on, but very limited in meat. But for camping I find “Red” days work well, as it’s easy to make lean meat on the BBQ. The only snag is that is a much more expensive way to eat!
My usual weigh in is on a Monday, but we won’t be home until Tuesday so I will have to find a class later in the week. My next update is therefore likely to show whether I passed the test or not. I will pass, have no fear.