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When you tell people that you are eating “low carb” it seems to cause no small measure of disapproval. I think maybe people imagine that I am now living on a diet of lard, with a side of double cream. I am delighted to be able to put that idea to rest right now.
If I said my menu for today was a breakfast of scrambled eggs and mushrooms, lunch was prawn salad and dinner was sirloin steak with cauliflower, broccoli and kale, and dessert a bowl of raspberries with Greek yoghurt, would you gasp in horror and wonder how I could survive without all those essential nutrients I was missing out on, or would you think that actually that all sounds pretty damn healthy and delicious? (I wish that was my menu for today, but it’s 2 days before payday so it’s a tad more “budget” than that, but no less tasty and healthy!)
So the missing food? Grains, essentially. No bread, pasta, rice, pastry, cakes or biscuits. Nothing processed, nothing with added sugars either. Basically then, if it grows or runs around, you can eat it. Another term for this way of eating is primal, although not all primal eaters are low carb as such….so much crossover! One of many very useful resources for all things Primal is Mark’s Daily Apple. There’s a lot of interesting reading on there, no need at all to buy his book, although I am sure it would be a good read. Closer to home we have Dr Briffa. I have read his book Escape The Diet Trap and found it both informative and reassuring. It can be pretty scary at first, stepping away from the conventional recommended diet of low fat, high carb. It’s something of a leap of faith. Dr Briffa explains things in a way that makes a lot of good sense and takes the fear away, replacing it with anger sometimes! And of course, let’s not forget Gary Taubes, who’s book Why We Get Fat, And What To Do About It was the first publication I read on the subject, and convinced me to give low carb a try.
At the end of the day, some wise person once said if several different people each do things in a different way, it probably means there is no single right way to do it. I can think of nowhere more relevant to that sentiment than the world of dieting. There are so very many different diet plans, and each and every one of them will have supporters and success stories, so we each have to find our own way through to the right plan for us.
My shopping trolley looks the best though;)
In the absence of any kind of weigh in to write about, I thought it might be nice to look back and see how many inches I have lost in total. I was recently measured by Ian at the gym, but I have my own records going back to last August, so for the purposes of this post I am using my own home measurements, because its a much better story!
So, my bra size has gone from a 42G to a 36F. What this means in real terms is that I have lost 8 inches from my bust measurement (and 6 inches from under my bust). because nice bras are expensive, I sometimes find I am wearing cups that I don’t fill. This is one of those times, maybe next month I will treat myself. It’s much easier to buy lovely bras in a 36F, that much I am certain of!
Next my waist. Waist measurement is a really important marker for health, abdominal fat being an unarguable risk factor for metabolic syndrome (diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke). while my waist is still in the “at risk” range, I have lost a full 9 1/2 inches which means I am within striking distance of a “safe” number.
Finally, my massive child bearing hips. I wrote recently that I had lost 9cm in one month of my new way of eating. My total inch loss since last August is a massive 12 inches!
It’s interesting to see my shape evolving. I don’t really know what shape I am meant to be. It always assumed pear or maybe hourglass, as my waist has always been well defined, even when massive! But looking at the numbers, I obviously just carried more fat on my lower half. Which has nothing to do with my underlying shape as it turns out. I wonder how much my exercise regime is influencing my final shape though. I do a lot of upper body work so if muscles really are building, it will be in my arms and shoulders more than anywhere else. I think. This paragraph is the written equivalent of me thinking out loud, and is probably best ignored.
So 35 1/2 inches lost, that’s more than half my height, In fact it’s closer to half my husband’s height!
Today I can cross something off my bucket list. I have been abseiling down the side of a quarry in the Peak District, and once I was over the edge and on my way, I loved every second of it! Taking that step was terrifying, but I saw my 10 year old daughter go just a few seconds ahead of me, so I made the commitment and stepped back…..
There is more than one part of this experience that wouldn’t have happened this time last year. First of all, the walk to the site was all uphill and left me a little breathless today. Last year I couldn’t have faced it. Then of course the abseil itself. I wouldn’t have fitted in the harness and I would have been too heavy to be allowed to do it. And then the scramble back up the hill once it was done. I would have failed at that too.
My life is utterly enriched by being able to try all these new experiences, but I mustn’t be too pleased with myself, there was a gentleman there today celebrating his birthday. His 80th birthday, and he took it all entirely in his stride. I aspire to be like him now, never mind when I’m an octagenarian!
Right, I need a new challenge. What shall I do next?
I’m writing this post with a spring in my step today. I have submitted to the tape measure and callipers once again, and am delighted to report that the fat and the cm are melting away. I don’t have all the figures stored in my head, but I can tell you the biggie is a full 9cm off my hips, in just one month (well 5 weeks, but close enough!). All the measured places are smaller, and so is my body fat percentage. I’m down 2.5% from last time. Part of me would love to know what my number would have been last August, but I’m not sure I could have subjected myself to the test so that’s something that will forever be a mystery.
The scales have been slightly less kind to me, giving me just a 5.5lb loss in that time frame. This is a bit clouded by the fact that on a week by week basis I have seen a better loss that that on the scales at the gym, and it would mess with my head if I let it. But I’m not planning on letting it. I’m going to take today’s number as official and try not to get on any other scales until my next weighing and measuring session. I am refusing to allow the scales to terrorise me ever again. That being said, my official total loss is now 5st 13lbs. Not too shabby!
So, to the title of this post. I was asked that question by a friend this week, when I told her I don’t bother pounding the treadmill or sitting pedalling furiously on an exercise bike at the gym. The truth is, there is nothing about those activities that would ever induce me to go back and do it again, so if that was the only way to burn fat, I wouldn’t be burning fat. But luckily for me there is another way. Working with free weights and my own body weight has twin effects. First of all, it raises my heart rate just as much as cardio when I am employing my entire body in a lift. And second it builds lean muscle, which is metabolically superior to fat, so just existing is using more calories than before. I am burning more calories as I sleep than if I was just doing the dreaded cardio because I have increased my muscle to fat ratio. I’m burning fat right this minute, sat here writing this. How cool is that! I’m a fat burning machine baby!
Since I no longer go to my SW class, I don’t have a fixed point for weighing in anymore. And actually I quite like that. Breaking free of the tyranny of the scales is pretty liberating. So as long as I know in my heart that I am doing the right things, I might think about weighing once a month or so. The way a number on the scale affects my mood so dramatically means this could be a very positive move. With that said, my PT is weighing and measuring me next week, so I will have some numbers then.
I’ve been thinking about my love/ hate relationship with my body of late. I’ve always hated it. Too short, too fat, too pale, and so on. Yet this is the same body that created, grew, and birthed a human being, and then fed her and kept her alive for months too! The same body that is rarely ill, and is, as it turns out, quite strong. I have spent my whole life focussing on the negative and now it’s time to give some head space to the positive. The negatives can be overcome (apart from the too short, maybe one day someone will come up with a diet plan that solves that though)
Lifting heavy weights is fast becoming my favourite thing. I’ve always enjoyed the strength training side of working out. I hate cardio. Hate it. You have to make cardio fun to get me on board, hence the occasional Zumba class. But bring out the heavy weights and I get a thrill of anticipation. While my current level might seem a bit feeble to the really strong women, I feel so powerful when I lift these weights, like I could conquer the world! And in those moments I truly love my body.
My current regime is (not including all the warm up etc)
Total lunge (step plus weights plus lunges) Barbie weights, 4kg
Assisted chin ups with the level of assistance still set fairly high but always decreasing. Now 75kg I think!
Dead lift to row 50kgs
Chest press on swiss ball, 10kg each hand, I have bruises on my thighs where I rest the weights as I get in position for this one!
Body weight reverse press ups on the trx system…too easy to cheat on this, except when my PT is around
Thrusters using a 12kg vipr (litte jumps, thrusting vipr from chest to overhead).
All of these are 10 reps, 3 sets. And I often chuck in the thigh abducter machine thing, at 65kgs and sometimes squat with a 20kg barbell loaded with 30 kg.
I have boringly typed all that out because I don’t keep enough of a record of my progress, and I think it’s important that I can see what I have done, how I have improved. It’s an ever changing programme, so next time I update it, rather than the same exercises with heavier weights its likely to look totally different. This is good, it keeps my body guessing. One thing is certain, when I leave the gym I feel energised, pumped up and very very strong. What’s not to love?