Sunday, 15 August 2010

Caveman carb-cycling

I am on a five-day carb-cycling program. For five days I eat lean protein (steak, chicken, ham, fish, eggs) and green veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, rocket, salad) and sweet potato. Plus some nuts every morning. I take fish oil capsules with each meal and some other digestive support tablets.

BUT on the night of my fifth day ... I get to eat carbs! Oooh, it's heaven. I've only been through two cycles so far, and have stuck to some simple carbs with brown rice and banana ... oh, and a few squares of dark chocolate :) All are allowed too.

The idea is that the high carbs night restarts my metabolism. And thank GOD for carbs night. I keeps me sane. And gives me much needed energy.

After two weeks I have definitely noticed a difference. I would not say this is weight-loss, so much as getting back to normal. I haven't felt nearly as bloated or puffy, which I had been feeling all the time. On the scales it's about 3 to 4kg down, but I would say a lot of that is water-loss. I have, however, noticed my face has slimmed down a bit! Hurrah, because it was definitely getting a bit too round and moon-like.

People keep asking me about my goals. Is it bad that I don't have a set goal? I just want to lose body fat and get stronger. Weight goals have never worked for me because I am quite muscular, but I would definitely like to trim down by a good 10cm around my waist and I have some other measurements in mind too.

My other goal is to run FASTER. I'm four weeks away from my SEVENTH half marathon. Because I'm a mentor in the program, I am not running it for myself but instead in a support role so I won't be running it for a time. About a month after that race, though, there is another half which I am contemplating enterting. It may be a little soon, but I am really seriously considering it!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I eat steak for breakfast

Yes, unfortunately it's true.

This morning I jumped ... okay, groaned out of bed at 6.10am and wandered into the kitchen. For the first time in my life I was going to eat steak before midday. Hell, before coffee. A plain steak with a handful of almonds. No sauce, seasoning or anything.

I chose a 200g porterhouse, which starts me off with around 50g of protein, plus some extra from the nuts. Bam! I hammered it out a bit with a meat tenderiser, because I wanted it to cook faster and be easier to eat. A light splash of olive oil, about three minutes on each side and I was eating breakfast. Mmm.

You know ... it was interesting. It didn't taste bad, of course, it was just my mind telling me "this isn't breakfast! This is wrong". I slowed down towards the end as I could feel it starting to settle in my stomach. Over three hours later I am feeling the effects of a) carb starvation and b) having a full stomach of food = headache! And finding it hard to concentrate.

But, this is what I'm doing for a little while. I am not looking at the big picture, or medium picture, I am simply taking things one day and even moreso, one meal at a time.

Coming up at about 11am I have some ham and two eggs to grapple with. Oh boy, am I excited! Oh, and some spinach too.

Like anything, when you make changes it takes your body a while to adapt, which is why I am locking myself in for a month of super-strict behaviour. If I see results, even small ones, I will stick with it. Even if I just start to feel better and brighter/lighter that will make it worthwhile. Could not imagine running in this state though, so I hope my body starts to burn through this stuff soon!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

I have a headache

So I am on day two of changing my diet from a carb-breakfast of porridge to no beige carbs and much higher protein. I haven't received my full report and plan from my new trainer, but I am trying to start slowly changing things as I realise I have a lot to change and so I am trying the "change one thing every day" approach. Right now I am trying to get used to not having porridge for breakfast and instead am having protein. The first day - due to what was in the fridge - I had two eggs scrambled with no milk added (a bit of water to thin them out) and ... a kangaroo sausage. The eggs were okay, but the sausage was NOT and I am never buying them again. I like kangaroo, but only in steak form.

This morning I had the same - two eggs and some sliced ham, with some avocado for good fats. I am finding this soooo hard to eat, because I am not used to eating this sort of food so early in the day. It's just so unappetising and against my routine of the past, oh, 31 years!

I am determined to stick to it (although tomorrow ahead of the City2Surf I am having porridge!), but it's seriously giving me a headache. I've looked it up and it seems that one potential reason is that protein takes longer to digest than carbs like oats, and apparently undigested food is a trigger for headaches? Probably a little bit of sugar withdrawal too as I am cutting it out all together. Slowly anyway. On Friday I ate a strawberry, and today I ate some fruit salad at brunch with a friend. It was seriously the best option as there was NO WAY I was eating eggs again.

I find this diet a little confusing. No dairy, no fruit, no carbs from things like pasta, rice or noodles. I mean, fruit is good for you. Sure, you need to eat it in moderation due to the high sugar content, but what about all the great nutrients and minerals (and fibre) you get from them? Plus, no dairy? Hello, osteoperosis! I am going to ask my trainer about some of this on Tuesday because I'm a little concerned.

ZERO energy today, although I was running around quite a bit driving from one side of the bloody city to the other. Very tiring! Picked up a case of wine that's been waiting for me for a while, wish I could drink it all tonight ... but don't think that would be great race prep. Instead will have a light dinner with some fish and veggies and a nice early night.

Friends have been asking me what my goals are, because they can't see why I want to change anything. Heh, of course they're my friends and they have to say this, but they also remember a time a few years ago when I would've done anything to be at the weight I am now.

For now, I have no specific goals other than to lose body fat, tone up and improve my nutrition knowledge. Right now I have a diet and exercise regime that clearly isn't working for me, and if I'm going to work this hard - I want some bloody results. I'm sure my trainer will help me come up with these. I am determined to stay healthy and not get carried away with this though!

I did realise that in my period of extreme weight loss/skinny-ness I was probably starving myself. I really wasn't eating enough ... my diet was something like: 1/2 cup of muesli or 2 weetbix with milk, maybe an apple for morning tea, a coffee w skim milk, salad for lunch - maybe with protein, sometimes a bread roll, and for dinner I'd have a tiny piece of meat and some veggies. And honestly, I remember some nights after big runs when I would skip dinner and eat a cucumber or something. Especially if you consider that then I'd run about 35km a week and do something like nine to 11 gym classes (four on the weekends and seven during the week) that just wasn't enough food. I remember everything being vveery slim - I had no boobs (for the first time in my life and - honestly - I loved it), and no hips. I'm sorry, but I LIKED it because I'd always had round curves and it was so good to be so trim. But now I do realise I got there in an incredibly unhealthy way and I'm lucky that I caught Ross River Fever when I did as it forced me to slow down and start eating properly and take care of my liver a bit better.

So, onwards and downwards ... and upwards! I can't wait for my energy levels to pick up again. I have no idea how I'm going to run tomorrow ... hah, slowly I imagine!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

New trainer and new beginnings

As evidenced in this blog and my constant whingeing to friends, family and anyone who will listen - for the past year or two (especially the last 12 months) I have been really struggling with weight gain.

Last week at work we had a group from the Athletes Foot come in to fit us for shoes. I had just been to a proper running shoe store that fit me with some great runners, but I went down anyway for a second opinion. Unlike some stores I've been in - these guys knew their stuff. They used the Fit Print mechanism, but also watched you walk away from them - in bare feet and with your Achilles exposed. The guy who I worked with gave an identical diagnosis pretty much to previous ones, so I was impressed! He also knew a bit about running and CanToo - bonus.

I digress. Also present was this great personal trainer - Libby, who runs an Eastern Suburbs (Sydney) based boot camp and personal training business called Bottom's Up. I decided to ask her for some nutrition tips because really, I don't feel like I can do anymore exercise - maybe just smarter exercise - and I really think that nutrition is 80% of weight loss or more!

What she told me was quite eye opening and led me to where I am now. Essentially, she told me I wasn't eating enough aiming for 1300 calories a day and exercising up to 1000 calories a day. That I wasn't eating enough protein and that I was eating the wrong sort of carbs. Eep. I asked her for a recommendation of a good personal trainer who also did nutrition because I am now so confused after reading sooo many things about everything under the sun.

Well, she delivered to me the cream of the crop. His name is Daine McDonald and he runs a PT business called Clean Health. I had my first consultation with him TODAY - the same day I initially spoke to him. Argh, scary that I had zero time to prepare ... thank god I shaved this morning! I HATE these things. I have never, ever had a good initial consultation - no matter how much thinner or fitter I've been. They involve scary things like getting on scales and being measured, poked, proded and the rest. Plus, I have had some horrendous comments ... including a trainer who I NEVER saw again who informed me that I was obese, despite acknowledging that my cardio fitness and strength put me in the excellent category for fitness.

Anyway, today was different. Daine had me fill out a serious of questionnaries to determine my standard health, exercise and diet history and any potential hormone imbalances through a long questionnaire with a HEAP of true and false answers. This was quite interesting as I had never given many of these questions a second thought, and suddenly I found myself wondering if I had a good memory, had a healthy libido and a good imagination!

My head is still swimming a little, but the results are etched inside my brain because ... I've been doing it WRONG. Well wrong. In fact, there are few ways I could more wrong! My training, up to now, has been focussed around running - particularly long distance running - thinking it must be good as it works all muscles and burns calories, as well as strenghtening my lungs and heart. Unfortunately, it also causes the body to create a hormone called cortisol which causes the body to retain weight - particularly around the mid-section.

I have been trying to ignore it, but particularly in the last seven or eight months I have struggled with this area. Not so much a "gut", but just weight on my torso, which I have never had a problem with. In fact, my slim waist was often considered my best feature.

In addition to this, my diet - formulated for me by a three-month course with a different nutritionist - was wrong. According to Daine, it is too high in carbs and sugars (only natural mind you), too low in protein and not nearly enough of the good fats. This diet, in fact, is also cortisol creating AND can affect liver and kidney function. Fantastic. So my diet AND my exercise routine are contributing to me gaining weight despite both being rather good!

After this discussion, which had me wanting to do a number of things - including run away, cry and call my previous nutritionist and demand a refund of my $450 dollars, it was time for the measuring. Daine used this scary looking pair of metal pincers ... or callipers, to measure skinfolds. I absolutely realise the rationale behind it, which is why I went through with it, but inside I was dying. I had only just met this person and now he's actively grabbing my (somewhat generous) love handles and pinching them in a cruel looking shiny contraption? Thankfully, it was all over quite quickly. Then it was just a quick jump on the scales, which thankfully didn't explode but did display some scary digits, and we were talking action plans.

I am receiving a full report from Daine closer to the weekend, but for now I need to stop eating carbs (porridge) for breakfast and have protein. He recommended red meat and eggs. Yeah, I am serious. This goes against everything I've ever considered breakfast to be. Eggs - sometimes - but steak? For breakfast? Ew! He went one step further and recommended game meats like deer and roo. Okay, so I am going to go with roo as I cannot face venison or similar sub-8am.

Secondly, I am onto the supplements - a tablespoon of liquid fish oil in the morning and a teaspoon at night. Tonight I started with the teaspoon and it was pretty gross. I am going to have to mix that stuff in with something I think. Next, are some other digestive supplements. They smelt pretty bad, but apparently they will help sort out acid and enzyme levels in my gut. Finally, in addition to the liquid fish oil, I am taking three fish oil capsules through-out the day. Unbelievable.

Finally, I am not to exercise in the evening. This apparently also causes cortisol levels to spike, which is why I can't sleep at night sometimes! Argh. So it's now all before work or at lunchtime work outs.

I am going to give it all a bloody good go, if for no other reason than I've laid down a substantial amount of money for this stuff and now I want to see what it does. Training per usual until next Tuesday when who knows what will happen to me.

If I said I didn't care about what happens on the scale I would be lying. I want to be under 65kg at least, under 60kg preferable. I must point out, I am a shortie. I'm 158cm or so, so these weights would be fine for me. I'd love to lose weight of my upper arms, which have always been chunky (apparently could be a wheat problem), and my stomach and thighs.

I would also like to gain my energy and vitality back. It has left me in the last year or so! Work has been busy, sure, but I have worked much harder and longer in my life and had more energy than I currently have.

So, I look forward to reporting back! Hopefully I can pass on some useful tips beyond attempting to eat a steak for breakfast.