the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

feast or famine

I went six weeks without a french fry. For those who know me, it's practically inconceivable. When I finally had some, they were alright, but I didn't have a lot and they just didn't blow my mind. Every now and again I like to do a 30-day no french fry "fast" just so I know I'm not a slave to them.

I'm five weeks into my diet regimen. I missed one week of running, but got right back on track. I'm adding two miles every other week until I reach a base of 30 miles per week. This next week will be 24 miles (6, 6, and 12). I am down 6 pounds so far out of a total goal of 20-25. Nine pounds from now I'll look damn good; in 14 I'll be pretty hot; and in 19 I'll be smoking. With a conservative one-pound-per-week goal, I should reach my target around my birthday.

But we all know size matters! The more I run, the more muscular I get. Thus, the scale may not move in the direction I want but my size may be shrinking. That's just fine by me. I'm down two inches or more in bust, waist, and hips... with two or three to go. Weight, like age, is nothing but a number! If I look and feel great, that is all that matters to me.

Like most women, I had no success with the Atkins diet. Women need to consume a larger volume of food to feel sated than Atkins' program allows--primarily because it treats all carbs the same, (or did so back when I tried it), although the impact of spinach and rice are very different. The South Beach Diet recognizes that difference and doesn't limit non-starch vegetable consumption the way Atkins did. When I first followed the South Beach Diet I lost 36 pounds in 3 months with not one iota of exercise. My clothes were falling off of me and people were encouraging me to eat a brownie! But let me tell you, when you start adding back in the very slightest amount of starches--some brown rice here and there, a nibble of bread--you gain back everything you lost plus ten pounds! It is a magic diet once, and once only. If you ever stray from that initial success and strict lifestyle, the magic will never happen again. As a runner, I have to have some starchy carbs to fuel those long runs, and while very low-carb diets are easy to follow at home, they make eating out and attending parties very depressing. Although I can't have them be my four food groups anymore unless I'm logging a lot of miles, I am totally unwilling to live a life without pizza, beer, french fries, and potato chips. (And she knows football... yet, this girl is single... go figure!)

As I've mentioned, I'm counting all my calories and exercise using My Fitness Pal. Having taken a university personal nutrition course and plenty of courses in the natural sciences, I absolutely believe in the science of "a calorie is a calorie." Energy is energy. The one key common factor among people who have kept off 10 pounds or more long term is counting calories and keeping a food journal. But I also believe that different foods will make you feel differently, and foods that leave you hungry or tired will lead you to consume too many calories. I noticed that My Fitness Pal wants my caloric intake to be 50% carbs. I perused some diet plans that hold that some people need primarily carb-based diets and others need primarily protetin-based diets. Although I am very skeptical of diet plans and especially anything that demonizes particular foods, (currently anything with soy or gluten are on the hit list), I was interested in the questions presented about cravings, meal preferences, and how one feels after eating different foods. When I reflected on those things, I changed my ratios around to target 40% protein, 30% fat, and 30% carbs. Looking at the days I feel good and energized, that is the approximate breakdown of my meals.

I remember runners always preaching a need for a bagel or toast at breakfast before a run, maybe with some peanut butter (PB on a bagel, serious yuck!). When I do that I get seriously low blood-sugar dizzy in short order. A carby breakfast also leads me to overeat all day. My usual breakfast and pre-run ritual is string cheese and a Greek yogurt... yogurt that is high in protein, not some carb-sugar explosion like Yoplait. The dairy does not upset my tummy on a run at all. Too many new runners just blindly take advice from veterans when all that advice must be tweaked for one's own body. There is no one-size-fits-all diet in general, and definitely not when doing something intense like distance running.

The other food reaction I considered that made me elect to up my protein and lower my carbs a bit is how I feel after a burger and fries versus a chicken caesar salad. I love a good burger and fries, but when I give it some real reflection, I am often in a food coma and crashing for a nap afterwards. When I have a grilled chicken caesar I feel fuller longer and don't crash. I love my mac and cheese from scratch, but one serving leaves me famished...unless I top it with half a grilled chicken breast. These things tell me my body just needs more protein to stay full and alert. I'm going to try to keep observing how I feel an hour and three hours after different meals and keep tweaking things so that I can enjoy food as much as possible rather than feeling like it is the enemy.

So, what does all this nutrition, diet, running nonsense have to do with living aboard and learning to sail? Well, when come July I'm smoking hot out sailing in a bikini hopefully it will all make sense.

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Thanks for reading! Have you had a similar experience you'd like to share? Have a link to an interesting blog fellow readers and I might enjoy? Just want to say hello? Post your comments below. I'm a smart, resourceful girl doing things her own way, so I just ask that folks keep the unsolicited advice to themselves.