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Anita

Insights and further questions after my holiday season

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I have been eating Paleo (whatever you want to call it) for about 17 months. May '12 I did a Whole30. September - November '12 I did a Whole60. Aside from health/digestive issues, I have been trying to find a way to lose excess fat I've slowly put on in the last few years. After my Whole60 I really didn't add much back, in an attempt to lose weight. I've determined that I can't really restrict my food a lot more than I already am, and it's about more exercise. I'm also 51 now, so I feel like my body is fighting me even harder to keep weight on. I'm a bit lost about what exactly to do.

 

I have now gotten back up to 5 days of exercise a week after several years of only 3. That seems to be helping. A friend has gotten great results after about 2 months of a Superslow/Power of 10 type of training. I can't really afford more expenditure on exercise, but I think I may do 2-3 months with a trainer in this style, then maybe join a really cheap gym to continue on my own.

 

I think stress is a significant factor in my weight/health, but unless I can change my job, I don't see what more I can do to manage that stress.

 

I did go off-track over the holidays. I was good for a really long time. One of my favorite restaurants was catering my work holiday party and that was to be my big indulgence. It was a sit-down dinner. I got there after cocktail hour. We all found that the food amount was so minimal, we were starving after dinner. We actually considered going to a restaurant to eat. haha. Anyway, that was the trigger for me. I felt "deprived" of my indulgent meal, so I continued to indulge. It became the "just one more thing before I go back to the strictness" pattern of thinking. I made myself pretty sick (digestion) and really bloated.

 

Anyway, I learned that I need a pressure release valve. I am going to have to build in, periodically, days when I can indulge in non-Whole30 foods/beverages. The pressure of being perfect is breaking me -- it's another type of stress. Also, I need to get my body fat tested so I can get a realistic view of my physical makeup. I'm also considering that given my age, maybe I don't need to get back to my super-skinny weight and could have a goal 3-6 pounds over that (although this feels a bit like giving up to me). People keep telling me to stop focusing on losing weight and it will just fall off, but that just scares me. I realize I need more muscle on my body (my job is sedentary and has been for my entire adult life). I think I'm going to get "Your Personal Paleo Code" and read it to see if I can gain any insight there.

 

I'm concerned because I'm having what is fairly minor hand surgery in a couple of weeks and I won't be able to put pressure on my hands for several weeks. I will be off work for a month. I would prefer to see my weight go down in that time period. However, they've told me no cycling (hands on handle bars too much pressure) or anything else that would do that (I do pilates and we do many things on our hands). Obviously no weights in hands either. I know I'm an emotional/boredom eater, so I'm concerned about being home with lots of time on my hands.

 

Anyway, I know that was just a big, rambling dump. I'm sorry if it's too much to read. I don't know who else to talk to about this kind of stuff because most people I know can't relate. Any advice, support, etc. would be appreciated. Am I crazy to think I can get down to the weight I was just a few years ago?

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My cycle studio has a blog and one of the instructors wrote a good article about refueling after workouts. I realize I've been really lax about that. So I'm going to add that to my bag of tricks (eat within 30 minutes of exercise cessation) and see what that does for me. I won't give up until I find what works for me.

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Anita-  I was in a similar place as you about 6 months ago.  At that point, I'd been paleo with a Whole30 bent for two years and I was still struggling with my weight.  I did lose some weight on two whole30's (5-8 lbs...not huge amounts) and then I lost nothing on my third one.  I'm about to be 46 years old, so close to you in age, too.

 

Here's what I've learned.  My body is fully capable of regulating my appetite to match my activity levels.  On the Whole30's where I wasn't exercising at all, I lost the most weight (I was injured at the time).  On the Whole30's where I was exercising, I didn't lose as much or nothing.  Even when I wasn't doing a Whole30, I was pretty close to it in my nutrition choices and yet, still no loss after the initial few lbs I lost when I first switched to paleo (I assume those lbs were inflammation/water weight mostly).  Bottom line?  Even sticking like glue to the meal template, I am capable of eating too many calories for fat loss.  My thoughts were originally that perhaps I was where I needed to be.  Perhaps 20 - 30 lbs over what I thought was a realistic weight for me was supposed to be my 'normal'?

 

While that's all well and good from a health perspective (I was ridiculously healthy - even 30 lbs overweight), I wasn't happy there.  My joints hurt when I ran.  I was slower than I wanted to be on the bike and running.  My clothes were uncomfortable.  And worst of all, my self-esteem was in the toilet.

 

I've learned that I cannot trust my body to tell me what I need if my goal is fat loss.  For the past 6 months, I've been tracking what I eat and what I burn and I've managed to lose those 25 extra lbs.  Now I'm doing a Whole21 to reset my body from the holidays (where a few undesirables were consumed!) and once it's done, I'll go back to tracking until I get to my end goal.  The difference is that I am still eating by Whole30 guidelines, except that instead of letting my body tell me what it needs, I'm telling it.  In the end, my hope is that I'll be able to redefine my new normal - 30 lbs lower than where it was last summer. (keep in mind, my goal is 100% healthy...trying to shoot for unrealistic goals is a whole different ball of wax).

 

I've come to realize that this is likely one of the reasons why it's often repeated that the Whole30 is not a weight loss plan.  It's about optimal health...but sometimes, for some people (like me) more diligence is needed.  The awesome part about this is that following the Whole30 food/meal guidelines have made it super easy to stick to my target calories.  I'm still getting in quite a bit of healthy fat, tons of veggies and super high quality protein.  And just like at the end of a Whole30, there are no cravings, I feel awesome and really, not all that much hunger, either.  Certainly not like when doing SAD 'diets'!

 

Let me be perfectly clear here - what I did for the past 6 months was NOT Whole30.  Whole30 is so much more than just 'what you eat'.  What I was doing was taking what I'd learned from previously successful Whole30's and applying it to basic calorie tracking. By doing so, I was able to lose the stubborn fat I'd been battling with for years with minimal discomfort and optimal health/success.

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GLC1968-I agree on needing the additional kick start.  Just curious as to what type of tracking you did?  calories, pure food journal, etc? 

 

I started by just tracking everything I ate - without trying to alter what felt 'normal' for awhile.  The tool I used would keep track of everything - calories, macronutrients, etc.  When it came time to try and tweak it, I focused on calories over all.  I also tried hitting different macronutrient ratios but I found that changing those had zero effect on overall weight loss.  Different ratios of fat/prot/carbs affected how I felt, how I recovered from workouts and hunger more than they affected end weight loss results.

 

I'm still tracking now during my current Whole21 (only out of curiosity - I'm not using it to guide my choices at all as I am tracking AFTER I've eaten) and my natural hunger puts me at what would be considered maintenance calories for me.  Pretty much what I would suspect based on my past experience!  It's been really, really interesting.

 

Oddly enough, I was not even a little successful at this approach (calorie restriction) prior to switching to paleo and having done a few Whole30's as written.  My food relationship was so disordered back then that tracking just made it worse.  This time, I was in such a good place (in my head) that this was successful.

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GLC1968, THANK YOU! I really appreciate your take on this. I have been thinking that tracking might be the way for me to go. I had the same experience of some weight loss (but all seemed like bloating/inflammation) during the program. I am not sure how I will be able to track. I've seen some apps that help with that (and also calculate macronutrients in the process). I think the awareness of what time I eat and how much I eat will help me at least begin to analyze my current situation. Do you mind sharing with me what tool you used for tracking?

 

Our bodies really are interesting in that they change as time goes on. What works now may not work later. The only way to truly SEE what you are consuming is with tracking. So, while I resist this approach at times (feels like "dieting" to me), I know it also tends to work for me.

 

I spoke to my doctor's office today and it's sounding like I won't be able to do much exercise at all for a few weeks because of the incision I'll have in my hand after surgery. That concerns me. They did say I should be able to walk. So I think I may get some ankle weights and walk in the hills near my house. I'm very concerned about gaining weight during this time period. So for right now, if I can maintain and heal, I think that's good.

 

Again, thank you so much for offering advice. I was beginning to think I was the only person in this boat.

 

(I realized as I read my first post that I had dates wrong, still thinking I'm in 2013.  The Whole30 and Whole60 I did were in 2013, not 2012!)

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Walking is fantastic for weight loss, especially if you can find some hills. I gained weight following the template so now I am keeping the ratios the same but reducing the volume and tracking so I can work out my template for losing and maintaining eg half a palm of protein, 1-2 eggs, 1/2 thumb of fat but still lots of veg and some fruit to not be too low carb seems to be working as in I don't get really hungry except close to meal times which sounds about right. I am well below average height so its not surprising I couldn't lose weight on the low end of the template

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Have you ever tried acupuncture? It can be great for stress/anxiety relief, which it sounds like you could use. Especially once you have your surgery and you will be stressing even more over not being able to exercise the way you want. It might also help with any pain you have due to the surgery. I've been doing it regularly for recurring low back pain, but initially I went because I was getting pretty obsessed with my diet and trying to lose weight, and I was very anxious about everything. After a few weeks it really helped me lose a lot of that anxiety. If there are any community acupuncture locations in your area, this is a very affordable way to get treatment. I've been going to one since July of last year.

 

https://www.pocacoop.com/

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I have tried a lot of different tools and most of them are so full of processed crap that it makes it hard to navigate.  Some even don't have basic items available (ie. search for almonds and get a billion hits except for plain raw almonds!)!

 

The one I like the best and keep going back to is an app on my iphone called 'MyNetDiary'.  I used to use the online version exclusively (it was a pay site) but when I got my iphone, I went with the app for convenience.  I think it was like $5 to buy it.  I love the app!  Super easy and of course, with me wherever.  I do think the site and the app talk to each other, but I don't know if you have to pay extra for the site anymore or not.

 

One of the main reasons I like this software is that they make it very easy to create your own recipes (essential when cooking everything from scratch!) and then use those recipes in whatever portions you want in your meals.  I also like that there are not a lot of 'alerts' telling you you've had too much saturated fat or that you aren't eating enough 'whole grains' like in some programs.  

 

And I agree with melbournegirl - walking is great exercise!  Particularly if you've got hills in your area...  I did my very first Whole30 when I was recovering from foot surgery.  If I remember correctly, I was still on crutches and wearing a hard cast at the time.  I could not do any exercise except upper body weights (which I didn't bother with!).  I lost more weight on that Whole30 (8 lbs) than on any since then and I had already been paleo for 10 months when I started.  Inability to exercise does not have to mean weight gain.  You can do this!

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One thing to mention is that many of the tracking tools have very poor data in them, so if you're using them for tweaking, be aware the data may be the problem :)

 

I'm concentrating on fat loss this year, as I got my health back last year.

 

Some insights I've had, in case they're of any use to you:

 

If your muscles are wasting or starving, your body may not let you lose fat and exercising heavy will burn up muscle and organ tissue [Edit: this feels very very bad, fatigue and a "sick" feeling I really can't explain].

If you are missing nutrients essential to muscle function, you will not get all the benefits of the exercise you do.

Ditching cardio and lifting heavy is much better for my fat loss (suspect this is cortisol/stress related)

Morning exercise does not aid my fat loss and may actually make it worse (suspect this is cortisol/stress related)

Afternoon/evening exercise is much better for my fat loss (suspect this is cortisol/stress related)

For me, getting enough sleep is essential for fat loss

For me, getting enough water is essential for fat loss

I can lose some fat while eating starchy carbs and fruit, but it's far more effective with minimal fruit and starch.

If my body is stressed out (for any reason - injury, illness, not enough X, etc) I don't lose fat

If you're on any medications which mess with your body, it's worth a review with your doctor to see if anything can be inhibiting your losses (I take steroids and these mess with me less if I'm also low carb).

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You all have really lifted my spirits and re-inspired me. I got Your Personal Paleo Code in the mail today. Will read that after surgery. I agree walking is great exercise. I'm hoping that just doing something different that is low intensity may help with fat loss. And it can't hurt to get ready for my trip to London/Paris in May because I'll be walking all day there. I'm going to try that tool as well. It had never really occurred to me to workout in the evening, but that's partially because of the hours I've worked for years. It is a possibility for me now, but I don't really have a lot of time after work before I go to bed. I've decided to use a lot of time over my recovery to investigate and experiment.

 

I do get acupuncture. It's been my primary care (along with other holistic treatments) for about 16 years now. There are a few schools here, but they are very far from my residence. Even my regular acupuncturist is pretty far from me. She gives me a friends and family discount, but I can't afford much at the moment. I have studied with a taoist master for the last 4 years (which includes daily meditation and transformational work). My job is just really stressful right now ( :D very happy that I'll be off work for 4 weeks), and this health stuff is making me scramble to get things done. (I also had a heart attack scare about two weeks ago and was taken by ambulance to the ER, so I'm concerned about medical bills, particularly with my upcoming trip to Europe.)

 

I am also a certified pilates instructor (but I don't teach). I know I can probably do quite a bit of strength training throughout the day without working up a sweat. I truly hope this time off after surgery can be like a wonderful reset and help me delve into the mysteries of my body at 51. Someone recently told me I shouldn't be worried about excess fat and it was just "getting old." She told me I'd just learn to live with it. I wanted to ask "Do you know me?" LOL I'm not really the type to just toss in the towel.

 

Thanks so much for the responses!

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Someone recently told me I shouldn't be worried about excess fat and it was just "getting old." She told me I'd just learn to live with it. I wanted to ask "Do you know me?" LOL I'm not really the type to just toss in the towel.

LOL!  i found myself saying that in my own head - that maybe the aches and pains and weight gain was all "normal" due to aging.  I'm so glad that I didn't listen to myself!!  

 

I can honestly say that today, I feel 20 years younger than I did just 18 months ago.  Paleo, Whole30, Pilates, running (shocker #1!) and tracking my food (shocker #2!) are all to be credited.

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As another for whom W30 did not lead to weight loss, I appreciate all of the tips and insights above.  It's nice that we can learn from each other. 

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GLC1968, the woman that told me that is a dear, sweet person. But she's probably in her early 60s, I would imagine weighs upwards of 300 lbs, and has had both knees replaced. If I had 1 knee replaced (or the pain that leads to something like that), I'd be motivated to lose. As it is, 5 extra lbs can make my feet hurt and effect my workouts. I'm so happy to hear of your success because it gives me confidence that I can do it!

 

pjena, isn't it a beautiful thing? The online community is so amazing. I don't know a whole lot of people in person that eat Paleo, and the ones that do are mostly much younger friends that do cross fit. And they NEVER eat as strict as a Whole30. So having a place to come and get advice, support, etc. is really lovely.

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Oh, and I do have hills (mountain)! I moved to this neighborhood primarily because of how walkable it was, then I stopped walking. Weird. I live in Southern California so the weather is good for walking this time of year and the hills around me have the most beautiful old homes with gigantic trees that make me really happy.

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