So an overdue update on my health-spiration change. I’m absolutely ELATED to tell you that I’ve lost 8kg since starting out in late November. I truly cannot believe it, namely because a) my thyroid condition makes it damn DAMN hard to lose anything and b) I have not even started an exercise plan. I’ve joined a gym, but haven’t even set foot in it. I know. Lame, lame, lame.
But…I’ll be getting in there shortly (I’m aiming for at least twice a week in the name of being realistic), so am hopeful that it will help change things up even more once the eating thing settles in and I hit any plateaus.
The best things I’ve learned (I take no credit for these by the way, they are tips and thoughts from others who are helping me on the way):
- there’s no point in a diet, only a lifestyle. It can’t just be “I’m gonna eat well until I get to my goal.” It has to be a change for good.
- reframe what you think is “good food.” For example, on the cruiseship, I was bemoaning how hard it was to be in front of all this amazing array of good food (dessert buffet anybody?!) and not able to eat it. My fellow comedian (and extremely buff and healthy guy!) Mad Mike Bennet challenged me on what I thought “good food” was. Once I started viewing the foods that were healthy, wholesome, clean and helpful to my body as “good foods”, it was a heck of a lot easier to stick with the plan!
- I pay attention to how foods make me feel. And…the good food DOES make me feel good. Lighter. Not bloated. Cleaner. The other day on my cheat day, I started eating some chocolate and honestly, I couldn’t even finish it. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED. I felt so ill. It was great!
- I have just started another DietBet. The first one I won and more than doubled my money. I think I’m just one of those people who NEEDS competition – or at least accountability with the bonus of my money being on the line – to succeed!
- protein, protein, protein and veges, veges, veges. If I had to sum up the one principle I’m basing this whole eating lifestyle on, it’s just prioritising these every time I eat.
- cut out sugar (replace with stevia). I haven’t completely cut out fruit, but I am minimising it.
- drink water, drink water, drink water. Even on days when I’ve slid on the diet (particular over Christmas), I’ve made an effort to keep drinking, no matter what.
- eat regularly, even when you don’t feel hungry. Just eat the good stuff!
- find substitutes. For instance, I have a soft drink habit (diet ones, Coke Zero, etc. but still. Not great for your body!) which, while not eliminating it completely, I have cut down MASSIVELY by replacing with soda water. My fridge is always full of it now, I add a bit of lemon, some mint (if I can be bothered making the trek out to the garden. I am beyond lazy, I know) and it’s working. Apparently all I seek is fizz and I feel suitably treated.
I got an email from a friend the other day asking me if I could share some of the eating tips I’d been raving on about, sent to me by my friend Dave. With his permission – and his disclaimer that he’s mainly paraphrasing other peeps who now what they’re on about – I’m sharing his email below. I need to stress that I have absolutely NOT followed this diet strictly, nor have I followed any “diet”, but the principles have helped massively (e.g. protein/vege rich, having a cheat day, drinking heaps of water, etc.) I would say I’ve stuck to his advice about 85% and have had AMAZING results even just with that.
Over to Dave:
If it’s weight loss, you might want to consider trying something that I used to drop a lot of weight this year, a modified ketogenic diet. Essentially it’s a diet that lowers the amount of carbs and sugar consumed, which makes your body burn fat and protein instead. (Think Aktins without the nasty side effects.)
The goal is to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking. When your body releases insulin to combat ingested sugar and carbs, it starts storing anything it can find as fat.
Try this for say 2 or 3 days and see if it works for you. If so, you can give a shot for reals. If not, nothing lost. When I’m doing it full on, I give myself 1 day a week to eat whatever I choose (helps with cravings etc).
So, for 2 days, eat nothing with sugar added. This includes lactose (milk sugar) etc. For breakfast, have 30 grams of protein (your choice), a handful of veg (avoid carrots and tomatoes), 2 eggs however you choose, and either beans or lentils (for the added protein, plus this is your carbs…)
For example, I have 2 fried eggs (yes FRIED!!! with butter), refried black beans, a handful of spinach, and chicken.
For lunch and dinner, I have protein (30gs), beans of some kind, and veg. I’ll skip the beans with lunch usually.
Because you’re not consuming lots of carbs, the fat in the food you’re eating will keep you full until your next meal, so you won’t feel like snacking. If you do, and can’t stop, try pepperoni (make sure it has minimal carbs and no sugar), and a small handful of almonds or cashews.
Just before bed, you can have a small spoonful of peanut butter (to regulate your blood sugar through the night. Also, LOTS of water. Try for 2 litres a day. (You can’t drink much else, so why not!). Artificial sweeteners should be kept to a minimum, but a little splenda in your coffee/tea or a diet coke won’t hurt.A glass of red wine is ok too.
There’s more to it, but try that out and see how it works. If you avoid sugar for 2 days, you should see your weight drop like crazy. My first week I was down I think 7 pounds. After 6 months, my cholesterol levels are fantastic, and doctor’s check up was great. (I need more vitamin D, but you shouldn’t have that problem in sunny Oz).
Exercise is fine, but real weight loss is diet based. If you go hard on cardio etc, you’ll need to eat more to compensate, (and most people grabs carbs, which completely ruins the effect.) So if you do hit the gym, go easy on the cardio, or have something carby 30 minutes before.
You need to know a couple of things:
1 – the initial giant weight loss is the result of you burning up your glycogen stores (sugar your body stores). You won’t see a massive continual drop like that, but it’s a great way to start.
2 – every 7 to 10 days, you’ll need to load up on carbs in order to raise your leptin levels (we don’t want your thyroid to start shutting down). This is what we call “cheat day”. It’s wonderful. From wake up to bedtime, you can eat ….anything. Yup. anything. In order to limit some of the damage, a bit of exercise 90 seconds before eating and 90 minutes after (like 1.5 minutes worth) will help. Try to poo that day as well. Coffee helps, or prunes, or magnesium.
Apart from helping with cravings, cheat day raises the amount of calories your body expects, so that you don’t plateau (body gets used to less calories, stops losing weight). After cheat day, it might take a day or two for that glycogen to drop off, don’t panic.
Drinks LOTS of water still.
3 – If you want the full meal deal, the program I followed is called “The Four Hour Body” by Tim Ferris. Don’t worry, he’s not a diet guru or anything. He’s a bored rich guy who started experimenting with weight loss etc. This is his results.
Other good reading is “Why We Get Fat” and “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. It explains the whole slow carb theory, and such.
Even after 9 months, it amazes me that I can eat like this for a day or two and lose 2-4 pounds (after a cheat day).
Hope that’s helpful, let me know what your’e doing! If there’s one thing that’s helped me stay committed on this journey it’s having other people to support, encourage and commiserate with!
Image courtesy of hubpages.com
So since I posted the last announcement regarding my current 28 day leap into the insanity that is sugar-free living (well, at least in my world it’s classified as insanity; I must admit, when it comes to madness, we don’t set the bar real high around here) I’ve received everything from encouragement to disbelief to questions about how on earth this thang actually works.
FAQ 1: How on earth are you dealing with no chocolate?
Oh dear friend, on around day 6 or 7 (of the first round i.e. before we re-started the clock…read here for full details if you haven’t done so already) I jumped up and down with delight when I discovered this sugar free dark chocolate. SQUEEEEEE!!! The peppermint crisp one is my fave.
Surely this is the best invention since actual dark chocolate. The draw back of course, is that it’s ridiculously expensive. I wish I could say that this has meant I resort to it sparingly…thus far it’s only meant that my littlest might need to make do without nappies this week.
FAQ 2. What’s the actual sugar detox thing that your sister-in-law saw on Oprah?
It’s called Doctor Oz’s Sugar Free in 28 Days Challenge. All I know I’ve heard from my sister-in-law herself i.e. it’s all second hand to my ears, but thus far my understanding is it’s a 28 day challenge to be sugar free. Run by Doctor Oz.
FAQ 3. So how are you dealing with all the hidden sugars in food? There’s sugar in so many different things, aren’t there?
Well the detox is actually divided into four different stages i.e. one per week. Week one (which I am still in now) means quitting all OBVIOUS sugars in your diet. i.e. added sugar to cereal, coffees, etc. as well as any sweet foods such as biscuits, cakes etc…which in our case, as we’ve got the added forbidden food of gluten thrown in the mix, are off the menu anyway.
Then in week two you start getting more anal about it all, avoiding hidden sugars in sauces, for instance…and so on.
I will keep you posted as it goes on.
The cravings were especially bad in the first few days. Indeed if anything it’s really just drawn attention to what an INSANE sugar habit I had developed. I couldn’t believe how many times it crossed my mind to go eat sugary crap even in the first few hours of day one.
But in general, I’d say I’ve just been eating so much healthier as a result of having to put more thought into what it is that I CAN eat.
Typical day for me at the mo:
Breakfast: a poached egg or two. Plus either a herbal tea or a coffee, obviously 100% sans sugar (eventually I will cut out coffee completely too, not as part of the official detox but of my own volition – but two vices at a time seems like plenty for now)
Morning tea: Rice cake with avocado.
Lunch: Salad, with tuna or salmon or feta or tuna or chickpeas.
Afternoon tea: Herbal tea. Piece of fruit. (Note: we cut fruit out at some later point in the detox too. Stay tuned. This may kill me).
Dinner: Stir-fry veges with either rice or cous-cous.
Dessert: Usually NONE! Shock horror! My kids hate me!!!
After kids have gone to bed….Adult Dessert!
PS By that I do mean sugar-free chocolate.
So for the very first time in my life, EVER, I finally believe that I’m gonna get on top of this body of mine (not in a freaky way, people) and actually treat it…well, you know…amicably.
I’d take my bow now, only this development has absolutely nothing, I repeat NOTHING, to do with me. Rather, it’s all thanks to this little lady here. Introducing my adorable sister-in-law and soul mate in crime, Lizzy.
Lizzy is strictly gluten, egg and dairy free. As in strictly. As in, not a choice, but a serious health concern, FREE.
Me? I’m not strictly anything – aside from perhaps on occasion, gloriously certifiable – but that said, I do find that this little body operates a lot better when I’m staying away from the glutenous stuff. Also coffee. And sugar. You know. I’m SOOOO unlike everybody else in that way.
Anyhoo, so recently Liz and I were lamenting to each other about how crap we are at actually sticking to the style of eating that actually serves us best. And so the conversation turned to sugar, or specifically, about detoxing from sugar as Liz had spotted on an episode of Oprah.
“Let’s DO IT!” I said.
“Really? I will if you will!” said Liz.
“I feel the need…the need…”
Both: “FOR SPEED!”
Okay that last bit didn’t really happen.
But with that, we were onboard! The deal:
- neither of us could have any sugar OR gluten (and Liz had the added conditions of no egg or dairy, naturally) for 28 days
- if successful, we would both treat ourselves to a girly day at a health spa
- if ONE of us cheated, then NEITHER of us would get to enjoy the reward.
Days one and two were by far the worst. Headaches. Lethargy. All apparently normal.
By day seven I felt like a different person. Honestly. NO bloating, my skin looked different, I even got weighed (for a post-car accident appointment) and had already lost several kilos. I could not BELIEVE IT!!!!!
Then, on day nine…
Liz confessed that she cheated.
One of the first things out of her mouth was “I’m so sorry! You just keep going, and I have to start over…”
“Nope!” I said. “We both have to start over. Otherwise what’s the point?”
We chatted about it and I confessed that now my biggest worry was that I’d be more tempted to cheat myself, knowing that she couldn’t really get angry at me when she’d already done it herself. (Did I mention she’s also probably the sweetest, most soft-hearted woman on planet Earth? Seriously. She makes Mother Theresa look like Angelina Jolie. i.e. nice, but slightly dark.)
Then cut to last night, i.e. the end of our new day one.
Liz: “I’ve got it! Some new rules! And I know this time neither of us will cheat!”
Liz: “Well, here’s the deal. If I cheat, then you have to stop eating healthily.”
Liz: “But I promise you Jen, there is no WAY I’m gonna let that happen! I so want you to succeed. And here’s what happens if you cheat…”
“If you cheat, I have to drink an entire litre of milk. Do you know what that will do to me? My stomach will blow up so much it will ache for days, my skin will break out so badly that I will not be able to leave the house for two weeks and it will probably make my guts bleed.”