Wednesday, October 24, 2018

An update on my back-and-forth wishy-washy journey!

Here’s a review of my history with Whole Food Plant Based Eating (WFPB) up to my current status:

I became vegan on July 5, 2005, at the age of 45, because it seemed like a good idea to stop eating animals (and it was!).  I waited until after the shrimp boil on July 4 in Biloxi, MS with my family.   I didn’t know how to be a vegan so I read a book on vegan nutrition (Becoming Vegan, by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina).   I got lucky because that is a really good book.  So I accidentally started off by eating a healthy diet.  My health improved dramatically and I was shocked because I didn’t think diet had anything to do with health (duh!).   I looked around for clues and found Dr. McDougall and Dr. Fuhrman websites.   I followed Dr. McDougall for a while and then decide Dr. Fuhrman had the best science backing him up so I joined the Fuhrman forums in 2006.

After about 5 years following Fuhrman I started going crazy with my eating, first bingeing on smoothies and date-nut desserts and even carrots and soups, and then going off plan altogether and bingeing on vegan junk food.   The reason for the binges is that you think it is as a last supper kind of thing and you want to get in everything you can before you have to go back on plan.  I think another reason is that I wasn’t eating enough.  I got really thin after the first few years.  You really need to eat a lot when you stay on plan--not so much when you go off plan a lot (the sugar and flour messes with your hormonal balance--insulin, lepton etc).  I was influenced by a friend who decided to go the low-fat route and I joined her and we started following Rip and Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. McDougall.  Oh what a disaster that was, lol.  I binged on low-fat “Whole grain” vegan muffins and cookies.   So that didn’t go very well.   I figured out I need to stay away from flour and sugar.  

I joined Chef AJ’s Ultimate Weight Loss program in Jan 2015.  This is a low-fat WFPB program that doesn’t include flour and sugar.     I did that for a month but I ate tons and tons of Japanese sweet potatoes and it made me very tired and I didn’t lose any weight.

About that time, Bright Line Eating came along.   I wanted to lose weight for a dream-of-a-lifetime backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon so I joined the BLE bootcamp in Feb. 2015.   There are 4 bright lines with BLE:  1) no sugar, 2) no flour, 3) meals (3-4 per day), and 4) quantities (weighed and measured).  I hated the 3rd and 4rth bright lines, but  I white-knuckled the program and stuck to it (mostly) until after the awesome backpacking trip.  In retrospect, the weight loss plan was not a good idea for me, an active tall (albeit older) woman.  It was way too little food.  No wonder it was so hard.  I got to goal weight in about 4 months, but then didn’t realize how much I needed to eat on maintenance, and I started going off plan more and more.  After the backpacking trip, I gave up altogether and left BLE and waded through the sugar and flour weeks for a couple of months.

So now it was January 2017, and I knew again I didn’t want to eat flour and sugar (really didn’t want to), but I didn’t see the need for the 3rd and 4rth bright lines when you follow a WFPB diet.  So I re-joined Chef AJ’s Ultimate Weight Loss program.  I didn’t really have much weight to lose, I just wanted to get on track with a WFPB program that doesn’t include flour and sugar--and that’s Chef AJ’s program.   I am forever grateful to her and her program because I did get off flour and sugar.  I haven’t had any since April 21, 2017 (I had one slip-up after starting her program).  So that is 551 days so far.   However, guess what, I got really thin again because I wasn’t eating fat, and knew not to binge on Japanese sweet potatoes this time around.  The way UWL and also Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss program  work is that you don’t eat any added fat and you only eat Whole Foods, and the idea is you can eat as much as you like.  Well, I love to eat, so I ate a lot.  I ate all day long.  Then in the Fall, I started getting digestive issues.  I think it was the winter squash combined with eating lots of raw veggies all day long (compulsively).  I had loose bowels for about 4 months, which interfered with my hiking goals and life in general.

I started thinking: you know what, I need to reign in quantities and only eat at mealtime.  Gee, that sounds like BLE’s 3rd and 4rth lines.  So guess what, I rejoined BLE in Feb. 2018.  I’ve been doing that since, and as of right now I have 180 days of following my bright lines.  I’m happy to follow all four bright lines and I eat tons of food so am not tempted to go off plan.

In addition I find that I feel best when I eat a lot of beans and veggies and nuts and seeds and not a lot of starches and grains.  That sounds like Fuhrman’s plan, so, guess what, I’m back to doing the Fuhrman plan.  I eat tons of beans, veggies, some fruit, some starch if I want it, and 3.5 oz of nuts/seeds per day.  My digestion is in good shape and I have a lot of energy.  And I’m focused on other things in my life besides food.  I eat simply and it takes less time that way.

So that’s where I am now:  following BLE and Dr. Fuhrman.  It seems to be working for me right now.   But stay tuned for my next wishy-washy decision.

Friday, December 1, 2017

LOTRL One-year Challenge

Following Chef AJ’s UWL (Ultimate Weight Loss) program has been really good for me.  It seems to be the easiest program I’ve tried.  Now this is just me.  I think for a lot of people, it would be the hardest because we don't eat flour and sugar.  So to each their own, that is for sure.  The reason is works for me is because of calorie density.  I find that I have a hard time controlling my intake of any foods of high calorie density, even the healthy ones, like whole grain breads, or nuts or dates.   In Chef AJ’s program she draws this red line on her calorie density chart and says to eat only foods that are Left of the Red Line (LOTRL).  Her line is around 650 calories per pound but since chickpeas are about 700, I use that as my number.  i.e., the red line is just to the right of legumes which are the highest calorie density of the “permitted” foods.

I’ve been successful on the UWL program and have been at my goal weight for about 6 months.  I’ve been abstinent from flour, sugar and alcohol for 225 days as of today, and from any added salt for 40 days.   I’ve only been LOTRL for about 10 hours.  LOL.  --Because I occasionally have slip-ups with nuts and dates.  After so many days abstinent from flour and sugar I’ve lost my cravings and temptations for it (I hope I don’t jinx myself with that statement!).   So I feel so much more at peace around food this holiday season than in the past.  I would like to feel that way around nuts and dates, and it seems a good way is to try abstinence from them also.  So I’m curious to try an experiment of going LOTRL for one year, with one exception:  I will allow up to 1 oz of seeds in a day.  I hope they won't be triggering as the whole point of this challenge is to give me peace of mind around food.  But  I also want the best health for myself and eating 1 T of ground flax/sesame seeds gives me peace of mind around getting some healthy fats in.  And there might be times when backpacking or for weight management or some other health reason that I want to include more (up to 1 oz).

By the way, I keep track of the number of days of abstinence or other countdowns (and ups) with the “T-0” app on the iphone.  I don’t pay much attention to it.   Every once in a while I think, hey, I wonder how many days I’ve been abstinent, and then I look at the app.  So it’s not something I think about much at all.  I’m more trying to live my life.

Kristi asked what I eat in a day (below in the comments).  Here's what I'm eating right now:  Each meal has a starch, about 1 lb of veggies and a fruit.  My typical starches are beans & grain (oat groats, quinoa, etc), sweet potato, squash, or potato.  At breakfast I include chopped mushrooms with curry powder and 1 T of ground flax/sesame seeds, sort of as a delicious tasting supplement of healthy foods.  Fruits are whatever is in season.  Right now that's grapefruit, pomegranate or apple.  Veggies are cooked greens from my garden (I have a freezer full), raw carrots, brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, and other winter type veggies.  In summer I like sweet corn and watermelon, in the fall squash, in the spring, fresh greens and berries.

I’ll post here occasionally to let you (me) know how I’m doing.

So the challenge is on, Dec. 1, 2017- Dec. 1, 2018.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Walk to Farmer's market

While some of my friends are battling hurricanes, others fires, and others are going to church, we're having a beautiful day in Wisconsin and I chose the outdoors as my church, by walking to the Farmer's Market, 2.5 miles away.  Part of the route goes through a nature conservancy, which is nice.  I took my big backpack because I am not good at moderation in my produce purchases.  It weighed 29 lbs when I arrived home, LOL!   Here are some pictures of our very enjoyable morning.

I spied an apple tree in the conservancy and batted a nice juicy apple down with my hiking stick.

At the market

Heading home, turtles!

Pack full of produce!
 29 lbs!  and this was after going to another farmer's market yesterday, LOL.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

UWL Live in Las Vegas

I was at Chef AJ’s UWL Live Event in Las Vegas last week, and it was fun, festive and inspiring, as expected.   The speakers were Chef AJ, John Pierre (JP), Alan Goldhamer, Doug Lisle and Kerrie Saunders.  I’m a big fan of Alan Goldhamer and Doug Lisle so that was great fun hearing them speak.  I also learned a lot from JP.  I already knew AJ's material but she's very fun to listen to.  And Kerry Saunders is very nice.  I'm not as interested in her material since I'm not worried about my body numbers.   I’ve been following UWL since January 2017.  Actually I joined back in Jan or Feb 2015 but then I joined Bright Line Eating a month later and ignored UWL for a few years.  Then I came back to it after getting tired of the BLE food plan and the weighing and measuring.  I like to eat with the seasons and not measure out the same quantities of starches, protein (too much), fruit, and fat every day.

So I came back to UWL in Jan 2017.  Why?  Two reasons:  1) I wanted a healthy vegan program that doesn’t include flour and sugar, and this is the only one;  and 2) I wanted to try out the calorie density approach.    Well, I didn’t realize how great reason #2 would be.  I followed AJ’s advice to eat “Left of the Red Line” (LOTRL) or calorie density less than 700 calories/lb.  This means no nuts, seeds, or avocados.  This was hard at first because I had it drummed into me by almost all the Whole Plant Food experts that you need these high fat foods for your health; and because I was kind of addicted to them.  Well, I learned that I tend to overeat anything ROTRL (right of the red line, calorie density greater than 700 calories/lb).  So it’s not food addiction so much as it’s the pleasure trap of high calorie foods.  I really like to overeat them a lot.  So eating LOTRL has made eating a lot easier.  I just eat until I’m full, stuffed even (I'm a ways away from mastering the “Hara Hachi Bu” technique) and then I stop.  I don’t binge and I’m fine until I get hungry again.   I’m combining this with Intermittent Fasting--that is, eating an early dinner and not eating again until breakfast, and that seems to work really well, giving me a break from eating and thinking about food, and resetting my appetite it seems.  I'm at my goal weight.  Here's an interesting effect of not eating any overt fats: no effects at all.  My skin isn't dryer, my nails are fine, my hair is fine.  Honestly I'm surprised.  I thought at least I'd need more lotion.  Most people around me seem to have dryer skin and nails than me.  I suspect that's from poor circulation from heart disease, and dryness from excessive salt intake.  I'm sure results vary, but I sure don't have any problems from not consuming overt fats.The real test of UWL will be this holiday season.  Will I make it through without falling off the deep end of processed eating?   I'll report back in January!

Here are some pictures from Vegas.  The program was video streamed and you can purchase it here.

Early Friday morning walk in Las Vegas with Colleen, before it got hot:

We walked for about 3 hours and probably covered 6 miles (didn't walk fast).  After that, I was thrilled to find out there was a lap pool at the hotel.  I swam 40 laps, (I'm guessing it was a 25-yard pool, so 36 laps is a mile).   Then in the afternoon I spent about 30 minutes the fitness room.  That's how you spend a fun day in Vegas when you don't consume sugar, oil, salt, flour, caffeine, or alcohol, LOL.  And then we went to the "Meet and Greet" later than afternoon:

AJ making an announcement:

had to get a picture with AJ!

AJ and JP

There were a few Q&A's and these were quite informative and hilarious.  Dr. G always usually held up the "NO" sign and Dr. L the "Maybe".   I think they agreed once at the end, I forget what it was about.

Lovely dinner at Panevino with wonderful companions.

The testimonials were incredible, just incredible.  I am still humbled and floored by them.  Here is the amazing Scott family

Another enjoyable Q&A.  I submitted several questions, all of which were answered.

A summary of the difficulties following this path by Dr. Lisle.  He introduced a few new concepts, the Conditioned Cram Circuit, and the Extinction curve for cravings, which includes a burst at the beginning and various spontaneous spikes throughout.  He just did a webinar on this which hopefully will be on Youtube soon.
 and of course, slot machines in the terminal at the Las Vegas airport.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Eating while traveling

Here's how I'm eating on the road.  I'm traveling by car with my instant pot so can eat however I want.  I don't want to spend much time with food prep while vacationing.  Here is the food I prepped for the next 3 days:

Salad (two large bowls per day):  organic greens (1 4 oz box for each day), organic mini-bell peppers, organic cucumber (one for each day).  These were the nicest looking organic vegetables in the Safeway grocery store.   They also had organic baby carrots and organic sugar snap peas that looked fresh.  It was quite a good selection I thought.

Cooked veggies for breakfast.  This was mostly frozen and not organic:  onion,  sweet potato (this was the one fresh item), collards, spinach, okra, brussels sprouts, corn.  This will be a filling breakfast!
Then I have canned beans in the car to eat as needed.  And the hotel sometimes has good-looking bananas at their free breakfast.  I didn't see any fruit at the store that made me want it.  But I probably just didn't look hard enough.  I usually can't resist cut up watermelon.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Food log

This link seems to work.  This is the app I'm using to log food.  It's fun.  I don't know how long I'll do it, just thought I'd try it out.   There's what I'm eating if you want to see it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Challenge Update, Intermittent Fasting is da bomb, and a new food log

1.  Challenge Update:  I had a bunch of nuts and dates about 5 days ago.  Here is how the addict (or crazed eater, whatever you want to call it) mind thinks:  I had dates in the house because some of Chef AJ’s UWL recipes call for them.  I am obsessed with walking, hiking, the Appalachian Trail and backpacking.  I was realizing that walnuts have twice the calorie density of my dehydrated food, so I would save weight and volume if I ate 1-2 oz of walnuts a day while backpacking.  So somehow that led to buying nuts and combining them with the dates had at home (no, this doesn’t make sense).  That also involved peanut butter which weren’t even in the discussion.  I think that’s pretty funny and shows how easy it is for me to break a commitment.  I’m not upset, just laughing at myself.   I think deep down I’m not convinced that I need to give up nuts.  And I’m okay with that.  However, I am not really interested in eating them most of the time.  I’d rather eat sweet potatoes any day.  And I’m curious if eating no high-fat foods affects my health in any way I can observe.  So I think I will keep track of time away from nuts and see if I notice any effects of it.  I went 50 days in Feb/Mar when I didn’t eat nuts, and noticed no ill effects.  I’m not even sure my skin was dryer.  My hair was, so I washed it less, not really a problem.  I downloaded this app called T-zero which is a timer.  So I reset the timer after my delicious nut/date binge and I’ll just see how long I go.  I will allow 1 Tbsp of flaxseed whenever I want it and that won’t count as nut consumption.

I set some other timers too, one for salt and one for UWL abstinence (sugar, flour, alcohol).   Salt is another one of those I’m just curious about.  I’m used to no added salt, but I usually succumb to the mandate that you need it while backpacking in the desert, so I’ve added small amounts there and I’ve added small amounts in the past here and there.  I’m curious to study no-added-salt in the context of exercise this summer.   The streak will be broken on rare occasions where I’m eating something someone else prepared that is otherwise compliant and has a small amount of added salt (like at a UWL potluck).  And that’s okay with me. UWL abstinence is  the one that matters the most to me, no sugar, flour and alcohol.  Alcohol isn’t a problem for me but every time I ate sugar and flour in the last 5 years, the result was a binge.  So forget that!  Right now my abstinence streak is at 27 days, as is my no-salt streak.  

2.  Intermittent Fasting (IF):  I’ve tried this in the past and HATED it!  Hated it I tell you!   So why am I doing it now?   Well I’ve only been doing it for 5 days so maybe I’ll hate it soon.  But I’m kind of liking it now.  It just seems like  an easy way to control my eating.  I only have one off and on switch per day.  For some reason that’s easier than being moderate and temperate all day long (that’s hard!) .   Plus I like the idea of giving my body a rest from digestion.  I listened to Jennifer Marano talk about it in this interview with Chef AJ and she said it’s good for us to get comfortable with discomfort.   I read a book a few months about about this topic (discomfort, not IF) by Marc Schoen (Your Survival Instinct is Killing You) and maybe that prepared me for this idea that it’s good to be uncomfortable occasionally.

I’m trying out different lengths of eating/fasting windows.  I think a 6-8 hour eating window is good.   I’m sort of pushing the edges and going with 6 hours for a few days but I may back off from that, we’ll see.  Today towards the end of my fasting window, my mood was really high.  I wonder if that is just self-esteem from accomplishing my goal?  I don’t know but that was pretty nice.

3.  This app makes it easy to log food with pictures.  And for me, taking a picture pushes me to plate my food and then eat only what I plated, though it's flexible because I can eat more and just take another picture and it will add it to that meal if it's within 30 minutes.  I've only been using it for a day but I like it.  I'm not sure yet how to share it here.  I'll see if I can figure that out.