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.  

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Day 9

I just wanted to update that a few days ago I ate too many pumpkin seeds.  That was the day I was without power and didn't have any cooked food so ate lots of fruit, and then started eating the seeds.  That wasn't necessary as I had plenty of canned beans.  I ate at most 3 oz.  So it wasn't a binge.  But I could feel the compulsion.   It was an out of sorts day food wise--more fruit than I'd like, less veggies.  Still I was using that as an excuse to eat more seeds.  It's funny, I'll eat anything to excess, so it may as well be LOTRL (left of the red line, that's UWL talk, Chef AJ's program).   I threw out the rest of the seeds and am happily eating UWL again.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Day 7 update

Today is a weather-imposed rest day so I thought I’d check in. We’ve been traveling for almost a week. I had a great 2-day backpacking trip that I finished yesterday. Today we have a severe windstorm, so the park (Smoky Mountains) is closed and the power is out. It was going to be a cooking day, but that’s not happening yet because the power is out, so my meals have been a little different than usual. I had raw spinach and fruit for breakfast, then a tablespoon of pumpkin and sesame seeds (total) to add some calories and hopefully satiation. Then we went grocery shopping and I bought a bunch of good stuff to cook up: sweet potatoes, and frozen stuff: onion, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, okra, turnip greens, corn and lima beans. That will be delicious! But I can’t cook that until the power goes on. So I ate some fruit from the grocery store and raw carrots. A few hours later I was feeling hungry so I opened a can of black beans and added a banana and some curry powder. It’s pretty good--not as good as chickpeas and banana but good enough. I ate half of it and I’ll probably eat the rest at dinner.
Once I cook up the other stuff, I’m hoping that will last for 3 days. And I have raw spinach and carrots and red bell pepper to go with that--those were the organic veggies that looked best in the grocery store.  Raw baby carrots are easy to find and enjoyable for me to eat so I let myself eat quite a lot, since good fresh raw organic veggies are not always easy to find on the road. But frozen (organic or not) veggies are easy to find anywhere and there is usually a good selection.
Hey, the electricity is back on! I knew opening that can of black beans would do it!
Update: here is my delicious food cooked up for the next 3 days!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

My eating and drinking history

I was thinking today that my eating history is like my drinking history. I tended to drink like those around me.  For the years I was living with my boyfriend, I drank daily because he did  (we also smoked 1-2 cigarettes a day and drank coffee).  Then when I lived alone, I drank several days a week, by myself or with others.  Then when I lived with Marilyn, she didn't drink so after a while I stopped at home, and when I was out with others I drank (they did too).  The worst was at astronomy conferences.  My friends drank a lot.  I wasn’t used to it and would get really drunk, even on modest amounts, and then really hungover.   Sometimes I got excessively drunk and excessively sick and hungover. Then eventually, the obvious hit me and I realized that the drinking culture in astronomy might not be a good thing. I had just assumed it was normal and therefore good by some definition, but it’s not. So I stopped drinking altogether. 

My history with food was kind of similar:  I used to eat the SAD diet all the time and I didn’t overeat or binge, I just ate that stuff all the time in normal amounts like everyone else. Then I started eating healthy and stopped eating processed foods most of the time. On the occasions when I ate them they were hyper stimulating, and even eating normal amounts for a day or 2 felt like a binge and made me sick. I’ve done this occasionally for the last 8 years. and it seems to me that it’s time to stop. There’s no good reason to do this. 

I hope my future with processed food is the same as my drinking turned out!

Friday, April 28, 2017

walking challenge

Since I seem to be in to challenges, I started another blog for my walking challenge.  I've really been enjoying walking lately and would love to do it every day.   I once logged my daily bike ride for a year and that was fun, so I'm hoping to do the same with walking.  ha!


I'm realizing this challenge is really about nuts.  All the other things on the list I am always happier doing without no matter what the situation, even if I tell myself differently beforehand.  But I've always had an exception for nuts because they are supposed to be healthy.  The problem is, they are kind of a "gateway drug" for me. They don't have the same drug-like effects and hangovers that sugar and flour do, but I have a hard time regulating their consumption, especially roasted peanuts and cashews.  But even the others:  pecans make me want dates (pecans and dates are just like pecan pie!), almond butter makes me want manna bread, raw cashews make me want grapes.  And all those combinations are very very hard for me to eat in moderation.  Plus after I fill up on this stuff, I get a stomach ache, and despite that, I want to continue to dopamine party so I often move on to the process foods with sugar, flour and oil and salt, and then I'm a goner.

I'm really curious to know if going without nuts will make me feel deprived.  Going a year without them will be a good test of this question!  Is life less enjoyable without them?  I'd like to find out.  Healthwise, I won't deprive myself of the following:  flax, chia, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  So I will get all the healthy benefits--more actually--as nuts, if I feel I need them.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

And the Challenge is back on, lol!

Well I still want to do this.  Like I said in my original post, I'm attracted by the idea of seeing what it's like to get through the variety of situations and holidays and seasons you encounter in a full year.  Here's the challenge again and why it's really not that hard.

  1. no nuts.  They give me a stomach ache anyway.  I'd rather eat every other healthy foods than nuts:  beans, starches, veggies, and fruit.  Nuts don't taste all that great and they are high calorie and high fat and I tend to overeat them (which is a bit odd, since they don't taste that great, though the combo of fruit and nuts is tasty to me).   If I need some omega-3, I'll eat flax and chia seeds.  If I feel I need fat, I can add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.  
  2. almost no added salt.  I'm not going to say no added salt because there are rare occasions when I will consume some.  For example, at UWL potlucks (UWL is Chef AJ's Ultimate Weight Loss program, which I'm following.  I wish it had a different name because I'm not trying to lose weight), sometimes people use small amounts of condiments in their recipes (e.g., mustard) that have salt in them.  And when I backpack in the desert, I might panic and think I need salt (I added 1/8 tsp per day on my Grand Canyon trip but I don't think I needed it).  So I will say:  no added salt most of the time, but occasionally (once a month or less) a few hundred mg is okay (about 1/8 tsp) in a day.  The reasons for very low salt are:  salt makes you overeat, it raises my blood pressure, and it masks the taste of food and my taste buds.
  3. no animal products.  duh.
  4. no wheat.  I don't know if it is a problem for me, but Chef AJ and Alan Goldhamer don't recommend it, so that's fine by me.  There are lots of good grains and pseudo grains that I can have instead.
  5. no flour or sugar.  This was a hard one for me to say never to, because I realized I had this vegan exception:  I still entertained the notion that I would make exceptions at famous vegan restaurants or big veggie festivals or fancy vegan dinner parties when I just want to bond with my awesome vegan friends and the awesome vegan-ness of it all.  But I realized I'm just using communal vegan bonding as an excuse to eat sugar, flour, salt, and oil, and I called bullshit on that, haha.  Nice try though. So once I realized that, then actually, this is easy too. I avoid these most of the time anyway.  I have so many reasons not to eat these foods, mainly that they always come packaged with oil and salt, and the combination of all four of those things just makes me sick when I eat them.  Then when I combine that with chocolate and caffeine and alcohol, because I'm celebrating with my friends and I'll want dessert too, right?,  then I can't sleep and it just totally messes me up.  And then I have cravings for the next few days and want to go off plan again.  It's just not worth it.  Talk about wasting time feeling sick.
  6. no chocolate or caffeine or alcohol.   They are drugs and they keep me from sleeping (I think chocolate is the worst for that), and I get a hangover even with small quantities, and again with the chocolate, it gives me a headache the next day.  I don't need any of that. 
  7. supplements:  only vitamin B12, and nori sheets for iodine--I don't call that a supplement though, that's food.  Vitamin D is another controversy and I figure the only way to answer it for myself is to do the experiment on myself.  All the studies on vitamin D and nuts are done on people eating the Standard American Diet.  I don't think you can extrapolate to our diet.  So the only way to answer the question for myself is to not take it and see if there are consequences on my health and how I feel.  And I can get my blood tested though I don't know how meaningful the recommended levels are, or how effective supplementation is even if it raises your blood levels.
  8. Oh, and since I am following Chef AJ's program, I will avoid foods with a calorie density more than about 700 calories per pound.  So I'll avoid avocados and dried fruit. I'll make an exception for dates that are blended into recipes, like AJ's red lentil chili or bean salad dressings.
Okay, the challenge starts tomorrow April 28.  I did say goodbye to nuts today by eating a few pecans and cashews and peanuts  (I only bought a small amount so I wouldn't overeat them!).  They were not that tasty, I'm glad to say.   Carrots and sugar snap peas are much more appealing to me.   Okay, now I'm looking forward to this.  It's just a fun thing to try.  If I change my mind, that's fine.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The challenge is off

Wow, that challenge was a huge mistake for me.  I was doing perfectly fine before I did this challenge, eating healthy, following UWL.   I do have this notion that I want to go a whole year just to see what it's like to go through all the seasons and a myriad of social situations.  But I raised the bar too high I guess.  I totally went off plan today and I haven't done that in months.  I'm tempted to delete all these posts but maybe they are a good reminder to me and anyone else.  Just pick a plan, follow it the best you can, and don't raise the bar too high, that's my advice.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

That challenge is totally stupid

I can't believe I set up that stupid challenge publicly.  I bet I don't even last a day.  Someone was just talking about peanut butter and I thought, shoot, I should have got some peanut butter before starting up this challenge!  why am I denying myself nuts?  and a little salt occasionally?  I'm setting myself up for failure.  oh well, so far I'm halfway through the day.  it's not hard, I just think it's doomed to failure.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My year-long "ironman" vegan challenge

I would like to try the experiment merging Dr. Goldhamer’s and Chef AJ’s diet and doing it for 1 year.  This is the most strict diet of all the plant-based diets.  It is like the ironman of vegan diets:  no oil, sugar, flour, salt, alcohol, chocolate, and no nuts and seeds either!  It’s essentially Chef AJ’s Ultimate Weight Loss program, which I currently follow, but she recommends full abstinence only from sugar, flour and alcohol (and probably chocolate), and leaves some wiggle room for the others.  Oh, and I'm not going to take any supplements either, besides vitamin B12 and some nori when I feel like it (for iodine).  I'm curious to see if I have any adverse effects from lack of supplemental vitamin D and all the others.

Why?  Well, when I eat this way, it’s actually super easy, surprisingly, and the food tastes good—my taste buds really sensitize and I taste so many flavors and sweetness in vegetables and fruit.  And my cravings disappear.  And I can eat as much as I want and my weight doesn’t increase, and if anything I lose weight.  And I can eat all the potatoes and sweet potatoes and squash as I want and those are my favorite foods. 

But what about the salt?  That is really extreme.  I mean, what if I’m at a WFPB potluck and the food is perfectly compliant except it has just a little bit of salt?  Well, it’s just a year.  If it’s too ridiculous, I can change my mind in a year and allow some salt.  What if I’m hiking all day in hot weather in the Grand Canyon or some other desert?  Well, I’ve done that twice and both times I only added about 1/8 tsp of salt each day, which is only about 300 mg.  My dehydrated food has celery and other vegetables and probably has plenty of sodium.  But I always bring salt for emergencies so can use it if I think I need it.

But why no nuts and seeds?  Well, sometimes I overeat them and get a stomach ache.  And I’m curious to see if I can get all those omega-3 fatty acids I need with just my veggies.  I guess I can’t help thinking that all those long-lived healthy blue zone societies didn’t have ready access to daily flax or chia seeds, so maybe I don’t need them either.

I’m curious if life is easier or harder under these rules.  And I’m curious to go a whole year, through all the seasons and special events and to see if there is ever a good reason to eat this stuff.  I’d get a good idea after a year.

What are my chances of success?  Well, I think it’s higher than my chances of completing a real ironman.  But…I don’t have a lot of confidence I can do this.  Hardly any.  The salt is going to be the biggest challenge--it means I will have to say no to a lot of people who offer me food.  But I do love a challenge.  And I’ve always wanted to do an ironman.  So this is my version of an ironman.

When should I start?  I guess I’ll start tomorrow, April 19, 2017.

I know, this is crazy. I shouldn’t even post this.  But here goes…