With Super Bowl XLVI in town this week, I have really ramped up my walking! In just 3 days, from Monday – Wednesday, I’ve put in almost 17 miles walking around downtown Indianapolis and the Super Bowl Village. Just getting ready to head out again. The gorgeous weather and well above-average temperatures have helped too!
This week yielded a much better result: 2.8 lbs down! I was again the “biggest loser” in the office! I worked out quite a bit, not exhaustive, but fairly long duration. My coworkers asked if I could bring in some of my Leslie Sansone Walk at Home DVDs for us to do at lunch. Every morning, I tried to do 1/2 hr. to an hour in the morning, and a group of us did 1/2 hour at lunch. Since the Super Bowl is coming up in Indianapolis, I thought it might be fun to also go walking downtown by the Super Bowl Village, so each day I’d spend another 1/2 hour or more walking down there. This week should be more fun (but crowded) as visitors arrive. But it’ll be great to get out and walk more.
My lost total since January 5th: 9.8 lbs! Woo hoo! I’m on my way to my goal!!
I didn’t fare as well this week. I lost weight, but was plagued with some “false belly fat” I couldn’t lose prior to Friday morning’s weigh-in. Nonetheless, I was down around .6 lb. Better than being up and paying $1! Next week will be MUCH better, I know it!
The first week of the weight loss contest ended Friday 1/13 and I’m very pleased with my results on the Belly Fat Cure so far! 6.4 lbs! I managed to lose the greatest amount of weight for the first week, surpassing even the men in our office! I lost alot of “false belly fat” the first week and expect my results to level off to roughly 2 lbs a week. I averaged 2.15 lbs per week in the first contest, but this time I have less to lose, so my pace is more reasonable.
I’m not only excited with the progress of my weight loss, but more importantly, for a permanent, sustainable way of eating after I lose the weight and move into maintenance mode.
I made a couple of great Belly Fat Cure recipes from the Fast Track book. First, I made the Cheesy Parmesan Crisps – so easy, and so good! I added a little Italian seasoning to them. My husband and I devoured them in no time. Even though he is not dieting, I am still kind enough to share my Belly Fat Cure foods!
Last night, I made the Chocolate Mousse, but it was a little late and I didn’t have a chance to make the accompanying crepes. I didn’t have whipping cream, so the mousse is very thick and dense. I bought some today and plan on mixing that in to make the texture more light and airy – and also extend out the yield a bit. I didn’t have xylitol, a natural sweetener that Jorge recommends in most of the recipes; however, another “Belly Good” sweetener is a combination of stevia and erythritol, so I sweetened the chocolate mousse with a little of that. It turned out great and I was pleasantly surprised with the taste. I used Endangered Species Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%). Yummy!
Back in August, I wrapped up Phase 2 of my company’s weight loss contest by losing an additional 12 lbs. Combined with the results of the first contest, put me at a total of 41 lbs. lost. I wanted to take a short break from “loss mode” and instead maintain at this point until I was ready to lose the final 13 lbs.
Shortly thereafter, several stressful circumstances combined to challenge not only maintenance but my weight loss, pushing me into some bouts of stress eating. I at least paid a modicum of attention to the scale, checking periodically yet doing nothing as I went watched the number climb up three, five, seven, and finally, twelve pounds. Well, that was everything I’d lost in phase 2 and now it was all back. I couldn’t help but be a little mad at myself (making myself even MORE stressed out!), though I also vowed to not be! Just shake it off, and get back to business. I tried here and there to exercise but I should have really kept up at it as a better way to manage the stress than eating sugar!
By mid-December, personal circumstances were improving, my stress was lessening, and I was gearing up to resume losing weight. I managed to lose a little during the holidays, but really decided to start back up on January 2nd. I wondered whether my company was going to have another contest, which I was hoping. The motivation and resulting success I had last year was exciting and I looked forward to an announcement, which came just before the year’s end!
Backing up slightly, in early/mid-December, at long last I got a Kindle, the new color Kindle Fire. I signed up for our library’s digital collection, and looked up books in various genres, feeling like a kid in a candy store (oops – let’s not talk about candy…) and not knowing where to start browsing for free Kindle books. I landed on the Health & Fitness category and browsed through the array of titles, until one piqued my interest called “The Belly Fat Cure by Jorge Cruise.” It was available, and I quickly downloaded it. There were several others in the series (The Belly Fat Cure – Fast Track, The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter, The Belly Fat Cure Quick Meals) and I downloaded all of them too!
I started with Belly Fat Cure Fast Track, which I read very quickly and was motivated to start right away! But it was mid-December and between the holidays and all the food that comes with it, plus wrapping my head around the concepts in the diet and making sure to plan for the correct foods. I continued to read all of the books throughout the holidays, gearing up to get started after the new year.
So, back to the end of December, when the contest was announced, I was excited to have a plan to follow and a way of eating that I could sustain permanently.
So just what is the Belly Fat Cure and the Fast Track version? What makes it something I could sustain permanently? In a nutshell (you’ll just have to get the books to get all of the details!), the concept lies in what made the Elimination Diet of 2009 so successful for me – low sugar! There are differences, however. First and foremost, the elimination diet was not a weight loss diet – that was just a good side effect of it. Its purpose was to try to identify food allergies or sensitivities. The Belly Fat Cure is a weight loss / maintenance plan, and at its core it’s about keeping all sugars low (even from fruit), in turn keeping insulin levels low, and thus shifting the conversion of sugars to fat and instead creating a metabolism that burns fat. The original Belly Fat Cure isn’t restrictive in its variety of foods, just the quantity of sugars and carbohydrates. The magic formula is his S/C value of 15/6, which is 15 g Sugar/6 servings Carbs. A serving of carbs is 1-20 g, so 6 servings of carbs per day would be 120 g.
Keeping the sugars low is a must for me, though on the elimination diet, I ate fruit and still lost weight – with no exercise and without counting calories – how great is that? Last year during both phases, I reduced my sugar intake (except for fruits), reduced overall calories, and exercised alot! I understand the concept of “any” sugars causing an insulin spike, as diabetics cannot have certain fruits or in quantity, so for them fruit is anything but healthy. As I learned on the elimination diet, reducing sugars, even those naturally occurring in fruit, is also the key to reducing triglycerides. My triglycerides have always been very high and prior to the elimination diet, were very close to 500. After the elimination diet? 124! YEAH!!
So as I have been seeking ways to continue my weight loss journey, I know that for me, keeping sugar low as I did on the elimination diet will be helpful. Jorge’s books have loads of good information on products that already fit into the 15/6 range (per day) or 5/2 per meal. Getting those carb servings from whole grain products, lower in sugar, and avoiding as many forms of “hidden sugar” in foods is challenging but NOT impossible. Jorge has some forms in the book for tracking sugars and carb servings; but as I have the Kindle editions, can’t use those! But no matter – going back to my use of My Fitness Pal, that makes a great tool for tracking sugar and carbs. Almost be sheer coincidence, after subscribing to this blog on my RSS reader app, a post on the great blog Me and Jorge, posted just 2 days before the start of the 3rd contest, was about the Belly Fat Cure and tracking with My Fitness Pal. Could she have been reading my mind? LOL
I was busy preparing to have foods ready that would conform to both the original Belly Fat Cure as well as the Fast Track. I wasn’t totally prepared to go strictly on the Fast Track yet (though it’s a 2week program, so that’s not impossible). I just knew that would take a little more preparation, planning, and availability than I could handle at this time. The concept of the Fast Track is still low sugar but not “no” sugar, as a treat of a small amount of certain low sugar fruits (“Nature’s Candy,” as Jorge refers to them), red wine, or 85% dark chocolate are still allowed. It is also not “no carb” as there are certain carbs allowed, the “Super carbs” including asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and others. The avoidance is basically grains. Both the original BFC and the BFC-FT have its place and purpose. I know when my schedule levels off, that I can plan for and commit to two weeks on the Fast Track. For now, I am working on a hybrid of the two. Some meals or even complete days, I am doing the Fast Track. Other days, at least, I am sticking to the 15/6 of the original BFC. It’s definitely a reasonable and sensible plan, full of a variety of foods and the key to my weight loss success, as well as keeping my triglycerides low.
A consistent program of exercise that I can sustain permanently is also key. I’m so great at losing weight but horrible at maintaining. I stop everything and go back to my old ways and expect to maintain, then ignore the scale until the weight creeps back on and I start the vicious cycle again. This time, I am committed to my morning routine of walking at home with the Leslie Sansone DVDs and also outdoor walking as well. We hiked alot last winter and that was fun too. We’re hoping to get back out there this winter as well! I want to incorporate in some higher impact activities (like the swing dance and step workout), but need to be very careful with my neck, back, and knees. The auto accident injuries sustained back in 1996 need maintenance physical therapy exercise and sometimes are aggravated by high impact workouts. A few times a week is fine, I need to balance it out and stay consistent!
So the weight loss contest begins tomorrow, this should be a good journey. While my goal is to end my weight loss mode with this phase, it’s not the end of the journey. I know now that this is a journey for life!
Back in December of 2010, I purchased a refurbished iPhone 3GS. I was always looking for apps for my previous devices to help get organized and make my life easier. The iPhone and the iTunes app store, unlike Windows Mobile and Palm OS, did NOT disappoint in the wide variety of offerings in every category. Wanting to get back to losing weight (which I had regained since the elimination diet in 2009), I started looking for an app for that….
When it came to apps for health & fitness, there was no shortage. I started in late December with My Net Diary. I tracked my meals and snacks using the program, as well as cardiovascular and strength training exercises. This was was just before the holidays, not the greatest time to get fired up about weight loss, but I managed to lose a pound from 12/17 – 01/10.
On January 10, 2011, during my company’s monthly staff meeting, it was announced that they would be having a weight loss contest. There would be a $10 entry fee, weekly weigh-ins, and mini-challenges to keep us engaged and motivated to lose weight and get healthy. I was hesitant to get involved (weight loss is very personal and I was very nervous about failing – yet again – only this time in a more open manner). The contest was anonymous, we all selected 4 digit code numbers to identify us on the leaderboard, so I figured why not? I am happy to say it worked well! Over the course of 13 weeks, I lost 28 lbs. by tracking meals and exercises. I switched from My Net Diary to My Fitness Pal due to no problems with the former, but only that a coworker of mine was using the latter and we could be on there together, cheering each other on and motivating each other. It’s a social network for weight loss and fitness!
Besides cutting down to the program’s recommended 1200 calories per day, I also added exercise to my routine. I again resumed using my Leslie Sansone Walk at Home DVDs, using mainly a new 5 mile Fat Burning Walk. I also mixed in walking outdoors, and an old Step Reebok the Video VHS tape and my trusty step bench. That tape was very challenging and I needed a few weeks of less intense aerobic activity to build up my aerobic capacity. Eventually, that came, and I started the tape slowly, building up within a week or two to the point I could complete the workout. I also mixed up some Tae Bo and also a very fun swing dance aerobics DVD, by professional swing dancer and choreographer Robert Royston called Swingout Workout. Back in 1999/2000, I had the pleasure of participating in Robert’s classes of this aerobic swing dance workout when the fitness center Crunch on 59th Street in New York had a series of Broadway dance aerobics classes based upon then-current Broadway shows. I was a big fan of the Broadway musical Swing! and Robert was teaching the class of swing dance aerobics. That was so much fun and enjoyable, I was thrilled many years later (and residing much farther west) that he made a DVD of the workout. Another class I took right after Swing ended, was one based on the dances from the stage musical version of Saturday Night Fever. Most of those dances were taught verbatim from the show, which was very challenging to a non-dancer, but most were not that difficult and it was a great workout and loads of fun!
When walking both indoors and outdoors, I used an Omron HJ-720ITC pedometer to track my steps. This pedometer is very nice as it comes with software to download the data (it can store 42 days’ worth of stats). The pedometer separately tracks all steps but keeps a separate tally for “aerobic steps,” which it will count after 10 minutes of walking at a certain pace. The software is very useful, as it can track steps based upon a percentage of personal goals, and breaks it down throughout the day, showing how many steps you took each hour, and showing aerobic vs. regular steps in different colors. Also useful for tracking outdoor walks is an iPhone app / website called Runkeeper. I found it very helpful to track my walks using the software, which gave me a map and nice detailed stats about my time walked, MPH, minute/mile, etc. I signed up for the 500 Festival’s Finish Line 5K. Runkeeper helped me monitor my pace, working up to the point where I could go from a comfortable 20-minute mile to the minimum 18-minute mile. Happily I progressed past that, at times averaging a 15-minute mile! I’d been doing jogging intervals during my Leslie Sansone DVDs, so when the day came for the 5K, I ended up jogging almost the whole course, finishing in 38 minutes, 57 seconds, an average of just over a 12-minute mile! I surprised myself and was excited at this accomplishment!
The first phase of the contest ended, I had lost 28 lbs, going from 163.6 down to 135.6, or 17.11% of my body weight. I came in 3rd, only behind two guys in the office, who were so lose, with barely a percent between them. I was proud of my accomplishment because being female, I was only behind them in the percentage that I’d lost, and ahead of 59 others! Woo hoo!
There was a short break and a month later, Phase 2 was announced. I wanted to finish the job – and get the remaining weight lost, about 25 lbs. It was very hard to keep the momentum up all summer, but I did manage to lose an additional 12 lbs., ending up at 123.6 (what is with all my weights always ending in .6?). As you can see, this phase was difficult for me!
I only had a scant 13.6 lbs go get to my goal weight of 110. I wanted to keep going but after 8 months and 41 lbs. lost, I needed a break. I was happy with my progress so far though! Not only that, but I won the 2nd Phase of the contest!
The roller coaster of weight loss continued, and I went up yet again. So, I decided to follow the advice of a friend who lost 30 or so pounds on the “elimination diet.” Not a weight loss diet, but it does have the nice side effect of producing weight loss.
The elimination diet is essentially a restriction of certain foods that are known to be allergic or at least cause food sensitivities. One completely avoids those foods for a month, then systematically adds them back one at a time every 3-4 days to see if the body reacts negatively in any way to the foods. I found that gluten is a sensitivity (causing bloating) and sugar makes me feel terrible in excess quantities. Inadvertently, I discovered I am allergic to Brazil nuts – very bad, actually, as I had anaphylactic shock after eating 5-6 raw Brazil nuts. I was tested by an allergist and the allergy was confirmed.
Speaking of my allergist, I mentioned a while back when I was up again that I had trouble breathing. Well, I didn’t think it was that bad, except mostly when lying down. This March, I had a really bad cold and the cough was the worst I ever had, to the point I totally couldn’t breathe at several points. I had to sleep sitting up, even that wasn’t that helpful. Once the severity of the cold passed, I noticed between April – May that I developed a cough. It worsened sometimes and I would go into coughing fits. Drinking really cold drinks, laughing too hard, etc…all caused severe coughing fits. My doctor sent me to a pulmonologist but long story short, after every test imaginable, my lungs themselves had no issues. I even had tests on my heart for congestive heart failure (there’s a pleasant thought…). All negative. The scariest proposition was one of a genetic problem called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. My mom said my dad was diagnosed with some sort of genetic issue that caused the air sacs in the lungs to not expand and contract, effectively causing emphysema. Combined with his smoking (VERY bad, which I have never done), caused him to have breathing and coughing problems all his short life.
I asked my doctor about it, and I was tested twice (technical glitches…) but was found negative. That was a relief but what was causing the problem? My doctor basically gave up and said he did all he could do. I was crushed!! Well, luckily I had a symptom very much like Pat’s – he had a clearing of the throat that he attributed to allergy-induced post-nasal drip and suggested zyrtec. I tried it and it helped a little. I explained that to the doctors, and they referred me to an allergist. I was tested for allergies and found to be allergic to all sorts of things, like trees (every variety but a few), grasses, pollen, dander, cats, dogs, dust, mold, etc. After starting a course of allergy meds, I felt better and have ever since.
So, I lost 15 pounds at that point on the elimination diet, breathing was better, but still a long way to go!
Yesterday, my friend Heidi (also doing the elimination diet) and I were at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and finally a small health food market, Georgetown Market. To our surprise, we found Gluten Free Oats by Bob’s Red Mill. Heidi really wanted to make blueberry or apple crisp, but couldn’t do it without oats, so this was a great find. Inspired, I thought I’d try to make it also. We kicked around some ideas on how to substitute other ingredients.
I’ll compare notes later on how she did and what she substituted. I found this recipe for Blueberry Crisp on Cooks.com, which sounded alot like hers.
Here are my suggested modifications to make the recipe “elimination-diet friendly,” for each ingredient:
- Blueberries are fine on the elimination diet. Instead of blueberries only, I used frozen mixed berries (personal preference).
- Lemon juice: Didn’t need to substitute, though some elimination diets exclude citrus
- Granulated sugar is excluded from the diet. Agave nectar could be substituted instead (use less, because agave nectar is sweeter), but I tried Sweet Tree palm sugar instead. It is very low on the glycemic index, but tastes great. Palm sugar is substituted at a 1:1 ratio, but I used less in both the berries and the crumb topping.
- Flour: Wheat flour is not allowed on the diet (contains gluten). So, I substituted brown rice flour instead. Experiment with other gluten-free flours (other than potato starch and cornstarch, which are not allowed).
- Brown sugar: Again, I used the palm sugar. A small amount of molasses would probably work too.
- Cinnamon: OK to use.
- Rolled oats: As I said, used Bob’s Red Mill brand of gluten-free oats, but there are probably other brands.
- Butter: Another excluded item, I used a little bit of canola oil instead, to make the topping crumbly. Do not use vegetable oil, as it may contain soybean oil, which is not allowed.
From the book, “Food Allergy Survival Guide”, this is my favorite soup I love to make while I was on the elimination diet, it’s quite good and tasty~the Broccoli Bisque soup.
This quick and satisfying soup is creamy but not heavy. It is a super-rich source of fiber, calcuim, iron, and zinc, yet is virtually fat free, because its creaminess is derived from blended beans rather than dairy products.
8 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets (about 2 bunches)
7 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsps dried basil
1 tsp crushed garlic
3 cups drained cooked white (cannelli) beans or two (15-16 oz) cans
salt and pepper
Combine the broccoli, vegetable stock or water, celery, onion, basil, and garlic in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Combine about one-third of the soup mixture with one-half of the beans (1.5 cups) in a blender and process until completely smooth. Transfer into a bowl. Blend half of the remaining soup mixture with the remaining beans and process until completely smooth. Return the blended mixtures to the pot, season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until hot.
I have several tips to make it much quicker to create this soup:
1) onions–some stores now have onions pre-chopped if you don’t like chopping onions. make sure it is white onion that you use for the soup
2) white beans– I used 2 cans of cannelli beans, and I drain those as well.
3) blending the soup– the soup is quite hot, so use a ladle to ladle the soup into the blender. Another way to blend the soup is to use an immersion blender…just remember to shut it off before you lift the blender out of the soup!
4) freezing the soup is somewhat ok, it will come out slightly textured but the taste isn’t compromised.
Per 2 cups: 276 calories
% Calories from: protein 23% fat 7% carbohydrates 70%
grams: protein 17 g fat 2 g carbohydrates 51 g
Taking the first step is probably the hardest step to take, because I thought I’d end up eating ‘hippie’ or ‘rabbit’ food and that any food I eat would be bland and lacking in taste as I’m BIG on taste! But I was mentally prepared a few weeks before I actually started the elimination diet on June 1st. So how did I get to where I finally took that step of faith to lose weight?
Here’s my backstory: I don’t have perfect health, but my health was ‘normal’ with some few issues as a result of congenital defects at birth: hip dysplasia, cataracts, heart murmur, and hearing loss. Being female and hitting puberty my menses were always irregular and crampy. I remember always being tired and taking lots of naps from high school on until I turned 30 in 1989. That was when I was diagnosed with low thyroid and will have to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life. Two years later in 1991, I developed Reiter’s Syndrome in both knees: Reiter’s is a rare form of arthritis that behaves like rheumatoid arthritis but is not RA. Reiter’s tend to hit women harder than it does to men. I did well with my arthritis and even hiked all over New York City when I visited there in 1999 and 2000. Then in 2002, I started to have seriously painful menses which eventually resulted in getting a total hysterectomy (no ovaries). Right after that I ballooned up to 154 pounds post-surgery within a month.
With no hormones to protect my bones, my knees started to progressively get worse in the next 3-4 years until I had no choice but to sell my 2-story condo and buy a one level home for easier navigation with my painful knees. After I had my left knee replaced in 2007, I kept gaining weight. That weight gain put a lot of pressure on my knees, lower back and on my lungs where I ended up breathless or winded after a short walk.
I knew I had to do something about my weight, but at the same time I considered giving up on losing weight as I have 3 strikes against me losing weight: low thyroid, no hormones and being middle aged. I thought I’d just sit there and accept the fact I can’t change my body. I think it was my chiropractor who told me about a naturopathic doctor that deals with hormone imbalance, so I took that first step in the right direction. It was my naturopathic doctor who was adamant that I take the elimination diet before I could take the hormomes or supplements. I thought he was joking, I thought I’d eat ‘rabbit’ or ‘hippie’ food…he looked at me as if I were nuts to say that. But he was serious…he gave me a booklet to read and come back in two weeks to discuss the diet.
During that two weeks I read the booklet and I did some research on recipes and foods that I CAN eat and I thought to myself, ‘hey, not bad, really…but what about bread? pasta? all the carbs, the sugar?’ I was more worried about how I’m going to live without those eliminated food than how I’m going to live and eat differently. I decided to take baby steps before I start the diet full-on. I ate more chicken, more rice, tried to get into fruits, veggies (not easy!) I slowly eased out of bread, and if I had extra, I gave it away. I had other foods that I know I won’t eat, so I gave that away as well.
Starting my diet full-on was TOUGH…I didn’t have support, in real life or online…I was pretty much on my own. The first week was tough, seeing breads, pastas, pies, cookies, cakes, etc–not only on TV ads, but at work where we have our monthly “goody days” I bought organic foods, I bought non-dairy milk, I bought frozen unsweetened fruits, I bought rice-based pastas. I ate so much apples, cantaloupes, raspberries, bananas. Between the second and third week, I had an epiphany: I’m losing weight…I’m *finally* losing weight. I liked the CLEAN feeling within my body, I liked the food I’m eating, and I liked the challenge to make meals tasty with flavorings that I’ve never used before. This is the change I’m committed to keep me healthy, strong and CLEAN.
By the 4th week, I was ready to re-introduce the eliminated foods…glutens was the first food group, and I have to say that after eating wheat bread for breakfast and lunch, within a half hour after each meal, I felt slightly sick to my stomach and had a heavy feeling in my gut. I knew right away that I can’t tolerate gluten. All other foods that I re-introduced in the next 30 days I had no reaction to them…but I know now that like coffee, sugar, and some other food groups can be taken, but very seldom. I can have coffee, but not every day…just once or twice a month is all I need. I don’t miss bread or sugar that much. I have my own version of ‘sweet’ that’s better for my blood sugar. I use stevia or agave nectar, when it is needed.
Since the month of June, I have lost 29 pounds in total. I’m still in shock, because I thought with the three strikes against me, I thought I’d be stuck with it and just accept it. But I knew I couldn’t, only because I know my health is being jeopardized by increasing weight gain that results in back pain, knee pain, and constantly out of breath after a short walk. I had to do something, but what? Just asking my chiropractor that one afternoon about hormones and how he referred me to another doctor, little did I know that I’d be on this path to a better way of life and healthier eating. And to that, I’m grateful for that little nudge.
Because I did this diet on my own, and doing research on recipes and looking for foods that I can eat and enjoy, I shared it on Facebook and in emails to few of my friends. And once friends and family noticed my weight loss, they were very supportive, and never did they roll their eyes when I tell them I can’t eat this or that, because my weight loss depends on my commitment to eat healthy and clean. And because I did this diet on my own, I knew that if anyone wants to know how I did it, I’d be too happy to share my success and to encourage anyone when they’re feeling like they can’t do this. I know how THAT goes! It IS tough–yes, but if I can make it despite the three strikes against me, then anyone can do this, too!
I sincerely hope this will encourage anyone to try this way of eating for the benefit of getting healthy and feeling better about their bodies.