Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Great Diet Experiment Part Deux

It's been a few years since I did the whole Paleo thing.  It was great for me at the time.  Over the course of the following two years I healed my stomach/guts to the point that I can now eat wheat again if it is non-GMO.  Now, several years after that, between one thing and another, I eat WAY too many carbs.  Back then I did a rough calorie count so I could figure out my macro balance (carbs vs protein vs fat).  I estimated that I was eating around 1600-2000 kcals a day.  I have no clue what I'm eating these days.   I'm no longer cooking from scratch, eating a lot of take out, and eating a lot of prepared foods/snacks.  Hence, the new diet experiment.  I had been toying with the idea of trying out keto for years now and this is a good chance to see if I can do it.

I downloaded the app, cronometer.  It tracks calories, macros and micro nutrients.  Of course, rather than trying to do a baseline for a week I dove right in with calorie restriction.  Big mistake number one.  According to the app, with my height and weight and no exercise, my baseline is ~2300kcal per day.  To lose a half pound a week I have to eat ~250kcal/day less than that.  Oh easy beans right?  I figure cut out my one soda per day and the two chocolate bars I eat a week and I'm golden.  Sweet.  Big mistake number two.

I started doing data entry on the foods I eat.  I can watch in real time or even plan ahead and see how foods alter my calories, macros and micros.  WOW!!  Man do I eat a LOT of calories.  I don't eat horribly.  I eat pretty high quality foods but dang they are also calorie dense foods.  Between meals and snacks I was probably around 3000kcal/day.  Of course, doing the live tracking meant I immediately stopped eating normally.  Because I could, I entered the day prior to the day I started tracking and ended up with 2500kcal/day based on just memory, which means I probably forgot stuff.

I immediately tried to stick to the allowed calories and immediately failed.  I was starving!!  Also I'm nervous about doing calorie restriction while having severe CFS/ME.  I eat to make sure both my blood sugar and my energy stay at a pretty even keel.  I also try to make sure I have a variety of foods and probiotics to help with my health.  But I wasn't able to track any of this before and now I can.

After two days of trying to stick to the calorie count, I gave in.  I was like screw it I'm eating the left over pizza in the fridge.  I entered it into the food diary and to my surprise it didn't whack my numbers out by too much.  Sure high in carbs according to the ratios I set up for myself but I was finding that there was no way to eat little enough carbs and enough fat to balance the macros out the way I wanted.  So now I'm just kind of winging it and seeing what happens.

Some background...   I've gained weight.  Once I became sedentary and managed to start eating again I went up to 250lbs.  I'm 5'2" which put me in the morbidly obese range.  I had started at 220lbs which I was stuck at despite a good diet and tons of exercise.  I was considered healthy obese; one of those quirks of nature that was healthy despite being horribly overweight.  I had low blood pressure, okay cholesterol, no diabetes or even prediabetes.  Then I got sick.  I lost 20lbs right away due to not eating at all.  Then gained back 50lbs over the course of several years and then leveled out.  Then I went on steroids for a year.  After that point, I very slowly crept up in weight until last year when I hit 305lbs.  I had stomach problems last year so it fluctuated a bit and now a year later I'm at 306.  Which is good.  I'm not gaining.  Whew!  But it still sucks.

I had to buy furniture for our new house and now I have to check the construction to make sure it will hold my weight.  Everything has to be wider, bigger and stronger for me to use it.  I'm up to a 4X in clothing which means I'm stuck with one of the shittiest clothing manufacturers on the planet.  I can no longer buy clothes in the stores.  Hence my motivation for losing weight.  My bed is uncomfortable; I need a new wider wheelchair; I've almost broken the wheels off my walker/seat; I'm worried about breaking the stairlift.  It sucks!!

The whole thing is such an interesting experiment.  I have always had body image problems.  I've been fighting my body weight since I arrived here in the US in the 70s and suddenly packed on pounds.  I hate diets and actively rebel against them every chance I get.  We were so poor when I was a kid food scarcity was actually a problem and I was often hungry.  Now as an adult I'm very wonky about how much food is in the house and if I have access to food.  I used to carry food around with me for when I got hungry.

I keep trying to do the body positive thing but absolutely hate being fat.  I had called a truce when I was able to exercise like crazy but now that I'm sedentary and cracked 300lbs I'm done.  I want to fix this.  I don't care that studies show that people gain the weight back.  I don't care that I'm walking proof of those studies.  I've been on two diets in my life.  I lost weight and then gained it back with a few extra pounds.  I keep hearing success stories in the Paleo world and was hoping that pounds would magically melt off me but alas that didn't happen.  Again I'm the anomaly.

Back to the present day...
This is now day five of my experiement.   I've made a couple of decisions already.  I'm not going to stress about sticking to the weight loss calorie count.  If I can keep it at or slightly below the metabolic calorie count I'll be happy.  It is still way less than what I was eating.  The metabolic rate is a guess and probably wrong.  If I've been eating between 2500-3000kcal/day and not gaining weight, then sticking to 2200-2500 is a good improvement.  Even so I've been shifting what I eat.  I'm figuring out what I can eat a lot of and what I have to be careful of.  Yes this is getting into the good foods vs bad foods issue.  I'm sort of ignoring that for now.  I am leary of crossing over into eating disorder territory.  I'm weighing my food, counting out tomatoes, pouring stuff into measuring cups,etc.  It is dangerous territory.  I almost slid into eating disorder territory the one and only other time I went on a serious diet back in the early 90s.  While I need to control my eating and food, I really need to not get too hung up on it.  It is going to be very difficult.

Other things I've noticed...
I seem to be eating a lot of the time out of boredom.  I want to get up and do something and getting a snack is about all I can handle.  Also eating eases frustration, anxiety and stress.  I love chewing on things when I'm anxious.  I love fruit leather for this reason.  It is nice and chewy.  I can gnaw on it for a while.  However, it is really high in calories so I have to watch the amount I eat. I think I have to find a different outlet for my frustration: breathing exercises maybe???

I've overeaten today.  I'm stressing out about the blood test coming up in the afternoon.  I have to do a 12 hour fast which means that by 4am I have to stop eating and won't have access to food until after 5pm tomorrow.  Yikes!!  I'm getting a little wonky over it.

I love ice water but it makes me hungry.  Ravenously hungry.  I also can't drink anything but water or I go way over my calorie count for the day.  I manage to sneak in a little kefir but most of the time I'm skipping all the juices, kombuchas, etc that I used to consume almost daily.    

Being able to see the micronutrient numbers on a daily basis lets me know which supplements to take.  VitE seems to be a fairly common one.  I'm surprised at how well I'm doing with most of them.  I seem to be keeping up with the Bs, A, K and iron.  Potassium I seem to be constantly short and E depends upon my meals for the day.  Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I don't.   I wonder if I can chart them out.  That would be nice to see.

So jury is still out on this.  I feel like I'm wrestling a bull by the horns and it is tossing me around a bit.  I just ordered a scale that will work with my higher weight.  I'm putting it in the remote bathroom so I won't be tempted to step on it every day.  Another holdover from my weight obsessing days.  I'm going to continue to try to eat a more balanced diet. I already knew I needed to eat more veg and less carbs.  I'm going to have to mess around the macro settings though.  Not sure I can handle the 50% fat/25% carb/25% protein I originally setup.  I'm constantly missing these targets. It is nice seeing the micronutrient numbers though and it helps me with supplementation.  There will be more about this.  Particularly since I'm an emotional wreck around these issues.  I really wish they would figure out why some bodies hold onto their weight while others lose so easily.  Sigh.  I just want to be under 200lbs.  My goal is 140 but I'll settle for anything under 200lbs at this point.

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