THE BREAKFAST MYTH

I’m getting ready to focus on intermittent fasting here at my blog during the month of August, and one of the things I’ll be touching on is meal frequency/timing. However, after reading this post from A Lady Goes West, I wanted to start a bit early and talk about breakfast and more specifically-the myth that you ‘must’ eat in the morning.

Rewind to 2012, back when I was overweight and a pre-diabetic. I followed the typical American meal schedule and always started my morning with breakfast. And I was ALWAYS hungry soon afterwards, which meant I ate a mid-morning snack (or two). And a large lunch. And a mid-afternoon snack. And a large supper. And then the night time snacking started at around 8pm and went strong until around 10pm, when I went to bed several hundred calories over my maintenance range. That eating schedule led to my weight gain and my worsening health.


When I started my active weight loss phase I knew I had to change things up, and after doing an IF protocol for several months I figured it out. Eating in the morning triggered hunger for me. If I ate in the morning I ate more throughout the day, without fail. However, if I didn’t eat in the morning I could easily go until 11am, noon or even later in the day without being hungry. Seriously-NO hunger. And I found myself less hungry throughout the rest of the day when I started eating later. When you’re trying to lose weight hunger is a big factor, so I stopped eating in the morning. It’s a habit I’ve since carried into maintenance and it’s one of the reasons why I’ve had such an easy time of it so far. I’ll go into this more over the next few weeks but for me, cutting out morning eating has led to a much better handle on my hunger.

 

But what about the conventional wisdom which states breakfast is the most important meal of the day? That it ‘jump starts’ your metabolism? That if you don’t eat breakfast your weight loss will stall? And what about the experts who say eating breakfast is a ‘must’?

For all of the research out there that says eating in the morning is important, there’s just as much out there that says the idea of having to eat in the morning is utter hogwash. Just hang out with the IF crowd for a while and you’ll hear story after story of people who started having success after they stopped eating in the morning. And it’s not just an IF thing either. More and more people are moving away from the idea that you have to eat breakfast. Start a post on My Fitness Pal about how eating breakfast is a ‘must’ and just see what happens (I double dare you). Also, if you read through some of the breakfast threads over on MFP you’ll notice that many of the people who don’t bother with eating in the morning are really successful at this whole thing.

While experts can spout off all sorts of things as the correct way to do something, I’m much more interested in real life experiences, especially my own. I’ve learned so much about how my body works these past few years and I have a very good idea of what works for me and what doesn’t. When I read a group of experts saying you ‘must’ eat breakfast every single day I have to roll my eyes a bit. Been there, done that and nothing magical happened when I ate in the morning, except it made me hungrier which led to the over-consumption of calories.

Meal timing and meal frequency is a preference thing, nothing more and nothing less. Some disagree strongly with this, but I’m proof that eating in the morning isn’t necessary for weight loss or for better health. And Martin Berkhan backs me up, with a lot of sciency stuff, if you want to read more about why eating in the morning causes some people to be hungrier throughout the day.

While I’m not a fan of eating in the morning for myself personally, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for others to do if that’s what works for them. One thing you’ll see over and over again on my blog is that you have to find what works best for you and then go with it. Just realize that there’s nothing wrong with going against what the mainstream says is the right way, or what the ‘experts’ say you must do. Figure out you, and let the rest fade into the background!

Read more “THE BREAKFAST MYTH”

AUGUST IS ALL ABOUT INTERMITTENT FASTING ON MY BLOG!

Last month I got my new blog up and running, and I also spent some time diving into an overview of how to get your mindset in the right place before you start this whole process, how to actually lose weight, what could be happening if you’re not seeing progress, how to transition into maintenance and then the difference between the weight loss phase and the maintenance phase. I’ll be devoting much of my blog to weight loss maintenance topics, but I wanted to take some time to flesh out a point I made earlier-secondary factors. Things that can come into play, within the truth that weight loss ultimately comes down to calories and math. This is where all those lovely diet plans come in, for better or for worse.

Some people prefer to do straight calorie counting and use a site like My Fitness Pal. However, back in 2012 when I decided to lose weight I had NO idea how weight loss actually worked. I didn’t know what the word calorie even meant, and a nutrition label was a totally foreign concept for me. I had never dieted before in my life and I was in uncharted territory!

 

My (former) doctor was no help either-he just told me to lose the weight to see if that could stabilize my glucose number, and then he hung up on me. I was facing a life threatening disease if I didn’t get this right, and I was on my own. In a panic I talked to a few friends who were always dieting, and they all praised the low carb lifestyle. One told me to check out a low carb forum that she hung out at, so I joined and blindly decided to go low carb. Ha! After less than a week I was ready to quit. I hated the food restrictions and was utterly miserable.

As I hung out in the forum I started noticing that there was a group of women who always had such a positive attitude. While others complained about what they were eating and the set backs they were experiencing, these women were usually upbeat and making steady progress. Several of them were also in maintenance, which caught my attention. I noticed they all followed something called JUDDD, and I decided that I wanted to be a part of whatever they were doing, even without knowing what it was! This is when I was introduced to the world of intermittent fasting.

Throughout the month of August I’ll be blogging in detail about intermittent fasting (IF). I’ll be sharing my experiences with it, how it works, the pros and cons of doing this method, and then some of the tools I learned from IF that I’ve carried into maintenance. Again-weight loss is about calories and math. But for me IF was that secondary factor that helped me navigate through the weight loss phase and now maintenance. While it’s definitely not a plan for everyone, and I’ll never present it as such, I’m proof that IF can be a viable method for weight loss and beyond.

***** 
IF is an umbrella term for several plans, so I’m just going to blog about the ones I’ve had personal experience with.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) Vocabulary

ADF-alternate day intermittent fasting. Nickname-JUDDD (Dr. Johnson’s Up Day, Down Day Diet)

  •  Plan in a nutshell– alternate between very low calorie days (also called Down Days), and maintenance calorie level days (also called Up Days). *calorie restricting is built into the plan

5:2IF-

  • Plan in a nutshell– 5 maintenance calorie days a week, with 2 non-consecutive very low calorie days a week. *calorie restricting is built into the plan

IF Windows (this is what most people refer to when they use the term intermittent fasting)-

  •  Plan in a nutshell- eat your calories in a certain time frame every day and fast the rest of the day/night. Most common is 16:8IF, where you consume all your calories in an 8 hour window, fast for 16 hours. *calorie restricting is NOT built into the plan
People to Know
-Dr. James Johnson-the doctor and researcher who wrote the book, The Alternate Day Diet, and is considered to be one of the ‘fathers’ of the IF movement.
-Dr. Michael Mosley-his BBC documentary, called Eat, Fast and Live Longer, took IF to the mainstream and his follow up book is titled The Fast Diet.
-Dr. Krista Varady-one of the current leading scientists in IF research. She was interviewed in Eat, Fast and Live Longer and has since come out with her own book, The Every Other Day Diet.

Read more “AUGUST IS ALL ABOUT INTERMITTENT FASTING ON MY BLOG!”

ALTERNATE DAY INTERMITTENT FASTING {THE PLAN I USED FOR WEIGHT LOSS}

Today I’m diving into intermittent fasting and more specifically alternate day intermittent fasting, which is the plan that I used during my active weight loss phase. I want to break it down and give the highlights, as well as a couple of disclaimers, and hopefully shed some light on this little known weight loss plan that’s beginning to make waves in the dieting world!

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting (nicknames-ADF and JUDDD)

Plan Details:

  • every other day rotations of very low calorie days and higher calorie days. Use this calculator to find calorie numbers (ignore the rest of that website because it’s a bit of a mess)

Um, that’s really about it! The simplicity of this plan is what made it so appealing to me. No forbidden foods,  no confusing phases and no long list of rules. You just rotate between low calorie and high calorie days. You can eat however you want within this as well-SAD (standard American diet), vegetarian, paleo, low carb etc etc.

Miscellaneous:

  • start the plan on a high calorie day
  • do not do two consecutive low calorie days. If a low calorie day gets off track, just do two higher calorie days in a row, and continue with rotations as normal.
  • re-run your numbers every 5lbs lost
  • on low calorie days you can spread out your calories however you want. Some prefer to break them up into mini-meals every couple hours, or you can save them for a larger supper.
  • For low calorie food ideas check out pinterest!
  • always pre-plan your low calorie days in advance
  • your weigh-ins will not follow a traditional pattern, but instead will move in a series of bounces and whooshes. You can weigh yourself daily if you prefer, but don’t let the bounces bother you-these are supposed to happen. With ADF you cannot look at daily or even weekly weigh-ins for the most accurate picture of what’s happening. Instead compare your weigh-in after the first low calorie day of the month, to your weigh-in after the last low calorie day at the end of the month, to see your progress.

 Benefits of ADF:

  • Simple and easy to understand and follow
  • accommodates eating preferences
  • you only ‘diet’ every other day, which prevents diet fatigue
  • you can move your rotations to accomodate vacations, parties, holidays etc
  • easy to correct if you get off track-just jump back in on a high calorie day and resume rotations
  • many people experience extra energy on their low calorie days
  • you learn what real hunger is vs. wanting to eat for other reasons (This is a biggie, and I’ll be devoting a whole blog post to this later this month)

Who should not do ADF:

  • people with a history of distorted eating
  • people with certain medical conditions
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women

 Negatives of ADF:

  • the first few rotations will be rough as your body adjusts. Starting out it’s ok to do higher low calorie days (I started at 800 calories and then worked my way down over a couple of weeks). Low calorie days do get easier though, and after you’ve done ADF for a while you may actually start looking forward to the low calorie days.
  • you may experience some hangry moments on your low calorie days, especially during PMS. My husband lovingly called me dragon lady during these times lol. These do not happen all the time though
  • going grocery shopping on low calorie days is brutal. I only made that mistake once! Always make sure to have your low calorie days planned and the food in the house, and save shopping trips for high calorie days
  • some people do fine exercising on their low calorie days, but others cut out exercise on those days or just do walking
***** 
One issue that’s brought up by opponents of ADF and 5:2IF, is the concern that the very low calorie days will cause binge eating on the higher calorie days.  Dr. Mosley addresses this issue in his BBC documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer and his findings matches my own experience. I never had the desire to binge eat on my higher calorie days. In fact there were numerous higher calorie days that I had to be intentional about getting in enough calories, which is really important to do. And this is a common complaint of people doing ADF! It goes against what you’d think would happen, but many times you’re just not hungry on your higher calorie days.
So that’s ADF in a nutshell. While it won’t be a good fit for everyone, I had a wonderful experience with it, and it was the secondary factor that made the weight loss phase doable for me.
If you have questions about ADF please leave me a comment and I’ll try and answer it!

Read more “ALTERNATE DAY INTERMITTENT FASTING {THE PLAN I USED FOR WEIGHT LOSS}”

5:2IF

Last week I blogged about alternate day intermittent fasting, which is the IF plan that I used during my active weight loss phase. After I hit my original goal weight in the spring of 2013 I re-evaluated where I was at, and I decided to keep losing weight as I began transitioning into maintenance. As I was getting ready to do this Dr. Michael Mosley’s BBC documentary, Eat, Fast and Live Longer was getting a lot of attention. Dr. Mosley’s plan, 5:2IF, is a more relaxed version of ADF and I decided to use it as my transition plan. Over next several months I lost around twenty more pounds, before calling final goal and fully transitioning into maintenance.

5:2IF

Plan Details: 
  • similar to ADF, except you only do two, non-consecutive low calorie days a week
  • low calorie days are 500 calories for women, 600 calories for men
  • the other 5 days are at around maintenance calorie levels (play around with this a bit if you aren’t seeing progress after a week or two)

 

Miscellaneous:
  • start the plan on a high calorie day
  • do not do two consecutive low calorie days
  • re-run your numbers every 5lbs lost
  • on low calorie days you can spread out your calories however you want. Some prefer to break them up into mini-meals every couple hours, or you can save them for a larger supper.
  • For low calorie food ideas check out pinterest!
  • always pre-plan your low calorie days in advance
  • your weigh-ins will not follow a traditional pattern, but instead will move in a series of bounces and whooshes. You can weigh yourself daily if you prefer, but don’t let the bounces bother you-these are supposed to happen. As with ADF, you cannot look at daily or even weekly weigh-ins for the most accurate picture of what’s happening. Instead compare your weigh-in after the first low calorie day of the month, to your weigh-in after the last low calorie day at the end of the month, to see your progress.
  • Dr. Mosley’s book, The Fast Diet, is a great, easy to read book (most libraries carry it)
  • You can find Dr. Mosley’s BBC documentary Eat, Fast and Live Longer online for free, and it’s a great introduction to IF and its benefits
  • Here’s a great website/forum for 5:2IF followers (its expanded to include other IF plans too). Lots of information and support!
 Benefits of 5:2IF:
  • Simple and easy to understand and follow
  • accommodates eating preferences
  • you only ‘diet’ twice a week, which prevents diet fatigue
  • you can move your rotations to accommodate vacations, parties, holidays etc
  • easy to correct if you get off track-just jump back in on a high calorie day and resume the plan
  • many people experience extra energy on their low calorie days
  • you learn what real hunger is vs. wanting to eat for other reasons
 Who Should Not Do 5:2IF
  • people with a history of distorted eating
  • people with certain medical conditions
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women

Negatives of 5:2IF:

  •  the first few rotations will be rough as your body adjusts. Starting out it’s ok to do higher, low calorie days
  • you may experience some hangry moments on your low calorie days, especially during PMS. These do not happen every time though
  • some people do fine exercising on their low calorie days, but others cut out exercise on those days or just do walking
*****
5:2IF is a great plan to use if you don’t have a large amount of weight to lose, or as a transition plan between a more aggressive weight loss phase and maintenance. I lost a bit slower with 5:2IF, but I still saw consistent progress on the scale each week. It’s also a more laid back version of IF, which makes it more doable for a lot of people. If you’re interested in IF, 5:2IF may be a good plan to start with!

Read more “5:2IF”

A QUICK BLOGGING NOTE

wow, where has summer gone?!! Really feeling the busyness of the fall creeping in, and this is the time of year when I start making big changes to my daily schedule. One of my kids does a virtual charter school program at home, while my other two head off to our local school. On top of everything that goes along with being involved in two different school programs, church activities start back up, as well as sports and music lessons (we’re adding a new sport and a new instrument to our lineup this fall whew!), etc etc etc. In a nutshell-my time becomes very structured and there’s never enough of it!

 

Sooo, why am I sharing all of this? Because I knew when I started my blog a a couple of months ago that once September hit I would have to re-prioritize, and my baby blog would be moving to the back of the line. I’m still going to be blogging once in a while, but it won’t be a regular thing during the school year. My blog is in large part a reference place where I can direct people when they ask me about my story, and I’ll slowly continue to expand those kinds of posts. But, realistically it may be one or two posts a month starting in September, until school gets out next summer.

I probably won’t join WIAW anymore, at least on a regular basis. I do enjoy that blog link up though, so we’ll see if I can sneak it in once in a while!

Just wanted to let all of you know why my blog will be a bit more quiet-I’m still around and still rocking maintenance, but once September 8th hits, I’ll also be rocking the Learning Coach and parent extraordinaire thing as well! Oh, I forgot to mention I’ll also be watching my newborn nephew a couple days a week starting this fall too-my goodness I’m tired just thinking about my new schedule, think I’m going to take a nap (while I still can lol).

WHAT I ATE WEDNESDAY #1

I’ve been brainstorming about how to include my food diary here on my blog, but in a way that wasn’t repetitive like my daily Food Notes posts were. Then I stumbled onto Peas and Crayons weekly link-up, What I Ate Wednesday, and I think this will be the perfect solution! Once a week, on Wednesdays, I’ll join the blog party and post my food diary for one day of the week. This gives a snapshot of what I’m eating, but in a way that’s not taking over my blog. Joining in will also give me the opportunity to meet other bloggers and I’m excited to get started!

 

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SO YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT? HERE’S HOW PART 4

Today I’m wrapping up my So You Want to Lose Weight, Here’s How series, which gave an overview of how to lose the extra weight, how to transition into maintenance and then today I’m going to be blogging briefly about the maintenance phase and how it’s different than the weight loss phase. I have so much to say about all of these phases yet, but with my posting schedule, (1-3 times a week), it’s hard to fit it all in! So for now I’m posting some general information about these phases, and then as my blog progresses I’ll dive into the details a bit more. Ok, onto maintenance!

 


There’s a LOT of information out there about how to lose weight. And there’s a lot of people who are really good at losing the extra weight. Some of them are even able to keep the weight off for a few months after they hit their goal weight. But, the part that most people fail at is long term maintenance.

Statistics show that the failure rate is anywhere from 80-95% for long term maintenance success. Chances are you know people who have lost the weight but have regained it back. Or, you’re in that boat yourself. And when it’s all broken down it doesn’t matter what plan you follow-the failure rate is high across the board.

I’ll be spending a lot of time on my blog really dissecting maintenance, so today I want to just touch on why I believe so many people succeed at weight loss, but then fail at long term maintenance. I’ve been in maintenance for around two years now, but I still hesitate to say that I’m a successful maintainer. This is because I’m very aware of that failure rate. I know what I’m up against, and I’m in this process with my eyes wide open, so to speak.

Weight Loss VS. Maintenance

First things first-realize that when you transition into maintenance you’re not done, but in fact are really just getting started. So many people have the mindset that hitting their goal weight is the final goal, when in fact the weight loss phase is probably the easiest part in this whole process. I know that losing the weight can be challenging, but there’s a few things that are happening during the weight loss phase that don’t happen during maintenance. I believe those things are what causes many people to succeed at weight loss, and their absence is what causes most to fail at long term weight loss success.
  • Time Frame: the weight loss phase is for a short period of time-usually a few months to a couple of years. The maintenance phase is for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. That can be a very long time. So many people get frustrated at how long the weight loss phase is taking them-now imagine that times 30 or 40 years. Yeah, it’s pretty overwhelming when you actually think about it! Along with this-with time comes all sorts of obstacles. I’ll be blogging a lot more about this later on, but there’s lots of things that can pop up and derail you when you’re in the long term maintenance phase.
  • You’re Seeing Results: you’re seeing noticeable changes during the weight loss phase, which help keeps you motivated. That doesn’t happen in maintenance. You’re not buying smaller clothes, you’re not seeing smaller numbers on the scale. You’re not receiving compliments anymore. It can be very hard to stay motivated when almost all of your motivators are now gone.
  • Losing Weight is Exciting: the weight loss phase is exciting because you’re focused on the ‘new’ you. Maintenance is the total opposite-lots of same old, same old. In one word-maintenance can be a whole lot of BORING.
  • Mind Set: during the weight loss phase every pound (or ounce) counts. But when you’re in maintenance you start playing mind games with yourself. You see the scale start to creep back up and you begin justifying it. What’s a pound or two when you’ve lost so many? And suddenly that extra pound or two is now 20, 30 or more pounds and you’re back where you’ve started. I’ve already blogged a bit about Mindset, and this is a topic I’ll be revisiting again down the road, because I think it’s a huge piece in this whole process.

Ok, terrified of maintenance yet? I sure was when I realized that it was time to officially go into it. During mytransition period I spent a lot of time reading everything that I could get my hands on about maintenance, and the picture wasn’t pretty. That dismal failure rate really seems to be true. I know so many people who have lost weight, only to gain it back. This turns into a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting, which wreaks havoc on your body and health.

I knew from blood work panels that my glucose number was directly tied to my weight, so that added another layer of anxiety to this whole thing. I HAD to successfully maintain, or I knew where I was headed.

It’s not all doom and gloom though-there are people who are successfully maintaining. I’ve spent a lot of time studying some of their stories, and while I’m aware of what I’m up against, I’m also confident that I’ll be a long term, successful maintainer because I’m doing some things that have set me up to stay on track. I’ll be blogging more about maintenance soon-stay tuned!

 

SO YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT? HERE’S HOW PART THREE

Over the past two weeks I’ve blogged about the steps you need to take, in order to lose the extra weight. I started with the most important part, Mindset, and then last week I blogged about how to actually lose the weight and also what to do when you’re not seeing progress. Today I want to blog about something that no one really talks about-the transition period between active weight loss and maintenance.

 

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