Saturday, October 22, 2011

one week of food vacation

I seem to have settled on the term "food vacation" to describe what I'm doing. It works, for now. For those of you just tuning in who can't be bother to skip to this time last week in the blog, I'm taking a much-needed (mentally and physically) break from yumminess, and testing out Stephan Guyenet's theories of food reward and body fat regulation. I'm eating nothing but bland, boring, unseasoned food and in the interests of making it really a vacation, I'm just cooking up a basic meat-potato-veg stew once a week or so and eating nothing but that, hardboiled eggs for breakfast, a bit of raw milk kefir here and there and the occasional few blueberries or blackberries to ward off the scurvy. Unsurprisingly, my appetite has decreased enormously.

So a week has gone by, and what have I learned? Well, for starters, I'm a hell of a lot more productive - I've gotten a few projects done and the house is pretty tidy for the *start* of a weekend - my energy levels are good, I'm going a LOT longer between meals than I used to, kohlrabi is awesome, this is a very effective way to lose weight, and if I do a heavy weights workout and then an hour-long brisk walk/hike, and don't take in any extra veg or anything, I get a headache (which goes away happily with a few blueberries and an advil... the internet thinks it's a low blood sugar thing).

I'm down more than 5 lbs and 1% body fat from this time last week. I don't know if this rate of weight loss will continue - because my salt intake has been cut a lot, I'm probably carrying less fluid in my body, and cutting out all the grains that had crept into my diet (they're so sneaky) made my tummy shrink instantly. That's probably a couple of pounds right there. This next week should provide a good idea of what the long-term weight loss rate will be. Mathematical calculations predict an average weight loss of around 2 lbs per week. (I figure I'm taking in around 800-900 calories a day and with an internet-calculated basal metabolic rate of 1380 cal per day, and an internet-calculated total daily caloric need of 2100 calories, I have a daily caloric deficit of 1200 cal. So every 3 days, I would lose one lb (3500 cal).)

Now, I've done diets before where I've restricted calories to this point, and I've done intermittent fasting, and on both regimes, I've been obsessed with food and often cranky (calorie restriction alone is much worse for all of those than IF). Functional, yes, but also prone to feeling chilly and disinclined to exert myself either mentally or physically. Housework suffered, I wasn't the best mommy in the world, and I found a lot of excuses to not do a workout on fasting days. This is much, much different. Not only am I not really hungry, even 5 hours after eating, I'm not cold in the least (in fact I get warm flushes after meals and I'm the only one not wearing my coat out dog-walking) and I don't feel even the slight hunger at bedtime that I used to. (As an aside, I've never eaten after dinner. I sleep much better on an empty stomach. So I'm used to feeling a bit hungry when I go to bed. Not feeling that is odd. Not bad - just odd.) My moods have been good, I've been pretty chill generally and the family has definitely not suffered. Cooking their food is just another household task, although I still get odd pangs when I'm preparing pears for Rowan. Just pears. Not cheese, carrots, apples, salami, peanut butter, salmon, chicken or sweet-and-sour pork - and in times past, I probably would have chosen to eat most of those before pears.

I've kept my workout schedule the same as prior to the food vacation. I do two weights workouts a week at the gym (and I lift fairly heavy for a woman my size), I walk the dog for about an hour every day, and I do 1-2 sprint workouts a week. Plus, as a stay-at-home parent and a part-time postpartum doula, my "work" day involves a lot of activity, carrying stuff, bouncing babies, cleaning, etc. so it's not like I'm relaxing at a desk all day, and my work day goes from 7 am til about 8 pm - at which point I get to veg out and read or play computer or watch tv or knit or something. This level of activity has not been at all difficult to maintain.

So what does this all mean? Well, it looks like the theory that in the absence of nice palatable food, the body will turn quite readily to fat stores and start munching them up, is holding up. At the moment, the majority of the energy I use is coming from my insides, and my body is using it without such quibbles as the increased hunger, low energy, crappy thermo-regulation or bitchiness normally associated with severe calorie restriction. So, yay so far!

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