Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Law of Diminishing Returns (With Food)

There is a law in economics which states that the more a consumer has of something, the less they want it.  As supply goes up, demand goes down.  This is what volume pricing is all about.  If merchants want to sell you a lot of one thing, then the price per unit has to go down.  Why would I buy a mega-pack of anything if the unit price was the same as buying a smaller amount?  They have to make it “worth my while”.
This Law, I have recently realized, applies to food as well.  When I am feeling hunger, and when I take the first bite of something delicious, I will definitely rate that bite with a perfect “10”.  Maximum enjoyment and taste delight. 
However, something happens to my taste perception as I continue to eat.  As my hunger is satisfied, my returns diminish.  My enjoyment level and my taste delight go down with each bite.  Think of how good the first bite of a dessert tastes compared to how the last bite tastes, and more importantly, how your enjoyment levels change.  The score can easily go from a “10” to a “4” during the same dessert, right?
Because the HCG protocol represents a period of very low calorie consumption, when only a small amount of food satisfies me, and where I have to stay between 3.5 and 5.5 on the hunger scale, I am now much more focused on what my body is telling me.  I have to pay attention to my hunger.  I want to never hit “hungry” or “full”.  And, as I learn to stop eating when I hit satisfied, I find that I am truly enjoying me food more. 
When hunger is satisfied, and I keep eating, it is no longer about hunger.  And, because of the diminishing returns, it isn’t completely about enjoying the taste of food.  It is about something else.  I am learning through this protocol to pinpoint exactly when physical hunger ends and emotional hunger begins. 
More food does nothing for taste delight or emotional fulfillment.  In a society of abundance and gluttony, learning to honor my body’s hunger signals is just that—learned.  By simplifying all of my other eating variables on the Mind:Body protocol, I am successfully honing in on hunger and satiety.
This is a great thing.  Learning to enjoy food to the fullest is healthy and essential to permanent weight control.

Part 2: "This is Really About That"

I've been focusing, in the past weeks and since reading Weight Loss Apocalypse: Ending Superficial Solutions to Profound Problems, on bringing authenticity front and center in my life.  I read the manuscript three weeks prior to starting the HCG protocol.  Robin Woodall, author and creator of the Mind:Body Method advised me to start my HCG reading there, before continuing on to her technical and highly scientific HCG book, The Truth About HCG.  Good call!  Authenticity has become my new favorite word and the perfect lens through which to make decisions. 

As a result of my new-found awareness of and focus on being authentic, I have actually made huge structural changes to my professional life that have immensely reduced my stress level.  When I re-examined my life with authenticity (what am I doing this for?), some changes had to be made immediately.  Great changes, too!

Having infinitely lower stress makes it far easier now than it would have been previously to hear my hunger signals. Emotional hunger now has a much quieter voice.

The Goal: Total Authenticity.  My permanently smaller pants size will be just a by-product. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

HCG: Not “Too Good to be True”…Too Effective Ignore!

After 18 days, I have now lost enough weight that it is starting to be dramatic and obvious.  I am now fielding a lot of questions like, “What are you doing to lose weight so quickly?”  And, when I explain what I’m doing, I am invariably met with a look that says “You must be crazy!”, or even, the verbal response: “Things that sound too good to be true always are”.
Honestly…I realize this.  Preaching to the choir.  I have, more than anyone I know, stayed for my entire adult life on the side of solid science when it comes to my weight management strategy.  After being encouraged by my gymnastics coach at age 9 to diet, and after agreeing to go to Weight Watchers at age 11 with my mother who was trying to help me be ballet-thin, I had an extra early foray into the wonderful world of dieting.  I yo-yo’d my way through my teenage years, and managed to stabilize somewhat in college. 
In college, I took electives such as Food Science and Nutrition and Fitness For Life.  I have read countless fitness magazines and books.  I have attended lecture series on fitness, exercise, and weight loss.   My career in sports therapy necessitates my being “up on the latest” in athletic and fitness training.  I resolved many years ago to never attempt to control my weight through calorie restriction because it doesn’t work.  I sought out intensive athletic training with multiple personal trainers.  I spent hours in spinning and toning classes. I’ve carved years off of my life on treadmills and elipticals.  I know my way around a weight room and have an exhaustive list of challenging exercises.   I’ve attended multiple fitness boot camps. 
All of this time, while I didn’t “diet” specifically, I have eaten in such a way that it was very “healthy”—as in, cutting out virtually all junk food, reducing carbs, etc—but also with the attitude that I needed to be able to eat like this forever.  I had experienced first-hand and early-on the fact that dieting in its true sense damaged my metabolism and made me fatter.  I was going for a “lifestyle” solution.  I have easily ignored unrealistic claims of quick weight loss issued by the slimy weight-loss industry, seeing them for what they truly are—big business.
I first came across the HCG protocol one year ago.  One of my best friends had struggled incessantly and unsuccessfully with her weight for years.  Granted, this friend had always been more willing to try diets, cleanses, and other food-related protocols than I ever had.  She tried to explain to me that adding in this hormone affected the hypothalamus, allowed for extreme calorie restriction without damage, etc.  I gave her the same response that everyone is now giving me.  It sounded horrible, and it flew in the face of science and everything that I knew to be true about fitness and weight loss.  I assumed that she had fallen victim to another weight loss scam. 
A great theory, except that her weight is still down by 50 pounds, and she really doesn’t even have to try to maintain it—a whole year later!
For me, the light went on and I opened my mind to the possibility of doing HCG when I was told by the originator of the Mind:Body Method that RESTING METABOLIC RATE (RMR) IN PARTICIPANTS AT THE END OF THE PROTOCOL IS SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER THAN BEFORE THE PROTOCOL.  Not only did she make this claim, she had reams of data, STATISTICALLY ANALYSED BY A REPUTABLE UNIVERSITY to prove this statement. 
Knowing that RMR—the number of calories that a body burns at rest—is everything when it comes to controlling weight, or so I thought, this was really compelling.  RMR is what separates the naturally thin people from the naturally fat people.  I had taken as gospel truth that a slower RMR ALWAYS follows weight loss through calorie restriction. 
Bodies are not linear, they are multi-dimensional, particularly when it comes to the endocrine system.  I am a beautiful case of “calories in, calories out” not working.  All of my intense working out and eating carefully landed me a RMR of 1360—BELOW AVERAGE (See “The Numbers Tell is All—I have a Problem).  I am a perfect example of the latest in fitness science not helping me.
For people who are completely sedentary and overweight, increasing activity to a healthy level will naturally cause them to lose weight, and will be an effective strategy.  But for people like me who are extremely active and who have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight in a logical and permanent way, the multi-dimensional answers of the HCG protocol are essential.  I needed a hormonal reset.  Just like my friend did. 
I am neither ignorant nor impulsive in my choice to follow the HCG protocol.  I am a very educated skeptic.  And, I am living proof that it works.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Part 1: "This is Really About That"

A friend that I work with loves to say "This is really about that"—his favorite quote, because it is so true.  Peoples' reaction to things is almost never entirely about what they are reacting to.  There is always baggage to temper perspective.

For me, I would say that most times (initially anyway), "food is really about hunger".  However, once physical hunger passes, food ceases to be about hunger.  At that point, food is really about emotions

Robin Woodall, originator of the Mind:Body Method, and my guide through this process, talks often about the concept of "authenticity".  I read her manuscript titled Weight Loss Apocolyse: Ending Superficial Solutions to Profound Problems.  I really loved the concept of total authenticity, and have since actually made some major life decisions based on solely on whether or not they felt “authentic” to me.  And, wouldn’t you know…they have been really great decisions.

Total authenticity is the exact opposite of  “This is really about that”.  In addition to it's direct correlation to food and hunger (am I eating this because I'm hungry?), being authentic also demands making decisions based on what this is REALLY about.  By being authentic in all aspects of my life, it demands that my choices are made and circumstances arranged in such a way that I am entirely emotionally comfortable with them.  If I make authentic choices, then I will feel less emotional discomfort.  If I'm feeling less emotional discomfort—“none" is impossible, but I can absolutely minimize it by rearranging some factors that I do have control over—then  I won't eat to be made to feel happier. 

Now that I realize and have to admit that I do emotionally eat, I realize that without working on the "other stuff", I won't be equipped to maintain my HCG success.  This likely explains the people who gain their weight back after HCG protocol.  If I ignore the "other stuff"—inauthentic choices that leave me feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, stressed or angry—I will eventually and inevitably slip into old patterns and eat out of instinct and emotional hunger.  If I can be authentic with my emotions, then my hunger signals will have a fighting chance at being heard.

My goal is no longer about weight loss.  My goal is to learn how to consistently make consuming food about hunger, not anything else.   

Hmmmm.  Mind:Body Method.  Great name.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Part 2: The Wisdom in Twos, One at a Time

My instinct to grab another orange didn't come from hunger.  It had just tasted really good.  Why do I seek taste stimulation?  I learned last week that I have a tendency to eat in order to help me concentrate.  Since I wasn’t feeling hungry after the orange, my instinct to “have another” was not about eating food to satisfy hunger.  I apparently felt a need to feel an extra boost of "good". 

I had just been journaling.  This protocol, and the opportunity it gives me to explore my “real feelings” rather than masking them in any way with food drives me to write...obviously.  I had been exploring my life and past with my new and different perspective.  And, although truly enlightening, rummaging through my past to try and figure stuff out isn't always comfortable.

I had stopped writing because I had felt hunger—my first today.  I had eaten, and really enjoyed the taste of, my orange.

Within one minute, my mind/body sensory experience had moved from uncomfortable to DELICIOUS.  Emotionally, that felt refreshing.  “Delicious” is way more pleasant than “uncomfortable”.  That had made me want another orange.  At that moment, I was looking for happiness in food.  Ha!  Busted! 

Uncomfortable realization: My happiness needs to come from somewhere else. I need to deal with emotional discomfort better.  It's funny, because I typically eat so "healthily" (relative term), and I typically would have made a similar food-type choice.  Even if I were not on the HCG protocol, I typically would still have reached for a piece of fruit under these exact conditions.  Although I am eating way less, I am really enjoying my food and my hunger is completely satisfied—in fact, I often don’t feel like eating all 500 calories. 

The protocol is truly not making me feel “repressed”—it is making me feel more focused.  But, I definitely know now that I absolutely have been eating to feel happy because of my instincts with an orange. 

My “orange experience” provided me with another uncomfortable realization—I emotionally eat.  But this time, I'm not going to eat make me feel better.  I'm going to fix it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Part 1: The Wisdom in Twos, One at a Time.

Even though I don't feel hungry that often now, I am really enjoying my food when I do eat.  This is because my palette is really clean, but also because my eating is now all about eating.  I LOVE the chicken that I cooked.  The strawberries that I have been eating are the best EVER!

And lest you should think that I just got a good batch of berries, or that I cook chicken with no fat like Emeril, try this one on:  I am enjoying my saltines nearly as much as I have ever enjoyed any food substance.  Dry saltines.  The kind you eat when you are pregnant, in order to keep you from getting sick in the morning.  Salty and crunchy.  Yummy, scrumptious Saltines...seriously!  And I really can't believe the mileage I get from just one.  One saltine keeps be running for a long time!

A few days ago, I ate a really delicious orange.  When I had finished my orange, I felt like having another.  Wait a minute!  I can have another one later, but right now, if I’m feeling hungry, I have to have something else.  Even though I get 2 vegetables, 2 fruits, 2 starches, and 2 proteins per day, I can mix but I can't match.   On this protocol, both exchanges of any one food type are not eaten at once.  They have to be spread apart. 

So I had to pause. What do I feel like having? 

Oh yeah...nothing! 

(stay tuned for Part 2...)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another Dicovery: Me + Food = Concentration

I am now on my second day of  the VLCP (Very Low Calorie Protocol).  I am now consuming 500 calories per day.  Once again, this protocol has given me more insight.  Not only am I experiencing things on a whole different physical plane, I am also learning an immense amount about me and my eating habits.

I am not typically a person who eats a huge amount of food.  However, I am now realizing that I have been eating the food I consume for reasons other than hunger. 

In the past I have mis-classified people with "food issues".  I have pictured a person who gets upset and eats a 9 x 13 of brownies.  Or, maybe a person with an eating disorder who intentionally starves themselves in order to feel a sense of control.  Apparently "food issues" come in many different flavors and intensity levels.

This HCG is amazing.  I am not hungry at all, I sleep like a baby, and my energy level has literally NEVER been this good.  Now that I am having to really "tune in" to my hunger level (I need to stay between 3.5 and 5.5 on the hunger scale) and now that it takes so little food to keep me satisfied, it really shines a light on my food habits.  I find myself feeling impulses to eat which, on further examination, have nothing to do with hunger whatsoever. 

One example: I was working at my computer at my desk today.  I felt impulses intermittently to munch on something.  I will quite often have a handful of nuts, or a piece of fruit, or a protein bar while I work.  Yet, when I checked in with myself, I wasn't hungry at the time.  What are these impulses about? 

I was classified back in high school as a "kinesthetic learner".  This means that unlike a visual learner who learns best by reading, or an auditory learner who learns by hearing, there needs to be an element of movement for me in order to optimize learning.  Per teacher recommendation, I would actually carry silly putty with me to class because keeping my hands busy would help me listen better.  I'm a doodler.  I'm a fidgeter.  I realized today that my munching at work has very little to do with eating food to satisfy hunger.  I really think that I munch to give myself physical stimulation to help me focus on challenging material.

As a hands-on  rehab and sports therapist, there is enough kinesthetic activity while I work with clients that I feel no impulses to eat.  However, when I dig into something complicated on the computer, the impulses to eat kick in.  Woah.

This girl has yet another "food issue".  Time to go buy some silly putty.