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.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hunger: The Gold Standard (and the only one that will never fail!)

Human beings like things to be standardized.  Iron-clad rules eliminate the necessity to constantly re-evaluate situations.  I like a guarantee that if I just do what I'm told, then everything will be predictable and fine.

As it relates to weight and food intake, rules don't really apply.  Go figure...we are multi-dimensional beings with a ton of variables.  We aren't neat and tidy and linear and we don't fit well into linear charts.

First, there is BMI, Body Mass Index.  I have always despised this.  Doctors use this to determine if you are "overweight".  It doesn't take body composition into account whatsoever; it is merely a chart of height and weight.  I am, by trade, a sports and rehab therapist.  I have had my hands on literally thousands of bodies.  I am here to tell you...there is an incredible range in tissue-density in human beings.  If you take two people of equal height and weight, I submit that they could have a range of about 4 pant sizes.  I have a very muscular build.  The only time in my life that I wasn't deemed overweight by the BMI, I barely squeaked into the normal catagory in size 4 pants.  I was going through a divorce and working out obsessively (like 2 hours/day at a minimum). The BMI is, for lack of a better word, CRAP.

Then, there is calories in/calories out.  We know the caloric value of foods.  We know approximately how many calories should be expended by different types of exercise.  Keep it in balance and you are good.  Not really.  That wasn't working for people either, even when getting exact and scientific with Resting Metabolic Rate, etc.  Why can't I lose this stubborn belly fat?  So, carbs became evil.  All calories are clearly not created equal.  They affect the body differently.  Of course they will:  fat is hormone-secreting organ.  Is total abstinance from "the wrong foods" the answer.  Heck no!  Read my first blog entry: .  Puritanical eating is really, REALLY not the answer.  It creates this emotional deprivation, punishment cycle.  Humans don't like to feel punished.

Serving Sizes: Seriously?  Every person is different, with a different RMR, and different hormonal sensitivities.  How can "how much to eat" possibly be standardized across multi-dimensional humans?

The answer.  It doesn't need to come from an outside source.  I've finally understood by starting this process that humans have the amazing ability to self-regulate.  It's called eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm satisfied.  This does not include eating when I'm bored, sad, celebrating, depressed, stressed, or  seeking stimulation.  If any of these other elements enter in, then the all-important hunger signal is interfered with. 

This sounds pretty.  The reality is that I am going to need some serious re-training on this.  And, this protocol is the perfect environment to learn.  In the coming weeks it will be imperative to maintain the correct hunger/satisfaction level: 3.5-5.5.  This will be awareness training for me as much as anything!  However, building this awareness of my hunger signal and my reasons for eating (the only good one is hunger, btw) is what will keep me from ever having a problem again.  I can eat foods that I enjoy.  I just need to not push past satisfied into the "full" or "really full" camp.  Once my hormones are ironed out, the gold standard of hunger awareness, not deprivation of any kind will be my maintenance.

Lab mice don't get fat.  They only eat when they are hungry, and they stop eating when they are satisfied. 

Hunger signals.  Simple and beautiful, and we all have them.  We just never listen.

Numbers that Tell it All: I Have a Real Problem!

I am so glad that I learned all of these numbers immediately prior to repairing this situation.  I would have first gone crazy, and then gotten pretty depressed. thing that is absolutely unique to the Mind:Body Method is the full series of physical assessments that each participant goes through.  Success in this protocol is not measured solely in "Pounds and Inches" (to quote the title of the original, 50-year-old science that is currently running the hCG show out there).  Success also encompasses a faster resting metabolic rate at the end of the extremely low calorie protocol.  This absolutely flies in the face of everything known in the fitness industry regarding the effect of calorie restriction on the metabolism. 

Believe me, I have learned and read everything I can get my hands on over the years in an effort to raise my metabolism.  I am a workout FANATIC.  Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is everything--the number of calories you burn doing nothing.  RMR is really what separates out all those (insert expletive here) people who can eat whatever they want and never gain weight from people like me who really have to work at it.

I haven't known until now exactly what my RMR was, but I do everything right from a metabolic training perspective.  I do intense restistance training (Tabata-style, for those of you fitness people out there!), I have participated in intense boot-camps and personal training for years on end.  I eat small frequent meals.  I am ridiculously strong for a female: I can bike 100 miles in one day, I lift the same amount or more than the men in my boot camp, I can hold two-point planks til the cows come home, and my trainer literally has to sit on me to make a side-plank challenging anymore. 

Get the picture?  I work out...HARD.  I have A LOT of muscle.  Here's my first number from my assessment:  My resting pulse rate is 49.  I am in great freaking shape.

Are you ready for the pisser?  My Resting Metabolic Rate is 1360.  That is below average.

What exactly does this tell me?  Well, this number, combined with the fact that any reduction whatsoever in my workout intensity or frequency results in huge and instant weight gain, tells me that metabolic training in the fitness sense has completely failed me.  I have a different problem.

How can I have a resting heart rate of 49 and an RMR of 1360?  I have a hormonal problem.  I can workout til the cows come home--and I have--and all that it will do is make my endocrine system think that that is normal.  It won't raise my RMR--it will just create an environment in which reduction of intense exercise will make me gain more fat.

Get me off of this train!  It's time to fix my hormones.  My muscles just ain't cuttin' it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 1: Revelations from FAT LOADING

The first two days on the hCG protocol is fat loading.  After the amazing and deeply scientific explanation of the process, involving multiple hormones and mitochondria and graphs and the like--in my mind, a simple explanation is this:  It's kind of like starting my lawn mower.  I can pull on the cord over and over again, but if I don't push the primer button to get a little bit of gasoline in the pipeline...nothing will happen.  However, once the ignition occurs, the gasoline is drawn from it's source automatically until the tank runs out.  Basically, I have to eat A LOT of fat ( much as I can stand!) for two solid days before the very low calorie part of the protocol will begin.  At that point, the hCG will start pulling my fat.  Now that's a nice thought. I am, with "No-Holds-Barred" eating conditions.  This is absolutely unprecedented territory for me.  My mother encouraged me to go with her on Weight Watchers to help me get "ballet-thin" at the age of eleven.  That was twenty-five years ago, and I can honestly say that I have not had a mindless bite pass my lips since.  In 25 years, I have not just eaten something because it sounded good and I was hungry.  I have been aware of the caloric ramifications of literally every food choice. 

This is not to say that I have eaten perfectly.  I have, on a whole, eaten very cleanly.  However, with every splurge or imperfection, I have felt guilt and shame to some degree, from mild to severe, depending on my activity level at the time.  And my activity level has also been ridiculous--from mildly to severely so--but more on that later.

48 hours of "pushing the envelope" of fat consumption as far as I can?  All guilt removed--I have to do this as part of the process.  I intentionally, and as advised, go for foods that I love and deny myself.  FRIES, baby!  I love fries, and I never eat them.  They will make me fat, right?  So, initially--freedom, verging on euphoria at the fact that I can eat fries without guilt.  Although, strangely, I have to admit that I enjoy them less than when they were in the "forbidden" catagory.  Then, I have to push past where I am comfortable.  I have to fill up on fat, and then some.  I get to the point where I literally can't eat another french fry.  It wasn't  fun at all.  I feel absolutely horrible.

At this point, I have a total revelation about myself and food.  I feel completely horrible, but only physically.  Had I done this at any other time, my self-disgust would have been literally unimaginable.  I could never have gotten there--WAY too uncomfortable emotionally. 

This protocol has already given me a gift way better than smaller pants.  I have now realized that food is just food.  And, food has been my weapon of choice to flagellate myself for 25 years!  I have become so rigid with myself and so judgmental with others as it relates to food, that I rival the most orthodox religious zealot! 

Food is just food.  I forgive myself.  I don't need to be punished any longer.  I also don't need to deprive myself of foods that I enjoy.  Foods also don't make me happy.  Why have I given food so much power?

I would never have discovered this without fat loading because I couldn't have "gone there".  I am so excited for the rest of this process!

And...I'm really over fries.