New Weight and an Italian Dinner

IMG_20141017_075717I haven’t posted anything in a while on the blog. I haven’t gotten bored, neither have I given up, nor have I “fallen off the wagon.” Things have been pretty busy career wise, and I’ve had to put more emphasis in some new directions there—which leaves less time for other endeavors. Of course, one of the biggest improvements to my career has been losing weight. I now have the energy to match my drive giving new joy from my work.

There are several differences over the last few weeks. As I said before, I transitioned off my earlier program onto a different one because my goals have changed from losing weight to building muscle in order to impact my lean mass to fat ratio from the other side.

I’m on what Roman Malkov calls a macrocycling rotation in his book The Carb Cycling Diet. This means I am doing more than one day a week working to build muscle. One or fewer days per week on weight-lifting (a regiment concentrating on weight loss and cardio) is referred to as microcycling.

Here is what I’m doing now:

Monday: Weights—high resistance, low repetitions; higher carb; higher calorie.

Tuesday: Cardio—one hour on the treadmill; low carb; low calorie.

Wednesday: Weights—high resistance, low repetitions; higher carb; higher calorie.

Thursday: Cardio—pool workout; low carb; low calorie.

Friday: Weights—highest resistance, low repetitions; higher carb; higher calorie.

Saturday: Rest—no cardio or weights; moderate carb; moderate calorie.

Sunday: Rest—no cardio or weights; moderate carb; moderate calorie.

Each day I have a protein shake for a meal replacement and on weight lifting days I have two. I still eat six times a day and try to get half my body weight in ounces of water per day.

The scale results are not nearly as impressive as they were on Take Shape for Life and Medifast, but I am looking for different results. My weight is down to 262 lbs. This is a loss of about 4 lbs. over the last month. It’s about 10 or 12 lbs. under the rebound weight that I recorded shortly after changing over. My most important measurements are with the tape. My waist is down two inches and my chest is up about 3 inches. The other day my daughter asked me to print something for her on my computer. I sat down at the desk without a shirt with her standing over me. She looked down and said, “Dad, your abdomen goes down straight from your chest while seated and I can see the muscles in your shoulders.” She was shocked. She didn’t know me as a young soldier—she was born after I got out of the Army and had gained a ton of weight. She had always seen me fat, and was shocked at the transformation.

Keep in mind that transformation is the goal. If the need is to transform the numbers on the scale then concentrate on those. If the goal is other transformations then don’t get worked up over scale results.

I want to share some lessons gleaned from the book Mindless Eating, which I’ve referenced here before. On my weight lifting days I get higher carbs, and can even allow myself carbs that I would previously have passed on. My wife and I love Italian food. One day, a weight lifting day, I decided to take her out to an Italian restaurant—a treat I hadn’t allowed myself in months. I won’t name the restaurant, since they aren’t paying me.

Restaurant meals are usually larger portions than anyone actually needs—unless you are eating at one of the pretentious, sanctimonious, hoity-toity eateries, which my wife and I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Besides large portions, the restaurant we went to, like most, would serve in courses, so I would make decisions about multiple courses. Thanks to Mindless Eating, I’ve started doing such meals like this:

The meal would include several course options:

Bread

Beverage (Could be alcoholic, or sweet, or neither)

Appetizer

Salad (Keep the dressing in mind)

Entre (high carb, or low)

Dessert (Sweets, fruit, etc.)

Mindless Eating recommends you take such a list and pick three or four. I did a form of this, but adjusted volumes and options by carb content of each choice.

I would only consider Italian food on a high carb day, but I still had to watch it. Carbs would be the driving force behind my choices. My entre was going to be higher carb—we had already decided to split a pasta dish. This meal would give me more carbs, but splitting it with my wife kept the carbs and calories down. One point on pasta: from what I’ve read, if cooked properly pasta has a lower glycemic index than other wheat products because ungelatinized starches are trapped in a web of gluten if cooked al dente. While the GI is low, one still has to keep down the amount to avoid a high glycemic load.

Since my meal was higher carb (and contained wheat) I decided to have no bread. I also chose to refrain from an appetizer because all of the options were breaded and fried. I also did this so I could have a bit more freedom on my choice of salad dressing—I wanted Ranch, and some places add sugar to it. I also wanted to allow myself to have a few of the croutons with my salad.

For beverage, I chose unsweetened tea (my go-to drink in restaurants). Had it been later in the day, I might have had a vinaigrette dressing and ordered a glass of wine. The alcohol can disrupt the system as it switches from burning fat to metabolizing the alcohol to clear it from the system. However, once the alcohol is clear it quickly returns to burning fat. Like most things moderation is called for, but when trying to lose weight moderation usually means abstaining. You make the choice. Now, if I were on a low carb day, wine would not have even been an option, but of course we would not have considered Italian food either. On weight lifting days I am not trying to burn fat or lose weight. On those days I’m trying to build muscle. However, keep in mind that even on those days excessive alcohol can be a problem because your system uses testosterone and Human Growth Hormone in the muscle building process and excessive alcohol can reduce testosterone production—sucks huh? Allowing yourself a glass of wine is one thing. Allowing yourself a bottle of wine is totally different.

Some might look at this and think, “That’s just too much to think about!” The point is that one of the biggest problems with our health is eating with little or no thought. If we just eat without any thought we eat too much, too often, too imbalanced and just too wrong. That might be acceptable if you have the health and metabolism to handle it. The problem is that when we get out of balance and our health deteriorates thoughtless eating just makes things worse.

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Challenges to Come!

drunkenclamsThe next couple weeks are going to be a challenge for staying on program. My son is home from Colorado for two weeks. This of course puts us into a celebratory mood. For example, yesterday I made a nice surf and turf supper of “drunken” (cooked in white wine) clams, mussels and shrimp with grilled boneless beef ribs. Paired with a salad, it was fine on the level of carbs and only a bit over my on my daily protein for a Lean & Green meal (keep in mind I was instructed to have an extra 3 ounces of protein each day because of my build).

I did splurge in a way that could have been almost catastrophic. I enjoyed a glass of mead with my supper. The residual sugar could have been enough to push me out of fat burn. However, I checked last night and this morning and I am still going fine. Now, do I feel guilty for having the mead? Not a bit. The whole purpose of my journey is not to deny myself any good thing. The purpose is to build a life on healthy choices and there is a time to drink and a time to abstain. While it would probably be better for me to abstain until my program is over, I allowed myself to choose differently. This was a choice—it was mine to make. While I would never recommend it for anyone else trying to lose weight, the idea that I can only do things I would recommend to others is a fallacy. Recommending something is saying, “You should do this.” Instead, I would tell others, “You must decide for yourself.” It would be different if I told someone, “While on black currant melomelprogram you must not have mead,” and then turned around and had mead while on program—that would be hypocritical and unethical. I encourage each person to choose for themselves, and choose wisely with good information. If you want to stay on program and not risk getting bumped out of fat burn then you must not follow my example in this—the fact that it didn’t knock my body out of fat burn does not mean it will have the same effect on you. There are some things that will definitely have a certain impact on your health—regardless of the person involved. Then there are things that may have one impact on one and a very different impact on another. You must weigh your options and decide for yourself what is best. You must also decide if the enjoyment of your choice is worth the potential impact. Every choice in life involves exchanging one thing or benefit for another—if I do this, I will not be able to do that, etc.

Now, for the reason the rest of this two weeks will be hard. We are taking two trips. One will be to see several relatives in another state. This trip will be hard to stay on program because my relatives will not be on program, and I swore from the beginning not to make others submit to my new lifestyle—that is not fair to them. There are going to be times I must make a decision that will not be best for staying on track. My biggest goal will not be losing a certain amount over the next couple weeks. My primary goal will be keeping myself in fat burn and not making a choice that could spiral me down into carb cravings. After that my goal will be staying as close to program as possible. Beyond that will be the goal of losing something (weight wise) and staying fully hydrated the whole trip—not an easy proposition.

The second trip should be easier. We will be going to Galveston, TX for two nights. While there we will be eating out quite a bit—Gaido’s is hard to pass up! Then there are tourist activities that usually involve sugary snacks and drinks everywhere you look. These will be a temptation. I know it. I expect it.