Great Lessons Learned on a Family Trip

IMG_20140906_170218522This week, my son has been home from Colorado and we went to visit family in Fort Worth, TX and North Eastern Oklahoma (also known as God’s country). The trip was a great deal of fun and my wife was beside herself getting to spend so much time with our son. I always joke that, “I know my place in the family. My wife keeps me around in case she needs to sell me to buy our son shoes.” We all loved the trip, and I learned great lessons to share here.

As I shared last week, I was a bit apprehensive about the trip, wondering how I would stay on program eating meals prepared by various relatives, as well as eating on the road. I prepared in advance before going. I also set myself three goals in order.

My goals were:

  1. To stay in fat burn.
  2. If knocked out of fat burn, to keep carbs low enough to prevent carb cravings.
  3. If knocked out of fat burn with no choice but to eat excessive carbs, to not eat enough to gain weight.

I didn’t really expect to lose any weight during the week. I would have been happy with just being 274 lbs. as I was the previous week. For one, I would be spending long hours in the car not really moving. My UP 24 kept vibrating telling me to get up and do some activity—hard to do at 80 mph (yes, I drive 80; this is Texas so don’t judge me). Also, I would need to stop for food for my wife and son. I chose to switch over to a 4&2 system of eating so I could enjoy more meals with the family. This means that instead of one Lean & Green meal and five meal replacements a day, I would do two Lean & Greens to enjoy eating with others and four meal replacements. We also carried some olives (yum!!!!), pickles and almonds in case I wanted snacks. I didn’t limit these exactly, and never was able to make all my scheduled meals.

During the trip I was knocked out of fat burn twice. We left on Wednesday and came back home on Saturday. Wednesday night, I ate some food that I didn’t know had added sugar until I had already eaten it. That night I could feel my energy levels drop and knew I was out of fat burn. The next day (Thursday) on the way to Oklahoma, we stopped for some “Mexican” food. I didn’t catch the beans and rice in my meal until I had eaten half of it. Since I had already been knocked out of fat burn I went ahead and finished it and thought I would work to get back in when I got home. I decided to just watch my eating the rest of the time to keep down carbs without much thought about fat burn. I wasn’t going to let obsessing over my diet ruin the fun with my family—that is not a lifestyle; that is a chain.

Friday morning I checked again, just curious, and was surprised to find I was already going back into fat burn. I was elated. About four hours later I sat down to lunch at a pretty good Mexican restaurant (in Northern Oklahoma—if you can believe that). Being a Texas boy I have a true appreciation for Mexican food (actually Tex-Mex). When I lived in Colorado, years ago, some tourists asked me where they could find a good Mexican restaurant. I asked where they were from and they said, “Texas.” I pointed south and said, “About 300 miles that way!”

I was sitting in the restaurant with my son and my Uncle. Now understand, my Uncle is the kind of man that when he speaks, you listen because it will be worth more than gold. So I was really listening to him when I started eating my meal. I ordered a taco salad. I saw the Spanish rice—which I forgot to ask about—and, while avoiding it, didn’t notice the refried beans until I had already eaten them. Sure enough! When I checked later, I was totally out of fat burn, again! Back to just paying attention to carbs until we got back home.

The next morning, when I checked with my Ketostix I was surprised to find myself back into pretty healthy fat burn. Since Saturday was on the road, where I could pretty well control what I would eat, I stayed on program and did well the rest of the day. Now back home I am religiously on program again.

The lesson I learned was to not give up when things beyond your full control torpedo your program. I also verified that one does not have to put a lot of pressure on friends and family to conform to your dietary needs—unless it is an allergy, of course. Some of my family would ask about my needs. I would answer and some would seem to get uptight and worried about fixing the wrong foods. I simply told them, “Don’t worry about it. My diet is mine, not yours. If I can eat it, I will; if I can’t eat it, I’ll pass.” They all did wonderfully and really were caring about it. Everyone was excited to see how much I had changed. It also felt great to be able to have the energy to go down to the ditch and shoot my handguns and rifle. To walk over and see my uncle’s soy bean field. I also had enough energy I was tempted to sneak off one evening and see if I could shoot a nice fat wild hog. I decided not to. I figured my wife wouldn’t be very tolerant of hauling the smelly thing home in the car.

Each time I fell off of fat burn it was tempting to just give in and eat whatever—pasta, bread, potatoes, etc. However, I had already set goals. The first didn’t last long, but I could hold to the second and control my carb intake. I stuck with this, hoping (almost beyond hope) that I would at least not gain any weight.

This morning when I weighed in I was shocked. I was hoping and praying that I was at least no heavier than the previous 274 IMG_20140907_083038lbs. I was blown away when I looked down and the scale said I was down to 268 lbs. In a week that I fell out of fat burn twice and ate far more than I probably should, I lost almost six pounds (I was actually 268.8). How did this happen?

IMG_20140907_092629900I credit it to three things. One, I was fairly active when we were there visiting—it was hot enough I probably sweated out a good pound or more. Two, though many things were off plan I still kept down the carbs and bad stuff. Three, (sorry to preach the same sermon again) I stayed properly hydrated. For this last I have to share the second best investment I’ve made in my health. The first was the program itself. The second best investment was a water bottle purchased from Walmart for this trip. It holds 20 ounces, so I need seven of these a day for proper hydration. The bottle has a numbered ring so I can track my water consumption. On the trip I would buy gallon jugs of water and just keep refilling the bottle. It was never more than a few feet from me most of the trip so I could stay hydrated. If I had to be away from water for any length of time (such as when visiting one museum) I would drink the full 20 ounces when I got back to it.

So the lessons learned or reinforced by this experience:

  1. Stay hydrated, at all cost.
  2. Don’t obsess and drive others crazy. Just take life as it comes and make corrections as needed.
  3. If something happens beyond your control, or a mistake happens, don’t throw up your hands and surrender to the temptations to eat whatever.
  4. Preplan for how to handle things beyond your control. This doesn’t mean, “I’ll do this if someone does that.” It means simply knowing, “If something knocks me down here, I’ll do this to reduce the damage to my program, and just keep going.”
  5. Did I mention hydration?

Update on Hydration

Water_glassOver the last two weeks, I had a bad problem (as I reported on Friday) with getting dehydrated over the weekend. I figured this was the cause of my weird scale results. I’d weigh on Friday and be lower than the previous week showing my weight moving steadily, though slowly, down. However, on Monday I would weigh as much as ten pounds heavier and this number would only slowly lower over the week, until I was once again on Friday or Saturday below my previous weight.

As I reported previously I assumed it was likely due to getting dehydrated over the weekend. I noticed during the week the weight going back down seemed to be tied to water intake. This weekend I set myself the goal of staying well hydrated all weekend. It can be a bit hard on Sunday morning—leaving the pulpit during my sermon to pee would not look good, after all. However, I was able to get plenty before church and after.

I’m happy to report there have been no great scale fluctuations over the weekend and this morning I am one pound lighter than I was on Friday. This brings me down to 274 lbs. I’m not counting on this weight too much though because my official weigh-ins are still on Friday. However, since I changed nothing over the weekend but the amount of water I consumed, this confirms—in my mind—the importance of, and benefits of, proper hydration. Make sure you are getting plenty of water. If you see weird things happening on the scale or in your body, look first at your hydration to see if you need more water.

The importance of proper hydration

IMG_20140822_103403I weighed-in this morning at 276 lbs. That is a two pound loss over the last week with a total of 108 pounds lost on program and 149 pounds from my highest.

Recently, I reported going back to the original program that I started with. Since my doctor’s concerns have been alleviated (finding out it was the meds he prescribed and not the diet that caused my pain), I decided the best way to continue to lose the weight was to stick to what had already worked so well.

However, going back on program has not been without its problems. Over the last couple weeks I’ve found it difficult to get enough water. I found myself getting dehydrated each weekend, the scale showing much higher on Monday and it taking several days of flushing with sufficient water to get back down to where I was the Friday before. This has caused my weight loss to slow.

When I first started this program, my coach stressed to me the need for drinking enough water. But when she told me I needed to drink ½ ounce for each pound of body weight I swore she was stoned! At 384 pounds that meant I was being told to drink 192 ounces of water per day. Of course, being the skeptical type I questioned that. Though I never drank that much water daily, I did raise my water consumption up very high. As my weight has come down, my water need has likewise lowered to more believable levels.

I started doing my own research—both reading other recommendations, and observing my own situation. I noticed that many weight loss programs recommend high water consumption. It seems counter intuitive to drink large amounts of water, and possibly take on pounds of water weight. Yet from my reading, it appears your body packs on water weight as a result of not getting enough water. The joints and organs all need to be properly hydrated to work, and when not getting enough, these get inflamed and the body compensates by storing water to keep functioning—thus mild dehydration can lead to gaining water weight.

Also, since the purpose of most weight loss programs is to burn fat, the burned fat needs a route out of the body. That exist is through the urinary system. Without enough water the body cannot flush out the byproducts of fat burn resulting in more inflammation and more water retention.

While others might be able to describe this in more medical detail, it is as well as I can explain the reading I’ve done. It also lines up with my own experiences. I tend to be hard-headed. I know! My friends are surprised because they just can’t believe anyone would describe me as hard-headed (I also tend to be sarcastic). If you tell me, “This is essential; this is mandatory; this is necessary,” you will immediately get push back. When my coach tells me I need to drink half my body weight in ounces per day I tend to say, “We’ll see.” Interestingly, many sites recommend 6/10 ounce per pound, which would be a bit more than half. Because of this tendency to good old hard-headedness my water intake often gets undisciplined. I would occasionally go through the day and realize I had only had about a quarter of the water recommended.

Well, after my own experiences I’ve come to believe firmly that high water consumption is essential. It is not optional. I’ve noticed that when I don’t get enough to drink, even for just a couple days, I find myself feeling bloated. I will step on the scale and weigh as much as ten pounds heavier than the previous weigh-in. I know it is not simply a scale fluctuation because as I hydrate over a couple days the scale reading slowly creeps back down. Let me show you how this looks from the last week. Last Friday I was still weighing heavier from the previous week’s dehydration, but was close to my previous weight. On Saturday, I weighed again and was at 278 lbs. This gave me a total loss of 3 pounds from the previous week. Over the weekend, for various reasons, I got dehydrated again. On Monday I stepped on the scale and it said 287 lbs. I checked later in the day with the same results. I decided it would be a good check of my lessons learned on water consumption so I started drinking lots of water and making sure each day I got the recommended amount—or close. I did this without major changes to anything else. Each day the scale crept lower and lower. By Thursday I weighed in at 277 and this morning at 276 lbs. This was a net loss of 2 lbs. which is still a healthy loss.  Since this has happened both of the last weeks, it confirms to me the importance of not getting dehydrated on the weekend. I am determined to make sure I drink enough water each day—especially on the weekends when working in the yard and around the house.

When having a problem with a Windows computer, if you call tech support the first thing they recommend is a reboot. Likewise, if you are on a low carb, fat burning program and finding yourself not losing what you should or even fluctuating upwards then the first thing to do is check your water intake. Make sure you are getting enough water. Don’t poo-poo it. It is essential.