Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Connnnstannntttt Craaaaavinggggg..."

I love that song.  And it's so appropriate for so much of my life.  Well..those two words anyway. I feel like I am always craving SOMETHING.  But usually it's the bad things like donuts and cupcakes and french fries covered in cheese and bacon and sour cream.  Mmmmmm bacon.

One of the big things that the South Beach Diet preaches is that it helps to ease/get rid of those kinds of cravings within the first 2 weeks (Phase 1).  But now that I'm 1 1/2 weeks into that phase, it has me asking...what exactly defines a craving? says this:

great or eager desire; yearning

I've always thought of food cravings as a chemical thing.  A physical reaction in my body that makes my brain scream for something that it thinks it wants.  "YOU NEED CARBS LIKE RIGHT NOW!!!".  And from all the studying I've done on the subject, I've learned that that is true.  Cravings are caused by fluctuations in our blood sugar levels.  Eating something high in sugar or refined carbs sends our blood sugar through the roof, easing our craving quickly...only to have it crash back down equally as fast and send us rushing for the next quick fix.  It is a very chemical thing.

But then here I am halfway through week 2 of this diet and I'm starting to feel like maybe it isn't ALL chemical. I'm not feeling those physical pangs of NEEDING a donut or obsessing over a plate of something fried and greasy...however I am still having the occasional “eager desire and yearning” for things that I know from experience...I love. Is THAT going to go away with this diet? I'm starting to think the answer is no.

I didn't go into this thing expecting to come out on the other side with a hatred for all things unhealthy. I know better. And honestly, I don't want to live a life that doesn't allow for the occasional indulgence in something decadent. Whether I'm physically craving it or not, I know that my Grammy's chocolate mousse is my absolute favorite dessert and that if I make it, I'm going to eat the whole pan by myself. And if I think about it for too long, I start to think about how good it sounds and how long it's been since I had it. And I really want some. That's craving...isn't it?

So for the most part, yes, my cravings are gone. I feel full and satisfied all day long. But I am finding that I cannot wait until I can have fruit again. I really miss my apples with almond butter. I really miss my morning apple bran muffins with greek yogurt. I REALLY would love a warm slice of homemade wheat bread. And those aren't bad things to want. I guess it's better that I crave those things than if I crave a trip through the drive-thru at Betos for a giant burrito with all the fixings. Right?

I'm never going to be one of those people who eats perfectly all the time. I'm just not. What fun would that be? The trick is finding a good balance...and learning to be strong in the face of those constant cravings. At least most of the time :)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Obese shmobese!!!

While I know that BMI is not a very accurate way to classify a person (it only takes into account weight and height...not body fat % or muscle mass)'s still something that I have had my eye on for a long time.  And as of today, I have finally moved down a category!!

For the past 15 years of my life, I have been classified as Obese/Morbidly Obese.  No one likes to hear it from their doctor or an internet calculator.  Hearing you are "obese" brings about all sorts of feelings of depression and inadequacy.  And it's been hard to keep hearing that word even after losing so much weight.

But as of today, I am excited to yell from the rooftops that now I'm just OVERWEIGHT!!!  HAHA!  It's not often, if ever, that you hear a person being elated over being called "overweight", but man...I am freaking thrilled.

How freaking awesome is that???  I'm just barely below it but I don't care!!  It totally counts!  It saddens me that I had to lose 123 lbs to get there, but I finally made it and it's worth celebrating.  It makes me even more excited to get my body fat % tested again to see a more accurate representation of how far I have come.

I'm telling you, this South Beach Diet thing is amazing.  I have now lost 7.8lbs in 5 days and that's while sick and missing workouts. Normally I have to bust my butt at the gym to lose 1-2lbs a week but just cutting a few things out of my diet for 5 days has made all the difference in the world.  And it's not just me!  My dad has lost 5lbs in 5 days on the same diet. I'm SO SO glad he convinced me to try it and I cannot wait to see where we're both at at the end of Phase 1 next week.

Next big milestone?  The 200lb mark.  It's 7.6lbs out of reach and words cannot describe how excited and motivated I am to get there. I haven't been under 200 since 1998 and now it's just barely out of reach.  But I'll get more into that when I reach that goal.  It will be worthy of it's own post :)


Thursday, March 20, 2014

South Beach Diet - 3 days down, a lot more to go.

Days 2 and 3 seemed a lot easier as far as getting in enough (well...more) calories. Though I found at the end of both days that my sodium intake was off the charts!!!  Sodium is something that I normally am very careful about because I tend to retain water and sodium affects my Tuesday weigh-in #'s.  I was sure when I stepped on the scale this morning that all that sodium would have my number in the plus column, but I was WAY wrong!  Since starting this diet on Monday, I'm down 5lbs.  In 3 days!!  It's insane. I have never lost weight that quickly (except when I did HCG and if you've read my blog from the beginning you know how horrible that was).

The book told me this would happen.  And I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Cutting out refined carbs, sugar and starchy veggies makes a HUGE difference. I guess I was eating more of them than I realized.  I do realize that this phase is only 2 weeks that that it is in fact part of a healthy, balanced diet to eat fruits and whole grains...but I'll admit that I'm loving the lack of serious cravings and the quick weight loss.  I feel like I'm eating enough...even too much at times...and I have the energy I need to continue with all my workouts.  It's great!

My main reason for doing this diet was to try and get myself closer to that 200lbs barrier and now it's only 10lbs away!  Talk about motivating.  I cannot wait to see a number that starts with "1" showing up on my scale.  I haven't seen that since 1998.  If I can keep up this diet, I might be there sooner than I thought :)

I would highly recommend this diet to anyone who has more than a few lbs to lose or who struggles with horrible cravings like I normally do.  I've fought with my food addiction for a very long time...and while I was still able to lose weight (very very very slowly), every single day was a struggle with those cravings and I kept hitting plateaus every couple of months.  It got very frustrating.  Now...I'm not naive.  I know that I will still struggle in the future.  I will always be a food addict and I will always love baked goods and french fries and cheesy goodness. But when those things come up and I have a bad binge day, I will fall back onto phase one of this diet and I know it will be okay.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"South Beach - Day 1"

Don't worry, I'm not going to blog about every single day of this diet (unless I feel I have something to say haha).  But I felt that Day 1 deserved it's own entry.

Let me start off by listing what I ate yesterday (Feel free to skip this part, it's more for my own benefit)

Omelette w/ 1 egg & 2 whites, tomato, avocado, low fat mozzarella & oven roasted turkey breast

Salad w/ Romaine, oven roasted chicken, slivered almonds & Panera poppy seed dressing

6 oz. oven baked chicken breast w/ worcestershire sauce
2 cups steamed broccoli w/ lemon & light salt
Vitamin Zero Orange

2 String Cheese
24 raw almonds
White chocolate raspberry Quest bar
hard boiled egg

Total calories: 1258   Total Fat: 66  Total Carbs: 83  Total Protein: 125  Total Sugar: 17

On paper that looks like a pretty healthy day.  And for me, it really is.  I had zero problems avoiding carbs or sugar (which really surprised me for day 1).  The problem, I found, was eating ENOUGH.  1200 calories is the minimum a woman should be eating to avoid having her body go into starvation mode.  I barely cracked that...and I had to force myself.  With as much as I work out (3 hours total yesterday between weights, zumba and volleyball) I should be eating at LEAST 1500 calories if not more.  But holy crap.  I just couldn't!

I felt like I was eating all day long, and I guess I kind of was.  But because I cut out carbs and fruit, it made it very hard to get in enough calories. One piece of fruit usually knocks out 100 calories by itself and we all know that breads/pastas are also very caloric.  Needless to say I'm feeling frustrated and may just have to accept that this is how the next 2 weeks will be.  I'm grateful that the day went so smoothly, but I'm going to have a hard time with this if I feel like I'm eating to the point I want to vomit and yet still not eating enough.

Funny huh?  Not often you hear someone complain that the diet they're on is making them too full ;)

Monday, March 17, 2014

South Beach Diet - Trying Something New!

So as some of you already know, my dad is in town for a while on a business trip.  He and I talk a lot about my weight loss and what things I've tried/done to get as far as I have.  Recently he told me that his twin brother, my Uncle Mark..and his wife LaShel started doing the South Beach Diet.  I had heard of it, but I had no idea what it was.  I honestly figured it was some other trendy crash diet like HCG and blew it off.  But then he told me that my Uncle and his wife have both lost significant amounts of weight in just a few months!  So I became curious.

My dad lent me his copy of "The South Beach Diet: Supercharged" and I got to reading.  Without reading very far, I realized that it was all stuff I already know!  It's not a crash diet at all!  I got excited and kept reading.  It's basically teaching you how to get rid of cravings and then how to maintain a healthy, BALANCED diet...combined with exercise.  It talks about good carbs vs. bad, good fats vs. bad...and even encourages splurging once in a while.  This is a method I can totally get behind...because it's what I preach! But what was so different about it that my Aunt and Uncle were losing so much weight so quickly?  That's where the specifics of the diet come in...and it's not easy.

My dad and I agreed to start Phase 1 (of 3) together today.  It lasts two weeks.  Phase 1 is the hardest, as you would expect, but also the most important (for me) because it is designed to clean out your system and get rid of cravings!  AHHHH cravings.  They are my biggest problem.  I have a very hard time staying strong when my cravings hit.  And they're not always cravings for sweets.  Sometimes I crave the fried or fatty and cheesy goodness too.  And when I crave something, I OBSESS about it until I get it.  So I'm nervous, but excited to do Phase 1 and hopefully get rid of those cravings so that I can focus on my goals with a bit more ease.

Phase 1 is basically cutting out all refined carbs and sugar.  No fruit, no bread, no cereal, no pasta, no rice, no oatmeal, no fatty cuts of meat, no starchy vegetables (like corn and carrots)'s definitely not going to be easy.  But it makes total sense.  The reason we have cravings is because we let our blood sugar get all out of whack.  We feel it dropping and reach for a quick fix (chips or a candy bar or some high glycemic carby snack) which shoots our blood sugar way up...but then just as quickly, we crash.  And we're craving the next thing.  So in phase 1, you focus on lean meats, non-starchy veggies (we're talking 2 cups with every meal here), low fat dairy, beans, nuts, eggs and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and avocados.  The "foods to enjoy" list is actually REALLY long, whereas the "foods to avoid" list is only 1 page.  So if done right (eating every 3 hours and snacking before your cravings would usually hit), I should actually never feel hungry.

From experience, however, I know that the first 3-4 days will be the hardest.  Whenever I've binged or eaten things I shouldn't and I decide to get back on the wagon..those days just plain suck.  They just do.  It's more about will power than anything else.  But once your system is cleaned out of the junk, it's amazing how great you feel!

So today was day 1 and I've started out strong with a big stinkin' omelette for breakfast.  1 egg & 2 whites, tomatoes, avocado, low fat mozzarella and a tiny bit of sriracha for flavor.  It's going to be tricky though.  This 2 week phase cuts out a lot of my usual go to foods like my apple bran muffins and flavored greek yogurts.  Luckily I can still have my Quest bars and Stevia for sweetening.

I can do anything for 14 days, right?  And maybe, just maybe...this will get me closer to breaking that damn 200lb barrier that has been taunting me for months!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Burn It!!!"

This weekend I finished up a 6 week program that I'd been doing at my gym called "Burn It".  Run by one of our amazing Zumba instructors, Angie, and her personal trainer husband, Keith..."Burn It" promised to kick my butt hardcore. And it did.  I'd seen the fliers a few months before when they did a fall season, but it was around the time I was heading to the Biggest Loser resort in Chicago, so I sat it out.  When I saw the fliers go up again in January, I wasn't going to miss out.

They had a free session one Saturday morning so that we could all come get a preview of what we were in store for and I knew within the first 10 minutes, this was going to be a hard 6 weeks.  I also knew it would change my life.  I signed up and paid then and there (with my awesome new friend Kate, who pushed me for 6 weeks!!) and we committed to 6 weeks of the most fun kind of torture.

Burn it is essentially this...

High intensity training that gets your heart rate up quickly and burns calories just as fast.  A 10 minute workout with Angie and Keith had us swimming in pools of sweat.  But it proved to me and I'm sure to everyone else that you don't have to spend hours and hours at the gym (though you all know I do haha) in order to get in a good, hard workout.

Every week was different.  The workouts ranged from fun Olympic style circuit training workouts to Tabata training to working with a partner.  We'd spend 10-12 minutes doing an AMRAP (As many reps as possible) that had weights and squats and pushups and burpees...and feel like we'd been working out for hours.  And then with only a few minutes to catch our breath, we'd launch into a fun group workout where we'd do relays in teams!

I learned and got to try out all sorts of new exercises as well as some old not-so-favorites.  I learned I cannot hold a plank for 2 minutes straight, but I CAN do spiderman burpees without dying!  I can't run or sprint nearly as fast as 99% of those in the class, but I was able to do box jumps on the bleachers and do squats while holding Kate's legs as she does a plank on the ground in front of me!  I am stronger than I ever knew and it just keeps getting better.

Angie and Keith are amazing.  I already knew Angie was great.  She used to teach my girls' dance class when they were little and her Zumba workouts are just plain FUN.  Pairing her up with her hubby made for some really fun and inspiring workouts.  On top of our weekly sessions, they put together videos and daily ab challenges for us to do at home during the week.  I had a hard time remembering to do those every day on top of my usual workouts, but when I did do them...I felt them for days!  I really can't thank them enough for their motivating personalities and their willingness to push us through things we never thought we could do.

Here is a picture of our amazing group of people.  Taken POST workout so you can see our sweaty and red (in my case) faces!!

But the best part was seeing the results.  They used a body composition scale to see the changes in our bodies over the 6 week period.  In 6 weeks I:
-Lost 8lbs
-Lost 1 point in my BMI
-Lost 2.2% of my body fat
-Gained 1% of skeletal muscle!!!

In 6 weeks!!!  (And I was only eating cleanly for about 4 of those weeks or I could have seen even better #'s I'm sure)  The results speak for themselves and I will most definitely be doing this class again when they start up at the end of March.  This class is what helped me to FINALLY break through a stubborn plateau and push me closer to that milestone of breaking 200lbs that seems to be just out of reach!

To all my friends in the area, I HIGHLY recommend you do it with me!!!  I know I sound like a commercial, but I wouldn't write it if I didn't mean it.  This class will change your life.  I can't wait to Burn It again!