Tag Archives: Eating

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It's that time again - to review an entire book chapter by chapter.  I've heard Harper's follow-up to "The Skinny Rules" is even worse than the original.  I CAN'T WAIT!

Introduction

This book, like any good advertisement, starts out with an anecdote.  Bob had a client.  A rockstar client.  A (supposedly overweight) rockstar client that had a show coming up in just three weeks.

"Now she needed some fast-acting advice to get her on stage feeling confident, comfortable and looking like the rock star she is."

For reference, here is what a rock star looks like:

Beth Ditto

Oh, wait, nope that can't be right.  She doesn't look like she goes to bed hungry.  Rock stars follow Rule #18.  Let's try that again:

Coheed and Cambria's Travis Stever

No...no okay that can't be right either.  His midsection isn't perfectly chiseled.  They say the third time's the charm:

Maya Ford from The Donnas

COME ON WHY WON'T YOU PEOPLE CONFORM TO MY WORLD VIEW OF ROCK STARS NEEDING TO BE SKINNY????

Jack Black

Bowling for Soup

The Hot Toddies

Birtha

NOT EVEN IN THE 70'S GOD DAMNIT!!!

Okay...so...you don't have to be thin to rock the fuck out.  Well, I guess Harper and his theoretical client missed that memo.  (Isn't rock supposed to be about kind of eschewing mainstream society and doing your own thing anyway...?)  I guess...I guess let's move on to some other points.

"If you've read my book The Skinny Rules..."Previous publication mention #1

"...you'll transition to The Skinny Rules."#2

"...and then you can transition to a sustainable (Author's Note: lol) regimen (aka The Skinny Rules)..."#3

Guys, just in case you didn't know, Harper has another book.  He's mentioned in a couple of times in the introduction here.  Did he mention that he has another book?  And that you should buy it?

Okay sorry that has nothing to do with actual advice.  But that's probably because the first 6 pages of the introduction are all about painting a picture in your head.  This introduction is one big, long sales copy.  It's designed to hook you in and make SURE that if you just picked up this book out of curiosity you'll buy it.

It hooks into common fears:  a looming important date such as a vacation, a reunion or a wedding.  It reinforces that right now, you look like shit.  And Harper is going to solve all of your problems.  You will become slim.  In shape.  Trim.  Fitting into your sexy dress or suave tux.  Envision how amazing it will feel to turn heads.  How?  Don't ask questions.  Just absorb.  Imagine.  Then give me your money.

Next is where things start to get scary...

I'd been told by other people that Harper promotes a really terrible caloric intake in this book.  He beings by asserting you won't be doing anything unsafe.  Challenging, yes, but not unsafe.  Just my thought, if you need to assure your client that the diet plan you're about to give them won't cause them medical duress, you should probably give yourself a little time to ponder over that plan as well.

Harper assures you that YOU are at fault for needing a quick-fix.  Let's ignore the part where he is supposed to be the professional who reminds you that seeing drastic results in 3 weeks is rather unrealistic.  Or the part where as someone genuinely concerned for your health and well-being it would be on him to mention the negative side-effects of crash dieting.  Not writing a whole book about how enthused he is about it.  Literally EVERYONE wants a quick fix.  It is the professional's responsibility to bring their client back down to Earth and see the bigger picture here.

A sane person would say "Couldn't doing this very low calorie diet launch me into yo-yo dieting?"  To which Harper says:

 "...don't worry so much Grandma!"

Apparently, because he cites this one study where participants saw improvements in health-outcomes on both short and long-term diets equally, dieting won't cause you to yo-yo.  Even though that study said nothing about what happened to the participants after the study was completed.  Which is what would be necessary to say that dieting doesn't cause yo-yo dieting.  And the abstract doesn't tell you how many calories the participants were eating.  And these were obese post-menopausal women.

VLCD can definitely have their place with the very obese.  However if you're the kind of person picking up this book to lose some weight to look noticeably "fabulous" for an event, you're probably not obese enough to warrant VLCD intervention.  Either way, it's not good information to pan out to the general public, especially without the advice to be guided by a medical professional.

"...detailed in The Skinny Rules..." I HAVE ANOTHER BOOK #4

What about cleanses?

No, those are no good.  Because according to Harper, those are unsustainable and too restrictive to stick with for 3 weeks.  Unlike his program.  Where you have a bunch of rules to follow and can only eat EIGHT HUNDRED calories a day.  That sounds soooo much better!

I like to eat pastries while reviewing diet books.  Lets me feel like I'm stickin' it to the man.

I like to eat pastries while reviewing diet books. Lets me feel like I'm stickin' it to the man.

However, he does say that cleanses don't actually cleanse anything and your liver does its job just fine without your help.  I do really have to give him props for that point.  It's rare to see big public figures speaking out against cleanses!

As well, he confirms that spot reduction is not a thing.  Another thing that you don't see a lot from public fitness figures.  Thanks Harper!

Just 13 rules.

That's all!  So easy to remember, just like those last 20 rules.  (What was rule #7...?  Wait can I eat sweet potatoes?)

"So, think of the Jumpstart Rules as the big reveal version of the final training regimens that athletes...use to get ready for their big event."

Funny, athletes get ready for big events by a general reduction in exercise and an increase in food consumption.  So basically the exact opposite of what you're about to do.  But I guess I get what you were trying to say, kinda.

What happened to his rockstar client?

She fell off the wagon on day 13 and binged on chocolate cake.

Haha just kidding, we're not talking about reality here.  She finished the whole thing, was super duper DUPER HAWT and

"from the stage she yelled out: "I love you, Bobby!""

I'll just bet she did.

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A few things have changed from my last super-positive and optimistic post about my new 'counting calories' diet regime.

First, and most importantly, I gained weight.

Well, at first anyway.  I did in fact get down to 160 from 163, but then promptly went back up to 164.  I won't deny it, I was greatly upset.  I felt like a hack, and a failure.  Even worse, a hack and a failure who had to post about how she was a hack and a failure on the internet.  Oh the humanity.

The shame

The shame

Let's ignore how when I looked in the mirror I swore I looked leaner.  Or that when I tried to demonstrate how a pair of shorts didn't fit me anymore, magically they fit me.  Or that I knew I was in a caloric deficit and, seriously, you can't gain fat in a caloric deficit.

Let's also ignore that, aside from my neurosis over the scale, I was pretty happy.  I was enjoying food.  All kinds of food.  I was eating a substantial amount of carbohydrates and protein consistently for the first time in...I dunno.  I hit a couple PR's in the gym.  Forget all that.

THE SCALE WENT UP - REMEMBER WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT HERE.

(just so no one is confused, the above sentence is sarcastic) And, actually, I did go back down to 162ish after a few days.  But even typing out how much I weighed just sounds vapid to me now.

Anyway, thankfully I took some pictures.  For full disclosure, for 5 days prior to this I was testing out a program my gym will be offering.  The diet part included a super-duper low carb meal plan.  I was eating around 1800 calories per day, which was about the same as I was doing before.  However, I did lose about 4 pounds.  Don't worry I've gained all but one of those pounds back since.

8-24-13

Taken this past weekend

 

Before (After 'Clean Eating' Phase)

Before (After 'Clean Eating' Phase)

So, not a ton of progress, as we can see.  But, definitely got a little leaner around my stomach.  Progress?

Should I Trust the Process?

It's hard to say whether or not I've made any positive impact on my body composition when the pictures are so small in difference and the main metric I used last year - the scale - isn't changing like it did.  I always say that the scale is useless and yet when it comes to applying that knowledge to myself, I am struggling.  Partly because part of my goal was to compete in the sub-148's, but also partly because I don't want to fool myself.

It really is rather absurd, however, that a little number carries so many of our emotions with it.  How petty.

Cutting it Short

Unfortunately, whether I wanted to trust the process or not, I'm cutting this little experiment short, for a few reasons:

1) I have a Powerlifting competition coming up in November and potentially December and I don't want to suck.

2) I'm feeling a little burnt out of thinking about food and dieting so damn much.  Seriously, it's exhausting sometimes.

So, in all likelihood I won't be picking this back up again until January or so.  (DID SOMEONE SAY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION???)  (No, because I think that's silly)

In a way, this makes me feel like a failure.  A failure on the internet.  But I think it's best for me right now.  The little bit of shame I get from the proclamation is outweighed by the relief I feel.

I will be continuing to count calories, but not as stringently as I was, and I probably will keep it around 2,200 rather than 1,800 - 2,000 depending on if I get morbidly obese or not.  I'll still take pictures intermittently, but I probably won't be posting them.  Speaking of counting calories, here's my overall impression:

Pros

  • No 'rules' on what you can and can't eat
  • Can reasonably eat out at restaurants
  • Always knowing you're getting adequate protein

Cons

  • Counting calories can be really annoying sometimes
  • Counting calories is basically never 100% accurate
  • Many of the better local restaurants don't have nutrition information.

Well that's the end of my little post on insecurity.  On the plus side think of how much more intellectual focus I'll have now that I can divert to more useful projects, like MSPainting all over Pinterest posts and bashing critiquing Bob Harper!

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Chapter / Rule 5 - Eat 30 to 50 grams of fiber each day

Well this one is easy enough - a brief 3 pages and pretty simple to understand.  Fiber is filling, fiber can slow digestion and generally is found in foods you'll want to be eating anyway.  (Fruits and vegetables, that is)

Those are enough reasons to be eating fiber right there.  Bam, done.  However, probably to take up some space, he goes on to talk about other health benefits to fiber: lessen the risk of certain cancers, decreases cholesterol and prevent onset of type 2 diabetes.

The issues with the study he cites to back up these claims is the same issue we run into with studies from previous chapters.  Correlation does not mean causation.  The study used 7-day food records to determine a participant's general intake of cereal fiber, refined and whole-grains.  They then cross-examined this information with other factors such as fasting glucose and cholesterol.  This is an on-going and long-term study.

Unfortunately, just like with the Nurse's Study we discussed before, asking participants to measure and accurately report their food intake is often very inaccurate and unreliable.  As well, people who are more health-conscious tend to eat more fiber and whole-grains.  This does not mean that fiber and whole-grains are what is causing the decreased chances of cancer or type 2 diabetes.  This also doesn't mean that fiber and whole-grains are what cause the participant to lose or keep a lower BMI.  It could be do a whole host of other lifestyle factors that are outside the scope of the study.

Moral: Fiber can increase satiety, slow digestion and is often found in foods you would want to eat while trying to improve your health.  However, fiber itself is not a magic weight-loss ingredient.  Not everyone does well on the same amounts of fiber, especially those with pre-existing GI issues.

Chapter // Rule 6 - Eat apples and berries every single day.  Every.  Single.  Day!

I haven't even read the chapter yet.  This is just my initial reaction from the title:

"That sounds like bullshit."

Okay, off to read the chapter.  Be right back.

-------------------------

All right, I read the chapter and it's not really as bad as I thought it'd be.  We actually start out quite reasonably:

"[apples and berries] have lots of desirable vitamins, all kinds of micronutrients, and lots of fiber..."

All true.  Apples and berries, among other fruits and vegetables, contain a lot of the above.  That's why they're considered good foods for your overall health and weight loss.

However, why he limits it to apples and berries and not say, apples and grapes or berries and peaches or garlic and cucumbers, I'm not really sure.  He states the reason for apples and berries is due to their high anthocyanin content.  While phytochemicals (what anthocyanin falls under) have been found to be anti-inflammatory, I don't know if that is a good enough reason to deign foods that contain high amounts of it 'non-negotiable' for weight loss.

Other foods that are high in anthocyanin that aren't apples or berries:

  • Eggplants
  • Grapes
  • Red Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Peaches
  • Carrots
  • Black soybeans

Phytochemicals and Watermarks everywherrrrreeee

So why is this chapter not called "Eat Red Cabbage and Carrots every day" or something else?  He mentions a study where participants who ate whole apples before a meal ate 15% less than participants who ate applesauce or fiber-spiked apple juice.  I'll agree that apples are very filling - likely due to their high fiber / water content which tends to get degraded as you mush / liquidate it.  Anecdotally, apples are one of the most filling foods to me.  However you could probably replicate that same study with watermelon or cucumbers or any other high-water, high-fiber food.

Moral: Once again, I agree that eating fruits and vegetables are generally a good idea.  However, to specifically call out apples and berries as THE required food to eat everyday doesn't make sense.  If it's just for the reasons of phytochemicals, any of the other foods listed above would serve just as well.  And again, you could still lose weight without including these in your diet at all.

Chapter // Rule 7 - No carbs after lunch

I vehemently disagree with this rule.  This is a short chapter, and the weak reason he gives for this rule is:

"Carbs are forms of sugar, and sugar cues the pancreas to make more insulin, which in turn triggers appetite.  The later in the day that you consume sugar, the more likely it is that you will get food cravings late at night.  Late-night food cravings are not a good thing!"

Two things,

1) Protein stimulates insulin as much if not more than carbohydrates depending on what is ingested.

2) What makes late-night food cravings any worse than mid-morning food cravings?

I mean by this logic, you really shouldn't have that bowl of oatmeal in the morning because the earlier in the day that you consume sugar, the more likely it is that you will get food cravings early in the day!  Except where Harper is all about him some fruit (sugar) and oatmeal (sugar) in the morning.  So why is late at night so bad?  I would argue if you're going by this logic, late-night food cravings would be better because you could just go to sleep.  If it's mid-day you've got a long ways to go.

I was expecting to read something about how eating carbs at night means that you'll just store the carbs as fat because you'll be going to sleep and not expending any calories to burn it off.  Which is false, you can eat carbs whenever you want, assuming you keep at or below your daily caloric needs.  It's not like you fall asleep and suddenly your body stops working.  Again, protein also raises insulin levels.  This is not a bad thing.  In fact, there is a whole diet regimen out there based around eating all your shitty carbs late at night.

OM NOM NOM NOM

OM NOM NOM NOM

Moral:  It's not when you eat, it's how much you eat.  If you feel like eating a piece of chocolate cake 30 minutes before bed and you are still under your calorie expenditure, you will still lose weight.  Some people will get bad heart burn or acid reflux, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

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When you are trying to lose weight on a diet that doesn't involve counting calories, it's important to be in tune with your hunger cues.

Unfortunately, I don't think my stomach and I have been talking for a while.  I'm pretty sure I know what hungry feels like, I'm not quite sure if I know what full feels like.  However, I do know what overstuffed to the point of hating life feels like, and more often than not that's how I gauge my biggest meal of the day.  While this is apparently just fine if I want to maintain my weight:

WL Chart2

MAINTAINING LIKE A BOSS

Obviously my eating habits right now aren't serving my goals so something has to change.  Here is what a usual day of eating typically looks like:

  • Coffee / Tea / Water until anywhere from 12 - 2 PM
  • Lunch is the biggest meal - typically will eat around 80% of whatever I'm eating that day then.
  • Coffee / Water / Tea / maybe an apple until anywhere from 7:30 - 9:00 PM
  • Something small like a smoothie or greek yogurt

If I wasn't trying to lose weight, I'd probably just keep this up.  It's clearly working from a maintenance point of view, but I need to learn to control what I do at lunch.  If I'm honest, it does bother me that I want something like 1,000+ calories to feel 'satisfied' at a meal.  That's definitely going to be past the point where I should stop feeling hunger and achieve sweet, sweet satiety.  To that extent, I've already implemented a couple changes:

  1. Eat most of my meals at home at the table instead of on the couch.
  2. Take a multi-vitamin / fish oil at least 4 days a week.
  3. Drink more water with meals
  4. Try to remember to put down the damn fork between bites

Past that, just trying to be more 'present' while I'm eating.  Trying to actually appreciate and taste the food instead of wolfing it down.  Most importantly, learn to be happy and comfortable being just slightly full, not stuffed.  That is going to be a tough one for me.  I failed absolutely miserably at it yesterday!

WHAT THE HELL IS CLEAN EATING UPDATE

I was complaining to one of my clients about how 'eating clean' doesn't actually mean anything, so she was kind enough to loan me a copy of a book called "The Eat-Clean Diet" by Tosca Reno, as well as an issue of Clean Eating Magazine.  I read through both of these rather quickly, because for some reason when I read things that I disagree with vehemently, it usually inspires me to read more.  If I'm going to dislike something, I usually like to be able to really thoroughly tell you why.  (This may or may not be why I know way too much about the Twilight series storyline)

Here are the laws of eating clean according to Clean Eating magazine:

photo (1)

If you read through my weight loss journey last year - or you could infer my eating schedule above - you know that I tend to not follow rule #1 exaaaaactly right.  As well, I'm pretty cool with saturated fat.  You should be too.  Which made this my favorite quote from the Eat-Clean book:

I know right??? BACON AND SAUSAGE IS SOOOO GROSS - especially compared to plain oatmeal.

Okay, I can't just be a negative Nancy and bash these two publications.  After all, some of the rules from the magazine (avoid processed and refined foods, slow down and savor, reduce portion sizes) are all things I just said I'm trying to work on.  But come on now, don't try to tell me bacon and sausage doesn't taste good.

I'm coming to realize I probably should have planned this whole 'clean eating' thing out a bit better.

You may have noticed that I've always included 'clean' in quotations - I've always thought the notion was a bit odd.  But the idea that I would have NO FREAKING IDEA what makes a food clean or not didn't occur to me.  I assumed it would be like the old saying regarding pornography "I can't quite explain it, but I know it when I see it."

Unfortunately, that is not the case.  I've come across way too many definitions and way too many food items that don't seem to fit in a clear category.  Let's take some examples of what 'clean eating' is from various people:

"If you don't recognize the ingredients, don't eat it"

Well, being a person who is very interested in nutrition, some of the more mystifying ingredients are things I'm actually familiar with.  Xanthan Gum?  Sure got some in the cabinets.  Citric Acid?  Yeah it's in most fruits.  Dextrose?  Mmmm sugarrrr.  So for some foods that would most definitely not be considered 'clean,' this strategy doesn't work.  Not to mention several items I can think of (such as PB2) that have simple ingredients, but are most definitely processed.

"If it has a nutrition label, don't eat it."

Bottled water has a nutrition label.  A lot of meats have nutrition labels.  I can buy a bag of apples that have a nutrition label on it.  Steel-cut oats have labels...etc.

"If it was made in a plant, processed or manufactured, don't eat it."

What about coconut flour?  Almond flour?  Even wheat flour?  Besides fresh produce, I don't know how many foods fit under this definition.  Most meats were processed through a factory of some sort.  Your albacore didn't jump out of the ocean into a tin.  How much process is too much process?  Bringing up the previous example of PB2, the process is pretty simple - they press the roasted peanuts to get the oil out so most fat content is removed.  Is that too much of a process?  Which brings me to the next point -

"If a process was done to remove nutrition from the product, don't eat it."

What about skim milk?  1% milk?  Pasteurized milk at all?  0% Greek yogurt?  Peeled shrimp?  Peeled oranges?

"If your ancestors didn't recognize it, don't eat it." 

I'm pretty sure our ancestors didn't recognize the modern-day banana.  Or peanut butter.  Or almond milk...etc.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhgh!

If you couldn't tell, I've had a frustrating week of eating.  Here are some items on my list of contention.  I have down the big ticket items, but I'd like to hear any input as well:

1) Quest Bars - I've given this a tentative no.  Big hit to my pre / post workout / dessert / anytime, really snacks.

2) Greek Yogurt / Dairy in general - I've been eating this, and I'm pretty sure I'll continue to include it.

3) Dark Chocolate - I might just need to include this for my sanity.

4) Almond Milk - I LOVE almond milk, but there is no doubt it's been processed.  But is it too much processing?! WHO THE HELL KNOWS.

5) Protein Powder - I'm eating all of this anyway, processed or no.  Like 25% of my protein intake consists of protein powder, and I am unwilling to give it up!

ProteinPowder

Not pictured: 2 other bins - totaling 10 bins of protein powder between me and Luke. <insert some bro joke here>

Incidentally, there is also another Layne Norton video that talks about basically the experiment I'm about to do: clean eating vs. calorie and macronutrient counting.

Personally, I like his definition of 'clean' food best: food you spray with windex before you eat it.

Anyway, I've basically come to the conclusion that the phrase 'clean eating' means absolutely NOTHING definitive.  I suppose it's just a way for people to have a new buzzword for eating healthy.

But even 'healthy' is a word that's up for debate.

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With no powerlifting meets on the horizon, a host of bodyweight exercises I want to master and feeling a general lull in my training, I figured it's about that time of year again:  I'm gonna lose some weight.  (I'd be lying if I said it wasn't for some aesthetic reasons as well.)  Last year I went through this journey experimenting with intermittent fasting, carb cycling and performing zero cardio to achieve my goals.  Unfortunately, I think I made a mistake in getting down to a mere 1,200 calories on rest days and 1,500 on workout days.  This time around, I want to ask; can I drop to an even lower weight without dropping the calories so low?

I've been spending the last few months trying to hash out what I want to test on this new round of fat loss.  After a bit of deliberation, I've set out a rough plan for what I'm going to do for the next few months:

Phase 1: Eating 'clean'

The first phase will probably be 2-3 months in duration.  Eating 'clean' seems to be a really popular idea among people trying to optimize their health and weight.  It's appealing for a number of reasons, most important for a lot of people being the idea that as long as you're 'eating clean' you don't need to count your calories.  Whether it's because when eating minimally processed 'clean' foods you'll feel full when you're meant to, or because you subscribe to the idea that 'a calorie is not just a calorie,' it's presumed that there is no need to weigh and measure your food.

Well, that suits me just fine because the few times in my life I've tried to keep an online food log and be super precise with my eating, I've gotten rather agitated and annoyed - which will make Phase 2 and 3 particularly tough.

Phase 2: Meticulous Weighing 

I'm really not a type-A personality.  I don't feel the need to know exactly what I'm putting in my mouth at all times - I'm okay with a little ambiguity.  Unfortunately for this phase though, I'm going to need to weigh, measure, and calculate the nutritional profile of everything I put in my mouth.  This phase will last until I reach a few pounds below the top end of the weight class I want to compete in.  (132.5 lb. up to 148.5 lb, so I'll stop around 145lbs)

Phase 3: How much can I eat?

I recently watched a video about the kind of metabolic damage that figure athletes / bodybuilder / average dieters (particularly women) go through when trying to cut down their weight.

While I don't think I'm suffering from a particularly low metabolism, it sure does sound fun to see just how far I push my calories without gaining back more than 3-5 pounds.  This will be a ridiculously slow process, so I'm not sure how long this phase will last.

Where I'm Starting

When last we left, I was weighing in at 154.  Nowadays I've gone up to ~160, which is a weight that's been holding relatively steady regardless of what I've been eating (within reason of course).  I did sort of push the calories the past few months in anticipation of this upcoming experiment, so hopefully I'll have a little more room to work with!  The past 2 weeks I've tracked my weight daily to see what the natural fluctuations are:

WG (4-29, 5-13)

Safe to say I'm starting at 160!  I'll end this post with some starting pictures.  Here's to hoping for some more flattering ones in the future!

Taken 5/12/13:

photo 1Side (5-13)Back (5-13)BackF (5-13)

People often seem surprised when I tell them how much I weigh.  They ask me where I keep it all.  I'll leave that for you to figure out!

Oh yeah and I made a new site.