Monday, September 1, 2014

First day of spring


First day of spring. A bit cloudy and cool, but we are getting there.

After writing my post after dinner last night, I started to feel a bit queasy and headachy. Peppermint tea didn't help, nor did a hot bath, and by the time I went to bed I was very nauseous and felt like I had a dagger stuck in my right eyebrow. But some time curled in the dark did the trick and I was fine this morning. Don't know whether it was residual tummy bug or overload of vegetables fermenting or carb flu.

It's another low carb day. There are four different cycles. I was originally going to do the Classic cycle: low/high/low/high/low/high/free day which seemed to give the best chance of not feeling sick from low carbs. But the iPhone app thing only uses the Turbo cycle: low/low/high/low/low/high/free day. Of course it will be harder doing two low carb days in a row. I will monitor how I feel as I go.

I started the day with peanut butter on toast with cucumber and tomato and my cup of tea, and water with a squeeze of lemon. Btw, I eat high-fibre low-GI white bread from our local bakery. I've tried many times to transition to wholegrain bread but end up having one slice then the rest of the yucky loaf sits in the freezer for months until I throw it out. So this is my compromise. Not supermarket bread.

Morning tea was some tasty cheese (that is not as much cheese as it looks, it's in thin flakes), a baby carrot and some kale "chips". I didn't like the kale all that much and ate about half of it. Some bits might have been overcooked, other bits were rubbery. Kale isn't big in Australia, you couldn't even buy it in most shops a year ago, but I know other people like baking it in the oven. Not for me.

Lunch was cream of chicken soup and some asparagus. I usually make the soup with a flour and butter roux which makes it seem creamy. Since it's a low carb day I used only a tablespoon of flour for the whole thing. It meant the soup didn't thicken up at all and was more of a broth with bits of chicken in it. Still tasted nice.

After lunch I started feeling very queasy again, and quite gassy. I think it's probably all the extra vegetables playing havoc, but it does seem to happen after the fattier meals. I have fat with each meal on a low carb day, but it's not that much. Certainly not more than I usually have! So I'm not sure what is going on there. I recovered quickly this time.
I picked up the kids from school but had some bad news there. Quite a few families walk their dogs up to pick up the kids but apparently that is not in line with government regulations and the vice principal told me that dogs will no longer be allowed on school grounds. He was patting Thor regretfully as he told me! Not sure what this will mean for afternoon walks.
Afternoon snack was some lean roast beef left over from last night, with a Lebanese cucumber and a baby carrot. The roast beef was really delicious, it seemed even better than yesterday.

And dinner was bolognaise (lean beef mince, tomato, onion, mushrooms, garlic and chilli) on a bed of zoodles (zucchini strips) with some tasty cheese. Yummy dinner.

I am really enjoying taking photos of all my food even if the family are giving me funny looks.

This afternoon I found myself craving chocolate. Or lollies. Or a hot chocolate. So sugar, I guess. Got through it ok.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Photo log


Jasmine's big dance concert was last night. It's a pretty big deal for the dance school, with sold out shows in Canberra Theatre. This year they did two shows instead of one, a matinee with the big kids plus the tiny ones, and the evening show was the big kids again plus the medium-sized ones like my daughter. I was kind of sad that I didn't get to see the tiny tots, they are so cute in their little bee costumes or whatever, always out of time and facing the wrong way. By contrast, the older teenagers are full time dance students and could be candidates for So You Think You Can Dance.

There was kind of a storyline that strung all the performances together, but not really. Jasmine, as you can see, was a cowgirl (hat and make-up not pictured) and had nothing to do with anything as far as I could tell. The bit where she came on, I thought the scene was in an Arabian marketplace. With cowboys. Oh well, whatever. I enjoyed the show.

I took some "before" photos of myself this afternoon (at least, my husband took them). I don't like them much, but they accurately portray what I look like, I guess. Just not in my own head. The side view is something I don't see on a regular basis and was an unpleasant surprise. I made sure I didn't suck my stomach in, these are supposed to show what I look like "before". I have also taken some body measurements.

Front view:

And side view:

And here is my food for the day, a low carb day. Breakfast, two poached eggs on one slice of toast with butter, a Lebanese cucumber and a really delicious flavourful small tomato. Cup of tea. Sugar is not an approved part of my diet. I have cut down to half a teaspoon and I'll work on it. I do poach a good egg, if I say so myself.

Morning tea. Tasty cheddar cheese - I didn't eat all of it. Another Lebanese cucumber and small tomato. I hadn't been shopping yet and the vegetable choices were very limited! It was that or an onion.

Lunch after shopping trip. What I call Rainbow Stir Fry, one of my "on a diet" favourites. Strips of chicken breast with julienned snow peas, carrot, capsicum, shallot and baby corn. With garlic, soy and oyster sauce.

My lunchtime cup of tea, showing how much sugar.

Afternoon snack, Mexican chilli/lime flavour mixed nuts (they have 1.4 grams of sugar for the packet, which I decided was ok) and two baby carrots.

Then I lightened my hair colour. I've never done this myself before, and I've only had it done at the hairdresser a few times. All my life I've been blonde, but since having children my hair has gone darker. I recently had it lightened at the hairdresser but couldn't see any difference! Waste of money. So I decided to spend $14 at the chemist and do it at home. I like the result, it's a nice golden blonde and quite noticeably different (to me, anyway). The circles under my eyes aren't really quite that bad, it's the indoor lighting. They are there though.

Dinnertime! It was odd not having any roast potatoes but I told myself I could have them on my high carb days. I had roast beef (nowhere near all of this, I ate about one and 3/4 slices not three), onion, broccoli, asparagus and a vegetable medley consisting of onion, carrot, zucchini and celery (I also didn't eat all of that, it's put away for tomorrow). I love my roast vegetable medley; cut up so small it gets caramelised all over in the oven. Drizzle of homemade gravy with a pinch of flour in it. The glisten on the vegetables is olive oil.

Day one completed. The two times I didn't finish my food, I obviously served myself too much and I need to be more careful with my portion sizes. I didn't weigh or measure anything. At the end of the day I got curious. The plan is based on portions (using your hand as a guide) not weight, but wanted to know if I was within my target range of various nutrients. I used another carb cycling site to get some guidelines - I wrote them down days ago and I can't remember where I got them from.

Target calories: 1200 (for a low carb day). Actual approximate calories: 1250. Excellent!

Target carbs: 36-90 grams. Actual carbs: 63 grams. Perfect!

Target fat: 18-36 grams. Actual fat: 62 grams. A bit high, due to full fat cheese and the nuts probably.  But I don't think it's high for Chris Powell's plan. And it's exactly right according to my Calorie King app.

Target protein: 180 grams. Actual protein 90 grams. I think 180 grams must be for bodybuilders! I had a palm-sized portion with every meal and snack.

Target fibre (national guidelines): 25 grams. Actual fibre: 23 grams. Pretty close - especially considering so little starchy carbohydrate. One slice of toast and a hell of a lot of vegetables.

Water: I had six glasses. Still need to work on that.

Exercise. Nil. Yesterday I went for a walk with the family and couldn't keep up at all and felt horrible afterwards, still getting over being sick I guess. Today I was very tired after doing the grocery shopping on a Sunday which meant having to park a long way from the doors and pushing around a wobbly trolley. Does that count? Surely it counts as the 5 mins minimum requirement. I'll do more tomorrow!

And how do I feel? Full! Very full all day. Do you see how much vegetable I ate? Ten servings! Two with every meal and snack! And protein every time too. I didn't miss carbs at all. The not-eating bit wasn't a problem, just fitting in all that vegetable matter was. Feel a little bit bloated, might take my tummy a few days to get used to it. Overall very happy with day one. Just wish I was up to exercising.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fast or slow?


The general received wisdom is that it is better to lose weight slowly, that you are more likely to keep it off. I saw Michelle Bridges (trainer from Australia's Biggest Loser) talking about this in relation to the extremely rapid weight loss on that show, and she argued that EVERYONE struggles to keep weight off, whether they lost it quickly or slowly, and that people who lose slowly don't have a better record of keeping it off. In fact, losing weight quickly can be very motivating. (Although I suppose that doesn't make any difference once you get to maintenance.)

I was thinking about that this morning so I found Gretchen Rubin's post today about habits very apposite. She says:

Sometimes, counter-intuitively, it’s easier to make a major change than a minor change. When a habit is changing very gradually, we may lose interest, give way under stress, or dismiss the change as insignificant. A big transformation creates excitement and energy and a sense of progress, and that helps to create a habit.

Anyone want to weigh in (pun intended) on this issue? Fast or slow?

Of course there are other factors to consider when it comes to losing weight fast or slow. Skin elasticity. Getting enough nutrients in a low calorie diet. Not injuring yourself exercising excessively. Taking up so much time and energy it interferes too much with the rest of your daily life.

I've mentioned carb cycling a couple of times over the past two weeks, but I haven't managed to get it going yet. Being sick has had a lot to do with that - I find simple carbs (like toast) are all I want to eat when my stomach is upset. (My weight is down to 81.7 kg today from 82.5 kg last Monday, which is nice, although I didn't enjoy the process!) My husband likes scrambled eggs when he is sick, which I don't understand at all. Yuck. When I am sick, eggs are the last things I want to smell. Stomach-turning.

So anyway, I've done a lot more reading about carb cycling (mainly from the website of Chris Powell "Choose to Lose") and I'm giving it another go starting tomorrow. I'm not starting today because I haven't been shopping yet, we're going out to dinner tonight before Jasmine's big dance concert, and Saturday is going to be my "free" day anyway. But I'm not waiting until Monday, first day of spring, either! Sunday will do just fine, and fits in with how I want the low carb/high carb cycle to run. And don't worry, I'm not doing a last hurrah binge today either.

I plan to copy Sean Anderson and take photos of all my food to keep me accountable. I'll talk a lot more about carb cycling as we go along, I imagine, but the basic premise is you have some low carb days (starchy carbs/fruit only at breakfast) and some high carb days (starchy carbs/fruit with every meal) so that you get the benefits of a low carb diet without the problems. There are different ways to alternate the days in different amounts. You also eat lots of non-starchy vegetables, and it's low fat especially on the high carb days. In the past I have found I lose weight when eating low carb, but couldn't handle the misery and crankiness - and wasn't much fun for my family either! I'm hoping this method will work for me without messing with my emotional health, if not obviously I'll stop it. You also get one free day, Saturday for me, or else three free meals throughout the week if you prefer, so you still get to eat whatever you like sometimes. Without going overboard, of course, if you want to lose weight!

I'm in that lovely excited state just before starting a new diet. Yay for honeymoon periods! As long as it lasts past the first morning.

To relate this back to the start of this post, I don't really intend to do carb cycling for the rest of my life. Unless I love it and it makes me feel great; there are modifications for maintenance, I think. I've downloaded Chris Powell's iPhone app which has a 12 week transformation challenge, and that is my current plan and goal. I want some fairly quick results to keep me motivated. If/when I get to my goal weight, I'll worry about how to vary my diet for maintenance then.

I will also be exercising, of course. Six days a week (Saturday off), walking and dance.

If you're wondering about where my professed love of cognitive therapy went, well I still plan to use that. Cognitive therapy isn't a diet, it helps keep you on your diet. I feel it did help me stick to my last one a lot longer than my usual record. So I'll be reading my flash cards again, reminding myself of all the reasons I want to lose weight.

The biggest reason? To get rid of my CPAP. Sleep without it by Christmas.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CPAP and pizza


I'm a bit over talking about this, but I've spent the past two days sick again with round five (I think) of this stomach bug I've got. I'll be better for a few days and think it's over, then... it's not. If it happens again I'll see my doctor, I would have before except I just assume there is nothing they can do other than tell me to rest. And it occurred to me this morning that maybe cleaning my CPAP more often than the recommended once a week might be important right now to avoid reinfection!! I don't know why I didn't think of that before, it's a warm moist environment in there and I'm probably breathing in my own horrible germs every night. Yuck. I'll be cleaning it every day for a while!! Hopefully that will help.

I hadn't been eating that much while I was unwell but I was still eating a bit, so I shouldn't have been starving. I'd had cruskits for breakfast and plain noodles for lunch, so basically pure carbs with a little fat, it was all I felt my stomach could handle. But then we ordered pizza last night because I didn't want to cook and Tim was dashing around getting Jasmine to dance, and I ate six slices of pepperoni pizza! Six! I usually have three. I just kept eating and eating. And at the end I felt much the same as when I started: a bit sick, not particularly hungry but not stuffed full either. I could have kept going but I didn't let myself. It was really weird. Was it just carbs triggering cravings for more carbs?

Back to normal today, I hope.

My kids have four more weeks of school before two weeks of holiday, I would really love to have finished the first draft of my novel by then. No reason why I can't. Except I don't write when I am sick, so I really hope that is over now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The perfect day to start a new diet


I've been fighting off the impulse to put off a big "restarting my diet" until next Monday. It is very appealing to think that there is a "perfect" day to start a diet. Monday is traditional in itself, of course, but next Monday is also the first of September so it's a whole new month of unblemished days. AND, biggest of all, it's the first day of spring. Not just a new week, a new month, but a new season - and the most new-start-y season of them all.

And this week is so hectic there's hardly any point trying, right? And I keep trying and failing which is disheartening, so better to start when I have a chance of succeeding, right?

But the thing is, even on a Monday, even on the first day of spring, I will still be me.

I. Will. Still. Be. Me.

Nothing wrong with being me. I am quite nice, overall. But on Monday, I will still struggle to drink enough water. On the first day of the month I will still be lazy about exercise. On the first day of spring I will still be tempted by unhealthy foods. I won't miraculously change just because I've turned a page on the wall calendar.

Sometimes I somehow think I will, though. Like there is magic on the first day of the month. Like somehow it will be easier on that mystical day in the future.

Maybe on Monday I will be glad of the new page, the clean slate. But that doesn't mean I'm giving up on today.

Sunday, August 24, 2014



This weekend we introduced the kids to the card game Magic: The Gathering. It's one of the many geeky things my husband introduced me to, along with Dungeons and Dragons and the computer game World of Warcraft. We used to play Magic a lot when we were first going out. Since we lived eight hours drive apart, we even played over the phone! You each have your own deck, so as long as you trust the other person to be honest about what cards they have, you can do that. It's a collectable card game and we have hundreds of cards, plenty for the kids to make their own decks.

It was a perfect demonstration of my children's personality types. Jasmine sat with me for an hour sorting cards and taking my advice to create a balanced deck. Aiden randomly grabbed whichever cards looked good. His needed a bit of tweaking to make it playable!

I did not stick to carb cycling or any other diet this week, or exercise much. I just ate. This morning I weighed in at 82.5 kg, up again. My main excuse is lack of sleep driving me to want fatty sugary food to keep me awake. Thor has suddenly started waking much earlier, presumably because it is getting light earlier but it's still a big jump. Tim and I take it in turns to get up to let him out and we both dread it. I'm already sleep deprived but even Tim is walking around with dark circles under his eyes. We're getting up nearly an hour and a half before we otherwise would (and on weekends don't get to sleep in). And of course the other person is woken by Thor's banging on his door (he sleeps in the bathroom) even if they don't have to get up. I know some people thrive on getting up at the crack of dawn, or hate it at first but get used to it. But I've tried it before and continue to hate it forever. And Tim is definitely a night owl, not a lark. Maybe we can pin a blanket over the venetian blinds to keep it dark longer in there so he sleeps? I've been doing a fair bit of napping in the afternoons, on the lounge with Thor draped over me. It keeps me going.

That is my excuse, but I know that I have to put on my big girl panties (as I've heard it expressed) and get on with my life regardless. I can be sleep deprived and fat, or sleep deprived and a healthy weight.

This week is going to be particularly challenging. Jasmine's big dance concert is on Saturday night and she has rehearsal every day after school, often until late. And Tim and the kids also have a karate grading assessment. And Jasmine also has two band performances (trumpet) and a dance performance at school that Tim & I will split between us. She's going to be exhausted! She's like me, too, a very poor sleeper. What all this means for my diet is that I'll be trying to juggle making healthy meals with driving back and forth and sitting around at the dance studio, and having dinner really early or late. I'll be making casseroles every night, I think! Then I can put it on at lunch time and have hot food ready even if I haven't been home to cook it. It's less tempting to get take away if you know food is already ready at home. I'll also be up at the school at lunchtime a couple of days.

It's only a week until spring and we've had a few lovely days already. Floriade must be soon, our annual flower festival. A whole big park by the lake is filled with tulips and hyacinths and other spring bulbs and flowers, it is quite a tourist attraction. I am so looking forward to that! I don't think dogs are allowed, which is a shame, but it's a lovely place to sit and read or walk around. -- I just looked it up and dogs are not allowed, except they are having one "Dogs Day Out" for RSPCA. I'm not sure how Thor would cope with a whole park full of dogs! He's a bit scared of them. I'll see how he's going at that point. It's around then that we start puppy preschool class with him, the current session was already full when I enquired so we had to wait. So he's not really socialised with other dogs yet. They are all so much bigger than him.

Here is Thor being a good dog at the dinner table:

and being a wily predator:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting back on the carb cycle after a fall


Ok, lets try this again! I'm over my two days of PMS and ready to begin.

I think my PMS is getting worse. When I was a teenager I such horrible cramps I had to take a day off school each month. I was put on the pill and that helped a lot. I've always had a lot of physical problems with my cycle and have tried a few different pills over the years. I don't remember any emotional issues, or just a very rare weepy day in my 20s, until maybe the past ten years. Since I had children? Maybe before that, but not so bad it really affected my life. Now I generally have two days when the world seems a dismal place and I'm annoyed with everyone and everything. I'm both sad and snappy and try not to take it out of my family too much but I don't know how well I succeed. The best I can do is keep my mouth shut. If I let myself make major decisions on those days I certainly wouldn't have a puppy any more and I don't know what else. I don't want to think about it. I also eat too much and don't exercise. Maybe I need a strategy for that, but for the moment I'm just going to accept that I need to do whatever I can to get through those days without any consequences more dire than gaining a little bit of weight.

I'm ready to do more exercise than just walking Thor. I seriously considered joining the gym again - I have at various times in the past enjoyed BodyStep, BodyPump, the rowing machine, the elliptical and the weights machines, but I get bored with them within a few months so next time I join the gym it will be for three months instead of a year and wasting most of my money. But going to the gym is a huge time investment with all the driving and finding parking and changing twice and showering etc, an hour exercise takes nearly two hours out of my day. So for the moment I'm going back to dancing at home. I still have to change and shower but it takes travel time out of the equation.

I was inspired by a new TV show, "Bringing Sexy Back" (terrible terrible name!) which is like an accelerated Biggest Loser. Each week they show a new person or couple, and follow them over about three months with a personal trainer and help from a celebrity chef and a big makeover and reveal at the end. They do it all from home, fitting healthy living around their normal work and other commitments so it is a tiny bit more realistic than Biggest Loser where all you do is exercise.

I did some writing this morning (I have rewritten what was lost and moved on) and then an hour of dance. It went well. I'd dipped my toe back into dance a few times recently but had trouble keeping up with the energy levels and the choreography, neither my mind and body were cooperating. But today I was back in the groove. I'm working my way through getting 5 stars in every dance on medium difficulty in Dance Central 3. I love a goal.

Then I had my lunch, and took a cup of tea outside with the puppy so he could run around a bit without getting lonely. I did some work reading, then took Thor for a walk that went past the school on our way home. Thor is getting a bit better with walking. He still pulls a lot. The kids rarely ask to walk him now, it's not very pleasurable. Yesterday I started giving him food treats as well as verbal praise when he was behaving well, and it certainly keeps his attention on me more! My previous dog, a collie, was not particularly motivated by food and was very eager to please so I don't think I ever used food treats, just attention and praise. The working dog (sheepdog) temperament. But Thor, both sides of his ancestry from hunting/gun dogs, likes praise but it takes food to distract him from the exciting outdoors! He tries to chase birds, too, and points his little foot. Very cute. But he is much nicer to walk when you don't end up with the lead strap embedded in your hand.

Today is a low carb day. I've gone a bit over my very low carb allowance (36 - 90 grams) because I was surprised by a few things. My banana had nearly 22 g, the orange 17 g and the Yakult a very unexpected 11.6 g of carbohydrate considering it is a tiny 50 mL bottle. I know I could have checked before I ate things but I don't want to give up fruit regardless so I'm not sure how I'm going to get around that on low carb days. Maybe only one piece of fruit? The Yakult is a rare thing, just to help my gut flora rebalance. Apart from that, my carbs came from one slice of toast, four wholegrain crackers and lots of non-starchy vegetables. If I cut out any two things (not the veges) I would be under my limit. On high carb days I get 180 grams of carbohydrate, plenty for just about anything, but high carb days are low fat days so I still have to monitor everything carefully.

If you haven't tried Yakult it is a fermented drink full of probiotics that I expected to be like slightly nasty runny yoghurt but in fact tastes just like melted vanilla ice cream. Delicious. Full of sugar, of course. I don't get it very often, but I buy a pack after a stomach upset. And hide it from the kids.

... (A bit later.) I had a lovely low carb dinner of steak and salad. Then ate three chocolate biscuits. So, hmm. I'm still giving myself a B for today's healthy eating. Mostly I did very well. I ate at least five serves of vegetables. And I did an hour and a half exercise! And drank seven glasses of water! And wrote! Overall an excellent day.