Friday, February 5, 2021

Personal: My Weight Loss



My Weight Loss:
Progress!

I've been recording my weight almost every day for the last six years. I have finally uploaded all that information to MyFitnessPal...

... to see how it looks on a graph that was created by the FitBit app on my desktop computer. It shows, at a glance, how my weight has varied from the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2021.

I've captured a screenshot of the chart, and you can see that my weight in 2021 is at the lowest point since 2014!! (That's the heavy white line at the bottom.) I'm proud of my weight loss since the middle of 2018.

In the 4Q 2019, I started my "intermittent fast" (about where the white line ends), but there is not a significant change in the rate of my weight loss.


Calory Restriction as a Tool


In addition to recording my weight each day, I try to record what I eat. In1999, I successfully lost weight through Weight Watchers. I learned two techniques from WW (Weight Watchers) that led to my success: Accountability and Journaling.

Accountability

WW required its paying members to come in for a weekly weigh-in. Progress was announced to the group. I was losing 2-3 pounds a week and didn't think much about it. I asked NOT to be recognized, but I celebrated every else's progress. Then it dawned on me that the 1/2 to 1 pound weight loss for the ladies was since they joined!

Today, my daily routine includes standing on the scale, then recording the weight. I round down, so even if I am at something-point-eight I still record the something number. Yeah, that's fudging and almost cheating.😀

Journaling

The other habit I acquired was journaling - recording everything I ate!

In 2000, Weight Watchers used a point system. When I dropped my WW membership I had to start recording calories. I discovered several free apps that allow me to do that; I've been using MyFitnessPal for the last few years. MyFitnessPal allows me to record what I eat, then it looks up/records calories and nutritional value.

Journaling For Calories

Journaling is actually another form of accountability. There are times that I've skipped eating something because I didn't want to record it. And yes, there is ample opportunity to fudge (cheat!) here, too. It's close enough for me to track trends in my calory intake.

I am only generally aware of my total calories. I've occasionally binged and owned that behavior. For several days afterward I would reduce my calories.

Fasting as a Tool


I discovered the concept of fasting at the end of summer, 2020. Several YouTube videos made sense when I watched them. The arguments for fasting seemed reasonable, but I had no way to judge the science (pseudo-science?) the videos touted.

Easy!

First, it was easy to change my lifestyle: I simply planned to consume all my calories during a 2-hour window. This was lunchtime, then I would not eat anything until the same time the next day. 

I did not cut back on my total amount of food! I actually ate all three different meals at the same time: eggs & sausage, salad, meat (beef, chicken, or fish), and a dessert (pumpkin pie!).

Food Triggers vs Hunger

I saw the food triggers we are exposed to all day, every day. This was most obvious when I watched TV in the evenings. A commercial would pop up, and I suddenly had the urge for a slice of pizza. Or a candy bar. Or something else.

I realized that if I had the urge for something specific, then it was a "food trigger" rather than actual hunger. That knowledge helped me avoid running to the kitchen to see what I had that I could find or substitute. I wasn't hungry; I wasn't bored, and I wanted something specific. I was able to delay the decision to eat until the next day. I wasn't telling myself "no" - I was telling myself "later." And, when "later" arrived, that particular urge was gone and I was satisfied with what I had planned to eat anyway.

Science  (Pseudo-Science?)

Fasting seems to be focused on how insulin directs your body to find and use food[1*]. I'm going to be technically incorrect in the following paragraphs...

If someone grazes (snacks) all day, then there is a steady stream of food coming into the body. Insulin will work to immediately find and send that food to active parts of our body. What food that insulin cannot use immediately, it stores in the body as fat.

On the other hand, if someone skips a meal or two, then the stream of incoming food is interrupted. When the food in the bloodstream runs out, then insulin will start pulling food from previously stored fat.

Insulin is the key. It finds food in your blood, then it delivers that to your body's cells. Typically, your stomach is the source of that food. Once that food is used up, then insulin "tells" your body to find the food elsewhere - i.e. start using stored food.

Is this science real and reasonable, or is it pseudoscience? I cannot answer that. But fasting is easy to incorporate into my lifestyle. And, it seems to be working.

Calory Restriction Continues

I still record what I eat every day, and I watch the total number of calories I consume. I eat the same type and quantity of food that I did six months ago before I started this fasting regimen. The only difference is that I am eating only once a day, during a 2-hour window

If you're interested, I should have a daily intake of 2,500 calories for my gender, height, and age. I generally record around 2,000 calories. (Remember, I "fudge.")

Fasting doesn't give someone carte blanche to eat anything they want. (I don't think so, anyway.) Bread, pasta, carbs, and sugar are still verboten according to videos that advocate fasting.

However, I personally continue those bad food habits! I enjoy an English muffin (bread) every day and catsup (sugar) when I grill a hamburger patty. I also treat myself to 1/8th piece of pumpkin pie (more sugar). 

I'm late for the party. I've discovered there has been a lot of coverage about "fasting!" These discussions have been around for a long time. I am finding websites and YouTube videos espousing this idea from before 2010.

In 2015, my doctor told me to simply stop eating in the evenings. I thought he was telling me to use that as a device to cut calories. I ignored that advice for that reason.

When my son visited in early 2019, he said that he generally didn't eat before noon and pretty much stopped eating by 8:00pm. I worked around his wishes without thinking much about it.  However, he didn't identify it as "fasting" or gave any explanation other than "not eating."

Types of Fasting

All fasts are considered "intermittent fasts." That's because you go without food for a while, then choose to resume eating. I discovered that I am on an OMAD fast ("One Meal A Day"), which means I don't eat for 20 consecutive hours. 

One YouTube video explained that fasts have different "splits." That presenter claimed a 16:8 split; she ate only between 11:00am and 7:00pm. By that definition, I am on a 21:3 split.

TMAD ("Two meals a day") is an obvious variation. Basically, it means that you eat twice over a 6- to 8-hour period, then skip eating for the 16-18 hours. Aha! This is a 16:8 split.

People who are serious about fasting may try fasting for 24/48 hours, or even a longer period. I'm personally not that bold,. 

I have followed OMAD for five (5!) months and I've dropped 30 pounds! I lost 9 pounds the first month, then averaged 5-6 pounds per month since then.




Update: 11 February 2021

I have been reading "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes, where he argues that carbs and sugars cause insulin spikes. This was briefly mentioned in the "pseudo-science" section earlier.
 
By reviewing my food journal, I can see that my biggest carbohydrate offenders are: a daily banana, English Muffin, and pumpkin pie.
  • Banana (27 carbs) - I have been eating bananas because they are a good source of potassium and will help alleviate overnight leg cramps.
  • English Muffin (24 carbs) - I started these several months solely for the carb/starch content. Considering that this contributes to insulin production, I will eliminate this bread from my diet.
  • Pumpkin pie (28 carbs) - this is my treat to myself, and I'm not ready to give it up.
After my current food stocks run out, then I will look for fruit to replace the banana and I won't purchase any more English muffins. Those two minor changes will reduce my carbs by 50%.

My Future Plans for Losing Weight

  • I will continue accountability by recording my daily weigh-ins. 
  • I will continue to journal my food intake. (More accountability.)
  • I will continue my fasting regime. Currently, it's a 22:2-hour split. 
    • I do not see an extended fast, more than a day
    • I am experimenting with shifting the 2 hours from noon to mid-afternoon or early evening. 
    • I will try a 20:4 and a 16:8 split to see if my lifestyle works for that
    • I am not planning on a daily fast less than 16 hours (16:8) split


 Rick's Bibliography

[1*] I am going to use the word "food" because I am not exactly sure what word to put here: "carbs" or "sugar" or "glucose" or ???

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