January 28, 2008

How Much Weight Should I Lose???

Yesterday morning, my husband and I went out for breakfast at our favorite little cafe. We like the place not only because it has a good atmosphere and a great bantering waitress, but because they also cater to my low-carb needs and desires. I can get a fair amount of food for a fair price, unlike most places we've gone to in our area that insist upon "no substitutions" yet still charge us full price for that half a meal. To which I usually walk away from, still hungry.

Yesterday morning, however, the bantering waitress we particularly like wasn't working. The normal Saturday cook was the waitress. And the owner of the restaurant was cooking. Although yesterday's waitress was therefore familiar with my "odd" requests, having cooked for me on Saturday mornings before, we had never really discussed my new low-carb lifestyle with her. Nor the owner either for that matter. Only with the waitress that wasn't there.

So yesterday was a NEW opportunity to share my successes, as well as the successes of a low-carb lifestyle in general. The waitresses' reaction to what I did to lose the amount of weight I have, was one of "Oh I couldn't do THAT. I'm too weak." I thought that was a bit funny for her to say because she "ISN'T" overweight, even in the slightest. In fact, she's about the size I would like to be when I'm done with the losing phase. Not skinny skinny. Because I don't really want to be that.

She does, of course. To which I didn't really know what to say.

I always thought it was just us "fatter" folks who suffered with a distorted body image. This woman really looked good, yet she still considered herself fat, probably because she wouldn't be able to fit into a pair of "skinny" jeans. You know, the kind of slim-legged jeans skinny women often wear that emphasize their underweight legs.

It got me to thinking about just how much weight we should typically strive for.

Especially when the owner came out and asked me how "long" it had taken me to lose as much weight as I have, because I'm really looking good she said. Both of them are seeking after something that will produce QUICK results though. To which, I wasn't able to help them, other than to emphasize the importance of making whatever they do choose to do, permanent. They both clearly understood that. Since the owner is in the situation where she lost all of her weight once, then regained it all back. As she didn't continue with what she had done to lose the weight.

After walking outside, I asked my husband if "he" thought the waitress was overweight, because I thought I would like to get down to where she is, then stop. He didn't think she was overweight at all. In fact, he got kindda excited when I said I "just" wanted to be where she was at. Because at one point, when I was doing Kimkins and I was watching all of these women starving themselves down to a size 3 or 4, some of them even down to a 1 or 2, he begged me not to lose "that" much weight.

Cuz the PURPOSE of me even entering into a low-carb lifestyle in the first place, as far as "he" is concerned, was for health reasons. Not vanity. His opinion was that "most" women have a tendency to want to return to what they weighed when they graduated from high school. And he doesn't believe that is necessarily healthy. Nor always possible.

So it begs the question, of WHAT is really "driving" the goal we have set for ourselves? Health and fitness? Or Vanity?

And when we fall short of that goal, or the weight doesn't come off as quickly and easily as we had hoped, what happens then? Quite a few of us begin to feel like we've failed. Like we're WEAK, as the waitress had expressed. Like we are doomed to be fat, so why bother fighting against that fate. Let's just eat and let pounds come as they may.

I'm beginning to think that the TRUTH lies somewhere between those two extremes. Because whatever goal we set for ourselves should be something we can "easily" maintain. I don't want to have to FIGHT with my weight, or FIGHT TO KEEP MYSELF AT A PARTICULAR WEIGHT, just because I can brag about what size I wear now.

Because let's face it.

NO ONE is going to know what size we are wearing unless we tell them. No one is going to know what we actually weigh in pounds, unless we tell them. They are just going to see us for "what" and "who" we really are. Which to me means learning how to live a "normal" life without being so overly concerned about how much we weigh, or what size we take.

Sure the goal is to get ourselves down to a "healthy" weight. But for each of us, that weight is going to be different. Depending upon our age, our height, and our health issues. So I think we need to take all of these things into consideration. Cuz it might be "better", as in my own case, since I'm tired of "dieting" and am longing to get on with my life, to stop a few pounds short of what all those height and weight charts tell us we should weigh.

Because I just can't "see" myself weighing 100 pounds. Not unless maintenance chooses to take me there. I'm more able to see myself at 125 to 130, in order to be at a weight I can easily maintain with no COUNTING, no FIGHTING, and no overly concerns.

So I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that we need to make sure we are setting REALISTIC goals for ourselves. So that we don't fall short of them to the point to where we are setting ourselves up to fail. Afterall, health should be the major concern and issue here. Cuz isn't that "why" we entered into a low-carb lifestyle, rather than a low-fat, low calorie one in the first place? Because we were looking for a way of life that would enable us to be a smaller size? Not one that would set us up for yo-yo dieting for the rest of our lives.

January 23, 2008

Taco Soup

With the weather here extremely cold, and snowing almost every day, I thought I would whip up an extra-large pot of soup, to keep it handy. Cuz this stuff freezes really well. The instructions are going to be a bit more extensive this time, because I made the soup with dried black soybeans and they do take some pre-preparation. It isn't hard though. You just need to think ahead. A couple of days ahead in fact.

I also added some organic pinto beans, as well as some organic Kidney beans. Spread out over the number of servings you get out of this large of a pot, they added a lot of additional "beany" flavor without driving the carb count up too high. Organic beans have waaaay lower carb counts than non-organic canned beans do, since they don't have that extra added sugar. You can always leave them out of course, for a lower carb count, but since I don't have any more in the house I can't exactly tell you how much to subtract. I "think" they were about 6 to 8 carbs per 1/2 cup, drained solids.

Taco Soup
3 pounds extra-lean ground beef
1 small chopped onion
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
Taco Seasoning
Seasoning salt
1 large can of chopped tomatoes, including liquid
1 small can of chopped green chilies
1 can of baby corn, sliced into chunks
1 can of organic pinto beans, drained
1 can of organic kidney beans, drained
2 large jalapeno peppers, minced or sliced
6 cups of prepared black soybeans (equals 4 cans)

To prepare the dried soybeans, measure out 2 cups dry into a large pot. Fill the pot half-way with water. Bring it to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and allow the beans to soak for at least 24 hours. After soaking, drain the beans. Place them in the crockpot. And fill the crockpot with water. Cook on low heat for at about 24 hours. Drain the beans. They still won't be quite soft enough, but they will be done enough to go in the chili. A little bit softer than if you were using the canned variety.

For the chili: brown the ground beef with the onions, green pepper, and garlic. Drain any excess fat/water which accumulates. Season "heavily" (to taste) with Taco seasoning and seasoning salt. Place in a large soup pot. I actually do the browning in the soup pot itself. Add all the rest of the ingredients, plus a quart of water, and simmer for several hours, until the soup thickens a bit and the beans are soft.

This makes tons of soup. Something like 6 quarts or more, depending upon how soupy you like it. My husband doesn't like a lot of water in his soup, he likes it quite thick. More like a thin stew. So the nutritional counts will reflect that.

2 cups of soup: 333 calories, 18g fat, 12 carbs, 5g fiber, and 30g protein

So even with the pinto and kidney beans, we're still only talking about 7 net carbs per bowlful.

January 22, 2008

Oriental Chicken with Green Beans

Stir Fried Chicken with Green Beans in a Rich Orange Sauce
Oriental Chicken and
Green Bean Stir Fry
is My Favorite
Low-Carb Recipe so Far
Do you like Oriental food?

Free green beans?

If so, then you're going to really love this Oriental Chicken with Green Beans stir fry recipe. Not only is it low-carb and simple to make, but the flavor is amazing.

I've been using this recipe for awhile now, as I adapted it from a recipe I was using before I went low carb, and we really like this altered version.

I haven't made it lately, however, because the fresh beans in our area have been rather disgusting this year. I didn't plant a garden last summer, so I've had to wait for some nice looking fresh green beans.

Before going low carb, I made the sauce with a couple of tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate. After going low carb, I switched to using orange-flavored Crystal Light. This was the first time I had a chance to try Davinci sugar-free orange syrup.

And wow. What a difference a little sugar-free syrup made.

January 21, 2008

The Dangers of Looking Back

One of the most frequent complaints I hear while cruising low-carb egroups and boards is stalled weight loss. And it seems to happen irregardless of what plan you've chosen.

Now...some folks freak out if they don't lose everyday, and some folks freak out if they don't lose every week, but I'm not talking about those types of everyday, weekly fluctuations. I'm talking about real, stalled, weight loss. And from the discussions I've read, and the comments being made, a lot of it has to do with looking back.

What do I mean by looking back?

The greater majority of folks who seek out and begin a low carb lifestyle are seriously overweight. Most of them are over 200 pounds. In my own case, I was 256-1/2. Now if you're average height or tall, you might be lucky enough to get all the way to goal, or almost, before your weight decides to stall out. But for most of us, since we have so danged much to lose, weight loss tends to slow to a complete stop long before that.

In fact, Dr. Atkins said that in his experience, stalled weight loss part way to goal was very common.

The question then becomes what to "do" about it. Some folks choose to change to higher or lower carb plans, some folks choose to cycle those various plans, some folks choose to maintain for a little bit while they sort things out, and some folks just up and quit at that point. Which almost always seems to result in re-gained weight. Either in part, completely, or more so.

This becomes more apparent each January when tons of folks decide it's time to return to low carb. So let's take a moment and face the truth square on. Regaining weight isn't just about the "type" of diet you choose to go on. Kimkins and other low-fat, low calorie regimens don't have a corner on the market of unsustainable weight loss. Because the truth is, Low carb is just as hard to maintain as anything else. This can be "clearly" seen by the numbers of past low carbers who tend to return to their plan of choice, time and time again.

For "some", low carb IS easy to follow continuously and maintain, especially if they were/are one of the lucky ones who only slowed in weight loss after crossing over the half-way hump, rather than coasting to a stop later on. And those folks tend to get pretty vocal about the idea that low carb "isn't" as sustainable as they'd like to believe--for most. Cuz if you just open up your eyes and look at all the folks on the various egroups and boards who are RETURNING to low carb, if you LISTEN to what they are saying, and BELIEVE what they are saying, a very different picture begins to unfold.

Now one of the chief complaints I tend to hear over and over again and again is how these stalled folks are doing what they've always done in regards to low carb, exactly what they did when beginning their program, but aren't losing. So what's up with that?

The truth is...looking back like that to where you initially began can be dangerous. Pretty damning in fact. Because such blindness in regards to changing body needs and sensitivities as your body becomes smaller can make the difference between successfully being able to maintain your weight on low carb, or complete failure.

When I first began low carbing last January I was able to eat tons of calories, tons of fat, and still lose in the neighborhood of 2 to 5 pounds per month. But with that sloooow of an initial fat loss, with an overwhelming total of at least 130 pounds or more to lose, it slowed to a stall fairly quickly. Waaaay before the half way point for me even. At which point, I began investigating other plans, and adding "some" of their principles to the basic foundational Atkins structure I had first established for myself.

Some of those principles are looked upon highly, and even recommended by the general low carb community, and some of them aren't.

But the bottom line is this:

There are not very many people who enter into a low carb lifestyle who are going to be able to eat exactly the same at the end of their weight/fat loss period, as they did when they began their program of choice. Because our body needs become "less" and our individual sensitivities before "more" the closer you approach normal weight. If this wasn't true, we wouldn't have gotten overweight in the first place.

So if you're prone to look behind you, DO take the necessary time to MOURN the losses of what was then. What you were able to eat back then and still lose. But after you do that, you really do need to stop looking to the past. You really do need to focus more on the present and future.

What do you need to do now???

Because successful weight loss for most of us isn't a cookie cutter dieting process. But a continuous process of adaptation. A continuing process of chucking out foods, beverages, and behavoirs that have stopped working for us. A continuing process of EDUCATION in the ways that our hormones and eating "habits" affect our bodies.

Because if successful fat loss and maintenance is the goal, then shouldn't we do everything within our power to make that happen?

January 09, 2008

Helping the Liver Do It's Job

I've been doing a little bit of research the last few days on toxins. The connection between liver function and toxic overload. As well as just what constitutes a healthy "detox" diet. One specifically designed to heal the liver.

In my travels on the web I ran into a quite interesting blog, Natural Health Remedies and Detox, which is written by a nurse, and has lots of interesting, useful info as well as links to good places to buy quality supplements.

Her latest post was about Dr. Andrew Wedge, the Government Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency UK, who had posted comments on "their" blog about detoxing being a lot of nonsense. Sure...there's a lot of companies out there that are taking people's money in the name of making them "feel good" about doing something about their health which is virtually useless. Like thinking we can take a product for a week or less and thoroughly detox our bodies. Ain't happening.

But the point Dr. Wedge was making was valid.

Our bodies "DO" have intricate, sophisticated detox systems to protect us..."IF"...and that's a BIG IF, and the "if" he chose to ignore--if our metabolisms and liver pathway of elimination are working properly. Which for the vast majority of folks who are overweight, and/or suffering from fibromyalgea, chronic fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivity, hormone imbalances, and a lot of other undiagnosed illnesses, isn't happening.

In fact, I believe it was Adelle Davis, a biologist who wrote books on nutrition many years ago, who claimed "all" overweight individuals suffer from some degree of liver damage, or they wouldn't be overweight in the first place.

So while our bodies were "designed" to take care of any toxic overload thrown it's way, from either within (natural substances produced from everyday metabolic processes) or from without the body, (the chemicals in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, or products we put on our skin or in our hair), genes, the environment, and even our nutritional status all contribute to just how well our liver is able to do its job.

Which means it "DOES" quite often need help from us. Because our livers "can" be under-functioning or overwhelmed by our 20th century style of living. And most of us just don't take good care of our livers.

The liver is the MAJOR organ of detoxification. With bowel, kidneys, lymph system, skin, and lungs also involved. It functions daily to neutralize and eliminate toxins we are bombarded with daily. In our 20th century society, our livers are literally struggling to cope, so it just makes GOOD SENSE to do everything within our power to give the liver what it needs to do its job.
Which we, obviously, haven't been doing, or we wouldn't be in the situation we are in today.

Now...the interesting thing about my own situation is that up until I chose to take care of my then mother-in-law, when she'd reached the point of being partly unable to care for herself, I had been in PERFECT HEALTH except for carrying around a "few" excess pounds. About 25 pounds or so. The "same" 20 to 25 pounds I'd battled with throughout most of my life up to that point.

My mother-in-law was a heavy smoker. A VERY heavy smoker. So heavy that the inside of her house was like FOG. We're talking about someone who was smoking 3 to 4 CARTONS of cigarettes per week. 30 to 40 packs. So I was exposed to a LOT of second hand smoke back then.

After which, started all sorts of health issues like asthma and allergies/sensitivities I'd "never" suffered from before. I also started gaining weight around that time, but I never put all these things together with liver damage--partly because it was waaay back before the internet was available for research, and partly because the focus on second hand smoke has always seemed to be lung related. Not liver related.

Now if I jump ahead to the time in which I came down with Meniere's, I find another liver overburden possibility. Because my first vertigo attack was three days after I had been seriously exposed to TONS of smoke from a bunch of uncontrolled Southern California fires that had severely polluted the air. We're talking FOG "again" on our way to work, so bad that I had my husband turn the car around and take me home where I incarcerated myself for 3 days. Or..at least...that was my plan.

Now add to that a spiritual experience in connection with my liver that goes beyond the scope of this blog, and I was able to see a clear recipe for disaster. Liver disaster. With elevated liver enzymes at my last blood work to back it up.

It's no wonder that I've had such a hard time losing the weight this time around. So I'm now beginning to see myself in a more clearer light. Because just as the liver can't do it's job of metabolizing fat if we starve the kidneys for water, and the kidneys call upon the liver to help them out, the liver also can't do it's job of metabolizing fats if we overburden it with toxins. Because the body is ALWAYS going to do "first" what is most life essential.

So what does the liver "NEED" to do it's job?

Essential nutrients -- vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids

Diet -- throughout history various diets have been used to clear the clogged liver pathways: raw foods, vegan, macrobiotic diets, juice fasts, lemon cleanses, and avoiding foods harmful or burdensome to the liver

Fiber -- one of the routes for getting rid of toxins is through the bile which carries the poisons out of the body through elimination processes

Exercise -- increases blood flow to the liver

Most of these things are very low carb friendly. And while a lemon juice-olive oil cleanse (where you drink cupfuls of olive oil) doesn't "really" do what most folks think it does, lemon juice itself is a very good way to make the body more alkaline. A "healthy" morning lemon drink would be the juice of 1 organic lemon, 8oz hot filtered water, 1 tbsp olive oil, a clove of minced garlic, and a small amount of grated fresh ginger to taste.

Herbs that support liver function:
Milk Thistle, dandelion root, artichoke, tumeric, burdock (an antioxidant and blood purifier), schisandra, and bupleurum.

Now the PROBLEM with taking supplements of this kind is that quite often manufacturers use inferior herbs. Which means they aren't really as potent or as helpful as they claim to be. With some containing so little nutrient, they are essentially useless (at least in the recommended dosage) as far as improving health is concerned. Milk Thistle is a good example. A lot of capsules contain "less" than 80% of the active ingredient our liver actually needs in order to rebuild itself. The stuff Walmart sells (Rexall brand at least) contains only 25% for example.

So if you are interested in supplementing your low carb diet with some of these herbs, please discuss it with your doctor, first, then make sure you are buying from a reliable source. Someone actually selling you the dosage you think you are buying. Also keep in mind that Milk Thistle preparations often have several of these liver enhancing herbs in the same preparation. Synergy works in supplements the same as it works in sugar subs. So don't OVERDO supplementation, because you can really make yourself sick that way. Good quality Milk Thistle is very potent stuff. And the detoxing process can be really nauseating. Literally.

What Taxes the Liver:
Artificial flavorings, preservatives, transfat and hydrogenated fats, oils heated to high temperatures, bbq-ing your foods, burnt foods, rancid nuts and seeds, fatty preserved foods like sausage, bacon, salami, hot dogs, etc., "excess" saturated fats in fatty meats, milk, ice cream, and cheese, alcohol.

What Supports Liver Detox:
Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, turnips, rutabaga, asparagus, avacodo, walnuts, high protein foods like meat, fish, eggs (preferably organic or free range grass fed to avoid the chemicals), fish oils free from sea pollutants, oranges and tangerines, caraway and dill seeds, red beets, watermelon and garlic.

So basically, we're talking a "CLEAN" low carb diet. As low in chemical additives and processing as possible. Watching the fat in your cuts of meat because fat is where the animal stores "it's" chemical overload. And eating lots of veggie carbs for their antioxidant potential. Real organic eggs, and high quality fish oil supplements.

Another plus for our low-carb lifestyle--its liver friendly.

January 02, 2008

"Why" Regain Happens So Quickly

I have really found Dr. Eades' books to be worthwhile reads. Even his older ones, cuz he doesn't seem to do a whole lot of overlapping. Each book contains lots of different info that the others don't have. Like the biological "why" of why we tend to regain our weight so quickly when we don't keep our insulin levels in check. Like holiday splurges. Or when we first reach maintenance.

It seems that scientists have fingered Lipoprotein Lipase as the villain. Mostly because weight loss itself causes the enzyme to to get stronger, more potent, and even increase. Not good news since its job is to transport fatty acids into the fat cells, and keep them there. Making it the very reason why we got overweight in the first place.

Yeah, it acts under the direction of Insulin, and glucagon inhibits it, but who needs this enzyme's role to become stronger and more potent when Insulin itself stimulates it even further?

It's like nature is working against us, when it comes to maintaining our losses.

The only answer, of course, is to make doubly sure we remove the 'extra' stimulation on this enzyme by keeping our Insulin levels consistently low, even on Holidays, which in turn keeps our glucagon levels elevated enough to keep the flow of fat flowing in the right direction--into the mitrochondria of our cells to be burned rather than stored.

Because if we don't, after loosing a lot of weight, and with Insulin Resistance coming back to haunt us, it will be like a double whammy. The pounds will pile back on much, much faster than we can take them back off again.

And we aren't talking "water" weight, even though lots of folks like to fool themselves into believing that's what it is. According to Dr. Eades, you most certainly CAN gain back fat at an alarming rate. Real, stored fat!!! That stuff we've been trying soooo hard to get rid of. Because that's what Lipoprotein Lipase does.

So now I'm thinking...that's probably "why" a lot of folks have so much trouble when they first reach maintenance and try adding back in more carbs. It's not that the body can't burn more carbs, but that Lipoprotein Lipase, as well as the higher Insulin levels triggered by adding back too many carbs too quickly, are now working overtime in a serious effort to make us fat again.

Which begs the question--if you add back carbs 'slowly' enough, and give your body time to adjust, does the strength and potency of Lipoprotein Lipase ever return to the level it functioned at before we began dieting? Does it ever calm itself back down? Or is that why some of us have to be extra careful even after reaching maintenance to keep Insulin levels low...because the body, due to the weight loss, is forever thereafter on some kind of fat alert.