Low Cal No Fun

Well, after about 5 or 6 days of 1500 calories and walking every day I kind of fell off the wagon.  Who wants to be on a wagon anyway.  There’s nothing to look forward to on the wagon.  The entering of calories became cumbersome when we were cooking.  My husband made some really awesome Paleo Crabcakes (I would link but I don’t know where he got the recipe).  I just didn’t feel like entering each one of the 20 ingredients into an app to figure the calories…so I put it off…and put it off…and before you know it 3 days have passed and my Lose It! app is neglected.

Ok, so that didn’t work for me.  If I’m not willing to do it, it doesn’t work for me.

It occurs to me that I should start looking at this the way a behavior analyst would.  This is what I do, after all.  When I write a behavior plan with the intention of increasing the frequency of a desirable behavior I arrange for the consequences of that behavior to be reinforcing (a.k.a. rewarding).  Behavior is lawful.  People tend to repeat behavior that result in rewards and don’t repeat behaviors that provide unwanted results.  If I analyzed my own behavior with regard to counting calories over the past week, I’d say the reinforcement schedule was too thin (i.e., there wasn’t a powerful enough or frequent enough reward to make it worth doing).  Sure, it was nice to see the scale move…but apparently that delayed gratification – that moment in the morning when the scale gave me good news – was only enough to keep me on plan for 5 or 6 days…it was not powerful or immediate enough to motivate me to enter 20 crabcake ingredients, and then the slippery slope began.

So what I need to do is manipulate the consequences of the behaviors that make up my plan so the rewards are more powerful and/or more frequent…so I don’t fall off the wagon again.

So what am I willing to work for?

Let’s do a reinforcer assessment first.  This is basically a list of crap I’m willing to work for.  Ideally, they’re things that can be provided quickly and in high frequency, so not too expensive or too difficult to come by/organize. You can use bigger or more expensive rewards too, and use tokens for the little steps toward the big reward.  Here we go, off the top of my head – a list of things I don’t typically allow myself very often because I’m pretty stingy with money these days.  I think I’ll have to do a token system since almost everything I like costs $.

  • Music downloads (2 tokens per song)
  • Time at a coffee shop alone (10 tokens)
  • A movie alone (15 tokens)
  • Clothes (20 tokens for $10 worth of clothing)
  • Pedicure (40 tokens)
  • A new book (20 tokens for $10 book)
  • Sushi (50 tokens for sushi takeout)
  • A night out with David (100 tokens)
  • A lab test (e.g., lipids, Vit D) (150 tokens for $75 test)

So here are the tasks I’m going to reward myself for.  The number of tokens I can earn is directly proportionate to the difficulty and/or importance of the task for me right now:

  • 30 minutes of exercise (walking or other constant movement) – 1 tokens
  • 15 minutes of yoga – 5 tokens
  • Logging all food for the day – 1 tokens
  • Drinking no alcohol – 2 tokens
  • Staying under 1500 net calories for the day (meaning, if I burn off calories exercising I can eat that much more) – 3 tokens
  • Taking all of my supplements – 1 token

So starting tomorrow: ABA Program – Day 1.

Low Cal / Low Carb – Day 6

Down another pound this morning to 195.4.   I actually did get hungry yesterday and ran out of calories, so I ate more.  I’m just not going to be hungry.  My totals for yesterday were as follows:

  • Calories: 1901
  • Protein 180g (39%)
  • Carbs 62g (13%)
  • Fats 99g (48%)

I also walked for 30 minutes.

Lose it!  is totally the best app for tracking calories, macronutrients, and exercise.  It has the cool barcode scanner, is very user friendly, and the nutritional information for the foods isn’t entered by people who are guessing.  The food database isn’t as large as MyFitnessPal, but I’d rather have accuracy than size.  So I highly recommend it.

Baby’s gut has calmed down again.  Poor thing.

So back when we had money a few months ago we signed up to participate in this American Gut Project – it’s a massive project to investigate the intestines of humans around the world.  They send you a kit including instructions and sterile swabs.  You send back bio-samples of various kinds, and in like 6 months or so they send you an analysis of the bacteria in your gut.  We’re about to send in our stuff.  And then wait for 6 months.  I guess I should just forget about it for a while.

Low Cal / Low Carb Day 5

Down another pound this morning to 196.4.  Nice to see the scale move.  I assume it’ll be slowing down soon…and then I’ll just need to be patient.

I almost got hungry yesterday…I could have eaten more last night but I ran out of calories.  But still no big deal.  Last time I lost a significant amount of weight was in 2006 right before I got married (such a cliche, I know).  I lost about 35 pounds and was hungry most nights going to bed in order to do that.  I can’t get over the fact that I’m not hungry and cranky and scale is moving.

I’ve started taking Maca, which supposedly helps with sex drive.  So far I’d have to say that YES it seems to already be making a difference.  It’s only been a few days though, so this could be placebo effect.  I’ll let you know in a month or so for sure.

My daughter still has really loose stools, which are causing her some serious distress.  She had just finished potty training and now she can’t make it there in time.  My bad, honey…sorry about that.  Note to helicopter moms everywhere – go easy on the probiotics with little ones.  Geez.  I weighed her a couple nights ago and she’s lost like 3 pounds.  Her colon must be completely empty by now.  It has not been pretty.  Back to micromanaging my own health problems I guess.  Things with her will be adjusted SLOWLY.

My Fitness Pal is great in some ways for tracking macronutrients and calories – I really like the barcode scanner and the large database of food options.  I’m learning, however, that a lot of the foods in the database were entered by users and the macronutrient totals don’t always add up to the calorie total.  This is making it difficult to determine my % of calories from fat, carb, and protein with any accuracy.  Yesterday 10% of the  calories I ate were unaccounted for.  I’m looking for another app.

One thing I’m learning right now is that you can trust no one who says they have all the answers.  I know that sounds obvious, but it’s very easy to get sucked in by someone confident who claims to know a lot about what you’re struggling with.  I think it’s fine to try things out…but give it a month or two.  If you’re not getting results, then it’s time to look critically at what you’re doing, take the good, and ditch the bad.  I wish I would have done that a year ago.

Edited to add…I’ve started using a new app called Lose It! I think the nutritional info for the foods in the database was entered by the manufacturer, so hopefully it will have some accuracy to it.

Coffee, Diet Coke, and Insulin

I’m baffled about this phenomenon that is unfolding before me.  I can stick easily to a low calorie diet now (1500 calories, which is about 600 calories per day less than my body requires to maintain weight).  I used to get very hungry eating 1500 calories a day, even when eating low carb.  It seems the link to hunger for me is consuming diet drinks, things artificially sweetened, coffee, or tea. It’s not the caffeine that’s the issue because I take caffeine in pill form every day.  I can understand the diet drinks and artificially sweetened stuff causing hunger – I’ve tested my blood sugar before and after eating food sweetened with Erythritol (Truvia), and have seen it drop 30 points in 1 hour.  This suggests to me that my body produces insulin when it THINKS sugar has been consumed – i.e., when it tastes sweet.

I don’t know why unsweetened coffee has that effect on me too…but it does.  Others do not seem to have this problem.  This article talks about coffee:

Two recent studies have shown that coffee doesn’t cause the release of insulin, and may even reduce insulin resistance.  Interestingly, this effect is true for both coffee and decaf coffee, suggesting that it is isn’t the caffeine that reduces insulin resistance. In fact, decaf may even help keep insulin producing cells healthy.

Mark Sisson has done some research on artificial sweeteners.  He cites several studies that found no insulin spike related to aspartame (the sweetener in Diet Coke), and concludes:

Overall, the evidence seems to suggest little, if any, effect on insulin secretion as a result of tasting or consuming aspartame.

After I’m a svelte zen-like goddess of good health I plan on doing some blood sugar trials to see the extent of the blood sugar fluctuation in reaction to these foods.  Not right now though…no way am I waking up the sleeping Appetite lion right now.

Anyway…down another pound this morning, to 197.4.

Low Cal / Low Carb Day 3

Breakdown today was as follows:

Calories Carbs Fat Protein
1584 9% (37g) 54% (95g) 33% (132g)

I don’t know why that doesn’t add up to 100%.  That’s what My Fitness Pal gave me.  I think it’s flawed.

Also, I went for a 30 minute walk today in the bright sunlight.

Down 2 pounds this morning to 198.

I keep waiting to get hungry and be frustrated about it.  So far that hasn’t happened.  I know this is only day 3…but I may soon be forced to conclude that all my previous low-cal weight loss attempts were foiled by Diet Coke and coffee.  Both drinks seem to stimulate insulin for me and cause me to get hungry much sooner than if I don’t drink them.  That’s right…I think Diet Coke helped make me fat.

I know others don’t have that experience with these drinks.  I’m not sure what it is about coffee that causes me to get hungry.  It’s not the caffeine because I use caffeine pills every day.  It’s something about the coffee itself.

Anyway, things are going well.  I have energy, my mood is good, and I’m not starving.  I like eating some carbs…maybe that’s helping with things too.

My daughter on the other hand…having some bowel issues today.  Is it quitting dairy?  Is it starting a probiotic?  Is it the epsom salts in the bath?  This is the problem with starting multiple things within a short period of time of one another.  I suspect it’s because of the probiotic.  We’ll probably put that and the epsom salts on hold for now…and introduce things more slowly.

Low Cal/Low Carb End of Day 2

I’m avoiding work so I think I’ll do another post today.  Again today had no real hunger.  Here are my stats for today:

Calories Carbs Fat Protein
1426 14% (49g) 54% (85g) 33% (119g)

I had a day of silly snacking all day – but I think I did a pretty good job of accounting for all of it.  Tried twice to go for a walk.  Managed to piece together about 30 minutes of walking, and 5383 steps.  That’s not awesome.  I’m going to have to step up the walking a little.  In my group of 5 walkers I had the fewest steps last week – about 36,000. I need to be a lot closer to 10,000 steps per day.  I think I’m just going to have to get up earlier or something.

We tried to make Paleo waffles today….not good.  Here’s a pic:


Yes, my husband was using the chopstick to try to pry the waffles out of the waffle iron.  Oh well.

Hey I forgot to mention a couple of effects I’m noticing now that I’m no longer on the Wiley Protocol.  My bras fit again – my breasts had been all swollen up from all that progesterone.  So now even though I’m at my highest non-pregnancy weight, my shirts are fitting better.  Hooray!  Also, my one whisker has grown back.  I’m about to do the TMI thing…so gentlemen, you may want to turn away….but my period has also completely calmed down. On the hormones it was awful…I know I had fibroids while I was supplementing estrogen, and I think maybe now that I’m off of it they’ve shrunk back down, meaning less mess.  Another hooray!  Wiley was not right for me.

I guess that’s all I’ve got to report for the moment.  Cheers – till tomorrow.

Low Cal/Low Carb Day 2

Yesterday was Day 1 and it went well…I actually don’t get as hungry as I thought I would if I stay away from sweet things (artificial or otherwise).  I guess last time I reduced calories I was probably drinking Diet Coke, which stimulates insulin and causes me to get hungry.  Yesterday I actually could have eaten less.

According to My Fitness Pal, here are my numbers for yesterday:

Calories Carbs Fat Protein
1496 11% (40g) 54% (89g) 36% (133g)

I also walked 30 minutes.

And today I was down 1 pound.

I guess I’ll just settle in for a long process.

Yesterday I started my little girl out on a probiotic and put epsom salts in her bath.  I found out today that my husband gave her cheese last week so she’s been totally dairy free for probably 3 days now.

I feel that I should take a moment to apologize for focusing on things as mundane as my calorie intake when such terrible things are happening in the world.  Since I had my daughter I can no longer watch shows, movies, or news stories that depict people being hurt, tortured, or killed.  I used to love Criminal Minds and the Primetime/48hours/Unsolved Mysteries shows that usually involved women being kidnapped or killed. As a genre, I nicknamed them, “Missing White Woman” shows, because…well, that’s what they are.  They never profiled a missing poor black woman or a missing Latino man….always white women.  Anyway, I can’t watch things like this, or horrific news stories anymore because they raise my anxiety that something awful will happen to my daughter…and that is an unbearable thought.

So I turn away from it and try to make the world a better place in ways I can control.