I finished my Stepbet – a 6-week walking challenge that involved betting $40 on my ability to walk a specific number of steps (which varies by person depending on baseline walking habits) over a 6-week period.  For me that number was an average of about 8,000 steps per day (7415 steps on “active” days and 9441 steps on “stretch” days), with one rest day.  The money you bet is pooled with about 700 other people doing the same thing.  The purpose of this is to gain incentive to move more.  After betting the $40 I had to complete the 6 days of walking with my fitbit syncing to their system as evidence, or lose the money.  Those who complete all of the walking during the challenge split the pot (after Stepbet takes their cut).

So I successfully completed my Stepbet challenge, which ended Sunday.  Got my $40 back plus $7.92.  Considering I spent about $5 on batteries for my fitbit, it was a wash financially.  I’m glad I did it though because it helped me stick to a walking program and see what that could do for me.

And what did it do for me?

My weight is lower now than it was when I started the walking program, but it became a struggle over the last few weeks:


I found that overall my appetite increased from walking.  I had a hard time some days managing this – I would walk 10,000 steps in a day and not plan adequately for the increase in appetite, and not bring enough food with me to work, and then be ravenous when I got home, and then overeat…this didn’t happen all the time, but enough that it destabilized my weight loss.  I can’t completely blame the stepping – the cravings and shifts in appetite might also be the result of just being on a lower-calorie low-fat diet for several months.  It will be interesting to see what happens over the next month, without the walking program.

The other thing I was hoping would improve from walking was my blood sugar numbers:


That didn’t improve.  Just stayed about the same over the 6 weeks.

I did gain a new appreciation for walking as a stress-relieving activity though.  I used to dislike walking because of the sausage-fingers factor, where blood pools in your fingers due to arm-swinging centrifugal force.  I found during my Stepbet that that doesn’t really happen if I was just walking at a normal pace.  After all, Stepbet rewarded me for total number of steps per day – not for getting my heart rate up or covering massive distance.  So I learned to shorten my stride a little and walk at a pace that wasn’t very strenuous.  Much more enjoyable than previous walking programs where I was out there pounding the pavement with great intention and exertion.

So overall a victory.  Information is power.  I’m going to take a break from the walking though.


A few quick updates:

The Milk Thistle helped.  My hormonal (estrogen) symptoms are gone again, since I started taking it once a day in the morning.

My weight loss is stable but I’ve had to take a break from Weight Watchers (WW) for about a week (or two?).  I started having lots of cravings and trouble being satisfied with what I was eating.  Most people in my WW Facebook group blame themselves when this happens, assuming the diet must be right and they must be wrong to want to eat potato chips (or whatever).  The journey I’ve been on with this blog and in my life, however, has helped me to see that it’s NOT my lack of character, will power, motivation, determination, or any of the other -tion words, because I know I can stick to ANYTHING if it’s helping me.

I figured it’s probably a nutrient deficiency that’s causing the problem.  Considering I’ve been on a low-fat diet for 2 months, it could be either fat itself or a fat-soluble vitamin that’s probably lacking.  Since I take supplemental Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K, I assumed it was the fat itself.  So I allowed myself a few days of eating whatever I wanted and the scale started climbing.  Back to low fat….nope, still not satisfying.

So then I remembered what Dave Asprey said about hormonal problems that cause one to regain lost weight (I talked about it here).  So to fix that hormonal problem I tried to do a few days of very low carb eating, the hypothesis being that it would “reset” that CCK hormone and reduce appetite.  Day 1 went fine.  Day 2 I felt like a zombie.  My coworker asked me if something was wrong with me – apparently I had been staring at her with a dazed look on my face.  I didn’t feel good either.  Came home and ate some watermelon and I was all better!  So probably didn’t reach ketosis, but made it 1.5 days.   Since then (that was 2 days ago), my cravings and appetite have dropped off again and I’m very happy with eating my regular high-carb/low fat WW diet…so maybe it worked!

Anyway, weight today is 196.7, a loss of about 15 pounds total so far.

Still having low-grade hot flashes – I blame the Verapamil I’m taking for hypertension.  Apparently it’s a histamine liberator. I’ve had so much trouble finding a medication that works and that doesn’t have unbearable side effects. I’m just focusing on getting well so I can eventually get off of it.  Interestingly, when I was doing the couple days of low-carb I was eating more meat (steak) and my hot flashes got much worse.  I think the histamine in the meat was a big problem. I don’t seem to have that problem with chicken – not sure why beef would be so much worse.

Milk Thistle

I’ve been slowly attempting to phase out my supplements one at a time as I run out of the bottles, the purpose being to see what I really need as opposed to what some expert told me I need.  Well, it turns out I actually need Milk Thistle.

I stopped taking it about a week and a half ago.  The bottle ran out and I didn’t buy another.  Over the past week I’ve had more emotional upheaval – not terrible, but definitely a change from the walking-on-a-cloud experience that I had been enjoying for weeks prior to this.

When I started having some emotional moments (mostly irritability, some anxiety), I didn’t recognize it at first because it had been awhile.  Then I remembered that last time I lost more than a few pounds of body fat I had the same experience.  It made sense to me that the burned fat may be releasing extra estrogen into my system and causing PMS-like symptoms.  I figured last time around (a few years ago) that dealing with the stored toxic crap was just the cost of losing weight.

But this time I wasn’t having any of these problems.  I noticed it a few weeks ago, and said to myself, “Huh…how come I’m not having any of that toxic estrogen release going on this time?”  …and I wasn’t…until I stopped taking Milk Thistle.  I never really saw the benefit to taking this before – I had read that it supports the liver but didn’t really know what that meant.  Well, I guess it means it helps the liver detox mass quantities of toxic estrogen when you lose weight!

I ran to the health-food store as soon as I realized this yesterday, and now I’m back on the thistle.  I look forward to walking on sunshine again soon.

Weight Loss Update

I’m down almost 16 pounds from my top weight on January 20th of 212.3.  At that time my BMI was 35.9 – in the morbidly obese range.  Now at 196.7 my BMI is 33.2 – Hey, I’m just obese now.  Yay!

Walking longer distances is becoming second nature now, thanks to Stepbet.  I’m 3 weeks into my 6 week walking challenge, averaging somewhere around 8000 steps per day to stay in the game.  My Dietbet challenge ended yesterday – I was one of the winners, though lots of other people won too so the payout was only $2.74 over the initial bet of $100.  Oh well – it really did motivate me to stick with my low-fat diet when I didn’t feel like it, so I have to say it’s a good tool if you’re able to lose weight.

And by the way – “…if you’re able to lose weight” is really an important qualifier.  I did two Dietbet challenges over the past couple of years that I lost because no amount of self-discipline was resulting in weight loss for me when I was all inflamed and could only eat meat and fat.  So actually I was in the hole about $150 prior to this most recent challenge.  I’m now in the process of climbing out of the Dietbet hole.  $2.74 cents at a time, apparently.

A note about Dietbet strategy that I’ve learned, having done this a few times.  Avoid the short-term high-stakes games.  The more each player is required to contribute, the more committed they are to the game, and the less likely your win is going to result in a windfall over and above your initial contribution.  (I know it’s uncool to care about money – I should just be happy I’m losing weight – but I find money motivating and this is my blog so I’m not gonna hide it.)  Yes, you’ll stick with it, and if sticking with it is your main goal then the high stakes games will give you the incentive to do that, but you won’t win much.

I can’t help but notice that what’s working for me right now is what mainstream medicine has been recommending all along – low fat, low/no added sugar (the “added” excludes fruit), reduced calorie, adequate fiber.  Hm….what does this mean?  Does it mean that maybe the premise of this blog – finding the hidden keys that Big Pharma and the USDA don’t want you to know – is just bunk?  I was here to de-bunk the diet industry.  Now I’m the one who’s been de-bunked.   I know a lot of people lose weight with low-carb – I did too for about 5 minutes – but it came back pretty quickly when my body got sick, and then low-carb wouldn’t work again for weight loss.  I suppose it’s not a black and white issue – there are more than 2 answers.  The key is finding the one that  you can live with and that works for you.

Speaking of learning what I can live with, I think one of the most important things I’ve learned in the last 2 months is to find things I actually like eating that support my goals.  I learned this while staring down a cantaloupe in my refrigerator.  I didn’t want to eat it, but there it was – healthy food that I had bought, waiting to be consumed.  I finally threw it out after getting honest about the fact that I just don’t like cantaloupe.  I decided that I don’t have to like or eat everything that’s healthy – I love grapes, watermelon, and apples.  So now that’s the fruit I eat.  I don’t love potatoes unless they’re bathed in butter, so I’m not eating those either – but I love rice so I’m eating Jasmine (unfortified) rice about 3 times a day.

My weight goes up when I eat cheese that contains vinegar or foods containing wheat.  I don’t know why – I have tested negative to intolerances to these foods – so this is just what’s so.  So gluten-free pretzels and Daisy cottage cheese are a thumbs up, but wheat pretzels and string cheese are a thumbs down.

My mood is generally awesome these days.  I have had some emotional instability break through occasionally.  I assume this is estrogen being released from fat cells as I lose weight, because it feels like PMS used to feel.  In general I feel great though – lots of energy, no aches or pains, great mood.  This has been going on long enough now that I have come to trust it as the new normal.  I am eternally grateful.