What I’ve learned the first month

Since January 1, I’ve been eating only twice a day on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Fridays. I started doing it to see if I could slowly lose weight. I may have lost one pound. I’ve learned some new things about my metabolism, and I only had one migraine all month. Now I’m having a period, which came as a surprise. I normally don’t get them because I don’t take a pill break very often. I wonder if my mild intermittent fasting somehow allowed my natural hormonal cycle to overpower the pill just as it changed something in my head that avoided some migraines. I would sure like to go off the pill while I still have cycles.

So, what I’ve learned:
1) It feels really good to delay eating, a lot of the time. This is only true while I’m eating a high fat paleo diet and getting enough sleep and not stressed out. 2) I can sometimes feel when my brain shifts to running on fat/ketones–I suddenly find myself quite alert and sharp after a little spaciness. This feels great. 3) I can’t work out fasted. 4) It’s hard to lose fat! 5) When I eat less often, I appreciate and relish my meals more.

Food diary Monday Jan. 30, 2012

11 AM: a tall americano, black.
1:30 PM: golf ball size amount of bulk lamb sausage from Leschi market browned in a little lard with three eggs and a bunch of spinach. Homemade kombucha. An apple and some macadamias.
Exercise: Heavy deadlifts up to 3 at 225. Planned to do 3 at 250 (90% of my calculated 1RM which is obviously wrong today) but could not lift it off the  floor at all.
9 PM: .4 lb coho salmon fillet, baked with a little olive oil and salt, lots of kale sauteed in 2 T lard, white wine 2 glasses.

Felt like from the waist down I had been run over by a truck. (Fatigue/ache, not injury.)

Food diary Saturday 1/28/2012

6:15 AM: browned ground pork with 3 eggs, spinach, black coffee about 8 oz (half my tall mug). Walked to gym.
9:45 AM: Two Kind bars, an apple, a few macadamias, herb tea.

Exercise: 1 minute each: box jumps, push-ups, double-unders, rowing, thrusters (25#), rest, 3 rounds for score. I worked hard. Don’t remember my score.

1 PM:  Three chicken legs from the market, half an avocado, water.
8 PM at The Whistle Stop Ale House (seeing George’s band): a big steak in a mustard/pepper sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, broccoli, water, 2 glasses of wine.

Went to bed at midnight but read for a while, slept really late (10:15) but not well, headache, jaw pain.

Catching up

I felt too busy to blog for a few days. I’ve also been confused. We’re starting a paleo challenge at the gym with something like 30 people participating. Everyone will send in a food diary that everyone else can see. I’m having trouble deciding what will be my bottom-line firm commitments during the next six weeks. That is, what changes will I promise to make, and not break my promises? This puts me slightly into a defensive angst (not as much as it would have several years ago) and also slightly into analysis paralysis.

Anyway: Wednesday and Thursday were three-meal days and I don’t remember everything I ate; it was all alcohol-free and “paleo,” except that on Wednesday afternoon I had a hot chocolate from Starbucks. Tuesday was two meals that were “paleo,” but I had two and a half glasses of wine–yikes! I often have two glasses but never more than that. Two glasses is too much, I think, although what I do is have one with dinner and one later, so I don’t feel the effects much.

Exercise: Wednesday I walked to the gym and home twice–about 5 miles total. I did the workout of the day which was 50 box jumps (20″), 50  jumping pull-ups, 50 kettlebell swings (16 kg), 50 pushpress (45 lbs), 50 double-unders (unbroken), 12:28. Not one of the fastest. Thursday I front squatted up to 3 at 176 lbs and then this: 15 deadlifts (95 lbs), 15 push-ups, 10 rounds, 21:03. That one made me really pleasantly tired! Later I taught three classes including one intro class and fortunately the energy was great and they went very well.

Today is Friday, two meals. So far I’ve had a giant brunch of bacon, browned ground pork, two eggs, and a lot of sauteed kale, and then some blueberries. It was at about 2:30. I had been in the gym for two classes by then as well as at the chiropractor, and had not been home since 7 AM. I was unusually ravenous, although as usual I wasn’t distracted by it earlier while I was working. When I prepared the food it was as if I couldn’t stop thinking about additional things I could eat if I wanted to, knowing that actually I’d be full when I was done with the big meal I was making.

That was the case, but I continued to want more food! I won’t say “crave” because I was easily able to think about other things and do other things. Now it’s between two and three hours later and I’m looking forward to dinner although I don’t know what I want.

This two meals a day four days a week thing is really great. It’s changed and continues to change how I feel about food and how my body and mind feel every day. That is mostly in subtle ways, but one striking difference is I’ve only had one migraine since I started this intermittent fasting this month. It’s a little hard to say how what I’m doing is different from “restricting calories and starving yourself” that supposedly makes the body “hang onto calories” and “refuse to burn fat.” (Quoting various conventional wisdom cliches.) I do think I’ve lost a little bit of fat. My weight is fluctuating within a pound and a half range that is one pound lower than a month ago. Not much but I do feel a lot different. Lighter and more mellow is how I’d describe it. I’m also taking the Natural Calm magnesium supplement.

What are some of my options for commitments in the paleo challenge? Quit drinking wine. Quit drinking coffee. Stay completely off dairy. Completely avoid fries, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato fries when eating in restaurants. (Those are things I don’t make at home. I wouldn’t exclude homemade sweet potatoes of any sort.) I’m sure I can commit to avoiding dairy and the potato stuff, but those are the easy ones. Staying off coffee and/or wine might affect me more… around the waist or some other way. I don’t know. Is cutting back on those things good enough, or too wishy washy? How about: coffee only when I have to work in the morning; wine, no more than 1 glass Monday-Thursday and do not have it every night; no dairy; no potato junk?

And I want to add something rather than just omitting stuff, so I’ll commit to making bone broth at least twice and to trying at least two new meat and veg recipes. I want to remember, as Stephanie points out in “Add Before Subtracting,” that adding good new things is just as important as deleting things that aren’t working well. The great thing about that is that you find a new good thing that actually replaces a bad one, not because you’re using willpower, but because you found something new that you really look forward to.

Food diary, Monday, Jan. 23

9:30 AM: black coffee
1 PM: ground lamb .63 lb, 3 eggs, a bunch of spinach, all cooked in coconut oil. An apple with some salted roasted almonds.
9 PM: reheated chicken from last night (salsa, lots of coconut oil, a little prosciutto). Two glasses dry white wine.

Exercise: I fell on the steps today on ice and bruised my right-side sacrum. For a while I thought it may have been a joint injury, so for exercise I just did three sets of max press at 53 lbs and three sets of max strict pull-ups, and mopped half the gym floor.

Food diary Sunday, 1/22/2012

10 AM: black coffee, 3 eggs with ground pork and spinach browned in lard, salsa
6:30 PM: a chicken breast and thigh browned in coconut oil then cooked with prosciutto, salsa, chicken stock, and seasonings. I couldn’t finish the breast. 2 glasses white wine.

Nagging headache all day that I was able to ignore. It woke me up sometime on Sunday night as a bad migraine, so I took Maxalt for it. It didn’t come back on Monday. This was the first migraine in 2012. I do feel that the eating twice a day most days is helping me not get headaches.

Food diary 1/19/2012

9:15 AM: black coffee. Ground lamb with 2 eggs, spinach, a little kombucha store bought.
2:15 PM: Caramel hot chocolate at Starbucks. Sardines, apple, macadamias.
7:30 PM: .63 lb salmon fillet, 1-2 cups pureed turnips with butter that Tom made. White wine.

10:30 AM: Walked to gym with Tom in icy snow. Tense!

4 PM:
Pistols practice up to 24 kg x 1 per side in WL shoes. Then: AMRAP 20 minutes
5 KB swings (24 kg)
7 KB cleans on 1 side (16 kg)
10 KB deadlifts (24 kg)
I got 14+ rounds. So tired!

Food diary 1/18/2012

9 AM: Black coffee, 3 eggs scrambled, “several” slices of bacon. Tom cooked.
3 PM: Sardines, apple, some macadamias.
8PM: Steak, kale, 2 glasses white wine

Deadlifts up to 1 at 217. I was planning to do five but was tired for some reason.
20 lunges (10 per side with 15 lbs in each hand)
25 push-ups
20 lunges
25 sit-ups
20 lunges
25 long jumps
20 lunges
25 burpees
9:08, not one of the faster people today.

Food diary 1/17/2012

11 AM: black coffee.
2 PM: ground lamb, 3 eggs, spinach, homemade kombucha, apple, a few almonds.
7:30 PM: almost two “natural” kielbasa, boiled then broiled. Chard and collards sauteed in a mix of coconut oil and butter. Small chocolate bar. Kombucha. Tiny glass of sherry (Yuck).

Exercise: just a few turkish get-ups, pull-ups, and experimenting with two-handed dumbbell get-ups.

Food diary 1/16/2012

10 AM: black coffee
1 PM: ground lamb with 3 eggs and a bunch of spinach, kombucha, apple, a few almonds (1 almond per large bite of apple)
9 PM: .4 lb grass-fed steak from Madison Market, sauteed chard and collards (market was out of kale and lots of other things because of “the snow scare”). Kombucha.


Lots of Turkish get-ups (12 kg) mixed in with double and single floor presses and RKC arm bar stretch. “SoMo,” rx, 8:46. More TGU and floor press with my classes. Tired / more tired after yesterday’s front squats.