Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A License To Eat: Part II

 Back in February of this year (2012) I posted an article titled A License To Eat.  In it I discussed that I am what Dr. McDougall describes as a volume eater.  He wrote an excellent article on the subject titled How To Help The Volume Eater. I recommend reading both of those links if you want a good background on where I'm coming from.
 The McDougall way of eating is not about counting calories or limiting portions.  This is true for most people. Most people simply need to change what they eat, not how much.  But there are some people who compulsively eat way too much food.  I am one of them.  Even so, I've managed to lose over 200 pounds on the McDougall Diet, while eating as much food as I want!  Anyone who knows the actual volume of food I have put away in the process knows what a remarkable feat that truly is, and is a testament to Dr. McDougall's assertion that "It's The Food!"
 During this time I've known I would eventually have to address this issue if I were going to get down to a normal weight.  Back in February I took the first step in that process.   I followed Dr. McDougall's advice to the volume eater and I broke up my large meals into smaller portions.  I still ate to full satisfaction, but instead of doing it all at once I'd eat a portion, wait 20 or 30 minutes, eat some more, etc, etc.  This resulted in me eating less food overall, and allowed me to continue losing weight.  But the volume of food I was eating was still very large.
 What brings all of this to the forefront is that recently my weight loss has noticeably decreased, to the point of being on an imminent plateau.  My "official" weigh-in's are every two weeks, and I've had less and less of a weight loss to show in those two week periods, and have had two periods where I'd lost no weight at all halfway through and managed to get some in by weigh-in day by increasing my exercise.  Then, a week ago Sunday, halfway between my last two weigh-in's, I found myself having gained two pounds from the prior week.
 This would not do.  I knew what the problem was, and I've had over a year to prepare mentally for this day.  It was time to confront the volume of food that I eat.  It was time to start learning to eat like a normal person.  I started that very day. I started eating less food.  It was not comfortable.  I didn't expect it to be.  But it wasn't nearly as painful as I expected.  I've been at it for over a week now and I have some observations to make.
 First, I have no idea what it means to be hungry.  All I know is when I'm not stuffed, and I'm so used to being stuffed that every sensation associated with not being stuffed confuses me into thinking I'm hungry.   For instance, even though I'm eating much less food, I feel no different in the morning.  No maddening urge to eat.  No sensation of starving.  And when I make up my breakfast, half of what I used to eat, I eat it just fine and enjoy it just the same and when I'm finished with it all is well with the world.   For about 3 minutes.  Then I get this gnawing sensation that I NEED TO EAT MORE FOOD.  So I go for a walk and by the time I've walked 2 miles the sensation is no longer gnawing at me.  I still feel like I need to eat, but it's no longer unbearable.  I graze as normal between breakfast and dinner, taking good care to limit how much I eat, and by dinner time I've worked back up to that gnawing sensation that I'm starving.  Dinner is about two-thirds of what I'd normally eat, and it is uncomfortable to stop eating at that point so I again go walking, and by the time I've walked 2 miles the sensation is bearable.  
 I simply do not know what hunger is.  I'm perfectly fine in the morning when I normally do not eat.  Eating so much less food you'd think I'd wake up starving, yet I don't.  I eventually feel  that I should eat, just like usual, and you'd think after eating I'd no longer feel the need to eat, or at least feel less of a need.  Instead, I get that gnawing urge to eat more food, and I know from decades of experience that the gnawing goes away only after I've stuffed myself full.  So far the only thing that makes it go away enough to be tolerable is to go walking.  Sitting around waiting for the same amount of time doesn't do it.  Not sure about the why's, but I can live with it.  I just go walking.
 I know I can't do this forever.  This is what every diet I've ever been on feels like, and we all know how unsustainable that is.  But I am not on every other diet I've ever been on.  I'm not eating less food to force myself to lose weight, knowing that I'll resume eating normally at some point.  This time I'm doing it for a much better reason...   to learn how to eat more normally.  To learn what it means to be hungry.  And to give my stomach a chance to shrink to a more normal size, which it already is doing.  I'm feeling my stomach being full by the time I've finished my dinner, I just still have that gnawing sensation to eat more food.   I believe that at some point I'll adjust and come to learn when I'm hungry and lose this compulsion to continue eating until I'm stuffed.  I realize this might take considerable time, as I've been eating the way I have been for decades.  I literally have to re-learn how to eat.  I am taking a big step of faith in believing that I will re-learn how to eat if I stick with this, and that is enough to keep me going at it for the foreseeable future.
 Results?  After ten days of reduced food intake I'm down 9.5 pounds.   If I continue losing weight at this rate I will have to add more food into my diet as this is faster than I want to lose weight.  However, for the time being, I'm sticking with what I seem to be capable of and will see if the weight loss tapers off. 

 I will keep you all posted as to my progress!

 Happy Eating!

-Norm  aka John Smith

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weight Loss Update: 08/26/12

Today's number is: 

207 pounds!  The scale reports I've lost 3.0 pounds over the past two weeks, bringing my current weight to 279 pounds and my total weight loss to 207 pounds.  This extends my continuous weight loss streak, but a quick glance at the graph shows the rate of my weight loss has dropped off over the past month and a half or so.  In that time period I have not been meeting my goal of losing 1% of my body weight each week and am now over 7 pounds behind that goal.  Also, the graph only marks data from my "official" weigh-in's every two weeks and does not reflect fluctuations in between.  There have been fluctuations in between.  There have been two "off week" weigh-in's that have reflected no weight loss, and one that reflected 2 pounds of weight gain. 

 Simply put...   I've about hit my body's set-point for the diet I'm currently eating.  That is, I'm nearing the point where the calories I consume match the calories I burn and if I do nothing I will stop losing weight and plateau.

 What to do?  What to do?  Never fear!  I'm on top of it.  I've known from early on that given the volume of food I eat I was bound to hit this point at some way along my journey.  I've had an incredible run so far, losing 207 pounds in 18 months, eating AS MUCH AS I WANT!! Who could ask for more than that?

 The next step is already under way and deserves it's own blog post.  Watch for that in the next few days!   In the mean time, don't forget about the option to "Chat with Norm" if you didn't already know about it!  Just click on the Chat Room link at the top of the blog page or go HERE!!

 Happy Eating!

-Norm  aka John Smith

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chat with Norm!

 One of my favorite computer past times is chat!  I have been chatting with people over the computer for over 20 years!  I have decided to make a chat room for anyone who'd like to chat with me about anything and everything.
 Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is my preferred chat protocol.  If you are familiar with IRC you will feel right at home in our new chat room!  If not, you can still chat using one of the simple web interfaces.  

 You'll find the portal to the chat room at the top of my blog or you can click here.  Please read the entire page about the chat room at least once.  Also, keep in mind that the web interfaced chat links are notoriously buggy.  That is why there is more than one.  If one doesn't work, try the other.  If you'd like help installing a dedicated IRC chat client, just ask!

 -Norm  aka John Smith

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weight Loss Update: 08/12/12

Today's number is:

 The scale reports I've lost 3.5 pounds over the past two weeks bringing my current weight to 282 pounds and my total weight loss to 204 pounds. This brings my continuous weight loss streak to 18 months, averaging 11.3 pounds per month, but also marks the second weigh-in in a row where I've not met my goal of 1% body weight per week.  

 Things that have been going on over the past two weeks:

  I have not exercised consistently over the past two weeks.  In fact, for over a week I have done no yoga and not ridden my unicycle at all, and have restricted my walking considerably.  The reasons for this are twofold.  First, my wife has been gone and while she was away I had projects I wanted to accomplish around the house.  Hours of exercise every day limit the amount of work I can accomplish and so to maximize my productivity I nixed the exercise.  Also, I wanted to see how reducing the exercise would affect my weight loss.  I know that sharply increasing my exercise level hasn't really translated to increased weight loss.  Would sharply decreasing it have an effect?  I think I'm leaning towards moderate exercise being the key to weight loss, which, incidentally, is similar to what Dr. McDougall recommends.
 I have also decided to take a break from the unicycle for a while.  Not permanently, but for a while.  Perhaps I'll try it again after another 20 pounds weight loss or so.

 Those who are very familiar with my weight loss journey know that gall bladder issues played a big role in finally motivating me towards dietary change.  I have been free of gall bladder symptoms for the 18 months since!  Until last week.  I had, by far, the worst gall bladder attack that I've ever had.  How bad was it?  My standard comment about the E.R. is that I'll go to the E.R. when I'm weak enough that you can strap me to a gurney and take me there against my will.  Well, I would have gone to the E.R. had my wife been home to drive me there, that's how much pain I was in.  I couldn't have possibly driven myself and being as stubborn as I am I told myself if it wasn't better by morning that I'd call someone.  The attack included vomiting, nausea, and intense pain.  It peaked after about 4 hours and started to subside after about 6 hours, and over the next 4 hours after that really eased up.  By the next day it was gone.  Since then I've noticed a bit of belching but nothing serious.
 I do not know what brought this attack on.  My diet is consistently very low fat with no added fats of any kind.  I have read of people who've had past gall bladder issues flare up and cause them misery even after extended periods of perfect diet.  Perhaps it was the passing of a gall stone that finally decided to do something?  Who knows.  I do know I don't want to go through that again so will mention it to my doctor at my next appointment.

 That is all!

 Happy Eating!

-Norm  aka John Smith