I am two weeks in to my experience with intermittent fasting and want to give an overview of how things have gone since I transitioned into my new meal plan. I’ll start off with a bit of back story and some details about IF and what it is – so expect this to be kind of a long one.
Category Archives: diet
If I were an animal, I would be a guinea pig.
Not simply because they’re cute little balls of fluff with the tiniest ears ever, but because I love to experiment and be experimented on (I can’t confirm that real guinea pigs feel that positive about it). It doesn’t matter what it is really, I’ve always been keen to stick up my hand and say “I’ll try it!” when given the opportunity.
A couple of years back my hair stylist expressed that she had never put hair extensions in before – so I got extensions. Trainer Cathy was always learning new things at CanFitPro conferences, exercises that even she had just tried for the first time – so I was the first to have them in my plan. I got a juicer for Christmas and my kitchen immediately became a scientific lab, attempting to find the ideal combination of fruits and vegetables to make the best juices without ever using a recipe – needless to say, a lot of vegetables died valiantly during the process.
That’s just the type of person that I am. It worked quite well for me in my career as a journalist because I was always eager to try something new for the sake of a story. In the case of this blog it has lead to product reviews and some soon-to-be-published reviews of aesthetic services. Now, through the process of getting stage ready for the WBFF 2014 season, it has taken me down a path of experimenting with the way I eat.
After discussing it with all-knowing, wise and beautiful Coach Krissy, this summer will be an opportunity for me to try new things and play around with styles of eating. I’ve always strongly felt that you can’t truly give your opinion about something without facts to back it up and the best way to make a fact-based statement is by having your own evidence. Now, to clarify, this doesn’t mean I’m going to be trying a bunch of fad diets – quite the opposite. This experiment involves eating styles: ways of eating that people consistently use on a daily basis. If it has a snappy moniker that ends with the word diet and it was introduced to the world through a NYT bestselling hardcover – you likely won’t find me trying it out.
First on the docket deals more with nutrient timing and frequency … intermittent fasting. I’m about a week into the new plan and ready to start writing about my initial experiences. Keep an eye out for the first of what will (hopefully) be many blogs about my experiment-filled summer!
There are a few choice phrases that I have thrown around a couple of times a week for the past month or so:
“Ugh, I feel awful.”
“I have zero energy.”
“I need a nap.”
“I want to eat all of the things.”
One thing all those phrases have in common? High-carb day.
Wait, what?! HIGH carb day?!
Typically, those would be the sentiments of fitness competitors in the midst of cutting back on their carbohydrates, longingly watching as their precious oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa and brown rice are diminished by yet another 1/4 cup.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past couple of months is that I am a person that functions better on very few carbs. This wasn’t a complete surprise to me, to be honest.
Years ago (high school-era) I had a lot of issues with allergies. I was checked over by an allergist who found that I have a slew of environmental allergies but although digestion issues continued to plague me, I was not having an allergic reaction to any foods so we couldn’t quite pinpoint what the issue was.
Based on the recommendation of the allergist, my parents then took me to a Naturopath to test for sensitivities that a traditional scratch test wouldn’t pick up. The process was somewhat tedious – beginning with an elimination diet that left me restricted to mostly rice and oranges for weeks.
Both my parents have severe food allergies (citrus fruits on one side, shellfish on the other) but the more common foods were quickly ruled out. Through the process of eating different things and monitoring my reaction to them the Naturopath determined that one of the major foods that I am sensitive to is yeast.
For years I experienced extreme lethargy, low energy and difficulty concentrating through the day. As it turned out, the culprit was bread (I wasn’t much of a beer drinker as a teen ). Cutting foods with yeast out of my diet was life-changing. My head was suddenly less cloudy, my grades improved and I finished my last year of high school with honours for the first time since I started. All because I stopped having toast, sandwiches, pizza, etc.
Other foods that I am sensitive to include apples, olives (I have a reputation in my family for always throwing up after holiday dinners – olives, we later discovered, were behind it), lactose and most forms of alcohol. Removing these elements from my diet was somewhat easy and once they were gone I was amazed by how much better I felt. In some ways, I hadn’t even realized I didn’t feel well until I felt better.
That is the same experience I’m having with carbs right now. My previous meal plans have always included the brown rice, quinoas and sweet potatoes of the world and I always assumed that the way I felt after I ate them was just the way I was supposed to feel -I was just digesting, it was from my intense amount of training or even all in my head. I wasn’t losing weight or body fat, I felt bloated and too-full all the time and above all, I felt HUNGRY. Ravenously hungry. All the time. That lead to the half dozen times (which I’ve mentioned on here) that I found myself “off the wagon” and shoving my face full of whatever I could find.
Since the end of January my meal plan has changed and my only carbs are a 1/4 cup of oats right after my morning workout. I never realized how terrible I felt before until now because I feel great. I won’t deny craving junk food, or even having had slip ups out of boredom and over-accessibility, but my physical cravings are non-existent. I don’t spend all day thinking about eating, I’m satiated until my next meal.
Leg days are supposed to be my “high-carb” days where I incorporate those foods back into my diet and if I were to make a confession… I’ve only actually had one in four weeks. I feel like crap every time so I’d just rather not. I guess that makes me one of the few people that will happily clean their plate of vegetables and meat then ask if someone wants their potatoes.
Ultimately it comes down to how I feel – if I don’t feel good then I’m not going to do it. It’s a pretty simple way of looking at most “diets” that are marketed these days. If they make you feel bad then stop doing it. Just don’t take that advice when you’re in the gym, otherwise no one would ever do another burpie ever again…
PS: Tomorrow marks 13 weeks until I hit the WBFF stage and I still have a lot of improvements left to make. Here’s hoping that being the anti-carb ends up being the best thing my stomach ever decided for me.
I the pleasure of once again volunteering at the OptiMYz Live Health Expo this year. (Check out last year’s fun here) Much like last year I found myself scoping the vendors out for products that I could review.
I had heard of Quest bars only because they’re the only type of pre-packaged protein bar that is allowed in my meal plan. Not really being the type to spend money (that I don’t really have) on a $3-$5 snack, I generally have opted for things like almonds and cottage cheese as reasonable protein snacks and avoided buying the Quest bars.
That being said, I happened upon a vendor from Nutrition Excellence at OptiMYz Live. The incredibly friendly sales rep, Joel, had brought along some of the brands that they represent and distribute around the country, including those from Quest Nutrition. The temptation to nab a couple of Quest bars was too strong and I ended up buying an entire box of 12 (various flavours) for $25.
I didn’t really know what to expect as I have eaten a lot of really crappy tasting protein bars in the past that did little for me nutrition-wise. These are fairly well known for being one of the few/only bars on the market that are low-carb, sugar-free, high-fibre, high-protein and gluten free. I also knew that Coach Krissy would never have allowed me to eat them (or would eat them herself) if they were the same filler-laden crap on grocery store shelves. That doesn’t say much for the taste though. If anything, the fact that they are “better” for you only seemed to make me think they’d taste like old socks.
Quite the contrary.
If there’s anything I regret is that I didn’t introduce these beauties into my diet sooner. They have become an amazing way to battle the mid-afternoon munchies and all day I look forward to having my 3 p.m. QuestBar!
In case you can’t read that, the nutrition information is as follows:
- Fibre: 17g
- Sugars: 1g
So far I’ve tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownie flavours, with Strawberry Cheesecake on deck for tomorrow. The only problem I would say is that I’m going to burn through them so quickly that it’s not terribly affordable for anyone on a budget to eat these consistently. Sad face.
I am willing to change my budget around to try and fit them in though because I might be obsessed. So many protein bars are either sickly sweet, leave an unpleasant aftertaste or just taste… old. QuestBars have a really rich taste that actually tastes like what it says on the package. It’s a soft bar that is practically melt in your mouth and it’s a really decent size so you can make it last for a while.
By far, one of the best purchases I’ve made in a while.
Here’s another couple of crappy photos from OptiMYz Live that I snapped with my terrible camera phone. You should probably just go buy some QuestBars instead though…
Things have been tough, as you all know from my last update about Operation: Lean. It took me a few days to get myself sorted out and get back on track. Keeping on pace with my fitness goals was the easy part, I happily went to the gym every day and killed it no matter what I set out to do. Eating was another story.
I was kind of all over the place and once I started spiraling out of control it took some serious focus to get it back on track again. I managed though, with the help of an agreement between myself and my roommate.
I’m very much a goal/reward based individual. I need to be working towards something otherwise everything I’m doing just starts to seem a little pointless. The last couple of weeks I haven’t had any specific week-to-week goals, just the overall ones I was trying to achieve but I guess it just wasn’t enough.
I’m hungry and it’s awesome.
Most people would be pretty disappointed to be hungry but I find it to be supremely satisfying. Why? Because it’s a sign that my metabolism is starting to chug along again.
I’m coming up on two weeks on my new-and-improved competition diet and I think my body is finally starting to adjust. I found it really hard at first to get all of my food in through the day because I was so full. (TMI alert) I spent more than a week feeling huge, bloated and uncomfortable but yesterday I woke up and could feel a significant difference in my body. I think I could even see it, my stomach wasn’t as distended as it was just hours before and a layer of water had disappeared from under my skin, giving me a peek at definition I hadn’t seen in months! (Oh, hey quads! Nice to see you again!)
The first time in my adult life that I lost a lot of weight and became extremely thin happened when I was 18 and I was in my first year of college. I was infatuated with a boy I was dating, who happened to still be in love with his girlfriend from high school. It didn't quite occur to me that this was a less-than-ideal arrangement, and I thought I could just wait it out and one day he'd be ready to be in love with me.
I’m going to get a little personal here for a second.
June has been a rough month for me, mentally, physically and nutritionally.
Finishing up school should have been an exciting time but instead as I was receiving that diploma all I could think was ‘I don’t have a job, I don’t have an income.’ Sure I have a part time job (one shift a week) but suddenly, with my savings and student loan depleted, that was not going to pay the rent. I started applying for jobs and not getting anything back and I could feel the stress building up as the days passed and I couldn’t even buy groceries.
I’m so used to eating very healthy, fresh food and I was in a position where the contents of my fridge were a bottle of mustard and a jug of water. It took no longer being a student for me to finally have to start living like a student.
As a result whenever I managed to scrounge together some cash I ended up buying things that weren’t so great for me. This has started a downward spiral and I’m now trying to dig myself out of a real nutritional mess. It’s affecting my mood, my ability to get things done, the quality of my sleep and really just everything. It takes removing processed sugars/food from your life to really know the breadth of the negative effects these things have on your body. It’s not until you get rid of it all that you know how terrible you really felt before.
I’m pretty sure I have mentioned in the past that I am a binge eater and I hope that this post will help make me accountable for some of my actions as of late. Not only do I binge but I hide it. It’s like the switch in my body that says “okay, you’re full now” is just shut off. I can eat forever and never feel full. The amount of food I can consume in one sitting is unreal. Of course, I don’t want to look like a glutton in front of other people so I do these things in private. Part of the problem is that most of the time I am alone so it’s easy to let it get away from me. I have really let it get away from me this time and I feel like it’s starting to get out of control. It’s like I can’t remember how to stop even though I’ve done it so many times before.
It makes me so guilty because I feel like in just a few short weeks I have managed to unravel months of really hard work. I can’t achieve my goals if every six months, when I get just a little bit stressed out, I let myself become a total slave to food. I know these things and yet I still let it happen every time. I wish there was a way to make myself more accountable or figure out how to put an end to this cycle.
This blog, I feel, is one of my accountability tools. Talking about this, admitting to all of you that I have a problem and its name is food, is a huge relief to me. I have since gotten myself a really fun/cool fitness-based part time job and the excitement about starting work is definitely help calm my desire to stress eat.
There’s nothing I can’t come back from. I can only go forward. I just need to sort myself out again, get back in the gym (I also managed to talk myself out of going for nearly a week because I have zero energy), get my eating back on plan and keep my eye on the prize. Here I go…
I had to do some research today for my internship. There was a photo in the newspaper of a woman named Marsalie MacKenzie modelling a dress, who happened to be an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. I was then tasked with finding out who this woman was so we could include the mention in our regular media monitoring. So, like all good researchers, I hit up Google.
What I ended up finding could not have been more fitting for my particular interests. As it turns out this woman attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 2009 as a Canadian exchange student from the Royal Military College. While she was there she wrote up a series of blog posts for the RMC website, one of which was about the stringent fitness requirements all the midshipmen are required to undergo.
Clearly, there is quite a difference between rights and freedoms in the US than there is in Canada because some of the rules they have to adhere to would be considered discrimination under our laws. For example, MacKenzie writes:
“Generally speaking, the average midshipman was leaner and meaner than their RMC counterpart-so much so that it led me to ask my roommates if it was in their constitution to attain (and maintain) rock-hard abs and chiselled pecs. At first they laughed and informed me that their chubbier peers, like bats or raccoons, only came out at night and at meals. As it turns out though, my original assertion was not so far-fetched; as my roommates explained, part of the yearly in-clearance procedure at the Naval Academy requires them to undergo height and weight testing, the results of which determines their eligibility for service.”
After reading this passage I immediately wondered what height and weight testing has to do with anything. When I joined the military in 2005 there was a requirement that before you went to basic training you had to pass your physical fitness test. During the year or so that it took to complete all of my paperwork and wait for my trade to become available that rule changed. At that point you could join the military in any shape and they would make sure that when you left you were fit. When I went to basic training you had to pass your PT test in the first week in order to move on with your platoon. If you didn’t pass your PT test you were moved to RFT (remedial fitness training) where you spent a month having some of the best fitness trainers in the country ‘whip you into shape’. At the end of that month you had to be able to pass your PT test and rarely was there an occasion where someone who stuck it out for that month would not be able to do it.
I won’t deny that I was weighed and measured when I went for my intial medical testing but that wasn’t got me into the military. It was my aptitude, my ability, my smarts that got me in and it was my level of fitness that carried me through until an injury led to my early release. The ultimate question though, was always ‘Can you pass your PT test?’ and you didn’t go anywhere until that answer was yes. I believe that is the way it should be but according to MacKenzie things are slightly different when it comes to the US Navy.
“However, in early October, I was summoned by my lieutenant, who informed me that I would report to the fifth wing gym to be weighed in with the UNSATS (those who had failed to meet their requirements in September). Some veterans of the process took it upon themselves to explain to me the protocol. First, each midshipman is led to a scale where their weight is recorded. Simultaneously, their height is measured by a second individual, while a third does a quick calculation. If they meet requirements, the midshipman is free to leave. If they do not, they are led to a pen where they await further measurement of their neck, waist, arms and calves (this is to ensure that “athletic builds,” specifically wrestlers, are not misidentified as overweight). Those who are UNSAT after this process are then placed on a strict diet, with portions rationed to them at every meal, and forced to attend supplementary morning PT (regardless of whether or not they have passed their physical fitness testing). Ironically, those midshipmen placed on special diets are the only ones allowed to have a fridge in their rooms for personal use.”
I understand wanting your recruits to be healthy and I understand encouraging them to make healthy selections when they walk into the mess hall. (Perhaps making healthy selections the only ones available would be a better method?) How though, can you expect someone to be able to giving a top performance both mentally a physically when someone else is controlling their calorie intake? Not because they’re ill, not because their body requires it, but because an arbitrary set of numbers has determined that they should eat less. What really irks me is that someone can pass their PT test but if their BMI isn’t ‘ideal’ they still have to take supplementary PT until it is? Your height to weight ratio has nothing to do with your ability to do your duties whether it’s for the military or not. And the reason for why they do this? According to MacKenzie the answer she got was that it was all about appearance. It’s not about doing your job, it’s about looking good in a uniform.
“From what I could deduce,” MacKenzie writes, “the US Navy considers this impossible for anyone wearing above a women’s size 10 or a men’s size 36 pants. Apparently, a lower BMI is a testament to an individual’s leadership potential; as it turns out, looking like ‘an officer’ is just as important as being one.”
Is this really the military we should all be looking up to as a standard for leadership? I have a hard time thinking so. Regardless of your ratio of height to weight if you serve your country, proudly wear the flag on your arm, and do your duties as required to the best of your ability, including passing your PT test, then you’re the one we should be looking up to.
When life gives you lemons… make lemon water!
Water is my beverage of choice but every now and then it’s nice to add a little bit of flavour to my H2O. Sometimes it’s mint but more often than not it’s lemon.
Working in radio, lemon water is an important tool in the announcer’s tool belt. I do a lot of talking in the span of 7 hours (13 minutes an hour worth of newscasts) and the last thing I need is to lose my voice. It happens surprisingly often though if I am not drinking lemon water. Lots of people preach tea with honey but for radio people that’s not a solution – honey makes your vocal chords stick together so you need to clear your throat more.
The problem is… lemons are not incredibly portable and I find that the bottled lemon juice just doesn’t have the same freshness as just having a real squeeze of lemon. I was at the grocery store today and made the most fantastic discovery!
This isn’t like Crystal Light or any kind of drink mix, it’s lemons in a powder form and it’s delicious! It definitely tastes better than the bottled lemon and mixes really well in water! I have a recipe for lemon protein bars that I hadn’t made because it includes Crystal Light in the ingredients and I don’t eat/drink artificial sweeteners so I might give it a try using this instead. I think if I mixed it with soda water it would taste quite delightful.
Ultimately, lemon water is great for your throat, your liver, your stomach, digestion, asthma and allergies and a slew of other maladies and I think True Lemon is going to help me get a bit more into my day!