Sunday, 6 December 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: final results

So here we are, I’ve completed the first two phases of the Metabolic Balance diet: 2 days of mild detox and 14 days of a strict diet. 16 days, which I thought would be hell and which I wasn’t completely convinced would impact on my weight.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Let’s start at the… end (once in a while it won’t hurt). I wasn’t convinced I would lose a lot of weight because, frankly I don’t have much to lose. Before someone shoots me down, I didn't say I had the perfect body but that, looking at it objectively, in terms of health, I don’t need to lose weight. I’ve got plenty of wobbly bits, thank you very much, my body housed two children for 9 months, I ain’t 20 no more, and Vogue wouldn’t give me a second look. However my BMI at the start was 19.7, so hardly overweight (that’s between 25 and 29.9 in case you wondered). I wanted to do the diet to experience what it was like so that I could really help my clients when they go through it, I know what it feels like, I know the obstacles and I thought about the solutions.

I know the diet works, plenty of people have lost a lot of weight on it, especially in the first 2 weeks, but was it going to work for me too I wondered? Is it just something for those would are really overweight or could it also help those who have a few kilos to lose too? You know, those last few kilos that you just can’t shift despite your best efforts.

I’m sure you can see it coming by now: the answer is yes. Despite me being at the lower end of the BMI spectrum I lost weight.

Here are the stats for my second week:

Weight: -1.3kg (2.8lbs)
Waist: -1cm
Hips: -1cm
Thighs: -2cm

As I explained last time, 1.3kg in a good is pretty good going and what it’s interesting is that when I look at all the data from my scales you can see that this weight loss is fat loss. You can see that because my hydration level is the same and my muscle mass hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is my weight and my body fat percentage, which has dropped to a very low 15.9%. 

1.3kg of fat lost in a little more than 1 week without any exercise is astonishing!

Over all in 16 days this is what happened:
Weight: -2.5kg (5.5lbs) of fat
Waist: -5cm
Hips: -2cm
Thighs: -3cm

My metabolic rate is also higher than when I started, my visceral fat is at 1 (healthy range is up to 12), and as far as the scales are concerned, I’ve got the body of a 20 year old (woohoo!).

So, I’ve lost quite a bit of fat and my body has become better at burning fat, isn’t that amazing?!

The best bit is that it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be; as I said, I was expecting hell for two weeks. Now, it was no picnic but certainly not hell either. At first, you have to get your head round everything and you do get a bit hungry but it really doesn’t last very long and to be honest it was a good think to feel hungry. Being hungry is good because it shows you that you can actually cope pretty well with hunger, hunger isn’t to be feared, you need to tame it in a way and realise there are different hunger levels. I think too often we eat at the first signs of being peckish for fear of getting too hungry later or because someone told us to eat little and often. How many times did you say “oh my, I’m starving!” when it got close to lunch time? You’re not starving, you’re body won’t let you starve, or at least there’s quite a bit of margin before that happens. You’re just a bit hungry and you can wait for lunch. Trust me, if you wait until you’re properly hungry, food will taste even better.

I’ve also learned that even my portion sizes are sometimes too big, it turns out I can cope quite well with a lot less food. I think that often we eat until we’re full up when really we need to stop when we’re no longer hungry.

Cutting out sugar altogether was also interesting, as you can imagine I’m not someone who has a lot of sugar in her diet but even cutting out natural sugars such as bananas and dates made a major difference to the balance of my hormones. I really ought to dedicate an entire post on this because it’s so relevant to my practice (most of my clients report being “addicted” to sweets and chocolate and never buying bread or they can’t stop eating it) and really so easily fixed. Job for next week: post on the addictive nature of sugar and how Metabolic Balance can help.

I need to stop for today because I’ve started to ramble and probably lose half of my audience (Dave, Kate and Stu – are you still here?), but just to sum up, this experience has been an eye opener and the benefits have been much greater than just weight loss: I’ve got more energy, I sleep better, my skin is brighter, my moods are much more even and I had no PMS whatsoever.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: days 15 &16

Sorry, I didn't blog yesterday. It was partly because nothing really happened, it was just another easy day, and partly because I was busy doing stuff for the school Christmas fair.

Today is officially my last day of phase 2 and I have mixed feelings about stopping. Everyone stops phase 2 after 2 weeks and then people should move on to phases 3 and 4, much more relaxed phases, but the plan is for me to stop dieting after these two weeks, as this was an experiment, not really a weight loss effort.

What I was expecting was for those 16 days to be hell and then be relieved to be done so that I could eat more "normally". What I wasn't expecting was to feel so good; I mean, I feel much better than when I started and I don't really want to stop feeling great. Yet, I know I've lost weight, I can feel it, my trousers yesterday looked frankly ridiculous (I don't know exactly how much weight I've lost, I want to do the experiment properly to the end so I will weigh myself first thing tomorrow morning and report back), so I need to stop. I don't want to lose anymore weight but I want to keep feeling great so what I'm planning on doing is to keep applying the basic principles of Metabolic Balance in order to keep my insulin low but I'll increase the quantity of food and I'll reintroduce fat at every meal so as not to lose anymore weight.

Metabolic Balance isn't exclusively a weight loss programme, it's a hormone balancing programme so it's perfectly ok to do even though your goal is to put weight on. You will lose weight in the first 2 phases but if your aim is to put weight on, the plan can be adapted to your needs and after that you will put weight on in a healthy way.

I don't want to lose weight or put weight on so I will resume my habitual eating but embrace the metabolic balance philosophy.

I've been up since 5am for the 4th day in a row, I need to go to sleep I think... I'll report the sats tomorrow for those who are interested so stay tuned!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: day 14

I haven't got much to tell you about today, it all was again effortless, it's almost as if the few principles I have applied for the last couple of weeks have become second nature. I start getting hungry around 5 hours before a meal, I enjoy my food, I'm satisfied without being overly full and have no cravings whatsoever.

Well, actually that's not totally true. I'm not craving the usual things that most people crave i.e., carbs and especially sugar but the last few days I've been feeling like eating meat. This, for those who know very well, is quite odd. I used to be vegetarian (for ethical reasons) and that for about 15 years, and back then I would never have thought that I could crave meat, ever. We've all heard stories of die-hard vegetarians who suddenly start eating bloody steak but I would never have thought I could be one of them. Mind you, I'm no longer vegetarian since I eat poultry and fish but I don't eat any red meat or pork duck etc. It's not for nutritional reasons, simply because I can picture the piglets, calves, geese etc.

And yet, the last few days I've been drooling at the thought of fish and I've been thinking that I'd like to try meat, that I really would like to. And my head is totally confused over this, I can still see the cows but I couldn't help thinking that the mince I bought today would be rather nice with some caramelised onions, crunchy slivers of carrots and a bit of avocado all wrapped in a large lettuce parcel.

Now you're probably thinking that the diet has gone to my head and that the lack of food is getting to me. But you now what I think? I think that now that my hormones seem to be more in equilibrium (given how great I feel), my body is now tuning in and telling me what I need to eat, on a pure physiological level of course, my body couldn't care less about the piglets.

This is called physiological hunger and as bonkers as it may sound, it is actually a physiology cue that occurs through a genuine need of the body. Before we were told what to eat and not eat (by the media, food industry, nutritionists) we had to make a decision for ourselves in order to survive - we needed to decide. Some say that this is why humans don't tend to be attracted to bitter foods a signal of potential poison.

You probably have heard cases of pregnant women with pica who eat non-food substances such as chalk (to palliate to a calcium insufficiency). It’s also common for people who are really stressed and run down to crave salt, as the level of the hormone aldosterone drops. Aldosterone is normally in charge of re-absorbing salt from the urine back into the blood, low levels of aldosterone means lower than needed levels of salt in the blood, hence the salt craving trying to palliate to a shortage. 

I used to travel a lot with my former job in publishing and every October we’d go to Frankfurt for 5 days where breakfast was in a hotel, lunch a quick sandwich in between clients and dinner in a restaurant washed down with wine every night. Every year all I wanted on my return was simple green vegetables, water and very little coffee, it had all been too much for my body to take and now that the trip was over it was telling me to go back to simpler and cleaner foods. You might think that this has never happened to you and only a "certain type of people" can genuinely want to eat green vegetables but I would argue that with a bit of training we can all learn to listen to the basic needs of our body. You might also argue, how can the body know what it needs? Well the body is a carefully run machine and it is possible that it learns by a process of recognition that meat contains protein, that bananas contains potassium, kiwis vitamin C etc. After all how do animals manage?

My body seems to be pushing me towards protein as opposed to sugar and so I'm guessing that the ideal diet for me is one slightly higher in protein and lower in sugar - not necessarily carbs, I'm having a fair amount of carbs at the moment and I feel totally fine.

Now the question is: am I going to be able to eat meat?

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: day 13

Another day today when everything seemed to fall into place, everything was effortless, almost like second nature. No cravings, no hunger pangs, tons of energy and a good night sleep.

It was in fact so seamless that I was surprised to discover that my period had started (sorry if it's too much information for you, this is pure physiology, turns out this happens to most women every month). I was amazed, as I didn't see it coming one bit.

I fall in the category of those women who don't suffer terribly from PMS and I'm convinced that this is largely due to my diet, as many years ago I did experience some of the telltale signs of being premenstrual such as: acne, tender breasts, tiredness, difficulty sleeping, digestive complaints (bloating, constipation, diarrhoea), headaches, backaches, appetite changes, food cravings, joint or muscle pain, difficulty concentrating, irritability, mood swings, anxiety and depression.

Alarmingly, most of my female clients report suffering from them all.

I don't really get those, apart from a bit of acne even though I never suffered from it in my teenage years (how unfair is that has been my thinking: wrinkles and acne?!), and being absolutely ravenous roughly a week before my period is due. I don't crave any food in particular, I'm not more interested than usual in sweet things but I'm noticeably more hungry than normal. It doesn't particularly worry me because I can make good food choices, because I'm not overweight and because my appetite regulates itself soon after my period has started but I've always suspected it was something to do with a degree of hormone imbalance.

Changes in hormone levels have been blamed to be the cause of PMS, as up to two weeks before the period starts the hormone oestrogen starts declining while progesterone rises. However, I think that this in itself isn't the cause of PMS, this hormonal change starts impacting on us when other hormones are out of whack and especially when insulin is out of whack, which I suspect is the case for 98% of the people I see (men and women). Our insulin levels are all over the place because we live off a processed diet that is way to high in refined carbohydrates and because we're constantly eating.

High carbohydrate, especially high sugar diet and constant snacking worsen PMS symptoms by increasing insulin levels, which messes circulating sex hormones.

The idea behind the Metabolic Balance programme is to balance out your hormones by lowering insulin levels, so it's no surprise really that this went completely unnoticed. More than simply having gone unnoticed, I chose to start the diet right at the time when my oestrogen was falling and progesterone rising and I didn't have a clue I had entered my premenstrual phase. I haven't been that hungry, I experienced no headaches, no mood swings, no digestive complaints, I slept really well and had tons of energy.

I was expecting weight loss but Im getting much more from this and I'm thrilled!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: day 12

I had a brilliant day today.

I woke up pretty early but also totally refreshed so I made the most of this time to do some Christmas shopping online and I managed to get all of my husband's presents plus lots of bits and pieces for the family; I'm officially almost done with my Christmas shopping! Smug.

Going back to my sleep pattern, I've noticed that I'm a lot less tired than I used to and I generally don't seem to need quite as much sleep. I go to bed at the same time, sleep really well and either wake up before my alarm or when my alarm goes but, either way I'm always ready to go and face the day. I've always been a good sleeper but you'd think that you'd be tired on a diet and that you would yearn for your bed. But no, I've got lots of energy and I'm getting tons done during the day - hence why this year's Christmas is pretty much sorted. Still smug.

No cravings at all, today I felt brilliant, everything seemed to fall into place: the food was good, nutritious, filling enough and warm.

I had my usual breakfast and turned my egg salad into scrambled eggs with vegetables, accompanied by some lovely rye bread my husband got me from Waitrose - Schneider Brot, made in Germany so the real deal of rye bread.

I got a bit hungry before lunch but isn't that the point? I always tell my clients that if they're not hungry before a meal it's because they have eaten too much at the previous meal. Hunger is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "a feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat". 

I don't totally agree with "coupled with the desire to eat", as you can be hungry and really not want to eat, when you're ill for example and that you haven't eaten for a long time. But my point is that if hunger is caused by lack of food, if you're not "hungry" before a meal then you should not be eating. I often get people telling me they snack when they get home/ when they're preparing their meal "to get the edge off", but that's missing the point of hunger: if you eat as soon as you feel a twinge of hunger, automatically you won't really be hungry by the time your dinner is ready and so, by definition, you shouldn't be eating. Can you see that our snacking culture is messing with our body's cues and our metabolism? Allow yourself to be hungry, don't fear it, you're not going to die. Embrace hunger, it's a very normal physiological response. It doesn't mean you need to starve yourself and fast but it means you need to learn not to constantly eat between meals, there's no need, it'll only mess with you metabolism. Fast between meals is my new motto.

I think we need to stop being so bloody humans really, only we disregard our body's cues and eat not because we're hungry but because we're sad, happy, bored, angry etc. Animals don't do that, I mean wild animals. When a lion is hungry it'll hunt a gazelle, run to catch it, eat it until satiated, sleep and do it all again next time. A lion doesn't go nibbling on a gazelle because it's bored and that's why you'll never see an obese lion in the wild.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: day 11

Today was by far the hardest. Apparently, it's quite common mid way into the second week, the equivalent of the marital 7 year glitch, but I didn't see it coming.

With hindsight it's not surprising, I almost told you yesterday that it was going to be hard, I committed the fatal mistake of being negative and concentrating on the hurdles I was going to have to jump over instead of thinking of the finishing line. The irony is that I've warned my clients of this many times: don't focalise on the short term sacrifices but on the long term gain. Don't tell yourself it's going to be hard, dreadful, boring, bland etc., if you're tell yourself this is going to be the outcome, the outcome is likely to be this. Set yourself up for success not failure.

So in my head in went a bit like thing: another sunday of having to weigh my food and not sharing breakfast with everyone, boohoo, another tuna salad, boohoo, I really want some nuts, boohoo! Poor me! Part of me wanted to tantrum and tell everyone it wasn't fair, not fair at all!

When I finally managed to turn those whingy feelings into some rational thoughts, I did ask myself why today was really so hard, apart from the fact that I had told myself it would be. After all it's not that I was hungry, it's not that I didn't enjoy the food, I wasn't tired and on top of that I can feel that my trousers are getting looser so surely this should be a good incentive. So what the hell was wrong with me?!!

And then as lunch approached I realised what was wrong: I was cold.

I was cold and the prospect of a cold salad (not just a cold meal but a meal, most of the ingredients of which would be coming from the fridge) made me want to scream, run and burry myself in a baked potato.

I'm always cold, especially in the winter months but the diet is making me even colder and I'm finding this hard. I guess it's to be expected, I'm losing fat and fat is very good insulation - just think penguins. I guess it would have been easier in the summer but that's a bit late now, I'm almost done and I'm not going to cheat - if you do, you have to start all over again so keep that thought.

So what I've decided instead is to accept my weaknesses (when I'm cold, I would do anything to warm up again) and work around it. I think for the few remaining days, it's really important that all my meals are hot, no more salads. I'm still going to lose insulation/fat but a warm meal 3 times a day will really help to avoid being freezing, wanting to throw the towel in and feeling sorry for myself.

We all have weaknesses but the key is to identify them and find a way to bypass them - it's bit like a wave, if you're in the water and see a big wave coming, swim towards it and you might get a chance to avoid it, if you swim away you can be sure it'll crash in your face.

What's your weakness?

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Metabolic Balance diet: day 10

Day 10 on the diet and my second weekend, which I was approaching with a certain apprehension as today's plan was to meet up with some friends (German again, can you spot a theme?) and go to the Christmas market in Exeter.

It has become a bit of a tradition that each year we go there with the kids, chat and drink mulled wine.
Mulled wine that this year I wasn't going to be able to have...

Was it going to be the same without the warmth and spice of the mulled wine? Was I going to be miserable and cranky? Was I also going to be super hungry and tempted among all that christmassy food, the French stalls with the delicacies from home, the crepes etc.

So, like a good girl, I prepared my lunch last night and brought it with me in case it might become all too unbearable and I braced myself for the cravings.

Our friends arrived a bit late, not actually really late but 15 mins standing in the cold wind is enough to freeze me all over. So I was cold and dreading the "want some?" - I'm getting a bit bored about telling friends I'm on a diet but explaining to them when they look at me in shock that, no it's not to lose weight but for the greater good.

The men almost immediately decided they "needed" a sausage - it was 11am!! That I wasn't tempted by and actually was grateful to finally be sheltered somewhere vaguely warm. Then we walked through the market and all the smells were pleasant but I didn't feel a particular the urge to eat anything - it looked good but you know what, it'll still be there when I'm finished with the diet and next year too, so no big deal.

Then mulled wine time arrived and it was fine, my friends being my friends didn't insist "go on, just a small one; it won't matter". They had some, I didn't and that was that. I often warn people of friends who, consciously or not, try to sabotage your diet. Women are particularly good at that it seems and I wonder if because it is somewhat threatening in our society to see someone taking control of their life, does that expose your own lack of control?

So all was well apart that I got uber cold and that had to crank up the heating in the car all the way back home to regain the feel of my fingers and toes.

I ate my salad at home, as it was the right time and didn't particularly want to rush it in the car before leaving Exeter with my tired 3 year old nattering at me. The salad was good, surprisingly I'm not missing the fat that much, and the coffee after even better - at last something warm!

Tomorrow is Sunday and I'm aware that keeping busy is going to be the key: if you're on a diet, being bored and wondering into the kitchen can mess with your head and make you confuse boredom and habit for actual hunger.. so pay attention folks!