Gentle Retooling

Its Friday, and I’ve been doing the Chris Powell carb cycling (classic) method for about five days. Eating the food has been easy, even if constantly preparing food is not. It’s certainly something I’ve been passing on doing for a good year (or ten) so I’m not surprised that it’s hard – even if I simply wished it easy.

I think the biggest hurdle we dealt with this week was shrinkage after cooking – most particularly in regards to the lean meats. We bought the specified amount of chicken, steak & ground turkey and we’ve run out of all three of those items and we still have two days of the meal plan to follow. Another issue – which was just a “oops” on my part – was the fact that my husband was supposed to be getting nearly twice as much when it came to protein and complex carbs so that also worked against us in the meat department. Next week, we’ll do much better!

The other hurdle was carving out the time to prep the food. We prepared and packaged only one meal that we’d be eating throughout the week (a turkey & veggie bowl, which we ate 3x equating to 9 servings) and just cooked the others on demand. But I didn’t really like that, since one night I got so consumed with the kids and cleaning that I had to eat a non-scheduled meal for dinner because it was On Plan and already prepared – not a big deal, but stressful.

The goal for the upcoming week: Smarter shopping and more prep! We tried to do it on Sunday, but Sunday got away from us. I’m going to try much harder to get it done this time!

Tempting, isn’t it?

My last post spoke about moving to a carb cycling plan within the next three weeks. Well, I moved that up – and started this week 😀 The truth is, once I’d lost the Medifast food momentum, the food was no longer keeping me full and I wasn’t interested in eating it so I would skip meals and become REALLY hungry and then regret it.

All last week I ate whatever I wanted, without tracking, even though I knew I was doing harm to my meager weight loss achieved with Medifast. There was a part of me that didn’t really care though, I just wanted to CHEW on something and consume real, filling foods. Granted, most of my choices were fast food – but I soon got that all out of my system and simply enjoyed homemade sandwiches and popcorn with hard cider.

I found a book, by Chris Powell, on carb cycling and decided to follow his plan. Then I sold my sister on it. Then I bullied my husband into it 😛 So now there’s three of us following it and I’m hoping that with everyone I eat with often on the plan we’re going to really succeed!

His plan is super easy: Monday, Wednesday & Friday you eat low carb meals – Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday you eat high carb meals – and on Sunday you reward yourself! Plus, every fourth week you eat high carb meals for that week – to “slingshot” through plateaus. I LOVE IT. He’s not big into counting calories or anything, but does give you some guidelines so you have an idea of how much is too much or too little. He also tells you what foods are off limits, so it’s an every day healthy diet – not pork rinds and cheese on low carb and Chinese noodles and white bread on high carb days.

Yesterday (low carb) I ate a teeny bit over 1200. Today I’m scheduled to eat a teeny bit over 1600. The calorie confusion coupled with the carb cycling is going to be a knockout combo – I can already tell!

He has an exercise plan too, but I’m going to be honest when I say that I’m going to get the food thing under control first and then add exercising. The last time I did that I had a lot of success, since it wasn’t too much on my body at once. I really wonder if that’s where I went wrong with Medifast, beginning to exercise too soon…?

In reference to the title of this post: Considering I had binged all last week, mainly during lunch, I was really apprehensive about getting on the scale and kept forgetting/putting it off. I finally got on this morning and was shocked to see a 3 pound weight loss! So, while it might be tempting to binge for a few weeks, I’m excited about the carb cycling.

Looking Towards the Future

The past two weeks haven’t been “great” for me, on many levels. First, I haven’t been losing much weight and that has been discouraging and second, I’ve been having a lot of pelvic pain resurfacing so I haven’t been able to comfortably exercise.

During the last two weeks I’ve also been experimenting – if you will – with how my body reacts to different slips in my diet and it’s been a good thing and a bad thing. The good first: I can certainly lose weight even if I mess up. The bad: I can mess up and I don’t want to be able to do that – at least not yet.

When I started Medifast, and the idea that getting to a metabolic state and staying there was so important, I was determined not to undermine my chance at success. I was 100% On Plan that first two weeks and just barely off plan the third (barely=not eating all 5 MF meals), and it wasn’t until the forth week that I became really discouraged by my lack of staggering results.

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Its amazing that the PEAK of calories I’ve had in the last month has still being amazingly conservative in comparison to what I used to eat.

With all that, I’ve decided that for the next three weeks I’m going to be working on the next stage of my journey which will be sans-Medifast but still with much more concentration on carbohydrates than with my previous endeavors.

Having read about various carbohydrate centric (whether to avoid or use) diets, I’ve decided I’m going to put together a meal plan to try “carb cycling” – something previously used for body builders but also can be used for weight loss. The name is pretty self explanatory – but basically you have low carb days and high carb days, it’s that simple.

I found this set of guidelines on DailyBurn:

High-carb day

About 1 gram of carbs (x your body weight)
0.75 grams of protein (x your body weight)
As little fat as possible

Low-carb day

0.2–0.5 grams of carbs (x your body weight)
About 1 gram of protein (x your body weight)
0.1–0.2 grams of fat (x your body weight)

Which I’ve tweaked to work with how MyFitnessPal tracks, based on my weight:

High-Carb Day
1400 calories

Carbs = 175g (50%)
Protein = 140g (40%)
Fat = 16g (10%)

Low-Carb Day
1200 calories*

Carbs = 30g – 88.5 (10% – 25%)
Protein = 180 (60%)
Fat = 17.7g – 40g (15% – 30%)

* The only way to come close to the guidelines for the low-carb day is to eat 200 calories less – which is not surprising. I’m just going to have to decide if I want to the low end of carbs or the low end of fat – as I can’t do the low end of both. Given how easy it is to go overboard on the bad carbs, I’ll likely choose the high end of fat to begin with and change if I need to.

Now, I simply need to put together a meal plan so that I can prepare a few days at a time to follow this micro-nutrient framework. While I believe I’ve kicked my dependency on fast food and carbs, I don’t know if I’ve quite tackled preparing multiple meals for a few days at a time. But – that’s what the next few weeks will be for!

I’m really excited to be thinking about moving away from Medifast, not because I haven’t enjoyed what progress I’ve made – but because of all the hate surrounding Medifast as a weight loss method. Everyone has the rights to their opinion, but its surprising how many health forums participants don’t seem to understand that most people are fat due to issues completely separate from what they put in their mouth. It’s lifestyle. It’s emotional. It’s physical. So to say, “eat whole foods and walk once a day and you’ll be fine” doesn’t solve anything for most really overweight people.

Dinner for me has become a very fun experience! Its something I look forward to since I’m succeeding at the effort and I get to keep “practicing” some yummy recipes or even trying something new. Interested in trying something new? Check out the few meals listed on my Recipes page. On that same page you’ll find some of the food staples I’ve been relying on since starting Medifast – which I’m sure anyone can incorporate into their own diets – low carbohydrate or not.

Got a suggestion for a good, low carbohydrate high protein meal? Share it in the comments!