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Dang that is one long post!

February 3, 2012

I have been trying to write the next installment of my not a diet blog series and I am having a sophomore slump. I have deleted the whole thing a couple times. So, I told myself I was not going to delete it anymore. Just write it and be done with it. Here is the problem: It keeps being BORING! I hate boring!

Okay, here is the personal update:
We started this journey the second week in December and to date I have lost twenty pounds and not quite 20 inches. I am wearing clothes I have not been able to wear since we left New York City and I am looking forward to seeing what bathing suit shopping is going to be like this year! Come to think of it, if I keep this up, I will have NOTHING that fits me come summer except possibly my wedding dress and there would be something not quite right about wearing it to work at Hospital Company X, USA.

SO we talked about the importance of proteins and keeping your insulin levels stable to prevent fat storage and craving/hunger. Now let’s talk a little bit about down regulation.

Down regulation is the phenomenon within your body that adjusts to whatever state it is most often in. We should all know that starving yourself or not eating enough calories is detrimental to weight loss because your body starts to act like it will never get fed again and stores everything for the day it thinks is coming when you eat nothing at all. That is what us industry types call down regulation. Here is another form: You are eating enough calories and you have lost some weight and you are doing what you are suppose to and…NOTHING. Weight loss slows to a lull or you even put on a little bit of weight and get angry and splurge and eat a half gallon of ice cream because what is the point anyway if I am just going to fail? Or maybe that is just me. I will assume nothing about you!

That, my friend, is another form of down regulation. Your body is responding to the state it is most frequently in and “settles”. Fat burning to meet caloric needs stops because your body adjusts to the new caloric intake you are giving it. Hormone production wither slows or increases, depending on its hormonal role, to settle into a new normal. Why should your body continue to work to convert fat to fuel or produce hormone responses to less food and fewer calories if it doesn’t have to? It just adjusts activity to fit into the new parameters it has been given. Our bodies are intrinsically lazy and that is a good thing for us. It has helped us evolve from our kill and eat or hunter-gatherer selves to adjust to a lifestyle where food is readily available. There are lots of other things our bodies do to adjust to our surroundings and limit the amount of work it has to do. I wish our brains were as quick as the rest of us to adapt to change.

Here is the kicker for me, and I think you are going to like this. I don’t have a lot of pure research to back it up, but there is a lot of accumulating anecdotal evidence, myself and my husband included. Conventional wisdom and dieting says that when your body down regulates you have to do one of two things to increase or maintain weight loss: eat fewer calories or burn more calories. Here are the two problems with this response: there comes a point where you cannot consume fewer calories and still ingest all of the nutrients and calories that your body needs to maintain an appropriate energy level and I DON”T HAVE TIME TO EXERCISE MORE!!!!!!! I have a hard enough time exercising period, let alone, exercising MORE.

What if, and stay with me till the end, what if we on a regular basis in a loosely controlled situation ATE MORE? What if we prevented our bodies from down regulating by having an occasional day of inconsistent calorie intake and carbohydrate/fat/protein imbalance? If we, on a regular basis, shake things up a bit, we would accomplish two very important physical and psychological goals. On the physical side, we would be preventing down regulation by keeping our bodies just enough off kilter to not be able to anticipate what was coming next and keep our hormones on their toes. Second, with the freedom to eat whatever you want, you bypass that feeling of being deprived or are able to satisfy any food longings that come up in the course of the week.

Here are the rules: One day a week (we use Saturday at our house) you eat whatever you want, you drink whatever you want and you only exercise if you want to do something recreational that increases your heart rate. It is one day a week and there are no holds barred when it comes to types of food or quantity of food you intake. Eat a whole pizza, eat a whole cake, eat McDonald’s six times that day. There are no limits. There is a sidebar. Keep reading:

Here is the progression of Saturday eating at our house:
Saturday Number One: It started with Christmas cookies at T’s 4:00 feeding for me and slid into a sugary, carb loaded, sweet abyss from there. We ate junk, we ate pasta, we drank sugar and alcohol, we had dessert. To the tune of Chris and I had most of a sheet cake, we ate dessert. We felt vindicated for eating so well during the week, we were lazy and tired all day, we slept like little lambs!

Saturday Number Two: We had a house full of company and I made Christmas dinner that consisted of a beautiful beef tenderloin, fair amounts of brie and blue cheese, plenty of white wine, and two kinds of cake. And I made Parker House rolls from scratch. You should try that sometime with this recipe: It was completely enjoyable and Chris and I both noticed that while we ate and enjoyed everything, our portions were not out of control, we didn’t feel like we needed anything.

Saturday Number Three: Christmas weekend! I made lasagna soup. I made lemon tiramisu. We had a high protein breakfast because we realized that we feel better when we eat that way in the morning, although there was some sweetness included in the form of pumpkin pancakes. We each had a serving of the tiramisu on Sunday because it was delicious and because it was Christmas. Over half of the dessert went home with a friend because we just didn’t want it.

Saturday Number Four: I planned the Saturday meal starting on Wednesday. I have developed an illicit affair with Saturday meals because I don’t just willy nilly eat on Saturday. I am starting to realize that I am only going to be able to stomach one meal that is way outside our regular eating habits and I want to make it a good one. I cannot remember what I made but I do remember I made a cake that sat on the counter with three pieces missing until I finally threw it away the next week and I remember that I drank a whole lot of orange juice.

Here is what I am trying to tell you—over the course of about a month, you will have a decreased tolerance for many of the foods and for much of the volume that you previously enjoyed. You will have a significant change in your cravings. I am NOT saying that you stop wanting things or that you stop enjoying them altogether. That isn’t true and I don’t think you would believe me if I said it was. What I am saying is that eating the things you want becomes easier because you are not “cheating” and because you have a different baseline for your carb/protein/fat mix you have less tolerance for foods that are less healthy. In my case, that has made me much more particular about what I choose to eat on Free Day. I also get satisfaction out of the anticipation of and the planning and preparation of a good meal or particular restaurant. I still love and enjoy cocktails. That is the one thing that has definitely NOT changed.

If you have doubts, I refer you to the second paragraph of this post and say “It sure is working for us” and I also say “Try it, you’ll like it”

Much of this practice is undocumented so I don’t have much in the way of links to add but if you want I can send you some additional anecdotal evidence. I do think that the proof is in the pudding and you should give it a try.

Here are some responses to a few questions I have received from the first post:

No, we are not on a true Atkins/No carb diet—we have not put ourselves into ketosis, we eat a fair amount of carbs in the form of veggies and beans. We eat lots of beans for both the fiber for fullness and the carbs for quick energy

I have not calculated my daily caloric intake nor do I try to keep my calories in a certain range. This works for me because I don’t count anything. Ever. I have based it on a philosophy of lifestyle change and I refuse to live the rest of my life counting anything but the number of children I have, the number of dollars I have in the bank, and the number of times I have sex in a week!

Food substitutions—especially sprouted bread or Elijah bread—Here is what I go by—if there is a food that I live so much that I cannot live without, I incorporate it into my Saturday meals, if it is something I am eating out of habit or convenience, I replaced it with something that else. Here is what I mean: I really like sandwiches—burgers especially. Rarely a Saturday goes by that I don’t have a really god turkey sandwich or a burger. I haven’t substituted my sandwich bread needs with sprouted bread because it just isn’t that important to me.

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