Thursday, March 1, 2012

ADVANTAGES/PROs of this diet (cons I'll do in the next few days)

So I started this diet on the 7th of January, and now, on March 1st -- even with a final three weeks in which, thanks to the move to China, I was being a bit slack about sticking entirely to no-carbs -- I've lost 12 lbs: in short, all the extra weight I was carrying. I fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, and in fact weigh less than I did on my wedding day. I'm at the stage where actually I don't want to get any thinner (which is not something I expected to be saying!). So to summarize the advantages of this diet:

1. It works. If you do it, and even if you don't stick to it absolutely completely, the pounds do come off.
2. It's conceptually simple. Avoid carbs -- potatoes, pasta, bread, flour -- and eat meat and vegetables. While I did have the odd moment of confusion (I bought corn-on-the-cob thinking this was a good vegetable, before being put right by one of you) mostly, it's not hard to know what you're supposed to be eating, and what you're not supposed to be eating.
3. Being able to eat as much as you want of non-carb foods is liberating.
4. The diet feels healthy. Despite Atkins-style diets having a somewhat bad reputation in this regard (did Atkins die of a heartattack or is this just urban legend?), it doesn't feel to me, personally, to be justified. What happened to me, is that a lot of the starchy fillers I was eating were replaced by vegetables at mealtimes. I ate more vegetables in January than I probably have in any month ever before.
In terms of other food categories, meat consumption was about the same for me, pre- and during diet. The only thing which I'm not sure about, which went up substantially, is egg and bacon consumption. I don't think bacon is very healthy, eggs, I think probably are healthy, though I don't know the data on this. I'm generally pro-fat (love butter, olive oil) so this stayed about the same for me pre- and during diet.
5. Some acne I had developed on my nose went away - thanks to the diet?
6. I felt my digestive system was a lot healthier (I'll spare the details on that...)

OK that's all I can think of right now.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm at 154 lbs, and I'm stopping!

I am sitting here at a table in my new Chinese house and have decided it's time for me to stop following Gary Taubes's Atkins-style diet. To celebrate, I just ate a freshly baked baguette with salami and cheese. The reason I'm stopping is that I don't want to lose more weight, and I do want to be able to eat sandwiches or pasta every now and then without feeling guilty. This is especially as I am still struggling to find out what to cook at home in China: going out is fine and delicious, but I'm finding the selection at Chinese supermarkets for the nights we eat at home hard to get my head around. For example, the supermarket closest to me doesn't even sell any cheese. (And some of the meat, chickens with their heads still on, I'm not quite ready to take on just yet...)

Also, I feel a big goal has been achieved: I am  no longer the carb-addict I was coming into this diet. My cravings are much more balanced. This is quite apart from the not-inconsiderable achievement of losing 10-plus lbs without having to restrict my appetite (even if, at times, channelling it only into low-carb foods amounted to the same thing: I ended up not eating...).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nearly at my target weight, but depressingly unhealthy couple of days

Evening weigh-in: 155.6 lbs (starting weight 166 lbs)

Amazingly, I've hit the magic 155 lbs that I was aiming to weigh after doing this diet. I'm still taken aback at the speed with which the extra 10+lbs I've been carrying since having children came off. But in the process of doing the diet, what came to really attract me was the idea of replacing carbs with vegetables. On this I am not succeeding at all in the last few days. These past two days have been super unhealthy, and it's really annoying. Yesterday, I just suddenly really felt like non-Chinese food, and the nearest place to where we were buying carpets for our ice-cold house, was a German-style brewery. In I went, and forgot about avoiding carbs until it was too late. Today, I just didn't have time to prepare vegetables/sit down for lunch, and came back to the old problem that avoiding carbs is challenging unless you are very well prepared. My old default, to eat bread and cheese, I decided to avoid, but instead I ate nothing. In the evening I was so hungry I just decided to eat early with the kids, despite the carbs.

Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. I have bought a lot now, so my fridge is stocked. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.


Morning: Coffee
Lunch: skipped
Evening: Snack: spicy peanuts, ate pasta with tuna fish that I cooked for the kids

Morning: coffee
Lunch: German beer and bratwurst, french fries
Evening: Fell asleep

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm back!

Morning weigh-in: 157.8 lbs (including warm clothes and scarf)

I am writing from an old courtyard house in Beijing, China. It is bitingly cold in here, hence my decision to weigh myself with all my clothes on. I am very pleased to weigh so little, it still amazes me.

I knew before I came that the Chinese government banned Facebook, but I hadn't appreciated that they also banned many Google products, including Blogpost. On arrival in our hotel, I found I couldn't access my own blog. So it has taken me these past two weeks to find a house, get the kids into a temporary school, get internet set up and a VPN, so that I can bypass the Chinese website bans. And here I am again! We have been sleeping on mattresses on the floor, but we have some furniture we bought yesterday arriving this evening, so everything is getting more and more civilized.

Tomorrow, I will try to post a picture, because it is so amazing to be here in this house, I still can't get over it. I feel like I am in a scene from that Zhang Yimou movie, Raise the Red Lantern, though I am pleased to say that as far as I know Charlie still has only one wife, me.

In terms of food, I have to confess that, not surprisingly, I haven't been able to stick to strictly no carbs during this transition period. Friends invited me over for pizza parties before leaving, and on arrival, we stayed with friends who I also felt I could not insist that I eat no carbs to, it was simply too rude to come and visit with a family of five and then also have strict dietary requirements. However, despite not being fanatic about it, I haven't eaten much by way of carbs on the whole. The Chinese food is out of this world. Yesterday, Charlie and I had lunch in between trying to find some furniture for our house, at a restaurant which is literally 20 seconds from our house. The bill came to a total of $8 and it was absolutely delicious, very green vegetables, tasty meat, delicious sauces. I've been avoiding rice, though once or twice I have had noodles, or dumplings. I simply couldn't resist and they are so fresh and homemade, that I just can't believe they're unhealthy. But I am going to get strict again now, as I'm settled in and get back to work, and post my meals again.

Today's start. It's morning, and I am having my usual: coffee. It's some sort of instant packet, that I picked up in the local supermarket, and I fear it contains a bit of sugar, which I normally never have, but somehow seems to have been included in the combo. My hands are getting cold from typing, so I'm going to stop now, more tonight.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Day 25 - Meals

I thought I would write down what I'm eating today after all, as I'm cooking and just waiting for the eggplant to cook...:

Breakfast - Coffee
Lunch - Chili con carne at local diner.
Dinner - Eggplant with goats cheese and olive paste, broccoli baked with Parmesan (both Nigel Slater recipes), Steaks

Snacks - Almonds

Day 25 - Fitting into those pre-pregnancy clothes

Weight: 159lbs (starting 166lbs)

My weigh loss seems to have stabilized at around 159lbs, which I'm happy with. My sister is visiting from Europe and said "oh you don't look much thinner" (you can always rely on family to be encouraging...) - but when I said I weighed 158-159 lbs, she was impressed, I could tell. For me, the greatest excitement is fitting into clothes that I used to wear before I got pregnant in 2006 and had three children in a row (and when I say in a row - my daughters are 10.5 months apart: you do the math...). There was a pair of Diesel jeans that I just loved which I thought I would never fit into again in this lifetime...and now, they fit! They're very tight, and I do need to lose a bit more if I really want to get back to my younger self's weight, but I can get them on and do up the button. Psychologically, that's huge.

I'm not going to list all my meals again until I get to China, I just have too much on until I fly on the 7th of February. Charlie already left a week ago, and clearing out the house, my office, everything is pretty full-on. Mostly, I'm eating repeats of previous days, but perhaps not quite so healthy as when I started off, eating only one vegetable instead of two, for example, at dinner. Last night, I had peppers filled with ground beef and with cheese on top. Plus spinach. That was pretty delicious, actually. But I'm having trouble eating enough vegetables during the day, and have got in the habit of having a cooked breakfast or lunch (sausages and eggs) which doesn't feel super healthy on its own. I keep reminding myself of Mark Sisson's saying (which I think one of you reminded me of): "vegetables are your friend". As a snack, I am eating a lot of almonds. I haven't looked up how good or bad that is, but it's better than licorice, is my guess. I'm also drinking quite a bit of wine in the evening, as a way to relax and indulge myself. Not every evening, but probably every other evening.

Generally, I've adjusted to not eating so many carbs. I no longer have the feeling I'm eating sawdust. I find it hard to think of snacks that I actually want (beef jerky - sorry, but no thanks), and will research this a bit more once things calm down, but other than that, I don't really mind being on this diet anymore. I am coming through to the other side! Also, once I get to China and see what's on offer, and the kids are in school all day (here they just go for 2.5 hours) I will have time to strategize a bit about eating more healthily, and how. I don't think it'll be hard - traditionally Chinese (northern, where I'll be) don't eat bread, they don't eat pasta, and they normally just have rice at the end of a meal on its own. Before that, you often get a spread of fish, meat and vegetable dishes, so it's just a question of skipping the rice at the end. It might actually be easier than following the diet here in the US: there are simply tons of restaurants in Beijing, spilling into the streets, along the sidewalks, and it's often as cheap as eating at home. From not minding this no-carb way of eating, hey, who knows, I might get truly excited about it.

I may not post again until I'm in Beijing and settled 10 days from now. But I am coming up with a list of pros and cons -- some of which I'm finding quite unexpected --  in my head, about this diet, which I'm hoping to share with you and get your input on.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 20 - I can't believe it's already Friday

It's been a big week for me, so I haven't been posting as much as I would have liked. We are moving to China, and on Tuesday my husband Charlie and the dog (Sisi) left for England (where he's from - the husband that is, not the dog who is pure American, from Middletown Humane Society). The dog will live with a friend of Charlie's mother for the year we are in Beijing. Then, yesterday, I drove my Dad to Newark Airport, after a 10 day visit. He is 84, and I managed to make sure he got into the fast lane at the security check at the airport. I can't believe that they make everyone stand in line that long, if I hadn't made a fuss, he would have been standing there for 30 minutes. Afterwards, I got home and just collapsed into bed. I woke up at 6am with my contact lenses in and all my clothes still on.
I'll be leaving myself -- with the kids -- in about week, probably on the 3rd of February - it's weird to think that next time I see Charlie it will be at Beijing airport...

The good news is that I've been keeping up the diet, and my notes of my weight and eating in my small pink notebook. Also, before he left, Charlie said how thin my stomach was feeling. I asked if that was good, and he said yes. Wow, might I even fit into the clothes I wore having before having children in the near future? That would be very exciting.

So, going backwards:

Day 20 (today): I weigh exactly 157 lbs (starting weight: 166 lbs, target weight: 155 lbs).
Breakfast: Coffee
Lunch: Cottage cheese and tomatoes, cheddar cheese
Dinner: Moussaka (made with coconut flour at your recommendation!). Snacks: Paleo Apple Pancakes (recipe from -- again thanks to rec made by one of you -- made with coconut flour and flax seeds), Eggs with sardines.
The kids heard I was making pancakes, and got very excited. They are normally very fussy eaters, so I said they wouldn't like these particular type of pancakes. But they did!

Day 19 (yesterday): 157.8 lbs
Breakfast: Coffee, sausages and eggs
Lunch: Onion soup, Cheese
Dinner: Zzzzzzzzzz

Day 18: 157.6 lbs
Breakfast: Coffee
Lunch: Spinach omelette
Dinner: Steak, avocado bacon salad (made with spinach)
Snack: Dutch licorice. I know, I know, it's got sugar in it, but my Dad brought it from Holland and I could not resist. I think only Dutch people love licorice, but those of us who do love it, it's v hard to resist.

Day 17: Forgot to weigh myself
Breakfast: Coffee
Lunch: Vegetable soup, salad with mozzarella
Dinner: Eggplant Parmegiano, Greek Salad, Calamari. DILEMMA: I got these from a local Italian restaurant along with the takeaway pizza for my Dad and the kids. When I got home and opened the packet, I realized they probably did contain flour, but I ate them anyway. Not particularly because I found them irresistible, more because I thought, I can't be too fanatical about this diet. I do my best, but throwing food away because I made a mistake would just be too radical.

Snacks: Bittersweet chocolate, licorice