Monday, March 28, 2011

More = Less: Thoughts on Women's Weight Loss

This is a muumuu.

I recently taught a community nutrition class, and there was a particular student in the class who kept proclaiming with gusto that she ate every 2 hours every day.  I kept thinking to myself, 'That's silly and unnecessary.  Why would she do that? What a waste of time.  Why doesn't she just eat more at each meal and have breakfast, lunch, a snack and dinner like any normal human being should?  She must be even more strapped to her kitchen than I am, and that's, like, impossible.'

Through our eight weeks together, I wondered why she kept saying it.  Every single class.  And then she'd qualify it by explaining that her body was like a car and that it needed gas all the time, etc., etc.  I thought that maybe she should try putting more gas in her "car" every time she filled it up instead of putting 5 dollars' worth in her tank at every gas station she saw.

Through those eight weeks together, I also was continually gaining weight.  I gained about 5 pounds over a 3 month period, despite my continued efforts to not only work out more, but to eat less like a good little weight-loss drone should do.  My favorite jeans wouldn't fit.  I found myself wearing clothes that looked more like muumuus than professional attire.  You know how it feels: no, you're not "fat", but it sure feels like it because you're so uncomfortable.  Despite my efforts following Shaun T. through his Insanity workouts 5 days a week, climbing 4 or 5 times a week, and hiking 5 days a week, I was slowly gaining.  It's not just about looking good, either.  I have a climbing trip to Kentucky scheduled for this Friday and then another one to Spain in May; I need to get my ass in shape and lean out so I can climb well.

Anyway, I was confused, befuddled, at a loss.  I thought, 'I'm a nutritionist!  Why can't I figure this out?  I eat well, I don't eat too much, and I work out.  I think my thyroid must be broken.  I'm getting on thyroid medication.  Maybe my adrenals are blown out - I should get on corticosteroids.  Or maybe my hormones are going crazy and I need to be on the pill.'  It's in these moments of desperation that I start looking at the Google ads on the side of my screen wondering what the "secrets of belly fat" really are...

And then my boyfriend sat me down for a talking to, and said the word "calories".  Oh no, you didn't, Seth!  I'm a nutritionist - I don't eat too many calories.  There's something WRONG with my body!  How dare he question the amount of food I eat.

So, of course, I spent the entirety of the next day on my computer, hashing out exactly the number of calories I had been eating.  And it was approximately twice the amount that I should have been eating.  "I wondered about that half pound of pork sausage you were having every morning," he murmured when I told him the news.

Now what?  I cut down on my calories and STARVE to death every day?  That's going to SUCK and I won't be able to do it.  Cut out all things delicious that I recently added back to my diet?  Stop eating carbohydrates?  Yeah, that's sustainable...  Wait, I could eat every 2 hours just a little bit and then I won't feel hungry or have blood sugar crashes!  Wait.

So I've been doing just that for about a week and a half now and it's working.  Yes, it is already working.  She was right.

I think that for some people whose blood sugar has been damaged from years and years of sugar abuse, this is the plan that will have to do, at least for a while.  I knew this, but I didn't believe for one second that I was one of those damaged people who needed this kind of treatment.  Nevertheless, my blood sugar is benefiting from constant feeding.  Because I'm never hypoglycemic, my body never believes it's starving to death, and therefore it doesn't hold on to body fat just in case.  Eating every two hours keeps my brain functioning better all day because I'm not hypoglycemic between breakfast and lunch anymore.  And I'm eating all of the foods I want to eat - just not as much of them.  In one week I lost half of those 5 pounds. 

The moral of the story is that I am not alone in eating too much, and I am not alone in having messed up my blood sugar through the years.  This could easily be you.  You, too, could need to be the idiot who stops at every gas station for a little dose of fuel because your car is confused about how to handle a lot of gas at once.  This isn't the way we are evolutionarily supposed to be, though!  We should be okay with a little starvation sometimes, just like our ancestors were so often when the game was scarce.  But then I remember that the women of hunter-gatherer tribes were walking around collecting food all day, probably eating little bits here and there.  Maybe we evolved differently, men and women.  I don't know any guy who gets as "hangry" as I do when I don't eat.  I've never had one male client who sees little flashing lights and almost passes out after skipping a meal; it's almost always women who are like this.  So maybe the guys are more equipped to be running around with empty stomachs all day, chasing down the big stuff while we women are better off eating little bits here and there.  Just a thought...     

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Site, New Diet, New Life

Oh, my options are endless!
Welcome to the new site! The Revival of the Foodist blog, after a lot of thought, has been retired, and the blog will now reside here, at Neely Quinn, rEvolutionary Nutrition.  I've left Food As Medicine Holistic Health Counseling to go out on my own as a Nutrition Therapist and health educator.  My new business name, rEvolutionary Nutrition, obviously has its roots in my overarching philosophy, that we all should eat more like our distant ancestors did: meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs.  My convictions about this have grown a lot deeper over the last year or so, and I can't help but to let that permeate my business.  On that subject, I've been very busy writing for Paleo Plan, the Paleo meal planning service I recently became a part of.  Please check out the site for more information on the Paleo/evolutionary/ancestral way of eating.    

In the couple of weeks since I last wrote here, my life has changed a lot.  Yes, professionally things have been overhauled, but my food world has also been undergoing some renovations.  For all people with food sensitivities, I am here to tell you from experience that you CAN HEAL.  Hallelujah!!  I now have what's close to a normal diet!  I'm not saying that I'm gonna go eat a seitan burger (pronounced "satan"), but the poignant fact is that I probably could eat one and not feel awful.  After taking a food sensitivities test last March, I dutifully eradicated about half of my diet, including raspberries, all grains, pork, lamb, salmon, olive oil, celery, nuts, seeds, and arugula, among many other delicious, every day foods.  But most of those foods are now back in my diet.

The reasons I did the food sensitivities test (and the reasons many other people do it) were that I was constantly itchy from eczema, my digestion was temperamental at best, I had frequent breakouts on my skin and I was anxious.  Very anxious.  And I wanted to see what the whole food sensitivities test was all about.  I did an elimination diet after the test and figured out that a lot of the foods I listed above either gave me a profuse runny nose, immediately itchy skin, a hangover the next day, terrible stomach cramps, diarrhea or a debilitating headache.  Super fun stuff. 

There's nothing like being at a dinner party where you can't eat anything.  There's definitely nothing like having to cook every. single. one of your meals from scratch for yourself every day.  Seth and I didn't go out on a dinner date (and therefore a date at all) for the last year because there's nowhere in Boulder that you can go to get a Neely-proof meal off the menu. 

I was conditioned to be literally afraid of olive oil and pork as if they were truly and inherently dangerous.  I am going to Spain in May for an entire month, and upon researching what I would have to eat in Spain, I found there is a profusion of, yes, olive oil and pork.  So a couple of weeks ago I told myself to sack up and just eat them.  I thought only good thoughts and I accepted the possibility of the consequences, and then I took a deep breath and took a bite of an olive oil dish.  And nothing happened.  Then I ate pork.  Nothing happened.  I ate pepper and celery and carrots and an entire meal off the menu at The Kitchen in Boulder (on a real date with Seth).  Nothing happened.  You've probably never been overjoyed by eating celeriac or wine sauce, or exulted at the thought of consuming baby carrots and hummus.  You can't imagine my delight.      

So for everyone out there who has food sensitivities and is avoiding their favorite foods at all costs, never fear:  it is possible to eat those things again.  Stay diligent and you, too, may be able to eat freely once again.  It's just a matter of giving your gut and immune system some time away from those foods so it all has time to calm down and heal.  For some, it only takes a couple of weeks or months, but for others it can take years.  However long it takes, it will be worth it...     

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Favorite Breakfast

Shaun T. of the Insanity Workout Videos...
This week, I'm going to tell you what my favorite breakfast is, but before I begin, I want to share my big news...

Today marks my first official week as part of the website Paleo Plan is a meal planning subscription service for people who are eating the Paleo diet, and I recently joined them as the blogger and content/resources creator.  For those of you who are thinking about going Paleo and want to have your hand held through the process, Paleo Plan is the site for you.  There are also some fantastic recipes on the site that are free, so if you're looking for some new ideas for meals and snacks, check it out.  This turn in my career is sort of a dream come true - I'm gonna get paid to write!  Don't worry - I'll still be writing here every week, too.

On the topic of meals and meal planning, I vehemently believe that eating a solid breakfast is THE most beneficial thing you can do for yourself every day.  I've actually been experimenting with this phenomenon in my own life lately.  I eat a hearty egg-based breakfast almost every single day.  However, this week, I've had 2 instances when I didn't eat my normal breakfast.

One time was when I was super late for a morning appointment and I could not make a good breakfast.  The other time was yesterday morning when my boyfriend punched me awake at 6 am to do some asinine workout video he told me I had "committed" to doing with him.  I never committed to anything.  Regardless, there I was at 6 am fighting to stay awake after only 6 hours of sleep.  Having never done any exercise beyond a push-up out of bed at 6 in the morning, I was in no state to be embarking on a 60-day "Insanity" workout program.  You may be saying to yourself, "6 hours? That's how much sleep I get every night.  Working out at 6am?  I do that all the time."  Well, I DON'T.  I like my 8 hours of sleep, my late nights, and missing sunrises every morning.

So of course, having told all of my clients that they must eat breakfast before working out in the morning, regardless of what time it is, I had a little bit of sprouted seed and nut "cereal" with almond and coconut milk for breakfast.  Really bad idea before jumping around at a psychotic pace for 30 minutes.  The moral of the story is that I slept for almost the entire day.  I was groggy, nauseous, grumpy and low energy.  Maybe this is a bad example, considering the circumstances.  The other time it happened this week, though, I felt the same way - I was not myself at all for the entire day.  I felt headache-y, super low energy, grumpy and easily agitated.    

Some of you are saying to yourselves, "But I'm not even hungry in the morning - I must just not NEED breakfast."  What you need to understand about breakfast is that when you wake up and you're nauseous and/or don't feel like eating, it's because your blood sugar got so low during the night that your adrenal glands started secreting hormones like cortisol.  The cortisol stimulated the release of your stores of glucose into your bloodstream so that you could survive the night.  The other hormone that was secreted while you were sleeping was adrenaline, because that's what happens when your body senses an emergency situation (super low blood sugar).

The reason you woke up in the morning nauseous or apathetic about eating is that adrenaline, as you know, does not make you feel like eating.  It makes you feel like vomiting.  Ever narrowly evade a car crash and immediately say, "I could really go for a Big Mac right now"?  No, adrenaline makes your digestion slow down so that the emergency parts of your body (muscles, heart, etc.) can work better and faster.  No matter who you are or what health conscious Colorado city you live in, it's very likely that your blood sugar is so poorly managed by your diet that your adrenal glands have to manage it for you.  And you probably wake up in the morning and stimulate your adrenals to shoot out even more cortisol by giving yourself a ritualistic oral injection of caffeine...   Do you know what that constant supply of cortisol in your circulation gives you?  Among other things, abdominal fat.

Good health starts with breakfast.  If you eat a decent breakfast of protein, fat and complex carbs, you're starting things off the right way, avoiding blood sugar crashes, and thus, cortisol and adrenaline secretion.  If you eat something super sugary or full of refined carbs like, let's see, cereal, bagels, pastries, bars, fruit juice, doughnuts, etc., your blood sugar spikes, then quickly plunges back down and the hormones are secreted again.  If, after the good breakfast (protein, fat, complex carbs), you then have a good lunch (protein, fat, complex carbs), a good snack (you get the point) and a good dinner, you will probably wake up in the morning hungry like a normal person would after not eating for an entire night.  You should try it sometime.  Here's the recipe for success:

Veggie, Egg, Bacon Scramble
(15 min total prep/cook time, feeds one hungry person)

  2 Jumbo Pasture-Raised Eggs
1 Tbs Organic Coconut Oil
2 Slices Organic Bacon
3/4 C Sliced Shiitake Mushrooms
1 C. Chopped Organic Kale
1/3 C Diced Organic Jicama
1 Pinch Sea Salt
  1. Put bacon in toaster oven or in a pan on medium heat to cook for about 10 min while everything else is being prepped/cooked.
  2. Place large sauté pan on medium heat (medium-low with a non non-stick pan) with 1 tbs coconut oil in it.  
  3. Chop or dice kale, mushrooms, jicama on large cutting board.  (Do not make them perfect.  You're racing to get these things chopped before the oil in the pan burns.)  Line 'em up on the board and toss them in with the now hot oil in pan.  Spread the veggies out and cover pan for about 3 min.
  4. Keep stirring them until they're softer but still colorful (about 3 more minutes).  Add pinch salt.
  5. Add eggs - just crack them into the pan.  Break yolks with your spatula and mix them up with veggies evenly.  Let it all cook for about 1 minute. 
  6. Stir for about 2 - 3 more minutes until everything is evenly cooked (eggs should no longer be runny).
  7. Take out your bacon, cut it up and add to the egg mixture. 
  8. Enjoy
This meal is packed with protein (about 19gm), good fats (eggs, coconut oil & organic meat fats) and complex carbs (veggies).  You could add a few blueberries for that little bit of sweet we all love in the morning.  If you're not a coconut oil fan, do this with olive oil.  Whatever you do, just eat your breakfast.

Until next time.