As some of you know, I’ve been on a 3 month plateau. These last couple of weeks that seems to finally have broken and I rapidly dropped weight every day. I’m now down 36.8 kg (81 lb).
What did I do?
Well, I didn’t change my calorie intake really. My experiment with trying to lower calories, and my experiment with trying to increase calories didn’t seem to help. So I’m eating about the same calories as I had been. For example, my calorie intake each day for this past week has been 1902, 1576, 1239, 1813, 1239, 1466 and 1638 – an average day calorie intake of about 1533, which is about what it was the previous two months.
I did increase my exercise a bit. But I’ve been doing that for the past couple of months anyway, to no avail. So I don’t think that was it.
Basically the main difference is that I stopped eating so much between meals. I had been a “grazer” and tended to snack a lot (on healthy things, like veggies) – but I was really eating all the time. Many diet advisers actually seem to advocate that approach. And I liked the idea of being able to eat at any time; it requires less will-power.
But apparently it was not good for me. And I think the reason I was doing it was a psychological addiction to food more than anything.
I have a hypotheses about this I’ve been thinking about for a long time. My thought is that maybe in some sense we are like cars. You get better mileage on the highway than in stop and start city traffic because you are giving the car a constant stream of fuel. That makes the cars run more efficiently.
However, for dieting, the problem overweight people have is not that we aren’t efficient, it’s that we are too efficient. We really want to run inefficiently so our body wastes as many calories as possible so it has to go into fat reserves.
I think it may be very possible that eating all the time throughout the day, in and of itself, was lowering my metabolism.
So the main thing I decided to try was to concentrate my eating on three meals per day, each with higher calories, and very little in-between-meal eating. Perhaps at most a piece of fruit between meals, and maybe a serving of tofu after dinner if I was still hungry.
The result was that as soon as I started doing this I started dropping weight dramatically over the last couple of weeks. It takes more will power because there are times I am actually hungry more during the day. But it’s a philosophical shift of trying to concentrate less on food being the center of my life.
Eating less throughout the day also makes me feel less sluggish, particularly during the late afternoon. And I believe it gives my digestive system time to “catch up” instead of having to run non-stop.
There are some other changes I made to my diet that will not please the “healthy food advocates” and people on the Ornish reversal program I’ve been following. The truth is, since going vegan and following the Ornish program almost a year ago now my digestive system has never been really comfortable. I won’t go into the details, but you can imagine the symptoms I’m referring to.
So I decided to go off the “whole grain everything” bandwagon and started making (horror of horrors) white rice instead of the brown rice I had been making. White rice is a bit more caloric, but it is much more digestible without unpleasant side effects. I’ve been told the side effects would go away as my body got used to eating more unrefined foods, but I really feel giving it a year was enough time. I also reduced the volume of vegetables I was eating. Instead of a 400 g bag of frozen veggies with dinner for example, I might have just 100 g or 200 g. I still eat a large salad every day with lunch (plus rice), and even can tolerate about 50 g of red kidney beans with the salad for extra protein.
And I also cut back on spices. I had been eating a lot of garlic power and curry powder. I decided to go more bland.
The result is that not only is weight coming off now, but my digestive system has returned to normal for the first time in a year! I think it was mainly a problem of too much fiber (which health advocates are in favor of, but my body can’t tolerate) more than anything.
So the only downside of what I’m doing is that it is somewhat more difficult to follow because it takes more will-power through the day to not always be munching on something. I had, for example, gotten into the habit of always snacking on something while watching a TV show: corn on the cob, sliced pumpkin, whatever. So-called “healthy” foods, but still, eating a lot throughout the day. I also stopped eating those to reduce fiber input somewhat.
I’m trying my best to avoid that kind of “grazing” and snacking now, and concentrate my eating to just 3 regular meals per day with very limited in-between eating. So it’s a shift in philosophy about how I think about food. I’m trying to make it less the center of my life, and live with less eating times.
I do have periods where I am feeling hungry. But I think that might be better for my overall quality of life than the psychological addiction I have had to always be eating something. And it does seem to help with weight loss.
I’ll keep you informed how it goes.