Sunday, November 22, 2015

Reason to celebrate!

So I've been trying to shift my focus these last couple of weeks, dealing again with period gain and frustration at my stall ... and the very kind messages from some of you, both in the comments of my last post and emailed to me privately, certainly helped lift my spirits. Thank you all, I appreciate it more than you know. Then something came along that made shifting my focus a whole lot easier ... at least for now. Some weeks back I applied for Australian citizenship ... which involves a lengthy application, much notarised evidence, and of course a fee. So I recently received an email advising I had an appointment to sit my citizenship test.

I had downloaded the resource kit months ago and took several practice tests, and I was fairly confident. Stilł, in the days leading up to my test I read the material again and took several more practice tests. Out of about 200 questions, they randomly ask you twenty, so I was hoping to get different questions each time I practiced it, but many were the same.

Then the day came and I went in to sit the actual test, and bring original documents of all the notarised copies I had submitted. About a third of the questions I got were not on the practice tests, but still I sailed through it, hesitating at just one. In the end I got one wrong (you're allowed five) and she said I had been the fastest person she'd ever seen complete the test. She couldn't say which one I got wrong but I'm sure it was the one I hesitated on. In any case, I passed and just had to wait for official notification that would advise whether I was approved. Well that came just a couple of days ago! I am approved but they will send me notification of when my citizenship ceremony will be (would be cool if it falls on Australia Day) and then I have to take an oath before I can officially become a citizen,

Both Australia and the U.S. allow dual citizenship, so I am in no way renouncing my US Citizenship, nor would I ever. But my life is here now with my husband. In fact, today is our 12th Wedding Anniversary so we have two things to celebrate. :)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Will I ever be happy with my weight?

Firstly, the weigh-in. I last reported I was at 76 kg (167.55 lb) but the next day I was back to 77.8 kg (171.52 lb) where I stayed all week! I was that frustrated I returned to Alternate Day Fasting three days this week yet the weight didn't budge. I remained 77.8 kg all week long. Until this morning. Now I'm 75.7 kg (166.89 lb) and coming off a fast day I'm almost afraid to eat today. It's so frustrating when everything that's worked before doesn't seem to work anymore. So many women talk about that same thing happening once they are in their 50s. I'm starting to think my body just wants to stay in the 165 lbs range and I'm never getting back to my low weight of 158 just before my trip home, much less my goal of 150. My husband thinks I should stop obsessing over reaching my goal and just be happy where I am. He's not alone.

At my Halloween Party this year, at least three people said I was skinny now. I often hear I look great or so thin now and shouldn't worry about losing more weight. I am so not thin. I've talked about this before -- part of me thinks people are used to fat being normal, so because I am no longer morbidly obese and look more like most average people, I am fine and can stop now. But still I struggle and am frustrated because I have not reached my goal. My goal is 150 pounds, which is still overweight for me (I'm just under 5'4") but it's the goal I originally set for myself and I feel like if I give up before I get there, I've failed at yet another weight-loss effort. And truth be told, I'm not happy at this weight.

In saying that -- I recall a post from two years ago where I talked about where my struggles with weight first began. Back in high school I weighed about 165 pounds and I was never happy with that, thus starting a life-long battle with weight, and sending me skyrocketing into morbid obesity.

Now in my 50s I find myself frustrated because I've maintained a weight fluctuating between about 160-170 pounds for eight months now. I said two years ago that I was determined to succeed this time and I knew I wouldn't quit. That's why I keep obsessing about reaching my goal. But am I just reverting to that same high school girl who wasn't happy with herself and her weight at 165 pounds? Should I just be happy that I've lost as much as I have, that I'm no longer morbidly obese, and that I seem to be able to maintain at this weight?  I really struggle with wanting to find some balance between being happy with myself and who I am, and being someone who can achieve her goals. And if I'm happy at this weight, will I relax my efforts to continue losing and possibly regain? Is my whole life going to be about what I weight and what I eat from now on? When is enough enough?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A smaller drop, and what I'm eating

So when I last checked in I was 76.7 kg (169 lb), and as I predicted, my next drop wouldn't be quite as big. I am now 76.0 kg (167.5 lb), a loss of a pound and a half, and that's fine with me.

What's made it really easy to follow my new plan is having quick, easy breakfast and lunch options I can just grab and go without having to cook.  Breakfast is usually a protein shake, and I frequently have tuna for lunch with an individually wrapped cheese stick to bring up the fat content a bit (and because they're so tasty) or just some cottage cheese and pickles.  So really the only cooking I'm doing is for evening meals, on the days I eat them. I have been having some form of dessert every day such as an Atkins bar or ice cream treat which of course are made with artificial sweeteners. I would like to reduce my use of artificial sweeteners but have relied on them throughout my weight-loss journey because they do make it easier and my view is whatever helps you get there is OK.

I never thought I'd be a fan of these flavoured tunas as growing up we always had just mayonnaise in tuna. I still like it with mayo and often have it that way on a big bed of salad, but these little tins of flavoured tunas are so quick and convenient to grab for lunch that I have been using them a lot more often. My favourite flavours have been Zesty Vinaigrette and Sun-dried Tomato and Basil.  I'm not a fan of fish in general, so tuna is about the only way to get me to eat fish.

They're so convenient and I really like them, but I've always heard you shouldn't eat too much tuna due to the possible mercury contamination. I know several people in Australia that eat tuna every day and tell me they're not worried about mercury at all. One said she feeds it to her children every day as well and she's never even heard of any mercury worries.  I have heard recommendations to only have tuna once or twice a week, but if you go on the websites for the companies that produce it, they claim they monitor mercury levels very carefully and there is no cause for concern. Do most people still worry about mercury contamination in tuna?

Not much else to report - hope you all had a Spooktacular Halloween.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It's working! Down 4.85 lb this week.

I weighed in this morning at 76.7kg (169 lb), which is down 2.2 kg (4.85 lb) from where I was just eight days ago when I started my new plan. I've been using FitDay and saved my own custom foods list which makes it quick and easy to track what I eat by just picking from the list. I've stayed LCHF (low-carb, high-fat) skipping my evening meal every other day. Calorie intake ranged from 1100-1300 on the days I had dinner to 800-900 on the days I didn't. Some of that loss is water weight of course, but I'm so happy to finally be back in the 160s, and just 19 pounds from goal.

Keeping it LCHF has been really satisfying -- I'm never hungry so it's really easy to stay on plan. My averages for the week were 9% of calories from carbs, 33% protein, and 58% fat. That's pretty close to my goal of 10% carbs, 30% protein and 60% fat.

So that's about it -- obviously I will stay the course this week, and while I don't think I'll pull big numbers in week two, I'm very hopeful I'll continue moving in the right direction.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Changing things up again

Hi guys. I had hoped to write that I'd broken through the stall since returning from the States, but that's not the case. I'm maintaining, thankfully, not gaining ... but I must get things moving again. I continue to read and research, as I always have. I came across another woman doing LCHF and intermittent fasting but it wasn't working for her since she'd entered peri-menopause, and I thought maybe that's my problem, too. What was working for me during the last two years of this journey just isn't working to get me across that finish line, so I'm changing things up again. No, I'm not going to eat only steak and eggs -- I couldn't stay on that very long, and while it may be great for male bodybuilders, I'm not convinced it would work for a woman of my age approaching menopause.

So here's the plan. As much as I have loved NOT having to count anything for the last two years, I'm going to start again, at least for awhile, just to see what I'm actually eating. So the diet will stay LCHF, and rather than a complete fasting day, I'll be skipping dinner every other day. I've planned out my foods for the next week in FitDay and set my goals for about 1200 calories (on the days I eat dinner), with less than 30g (10% of calories) from carbs, and about 80g (60%) fat and 90g (30%) protein.  I won't fall exactly on those numbers every day, given I'm skipping dinners on alternate days and find it hard to keep protein under 30%, but I've come very close. And I am eating something in the evenings, even if it's a Greek yogurt (no sugar added), I'm just not having a main course. Let's give this a go next week and see what happens.

I've been getting plenty of exercise, too -- we bought some new folding bikes and take them to some of our favourite trails to ride -- I'm talking 1-2 hour bike rides. We still get in walks several times a week, and we've also been ripping out an old pool in the back yard. This involved tearing down the old one (so not easy), digging up the support posts which were cemented in and connected to each other by metal bands, and removing the old fence that circled the pool. The fence posts were seriously cemented in but we found a great way to remove them easily using a level, but over all this process has been hard labour. I'm feeling muscles I haven't used in a long time, but it feels really good. So the exercise will continue, we're really enjoying the new bikes!

That's it for now -- I'll check back in next week or so and let you know how it went.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Steak and Eggs or a Fat Fast?

I was a little over 2 kilos (4.4 lb) down at the start of the week but then of course my cycle came around again. I'm tired of reporting on period gain every few weeks, this is ridiculous! I had planned three full fasting days this week but only ended up fasting until dinner time. That was still pretty effective, until the water weight came. I've been doing heaps of reading that make me curious about whether I should try increasing my fat intake.

First, there's  the Steak and Eggs diet. This is basically a ketogenic diet and a great way to get weight off fast. While it's healthier than you might think and some stay on it long term, I don't know that I could -- I'd probably get too bored of the same meals. But as a kick-start it sure sounds promising. Basically you eat two meals a day of just steak and eggs for 4-5 days, then have a cheat day where you eat whatever you like. So zero carbohydrates until the cheat day. There are plenty of articles online if you want to know more about it, and I don't think it's dangerous in any way -- I actually think ketogenic diets are a great choice for someone with insulin issues and/or PCOS like I have. The steak and eggs diet may raise testosterone levels, and with PCOS I sure don't need that. But if I try it for just a week or two to get the weight moving again I don't think I'd need to worry.

The other thing I've been considering is doing a Fat Fast. The article I've linked to is specifically about Fat Fast and Menopause, and how women as they approach menopause are finding that what worked before (reducing carbs) isn't necessarily working for them anymore but this often helps. There are comments from women in my age group on that article and many found this helped keep their weight down. I sure wish I'd started this weight loss journey a couple of years earlier -- I would have liked to reach goal well before menopause was even on my radar.

Hubby and I bought folding bikes since we enjoyed riding so much while in the States. We had hoped to start riding this week but it's been cold, raining and windy all week. I thought I'd missed out on the end of winter, this is supposed to be spring now! Yes, spring brings rain but it's been so cold it sure feels like winter still! Brrr!

Oh -- there is some good news to report. With the weight I have lost, I keep hoping to see some relief in my PCOS symptoms. Today my hair dresser said she definitely sees new hair growth at the crown, and overall my hair seems a bit thicker to her. Not a lot, mind you, but when you're dealing with hair loss, especially as a woman, any regrowth is a good thing. My hair had been thinning over the last decade due to PCOS, and increased over the last two years possibly due to weight loss. I know some women find they lost hair due to weight loss. Maybe that's stabilising now. I don't know, but I'll take any good news at this point. Well, I'm off to bundle up and ward off the cold for another night. Have a great weekend everyone.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

My question was on the LCHF Podcast!

How cool is that?!  When I was down 125 pounds I submitted a question to the podcast asking whether losing weight should be helping alleviate the symptoms of PCOS, because I've read stories from some people for whom it did, but so far that hasn't been the case for me.  I have been overseas so I just realised they recently featured my question!

Dr Ann Childers responded and I was so excited to hear her response.  Firstly she congratulated me on my weight loss, which was cool. Then she indicated LCHF was an ideal approach for those with PCOS, and then gave cautions for diabetics. Unfortunately, she didn't address my specific question about whether LCHF could help reduce the actual symptoms of PCOS at all.  So I went from excited to disappointed.  I feel like I should resubmit the question but there's probably no point. :(

--- UPDATE ---

I did contact Dr Childers via Twitter for more information and she provided a link to someone who specialises in fertility issues for women with PCOS. That's hardly my concern at 52 years old, but who knows, they might have further information. We'll see.  Thanks for the suggestion, Karen!