Testimonial written by: Janet
Today is the one-year anniversary of my life reset.
A little over a year ago, I started thinking about an upcoming milestone birthday, and taking stock with where I was, who I was, and who I had been for the last few decades of my life.
With just over 200 days to go before I turned 60, I decided that I had finally had enough of being less than I could be.
Not only was I tired and frustrated and embarrassed at being very fat, I was nearly as frustrated with being a very smart person who couldn’t figure out the solution to this problem. How could I be such an intelligent and resourceful teacher of ballet—solving problems, creatively improving my teaching methods and seeing remarkable results in my students—and remain so clueless and powerless against the one goal that has eluded me my whole life?
“If I am smart enough to figure out how to teach the intricacies of ballet technique to even the least intuitive and least coordinated of students,” I thought, “surely I can figure out my own eating and weight issues!”
So I made a list of my goals:
- Be healthier
- Weigh less – enabling my body to find its ideal weight & size
- Be pain-free
- Be more mobile
- Have a high and consistent level of beta-endorphins
The method I use to teach ballet does the following:
- Breaks everything down into its components
- Teaches those components in a logical progression
- Analyzes the things that are not easily visible to the naked eye, often debunking traditional beliefs and ineffective teaching methods, and replacing them with solid science in an ever-evolving system that really works
Could I use these same guidelines in analyzing and conquering my eating/weight issues?
I teach my ballet students to treat each desired step or and movement like a recipe: figure out what it takes to achieve the end result (the ingredients), and then focus on quality and consistency. Put the finest ingredients in, in the proper amount and order, and you’re always going to get the same results.
If achieving your goal requires skills that must be mastered, you get there fastest and most assuredly if you practice them every day.
No days off. No procrastination. No cheating.
So what, then, was the recipe for the life I wanted to live for the rest of my days on this Earth? And what were the component steps and skills I needed to master in order to have consistently awesome days every day? And finally, was I really ready to give this process my full, undivided, and un-cheating attention—every single day, for the rest of my life?
I made an initial list of food items in Yes and No columns (and eliminated and +added to the columns as I went along):
|any some vegetables||+cheese|
|fruits||+nuts & peanut butter|
My main strategies, at first, were to make very small changes—things I could absolutely commit to—and then practice them for 3-4 weeks before cutting something else out or adding in a new discipline. My only real ideas for how to accomplish the eating goals were to progressively eat smaller and smaller amounts, and then to choose the most nutrient dense options for those small meals. (Eat like a person who has had bariatric surgery – without the risk or side-effects of the surgery itself.)
Day 1: I started journaling and have kept up that discipline every day since – although the format of the journal changes according to what I’m focusing on. At first, I wrote sentences and lists. I commented on my day, and how I felt physically and emotionally. I went cold turkey on the coffee, sugar, and flour which was not my original intent, but once I decided to stop, I have stayed committed. I focused on listening to what my body wanted to eat, and when, and even a little bit of when to stop.
Day 9: I journaled that “my original plan was to just spend the rest of 2019 focused on what I’m eating. But so far, removing sugar, flour, etc. has been a non-issue. It doesn’t seem that I’m going to need that much time to solidify those choices.” I considered adding another baby step strategy from my list:
◦ Eat the best bites first, so it’s not as difficult to stop when I’m no longer hungry.
◦ Fix smaller portions, even if I need to go back and get more
◦ Evaluate hunger before eating and try to stop @ 0. Maybe record these numbers in the journal for awhile. (If I do both of these last two first before I worry about drastically reducing portion sizes, maybe the issue will mostly resolve itself?)
◦ Reduce portion sizes to absolute minimums.
Day 18: Still having no problems selecting and eating the right things. But I find myself eating too much, especially at night. I started using smaller bowls and plates for my meal, until eventually, much later on, I was eating each meal out of a coffee cup.
Day 32: Started doing some upper body weight work every day, and noting that in my journal. Then slowly over the next few weeks, added some other very light movement. The conundrum, from the start, has been that I need to move more to burn fat. But being very fat limits the kind and amount of movement I can do.
Day 80: Switched to journaling in a grid/diagram, adding symbols for the movements I added to my exercise routine, and rating my pain level, ease of moving, and overall attitude. I started meditating daily and haven’t missed a day since.
Day 116: The last day I taught ballet classes in a studio and the first day of Covid-19 stay at home orders. While the rest of the world was panicked about the situation, I immediately recognized it for the gift it was to me – the opportunity to focus completely on the new-me-in-progress, without the distractions that my job has always imposed. I might have been the only one who felt this way, but I loved being confined to home and unable to work normally. I embraced each minute as an opportunity to turbo-charge my efforts. I did start teaching again from home, via Zoom, within a couple of weeks, but it was with a reduced and much less stressful schedule that still allowed plenty of time to stay focused on myself.
Day 136: Started seriously trying to walk outdoors every day. For the first few days it was less than 1000 steps (which probably doesn’t even count as a walk to some), but I had to start with what I could do! Hauling so much weight around was slow and painful.
All along the way, I paid attention to how different foods made me feel. When they made me feel yucky, I gave them up and haven’t looked back: wine, cream cheese, all cheese, white potatoes… And I also gradually decreased my portion and meal sizes until they were quite small. I could feel my clothes getting looser, and my movement getting easier and less painful. But then I seemed to plateau.
Day 200: Two days before my 60th birthday, I wrote “The best thing about today is that I have kept my word to myself and done what I set out to do for 200 days straight – without screwing up, or dropping out! I have made some experimental choices and learned from them: no hard seltzer; cheese might not be worth it. Some goals were easier to master than expected: went cold turkey into no sugar, no caffeine, no flour. Also meditating every day. Some were harder: walking, Tai Chi Jani. But I have stuck with it and it has been remarkably easy with almost no temptations. (And when I started to feel the temptations, I knew the cause (hard seltzer), and battled through without succumbing.)”
I stayed in a sort of limbo, plan-wise, for a couple of months. I was still slowly eliminating foods that didn’t seem to work for me and I continued to eat smaller amounts and monitor hunger levels. I had done really well with daily walking for about 3 months and slowly increased the distance
and pace; but once we reached the hottest part of the summer, I had a hard time making myself walk, and I was still in a fair amount of ankle and foot pain. I wasn’t gaining weight, but I couldn’t really feel myself losing either. During this food and movement plateau, I started sending pleas out into the universe during my meditations, asking for new directions, new ideas.
In late August, I was been researching foot articulation exercises to help my pointe students and came across Dr. Andreo Spina and FRC. In researching those, I found a YouTube interview between Dr. Spina and Robb Wolf, which inspired me to research the latter.
I knew nothing about Paleo or Keto (although I did Atkins in the 70’s). I’d heard of intermittent fasting, but hadn’t paid any attention to it (although I’ve fasted a fair amount in the past – anywhere from 3-30 days at a time.)
Day 288: I bought Wired to Eat and set in motion a series of changes over the next 80 days. The first big takeaway from the book was that I was going to have to give up beans and the few fruits I was still eating. And it planted the seeds of ketosis again in my life.
Day 301: Stopped eating fruit & legumes
Day 307: Bought Keto Masterclass
Because I had just spent the last 300+ days slowly making changes, I felt like I was already nearly working the full plan. But hearing the science, and learning the new (to me) ideas it offered that I might not have ever discovered on my own, made the monetary investment very worthwhile. After listening to the entire Keto Masterclass, I made a list of the changes that still needed to be made:
◦ Electrolytes (started on Day 314)
◦ Swap pecans, macadamias, and walnuts for cashews (then eventually greatly limiting even
◦ Find ways to increase fat: avocados, coconut oil, dark chocolate, ghee (started immediately,
but once I started using Cronometer, it became immediately evident is that I had greatly
over-estimated how much fat I was and should be eating. So started cutting back again.
◦ Remove all cheese (started immediately)
◦ Weigh food & track macros (started Day 322)
◦ Know when to eat my meals (started Day 330)
Day 308: Started Keto-Mojo testing – I was in light ketosis from the very first test.
Day 310: Joined The Healthy Rebellion. Have just mostly lurked there, reading the posts and exploring the resources in the Vault.
Day 323: Realized I wasn’t eating nearly enough protein, so started increasing it.
Day 343: Started DDF and measuring blood sugar. Also cut back to 2 meals per day – waiting longer to eat in the morning, and then eating my second meal in the late afternoon before I teach. This means I’m also doing intermittent fasting of 16-18 hours each day. After making this change, I pretty quickly saw an improvement in my sleep, and have noticed that I no longer have any desire to take a mid-day nap.
After about 2 weeks of DDF (two meals a day with IF), I have noticed that everything feels better, except that my blood sugar numbers did not keep trending down. They didn’t necessarily go up (or at least not very much—the highest number I’ve ever seen since testing was 110), but waiting to hit my target before eating wasn’t working with my work-forced mealtimes. I decided I might benefit from tracking a different metric, so I researched ketone breath monitors and ordered a BioSense monitor.
Day 363: Started BioSense breathing ketone monitor. Stopped checking blood sugar, but kept
the meal timing.
My estimate of my starting weight is somewhere between 325-350 lbs. My best guess-timate of my current weight is in the 260-275 range. But that really is a guess, because I have not, to this day, weighed or measured myself, and I don’t intend to do either until my body arrives at the destination that it, and my brain, are comfortable with. While seeing the numbers decreasing would be inspiring, any lack of progress could also derail me. I know where I stand by the way my clothes fit, and my increasing mobility.
Using non-emotionally-charged numbers like ketones help reassure me that I’m in a good zone, but I’m hoping to not get obsessed with them in any way – particularly if it’s true that light-to-moderate ketosis is best for weight loss.
And now from the Where-To-Go-From-Here desk: Now that I have my food and eating (as well as sleep, meditation, stress levels) pretty much dialed in, my main focus for the next few months is going to be movement.
As a ballet teacher, I know and understand movement very well, so knowledge isn’t going to be an issue. But I’m dreading this, because moving means pain, which reminds me of how out of shape and far from my goals I am. But I do know that there’s lots of room for tiny improvements, and each of those will help me lose weight, which will, in turn, hopefully mean less pain. And movement also means increased endorphins, which should help with motivation.
Written by: Janet
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
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