Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Habit Change App- Coach Me - track habits and more, my review, how I use habits in weight maintenance

 I don't think I've given a big shout out to the Coach. Me App. Coach. me (formerly Lift) is a habit building app and tracker that I use to track:

Strength training- AKA going to the gym
Eat Paleo- Yeah! like every day
Sprinting - oh, I need improvement here...

Two recent habits that I prioritized have been

1. Tracking sleep with Fitbit
2.  20 Day Mindful Pause Meditation (in app purchase)

 Okay so what are my top uses for the app

A. Track my habits, either established, new, or ready to adopt
B. Get "props" - virtual high fives from people I follow, or groups of people following the same habit.
C. Tracking over time
D. The tracking is right on my phone
E. I can set up reminders to track, on a timer frequency,on the habits I choose
F. I can create custom habits
H. I can archive habits if I'm not prioritizing them.
I. I can export my records into a cvs file for Excel or Google Spreadsheet.
J. I can ask questions to others, if I've joined a habit that others are participating.
K. I can answer questions with those in my group.
L. I can make "secret" projects.
M. I can hire a coach for a low price for my habit.
N. I can add my own notes.
O. Calendar format
P. Bar graph format
Q. The app was either free or very low cost.

I did choose to pay a small amount for the meditation series. It sounded like a good fit, and I'm more likely to cement in a habit if I have to pay a very small amount.  Truth! Don't get me wrong, I leverage the heck out of free apps like My Fitness Pal, Instagram, Twitter.

I do tend to follow through if I've paid a small (value, in this case, $9.99 for 20 days, unlimited use.)  amount. Also, I do like to buy either a book, or save up for "continuing education" hobby related expenses- usually it's travel or photography or learning some skill.  Like investing in myself. It feels good.

Anyway, look me up if you are on Coach. Me . Habit building for both weight and non-weight management habits have helped daily, draggy routines come to life. Almost as fun as putting a sticker on my paper calendar. ;) 

I'm pretty sure I listened to Kendra Kinnison on her podcast - the Habit Chef talk about (then Lift), now Coach. Me app.  I like it that Kendra is a coach at Coach. Me.  and she tracks simple things, like flossing and complex things like leadership for high level executives. Plus, Kendra had a "secret project" listed. She worked on it every day. She followed  me last year and it was fun to watch her progress. Someday, I'll get my own secret project.  Yeah!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Tweets I liked last week- Mid July, 2015 sleep, weight maintenance,habits, and bone density

Rain in So.Cal in the summer!!! July 19, 2015
New feature: Once a week, or every other week I'll post interesting links from well curated weight maintenance, Paleo, Primal, and legit or seemingly legit science sources.

I often tweet interesting articles, so follow over on twitter if you want to read them sooner.

*I'll make every attempt not to choose tweets with triggering junk food, but sometimes, there will be. Scroll fast! ;)

Sleep: Robb Wolf, Doc Parsley will answer questions on an up coming podcast. Ask your question, it may be answered.

Hey folks! I'm doing another podcast with @docparsley about ALL your sleep questions. Send those to info @ Robbwolf dot com!!

Weight maintenance: 
A study showed a very small number of formerly obese staying at a normal BMI.

Karen's 2 cents: I think the rate is higher in certain support groups- think WW, National Weight Loss Registry, TOPS, OA, FA, Half Size Me Heather, and Tips of the Scale. I could be wrong.My BMI was around 35 or so before I lost the 70 pounds.
I found Dr. Freedhoff's blog post here. Lively discussion on Facebook here.
And yes, the look AHEAD study does have different stats, people who WERE trying to maintain their losses. This seems more realistic.

Habits: Shopping and the subconscious. Many So. Cal cities are mandating bring your own bag.
Karen's 2 cents: This is why I shop and eat from a food template. Bringing my bags or not, I remove myself from the health halo effect of marketing. Maybe I'm just wearing the grass-fed halo, but still...

Habits: Making decisions: Ask for information, not advice.
Karen's 2 cents: Yes! Information, with some of your own data =  self efficacy( n=1)

Bone Density: Great personal story from the Low Carb Dietician.
Karen's 2 cents: Bone problems run in my family. I can only start where I am and keep up my strength training, home made stock, and good gut absorption. I can't undo the yo-yo dieting from the past or my smaller frame. Better late than never!

Okay, anyone else run across any current articles?  Discuss! This is my first attempt at embedding tweets. Crossing fingers...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Reader Question: How did I figure out my dietary macros in long term weight maintenance?

Multiple wellness factors for my macros
Great Question from our blogging friend, Ali,
RE: Macros and wellness eating higher dietary fat.

1. How did I determine my weight maintenance macros?

2. How do I maintain with fat in my diet despite mainstream recommending low fat?

Okay. Great questions. Short answers are pretty simple:

1. Short , Simple Answer Macros: I track my food intake and macros very carefully.

Action: If I trend higher on my weight, I reduce my carbohydrates, slightly.

2. Short, Simple Answer: Low level ketosis, sometimes.  Along with good glucose/insulin/ghrelin control. Eating lower carbs lends itself to a diet that has either more protein or more fat, because of the lower carbs.  I started thinking of dietary fat as "energy" and good hormone signals in menopause. Also, the lack of binge urges on a low carb approach has been lifesaving, literally.

The long answers are below: I don't just choose my macros or my dietary fat "willy-nilly"

My theory: If I look at my blood markers and how I feel, then I'll get a warning sign of heart disease, stroke, bone loss, another auto-immune disease. ( I have Hashimotos from 1997).

My Guidelines, both measurements (think blood work, scale, food tracking) and just overall wellness, sleep, and inflammation guidelines (menopause symptoms, acne, migraines) that I use, too.

Blood work guidelines (I'm very mindful of relatively silent blood markers).

1. hs-CRP, low 1 or below
2. fasting glucose, no spiking & return to baseline 1-2 hours post meal ( my average is 86, post meal)
3. HA1c, my average runs 5.2 or 5.3,
4. Triglycerides, I run around 42
5. HDL cholesterol, I run above 70
6. TSH under 2.5 , I feel better in the lower half of the range, always have.
7. Vitamin D, above 30.

 Frequency: For all but fasting glucose, I only measure 1X per year. Fasting glucose is at home via finger stick.

Scale guidelines
1. Total weight
2. Shifts and trends over time
3. Weight distribution: visceral fat vs subcutaneous
4. % body fat

Frequency: Daily weighing and tracking at My Fitness Pal.

Carbohydrates and sometimes calories*
1. Tracking at MFP
2. Looking at my carbohydrate levels over time- Apple Health App. I sync my Fitbit with Apple Health.
3. Calories* Sometimes I'll eat too low in my total intake, so I'll increase what I'm eating if my signals are not working.
4. Calories* Sometimes I'll over eat too high in my total intake due to false hunger signals- this rarely happens anymore, but I do stay mindful over binge urges. Usually, I'm eating too little. Which I also find funny since I used to be the Queen of Binge eating.
Low Carb, Higher Dietary Fat Summer 2015

 Blood pressure
1. Home blood pressure cuff
2. Blood pressure taken by medical professionals.

Frequency: 1-2 X per week with a home pressure cuff. Sometimes my blood pressure runs slightly lower than normal. Sea salt on my food will help raise it. I always find it funny since I had borderline high blood pressure while obese. Typically, I'll feel bad and have a cup of chicken broth, then feel better. No measurements required.

Wellness "I feel good parameters"

1. Good energy between 3 meals. Maybe adding in 4th meal if hiking for hours
2. Correct hunger signals.
3. Natural sleepiness at night, falling asleep quickly, sleeping solidly
4. Calm and cool even under life changing pressure, low anxiety
5. Lack of puffiness and joint pain
6. Body strength, upper body especially arm strength at the gym
7. Good core strength and balance
8. Ability to lift big bags of garden soil, cat litter, and large water cooler bottles, readily and easily.
9. Very few, infrequent menopause symptoms- hot flashes, insomnia.
10. Acne = inflammation. Almost always caused by food
11. No headaches, no migraines (30 years). With a Paleo-ish food template = no migraines, if I'm nut free.
12. No GERD. Gone with the removal of grains. How easy was that? Super simple
13. Working with my regular internist MD to monitor my health and TSH levels.

Other peoples successes

1. Attending the workshop that Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib taught in 2012. Those attendees ate dietary fat and were quite lean and muscular.  Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson's success stories. Those regular people are just like me!

2. Attending Paleo Fx 2015. So many people had prior health and fat loss goals. They eat dietary fat, and the majority of them were quite lean and muscular, at all ages. Off many medications.

3. Reading the blogs of those who have been obese and are now following NSNG- no sugars, no grains and who also eat dietary fat. Those bloggers previously had type 2, now controlled largely by diet, sleep, low inflammatory exercise.

Okay, hope this helps. I used the scale at the start, but I use my menopause symptoms, blood work, and just overall wellness guidelines. It's very individual, so it pays to experiment yourself. Good luck!

What didn't work in the past

1. Moderating all foods and point counting at WW. At no other time did I eat so much junk food, but hey, it did fit my points values.

I hope that other people think twice about moderating grains and sugars if they have lean goals. There are many reasons not to moderate all foods- allergies, intolerance, food addiction, binge urges, disease management.

 Just being near the "Wall of WW Snacks" and watching people line up 10 deep to by highly priced, but very low in points, highly processed foods gave me too many sads. I stopped going to weigh in at WW.  I used to be on those 2 point bars like bees on honey!

Here's my opinion and 2 cents. If you are a stock holder, it is a WIN-WIN. WW makes a ton of revenue selling the packaged snacks to food addicts. That's going to be sustainable in the long run, they will always have customers. Yes, yes, stock holders will benefit.  Sigh. I can only hope the Simply Filling plan where processed foods are discouraged will take a better hold. But hey, profit margins and food addictions. They've cracked the $$ diet profits pretty well.

I was convinced that because WW was US News top diet every year that I was personally defective some how. I felt so much shame and embarrassment that I could not lose weight in my 40's at WW. ( I was successful at WW points in my early 30's, dropping 60 pounds, while binge eating). I blamed myself, wrongly. And, I failed to think for myself. Not WW's problem. Mine. Steep price to pay for not thinking for myself. I still get a case of the sads when thinking about it.  No woulda-coulda-shoulda... moving on...

If you did great on WW, yay you. A pat on the back (be sure to check your blood markers, though)

2. Not reversing my poor blood markers quickly. My hs-CRP got to be very, very high. I'm lucky I did not suffer more symptoms and poor health than I had. I wish everyone would pay more attention to their blood work. Things like walking a half marathon while fueling with Cliff bars and thinking I "earned a muffin or biscotti" had me muffin topped and in a lot of pain and my hs-CRP became 6.8 at the worst. Not smart on my part. Chronic cardio = high risk, for me.

3. Using medications to mask the symptoms of  GERD, acne, joint pain was very expensive, time consuming, painful, and the conditions always returned. NO, you do not have to have these common symptoms as a natural part of aging in many cases. Yes, many times diet can eliminate. It's not "old age", it was inflammatory processes. In my case, reversible.  I know that sometimes obesity related pain is not reversible by losing weight (think knee problems or damaged joints)

4. Moderating processed foods and having lots of hot flashes and frequent insomnia. Think protein bars, Lara Bars, Quest Bars. I know many can tolerate them, but I cannot. It would be easier traveling with them, but whole avocados or a container of coconut manna work just fine for portable travel foods.

5. Not connecting my migraines with common foods- like nuts. Whatever keeps my binge eating urges low also eliminated my migraines. Now if I have a headache, it's dehydration by accident and I can fix it by drinking water and re hydrating.

6. Not looking at my raising glucose levels. I'm a lab professional in real life. No reason other than a walk down the "denial mile" that I didn't do self testing at home. So cheap and easy compared to managing reversible type 2 diabetes. I was close to being diagnosed when I lost weight. I even bought a copy of the book  "Pre-Diabetes for Dummies" thinking I would just manage the disease .  I didn not accept I could prevent it and/or reverse it.  I can laugh at myself now at my thought processes then.

7. Not looking and catching weight gains quickly. If I can measure it, I can manage it. Critical step in long term weight management, IMO.

Hope this helps. I extended my wellness way, way beyond the scale. It's a super simple concept- eat lower carbs from non-starchy veggies, no sugars, no grains. But I do take a multidimensional approach.  The scale is not everything. I do enjoy not eating myself to a slow, progressive end. It is way less physically painful and the freedom from obesity and binge eating is nice.  I feel better!  I urge you to think for yourself, check with your doctor, make changes as needed. Your results and genotype will vary, make your macros work for you for your ages and disease states.

Have you used macros to fine tune your health?

Left, eating low fat, high processed foods May '11, Right, Eating Low Carb, higher dietary fat July '15

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Phase 1 is complete- stopping the weight gain, an example of reversing gains immediately

Oh heck NO! Stabilizing after a gain
Okay, so phase 1 is complete. I've stopped the weight gain and am now maintaining at the top of my weight range .

 I've hit my "scream weight" several times this last month. See Dr. Berkeley's article on reversing gains immediately when you reach scream weight.   The last straw came when I hit an all time high in weight maintenance at 121. Since I'm short and don't feel good at weights above 119, I've chosen to go back to a better weight maintenance range for me.

I'll always be thankful that I reverse trends and gains. Always. No need to do all the work of a major transformation just to regain back the weight. I've got the mindset, skills, measurement tools, knowledge, and food template to stay a maintainer for the rest of my life.

It takes a lot of work and effort. Feeling well is worth it.

Phase 1 = stopping the gain, maintaining my weight, eating more calories (my calorie intake went too low for a while), and sleeping better.  The extra calories are coming from protein (eggs, grass fed beef), guacamole, chicken liver, and chicken hearts. Nutrient dense. I don't think any of my readers expected to find me sitting on the beach eating Paleo treats to up my calories.... LOL ;)

Phase 2 next. Plan is:

1. Looking at my macros protein, fat, carbohydrates. I'll likely have to drop down only a small amount into the mid 30 grams of carbs a day (all from veggies) for loss. The good news is that once I get back into solid weight maintenance in the middle of my range, I can likely up my carbs to the lower 40's and maintain very easily.  Time will tell

Here are my current macros. Weight maintenance = 26% protein, 65% fat, 9% carbs. Each day may very a little.  If I start to get into the 14-15% carb range, I'll have insomnia and weight gain. No fun. The good news is, I can usually hit a 33-35 gram carb range for weight loss. Not a huge adjustment. Pretty painless, but the window is narrow.

2. Continuing to sleep well,
3. Continuing to move well,
4. Continuing to manage stress.
5. Continuing to measure and track food, movement, sleep.

Things that didn't work in the past

1.  Eating mostly whole grains since WW told me they were low in points. Do you know how much Kashi cereal I ate in the summer, with berries! due to the high fiber content and low point values? My colon hurts just thinking about it!!! I thought everyone had massive GI problems- because "High Fiber" But hey, I could make my points range just fine.  Ouch for not thinking for myself. Too bad I didn't change my plan fast when eating grains cause weight gain. Oh well, better late than never. 

2. TV watching instead of sleeping.

3. Thinking I was walking a lot at 4,000-5,000 steps a day and "earning" WW exercise points to be spent on Skinny Cow Ice cream.

4. Ack! Stress, must hide. Be everyone's doormat.  No boundaries. Poor me syndrome.

5. Ditching the scale for weigh ins and for food weighing.  I could tell myself little lies about binge eating this way. Perfect for gaining weight! So many ostrich maneuvers- head in the sand , magical thinking. Hurts to think about how much I kept myself stuck. But good not to cycle back through it again. Exhausting.

Okay. Hope you are all well and having a good summer.
Ocean St, Carlsbad, CA 7-10-15

Sunday, July 5, 2015

3 year, 4 month Weight Maintenance - a GAIN = Karma, no probably not, try your science hat

Yeah! Because I said weight maintenance was "boring" last month, karma has bitten me right in the butt and I've had a gain this month.  3 years and 4 months into long term weight maintenance

No, no, no... it's not karma, but there is some biology going on here. Butt, However, I'm not binge eating. That's cool.  Most of the weight seems to be subcutaneous- hips and yes, my rear and not in my abdominal area. Visceral fat = disease, so I still fit into my clothes and reducing my health risks. I'm NOT binge eating. That's a good thing.

Let's get to the stats.

Starting weight 187.7
Current weight: 119.8
Goal Range 113-119
Menopause: 3 years
Age 49
Height 5'1"

I do feel better in my weight maintenance range of 113-119, so I will be working on a concentrated effort to lose 2-3 pounds. There could be several root causes on the gain. And it could take the rest of the year to get it sorted. Especially if there are multiple roots. Problem solving. ID your root causes. Rule them in, rule them out, shake them all about...

Most likely causes

1. Not eating enough!!!
2. Thyroid adjustment needed?
3. Stress related
4. Natural weight plateau, I'm just one higher up.
5. Menopause, the next phase
6. Some other reason, unknown

 Root 1: Okay I never ever thought I could get to the point where I did not feel like eating enough. I have noticed a correlation on days where I'm intermittent fasting (IF) where I just don't physically feel like I can eat  enough for my activity levels. So, I won't be IF-ing for a few months solid to see if I can get some more normal hunger signals back again. Maybe IF-ing at  a normal weight is not a good idea for me. I was only IF-ing 1 to twice a week.

 Root 2: I have a few symptoms of needing a thyroid dose adjustment, but not enough to go running into my doc for a blood draw. I'll get my insurance wellness blood draw in Sept 2015. All the other times I've gone running in, convinced it's my thyroid level, and it's not. The thyroid thing has not been the root cause.

However, I've never needed a dose adjustment since 1997!!! I have no idea what to expect when I do need an adjustment. 5-10 pounds was all I lost when I got diagnosed with Hashimoto's. I probably went from 165 to 155 or so.  At a normal weight, without the binge eating, I'm not sure what symptoms I'll get when I'm in a normal weight and low inflammation status.

Root 3: While the recent month has been less stressful, I had epic stress levels in May and early June 2015.

Root 4 :I've always operated on weight plateaus one right around 116-117 and one around 120-121.  My BMI is still normal around 22.6, but I do feel better with a BMI right around 22 or the high 21's.

 I feel terrible right at a BMI of 24-25 and higher. I'm shorter than most middle school students, with a small bone frame. The high end of normal weight leaves me pretty miserable, so the mid range BMI is just better for me.

Root 5 Normal effect of menopause, this is the start of my 3rd year of menopause. I've upped my active time by about 15-20 minutes per day, with good outcomes.

Root 6: Something else. Unknown, Undiscovered. Maybe those fermented veggies at the end of May were not a good idea??

Things I've ruled out already:

1. I'm not binge eating or having binge urges.  Yay!  No Sugars, No Grains for the win.
2. I'm not having glucose spikes, my blood glucose is returning to mid 80's post meal and low 80's fasting.
3. I'm not thinking Karma : come on people, I'm a board certified, licensed scientist in real life. There's a biologic reason, so put your science hats on, please.

I do believe that obesity is a symptom of metabolic, genetic, and genetic pheneotype processes gone askew. I'm not a bad person, sloth, weak willed, cheating, not measuring, lying, or anything else ;)  I'm swimming in the shallow end of the genetics pool, so it's worth it for me to identify the root causes and move along.

I also have total respect if you believe in Karma, too. I'll be meditating ever day the month of July. To reduce stress. Weight maintenance has it's ups and downs. Dealing with them is key.

I'll also let you know what worked for me, or what I've ruled out during my August 2015. Onward. Always Onward. Don't beat yourself up if you don't get the results you want. Do spend some time getting to root causes, though.