Thursday, November 19, 2015

Time flies when you have ADD

A brief post on where I am now.

I found out earlier this year that I have ADD, and through other research on the connection for many people between ADD and addictions, it seems I have found a vital missing piece to help explain the brain chemistry behind why on earth I would keep doing things that I know are harming me. Even though I know what to do to be healthy, I just won't consistently do it.

I am not shrugging off my responsibilities, nor giving up in any way. One book I read had a very keen quote- "It's not your fault, but it is your problem." Knowing you have ADD means you have the responsibility to lead an interesting life that will keep your brain stimulated in healthy ways, and happy.

So "practice make progress" which is another keen quote from that book. Part of what that means is not to strive for perfection, but for progress. More importantly it means that by practicing healthy new habits every day, including every meal, you are making progress towards better health, and better lifelong habits.

"Habits are roads. Build the ones to take you to where you want to be." That is one of mine. Our habits take us along in life, they are what we do when we are not really paying attention. Bad habits take us to bad places, bad food, bad health, feeling like crap. When you are driving to New York from San Francisco, you take the road that will actually eventually get you to New York. You don't just keep driving on the roads you already know that keep you in SF,  or drive partway to New York then drift off south and end up in a missile test range in Nevada. So why would you keep following habits that take you in circles or to miserable places? Build the habits that it takes to get you to the beautiful fun places. Every meal counts, every choice of what you put in your basket, car, house, mouth, they all count. They are all real. Every choice needs to be evaluated as "Will it make me feel better 20 minutes from now? A day, week or year from now?" Not just the first few bites, or what you thought you wanted that minute, but for the long run. Not only steps on the road, but actual road building.

Just so you don't think this is the same "willpower" BS that you have all heard before, I am talking about all your habits including play, exercise, and sleep.

First of all don't let anyone bully you about this mythical "willpower". Willpower is really just glucose. All of your body cells burn only glucose for all of their energy. They take the food you eat, store the fats for later, pee away the excess protein (taking calcium from your bones with it), and actually use the carbohydrates to make glucose. Your brain is the biggest consumer of this fuel and uses about 20% of your daily glucose production. So when you get tired, stressed out, and have been thinking and struggling with food choices your brain burns through most of your available glucose leaving you burned out and low on "willpower",  and at that point your brain will agree to almost anything to get that fuel going again. Bottom line is don't get low on fuel, have a healthy snack before you burn out and eat junk, at least be aware that the low glucose can affect your decisions and ability to think clearly. (More on that in other posts as well, including research about parole boards, and the connections between the times of day they reviewed cases and parole approval rates. Very unfair for the inmates who were seen just before lunch, or at the end of the day.)

So don't blame yourself for running out of "willpower", any more than you would blame your car for running out of gas. Get the right fuel and you will be fine.

Back to building the right roads. I am talking about all kinds of habits, not just food choices. I my case it is changing the habits that allow me to focus my revved up ADD brain away from the damaging ones of hyper-stimulating processed food dopamine rushes, into new healthier ways to deal with that sometimes "desperate for a fix" feeling. "Healthy Fixes" one very interesting book calls them (more on that in another post.) So instead of self-medicating with drug "foods", I am working on building more structure and schedule into my life, more routine around healthy habits. A strategy for solving a problem becomes a rule and then a habit. Once it is a habit it is much easier to follow and be free. For me that includes things like getting up to an alarm everyday to go for a brief walk just at sunrise, making myself read 30 mins of only one book each day until I actually finish it (instead of having 8 books going and not really finishing them), using a planner to lay out at least 3 things I need to accomplish each day, working on them and maybe adding 3 more things. The structure helps me focus and that is what I was using the drug "foods" for.

I will post the books titles and links soon, it's almost midnight and I have to get up for a nice walk tomorrow before school.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

No wonder I got so fat!

My average daily calories right now is between 1200-1500, for the whole day, eating as much as I want of healthy real food.

My average single meal of fast food was between 1000-1300 calories. For example a Quarter Pounder with cheese, a medium fries, one chocolate chip cookie, and a medium normal coke is 1270 calories for one meal!!

Holy cow. That stuff is deadly.

15 years not totally wasted, just getting "wasted" too often

In the last post I was frustrated that I had "wasted the last 15 years waiting for my reason to change". That's only part true. It was not all a waste because I have learned so much, and not gained more weight than I did. I am frustrated that it's 15 years later and I am still fighting this, and I have spent far too much of that 15 years "wasted", meaning in a food haze, or outright "food coma" from overeating fast food, junk food, and platters from places like Chili's.

The Good

The most useful and life changing information so far came from Dr. McDougall, Jeff Novick RD, Dr. Doug Lisle, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Kessler, and a few others in person, and through their DVD's, websites, forums, and books. Much of this information is free in great detail on their websites, and they often make great videos on YouTube, with updates on Twitter and Facebook. Their books can even be found in libraries.

My favorite part about everything these professionals have to say is that it's free, simple, safe, and backed by peer reviewed studies published in leading medical journals. They are not selling pills, supplements, special secret information, or subscriptions. You can buy great DVD's or books from them if you want, but the basics, many recipes, support, and more are all free. They are out there doing their best to help as many people as they can, so more people can avoid expensive doctor treatments, obesity, and diseases caused by the wrong foods. The plant-based low-fat way of eating saves you a ton of money in food costs, as well as saving you a small fortune by avoiding many medical treatments, pills, and surgeries for problems caused by the standard American diet.

Everything I have learned so far has helped me get better at this eating right weight loss thing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finally a solid start. 349 (from 368 on Dec 1, 2011)

Wow. I sure want to delete that first post. For one it's embarrassing that it's been almost 3 years and I had not made any real changes until 6 weeks ago. But also because it is so annoying. The tone is just so full of whatever. The links are valid, the basic information is still good, but it is not inspiring, or comforting, or in any way as exciting as I feel now.

The reason I am keeping that post, and the one after it, is to show how hard this all is, but also that it can be done. It is so hard to kick the addictions and habits that brought me here, but it is so worth it! I will maybe always have thoughts like "Oh those potato chips look fun" or "I really want a great burger, fries, and soda" or even thinking "I really want a candy bar", but these past 6 weeks those thoughts are not as important to me as the real food I am eating and the progress I see in my health and my weight and especially my mood.

What changed? Why am I posting after almost 3 years? I have two very big reasons that came up in December of last year. The biggest one is a decision someone very close to me is making that I cannot mention without permission of the other person, but one is my own. My blood sugar fasting level was 135 on December 1st, and that's into the diabetes range. My doctor said she wanted another test in 8 weeks, and I would have to start medications if I did not lower it. My dad has diabetes, and although he is super careful and managing it, I never ever want to have the health problems related to that. Plus my weight is still a very huge real problem. I'm at risk for strokes, heart problems, fighting high blood pressure, can't hardly reach to tie my shoes, can't go on rides at parks, and all that missing out on so many things in my life because I was too tired, slow, fat, moody, even depressed sometimes. So after being over 200, 300, 350, and finally 374 pounds, after having cancer surgery, after broken ankle surgery, and all the other really good reasons to change my way of looking at food, I have to say that I have wasted 15 years waiting for my reason to change. Anything that inspires you to try one experiment to change your life, just do it today, don't wait. Maybe the threat of diabetes plus the other really scary thing I can't mention because it's not happening to me, maybe those are valid reasons to change, but fear will only get me so far. In the long run I have to make it about feeling better for myself.

So here is the update. Since December 5 of last year (2011) I have been on my own experiment. I have a few foods that are problems for me. They are really easy for me to over eat. It's like they have no "off switch" and I will eat them till they are gone. I will eat them even when I am not hungry, and I won't stop when I am full. They are foods I had good memories of, feasts, fun with family, vacations, the "high" they bring, the comfort of old habits. But they also are why I am so fat, and they make it hard for me to think clearly. It's like being drunk I imagine. Slightly drunk most of the time.

On December 5, 2011 I decided to commit to stop all these problem foods for just 8 weeks. I felt like I could stand going 8 weeks without them, as long as I saw a possibility of eating them again when it was over. Somehow it reduces the panic, or loss, if I tell myself "It's only for 8 weeks". (Don't tell my brain, but I plan to start another 8 weeks as soon as the first one is over, and another and another.) I just can't say "for the rest of my life" or "I will never eat xyz again" because it's too scary for me. I figure 8 weeks will give me time to really test this real foods plan. To see real results in my weight, health, and mood. It is longer than I have ever done this before. It should be enough time to form new habits.

So here are my problem foods I stopped for my 8 week experiment. All junk food, fast food, soda, fried things, dairy (all milk products), soda pop, wheat, and meat. That was my own decision based on years of experience of how they make me feel in the long run. No wheat because it makes me feel sleepy after I eat it, ready for a nap, or at least hard to concentrate, bleh. No dairy because it gives me asthma trouble and congestion. No fried foods, fast foods, or junk foods because they are way too high in fat, too expensive, and I always enjoy the first few bites but feel like crap afterwards (physically and emotionally). No added fats or oils because I really wanted to lose the weight and fat calories add up really fast for no nutrient value or fullness. I wanted to cut out meat for basically the same reason because it is so heavy, and really hard for me to know when to stop.

So how is it going so far? For the past almost 6 weeks, I have been keeping this experiment going pretty well for all but 2 days. About 3 weeks in I really wanted to have a hot dog soda and popcorn at the movies, McDonald's for lunch, and In-N-Out for dinner. The McDonald's was not worth it but I ate it anyway, the hot dog was not as good as I hoped, and the In-N-Out was great (at first) but so heavy and way too much food for the day. Then a couple of days ago I had a special NomNom Truck grilled marinated pork sandwich on a baguette (that I had wanted to try for 3 months), half a soda, and a chicken soft taco, and later a half a Snicker's bar. When I eat too much meat like those two days, I just feel so tired, achy, and bleh. Not worth it for me. There have also been a few days where I had an ounce or two of potato chips (too hard to stop), or a chicken lunchmeat sandwich with light mayo (nasty) but mostly I've been on track. There was another day when I had just had a healthy lunch, and felt satisfied, but minutes later I craved junk food/fast food because I was upset about a frustrating conversation I got into. I did not eat the junk, but it was interesting to see how my mood shifted and wanted the junk so quickly. I got over it by seeing that it was from the bad mood, and turning my attention to other ways to handle it. Talking with a different friend about the frustration and the sudden food cravings helped get rid of the feelings.

I can eat any food I ever want to eat, I am just trying to stop the problem ones for 8 weeks, and maybe forever, but I will never quit just because I had something stupid now and then. The main thing for me is that certain things are not food anymore, and will possibly never be food, but I can still have a little once in a great while for a special occasion if I choose to. I just never want to get used to them again.

So besides two off days, how is the rest of it? I am so happy. I feel clearer, better, happier, and less moody. I have lost about 21 pounds in the 6 weeks so far, and it's been pretty steady. My blood sugar in the mornings has dropped from 135 to 105, and I feel less drawn to junk even though it is on my mind plenty. I am cooking a few new things, and having the best luck when I cook a big pot of soup, or rice pasta that I like and put it into single serving containers in the fridge to grab one when ever I get hungry, or pack for lunches. I pack some of my own food into coolers, or hot thermos containers for lunches or snacks while I am out. Wendy's has plain baked potatoes that are good with ketchup or their chili. Packing my own food just makes me feel so much safer and gives me options that make me feel much better than being desperate and hungry.

I have invented a couple of simple rice pasta/soup recipes that I really enjoy so far, and make a few other basic fast things for meals. I am sure that I will expand my menus as I get better at this, but for now for me simple is much easier. I might post the simple recipes later.

Bottom line is I have made it happily through the first 6 weeks and feel pretty good about the next few weeks. It has not always been easy, but it is so worth it. I am losing the taste for fried stuff, even baked potato chips are too greasy for me now. Losing the taste for chocolate, it's too sweet and milky to eat very much. Not as tempted by fast food, the McDonald's experience was not worth it. I am really enjoying the real foods I am eating. It's so great to feel hungry for a meal, eat something tasty and healthy, and stop when I'm full. I don't feel like overeating the good stuff. Somehow real food has an off-switch, it's actually satisfying in that way.

I still want to be careful to think before I buy anything stupid, and to try to keep junk out of my house. I want to develop more friends and hobbies I can turn to when I feel the need for junk. I think I am pretty happy with this experiment, and will keep at it for the remaining 2 weeks. Hopefully I will start a new one for another time period as soon as this one is "over". How does 12 weeks sound?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Reality Check 2011

Reality check 2011. It's been a little over 2 years since I wrote that, and a few things have changed, but the main problem is still here. I got up to 374 and have been hovering around 365 for most of the time. Down to 352, up again to 366 today. Trying for a week here and there to eat real foods, but falling back into junk foods to balance my brain.

I do still believe in the real need for real foods. I feel so much better in almost every way when I am eating veg, fruit, rice, potato, and oatmeal, and the weight falls off quickly when I do. The only thing missing I think is something to balance my brain. My brain has been so overstimulated for so many years by fast food, chocolate, cheese, and sugar, that it is hard at first to replace the burst of feel-good energy, and then stupor that comes from that kind of eating. The feel good is only a burst though, because a few minutes into that kind of eating and I feel worse, sicker, fatter, and it's harder to think clearly, hence the "stupor" that is so draining. And overall the damage that kind of eating has done to me and my life is severe, and really sad if I think about it too much.

I have two battles to fight every day. One is planning and preparing healthy real foods, the other is replacing the high from junk foods. Eating better works when I plan ahead, cook ahead, eliminate junk from my surroundings, and have plenty of fast easy choices prepared ahead of time. But redirecting the addictions is harder to figure out. The book "The End of Overeating" has several good ideas for learning new habits and re-training your responses.

So it becomes now a matter of filling that gap with something that is not junk.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Starting at 348 pounds, I am on my way to 175

This is the start of my journal about losing 175 pounds by changing from junk to real food. I will eat to satisfaction of this real, healthy food for the rest of my life. I will lose weight gradually, safely, and never gain it back again.

The method of this opposite of madness will be following the McDougall Program, a plant based truly low fat concept based on real whole foods like a variety of fresh and cooked veggies, fruits, starches, and whole grains. 

Everything you need to know about this plan is given out for free on his website. You can also read his research and medical opinions for free, read hundreds of great recipes for free, and go on the forums for free support from others on the program. He has been helping people for free for years. You can also buy dvds and books for more in depth information and pizazz, but the basics are all there for free.

I am not alone on this journey, my mom, daughter and husband are working on this too. We are all tired of being overweight, and want to get healthy with healthy food and exercise.

I will post side stories as I go about asthma, allergies, and getting off of a heavy load of medications for them. Stories about how I first heard about the McDougall Program, what other things are similar and different, what I have learned in the 12 years since I started learning about all this, and books that have helped and what did not. I have looked into Overeater's Anonymous, Weight Watchers, Vegan, and glycemic index as well. 

After learning about these kinds of concepts for 12 years, what finally changed for me? What pulled it all together to make it feel like it will really work this time, what was the famous "Turning Point"?

I will have to think about that some more, but my advice to you for now is check out the website, read the McDougall books from the library or buy them, buy The Pleasure Trap (on dvd or as a book), get started and don't wait for your "Turning Point", get going on it now.

The bottom line is I am excited about finally feeling like I have a handle on this, and you can get started on it now too.