Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The GM Diet

Well...here we are. Yesterday was my last day of the GM Diet and as promised...I am here to give you my take on it. To read the diet for yourself....go to the link above. However...to recap why I started this diet: I went to the doctor, blood pressure was sky high, I have a reunion this week, a landmark birthday looming......and most of all.....I am really really far from a size 6! Oh...and as a side note, when they did my breast MRI, although they found it normal they did find an incidental finding of gall stones. For now they are just gall stones causing no problems, however....if they cause me issue, I will have to have my gall bladder out. Nice! To avoid this, the doctor said to stay away from high fat foods. Gotcha! Another reason to make better food choices.

So I chose the GM diet because it seemed like a good way to cleanse my system. The diet is basically made up of fruits and vegetables. You drink LOTS of water and throw a little protein in for good measure. It says that you will loose 10-17 lbs in a week. I would think if you were very heavy and you never drank water...this might be possible just in water weight loss BUT any time you lose 10-17 lbs in a week you are risking your health as well as guaranteeing yourself that the weight will be back the minute you eat anything with calories in it. Reading the diet I did not expect to lose that kind of weight. My thoughts were that I would lose some weight and that it would be a great kick start to clearing out my system, pulling me off diet soda and sugar and preparing me for whatever food plan I chose from this point on.

I have to say that while on this plan I stuck to it like glue. It really was not difficult and I was never hungry. It does not give you specific times a day to eat like breakfast, lunch and dinner. It says....eat as much as you want, or if it gives you an amount of what to eat....you can eat it at any time. The diet also has a great soup that is reminiscent of the Weight Watchers Zero Points soup. It is all veggies with Lipton onion soup mix and whatever seasonings you want. You keep it on hand and you eat it whenever you are hungry. My kids loved it! I had to throw a fit to make them stay out of my "diet" soup. Truthfully too....I was extremely motivated to stay on this diet after my blood pressure scare and knowing that I have this reunion coming up.

Also...I am not a fan of weighing everyday. Your body changes everyday so weighing that often, in my opinion is fruitless. Weighing once a week in basically the same clothes at the same time of day gives you a much more accurate picture of where you are....again...in my opinion, but for this diet experiment...I did weigh everyday to see how my body reacted to each days food choices. It was interesting. My final analysis on weighing daily: If you are trying to lose weight and have a lot to go....weigh only once a week. This way you will see bigger results than if you weigh every day and you won't be depressed if one day you weigh a little more than the next. If however you have reached your goal weight and you want to maintain it....I think weighing daily might be a good idea. This way you are keeping yourself accountable and if you have gained a day or two you can adjust your intake quickly before you have hit a 5 or 10 lb gain. Of course again.....this is just my opinion.

Okay...on to the diet. I will break this down for you and tell you about each day. Day 1, is all the fruits you can eat (except for banana's), plus 10-8oz glasses of water (which you drink daily). My fist thought was hmmmmm. While fruit is very healthy for you and high in fiber....it also has a lot of natural sugar. I was really worried that I would gain instead of lose. It does however say that you will get the most weight loss if you stick to the melon family on this day. Since I am a melon lover...this was the route I chose. I ate a whole cantaloupe in the morning and for lunch and a half of a watermelon for dinner. So let me tell you here....I was not the least bit hungry all day (that is a lot of melon) and with all my water....well lets just say between the two....I spent a lot of time in the bathroom. This was a good thing though as I knew it was cleaning my system out. When I weighed the next morning I had lost 5.2 lbs. Now there could be a little variance here because my starting weight was from the doctors office and my loss weight was on my home scales. The point is...there was a loss. 

Day 2, you start the day with a large baked potato and a pat of butter. Your body needs complex carbs and good fat to function properly. I must say that potato tasted awesome. The rest of the day is veggies, raw or cooked. You can eat as much as you want and they encourage you to eat until you are stuffed. Now here I take issue with this. I don't think you should eat anything until you are stuffed, because it doesn't matter what food it is...your body will not feel right or comfortable. I think eating until you are full is plenty good enough. At any rate I ate tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans....all my favorites and I was a happy girl. Most veggies have few calories and they are a good source of fiber. Even though it said you could eat any veggies....I steered clear of corn (high in starch) and peas (high in sugar). Of course I drank all my water. After my veggie day I had actually gained a pound. Grrrrr. But since I knew that my body was adjusting to pure healthy fruits and veggies and that I had not veered off at all....I continued on.

Day 3, was a mixture of fruits and veggies with the exception of banana's and potatoes. Today I stuck with a fruit mixture (mixed berries, kiwi, grapes and melon) and veggies such as tomatoes and green beans. This was also the day that I introduced the soup into my diet. I ate a couple of bowls of this. I also made sure that I limited the fruit to two serving size bowls and ate mostly veggies. On my next weigh in....I had dropped two pounds. My body was doing it's thing.

Day 4, for whatever reason was my most favorite day. Today I ate banana's, drank milk and ate soup all day. It says you can have up to 8 banana's.....but I could not/would not eat 8 banana's. I know the banana's were to replace any lost potassium but banana's are also loaded with sugar. They are like natural candy. I did eat 4 med. banana's and drank 3 tall glasses of 1% milk. For some reason that combination of milk and banana's really made me happy. It was delicious. I also had about three bowls of soup. This was also the only day I cheated. I had to make cheesecakes and I did test the batter but it was only a small taste and that was it. It says by this day you should be losing your taste for sugar. Apparently it was working because I felt no need to do more than take a small taste of the batter. When I weighed the next day I had lost .4 lbs.

Day 5, today they say eat 2-10oz. portions of lean beef and eat tomatoes. They also tell you to drink extra water as your body will be producing uric acid which needs to be disposed of. I also believe that uric acid is what can flare up gall stones. I was a little leery. Now I love beef but not in large quantities. I had purchased two small (about 3oz. each) already seasoned steaks from Dillons. I ate one for lunch and one for dinner and ate tomatoes and veggie soup in between. This day was really hard for me. I guess after eating all those fruits and veggies and then coming back to beef....my system wasn't ready. It took me a good 30 min. to get each one down. I did drink the extra water too...didn't want a gall bladder attack. By the next day I had lost .8 lbs.

Day 6, was another beef and tomatoes day...this time eating as much lean beef as you wanted and 6 tomatoes. I fixed two 93% fat free hamburger patties. One I ate with my tomatoes and one I crumbled up in my soup. Another difficult day. It was just too much meat for me. Again I drank extra water. After day 6 I had gained .2 lbs.

Day 7, the final day  you were allowed veggies, brown rice and fruit juice. Now I wasn't sure of the fruit juice since most of it has a lot of added sugar. I decided upon V-8 veggie juice and V-8 fruit fusion with 100% juice. There is no added sugar. I also ate veggie soup but for some reason skipped the rice. Just couldn't bring myself to eat plain brown rice. I ended up drinking all the V-8 veggie juice and half the bottle of the fruit fusion. I think if I were to do this again, I would use my Ninja blender and simply make juice from whole fruit. After all of this...today when I weighed I had lost .4 lbs.

My total loss was 7.4 lbs. I also lost about a half inch around my waist. Granted this is just the tip of the ice berg, but all in all I would say that it worked. During this time I also walked for 30 min. 4 of the 7 days and my blood pressure stayed well below 120/80 usually closer to 115/70. It worked well enough that I think I will start it again and stay on it through Friday.

The pluses for me on this plan were:
It made you drink water
It got you in touch with your inner fruit and veggie love
You are never hungry and gradually you get most of the protein, carbs and fats you need
You don't feel bloated
It cleans your system out
It kills your craving for sweets
I haven't had a soda in over a week

The negatives:
While you are getting protein, carbs and healthy fats sporadically....you are not really getting a daily balanced diet
The large quantities of fruits if not selected properly can cause you to gain
I think the meat days are just too much meat
I think 8 banana's is just too much

My final thoughts: The GM Diet is a pretty decent quick start, but like any quick start....when you change back to normal eating...you are likely to see a weight gain until your body acclimates itself. I would not recommend this long term but it is a good way to stop sugar cravings and get you used to drinking lots of water. All I can say is....while I didn't lose 10-17 lbs. (and who should in only a week?) I did lose enough weight to be satisfied with the results.
My official rating 1-4 (1=not great 2=okay 3=really good 4=outstanding):
Food- 3 (it is a little boring)
Program- 3 (for a quick start it is great)
Money- 3 (just regular grocery store foods but depending on the season fresh fruit and veggies can be pricey)
Support- 1 (you are your own support)

Here is one last disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I don't know the ins and outs of all things diet. I am an expert where my own body is concerned but not yours. As I said...you should always consult a physician before trying any diet or exercise...especially if you suffer from any health issues.

So there you have it. The GM Diet. If anyone out there try's it...I would love to hear your results.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Jenny Experience

Well I am pleased to see and hear that some from my other blogs are reading this one. It is also nice to know that people are interested in health and weight loss....especially since we Americans tip the scales in obesity compared to most other countries (pun intended).

I can't speak for anyone else but one of my biggest issues with weight loss is when I am cooking. I am a taster. I don't usually cook by recipe so I have to taste here and there to make sure things are right. As any taster will tell you....depending on the meal or item you are preparing...you can taste your way up to several hundred calories pretty quickly which really doesn't fit into any meal plan. I always thought that if I either had a private chef or was on one of those high dollar pre-packaged meal programs that I would be golden. I even went so far as to stock up on Weight Watchers frozen meals and Lean Cuisine frozen meals one time. The problem with them is....being frozen meals...depending on your microwave...they don't always cook right. Even when they do, the meals are chock full of preservatives and the taste is far from appetizing, so that ended up being a bust.

I used to watch those commercials for Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig and think to myself...if I just had the money to do that, I would be thin in no time. I mean, Kirstie Alley did it...so why couldn't I? The one that impressed me the most though was Marie Osmond and her Nutrisystem loss. I have always been a Marie fan and in my much younger days I was often told I looked like her...which was a bit awkward since I had full intentions of someday marrying her brother Donny. I mean really.....no one wants to be the girl who looks like the husbands sister! But I digress. Marie looked phenomenal after her Nutrisystem triumph. However, it might be mentioned too that in Marie's case...Nutrisystem had a little alot of help as she was dancing 7 hours a day 7 days a week on Dancing with the Stars at the time. Still though...to be able to just have your meals ready to go and not have to worry about cooking, tasting or really any excess time in the kitchen which is nothing but temptation....what heaven that must be.  And don't ever let anyone tell you that star power in advertising doesn't sell. Having a weight issue makes these stars more like the average joe. It gives small town mom and Beverly Hills mom something in common. So when we see Kirstie, Marie and Mariaha struggling and losing and them looking at us from our tv sets while we eat a meatball sub and they look fabulous and they tell us....."you can do it too!" we believe!

So last March my youngest was about to have a major surgery and I was eating my stress by the handfuls. I had gotten a little bit back from taxes and I played with the idea of joining one of these pre-packaged meal programs. After reading up a bit it looked like both Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig were pretty comparable in product and outcome so I did the enie meanie thing and chose Jenny. I made an appointment to check it out and went in. First of all...they are salesmen that talk to you. Granted they are all former clients (or so they say) but they are also salesmen. You can tell because after every explanation they would say "So are you ready to sign?" Usually those tactics turn me off....but I was kind of frantic that day and I wanted to lose...so I listened and before I walked out....I had signed. Let me just say here...it was one of the more expensive purchases I had done in a long time. You pay your signing fee and your first weeks food up front. I had something going on the next week and was not going to be able to make the appointment so I actually ended up purchasing two weeks of food that first time. So after signing up and paying for two weeks of food...I had spent nearly $1,000.00. Yeah.....it was a lot!

The way Jenny works is....you have a counselor whom you meet with weekly. They weigh you, discuss the week ahead and help you plan your menu which for the most part is already set up for you. The only tweaks they make are if you are allergic to something or really don't like a certain food. They have menu's for vegitarian/vegan's and I believe they also have a diabetic menu. The first month or so....you eat strictly from their menus with the addition of maybe yogurt or a salad. You are given breakfast, lunch and dinner along with two snacks and a dessert. After you have become familiar with the portions and eating 5 times a day...then you start weening off their food and start preparing your own within the guidelines they set for you. Weekly the meals run about $170-$180 and if you lose all of your goal weight within the year you get half of your original signing fee back.

I will say that Jenny food is very good. Half of the food is frozen and half is shelf packaged so that it can be stuck in a purse or brief case and go with you anywhere. I really never tasted anything that I didn't just love. The first two weeks that I was on Jenny I followed it to the tee and lost 6 lbs. I was thrilled. Then it was time to go to St. Louis for the surgery. It was my plan to get another two weeks of food and take it with me while I was there. Then it dawned on me that I would have no place to put the frozen stuff. Plan change....so I got all of the shelf packaged stuff to take. The nice thing about Jenny is all their breakfast meals are interchangable as are their lunch and dinner. I was set to go. Then I found out that because we were flying on Wings of Hope to STL, that I had to pack extremely light.....therefore....no Jenny! I did manage to take some of the snack bars that Jenny has but other than that I was on my own. STL proved to be more stressful than anyone expected and I fluxuated between eating the wrong things and not eating at all! Neither works for weight loss so I ended up gaining back the entire 6 lbs while I was there.

After we returned home....I tried to go to Jenny at first....but David needed constant attention and people brought us food (WONDERFUL FOOD) and I was just too tired and too stressed to care. My counselor called a couple of times but she didn't ask me why I wasn't coming....nor did she really try to coax me back in. Not my idea of a good counselor especially since Jenny prides themselves on their counselors being the big draw to weight loss. Truthfully....a little coaxing might just have gotten me back. Soon though I realized that financially I couldn't pay that kind of money weekly and I just gave up. Sound familiar to anyone? We have all done the "give up" and this time it really hurt because there was a lot of money involved. Like most big companies though....my money was their main priority and once they had it.....their desire to keep me was zero. I never heard from my counselor again.

If I had to rate the program.....I would say that if you can afford it, I really believe Jenny could work for you (given a good counselor). As I said the food is amazing and I can see why the stars lose on it. If I had Kirstie money....I too think I could have easily shed my weight on Jenny. I feel like our local Jenny needs to work harder on retaining customers as I think the counselor effort spent compared to the money I spent was very sub par. So here are my ratings 1-4 (1=not great 2=okay 3=really good 4=outstanding).

Food- 4
Program- 3
Money- 1
Support- 1

Again....had I had the money and had I had a counselor who was more involved with her clients and less involved with the commission I would say that I could have been successful on Jenny. All of the components are there for success and if it is something you would want to try ....I say go for it. You will never be hungry and you will love the food.

I am still working on the GM Diet and I am anxious to see how this all pans out. The reunion is getting closer and although I will not be a size six by next Friday....I wouldn't complain if I had accomplished a 6 lb. loss. Lets hope the weight loss fairy is my friend!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Real Change

Well...it has been awhile since I have written on this blog. If you have been a past reader...you will notice that both the name of the blog and the look are different. Of course if you know me....I don't look like I eat celery. In fact...far from it. This blog has always been about my "struggle." Okay...it has been about health and weight loss and mostly a lot of bitching. As much as I would like to say differently...there is a real good chance most of that won't change....especially the bitching part. What might change is I hope to blog more frequently and I hope to blog about things that are relatable in health and weight loss and give something informative to my readers. It came over me the other day while I was walking (yes....I was out walking) that I have been doing many things wrong in my life where weight loss and health are concerned. This blog is evidence of my starts and stops, my optimism and my dips into complete despair over my health and my weight. I know I am not alone. I thought about just leaving this blog to fall into the blog abyss where forgotten blogs must go..... and to start fresh....but then I decided....NO! This is real. Millions of people are dealing with health and weight issues and at least half of those people have stopped and started over and over again constantly looking for that one thing that will actually work. This blog will let you know what works for me and what doesn't. It will keep me accountable and it may help someone out there to take that first step into real change.

Real change....you ask? Of late I have known several people who finally hit their change point and took action. It has been life changing for them. One has committed to working out on a regular basis and the change is amazing. One has decided to finally get serious about a life change and has changed how they view and eat food. It has changed their entire family for the better....and one....a very good friend of mine has changed both food and started exercising. She has lost over 30lbs and she looks phenomenal. So it can be done...but they were all ready for real change. Real change is that moment in your life when you know that you have to make a change and commit to it for the long haul. Sometimes it is a health issue that brings you to the realization that you can't continue down the road you are on, sometimes it is an event, maybe a picture you see of yourself, or maybe you just decide you are tired of feeling like you currently feel. Whatever your real change point is....when you hit it.....the commitment and determination go with it.

My real change moment happened in the last couple of weeks. It wasn't just one thing...it was a combination. First I have a class reunion looming next week, and although I have known for a year it was coming....only the last couple of weeks has it really hit me. Also....I have a landmark birthday just around the corner, but the three catalysts that sent me head long into the realization that things had to change and this time for good all happened within a few days of each other. First there was my yearly MRI to check my breasts for cancer. Because of our family history I have an MRI every six months and a mammogram every six months. The two switch off and never does this time come around without me working myself into a big stressful ball of fear. Yes....being this vigilant makes the chances of them catching any possible cancer very early and thus making the prognosis excellent...but that doesn't alleviate the fear of having cancer in my body. In one day it was pointed out to me multiple times that the more fat you have on your body...the easier it is for cancer to take hold. Not what I wanted to hear. The second thing that sent me into change mode was that my cousin who is just a few years older than myself had a massive stroke and died. I had not been to the doctor in awhile...therefore I had no idea where my blood pressure was and I was almost to the point that I really didn't want to know. Brilliant right?! The final and probably most persuasive thing.... was the fact that when I went to the doctor to get my MRI results(which by the way were just fine)...they took my blood pressure and it was 145/110! Both the doctor and I nearly had heart attacks right then and there. It was at that moment that I decided that if I didn't have a stroke on the way home.....things were going to change. There would be real change!

After going to Immediate Care because of my doctors concern....my blood pressure was on the way down and the doctor there told me he was pretty sure what I was experiencing was stress blood pressure where it spikes in moments of upset or stress. He asked if I had a lot of stress in my life and all I could do was let out a somewhat hysterical laugh. How do you tell someone that you idle on stress constantly? His advice to me was to get a blood pressure cuff and take my bp a couple of times a day for a couple of weeks. If after doing that the majority of the pressures are normal then it is undoubtedly stress related. However....if the majority are high....I need to see my doctor and see about getting on bp medicine. Sigh...I really don't want to go down that road. He also told me to start eating better and to exercise at least 30 min. 5 times per week. When you are sitting in a doctors office and talking about potentially life threatening health issues....you are pretty committed to doing just about anything!

A friend loaned me a blood pressure cuff and I made my mind up from that moment on I was going to change how I ate, as well as how I treated my body. The question was.....what exactly was I going to do? There are million and one diets out there and for the most part....I am not a fan of many of them. Diets to me scream temporary. I am not looking for temporary. If I do this and follow through....I don't want to have to turn around and do this again in five years. I want permanent. I was also very angry at myself. While I really wanted to blame stress, life experience and body changes on my current weight....the truth was I had done this to myself. I had used food as a way to self medicate myself through stress, life experience and body changes. I was/am for all intensive purposes....a food addict. Just like any addiction.....I choose food to make me feel better, to block out things I didn't want to have to do or think about and I have chosen food time and again over my health. I was an addict living in denial and like any addict until I hit rock bottom I would never make up my mind to get back on track and get my life back. I write this here because I know at least one person who reads this is going to be able to identify with it. Maybe this will precipitate a change in someone else too.

At any rate....before I even decided how to proceed with my eating I was out walking. Let me say something here about walking. Walking is my go to exercise when I am not doing anything else. It is said that in order to stay fit and healthy a person should walk 10,000 steps a day. That averages out to be about 5 miles. If you have a sedentary job or your favorite activity is sitting in front of the tv....the chances of you hitting that mark daily are slim. I found that even on days when I am running up and down stairs cleaning and never find a moment to sit down....I usually only average at best about 4,000-5,000 steps...of course you need a pedometer to have an accurate account. That is why it is important to try and get in at least a 30 minute walk a day. That will average you another 4,000-5,000 steps which will get you close if not right on the money for the steps you need.

Walking is an excellent starter exercise no matter how much you weigh nor your physical shape. For the extremely over weight/out of shape person.....start out walking 10 min. at a time and work your way up. Walking is good aerobically and gives you a place to start. I know it is hard to watch shows like The Biggest Loser and see the trainers working extremely overweight individuals to their breaking point and see the end results of major weight loss and then think....how is a little walking going to help me achieve the results I want? The fact is though....unless you have the money for a trainer....you have to start somewhere and you can't go from A to Z without first starting at A and working your way to Z. That is what walking is. My suggestion to anyone starting out is start walking. Don't start out trying to do 10,000 steps either. Get yourself a good pedometer or if you have a smart phone....download yourself one. The one I have is great for walking. It is the GPS+. It is free and it tracks your steps, your miles, your time, your calories and it has a stop watch and music settings. It also keeps your workouts in history and allows you to send them to Facebook if you wish. Once you have a pedometer....plan your walks. If you are completely out of shape and overweight....start with 10 minutes. If you can do a couple of 10 min. walks a day then great....if not at least you have that 10 minutes. If you are moderate start with a 15-20 minute walk and if you are in okay shape but just haven't done it for awhile.....start with 30 minutes. Plan on doing this for at least five days. I say this because you need that time to make sure you have the right shoes (you don't want blisters rubbing or foot pain as that will be a mental reason to quit). This also lets you work on pace. Is 2.2 mph the best you can do or can you amp it up to 3.0 mph? After five days you will feel a sense of accomplishment. In most cases you will be ready for more. Every five days....add time. When you reach your 30 minute mark....before you do more time....work on pace. If you did a mile and a half in 30 minutes try working up to 2 miles in thirty minutes. When you have worked yourself up to 3 miles in 30 minutes....move on to 45 minutes. You will start to see the challenge in walking along with the health benefits. You will start losing inches, drop pounds, your stress levels will decrease and things like bp and insulin levels often improve.  So here is where I challenge anyone reading this. If you are ready for a change...whether you need a whole body overhaul or you simply want to feel more fit.....for the next week I challenge you to walk. The weather is beautiful right now and it is a perfect time to get out and enjoy the season. Start where you are comfortable and you might even jot down your current weight or how you feel, maybe your bp or some note to compare how you feel the day you start to how you feel on the 5th day. I think you will be surprised.

As for the food.....I have been on every diet, meal plan, etc. known to man and the bottom line is they probably all worked....I just didn't work them. In future blogs I will talk about many of the plans I have been on and what I liked and didn't like about them. This might help someone decipher what might work for them. Yes...I said I wasn't a fan of a diet...but because next week is my reunion....I settled on what I call a "quick fix" diet for two reasons. One...I am a firm believer that anyone who starts a weight loss life change needs to see results from the get go or they are likely to quit before they get started. Also....I wanted to lose a few pounds just to feel good about me before this life altering event. The diet I chose is a 7 day diet called The GM Diet which I got off another blog through Pintrest. I chose this diet because it is very low fat, but it is rich in fruits and vegetables. It is also a diet that can help your body detox from sugar which my body really needs that. I am currently on day 4 and taking notes as I go. When I have finished the whole 7 days I will let you all know what I think about it and how I feel. From there I am not sure where I will go with my weight loss plans but whatever I try and wherever I go from here I will definitely take you all along for the ride.

Now before I leave you all...a few obligatory words of wisdom and caution. First of all....whether we like it or not, weight is both sexist and age discriminatory. If you are younger...you will likely lose faster and if you are a man you will likely lose faster. Yes...as often happens...we middle aged women get the short end of the stick. Not all diets/weight loss plans are created equal. We need a certain amount of protein, carbs, fat(yes good fat) as well as fruits and veggies in our diet to keep our bodies running optimally. If we deprive ourselves of any of the things we need it can throw off metabolism, insulin, potassium, etc causing us grave and sometimes even life threatening issues. Before you start any weight loss efforts...I urge you to see your doctor (especially if it has been a while). Tell him/her what you are planning to do and what plan you have chosen. Not all diets work on all people. If you have allergies or illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease....a special diet maybe recommended by your doctor. Also get okays for exercise if you have issues with hips, knees, feet or heart. Again...the doctor may recommend a special trainer, physical therapy or certain exercises particularly designed for your needs. It doesn't pay to have to quit due to injury before you even get started.

So these are my words of wisdom for today. I hope you come back to this blog often as I will tell you how I am doing, discuss health related issues, weight loss programs, exercise....and yes...I am sure I will bitch along the way. I also would like to hear from you. I want to hear your successes, your dips into despair and also the things that you find work for you. Until next time...thanks for reading.