Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fitday, counting calories...who knew?

Yesterday I decided to start counting stuff.  I got free Fitday and Calorie Counts accounts.  I tried both of them out yesterday but decided to dump Calorie Counts because it gave most of my foods a grade of an F.  I don't need to get an F when I'm doing everything most things right.  Butter? F. 

Soookay.  I decided to stick with Fitday.com because its easier to put in the nutritional information for the foods I ate.

What I discovered after two days is that low carbing has helped me spontaneously eat at a level which, according to Jenny Ruhl's calculator, will allow me to lose 2lbs/week.

Without any feelings of deprivation.  What I've learned from other times I've lost weight and especially from quitting seriously reducing my drinking, is that my number one threat to continued success is the feeling of deprivation. 

I have had five cheat days in the last 51 days (10%) and they may have slowed my weight loss, but I'm satisfied with 22lbs in 51 days.  Not bad.  Could be worse, could be zero, could have gained.

I decided when I changed my eating in August, that this time would be different.  I'd take everything I learned about myself and put it to good use.  I know that I don't do well when I never splurge.  So, sometimes I splurge.  If at the end of the year I've splurged 10% of the year, that is 36 of 365 days...10 months on plan, 2 months off.  I think that is the way I'll maintain this weight loss. 

I've lost a lot of weight enough times to know that losing is easy, maintaining is hard.  So if this time I keep my mind on maintaining, I should be able to maintain...when I get there.  Dangit.

I'm committing to using Fitday for the rest of the week just to see if my eating stays in the 1800-2000 range.  And I think its awesome that my body had me eating at just the right spot without me putting in much effort at all.  I didn't even know.  Score one for my body.

Ever caught your body doing something right?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sick in ketosis, part 2

So I'm still sick.  I still have a swollen stuffy nose and I'm still a mouth breather.  I'm still extremely tired, and I still want my mama.  The love of my life made me some homemade chicken noodle soup that was probably less than 4 carbs for the entire delicious umami rich bowl and sated my desire for noodley goodness.

However, I'm still stuck here on a Saturday without the energy to do much except browse the 'net, watch some tv and talk.

And I was a bit bothered by how I left off my last post.  Yeah, I had a fever so I'm cutting myself some slack, but I do want to know will being in ketosis help me get over my illness faster?

Apparently little research has been done on this subject.

Much research has been done on the ability of ketosis to improve serious medical problems like cancer, diabetes, epilepsy and alzheimer's...but will ketosis help me kick the common cold, or a sinus infection?

I guess the jury is still out.  Luckily I have access to Rice University's library services and I commenced an article search.  I found some interesting stuff:

Ketosis helps to treat malignant gliomas: Animals fed KC had elevated levels of β-hydroxybutyrate (p = 0.0173) and an increased median survival of approximately 5 days relative to animals maintained on SD. KC plus radiation treatment were more than additive, and in 9 of 11 irradiated animals maintained on KC the bioluminescent signal from the tumor cells diminished below the level of detection (p<0.0001). Animals were switched to SD 101 days after implantation and no signs of tumor recurrence were seen for over 200 days. Conclusions: KC significantly enhances the anti-tumor effect of radiation. This suggests that cellular metabolic alterations induced through KC may be useful as an adjuvant to the current standard of care for the treatment of human malignant gliomas.

Abdelwahab, M. G., Fenton, K. E., Preul, M. C., Rho, J. M., Lynch, A., Stafford, P., & Scheck, A. C. (2012). The Ketogenic Diet Is an Effective Adjuvant to Radiation Therapy for the Treatment of Malignant Glioma. Plos ONE, 7(5), 1-7. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036197

Ketosis is helpful to those with multiple sclerosis: The KD improved motor disability in the EAE model, as well as CA1 hippocampal synaptic plasticity (long-term potentiation) and spatial learning and memory (assessed with the Morris Water Maze). Moreover, hippocampal atrophy and periventricular lesions in EAE mice were reversed in KD-treated EAE mice. Finally, we found that the increased expression of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, as well as the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), in our EAE model were both suppressed by the KD. Collectively, our findings indicate that brain inflammation in EAE mice is associated with impaired spatial learning and memory function, and that KD treatment can exert protective effects, likely via attenuation of the robust immune response and increased oxidative stress seen in these animals.

Kim, D., Hao, J., Liu, R., Turner, G., Shi, F., & Rho, J. M. (2012). Inflammation-Mediated Memory Dysfunction and Effects of a Ketogenic Diet in a Murine Model of Multiple Sclerosis. Plos ONE, 7(5), 1-8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035476

So Ketogenic diets (like mine) are neuroprotective, and that's great.  That's why I'm on one.  But will it help me get over my cold faster?  I can say that I'm better today than I should be.  But I think that's because I got crazy with the Flonase and Advair, not because of the Ketosis.

What do you think?  Has ketosis helped, or hindered you in getting over a mild sickness?

Friday, October 5, 2012

How public, like a frog!

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
--Emily Dickinson

Being fat is very public.  With the amount of stares I get, I sometimes feel like I should be walking around after a cryer calling "Fat person coming!"

I'm a pretty private person generally, so I've never tried to lose weight in public before.  From what I've seen, people are even crueler hiding behind their monitors.  The general, and wrong, consensus is that being fat is an easy thing to fix.  After all, all you need to do is eat less than you spend. Calories in, calories out.  

At this point in my life, though, I'm no longer afraid of what people will say about me or how I eat.  I know that N=1.  The totality of my experience with my weight and body means that when it comes to losing weight, I'm the expert on me.  What somebody else did to lose weight is interesting and could be helpful but will never again become my program.

I'm definitely still learning and I still have a lot to learn but I'm no longer thin skinned enough to get hurt by bullying and the kind of concern trolling that Kenneth Krause put Jennifer Livingston through.

What's all this about? How this blog came to be.

July 2012 was an interesting month.  We bought our forever house in June and through the stress of moving and me teaching summer school, I noticed but pushed away some alarming symptoms I was having.  I was bruising way too easily.  I had multiple deep purple bruises all over my body. And I was tired.  Super tired.  Let me sleep right here at this red light for just a minute tired.  Finally I took myself to Any Test Now  to get a complete blood count.  And just as I had feared, something was wrong.  I had a hemoglobin level of 10.3  --the reference range is 12-16. 

I've always been anemic, but just mildly anemic (11.6ish) .  This was something new.  Considering this with the fact that my platelet counts are always unusually high and its been suggested that I have Essential Thrombocytosis, I decided it was time to get a new doctor and a full workup, now that I have good insurance.  Before getting in to see the doctor I had a conversation with a woman who suggested that the symptoms I've been dealing with for the last year, and half --the hair loss, and strange body and face rashes might be lupus.  She suggested asking the doctor for an ANA test.  I had never considered lupus.  None of the five doctors I'd seen in the last year mentioned lupus. After all, I don't have any joint pain or swelling.  And no one in my family has lupus.

The ANA test was positive.  The physician referred me to a rheumatologist who tested me for everything under the sun and talked with me about my symptoms.  I have five markers of SLE -  a positive ANA test, anemia, malar rash, discoid rash and photo-sensitivity.  You only need to have four to be diagnosed with the disease. 

This was a real wake up call.  The rheumatologist let me know that no matter what happened from now on out, if I got pregnant it would be a high risk pregnancy.  He also informed me that I have Thalassemia, a genetic blood disease that has always been behind my mild anemia.  That coupled with the lupus is what has pushed the anemia into moderate terrority and other than steroids there really is no treatment for it (until it gets bad enough for me to get a blood transfusion).

In general, I'm healthy.  Now that I know that the sun is what sets off all the crazy rashes, my skin is healthy too.  But I've decided that with all of this unhappy genetic interference with my health, its best for me to get my shit together, eat in a healthy way and commit to some strength training too.

Cardio has been a mostly regular part of my life since 2005 but gods be damned if I'll do any strength training on my own.  So I got a personal trainer in mid July and I've lost 15lbs of fat since then.  5 or 6 lbs of glycogen go up and down the scale but the 15lbs of fat are real.

I'm lucky enough that "my" lupus really doesn't cause me any intense pain, but the last thing I want is to get pregnant, have a flare up and be unhealthy when/if I have a child.

This time its truly a lifestyle change. 

Being sick while in ketosis.

Despite all my efforts to the contrary....daily Zyrtec, Flonase, prayer and spiritual dances; I have fallen prey to the same October sinus infection that I've gotten each year since I moved to Houston.  Usually, if I'm dieting, a sickness means the diet is off.  Always, if I'm low carb dieting, a sickness means the diet is off.  I'm free to slurp down as much Chicken Noodle Soup as I can stand, coupled with ginger ale, candy, and crackers---the mainstay of my "sick diet" since I can remember.

But this time I want to remain in ketosis.  I don't want to lose my hard earned work of muscle building since I started working with Yvette, my personal trainer, in July.  That means I've got to get enough protein that my body doesn't start eating my own muscles to give my brain the glucose it requires.

I managed to start the day off right thanks to the love of my life: bacon and eggs cooked in bacon grease.  Halfway through I complained, as usual, that it was too many eggs (3.5 apiece) and got ordered, as usual, to finish it all.  I'm glad, as usual, that I did.  I had a salad for lunch...romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, a few bits of grilled chicken and my homemade blue cheese dressing. That was around 11:30.

At 12:40 the school nurse took my temp: 99.3---not bad, really, but she laughed and said it would be higher by the time I got home.  Thanks, nurse!  That was just the encouragement I needed.  She was right.  I was having chills on the drive home and got straight in the bed at 3:44.  No appetite.

Now for me, ketosis itself is a huge appetite suppressant, its the biological weapon I need to use if I'm going to lose 240 220lbs and keep it off.  That coupled with a fever, which is also a natural appetite suppressant could be troublesome if indeed I am to get anywhere near the 161 grams of protein that Jenny Ruhl's calculator suggests that I eat.  I have a hard enough time getting there when I'm not sick.  (That is a whole lot of protein!)

During a conversation it occured to me that if I could have a protein shake it would be a quick and easy way to get my body some of the things it wants and needs.  But just last week I discovered that the casein protein shakes I found so yummy weren't just stalling me, they were causing my asthma symptoms to flare up :(

What to do?  The love of my life suggested I try some vanilla whey protein that we've had in the pantry for 1.5 years.  I checked the label.  Not expired yet (What is this stuff made of?).

I just whipped it up in the blender mini-chopper with 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream and some water.  My body was obviously happy to get something in the stomach.  I usually eat every four hours so I was pushing the 6 hour mark that Dr. Atkins says to avoid.  I actually already feel better.   Maybe just because of the mental relief that my body isn't going to start eating my new biceps.  I worked hard for those things.

Now I'm curious about how being in ketosis while sick will play out.  I don't know if I'll be able to stay in ketosis or if the call of the Chicken Noodle Soup will be too much.  I also don't know if the body 'needs' glucose or extra carbs to get better.  I think I've read some stuff about low carbing helping the body heal faster but I haven't done any research on the topic because in general I don't get sick much anyway and those claims always struck me as a bit bombastic.