Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Part 10: In the groove

Everything I’ve heard about Carb Nite says not to bother too much about the scale, but after a few weeks of M.H. dropping weight and me standing still, I started to worry that he would “catch” me, and that’s just not okay. So it was nice to see my weight start moving again three weeks ago, just ticking down about a pound a week. That I can certainly live with.

Another thing that has encouraged me is joining a Facebook group devoted to discussing Carb Nite. They want you to have read the book in order to participate (which is reasonable), so I don’t contribute an awful lot there, but it’s entertaining. Every week a different person posts about how she’s been doing Carb Nite for three whole weeks and nothing seems to be happening—should she give up??! And then every Friday the page starts blowing up with people posting pictures of the candy and pie and cookies they’re about to eat, so it’s pretty much the goofiest “diet” page ever.

Kiefer’s YouTube channel is more informative but less hilarious, if you’re looking for resources.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Part 9: Oil grey

One little tidbit that I’ve learned from being obsessed with Carb Nite and Carb Backloading is that our bodies are most sensitive to insulin in the morning, which means that that’s when they are much better at turning carbohydrates into fat. So a lot of people who do Carb Nite don’t eat carbs at all in the morning, and we’ve been experimenting with that, too.

The trendy way to do it is to, instead of eating breakfast, have some sort of fat in your morning hot drink. For a lot of people it’s cream or butter in coffee, but we have been having coconut oil in tea. It’s okay. It does keep you from getting hungry, but the taste is kind of meh. Plus it makes all the teacups and tea infusers all oily and disgusting. So the jury is still out.

I still eat three meals—they’re just shifted later in the day, which also makes dinner work well with the kids’ new schedules. Hey, remember how not eating in the evening tended to make me wake up super-peppy the next morning? Well, too bad for me because that’s gone and I have to drag my sorry, exhausted carcass out of bed in the morning now like everyone else. Hrm.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Part 8: Mik

I love including Mik in my dietary experiments because he’s a scientist at heart. He’s only 14, but he has definitely noticed how a different kind of diet has helped him personally. Actually, it’s kind of hard to miss being cured of a stomach ulcer, but I’m also talking about things like how strong he feels while swimming, or how his face will break out after he eats too much sugar.

(True story: He “learned” in health class that diet has absolutely nothing to do with acne. “Um, you know that’s total crap, right?” “Of course!”)

Anyway, Carb Nite is for metabolically damaged people who have fat to lose, so it’s not appropriate for someone as lean as he is. And I am not stupid enough to play with restricting carbs in a teen athlete. However, the Carb Nite guy (who goes by the I’m-such-a-rock-star-I-only-need-one-name name of “Kiefer”) also talks a lot about his muscle-building protocol called Carb Backloading, which basically just means eating fat and protein early in the day and then eating all your carbs at night, after a workout.

So I came up with a new routine for Mik: He eats the kinds of foods that would normally be his dinner—hamburgers (no bun), broccoli, cheese, bacon—for breakfast. He eats the same kind of moderate-carb lunch he was eating before. And then he eats a hashbrown or rice or something with dinner, after swim practice.

I can’t tell yet if it’s doing anything, and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to let me measure his biceps to find out. If he starts busting out of his shirts like the Hulk, I will let you know.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Part 7: Psychology

(This is, like, a series. Start at Part 1.)

I said yesterday that it was worth it to stick with Carb Nite even without much evidence that it was working, and I guess I mean three things by that:
  1. It was clearly working for M.H., so why would I jeopardize his progress by changing anything?
  2. It was clearly working for M.H., so that gave me confidence that it would work for me, too.
  3. Eating this way is the furthest thing in the world from a hardship—it is totally fun.
I didn’t find going ultra low carb difficult at all. (The dragging feeling finally passed after about four weeks, but that’s not what I’m talking about.) What I mean is that I love my breakfast of bacon, sausage, fried eggs, and brussels sprouts topped with butter. I love having steak and caramelized onions for lunch. I love having chili and salad for dinner. I don’t even usually crave carbs, and if I do, I just write down what it is I want and plan to have it on Friday night.

Because, yes, hilariously, you find yourself planning and scheming all week for the wonders that await you on Carb Nite. Everything that was difficult or off limits before is fair game again. Any restaurant in town. Things made of chocolate. Eating at other people’s houses. Pizza. Any amazing recipe you see on the Internet—it’s no longer a matter of whether you can have it or not, only which night of the week you can have it on.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You people are impossible to feed now” since we started eating better. So the absolute best thing about Carb Nite is simply that we can eat the way we want without being a gigantic pain in the neck.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Part 6: Two roads diverge

Here’s the part of my tale where I throw in a shocking twist and do not brag about the amazing weight loss I had in the weeks that followed. In fact, I gained a couple of pounds after every Carb Nite (which is to be expected), lost them again in the week that followed, and then started each Carb Nite weighing exactly what I weighed the week before. And I still felt like I was dragging through my life.

I stayed with it anyway. According to everything I was learning about this diet, it can be slow—and particularly for women, whose bodies are extra-reluctant to give up the energy stored in the muscles and switch to fat burning. I figured if I was actually destroying fat cells rather than just shrinking them—and adding a little muscle in their place—then it was still more than worth it. Of course, I had no real evidence that that was happening, either.

What I did have was M.H., who was feeling fantastic, loving the ultra-low-carb days, loving the Carb Nites, and basically evaporating before my very eyes. He was losing 1 to 3 pounds a week consistently and looking muscular—like some kind of freaky Carb Nite poster boy.

What? No, I wasn’t jealous. I was…inspired. It was especially inspirational how he’d give me advice, like that the reason the diet wasn’t working as well for me was that I’d eaten a single grape earlier that week.

(Get up to speed by starting with Part 1.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Part 5: Orientation

Couple of things about eating less than 30 grams of net carbs a day:
  1. It makes you a believer in all those “Drop a dress size by the weekend!” headlines.
  2. It makes you feel like craaaaap.
I actually wasn’t expecting anything too dramatic to happen, because we already ate sort of low carb. But apparently ultra low carb is a whole different animal. In the initial orientation phase, M.H. and I each lost about 8 pounds. And we didn’t even do the whole 10 days. (We had a barbecue to attend, and the choices were to either have our first Carb Nite a bit early or to stand around empty-handed, having to explain to everyone why we weren’t eating or drinking anything.)

The flip side of all this lovely weight loss was that I was dragging. Muscles are used to burning glucose, and it takes time for them to adjust to burning body fat instead.

Then, after all that…guess how stuffing your face with a bunch of carbs makes you feel? Like a different kind of crap: Light-headed! Thirsty! Like you never want to see another piece of chocolate cake as long as you live! When we got home, I speculated that I’d probably do a lot better on a gluten-free Carb Nite. (Six Carb Nites later, I still don’t know because I haven’t tried it.)

I was slightly concerned about feeling so rotten, but I’d been told it would pass. And, frankly, I was willing to put up with it if I was really going to lose weight so effortlessly.

(No idea what I’m yammering on about? Start at Part 1.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Part 4: The rules

If you need catching up, this particular miniseries starts here.

Though I was interested in Carb Nite, I didn’t really feel like buying the book—at this stage of my life, I am strongly in favor of fewer possessions and more money, not the other way around. But that’s fine, because the Internet exists, and it was easy to cobble together the outlines of the system, which is pretty simple:
  1. Start with a 10-day “orientation” where you eat fewer than 30 net grams of carbohydrates—that’s carbs minus fiber—every day. (You restrict net carbs but not calories.)
  2. Then you have Carb Nite, which means that starting about six to eight hours before you go to bed, you have basically all the carbs you want, preferably in the form of glucose. The goal is to get two or three strong insulin spikes.
  3. The next day you go back to ultra-low carb (no more than 30 grams) and continue having Carb Nite once a week. You can adjust the timing however you’d like as long as you go at least five days between Carb Nites.
  4. You can do this for as long as six months, take a month or so off, and then do it again if you want.
Having ditched most grains from our diets long ago, we didn’t find it challenging to stay under 30 grams of carbs, but we did have to make a few tweaks. Rice was out. Potatoes were out. Fruit was pretty much out. Honey- or date-sweetened anything was out. Cheese, though, was back in, along with sour cream. On low-carb days, we eat meat, eggs, and vegetables, all drenched in various kinds of fat. And we don’t bother actually counting net carbs, because a gram or three here and there from vegetables is never going to add up to 30.

Now I’m starting to wonder if 12 parts is going to be enough for this saga.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Part 3: Conditional buy-in

Continuing my story

Of course I did a bit more research into Carb Nite and this guy John Kiefer right off the bat. Carb Nite still sounded nutty to me, but Kiefer himself seemed to be a serious and legitimate expert on nutrition and physiology. I learned that he had refined his thinking somewhat since writing the original Carb Nite book, and that he has a treasure trove of podcasts and videos dissecting all the latest research and explaining things (mostly in terms that are way over my head).

So I did do a little homework, at least enough to convince myself that the idea was worth a try. But, really, at that point, how was I not going to try it? It held the promise of three things I truly love: self-experimentation, losing weight, and eating chocolate-covered macadamia nuts once a week.

So I told M.H. I was going to experiment with this new thing and that he could join me if he wanted. Of course right away he found this ridiculous link. He insisted that I not tell anyone I was doing this because it would undermine everything I’ve ever said about nutrition and that people would definitely think I was a gullible lunatic who must be stopped. And then he agreed to do it with me.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Part 2: The backstory

So I’ve been eating various degrees of a Paleo diet for at least two years now, and it’s been pretty good to me. I felt more energetic, I had more enthusiasm for things, I slept better, lots of other random good things happened, and I lost weight. I also stopped beating my body down with “cardio” training, which was supposed to produce all those pleasant effects but never really did.

I was satisfied with all this for a while, but lately I’ve started to get frustrated. While my weight tiptoed into the “normal” BMI range, it then got stuck around there. And I noticed that there are a lot of other women who eat Paleo — Paleo role models, even — in the same boat. They always preach that the important thing is health, but with all the effort I was putting into eating well, I really felt that the result should be physical awesomeness as well. Why couldn’t I be healthy and willowy?

So then one day I read on a blog that some people were having a lot of weight-loss success combining Paleo principles with something called the Carb Nite Solution, and my ears perked up. Hmmm, I thought. That cheesy-sounding name and the misspelling of “Night” should make me immediately skeptical, but I am primed to grasp at any shred of hope for losing a few more pounds!

Stay tuned for parts 3 through 12.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A 12-step program to get you back into my brain

Oh, hi. So remember how I couldn’t really blog much because I was all obsessed with a New Thing that I wasn’t ready to tell you about? I think I’m ready to tell you about it now, but I’ve got about two months of catch-up to do, so I’m going to take this in pieces. It’s a process. Ready for the first stage?

I hope you’re sitting down, because you will be shocked (SHOCKED!) to hear that my New Thing was a dietary experiment. Knock you all over with a feather!

Specifically, it’s this diet. So go right ahead and click that link.

Now just react however you want. It’s okay. Thinking I’m a gullible lunatic who must be stopped is part of the process.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Last picture until spring

OK, I’ve spent nearly all day working on, buying stuff for, and thinking about my landscaping project, so I want to hear the oohs and ahhs:

Just kidding. I won’t force you to be amazed at its beauty until about the summer of 2018, when everything is a reasonable size and there are blue, purple, and white flowers all over it. I did get a lot of compliments on it today, though, as people were walking by to check out our next-door neighbor’s garage sale, but mostly because that gnarly stump (which ironically is hiding two boring stumps) is so darn cool.

So in case you weren’t paying close attention, there’s a new mint plant, which I tore into three pieces and planted in three spots, and three new groundcovery things. I also ordered a bunch of bulbs online and dragged Mik out to help me get more rocks.

I’m getting a lot of pushback from the kids on my new obsession with making them haul heavy rocks around, but I don’t care because I’ve come to realize that what I’m actually making here is a rock garden, and the more rocks I put in it, the more I like it.

Which is good, because it’s now cost me $51, several afternoons, some skin off my hands, and just a touch of offspring goodwill.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tiny trees and baby steps

I’ve made a bit of progress on my landscaping activity.

First I dragged Mik out to the river to collect a few canvas bags full of medium-sized rocks. I like them so much and had so much fun getting them that I think I’ll plan another medium-sized-rock quest this week. It’s a lot easier to do with a helper, and since hauling rocks FOR YOUR MOTHER IN THE FRESH AIR FAR FROM PC GAMING IN THE DARK BASEMENT is surely the epitome of a character-building activity, I’ll probably bring a kid with me again if I can.

Then I went to a home improvement store and picked out another medium-sized bush and a dwarf tree to add to the back side of my “feature.” They turned out to be on clearance (hope it’s not because they have zero chance of surviving the winter at this point), so I got them both for $4. Then I visited a nursery and saw a ton of plants I would like to have for like $17 a pot but held off for now to shop around.

Here’s where I am:

That is one TEENSY little Christmas tree back there, so it may be a few years before I achieve the desired effect. Oh, well. Total cost so far: $9.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My project

M.H. and the boys removed the dead and dying aspen trees in our front yard a few weeks ago, leaving us with a triangular patch of river rock. In 43 years of life I’ve never attempted anything close to landscaping, but something had to be done with that spot, and anyway it was screaming “blank canvas” to me, so I decided that fixing it up could be my little project.

My dad has done landscaping on a massive scale, so my first step was to ask him to take me rock shopping. (I dragged Dex along, too, for muscle. Smart move.) The goal was to get something large and tall to put plants around. Unfortunately, it turns out I don’t have the equipment or the budget to get a really large, cool boulder, but we did end up picking up a bunch of rocks that were about the limit of what we and the car could handle, weight-wise. The quarry didn’t think it was enough to bother charging us for, so total cost so far: free!

My next thought was that if I couldn’t get a big rock, maybe I could get a big log. My dad went with me again—this time to the Yellowstone River—and I described to him my ideal find: a huge, gnarly, driftwood stump with a ton of character.


I also picked up a cute little bush for $5 from the farmer’s market. It’s supposed to bloom into blue flowers and grow to about two to three feet high and two to three feet in diameter, so it should someday just fill that space between the log and the fence.

I obviously need a bunch more plants, and my dad tells me I need some medium-sized rocks, too, so a few more shopping and rock-hounding expeditions are needed between now and when the weather turns ugly, which could be in about 39 seconds. But this is fun! I can see myself actually walking outside in future summers with pruning shears and maintaining this thing.