Monday, October 24, 2011

Medifast Begins

I got the big box of food packets a couple of days ago. I have been doing Medifast now for 2 full-days. I've learned that I don't like most of the stuff I've tried, but it does keep me feeling full. Now I'm wondering if it's possible to survive on chocolate protein shakes and peanut butter bars for 6 months. My starting weight was 226 lbs. In order to not be considered overweight by the medical community, my goal weight is 125 lbs. I have to lose 101 lbs.

This weekend was also the second annual Race for the Cure. My whole family does this walk with my mom, who is a breast cancer survivor. That was pretty great. She made it again, although struggled a bit more than last year. She had a stint put into an artery and her mobility has degenerated since last year. It was pretty worrisome thinking about her health. But we all cheered her on and had a pretty fun time ourselves.

I've come to a weird level of acceptance with my mom's health. She is sick and there is nothing I can do about it. I've managed to let go of my anger and frustration with her choices. I need to put that energy into fixing myself. I think a lot of my anger came from the fact that when I look at my mom (diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis) I see my possible future. I don't want to be mad at her for not fixing herself. I want to spend that energy on me. I can prevent that future if I want to. I just have to want it bad enough to make the radical changes that I need to make.

That's the biggest reason why I'm willing to choke down Medifast meals. I know it will get me where I need to be.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

At my annual exam this year, my doctor discovered that I am pre-diabetic. That means that the level of glucose in my blood is higher than what the body can process in a healthy way, but not yet high enough to diagnose me with Type 2 Diabetes. It's the precursor though.

When we eat carbohydrates, glucose is released from our intestines into our blood stream. Insulin is then released to help cells take up the glucose as energy. Without insulin, our cells cannot take glucose out of the bloodstream. We need insulin to process glucose. Now, when you eat a high-carbohydrate diet, your body can become resistant to insulin. In other words, your body releases insulin to process the glucose, but the insulin is less and less effective. More and more glucose is left in the bloodstream as the effectiveness of the insulin drops. Glucose in the blood is toxic in high concentrations. You body tries to compensate by dumping even more insulin into the system, but it doesn't matter because your body is becoming more and more resistant to insulin. This is diabetes. Your body can no longer make enough insulin to deal with the large amounts of glucose, thus slowly poisoning your blood.

There is only one cure for this malfunction: eat a low-carbohydrate diet. The paleolithic diet has been shown to fix insulin resistance. I've tried it in a half-assed way and gotten some proof that it would work for me, if I could really do the work. But I have been unsuccessful at sticking to it. There are too many roadblocks for me personally: too open-ended, too many choices, not enough time to prepare the food, no desire to cook, and, most of all, zero desire to think about food. With the paleo diet, you really have to think, plan, and cook, cook, cook.

But I don't have time to figure out my psychological problems anymore. My body is in trouble. After a lot of reading and thought, I have decided to try Medifast. Someone whose opinion I trust, a doctor, suggested it to me. Here are some of her own words:

"Not the most real food way to lose the weight, but my relationship with food was so fucked up, the only thing I could do was remove most of my choices and retrain my brain...not the tastiest way to go about losing weight, but it gave me time to just stop thinking so goddamned much about food. [After reaching my goal] I switched to a more Paleo diet and still limit my carbs at this point. The thing it did for me was stop the cycle of stuffing sugar/carbs and crashing. Getting the weight off then served as a motivation to stay healthier too."

So I did some research. Medifast was originally a prescription-only diet (now available commercially) used by medical professionals to help patients with diabetes or other metabolic syndrome symptoms. It puts the body into a ketonic state, which is specifically talked about in the paleolithic literature. Look at this cool graph. By keeping your daily intake of carbohydrates under 100g a day, your body will start burning stored fat as it's primary fuel source, as well as regulate insulin production. The science makes sense to me.

Now, I know this is not real food. It's all dehydrated protein shakes and MREs. You eat 5 supplements and then one meal of real food everyday. I don't think this is going to be fun. I also don't think this is a shortcut. I'm very scared to do this. But I do know that I need to do something different, something where I don't have to think, decide, or agitate about food. I eat what they give me, and my body starts to repair itself.

In the meantime, I can focus on preparing a healthy dinner for myself, cooking with my children, and just basically trying to find the joy that is hiding in the kitchen. I know it's in there somewhere, I just can't ever find it.

The shipment of supplements should arrive later this week. I'll be posting my process from there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Suck

We recently discovered that my daughter Molly is gluten intolerant. She's not full-on allergic, but her body can't digest it, and she gets terrible belly aches. The good news is that my house was already gluten-free. We just had to convince her dad that this was real and get him on board. She's been a real trooper about changing what she eats. She's had a few chances to cheat, and I've said, "You can eat a little of it if you're willing to deal with the belly ache later." Every single time she has said, "No. It's not worth it."

Now we are at the Disneyland Resort for the week. My mother has generously brought myself and my two kids down here for a crazy, fun and food-filled vacation. Molly has been AWESOME. We went to the breakfast buffet at the hotel; she ate clean. We went to lunch inside Disneyland; she ate clean. We went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner; she ate clean. That includes some bread-free treats as well. The kids is just on top of it.

Meanwhile, I made a pact that I would eat gluten-free this week in solidarity. "If Molly can't eat it, I won't eat it." That lasted a whole... zero days. At the breakfast buffet, I snuck some banana nut bread while she wasn't looking. For lunch, breaded fish and chips. For dinner...a variety plate of gluten. Oh and my son got some donut holes, and I snuck a few of those as well.

My ten-year-old daughter is showing me how it's done, and still I choose to fail. I suck.