Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thanks for coming!

If you landed here because of a Google search or a link from a 4 Hour Body related post, I'd like to say, "Thanks For Coming!" But you won't find me posting here anymore.

I've been blogging since 2003. When I became inspired via Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Body book to change my eating and exercising habits, I decided to put my body recomp posts on a new blog. I made The Real Loo blog to do that. But, this blog didn't feel quite right, so I created the 4 HB Mom blog. That one didn't feel quite right either when I transformed my 4HB/slow carb diet to a more Paleo/Primal/Archevore diet.

That brought me full circle to my first blog, Momcast. Enjoy the posts on this blog. You may find them helpful. But, when you are done, I hope you come over to Momcast and grab the RSS for the posts there. I have been writing about the struggle to change eating habits after a lifetime of culturally driven bad food choices.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Different Kind Of Cheating

I'm having trouble here. Yesterday I turned 40 and all week I've been using that as an excuse to slack off on my eating plan.

Again, like I've talked about before, it's not that I'm making high carb food the staple in our diet, it's that I'm having too many forbidden extras.

Some of my problems with sticking to 4HB has been the fact that a lot of my cheat day stuff sticks around for days afterwards (muffins and breads from our CSB, packages of sweets...) and I seem to have zero self control when those are around the house. I'm far too frugal to just throw it out, tho much is getting tossed after a few days of going stale anyway.

I keep thinking, if I could just have a small fruit smoothie or a handful of fruit, the relentless savoury foods of lower carb eating wouldn't seem like a chore and I'd be able to truly enjoy my foods.

Shortly after reading the 4 Hour Body, I learned about the Paleo movement. I've been reading the The Primal Blueprint and Mark's Daily Apple. And, I have to tell you, with everything I've been learning about over the last few years via the Weston A Price Foundation and traditional eating, Paleo eating and it's emphasis not on gimmicks but the hard science of how the body uses and stores energy appeals to me in an almost relieving way.

While the 4 Hour Body is awesome, it's really a set of tricks. Some of those are incredibly helpful, but I want to nourish my family forever. The binge day mentality works for adults in a diet situation, but I need to teach my children about good food choices for every single day. I'm scared that our Saturday gorge-a-thons of ice cream and salted caramels and chips, etc, are just continuing to teach them that this kind of food - high carb, high processed, high sugar - is what we ultimately want and will indulge in when we get the chance. That's sort of how I felt growing up poor; when I became an adult with my own money I just indulged as a matter of course, because I was finally in charge and I could!

At 40, I look back at the last 20 years and marvel at how cavalier I've been with my body. I have always made fun of the "my body is a temple" folks, but they had it mostly right. If you take care of your body it will work well for you long after other people's bodies are breaking down. Had I been less focused on pursuing pleasure through food, I wouldn't have to buy clothes in specialty shops or in the measly couple of racks in the back corner under the "Plus" sign. I wouldn't have scars across my entire abdomen from the enourmous bellies I grew in pregnancy. Similarly, if I'd treated my teeth like the precious tools they are, I wouldn't have had the problems I've had with those.

The 4 Hour Body is appealing for its promises of quick weight loss. The tips and tricks it offers to improve function and efficiency are valuable. But, I need to make lifelong changes to my relationship with food and Paleo offers that.

I see many parallels between Paleo eating and exercise and childbirth. When I teach families about birthing, I talk about "physiologically normal birth". This is birth as it happens in the body when a woman is left completely and entirely to its own devices. In the absence of pre-existing conditions and without any interventions found in the typical modern birthing scenario (no continuous monitoring, no vaginal exams, no bed to be confined to, no contraction monitoring, no antibiotics or pain meds or pitocin...) a certain set of things will happen within a range of normal (in the simplest sense: the cervix opens, the baby descends, they baby is born). It's how all humans work.

Same with breastfeeding. It's how humans infants eat. It's what the human animal is supposed to do during the first couple years of life.

And, so too, the body works in the same physiological normal way: our bodies work best when we feed them the fuel they run on. When we add in other fuels we can expect that our bodies will stop functioning optimally. To borrow a car analogy: if you fail to keep up with minimal maintenance of your car and decide randomly to use water or mud or soda pop for fuel instead of gasoline - the specific thing the car is designed to use for fuel - you should fully expect the engine to die, if not run like crap.

So, it seems I'm at a cross-roads. I can continue hammering away at the slow carb diet as defined in the 4 Hour Body, or I can use the book to supplement a new way of eating: no (or really, really few) grains and processed foods. I doubt I'll ever say "No" to some nice baked goods from time to time, but I think it's time to say goodbye to them in our daily lives.

(Am I gonna have to change the name of this frigging blog AGAIN?!)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Getting My Exercise On

Unlike many of the other folks who are early adopters of the 4 Hour Body's many sets of body hacks, I do not have a background of diet or exercise. I'm just a normal woman.

Except for a little "beer" league softball for a few years, I haven't played any organized sports since before puberty. And I've never, ever maintained a regular exercise schedule of any kind - unless you call "16km a week in order to pick my son up from JK and SK" regular exercise. And, in a paleo sense, it totally was. But if I didn't have to pick up my son from school, I wouldn't have done it and I don't do it anymore now that he's been in full day school for a couple of years.

Nope, I'm a Grade A couch potato. I read. I watch movies. I eat. And all of those I do on my butt.

So, you can imagine how appealing the 4 Hour Body's basic tenet of the Minimal Effective Dose would be. How little exercise do I need to do to achieve the greatest results? Workouts using little more than natural resistance and the seemingly magical effectiveness of a single specialty exercise all of which I can do in my home, where I am often tethered as a mother who works at home, these are not only appealing, they exactly fit my life's needs.

The most basic exercise recommended is the simple "Glut-4" routine. It consists of @40 air squats, @40 chest pulls and @40 wall presses. These are specifically designed to activate the muscle's ability to pull in glucose, instead of having the body store glucose as fat. The whole thing takes about 5 minutes.

The clincher - because everything comes at a price, even if it is small - is that this simple little workout should be done 15 minutes before meals and 90 minutes after meals. This means that, combined with the weight lost from eating limited slow carbs and unlimited proteins, you will be adding muscle without having to become a gym rat or own a weight bench.

If you don't have a habit of exercise, like me, start slow.

I wasn't actually sure I would be able to do more than a couple of air squats. I'm a big woman: tall and heavy with the bad knees and ankles that go with that. I was so sure I wouldn't be able to do the squats that I've been doing the 4 Hour Body thing for 6 weeks and never tried a single squat.

That's not to say I haven't worked out at all. During the second week of slow carb I did the Perfect Posterior workout three times.

This workout is also fast and remarkably simple. It is 20 glute activation raises (think a pelvic thrust lying down with feet flat on the ground), 30 flying dogs (15 per side - lift opposite arm and extend leg, alternating from one side to the other) and @50 kettle bell swings. I do 30 kb swings, swinging the kettle bells from slightly behind my thighs to just above shoulder height.

The first workout was ridiculously hard and knocked me out of commission for a couple of days. After that, my body adapted quickly. The kb swings are an amazing cardio workout. But they also give a great total body workout: thighs and glutes from the squatting and pelvic "popping", shoulders and back from swing the weight.

Just three quick workouts in a single week made me feel taller, helped me fall asleep and stay asleep at night and eliminated the hip pain I get when I sleep. At the end of the week, despite screwing up my slow carb eating every single day (a cookie here, a meal with buns or rice there...) and putting on a half pound or so, my BMI (as recorded every single week on our Wii) went down! I was recompositioning my body and I'd only done 3 workouts!

The following week, I slacked off. And the week after that, and the week after that. Etc.

I noticed, after two weeks of not working out at all, I was slouching again, my sleep was poor and my hips were killing me at night. I had a revelation: my body wants to be strong. My body wants to have strong muscles. I'm meant to do this. It feels good to be stronger and healthier!

It took a couple weeks to feel ready to work out again. I started with the Perfect Posterior on Monday. I was happy to see that I could do all 30 swings in a single set instead of 3 separate sets. But, I knew I would have to face the Glut-4 exercises soon. I steeled myself to the fact that even doing 5 air squats (heck, even 3!) would be not only acceptable, but good!

I managed to do 2 sets of 10 squats, in fact! In between them, I did 30 chest pulls. I skipped the wall presses because I was in the middle of making lunch.

I only did that once, instead of pre and post meals. And I only plan to do these a couple times a week, at first. I originally thought I'd do these squats and pulls once a day, ever day this week, but my thighs were so sore today that I was having trouble on stairs and inclines.

So, my goal for this week and next week is to work out once per day, every day. Switching between the Glut-4 set and the Perfect Posterior. After I can manage to get a workout in every day, I will reassess and start adding in extra Glut-4 sessions to the day.

My husband said to me, the other day, "Wouldn't it be kind of cool if you became one of those women who needs more of a workout and joins a gym?" That would be cool, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Did you hear those crickets? Loud, eh?

Where have I been?

The last few weeks have been tough for me. The good news is that I've been eating 4HB compliant meals. But, I've been allowing myself lots of forbidden treats.

Like, yesterday, as I made my 3yo son's lunch and put a cookie on his plate, I shoved a cookie into my own mouth. I'm almost back to my full complement of daily Diet Pepsi (1-2L per day) and slacking on the water. I bought and ate a chocolate bar (it WAS German milk chocolate, so you can imagine how hard it was for me to resist long enough to get that bad boy home!) this afternoon from a specialty store where I pick up my prepared meats at. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

But, breakfast is a spinach omelette and beans every morning, salad with chickpeas and some meat for lunch and a dinner of meat and beans and veggies every night. Tonight, for instance, was some yummy German wieners (that's what happens when you go shopping with a 3 year old and a 7 year old), broad beans, lima beans, peas and sauerkraut (not fresh). I so totally rock the meal making!

And, even though I have been nibbling at crap here and there, I've been losing 1 or 2 pounds a week. That's better than gaining, right? Of course, I know that if I could keep my hands out of the metaphorical cookie jar (and got off my arse to do just a couple of 5 minute workouts a week, I mean, really! Who can't do that?! Me, I guess.) I could be losing 5-10 pounds a week.

So, why the frak am I sabotaging my progress? Is a danish here, a bottle of diet soda there and cookies at random times every day or two really worth it?

I know the answer to that, but it seems to make no difference. First I was menstruating. And then I was lonely when my husband was away for a week and I was getting worn down by the boys. Then I was celebrating having my husband home. After that I was just plain depressed. And there were a bunch of times when I was stressed. Then I was having a root canal.

The excuses never end. I spent nearly 20 years as a smoker, so it used to be that when I hit a situation that stressed me out I would have a cigarette. I can still feel that little kick I'd get after lighting up: a kind of tingle goes through the body as the heartrate accelerates and a momentary lightheadedness gives the body a feeling of tension release. Food is a very poor substitute for that feeling, but seemingly better than tobacco.

I have to find a different reward/indulgence/crutch. And it's got to be non-food. Maybe tea? Do I need to buy more white and green teas? Maybe it'll become exercise as my body starts to crave the endorphins when I rip off 50 kettlebell swings after the kids start driving me around the bend. That would be awesome, eh?

How do you deal with stress? What's your magic treat to soothe the inner whiny pants? When you start dreaming of the creamy sweetness of chocolate, what do you do to keep the beast tamed?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Recipe: Crockpot Roast

I don't cook a lot of roasts. Chickens are usually my thing, but a nice roast of beef is hard to beat.

This roast fed my family of four, two of them smaller kids, and provided 1 or 2 pieces of beef that I can use in soup, a Mexican mixup, a side to a big salad...

Savoury Crockpot Roast

3-4 lb rump roast
1 TBSP olive oil
2 C water
3 cubes beef boullion
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp Montreal steak spice
1/2 tsp pepper
1 onion

8 hours before you plan on serving dinner, turn on your crockpot to low and heat a pan with olive oil to medium or medium-high heat. Sear all sides of the roast.

Put roast in crock and put lid on.

Add two cups of water to pan and deglaze for a moment before adding remaining ingredients, except the onion. Whisk gravy mixture and allow to come to a light boil. Pour over the roast.

Cut onions into long pieces and add to crock, evenly distributed.

Cook for 6 hours. Turn roast and replace lid. Continue cooking for 1-2 hrs.

Serve with salad and vegetables. Ideas for veggies: roasted root vegetables (parsnip, carrot, turnip, rutabaga, peas, steamed broccoli and grilled brussel sprouts.

Everyone LOVED this. After supper was finished, the boys all lingered at the table snatching bits of beef. The taste was reminiscent of classic jerky seasonings and the gravy it produced, a little more like a jus without the flour-based roux or cornstarch to thicken it, was delicious.

The meat just fell apart, too. The leftovers, with the gravy, will make a killer shredded beef. A forkful of that would be a perfect addition to an egg, beans, salsa and guacamole for a tasty breakfast that breaks the mold.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 21 - The Weekly Weigh In & Why More Measurements Are Good

This week was all messed up. It seemed to be our hardest.

Monday was my husband's birthday and though we celebrated it on Saturday, his dad and sister came down on Monday and that threw a small wrench in our eating plans. First, we thought they were coming early enough for all of us to go to lunch. We were dreaming of slabs of meat and veggies.

It turns out, they were arriving a few hours later than that. My husband decided a pizza was in order: the fastest thing we could get to arrive at our home as I didn't have lunch food for all four of us. Bad choice number 1.

Bad choice number 2 was going out, at my suggestion of course, to a cafe with a large selection of cakes. I had carrot cake cheese cake and a vanilla steamer. Then, at the meeting I went to in the evening, the hostess' chocolate almond clusters were sitting on a platter directly in front of me and I just stopped resisting at some point.

There was a lunch at McDonalds, a sub for dinner, far too many Diet Pepsis, pasta for dinner twice; it sounds like someone's Magic Day list!

I knew for certain that the measurements were not going to be kind to me.

Weight: 292.4lbs (292.2lbs, 290lbs)
BMI: 44.92 (44.86 (44.89)
R/B (right bicep): -- (16.5", 16.5", 17")
L/B (left bicep): -- (17", 16.5", 17")
R/T (right thigh): -- (31", 30.75", 32.25")
L/T (left thigh): -- (30.5', 30.25", 31")
H (hips): -- (56.25", 57", 56.5")
W (waist): -- (51",51", 50.5")
C (chest): -- (50", 50.75", 50")
Total inches: -- (252.25", 252.75", 254.25")

Weight: 257.6lbs (256.5lbs, 257.6lbs)
BMI: 32.44 (32.30, 32.44)
Total Inches: -- (226.75", 227", 227.5")

Look at that: I gained .2lbs. Wait a minute, Point Two? That's it?

Let's look at some more numbers.

As you can see from the chart, while I didn't actually lose all of my Magic Day weight, I DID go down despite cake and pasta and pizza and the rest. In fact, if you count from Monday morning's weight I have lost weight! And, if we look at the pre-Magic Day morning weigh-in of Day 14 on the 15th, I only gained .1lbs.

I drank yerba mate tea at least once every day except yesterday.

I ate a protein heavy breakfast - around 20 grams - every single morning in the form of scrambled eggs and 1/4 - 1/3 C of beans. Most days I had (mostly) 4HB compliant lunches in the form of salads with chickpeas and occasionally added protein (1/4 C leftover chicken, a tin of sardines...)  and a couple of 4HB compliant dinners.

Now, I could look at the overall numbers and see that I am not, in fact, going down in terms of weight. But, looking at more metrics reveals a truer story: for the times when I am 4HB compliant in my diet alone, the weight is coming down. And, I'm not hungry, I'm not feeling sick and I'm only feeling marginally deprived (I bought a truckload of liverwurst and some egg buns for the boys and it galled me to be unable to eat it!).

With time, that feeling of deprivation will go away. I am pretty sure that if I got off my arse and pre-made more bean dishes and plotted out the week's meals better, I'd have little to no trouble sticking to the plan.

I'm going to go and enjoy my Magic Day today. I already had my liverwurst and egg bun breakfast :)

Be sure to come back regularly or add 4HB Mom to your RSS feed. Coming up this week: how did I do on the week's goals? Recipes!  Food pics! More charts!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The New Blog

I was blogging at The Real Loo, but decided to import the whole thing over here. I feel like this fits better. I'm planning on posting a lot more recipes, talk about going slow carb/4HB with kids and the exciting (snark!) journey of a middle aged woman getting fit.

Please take a moment to say "Hi!" and if you have a blog, be sure to let me know so I can build my blog roll and personal RSS feed. I love following along with everyone.