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.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fall From The Wagon Bruises Your Butt

We don't eat disembodied poultry. We don't buy packages of oversize breasts of chickens, or the thighs of a couple of birds. We eat in the traditional style: you cook a whole bird, divide the meat up into 2 or so meals and use the bones to make broth.

When I look at other people's blogs and food logs, they don't cook like this. They tend to buy convenience cuts of factory poultry and prepare them one breast, thigh, wing or leg at a time. This is awesome for making an ultra fast meal.

It means that I also don't see any soups from other 4HB'ers.

Perhaps I'm in a unique position in the community; I work from home and also run a home making whole foods for three other people. I'm the one who does all the meal planning, prep, cooking and the bulk of the cleaning. Oh, to be my husband who just eats what he's given!

I'll be honest, the entire process is a bit fatiguing. I already have days when I can barely stand to think about food.

Perhaps this is why, for the last two days I've had an extended binge? 

Yup, I ate lots of forbidden foods on what was supposed to be the first two 4HB days of the week. After gaining a couple of pounds last week, instead of losing - though, to put the weight gain in context, it looks like gain could have been in muscle because my BMI went down at the same time my weight went up, according to Wii Fit - you would think I'd be pretty gung ho in my quest to conquer the fat.

But, a curious thing happened.

I started Sunday with a hunk of protein right away. I ate the slab of meatloaf left over from the meal out my family enjoyed at our favourite restaurant (I had a broth based seafood soup and a main of meatloaf and mash - I couldn't eat more than a couple forkfuls of the mash and only one of two giant slabs of meatloaf). I didn't do eggs, beans or veggies, but darnit, I ate me about a 1/3lb of beef!

During the day I indulged in a flavoured latte style tea, a Hello Dolly bar (I was powerless when I saw that beautiful specimen full of happy childhood memories and, well, condensed sweetened milk. Hello!? How was I supposed to pass THAT by?!), a Big Mac meal (damned kids and errand running) and a late night Skor cinnamon bun that arrived on Saturday in our community baking allotment. Dinner was 4HB compliant, though: salad w/ chickpeas and veggies, broccoli and two turkey frankfurters.

A curious thing happened in the morning. When we pulled out the Wii Fit board to get our morning weigh in going, both my husband and I were down from the day before.

Let me say that again: despite a number of cheats on the day immediately after our cheat day, my husband and I LOST WEIGHT!

So, how did that happen?

Did we do lots of exercises to "burn off" the excess calories or encourage our muscles to convert fat and calories to muscle? Nope.

Did we eat really small portions to limit the carbs and simple sugars we ate? Nope.

Did we take some great supplements, drink some funky teas or otherwise take some sort of magic pill-like substance that limited our glucose spikes, influenced how the food energy was used or sped up digestion and therefore limiting the calories taken in by the body? Nope.

We started with some protein in the morning and had a protein rich, slow-carb supper. That's it.

One of my goals was to track my weight during the week, on a daily or near daily basis, in order to give myself more usable info to improve my fat loss efforts.

I think this modified, unplanned extra cheat day shows how having that info is important. The data reminds me that protein is important in the morning and that falling off the wagon can happen, we can minimise its effects and quickly get back on track with few problems.

Ever onward!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day 14 - The Numbers and the Week in Review

Well, I'm about to have my second Magic Day, so that means it is measurement day. I already knew what the scales were going to say: weight gain. And that isn't my goal. So, without further ado, here are the numbers for this week:

Weight: 292.2lbs (290lbs)
BMI: 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: 256.5lbs (257.6lbs)
BMI: 32.30 (32.44)
Total Inches: 226.75" (227", 227.5")

I knew the numbers were going to come out like that for me. My face looked puffy all week, I ovulated, my breasts were fuller and more tender and my stretch marks itched yesterday. And none of my clothes felt any looser.

The great thing, though, is that there is next week.

So here is my post-mortem of the week.

The Good Stuff:
  1. I felt less compulsion to snack between meals.
  2. I rarely felt hungry between meals, but when I did, it felt OK to just ride that feeling for a little while until I got the chance to cook.
  3. I switched from the Russian KB Swing to the American KB Swing. With the help of the following video, I really feel like I'm doing the swing correctly. I get the "violent hips" thing now.

The Bad Stuff :
  1. On Tuesday I met my husband for a lunch out. We went to one of our fave places, Mex-I-Can, where we shared guacamole with home made tortilla chips and a chimichanga. Holy Mother of Glorious Food!  It tastes so good but it feature tortillas, rice and chips. Not great. 
  2. On Wednesday, still suffering from sugar withdrawal blahs, I opted out of cooking and, pressed for time before having to teach a private group class, we went to Quiznos and got subs. I opted for the small and made sure there was lots of meat on it. But that bun wasn't good. 
  3. I had a few too many diet Pepsis this week. I never drank more than 16oz a day, but I drank that almost every day. 
  4. I spent a lot of time on the sofa with the laptop this week. I clearly need to get out more often.

The Goals:
  1. Eat more protein.
    1. Prep bean casseroles so that I can easily get in my protein requirements without added work.
    2. Make tasty recipes so the chances of getting enough beans into me is better. 
  2.  No cheats.
    1. If eating out, choose options that don't include carbs.
  3.  Start cold therapy.
    1. For 20 minutes while reading each night, wear a chill pack on the traps.
  4. Add Glut4 exercises in before meals.
    1. I don't have a stretchy thing for the chest pulls so I'll just go for as many squats as I can and wall presses. 
  5. Get yerba mate tea and alternate that and the pu-er tea with each meal. 
  6. Build a tracking sheet in Google Docs to track results and what measures I've been taking. 
  7. Do a daily weigh.
    1. Hop on the Wii every morning before I start making breakfast so that seeing the results of what I am doing continues to inspire and point to adjustments that need to be made.
I'll be starting up with daily pics of food again this week. I should also have some recipes to share.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea tastes like wet wood.

In the words of my husband, though, "It's not so bad after the first couple of sips."

I had heard of Pu-erh tea a year or so ago. That time was in conjunction with using it as the base for kombucha instead of green or black tea.

The word was that it helped in losing weight. It is said to inhibit the creation of cholesterol, thereby reducing your bad cholesterol. There is some evidence that it also reduces weight and triglycerides. In China it was also widely used as a hangover remedy.

Well, I don't drink, so I'm hoping that adding it into my slow-carbing will help promote or accelerate weight loss. I could probably use with some triglyceride and cholesterol lowering.

Though Ferriss recommends cinnamon for making tea and coffee more palatable without honey or sugar, I've found just the opposite. Despite loving cinnamon, I hate it in my tea. As soon as I stopped adding the cinnamon, my tea became more palatable. I won't say it's more delicious or comforting or anything, just better.

It only took a few cups of tea - green, black, red, white or this pu-erh - to acclimate. Thank goodness! So, if you are nervous about going without any additives to your tea, I can assure you that it is fine once you get started.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goal Setting and Project Management

A new blog of a fellow 4HBer, Rob's 4 Hour Body, popped up today on my radar and his post included a nice little post mortem for his week that included good stuff, not so good stuff and goals.

Goals are amazing. We all have them, stuck in the back of our heads, maybe, or nagging us along our day. Most goals don't get realised. Achieving goals is sometimes pretty tough, as you will know if you are reading this blog. Goodness knows I've wanted to be at least a size 14 for nearly 10 years but having that goals doesn't mean I can achieve it.

Writing down your goals, however, is a very different thing than just conceiving them. When we write down our goals - and further, when we update them regularly in writing - we make it more likely that we will achieve them. Make them specific and you'll know exactly what you want to achieve. Add in sharing those goals with others and you suddenly have a far greater chance of achieving them than before. Tim points this out in The 4-Hour Body when he discusses the common factors of successful dieters.

The process of recording, updating and sharing goals transforms simple desires into a project to be managed.

This idea of project management is something the geeks in the 4HB community (and really, early adopters are often the techy geek folk, generally, and I say that with the affection of a fellow geek) can really get down with. Define the goal, break it down into tasks, assign a timeline and review the progress, updating the tasks and goals as needed.

I'm a childbirth educator and in one of my classes about marriage after children, I urge couples to create a Family Mission Statement. The idea is similar to project management: you define what is most important to you as a family, decide what you want your family to be like, what values you want your children to have and define your family goals.

So, it's about time I made myself my own project.

Goal for the week:
Define my project.
Write about it on my website.

How about you? What's your goal?

Cheats and Bumps In The Road

I'm still following the plan.


I can tell you that by now, Day 10, I am thoroughly bored with eggs for breakfast. I can't believe there are people who enjoy and find it comforting to eat the same thing for a meal every day, over and over. I am about a week away from blowing chunks of scrambled eggs and beans all over.

I long for some nice whole wheat oatmeal pancakes or my locally grown honey flax bread with butter and jam made out of hyperlocal fruit (my baker sends a jar every week and half of the fruit comes from our neighbourhood). I crave roasted root veggies. I mean, it's winter, fer crying out loud. Cabbage, potatoes, turnips, beets and carrots are the only vegetables available locally! I'm not supposed to touch most of those, though.

This 4HB eating plan must be easy peasy for people in California or those who don't really think about eating ethically. It's not particularly hard for me but it is inconvenient and boring.

I'm going to pick up some supplies and make a few baked bean dishes. Eating plain beans is making me gag. So, it's soups and casseroles, to the rescue.

I have cheated in the last week.

The first was a planned cheat. A former client, now friend, invited me to lunch at her home last week. I wasn't comfortable demanding a new mom make me a compliant meal, so I decided to just see what happened. It definitely wasn't a compliant meal, but the carbs we did eat were far more healthy than they might have been: make your own pizzas on homemade whole wheat crust, a bowl of curried butternut squash and apple soup, chocolate pudding made with almond "milk" and a strawberry. Yummy!

I didn't get worried about this meal.

The other cheat that week was also minimal: I at a panko breaded chicken strip (real chicken breast.

It was after leaving an electronics store and discovering my laptop's warranty likely didn't cover damage I was told it would cover (when the bugger sold it to me) and finding out that I was a week too late to get a replacement battery (because I do my business on the laptop, I couldn't send it to be fixed until after launching my new business and that put me 6 days late for the battery). I was nearly in tears and I was angrily demanding ice cream to soothe my soul but my husband persevered in deflecting my ice cream buying. So, when I got home, I loudly announced I was going to stuff a chicken strip in my mouth. It was delicious!

Again, it was technically a cheat due to the panko breading, but ultimately, a far healthier cheat than it could have been, or would have been two weeks ago!

My final cheat on Sunday night, however, was not a healthy cheat. And, it points to one of the lessons I learned from my Magic Day: if you buy it for Magic Day, finish it on Magic Day. The lesson that proves the rule: giant bars of Swiss chocolate with hazelnuts will be too much to avoid on 4HB days, causing you to hide in bed with a book and crumbs of chocolate and nuts on your nightgown.

I was not proud of that. And it wasn't nearly as satisfying or delicious as it was in my mind.

Another lesson I learned from my Magic Day: ice cream makes me sick. I didn't even finish the pint! It was soooooo disappointing. There is something I can definitely cross off my list, now.

Have you had any cheats?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 7 - Measurements

Well, aside from a few glitches, I got through the week. It is the morning of my Magic Day and I'm waiting for my two pieces of toast! Toast! With cream cheese! I can hardly wait.

So, on to the measurements. (Last week in brackets)

Weight: 290lbs
BMI: 44.89
R/B (right bicep): 16.5" (17")
L/B (left bicep): 16.5" (17")
R/T (right thigh): 30.75" (32.25")
L/T (left thigh): 30.25" (31")
H (hips): 57" (56.5")
W (waist): 51" (50.5")
C (chest): 50.75" (50")
Total inches: 252.75" (254.25")

Weight: 257lbs
BMI: 32.44
Total Inches: 227" (227.5")

We realised that even tho we didn't have a traditional scale, we had a Wii Fit Plus system (that we never use). One of the features of that is to take weight measurements and track weight and BMI.

Now, in the 4-Hour Body book Ferriss points out how inaccurate a BMI is at telling you your actual body composition, but, like most measurements, when tracked as a constant, it can be an interesting way to see changes over time. Plus, the Wii Fit system uses it. So, we will, too. Neither my husband nor I are seeking go from geek to freak, so the BMI will be, perhaps, more accurate for us than it might be for others.

I have to catch up on the last couple of day's food logs. I've had to take my computer in for repair, so my posting may be a little spotty till it gets back.

And now, I'm off to enjoy my first Magic Day!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 3 - Things Get Grumpy

I finally woke up without a headache. I almost felt like dancing around!

By noon, however, the headache creeped back and hovered over me like a threat. My head just felt fuzzy and full of rocks all day. My neck has been sore and that doesn't help.

Have I talked about my body, yet? Aside from the headaches? Well, it's been sore. And not that good kind of day-after-workout sore. It was I-can't-get-off-the-toilet sore. For two days my muscles were so sore after just one Perfect Posterior workout that I was walking as if I had a debilitating degenerative muscle disease. I looked and felt stupid.

Thank goodness I work at home. I convinced my 3 year old to crawl into bed with me and read for a while. Hey, it was snowing! Under the duvet was the coziest place to be!

I started off the day with the usual breakfast variant: scrambled eggs, salsa, refried beans and two slices of bacon.

For lunch I made a big salad with veggies (cucumber, broccoli, grape tomatoes, red and green pepper) plus chickpeas and a yummy yogurt based dressing. On the side there were some olives and a pickle.

Later in the afternoon, I had a snack of nuts.

I guess there wasn't enough protein in my lunch because, by the time I was preparing dinner, I was starved and cranky. So, I had another baggie of nuts. I only ate half, tho. I saved the other half for after supper.

Supper was a yummy soup. I took some frozen turkey stock, the jus of a slow-cooked pork shoulder, half of the pork shoulder shredded up, a carrot, celery, onion and a can of black-eyed peas. With a few herbs, salt and pepper this turned out to be a super delicious, super nutritious meal. Even the kids gobbled it up.

The afternoon and evening were not good in terms of my mood. I was snappy and just plain mean at points. I wasn't hungry, but I got resentful at not being able to eat what I want, when I want. It made me angry to peel oranges for the boys but not be able to eat a few slices with them. It made me grumpy not to be able to reward some hard work around the house with a handful of grapes. And I was purely nasty about not having a glass of Diet Pepsi to relax with at night.

This is my hardest problem, I think: adjusting my thinking about being entitled to eat what I want. I mean, I am an adult and if I want something, I can just go get it. My problem has been that I indulge that feeling all the time. I rarely wait for anything or restrict my desires. If I want a skein of yarn or a Snickers bar I just go get one.

Well, I just can't do that anymore. I have to wait for Magic Day. The only problem is that Saturday is not today!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 2 - Food

I woke up with a headache. I tried extra food, extra water and Tylenol, but nothing touched it. I had that headache when I woke up and it was still there when I went to bed.

Being in pain makes everything unappealing.

We started the day out with our usual breakfast of scrambled eggs, salsa, guacamole and black beans. I forgot to take a picture.

The nice thing is that this breakfast is great at keeping me filled up till lunch. I very rarely feel hungry before noon, now. If I do get the urge, I try to make a cup of tea or drink some cold water and wait it out.

I was really looking forward to lunch.

While I prepped my salad, I ate a can of sardines in tomato sauce. Oh gods of food, this was delicious! I love me some saucy sardines!

My main dish was a tuna veggie salad. Normally I would make this with pasta or use it as a sandwich filler, but both are verbotten, so I ate it with a fork!

One can of tuna was blended with broccoli, red and green pepper, green onion, celery, pickle, mayo and mustard powder. I only managed to get halfway through the bowl.

You can see my tea "cup" in that photo, too. I have been drinking my tea with cinnamon, like a good girl. It tastes like crap, though. I drink tea. With a little sweet in it. It can be cane sugar, or honey, I don't care. And it doesn't have to be a lot. And tho I love cinnamon flavoured teas like Chai teas, cinnamon is not an adequate substitute for me.

I'm going to have a look at Stevia and see what the profile is on that. It might be worth it for me.

I needed comfort food later in the afternoon, so I grabbed one of the pre-portioned baggies of nuts that I made up on the weekend. Raw almonds and roasted and salted cashews. It works out to about 1/3 Cup of nuts, which is a good portion, I think.

Nuts are a good snack food, if you can stick to a reasonable portion - which is why I bag them up. You know how the day after you eat nuts you see them, er, on the way out? Practically whole? Well, a recent study discovered that almost half of the nuts eaten get expelled without getting digested. That means only half of the fat and calories are sticking around. The rest gets flushed away. Check out this story for more info.

While I was getting an after school snack for my kids, I popped a couple olives into my mouth. I didn't get a picture. I was curious about whether I was getting enough fat: maybe the reason for my headache was related to not getting enough good fats into my system. The brain is made of fat, after all.

The headache didn't go away. But, boyo, those were a few tasty olives! Plus garlic cloves. Gotta have garlic stuffed olives! That's the easiest way I know, aside from a supplement, to get whole cloves eaten.

Dinner was pulled pork with a little bit of BBQ sauce. I only used 2 or 3 TBSPs and the pork was divided over four people, so I didn't worry about the carbs too much. The pork was accompanied by lentils with garlic powder, peas, brussel sprouts and broccoli.

OK, I don't mind lentils, per se. But plain lentils are just plain gross. I'm going to have to get making a few soups, because I don't think I can eat lentils or beans plain like that. It makes me gaggy.

I drank a tonne of water all day and practically floated to bed. With the headache. Ugh.

Monday, January 3, 2011


I went to bed with a headache last night and I woke of with one this morning. And it seems to be getting worse.

I have read on a couple of other people's blogs and a few others have mentioned headaches.

Is this common in the beginning of slow carbing? Is it an indication of a deficiency? Are there any remedies?

I know this: I can't live with a constant headache. Tylenol is only marginally effective and I have kids to take care of, a business to work on and a home to run.

What's your experience with headaches and 4HB?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 1 - Food

It's not quite 8pm but I'm ready for bed. I can barely keep my eyes open. I don't know if that is because of the change in foods, the exercise or me. And, I realise that I could technically cave between now and whenever bedtime really is, but I'm doubting it.

I'm calling this one and it was successful. Not necessarily easy. Though, not hard either.

Let's just say that I now officially hate shopping. 80% of the supermarket is made up of foods I cannot eat. Sure, I could eat them Saturday, but Saturday is so far away at this point as to not even exist. And so, when it comes right down to it, I cannot eat so many delicious things. Even if they are "healthy" or whole foods.

By the time I had made it across the entire store and was passing the bakery on my way to the checkout, I was ready to call it quits on the whole thing, order a cake and have a shame party. "I can order a birthday cake for myself on Saturday!" I declared with false bravado. My birthday is nearly two months away.

I didn't buy any cake. Or soda pop. Or fruit.

I bought beans.

Here is what we ate today.

Breakfast was an omelet with spinach, French cream mushrooms, green onion and 1/3 cup of chevrette cheese. No beans anywhere!

I tried using cinnamon in my tea for the first time today. I'm a big fan of chai, but this wasn't much like chai. It made sugar-less tea tolerable but, well, it wasn't the best thing I've ever drank. I suppose, after some time, I will come to prefer this, the same way I came to prefer black tea after a lifetime of drinking it with milk.

Since we had a very late start to the day, our breakfast was actually our lunch. So, when we were at the grocery store around 4:30pm, I started to get shaky and distractible. It was kind of strange. I got clumsy and a bit panicky. I had bought raw almonds and roasted cashews as a snack so while my husband paid up, I ripped into the bag and gobbled back a handful. It seemed to help.

Also for snacking, I picked up a jar of hazelnut spread. It's made of just roasted hazelnuts so it's compliant. Other folks are eating "natural" peanut butter, but - maybe because of my impending case of the hungries - when I stood staring at all the options - almond butter, cashew butter, pumpkin seed butter... - I couldn't help myself and went for the hazelnut butter. Maybe I'll add cocoa powder to it for a compliant "nutella"!

I had a TBSP of that when I got home, too.

Dinner was easy tonight. I made my easy-peasy chili. You can find the recipe here. Scroll right down to the bottom of the post to find it. Instead of two cans of soup, use a large can, or two, of tomato sauce and add extra cans of beans. This is going to be an easy meal to re-heat this week and to pack off with my husband for lunches.

I'm trying to keep up with my water intake. We bought these large litre+ bottles from WalMart the other day and they are perfect.

In the morning, I'll probably go back to scrambled eggs, but then I'll have to make a packed lunch for my 7 year old. Can I keep my hands off his grapes and oranges? Will I be able to resist a sampling of the kiwi-jam my baker sent home to us this weekend? When will I stop feeling deprived?

Day 1 - Getting Started

Today is my (and my husband's) official start day for our 4HB project. All week we have been experimenting with making slow/no carb meals and finding ourselves quite full. Any bad eating was really just a matter of habit or a desire to get rid of some of the sweets and treats we had lying around.

We got up really late this morning and dawdled a little, but before we got started we did our "Perfect Posterior" workout:

30 Glute Raises (I always called them pelvic presses) (GRs)
15 Flying Dogs per side (FDs)
30 Kettlebell Swings with 25lbs (KBSs)

Wow!  This was an incredibly effective workout. Effective being defined as "made me sore for hours and hours afterward". I almost couldn't do the 30 KBSs. After 20 I started getting a bit of tunnel visions and a panicky feeling. See, I'm a true newbie when it comes to exercise. I live on my couch, working on my computer. I haven't been doing much walking over the last few years and I spent 16 years as a smoker (I'm 6 years smoke free).

Given my present health profile, I'm actually curious to see how soon my body adapts to the regular exercise.

Before we started this morning, I was a little surprised that this 5-15 minutes of exercise was only supposed to be done three times a week. I'm not so skeptical now, though!  I think we'll go back and forth with the Perfect Posterior basic workout outlined above and an alternate workout of wall presses and squats, etc. I would like to get in the habit of daily exercise. We also plan to do a larger exercise weekly with the boys, weather permitting, like hiking.

(I've got 3 and 7 year old boys. Did I ever mention that before?)

I'll be doing a separate post for each day's food pics, so you can look for more specific details about food later. For now, I'll just mention quickly that we then had an omelet: french cream mushroom, spinach and chevrette (gotta use up my fancy cheeses) with 4 double yolk eggs between the my husband and I. Yum!

After we got our feed on, it was measurement and picture time. Now, I'm going to take the plunge and post my before and after pictures. I'm also going to list my specific measurements. My husband, however, does not we his photo on here. He doesn't want his name being used and he also doesn't want his specific measurements being listed. He did say I could post his total inches and track that on this site, along with my own.

So, here we go:

I look pregnant. How depressing. Ugh. What you see there is a 39 year old woman who is 5'10". (My husband is an inch taller than me.)

Now for some measurements:

Weight: N/A (we don't have a scale, so for now we are going by measurements alone)
R/B (right bicep): 17"
L/B (left bicep): 17"
R/T (right thigh): 32.25"
L/T (left thigh): 31"
H (hips): 56.5"
W (waist): 50.5"
C (chest): 50"
Total inches: 254.25"


Weight: N/A
Total inches: 227.5"

I can't wait to see those numbers drop.