Body Transformation Week Three (and Everything I Thought I Knew About Nutrition Was Wrong)

Continuing my weekly installment in the Strong is the New Skinny Body Transformation Challenge.  Click here to see all posts on this topic.

Everything I thought I knew about nutrition and about how my body works is turning out to have been wrong.

I love food.  I look forward to every meal and dream about the taste of delicious pastries. I can easily spend an entire Sunday in the kitchen preparing food for the week, and enjoy every minute of it.

I’ve also been utterly driven to snack almost all the time for years. Any time there’s not something to do, I want to be eating something. Days full of meetings at work were a relief because I would be otherwise occupied and several hours in a row without eating would leave my body feeling much lighter and happier.

I think I’m finally kicking this pattern by eating low-carb. All these years I’ve gone through cycles of hating myself and feeling weak for not having the “discipline” to stop eating, but I think all along there’s been a huge physiological aspect that I wasn’t aware of.  My body was (likely) becoming  more and more insulin resistant over the years and the urge to eat was the result of the tiredness and lack of energy caused by a cycle of too many carbs and too much insulin production.

I don’t doubt that there’s a psychological aspect that I’ll still have to work on, but this is a true relief to know it wasn’t always my fault for all these years. Or rather, it WAS my fault, but I didn’t know that the sugar I was eating was causing the problem.

I’ve also been looking into the benefits and risks of a ketogenic diet (which I am following), and I’m not convinced there are many risks, if any.  (Perhaps it is stressful to the liver in the longer term, but the other risks seem to be things like your weight loss will stall if you go out of ketosis, which doesn’t really seem like a risk to me at all.)

In fact, it seems as likely to me as not that we evolved to mainly exist in a state of ketosis, with occasional sugar burst upon finding a beehive or a berry bush and gorging on sugar. But what do I know.

I had one episode of boundary-testing on Monday this week, also known as The Incident with the Low-Carb Chocolate Bar. It was sweetened with maltitol, and I felt like an idiot on the day I bought it and ate it, and on the following day when I woke up tired, cranky and gassy, and beset by my old cravings, and I proceeded later in the day to gorge on cashews and dates.

With the perspective of a few days separation, though, I feel pretty OK about the boundary-testing episode this week.  I learned that maltitol can kick off my old sugar cravings with a vengeance, and that if my whole falling off the wagon episode involved some dates and cashews, I’m doing pretty well on the whole.

I also bought some ketone urine test strips and even after falling off the wagon on Monday and Tuesday, I was back in moderate ketosis on Thursday.

So far my energy has been great, too. I thought before doing this that being in ketosis would feel different or edgier or something, but honestly I really can’t tell. (Other than feeling even, strong, and mostly quite pleasantly calm, which is of course a huge change.)

I just started reading Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, and it’s interesting already.  Taubes has a recent blog post that I suspect summarizes one of the main points in the book, namely that insulin and not calories are what makes us fat, and the question isn’t whether a low-carb or a low-fat diet is more suited to your body, but rather  what degree of reduction in carbs will optimize your weight.  I really recommend clicking through to this one and reading it in full.

I also finished The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith this week.  It’s a thoroughly researched, beautifully hopeful and scathingly honest book.  It basically supports the nutritional information that Taubes puts forth, with additional points about the environmental and economic impacts of our food choices.  I posted a short review earlier today.

In other news, I’m apparently old enough that my family’s hereditary saggy skin under the jaw is starting to become visible.  As I lose weight it’s not tightening up as quickly as I may have hoped. So it’s a nice little reminder to love all of me, the precious bits passed down from my parents as well as the bits I have more control over, like my big strong quads and slowly tightening tummy.


Monday, March 7

CrossFit – Max reps push-ups (Did 43 knee push-ups), rest 2-3 minutes
– 8 Rounds Tabata squats (Tabata is 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest, and count your score as the lowest number completed in one round.  Mine was 12), rest 2-3 minutes
– Max reps pull-ups (3 with green band – my first attempt at band pull-ups, not really getting all the way up, I think I got my nose to the level of the bar), rest 2-3 minutes
– 8 Rounds Tabata sit-ups (did 11)

Tuesday, March 8 – REST DAY

Wednesday, March 9

CrossFit – 5 Rounds for time:
– 5 One arm overhead squats (25#/45#, 5 each arm – I used a 20# dumbell)
– 7 L-Pull ups (I jumped to a hold and lifted my legs as a dropped down)
– 10 Steps weighted walking lunges (25#/45# – I used two 20# dumbells)
20 # one-arm OHS
Completed in 10:42 (I think)
Notes: Didn’t feel too tired after so did 30 sit-ups and 30 push-ups. I can do 5-6 regular push-ups now, but still can’t get the ROM that I can on knee push-ups.

Thursday, March 10

Running – Did an easy 5.2 mile run in 3 min run:1 min walk intervals.  55 minutes.

Climbing – Took an easy day with nothing above 5.7.

Friday, March 11

CrossFit – 5 Rounds for time
6 Snatch (63#/95#) (with a full squat) (I did 35 lbs which was plenty)
20 Meter overhead carry (63#/95#) (I did 35 lbs)
10 Push ups (did knee push-ups)
Completed in ~10:48 (Again, I think. I’m not remembering times as well any more.)

Saturday, March 12

Yoga – 1 hour of some kind of flow yoga.

Climbing – Worked on a couple more 5.8s.

Sunday, March 13 – REST DAY


3 thoughts on “Body Transformation Week Three (and Everything I Thought I Knew About Nutrition Was Wrong)

  1. krazykat9876 says:

    I’m also on a low-carb, ketogenic diet. Every 12 or 14 days, I do a “carb refeed” and allow myself to have fruit and nuts (big carb culprits)…similar to the caveman finding the occasional berry bush, or whatever. This restores the glycogen stores in the liver and at the same time prevents your body from plateauing. It takes a day or two to get back into ketosis (Ketostix, the urine strips, are a HUGE help) after the re-feed, but it’s worth it. Also helps from going crazy without anything sweet 😉
    I’ve also found is a great free food tracker that analyzes the composition of what you eat…a great tool to help us stay under a set amount of carbs per day, or make sure you’re getting enough protein, etc.
    Great job, and keep it up! Watch out for any artificial sweeteners…they’re evil! 😉

    • jannamo says:

      Hey thanks! I’m really curious what your diet looks like, do you eat much vegetables? How about dairy?

      I’m mostly avoiding artificial sweeteners but I can’t seem to kick the chewing gum habit. And my urge to snack isn’t really going away. It’s more tolerable, but I think there’s still an emotional aspect to it. Or maybe the sugar alcohols in the gum I chew are making me crave snacks. (Or both.)

      Thanks for the encouragement, and all the same back to you!

      P.S. The Tough Mudder looks AWESOME. I’ve been dreaming about it all day!

      • krazykat9876 says:

        I eat a Paleolithic diet, which excludes grains, dairy, and sugar. Because I’m doing the low-carb thing, I’ve also temporarily cut out fruit 😦 So that leaves me with eating mostly meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and veggies (some nuts, but I try and limit the amounts as they’re higher in calories). If I have a snack attack, I usually go for veggies…carrot sticks, celery, bell peppers…be creative! If you’re keeping dairy in your diet, that should be a great snack…low carb and high protein. You will want to read the labels on how much added sugar it contains, though…a lot of popular brands sneak in sugar. When I was eating dairy, I loved Greek’s higher in protein than the normal kind because of the way it’s prepared.
        I can’t kick gum either, but luckily xylitol (a common calorie-free gum sweetener) isn’t so bad at all (much lower glycemic index) compared with its other sweet cousins. The emotional aspect is definitely difficult to overcome, and I promise you’re far from being the only one out there with that problem. I myself am struggling with eating only when I’m hungry, and not when I’m bored or stressed.
        Shoot me an email if you have any other questions…I’d be happy to offer any help I can give! 🙂

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