Burgundy sunflower

Burgundy sunflower
Crescent Moon Designs Henna Art

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The 24-hour, 365-Day Body

@Tracy noticed that I've been reading Timothy Ferriss' 4-Hour Body and it has helped her lose 20 pounds and keep them off.  That's awesome!  I am inspired and applaud this weight victory.

I have now finished the book, and while much of it makes sense, some does not compute, especially the part about eliminating bread and oatmeal and all dairy, except cottage cheese. (What makes cottage cheese superior to fat-free yogurt?)  I tried, but it didn't work for me longer than 2 days.  I love making kefir -- it's fat-free and high in pro-biotics (which keeps the flora happy, and when flora ain't happy...nobody happy). And I become grumpy when I can't make or eat bread. 
A variety of whole grains and pulses
So I compromise and cut out all the white stuff such as white flour, white rice and other highly refined products that mascarade as breads and muffins.  I now use whole wheat flour, steel-cut oats, and whole grains like chia, teff, flaxseeds, amaranth, millet, brown rice, black rice, and quinoa.  The results are delicious.

Dairy: I hate cottage cheese.  However, I do have to admit that large amounts of regular cheese are high in fat and low in fiber and probably not so good for you.  SO I use them sparingly as garnishes.  No more cheesey potatoes or gooey mac and cheese.  Oh well.  I also make my own kefir and drink 1/2 cup of fresh dairy kefir every day; non-fat milk, and lots of local probiotics.  I cannot find a reason to promote cottage cheese over homemade fat-free kefir, so I don't.

From Ferriss' advice, I've added beans to the diet and am mixing them in with the grains.  I've also increased my consumption of spinach, broccoli and kale.  But we do mix up the meals.  The 4-Hour Body recommends eating the same menu every day....but I suspect Ferriss is not married.  A variety of delicious meals eaten together is one of the keys to our domestic bliss, so definitely no same-old, same-old in the name of weight-loss.  I simply concentrate on portion sizes and drink a big glass of water before contemplating seconds.
Even among penguins, domestic bliss is about cooperating and making your partner happy

The Saturday binge.  I'm not a binger, so I don't consciously set out to do this.  But I like the idea of a free day -- so if I end up at a party and eat a piece of lemon meringue pie or some baklava, I can feel like it's all part of the bigger plan and that tomorrow I'll be back on track.  Parties usually happen on Saturdays...so it ends up fitting in with the book's advice.  But not on purpose on my part.

Exercise plays a huge part in this lifestyle change.  Before I read the 4-Hour Body and a lightbulb went off in my head, I was trying to let cardio shoulder the whole fitness burden.  Once I found a kettlebell and dusted off my old free weights, I started a 3 day a week, 20 min routine that has really improved my strength, kicked up the weight loss and helped me lose inches.  Ferriss is not the first person to advise using weights, but when I read his advice, it clicked... and it works.

I have to admit, I don't follow his routine other than using the kettlebell.  I like to use dvds that I can get from Netflix and switch it up.  And I've also started doing a yoga dvd after weight-training so that my muscles don't tighten up too much.  As someone who got two new hips less than 7 months ago, I am really aware of how much strength I need to build, but also how much flexibility I need to regain.  And just 20 min of yoga is helping with that.  I liked the AM/PM yoga dvd with Rodney Yee and Patricia Walden so much I bought my own copy.

 Heart disease happens in every family and is the number 1 silent killer of women in America.  So, when the moment of TRUTH happened in early January and I stood on the scale and realized that I am no longer a spring chicken and my BMI was 31, I knew I had to do something to get that number down and improve my cardiovascular system.  Clogged arteries, strokes, and high cholesterol run in my family... and weight control with cardio exercise is the long-term cure. (My aunt also medititates daily to keep her high blood pressure under control)

So I now start my mornings with 20-30 minutes of indoor walking with Leslie Sansone.  She's upbeat without being too perky.  She's down to earth and she jokes around with her crew, who come in all sizes.  She's obviously having fun, and I enjoy walking with her. I have several dvds and mix them up.  Every other day is a cardio day so I'll add in more "miles" with different videos.  Some use hand weights.  Some have varied speed work-outs.  Some have squats and lunges built in.  I'm a huge fan.

So there you have it: my program for life as inspired by Timothy Ferriss, Dr. Oz, Leslie Sansone, and my mother:

20-30 min walking every morning
3 days of strength-training which includes kettlebell swings -- love how those work the entire spectrum of the core! I usually spend between 20 and 60 min either doing a basic routine or following a dvd.
3 days a week of cardio -- a variety of indoor walking dvds or a long 2-mile walk outdoors on a pre-mapped course.  I like to get in 60 min in 2 30 min sessions during the day.
1 day of just hanging out and not worrying about exercise or diet (not necessarily on the same days)

Portion Control. I use measuring cups to make sure I have "normal" portions of grains and proteins.

Monosaturated fats: I use olive oil for most cooking and grapeseed oil for high-heat cooking; both have long treatises on their health properties, and they're delicious

Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, pepper, etc. -- these rev up your system and as anti-oxidants, help prevent heart problems -- who knew prevention could be so delicious!

Dairy: Big decrease in consumption.  I still put a garnish of cheese on my bean burritos and I love mozzarella on pizza.  But gone are the days of cheese indulgence. It's a good thing we no longer live in the UK because that place is cheese heaven -- each little grotto has its own wonderful and delcious cheese -- and I would not be able to resist.   I figure if it's fat-free and in moderation, it's OK.  So 1 cup milk with cereal. 1/2 cup kefir.  And 2 tbl fat-free milk in my coffee.

Whole grains.  No more white stuff.  No fluff.  No white flour, rice, bread.  And preferably not things that I haven't made -- which ensures ingredient control and adds fun to my life.

Beans, pulses, lentils.  More of them.  I add them half and half to my grain dishes (pilafs and brown rice, etc.)  I puree white beans and use them to thicken sauces.  I add beans to my eggs in the morning. I eat bean burritos for lunch a couple times per week.  Another source of whole fiber. 

Vegetables and fruit.  Thanks to Tim Ferriss, I have added a lot more leafy green and cruciferous vegetables to the diet.  However, I take issue with his contention that because fruit doesn't grow during the winter in the countries where his ancestors hailed -- and they survived just fine, one should avoid eating fresh fruit. My ancestors were also from Northern Europe and ate mainly dried and fermented fish all winter long; that does not mean I have to follow in their footsteps.  I prefer to emulate the ancestors I wish I had: the Mediterraneans -and they had fresh citrus in the winter and  then a succession of delicious fruit throughout the rest of the year: pomegranates, figs, apples, pears, dates.... so much fresh delicious fruit all year round.  They also belived in bathing, invented chess, and used henna.  Their lives were much more comfortable than the lives of my frozen, fish-preserving forebears.  I currently live in Southern California, and am very grateful for a warm climate and year-round fresh produce.

So that's it.  My plan.  It's working for me.  I've lost 10 lbs since the second week in January and 5 inches around my waist.  I can haul a 40lb bag of topsoil from the trunk of the car through the garage to the garden without complaining.  I have energy all day long without more than 1 cup of coffee (the second cup is because it's delicious).  My BMI is now 29.  I still have 35 pounds and many inches to go.

I didn't get fat and lose all my muscle tone overnight. I used to be fit and slim, but three years of chronic pain from severe osteoarthritis, and lots of self-medication with Ben & Jerry's lead to the first round of weight gain.  Two hip replacements and many lemon meringue pies  later helped me reach my zenith -- AND nadir of 180lbs.

But now, I am working hard and seeing progress, and it feels great!  And I think I can do this for the rest of my life.  That's the idea anyways.

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