Sunday, 25 May 2014

The 30 Day Shred and other Youtube Exercise Videos

Last night, after so many times hearing about the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred which can be viewed for free on youtube, I finally did it for myself. If you just skimmed through the video it might look easy but trust me, it's not! I was sweaty by the end and could really feel it in my thighs and arms. I like the fact that it is only 25 minutes long, or even shorter if you don't count the introduction and the cool down. I get bored of exercise pretty quickly if I'm not enjoying it so I need things that are shorter but still DO something.

Aside from walking regularly which I don't mind, I know it is important to also use your muscles (or "lift heavy things" as Mark Sisson would say) a couple of times a week. The trouble is, I always procrastinate like crazy when it comes to strength training because lifting weights just isn't fun to me! Or I do a workout once, and never again. So I have learnt to not worry about sticking to a consistent routine, as long as I am lifting heavy things a couple of times a week and generally keeping active. This page has a whole bunch of free workouts to watch and so I am just going to mix it up and keep trying out different ones. Sure, I'll go back to the 30 day shred sometimes too. But if I did it all the time it would drive me crazy. I really do have to just end up forcing myself to exercise sometimes.

If I really don't want to do a whole workout at once I just do it sporadically throughout the day - like doing some lateral raises when I walk past my hand weights, or walking lunges on the way to the bathroom, or running up and down the stairs when I feel like it, etc.

I have pretty much acknowledged my laziness when it comes to exercise, and that you just have to make the best use of what you have really. I'm never going to be one of those people who is "addicted to exercise" I don't think, or who loves lifting, or whatever. I can deal with that as long as I keep moving around a lot throughout the day and don't sit on my butt the whole time!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

The Difference Between Binge Eating and Normal Non-Hungry Eating

It's been almost a week since I "quit" binge eating and I am reminding myself often that the first 3 weeks are the hardest! But, it hasn't been as hard as I always thought it would be (before I discovered "Brain Over Binge", I posted about how I just had to accept that recovering from BED would be really hard!) Don't get me wrong, there have been some tough moments - such as when  in the middle of making white chocolate mousse and it seemed like every fiber of me was yelling to eat the leftover white chocolate (Cadbury Dream, mmmm). For me, the hardest part has been figuring out what urges are "neurological junk" from the lower brain, not really me, and what is just normal day-to-day cravings and "non-hungry eating". I now firmly believe that they are two separate issues, albeit both important to tackle.

The thing is, I am wary at the moment of giving in to urges from the "lower brain" so I have been a bit scared to overeat or do any eating that wasn't pre-planned. But life isn't always pre-planned and you never know when someone is going to offer you a chocolate at work or when you go to someone's house and they offer you some biscuits with tea, or whatever. It's natural to accept those little indulgences here and there, unless they are happening a LOT. I want to live my life with full appreciation and enjoyment of food and not be so strict (except with grains and gluten of course). So I thought I would make myself a little list separating what constitutes each type of overeating.

Binge Eating Examples:
- Stopping at Coles on the way home from work to buy a block of chocolate and a pack of gluten free biscuits, then proceeding to eat them all on my bed and drink cups of coffee to wash it all down, while I zone out watching movies.
- Going to the movies with friends and buying a whole block of chocolate to eat in the cinema and eating most of it myself and being reluctant to share much of it.
- Being preoccupied about when I can next eat something sweet. If I'm at a friend's house, thinking only about how much chocolate or biscuits I can have without seeming like a pig. Planning to buy more on the way home.
- Planning to have a night in eating chocolate, then getting a call from my boyfriend asking if I want to come over, and being disappointed that I can't spend the night eating chocolate. Planning to buy it on the way there and eat it before I get there without him knowing.
- Making a batch of biscuits or cakes, intending to share them, but then eating most of them myself or even eating the whole batch myself, and then cleaning up all the utensils so no one knows I have made them.
- Planning to be really good and not eat any sugary treats, then having one, and thinking "Oh I've screwed it up now" and going on a binge because I can start again tomorrow.
- Buying a block of chocolate intended to have a little bit each day, then eating the whole thing in one day.
- When I was in high school, walking via the supermarket on the way home and buying a packet of muesli bars for me to have for morning teas that week, then getting home and eating them all.

Non-Hungry Eating Examples:
- Having second helpings of a delicious dessert at a family gathering or a party.
- Going to the movies with some friends, and getting sweets to share or just a single chocolate bar for myself (as opposed to a whole block!)
- Eating a couple of biscuits when offered them at my boyfriend's place when his stepmum makes me tea.
- Licking the spoon while making cake.
- Feeling overfull after Christmas lunch.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. The point is, the second group of examples are normal things to happen, and unless they become extremely regular occurrences, then I don't think they would come in the way of a healthy diet. For the most part, trying to eat slowly and savour your food, and asking yourself what you really feel like, are all ways that you can ensure that you don't do much non-hungry eating. Most of all, remembering that you don't have to feel guilty for indulging now and again is very important.

Today I had a big family lunch, and I had two slices of this delicious white chocolate mousse cake, but I think it is balanced out because I didn't overeat the main meal, and I didn't have much of the pre-lunch nibblies because I wanted to save room for the cake. It's around about dinner time and I'm not hungry yet, I just had a mandarin before because that is what I felt like. If I get hungry later, I will have something but for now I am content to just let my tummy do its thing and digest :)

As Kathryn, the author of "Brain Over Binge" suggests, setting a limit before your non-hungry eating is a good idea. For example, when my boyfriend's stepmum offered me those biscuits I decided that two would be a good amount and I stuck with it. Predictably, urges to keep eating came after that but I knew that they were to be ignored and it was fine.

Friday, 16 May 2014

A New Perspective on Binge Eating Disorder: Part 1. Now I can cook with freedom and enjoy chocolate again!

I've said previously that if you were to look through all my blog posts you might be confused as to where I stand - i.e. how I think it is best to view diets and how I think it is best to tackle Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Well now I believe I have reached a turning point and once and for all, everything is clear to me and everything makes sense. I can say with a lot of confidence that I have quit BED (because I now believe that it is an addiction, or at least a very bad habit formed over many years). It has only been 4 days since I quit, which you might not think is much, but with my new found skills and new way to look at things, I am never going back.

On Monday I had pledged to myself that it was (another) new start and that I would not binge anymore, I would eat with awareness and be healthy and eat Paleo foods. But when I got home from work at 1pm, I found myself making chocolate souffle and eating it all myself, eating the rest of the cooking chocolate I was using, and making myself a hash brown, and then making myself fried potato chips. After all that I was so full that I didn't even end up having much for dinner, and afterwards in my usual post-binge phase of trying to motivate myself again and say "I'll start again tomorrow," I was browsing through before and after weight loss stories. I stumbled upon one and was struck by the title "How I recovered from Binge Eating Disorder," so I went and read that and was intrigued. It all seemed to make sense to me straight away and explained why all the different types of "therapy" I had tried before had ultimately not worked. I straight away bought the book she recommended ("Brain over Binge") and spent the next 2 days with my head stuck in it!

It is all explained a lot better by them but basically, discovering that my BED, originally started due to restrictive dieting, was now actually an addictive habit, really helped me to see things in a new light. Once I realised that the urges to binge were just thrown out by my "lower" brain due to neural pathways formed, and had no actual control over my voluntary motor movements, I was able to recognise them and learn to dismiss them and not act on them. There is a lot more to it than that but you will have to read the book.

My urges come in many shapes and forms. They can be very sneaky thoughts like "Oh that slice you made is so nice, it's a shame you can't just keep eating it to your heart's content," "Now you know what to do with this method you could just binge now and start again tomorrow," "Oh look there's a mandarin beside your desk, why don't you just eat it." The urges try to make me feel deprived or like I am missing out - when I am clearly not. I just had some dark chocolate after dinner. I have been enjoying bits of my slice I made over the past 2 days. I had a couple of shortbread biscuits yesterday with tea.

When an urge comes up and is a bit more persistent than usual, I actually visualise myself standing on a shore looking out on a wave crashing in the ocean. The wave is the urge in my mind. I am watching it calmly from ashore but not engaging it or trying to surf it - because I know it will just end up dumping me! I have found that whenever I engage with the thoughts and try to reason with them or debate with them, it is more of a struggle. But when I just ignore the urges, they pass a lot more easily.

I also think of each time that I ignore an urge as an opportunity to rewire my brain and weaken the connection between an urge and a binge.

The thing is, although I know that ultimately, the principles of "If not dieting, then what?", "French Women Don't Get Fat," and all the other mindfulness based techniques did not get me to stop binge eating, those techniques are helping me a lot now. Sometimes I struggle to tell the difference between an urge to eat that's originating from my lower brain, and an urge to eat that's originating from hunger or an innocent craving. But then I just try to listen to my body, pay attention to the hunger and fullness signals, and eat mindfully so I know when I have had enough.

At the moment I am quit wary of overeating because I don't want my brain to think of it as a binge, if that makes sense. I don't want my bad habit to be reinforced ANY more. After dinner tonight I had some dark chocolate and I actually broke myself of 6 squares. But as I was eating it I couldn't tell if I was really enjoying it and if I was just eating it for the sake of it. So I stopped and saved 3 squares for later. The fact that I have the will to do that now is simply amazing to me. (Or maybe it's just the fact that it's Nestle brand, haha. Nowhere near as good as Cadbury or Lindt!)

When I am going to have some sort of treat food, I find it helpful to decide prior to the first bite how much I will have. For example, yesterday when my boyfriend's step mum offered some shortbread biscuits with tea (and she had got them for me especially), I decided to have two. I warned myself that my lower brain would probably throw out some urges to keep eating and try to make me feel sad that I couldn't. Those urges did come, but I was ready and as a result I was a lot quicker to dismiss them.

Anyway, I have probably written enough for now but I am super happy now that I can do all the baking I want without fear that I will eat all of it myself! So expect more baking adventures!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


I went out to dinner last night and had the most amazing Chicken Boscaiola. Chicken breast on a bed of green beans and broccoli, smothered with Boscaiola sauce and bacon and mushroom. I am so glad that I have finally acquired the taste of mushrooms! Afterwards we asked for the dessert menu and since it was a restaurant that catered for gluten-free I decided to order the sticky date pudding. Well, it was pretty dry and not that enjoyable and I regretted it after because I just ended up overfull. At the time I wasn't sure whether to have it or not - to have it as a going-out treat, or not have it to save room for the chocolate I will have over Easter. I wish I had chosen the latter but that's hindsight for you. I think that these decisions should be made before you go out to save you the trouble when you are there and aren't really objective. Well, I have learnt that lesson now. Although there is nothing wrong with a spontaneous treat of course, when you really want it. But the fact I was indecisive makes me think I didn't really.

Other than that I have gone well lately. I think that accepting that there will be hard moments to get through has really helped me. Because if we accept the fact that it won't always be easy, then we are prepared for those moments when they inevitably happen. So far in the past week I have just had passing urges to binge but have been able to swat them away fairly quickly. I haven't had to "sit through" any uncomfortable urges or distract myself - yet. But I am most certainly prepared.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Time to Get Real - This Takes Hard Work

It's been a while since I have written anything here, and for the sake of keeping it real I will tell you that the ol' binge eating disorder came back to haunt me. After so many months of evading it (and sure I did binge a little from time to time over the past year but no big deal) it came back in a big way. Why? Well, maybe it was after so many months of being quite strict, and I also found the autoimmune elimination diet very hard, and I just went a little crazy. Like everything I had learnt about eating awareness went flying out the window. I am still a big believe in paleo of course, and try to eat that way as much as possible, but binge eating knows no reason. Well, it does, but when you're in the midst of a binge nothing matters because it can all be put off to that faraway, mythical land of "tomorrow" or "Monday".

I am fighting my way back at the moment and just trying to incorporate everything I have learned - paleo, eating with awareness, the advice from "French Women Don't Get Fat", etc - but ultimately trying to remember that:

This takes hard work.

Recovering from any sort of eating disorder is not easy, and in the end I think you just have to stick it out because diligence is the only thing that will get you there. I'm not saying that your whole life has to be an effort, every bite of food takes self control, or something like that. For the most part, eating with awareness and eating real, natural food and lovely dark chocolate is quite enjoyable. But when those tougher times come, when you get the urge to binge when you're not hungry or you're feeling stressed or down, that's when you need to put in the effort. To sit with those uncomfortable feelings and maybe do something else nurturing for yourself, whatever you choose that to be, until the urge passes. That is a lot easier said than done and trust me I have been there, many times. When you're in the midst of an urge to binge, it feels like the worst thing ever to not have that food. But soon it passes, if you can just withstand those tortuous moments.

I know, first world problems, right. But constantly going through a mental battle with yourself is not easy. You know, this truly is a mental problem. And first off you just have to accept that there will be some tough times; and that the payoff for withstanding those times is great!

Anyway, another thing I am doing at the moment is just trying to fit in any incidental exercise wherever I can. So far I have been parking my car further away from where I work so I can walk further. I have also been running up and down the stairs while I brush my teeth, which trust me, is a real work out.

I am really going to make an effort to write more on here, not just in the good times, when I am feeling motivated and when everything comes easy. I have to write about the tougher times too because otherwise it really isn't going to help anyone.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Day #21 Personal Paleo Code 30 Day Reset

Well I've made it past the 3 week mark - with a bit of a slip up over Valentine's day! (Chocolate, of course). In fact I had chocolate, dairy, and soy so I can't pin down what caused the symptoms I experienced the next day. After that I became a lot more determined to be strict and not cheat for the rest of the 30 days - and maybe even longer if I need to. I need to be able to reintroduce foods one by one very slowly so that I can really know once and for all what I am intolerant to. I have a nasty feeling that I won't tolerate dairy:( But oh, if I can introduce eggs back in, life will be a lot easier!

One of the biggest things I have learnt is to keep it simple. In the first week I spent more time IN the kitchen than out of it, and it got old fast. At the moment I'm thoroughly over slaving away for hours on a dish. Luckily I have now got a few different basic recipes that I can alternate:

- Sausage patties: for breakfast, lunch or a quick dinner when I need it. I vary the meat, veggies and herbs I use to mix it up week by week. I make a big batch and keep them in the freezer. This week I have pork and apple and sage. I like to have a sweet potato hash brown on the side.

- Chicken: I rub thigh fillets with olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper and a dash of cumin, then fry them in olive or coconut oil. I have whatever veggies I feel like (or that are in the fridge) on the side.

- Steak: seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. It is so, so delicious when served on a bed of greens, with a slice of crispy bacon on top and avocado slices on the side. Even better with a slice of pineapple on top as well. Eating this meal feels so amazingly indulgent yet it is so simple.

- Skillet: I vary the veggies but usually have cubes of sweet potato, diced mushroom and leek, spinach, garlic, and then add in some chopped up sausage at the end. Again, super simple. The most taxing part is the chopping up of veggies.

I now have perfected all these recipes so that I am able to chuck in whatever veggies and herbs I want to taste, and the most time consuming part is simply the prep of the veggies.

I would advise to keep the exotic recipes for on the weekend or just once a week, when you have the time and energy and feel inspired. Keeping it simple most of the time is just so much easier.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Your Personal Paleo Code: Review and the start of My Code

I recently started reading "Your Personal Paleo Code" by Chris Kresser. Now, I think Chris is a seriously smart guy who always writes really well thought and researched articles on health. It is thanks to him that I got rid of my chronic heartburn, by reading his series of articles on GERD. So when I found out he had written a book I went straight to and ordered it!

The great thing about Chris is that he doesn't advocate a "one size fits all" policy when it comes to adopting the paleo diet. I think that is the fault with a lot of others, who say that everyone should be eating this and no one at all should be eating that because it doesn't fit with the rules. Chris acknowledges that everyone is different in terms of their reactions to food and how their body tolerates different foods. He does generally advocate avoiding grains, legumes, sugar and industrial/seed oils of course but when it comes to other gray area foods he advises that we figure out what works best for us.

So, all that said, he advises a "30 day reset" which cuts out certain foods e.g. dairy. I think you should read the book so I'm not going to give it all away. After the 30 days, you can reintroduce foods gradually and examine your reaction to them. For those with an autoimmune disease (e.g. Hashimotos which I have) there are the additional modifications of eliminating eggs and nightshades. When I first read all this, I thought that there was no way I would be able to do it and I thought I would just read the book and not actually implement the 30 day reset. But then I realised that I still have lingering problems and have plateaued in weight loss so I really want to give this an honest shot and work out once and for all what I can and can not have.

I am now on day 4. The hardest things about the reset are that you have to plan and cook so much. I have spent more time in the kitchen the past few days than I have spent out of it! But I have discovered a few little things so far:

- Cooking a big batch of a dish and then dividing it into plastic containers and putting them in the freeze saves time for later and is also handy for the days where you just can't face doing any cooking
- Meatballs or burgers are handy for breakfast. I made up a batch of pork and apple burgers and froze them in bags of 2 for my breakfast.
- Keep activated nuts handy at work and when going out, for the times when you get hungry but there's no appropriate foods available to you.
- Go back to the tradition of a "Sunday Roast" every week - and then you can use the carcass to make bone broth to drink and use for cooking that week! I am making my first batch tomorrow with a nice free range chicken.

Another hard thing is eating out. In fact, the thought of this was really getting me anxious. Like going out to eat with friends and not being able to eat anything. Or being that annoying person who is really fussy about what they eat (you know, if other people were like that it wouldn't bother me. I wish it wouldn't bother other people!!) But today I went to a cafe for brunch with my partner and his parents and I was able to get a salad of grilled chicken, pumpkin, pine nuts, spanish onion, mixed greens and balsamic dressing. I just asked them to swap out the feta cheese for avocado and I was sweet. Then I had a black tea on the side. It made me feel so relieved because I realised there are always things like salads that I can order and also steak and vegetables is able to be ordered at most restaurants. So at least now I have that anxiety somewhat alleviated.

I will give a list of what I've been eating so that others can have an idea of what it's like.

Breakfasts - I usually have a combination of these things:
- Sweet potato hashbrowns are my new favourite breakfast staple. Literally all you do is grate the sweet potato and fry it in a clump with some coconut oil in a pan, then flip it after a couple of minutes, until it's the crispiness you desire.
- Pork burgers from the freezer that I reheat
- Avocado
- Fruit

- Usually leftovers from the night before or a skillet with some meat, pumpkin, spinach and other vegetable

- Bolognese made without tomato using Danielle Walker's recipe. It was absolutely delicious and mum said it was the best thing I have made. Instead of the red wine I used 1/2 cup beef stock and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and it turned out perfect.
- Chicken Korma with Cauli-rice

- Activated cashew nuts
- Coconut macaroons made with dessicated coconut, dates and strawberry jam (a treat only)
- Cookies made with apple, coconut, ginger and cinnamon powder, coconut oil. Both these recipes were from Mickey Trescott's "Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook"

I've been drinking herbal tea instead of black tea and coffee. I had a headache for a few days but I think the withdrawal symptoms are gone now.

Another great thing about "Your Personal Paleo Code" is that Chris describes how other factors such as sleep, stress and movement can greatly influence weight loss. So I am going to focus more in making sure I get more sleep at night, make time to relax throughout the day and work on reducing my worry and anxiety through time management, and also move more. Chris says that even if you do 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, it doesn't undo the damage done from sitting all day. Luckily I have a job where I stand and walk around a lot of the time but once I get home ( and I only work part time) I tend to just veg out on my bed and go on my computer, maybe going out for a 30 minute walk or doing 5 minutes of skipping sometimes. So that's probably a good 7 hours of sitting I still do every day once I get home from work.

Instead of assigning myself a daunting task like a resistance training circuit 3 times a week, I am going to focus more on being active throughout the day and spread resistance exercises out over the day. I am going to get up regularly from sitting down to go for a short walk, do some star jumps or skipping, or do a quick set of lunges or burpees. That way I can do the resistance exercises that I desire to do, but in a much less daunting way. I am more likely to do it if I know I just have to do 20 star jumps and then relax. Or just do lunges on the way to the bathroom. Or do 10 incline push ups on the stairs everytime I go up them. I think being more active throughout the day and getting lots of incidental exercise in will really help. I think that is a much more natural way of movement rather than sitting all day and going to the gym to use some equipment for 30 minutes.

So watch this space! I am feeling very motivated at the moment. I think if I can get through 3 weeks without sugar, I can get through 30 days of this reset diet.