(photo I took at the Dallas Arboretum last week while my step-son was here)
I thought it was time for a “wellness” update since it’s been a while…
I wrote about starting foam rolling using Taller, Slimmer, Younger by Lauren Roxburgh in late January, and I have been rolling consistently since then. I’ve missed less than a handful of days total since I started (I bought small rollers to keep at my mother’s house and my father’s house…that’s how addicted I am!) and don’t plan on stopping my daily practice any time soon. I took my measurements again recently, and although my hips/saddlebags haven’t shrunk in inches, I perceive that I stand taller, and look a little slimmer overall. And I have more flexibility in my hips, which have plagued me for a couple of years.
I recommend a high-density foam roller, not the lighter, softer rollers that you often find at Target by Gaiam, and here’s a great travel roller if you travel frequently. As I mentioned, I just bought rollers to keep at both my parents’ houses, but I plan on purchasing that small one for other trips. I don’t want to miss a day 🙂 Have you tried it yet?
I haven’t meditated in a very long time. I miss it, and endeavor to start back up again, but honestly, I’m having a hard time meditating when I could be watching Better Call Saul. I mean..
Anyway, I use the OMG I can meditate app on my phone, which I love (and pay for!), and find very effective, so I’m going to make it a priority to start back again.
My cholesterol was high a few years ago, then it dropped to below 200 and now it’s back up to 230 again. High cholesterol runs on my mother’s side of the family, so I know I have a predisposition to it, but I was shocked at the increase this last year. I’m trying not to spend a whole lot of time analyzing what I did “wrong,” instead I’ve made a six-month plan to try and bring it down through weight-loss, eating more fiber, and becoming largely vegan again (I know there’s a TON of debate out there on vegan vs. paleo, etc. etc., but I’ve been both, and at this point in my life, eating mostly vegan aligns more with my ethics and research*), then see what the results are.
I’ve maintained my recent weight-loss for a few years, but always knew I should lose more to be my “healthiest,” and now is that time, given my recent cholesterol spike. I feel good, and I’m happy with the way I look, mostly, but for my height, I’m still “overweight” by about 30 pounds, and I’d really like to see how I feel/look 30 pounds smaller. So, off it goes**.
It’s going to be very hard. It’s been relatively easy to maintain my weight, thanks to Pure Barre 5 days a week, but losing it is another thing altogether. I’m not very good at keeping track, or writing things down, but I’m going to use My Fitness Pal again to measure my calories and progress, as well as track my nutritional intake. And we’re getting the platform, a new cardio workout, at Pure Barre, so that should take care of adding cardio back in to my exercise routine, something I know will jump start weight loss.
Also, food. Honestly, I’m shocked at how well I eat generally, now, with a few hiccups. I never would have thought… if you’ve been reading a while, you know I have/had a weakness for candy. Sour jelly belly jelly beans in particular. I successfully knocked my sugar habit quite some time ago, and don’t miss it. I try not to eat any added sugar at all (aside from Purely Elizabeth Granola because it uses coconut sugar as a mild sweetener) but the last six months or so (winter doldrums…) I latched on to Nada Moo coconut milk ice cream and would eat one or two pints of that a week. Whoa. And too many lentil curls from Trader Joe’s for when I need something crunchy in the afternoon.
So, I’m going back to a majority whole foods plant-based diet for at least six months and see how my numbers change, then I’ll re-evaluate things based on the results. I’ll write more about what I eat daily if you’re interested in that, but I love the Purely Elizabeth cookbook for great whole-food recipes.
*I have read SO MUCH on nutrition over the years, and have “tried” everything. I keep coming back to plant-based though, and believe the science generally supports plant-based (also to a certain extent calorie-restricted) diets for longer, disease-free lives. I love NutritionFacts.org for it’s science-based nutrition evidence, and appreciated the great detail Dr. Michael Gregor (creator of NutritionFacts) goes into in his new book How Not to Die. I have lots more reading/book recommendations if you’re interested, or if you do as well, I’d love to hear them!!
**I have long considered my “set point” 140 pounds, which is 10 pounds less than what I weigh now. When I lost weight in graduate school as a vegan I got down to 130 but my body felt like it wanted to be more like 140. That was quite some time ago, so I want to try again, and see if I can’t keep my weight down to 120 or so, and what my cholesterol does as a result of that. And frankly, I’d love to see what happens to my hips/legs/saddlebags with an additional 30 pound weight loss.
one of the best predictors of being overweight is dieting – studies show that for most people, restricting calories leads to a lower metabolism which leads to fat gain.
i have a low metabolism – i think i had it as a small child so it has always been easy for me to gain fat. i’ve done what many women do – restricted calories. i lost weight – mostly muscle mass but the low calorie thing wasn’t good for my brain and other body systems. and just wasn’t sustainable. I know that it is hard having some extra pounds but it may be even more dangerous for some to force weight loss. the health experts i listen to now advocate increasing NEAT (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12468415) for weight loss. walking more (getting a walking desk) is probably the best way for most people since so many work at a computer much of the day.
There are many human influenced things that mess with our hormones and metabolism – things that aren’t discussed by most health care professionals – medicines (read drugs), industrialized seed oils, environmental toxins/ hormones and hormone disrupters, screen (blue) light at night, mercury amalgams, root canals, EMFs – basically anything we didn’t evolve with can mess with us.
i do agree that a plant based diet is best, but a little grassfed beef now and then is beneficial. the studies i’ve read say that strict vegans actually live less.
I’ve done all kinds of diets too, my conclusion is if you are eating as close to whole and natural, you’ll be ok, though be aware that soil nutrients are extremely low because of poor agriculture/farming practices, and so supplementation is necessary (primary example is magnesium- use magnesium oil to supplement). another caveat for eating whole foods – nightshades can exacerbate or cause joint pain in some people (http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/nightshades/). i avoid nightshades and my body aches aren’t as bad.
30 lbs is a LOT of weight, especially on a frame like yours. Just saying because I think you look great and healthy and it sounds a little drastic to me. 5-10 lbs might very well be enough for a significant impact on your cholesterol. Just my two cents!!
Grechen Reiter says
totally agree with you on eating as close to whole and natural as possible. i have been a lifelong dieter also, and know that the more you “diet” and rebound, the higher your weight set-point becomes. i’ve always rebounded after severe calorie restricted and/or food eliminating (atkins) weight loss, and gained 20-30 more pounds in addition. i have maintained my initial weight loss this time because i exercise consistently now, and have changed my diet to primarily whole foods, and minimal added sugar, without too much focus on calories…
i totally believe in moderation, and am aiming for a mostly vegan, but ALL whole foods “diet” going forward (minus the trader joe’s and nada moo). for myself, i do tend to lose weight faster and keep it off better if i eat a little meat here and there. But my problem mostly with animal products is ethical. i just don’t WANT to eat them any more. I would love it if i could lose and maintain weight as a vegan, so i decided to try it again…we’ll see what happens!!
my concern right now is my cholesterol, not my weight, but first, i’m going to try and get my cholesterol down by losing weight and eating more fiber. if that doesn’t seem to work, then i’ll re-evaluate and adjust accordingly. that seems like the right thing to do for now….
thank you for your input!!
Grechen Reiter says
yes, you’re right. and when i say that i want to lose 30 pounds people get concerned. but right now i weigh 150! which is a lot on my 5’3″ frame also (I have a lot of extra “fatty” bits hanging around that I need to lose)… i’m not firm on that number, it’s a goal/challenge for myself though, and i’m going to aim for it and see what happens. not going to kill myself… ultimately, what i’m most concerned about is the cholesterol number, so when i get it re-tested in 6 months that will determine how i proceed.
the “30 pounds” comes from what I have always “believed” to be my healthy weight according to “them” – and to BMI calculations, etc., but i understand that now, WHtR is considered more indicative of higher risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases than BMI (as is high cholesterol!!). and i’m at .47 which is good (under .5 is healthy), because my BMI is above the healthy range…
Foam rolling is AMAZING!! It hurts like the Dickens, but it feels soooo good. I used to do it often, but haven’t in a long time. I might need to re-invest in a foam roller…..
I lost 30 pounds at the end of last year, then moved, went into a deep depression, and gained half of it back. I’m also trying not to beat myself up, but instead just get back on the wagon. I’m with you, friend!!
Have you heard of Dr Mark Hyman? He kind of invented the “Pegan” diet (Paleo-Vegan), only eating animal products in very small qualities for the health benefits. Sound like it might be inline with what you’re leaning towards! http://drhyman.com/blog/2014/11/07/pegan-paleo-vegan/
Okay, I might cave to this foam roller. What size is recommended in the “Taller, Slimmer, Younger…” book?
I recently read “How Not to Die” and I’ve been a big fan of Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan for a while. I haven’t gone vegan (or even vegetarian) but I’m trying to make vegetables the majority of my diet and being really picky about where the meat I choose to eat comes from.
Best of luck on this journey! I look forward to reading more about it…
Grechen Reiter says
oh! i hope you try it!! 🙂
she uses a 36″ inch one in her book and that is the one i recommend/use for home use. I have smaller ones at my mom and dad’s houses, and they’re fine, but you can’t do some of the exercises where you’re lying on the roller (and those are GREAT) on those.
we always buy grass-fed beef, and organic pasture raised chicken, but still…i can’t help but want to move away from it altogether. funnily enough, i’ve never read michael pollan, but i know of his work, definitely. i love what he says about eating junk, if you make it yourself. french fries, for example. as long as you make them yourself, you can eat them. but they’re so labor intensive, you’re not going to want to very often. and not very often, they’re perfectly fine 😉
it’s easy for me to not want to eat much meat, honestly. if i ever “crave” anything, or have any desire for a specific food , it’s usually a giant salad. or pizza 😉 or something crunchy. or kombucha. ugh…
Grechen Reiter says
thank you bev! i have heard of him, but haven’t read much…i appreciate it!!
Grechen Reiter says
hurts so good… lol, that ages me…
do not beat yourself up! celebrate where you are. that’s what i tell myself anyway 😉 just start again. i always told myself i did once, so i can do it again…not ideal, but whatever works to get you to the goal!!
Okay, now I’m goggling foam rollers made in the usa…
Michael Pollan’s “An Omnivore’s Dilemma” is a great read. “Food Rule” is cute and quick. I like Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” (and I love the app as well!) but my favorite cook book of his is “Kitchen Express.” I’d recommend checking it out of the library before buying it. The style isn’t for everyone.
Yep, pizza, salads, and salty, crunch things are what usually crave as well!
i’m writing this comment b/c i wanted to share my experience w/ you- some similarities.
i did dailey method (very similar to pure barre) about 5x/week for about 2 years. after many years of running & dvd’s at home, i found it was the BEST exercise routine for me. as a result – my abs looked better & i also found the group exercise to be motivating & just fun.
i also lost weight after i started dailey method. i think working out on my own was better than nothing, but not as effective as being pushed harder in a class.
anyway, about a year ago, i moved to a city w/o any dailey method or barre classes!
yes, this is a classic first world problem, but that didn’t decrease the sense of panic i had. i finally found a pilates class (3x/week) – but i was worried b/c it just wasn’t the dailey method- an approach to exercise that i loved.
the other part of my move was that we decided not to buy another car, as a result i walk everywhere now, and started to use a pedometer. i usually rack up 10,000 steps, usually way more. now when i look back on my time in my former city- i think i barely got to 4,000 steps a day -i used to drive everwhere.
well, it’s been about 14 months since our move, and i’m actually about 5-8 lbs less!
– it’s important to mix up the exercise routine,
-i think sometimes people get tied to a certain approach, when pretty much any consistent regimen will be effective.
-in the end, weight loss is mostly about calories in & calories spent.
i know you know all this, but just wanted to let you know about what i’ve been through.
thanks for your blog G!
ps. i have never done foam rolling, will look into it.
ps. i eat fish, no meat. i understand your struggle w/ sugar. my problem is dessert too….& crunchy things……
Grechen Reiter says
You are so right about getting tied to a routine.. I’ve thought about trying new things but I’m scared, frankly, because I’ve seen such amazing results from pure barre. They are adding a new class that’s completely different though so I think that will help a little. And I still get to keep my community. I really do appreciate the social aspect also, since I work from home.
I’ve been tracking my steps lately with my phone and get in about 9-10,000 a day walking the dog and just being “up” as often as possible / although i wish we lived somewhere I could walk more. That’s a major goal for me. …
Thanks so much for sharing your story !!
Hi Grechen! I have a MAJOR sweet tooth as well. What works for me is treating myself to a piece of very high quality dark chocolate every night after dinner. It’s rich and delicious, but low in sugar and has healthy proteins/antioxidants. I’ve been able to lose or maintain pretty quickly while still not being so hard on myself about dessert cravings.
Hi, My Mom was diagnosed with type two diabetes last year and completely reversed it going Vegan. Her doctor was shocked. Forks Over Knives (movie, books, app) is an awesome place to start and didn’t see it mentioned yet. Website “ohsheglows” is helpful with recipes too. Love your blog, been following for a few years! Always appreciate your honesty above anything else. Take care xx
Grechen, thank you for posting this.
It was particularly interesting to me because I’m also right around 150 lbs right now– but I spent most of my life rather a bit smaller (115 lbs seemed to be my default; I’m 5’7). I gained a lot of weight very suddenly– something like 40 lbs in 9 months (and no, not pregnancy related), after some major lifestyle changes which included a minor injury that kept me from working out and, on a better note, finding myself in a much happier place. I also turned 40. My weight has been pretty steady now at what I guess is my new default for about 1 1/2 years. I never used to diet, so that’s terra incognito for me, and am mostly a pescetarian, so my efforts in that direction are mostly not eating as much ice cream and not always having the cheese plate for dessert…
I’ve also finally found a workout program I like. I used to do barre but decided I really kind of hate it– no more “up an inch, down an inch!”– and rarely go to yoga anymore, but I’ve discovered I love pilates equipment classes and rowing. As a result, I haven’t lost much weight but I’m definitely stronger and more toned.
It’s also interesting to me because we’re definitely totally different sizes. I’m solidly a size 3 in James Perse, at least in bottoms, although I still wear size 0s and 1s in tops. So mostly, I’m getting comfortable not being quite so skinny (I was too thin for a while) and realizing that maybe this is the middle age body I should have, although I still would like to go down a little, if only to wear some of the beautiful (and expensive) older pieces in my closet…
Anyway, this was long and rambling, but I just wanted to thank you for your honesty and opening up these kinds of conversations/thoughts.
Grechen Reiter says
thanks cara! i saw forks over knives years ago, and actually my husband wanted to be vegan after that! it didn’t last very long for him though…i’ll look into the website and app again.
thank you for the website recommendation, i don’t know that one.
Grechen Reiter says
thanks for sharing christie 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
thanks so much for your comment.
i think to a certain extent, this is my body, and honestly, i love it (99% of the time!) and can’t complain. it’s changed quite a bit since i turned 40 and that wasn’t so long ago! i know it will continue to change, and i also know it’s not going to get any easier to lose weight (it’s never been very easy for me), so i want to really try now. and i’m pretty concerned about my cholesterol and want to try lowering it and keeping it off with diet and exercise before resorting to medication.
if it wasn’t for the cholesterol, i’m not sure i’d be pushed to try and lose weight honestly, because i’ve never been happier with my body/looks than i am right now. which is a good place to start, i think 🙂
thanks for sharing (rambling LOL)!!