Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Virgin Diet Stint

***Sorry about the long-winded post, but I just wanted to share my story for anyone who is curious about this plan.***

At the beginning of the year, I started gaining back the weight I had lost since last July (I won't mention specifics, since this isn't really a weight-loss blog). Some might call it post-marital bliss, though for me, it was more about the stress of having to finding a new job quickly, adjusting to my new routine, and house-hunting. I knew I had to do something because I was starting to avoid wearing some of my clothes, so first I tried working out harder.

Due to feeling heavy from all the running around I do during the day to commute to/from work, I had switched to the elliptical for most of my cardio exercises. I started doing more high-intensity workouts (Insanity) and "heavy" weight interval training, as well as even working out on Sundays to compensate for the fact that I wasn't doing long runs on the weekends anymore. I wasn't able to stick to this EVERY week, since I'm usually exhausted by the weekend, but I kept at it as much as I could.

When I shared my plight with "The Ukrainian," he told me I was most likely stressed and that my body was holding onto extra weight because of it. I kept trying to deal with my stressors, but things aren't going to change anytime soon, and my adaptation process is taking MUCH longer than I had hoped.  And some days, I don't even have time to use the restroom at work, I'm rushing to make sure I clock in and out and out to lunch and back on time, and some person spits on me on the train, or a stoned person crams himself in the seat next to me.  Yes, adaptation will take a while.

The last piece, and maybe the largest, was nutrition. In general, I've been eating healthier this year than in past years, cooking my own food and not going out much and cutting down on bread, but perhaps I was starting to not mind my portions because frankly, I was HUNGRY all the time from everything I had going on, and I wasn't about to let myself be "hungry" when my current schedule is often like a game of survival.

I mentioned vaguely in a recent post that I was following a nutrition plan, and now I'm ready to review it. My co-worker told me about The Virgin Diet, but since she had lent her copy of the book to a friend, she typed up some instructions, and I basically went by those instead. Basically, she told me that if I avoided seven things for 21 days, she promises weight loss. Although the name of the diet was cheesy and lame, at my wit's end after a particularly bad weigh-in, I decided to try it and see how long I'd last.

What I followed is just a loose intepretation of the book. The book is more detailed and strict in the timing of meals and the amount of natural sugars (i.e., fruit) that are acceptable. It also instructed not to count calories, although I did, and for the most part, I was eating approximately the same number as typical.  Anyway, in short, I had to avoid:

- sugar (except what occurs naturally, like in fruit)
- corn
- soy
- gluten
- dairy
- eggs
- peanuts

Now, 21 days is a very long time, so I had no intention of doing the whole she-bang, not to mention that if you do, you have to reintroduce the foods very slowly. Given life as it is right now, I could not do anything this restrictive for THAT long, so I really just dove into it day-by-day. In the first five days, I lost about 2-3 pounds, and my skin seemed a little clearer. It was hard, really hard. I subsisted on quinoa, almond milk, brown rice, veggies, rice cakes, fruit, fish, and sunflower seed butter, though I did eventually figure out how to make a cornbread-ish concoction out of garbanzo-bean flour and found gluten-free bread that met all the requirements (it was HARD to find one).  While I can't know whether I managed to be at 100% (tiny things like vegetable oil may have snuck in, though I really tried to investigate everything before eating), I think I was at 99.5%, which was "good enough" by my standard.

I remember going to Vegas (not by choice) during this time, and I managed to survive thanks to a fish dish at the restaurant we went to and eating at our timeshare (not by choice) instead of out. Somehow, I still gained a pound back while there, and it never went away. I had one particularly rough night a few days later when an emergency led me to a friend's place after work until late, and they were all eating pizza while my stomach kept asking my WHY I was being so cruel by not obliging.

Soon after that night, with my stress through the roof and my company picnic coming up, I decided it was time to quit. My weight was nearly back to the starting point for some reason, and my skin was no longer as clear. I had lasted 12 days, and that's just a really long time to be on ANY restrictive plan. While I know this is how most people should be eating and that it's not THAT restrictive, I didn't think it was worth all the trouble for the net loss of 1 pound over that period. I quit ceremoniously by having a tiny bit of grape juice and more challah than I care to note after shabbat services one evening. I did not feel sick, and the next day, I went to my company picnic, had a veggie Dodger Dog, some Cracker Jack, and cookies. I did not gain weight the next day, or the day after, or the day after that.

Following this plan for the 12 days was probably very beneficial to my body (because those 7 foods stress the system and may impede natural weight loss), but there were diminishing returns weight-wise after the first 5 days. Considering all I went through to stick to this (did I mention this was HARD... and I went to VEGAS?!), this was truly disappointing.  I DID learn to moderate my consumption of certain things, and I still haven't been eating a lot of dairy (I had previously been eating cheese regularly as my lactose-intolerate stomach could handle) since I quit. I've also lost my taste for peanuts and corn; I'll eat what I still have at home, but I won't be buying anymore of those things for myself.  In general, I've been eating a bit healthier and watching my portions more, though nothing is changing otherwise.

Every time I have a really stressful day at work/commuting, which is sadly becoming more common these days, I keep wondering how anyone manages to keep weight off at all.  So my weight saga continues.

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