Saturday Weigh in – Great Month

Weighed in today down 1 pound to 153.8 pounds.  This puts me 5.8 pounds away from not having to pay for meetings and 7.8 pounds away from my Weight Watchers goal.

WI 2-28-2015

I was sick the whole week (fever, aching, coughing) and mostly did nothing.  I read in bed a lot, used the computer a little bit and hardly left the house.  I am finally starting to feel better, but still not doing much.  I did go to my meeting today as the fever is gone, but I’m still coughing a lot so not ready to exercise or do much.

Because of feeling so wretched my calorie burn for the week was super low.  On the other hand, my calories eaten was also low.  I don’t recommend that at all, but I was just not hungry.  I do think that some of my weight loss since getting sicking isn’t “real” weight loss.  Once I start eating a more normal diet, I think some water will return and I’ll probably gain back at least a pound or pound and a half.

Still, for now, I will take it and be glad that I didn’t let being sick keep me from eating the normal kinds of foods that I eat.  It was tempting to just eat anything, but I made an effort to eat the healthier foods even when I wasn’t super hungry.

One interesting thing is that I periodically checked my blood sugar over the week and found that I was often higher than usual.  I attribute a lot of that to my being so sedentary over this period of time.

Anyway, regardless of the reason, and though some of this will likely come back over the next week as I eat more typically, I lost 4.4 pounds in January.

Saturday Weigh in

Saturday’s weigh in was pretty good.  I was down .6 pounds to 154.8 pounds.  The bad news was that I had a 102 fever and felt wretched so all I did was weigh in and then go straight home (thanks to my husband being willing to drive me there and back).  I think part of this traces back to last Tuesday (the day we ate at Denny’s).  I was in a situation where I had to spend an hour outside in the cold and blowing wind.  Perhaps that knocked my resistance down.

I’ve been sick since Friday and still feel achy and have a fever.  I’ve spent most of this weekend in bed.  I haven’t burned very many calories, but I haven’t been very hungry so I’m OK from a point standpoint.

I was super unhappy to feel so bad on Saturday.  Saturday was our 23rd wedding anniversary and we were going to go out to dinner.  I had thought about it carefully and had chosen an Italian restaurant where I could watch my carbs (no pasta) and my calories.  Currently, we have postponed the dinner out until I feel better.  My husband also got a little bit sick and had a fever for one day, but it didn’t hit him as hard as it hit me.

So, no exercise since Thursday, but food has been  good.  And, I was super happy to be back in the 154s for the first time since 1993.  I’m only 6.8 pounds away from being considered lifetime at goal when I weigh in.  And, only 8.8 pounds from my goal weight.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that, but I’m just tired to say much about it right now.

Why Dine Out?

I had a few dining out experiences over the weekend and earlier this week that really got me thinking about why I go out to eat.  I’ve long loved to go out to eat.

Sweet tomatoes

Back in the day we ate out a lot and we bought take out a lot.  Over the years things mitigated quite a bit.  Since we went back to Weight Watchers, we’ve cut back a lot and we are way more careful of where we go and what we eat.  For the past couple of years, our routine has been something like this.  Go to the Weight Watchers (we go to a 10:30 morning meeting) and then go out to eat afterwards.  The next day go out for lunch.  On some weeks, that ends up being it.  But quite often there is a 3rd dining out somewhere in there (usually when running errands and we get hungry), and maybe even a 4th event.  Whenever I even thought about cutting back on my two guaranteed dining out meals, I would start feeling distressed.

A few things recently have caused me to start thinking about why I feel that way about dining out.  Basically, there two two main reasons I eat out.  I realized that a big part of it is that over the years I’ve used dining out as the time for me to really talk to my husband.  If I have something important I want to discuss with him, or even just something interesting, I usually save it until we dine out, if possible.  We usually eat out leisurely and take our time and just sit there talking during a lot of the meal.

I think part of this developed when we still had 3 kids at home.  Talking while dining out gave us the opportunity to talk without interruption and to talk privately. Lately, I’ve realized that this is also the reason I enjoy walking outside with my husband so much.  Except on the difficult hills, we talk a lot while walking.  This is actually a nice substitute for the dining out.  The problem is that from about May through October it is too hot and humid here for me to tolerate walking outside.  And the during most of December and January (and some of February), it is too cold.  So the window of walking outside is very small.

To a certain extent we could talk at home now. The only child who is now home full-time is our daughter who is in college.  So, there are a lot of opportunities for my husband and I to just go in a room and talk while at home with little chance of interruption.  We just have a habit of not doing that unless it is super urgent.

I’ve been thinking lately about changing that habit and just talking more at home, now that we can easily do that.  I am sure we could do that.  My husband is willing to do that.  And, yet, I kept feeling a reluctance to do that instead of dining out.

It wasn’t until this weekend that I really realized what was going on.  On Saturday, we went out to eat at Outback.  I have been working to avoid foods that raise my blood sugar so I was careful with what I ordered.  It was the start of my Weight Watchers week and I had all my points so I wasn’t all that concerned with calories.  I ordered the Alice Springs Chicken with asparagus, along with a cup of chicken tortilla soup.  The Alice Springs Chicken is a chicken breast with cheese, mushrooms, and bacon.  There was  honey mustard sauce on the side (which would have more carbs in it), but I took two tiny bites of it, decided it wasn’t great, and didn’t eat any more.  I had one small slice of the bread (I wanted to see if I could tolerate it blood sugar-wise).  The meal was good and I was happy with it from a blood sugar standpoint.

I went home afterwards and realized that I was a bit…dissatisfied with the meal.  Even though the meal had some carbs from the soup and the bread, it was only a total of 48 carbs and it was fine in terms of blood sugar.  From a calorie standpoint, the meal was 1074 calories which was 26 Weight Watchers points.  Now, I get a total of 26 WW Points Plus as my minimum daily points.  I ate lightly the rest of the day and ended up eating 33 total Points, 1304 calories (if we assume that Outback’s calorie counts were accurate — actually I guess the Outback calorie count includes the honey mustard sauce which I didn’t eat).

So, it was all successful from a calorie point of view and blood sugar aspect.  So, why was I dissatisfied?  I realized that the meal was something I could basically have at home.  I can grill asparagus just as good as what the restaurant made.  The soup was fine, but nothing special.  Even the Alice Springs Chicken didn’t seem that hard to recreate at home.  In fact, I easily found a copycat recipe.  So, I could do this at home and it wouldn’t be that hard.

Why would that make my dissatisfied with the meal?  It is certainly easier to order it at the restaurant, so why would it bother me that I could make it at home if I really wanted to. I had to think about this for awhile and I realized that I use dining out to eat things that I usually wouldn’t make at home and not because they are too difficult to make.  That is, I eat things at a restaurant that I would never consider eating at home.

On Tuesday, I had a dining out experience where I was eating out unexpectedly.   I had to get up very early for me and go to an early morning appointment.  My husband was driving so I stumbled to the car (not an early riser here) and basically slept until we got there.  So…no breakfast for me.  What we needed to do ended up taking hours longer than I had anticipated and there was no opportunity.  Finally, we were on our way home (over an hour away) and I realized it had been 20 hours since I had eaten anything so I was starving.  We stopped at the first place we could find, which happened to be a Denny’s. I haven’t eaten at a Denny’s in a long time.

I ordered was the French Toast Slam.  This was 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausage links and 2 pieces of French Toast.  With the exception of the toast, this was low carb (I am not saying that bacon and sausage are healthy to eat).  With the toast it was 66 carbs.  I must admit I was curious what it would do my blood sugar (172 an hour later, so not eating French toast again) and that was the main reason I ordered it.  But, one of the things I thought about later was that this was the kind of food I used to eat at Denny’s in the past.  I would order something with French toast or with hash browns or pancakes.  These are not foods that I would make at home.  Even before the blood sugar thing came up, I hadn’t bought refined bread in many years.  I didn’t fry potatoes either (maybe some baked sweet potato fries occasionally).

It came to me that even though I do watch calories when I dine out, I also use dining out as an opportunity to eat foods that I would not eat at home.  I see dining out as — not a vacation from calories or tracking my food — but, as a vacation from healthy eating.  I rationalize it as not being all the time, which it isn’t.  And, to a point, that is perhaps OK (leaving aside for a moment the blood sugar issue).  That is, I don’t think it is the end of the world to a couple of times a year, for example, have an ice cream cone.  The problem is that eating out twice a week (or 3 or 4 times), it all become a lot more than once or twice a year when it gets added up together.

And, the realization for me is that this is why I want to dine out.  I can see myself as eating in a healthy manner at home and I discount the times I am not eating so healthy when I dine out (particularly since my overall calories eaten are fine — if I believe restaurant calorie counts).

So — where do I go with this?  I realized that when I eat in a more healthy manner when dining out, I don’t really love it that much.  All it gives me is a big bill for the opportunity to talk to my husband while eating food I could basically make at home.  I could keep going out to eat and eating as I have been, and I’m sure I would still keep losing weight.  But, I don’t think that is best for my blood sugar and for my overall health.  I do think that I may sometimes want to eat out and have some things I wouldn’t have at home, but I also think that doing that 2 or 3 times a week is way too often.

It is kind of hard to think about giving up dining out since it is so engrained in my behavior.  For now, I think I will stick with going out on WW meeting days, but will make that meal only foods that I would eat at home (in other words, no excessive carbs and so on).  I might sometimes eat out again during the week, but still make it what I would eat at home except in rare occasions.


Tough Week and NWI

This was a difficult week.  Had a lot of really stressful stuff going on.  I was away from home quite a bit  and, as a result, ended up eating out a bit more than usual.  And, I did not make it to my WW meeting Saturday morning.  I was just exhausted from this week and chose to sleep in.

It was still a good week overall.  I did manage to walk outside 3 days for about 50 minutes average or so each time.  My calories burned for the week were a bit higher than last week.  Due to the eating out, I ended up eating a bit more this week.  As a result my calorie deficit was less, but was still OK.  Fitbit says I should have lost about .6 pounds this week.  I actually would have had a small gain had I gone to my meeting. Some of the weight that I lost last week I felt wasn’t totally “real” and I expected to get some of it back this week.  That would have happened, but most of the weight loss would have stayed.

This week was just stressful, to try to stay on track eating when I had a lot going on.  I wasn’t totally happy with what I did.  Last week I really ate less food than I normally want to eat, while this week was just a little higher than I want to eat.  Still, this was the kind of week that used to would have entirely derailed me.  So, I’m fairly happy with it.  And, glad that I did manage to get 150 minutes exercise this week.


Blood Sugar Testing and Me

As I posted previously, I  had recent blood test results. I was surprised by an A1C of 5.9% given that my fasting blood glucose was 84 and my triglycerides were 104. I also eat lowish carb usually in the 100 to 120g a day range, occasionally higher or lower.

An A1C at that level supposedly maps out to an average blood glucose of around 123. I know this can vary and be misleading if you have long-lived red blood cells.

From research, I know that results like I received could be valid if I was spiking really high blood sugars which took a long time to come down. I wanted to know so I bought a meter and have been testing my blood glucose. My fasting blood glucose in the mornings have been around 87 to 94. I had one outlier at 110, but I retested 20 minutes later (without having eaten) and got a reading of 87. So I think the 84 fasting result at the end of December seems reasonably accurate. (I’m using a Relion Prime meter).

I have also been testing after meals, usually 1 and 2 hours after. Some of the results have been surprising. It is clear to me that some foods do raise my blood sugar to a higher level than I would like. Others are a bit more equivocal. And, some carbs do nothing bad at all.

I read Jenny Ruhl’s book on how to do this. She gives varying potential targets to shoot for. One is to be at 120 after an hour, 100 after 2 hours, which is what she says truly normal people end up at. Another option (which I gather is more for people not truly normal but which she seems to think is sufficient) is 140 after 1 hour and 120 after 2 hours. She says is up the individual which target to shoot for.

She talks on her website about what a truly normal blood sugar is. My thought is to be close to the 120/100 most of the time, with it rarely going over and to work really hard to never go above the 140/120.  I recognize that some people may develop diabetes regardless of what they eat and some may never develop it.  For me, I wanted to see if I was sensitive to any carbs and whether they would raise my blood sugar above 140g.  If so, then my plan would be to eliminate or reduce my consumption of those carbs.

My results so far have been interesting. I’ve tried during this time to eat as normally as possible so I can get a feel for my usual diet. I did eat a few things that, in actuality, I eat only a few times a year but I wanted to see what they would do. I put things with carbs in 3 categories: OK, Problem, Borderline/Mixed. (Things that aren’t carbs are all OK for me in terms of blood sugar).

Since I’ve been testing my total daily carbs have ranged from 46 to 129. Average daily carbs is 99.

Some of the things that have been OK for me:

Pistachios (this is good since I eat an ounce of pistachios on most days)

Quest bars.  I mostly eat the ones without artificial sweeteners, but I also tried one of those.  They were all fine.

Dark chocolate square, at least 70% cocoa.  In the tests I did I was eating one square, about 60 calories worth (which is the serving size I usually eat).  Basically, of the ones I tried the ones with most carbs only had 7g of carbs and didn’t raise my blood sugar to any problematical level.

Whole wheat tortilla with high fiber, with hummus, and half cup blackberries (25g carbs, 13g fiber) – I had this a few times and it did not do anything problematical.  Note that this was with only one small tortilla.

Whole wheat tortilla with high fiber, with scrambled egg, lowfat cheese, bell pepper (13g carbs, 8g fiber).  Again, this was a small serving with one small tortilla.

Tuna Salad Sandwich – this was on 2 pieces of 45 calorie whole wheat bread (19g carbs, 5g fiber) – I had thought this might be much higher than it ended up being.  I don’t actually often eat sandwiches like this.  Usually it my husband that eats the bread we buy and I maybe eat a couple of pieces once or twice a month.  Anyway, this was much better than I expected. My blood sugar was 118 at 1 hour, 106 at 2 hours, and 100 at 3 hours.

Things that were bad:

Note that many of these things are foods that I rarely eat.  I tried some of these out to get an idea of whether they affected my blood sugar.  Some of this was really eye-opening to me.

Salad with chicken, greens, bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, 3 T. friend wonton strips, 2 T. Lite honey mustard dressing – My blood sugar was 140 at 1 hour, although it was down to 99 at 2 hours. While not totally horrible, it was higher than I would like for a salad. Next time I will do this without the wonton strips.

Mexican food – Tortilla chips (about 18), chicken fajitas with 2 whole wheat tortillas, about 3/4 serving Mexican rice, few bites of charro beans. This is a meal I rarely have, but wanted to see the result. – 160 at 1 hour, 135, at 2 hours, 116 at 3 hours, 90 at hours. Definitely not having this again. I think at least the chips and rice have to go. I might be able to have 1 of the tortillas, but not sure.

Panera – Thai Chicken Salad, Mediterranean Flatbread, chips – 158 at 1 hour, 136 at 2 hours, 108 at 3.5 hours. I was surprised by this as it was so much worse than another meal I had there of a BBQ chicken salad, turkey chili, and chips. However, this meal has more refined carbs and slightly more carbs and a little less fiber that that meal.  Specifically, this had fried wontons on the salad (the BBQ chicken has corn and beans instead) and the flatbread itself (the other meal has turkey chili with beans instead). Both meals have 1 oz. potato chips. I don’t actually usually eat this meal, but wanted to test it out.  What this really tells me is that I probably need to stick to salads and maybe soups at Panera which is what I usually do anyway.

Panera – Cinnamon Crunch bagel. I had this for breakfast.  I fully expected this to be bad. I don’t often have this, but was curious. My blood glucose was 87 right before starting to eat it. An hour after eating it, my blood sugar had risen to 179. Holy cow! At 3 hours (I was not able to test at 2 hours) it was back to 100. No more of these for me.

Potato chips, 1.87 oz – 121 at 1 hour, 131 at 2 hours, 102 at 3 hours. This is a larger serving than I usually eat (1 oz). 1 oz. might work out occasionally OK for me, perhaps with a meal on an occasional basis.

French Fries – I ate grilled fish/shrimp which I don’t imagine would be much of a problem.  There were limited sides available (rice or French Fries) and I decided to try the French Fries even though I rarely eat them.  At a little over an hour after eating, my blood sugar was 159 and was 129 at around 2 hours which is higher than I would like.  So, I will be crossing French Fries off the list.

Things that were kind of borderline/mixed

Panera – BBQ chicken salad (half), cup turkey chili, 1 oz. Panera potato chips  – Somewhat to my pleasant surprise this was 118 at 1 hour. I wasn’t able to test at 2 hours, but it was at 112 at 3 hours and was 79 at 4 hours (between hours 3 and 4 I spent 40 minutes on a treadmill). I was reasonably happy with it and think it would be fine if I dropped the chips. I’m going to try this meal again and test at 1 and 2 hours.

Luvo Breakfast Burrito  – Was 95 at one hour, 111 at 2 hours, 124 at 3.5 hours and 107 at 4.5 hours.  This was a little higher than I would like.  I want to check this one again.

Grilled fish with a Green Giant vegetable medley that had potatoes as one of the vegetables. – Even with some potatoes in the medley, I was kind of surprised that it was at 126 at 1 hour, but was 95 at 2 hours. I want to test this one again.

Skillet crisp fish with green beans and almonds. (This is Gorton’s Skillet Crisp Fish which has a light flour coating. This was baked in the oven) – 122 at 1 hr, 20 minutes. 116 at 2 hours 20 minutes and still at 109 at 3 hours. This didn’t come down as quickly as I would like. Again, I probably just won’t buy this fish again.

Mediterranean buffet – Hummus, Falafel, tabouli, small amount of pasta salad (oil dressing), chicken shwarma, fattoush salad, 1 small piece of baklava – Was not able to test at 1 hour. Was 111 at 2 hours, which was actually not that bad for what I ate. Will try this again and not include any baklava. I think without the baklava, it will probably be OK for me. We’ll see.

Conclusions – I don’t really see anything that would equate to an A1C of 5.9%. Most of the food that I ate during these several days didn’t create any issue at all and isn’t mentioned. There were only a few times that my blood sugar ever got above 140. I looked back at what I was eating before the A1C. It was a little higher carb (my test was on 12/30 right after holidays). So I could see my average blood glucose being a little higher then than it is now, but looking at what I was eating then I can’t see it actually being that high. I wonder if I’m just one of those people with long-lived red blood cells.

That said, it is clear that I do react negatively to some carbs so I want to modify my diet so I don’t have it going as high as it did with some of those meals.

Going forward, pretty much any meal below 25g carbs seems OK. Meals between 25g carbs and 65g carbs may be OK depending on what it is. The more refined carbs the less OK it is, even if the total carbs are still relatively low. The few things that I ate above 65g carbs (the Mexican food meal, the bagel and the salad/flatbread Panera meal) all raised my blood sugar a lot compared to anything else and what is notable are the refined carbs in them.

On the other hand, I don’t see a need for me to 100% avoid all grains. A single whole wheat tortilla with hummus or with a scrambled egg in it did fine. I ate 3 or 4 triscuits as part of a meal a couple of times with no problems.  However, refined grains seem to be more problematical.  Awhile back I went without grains for a couple of weeks (I’ve done this a few times) and I also went gluten free for a month.  I didn’t find that I had personally had any negative reaction to grains, so I think limited whole grains are fine for me personally.  The key there are the words “limited whole” since I think it is those grains that I can sometimes have without it bothering me.  (I do recognize this may not be the case for everyone).

I also found that a square of dark chocolate was fine, so I don’t see a reason to avoid eating that which I do a few times a week.  Of course, I’m sure this is a food where the portion is important.  I eat a very small portion.

My sense from this is that I can fairly easily tweak my diet to avoid refined carbs that raise my blood sugar. I already don’t eat them a lot (I ate more during this period so I could test what was problematical). Some of the problem or borderline meals could be easily modified (no baklava, no chips, etc.). My 100g or so a day of carbs doesn’t seem to be a problem, if spread out over the course of the day. Even my higher carb days (in the 120s) weren’t problematical as a whole, unless individual meals created a problem.

I don’t see a reason from this to drastically lower my total carb intake specifically, but this does suggest to watch how many total carbs I eat at a meal and to avoid even relatively small amounts of refined carbs. Those don’t seem very difficult changes for me to make.