13 Weeks: Week 3 -- The Consequences of Turkey Stuffing

(The continuing saga of my experiment with a Taubes-inspired change in diet, and high intensity training. Follow me here on PJ Lifestyle, and follow it day to day by liking my 13 Week Facebook page.)

So, Thanksgiving is over, and I’ve got to add to that “thank God” because the whole thing has turned into what a therapist friend of mind called an “AFOG” — “Another, (Freaking) Opportunity for Growth.” (No, he doesn’t actually say “freaking”.) On Thanksgiving, I had 60g of carbs, and then Friday I had 80g at our traditional day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers feast. A little bit of mashed potatoes and stuffing, a sliver of cheesecake for dessert Thursday, and a half-piece of apple pie on Friday were the main culprits. So, I had, actually, quite small amounts of two things I’d nearly completely avoided: refined sugars, and wheat.

An example of my wild carving skillz.

But I only had a little turkey! (Actually a picture I took of the presentation after carving.)

On Saturday morning I’d gained nearly six pounds. I also felt like hell — my GERD was back, I was achy and headachy. Back to the eating plan.

A normal diet plan breakfast: 4 eggs, 2 slices of cheese, 4 strips bacon, and canned mushrooms.

Thank God I’m back to a normal light diet breakfast.

Naturally, my first dark thoughts were ones of panic. But here’s the advantage of keeping a careful food diary: looking at the diary, in which I’m pretty diligent, I still had a net calorie deficit for the week of about 2700 kcal. An actual enduring weight gain of 6 pounds would require an excess of 21,000 kcals (using the conventional 3,500 kcal/lb). Didn’t happen. (I wrote, middle of the week, about some deductions from my first weeks of data. Basically, my actual weight loss is hard to account for by the “calorie is a calorie” thermodynamic model — either I’m losing weight 3 tiems faster than the observed calorie deficit can account for, or my metabolism has stepped up by 40 percent or more.)

Back in my teens, when I was trying the Stillman Diet and didn’t know much chemistry, physiology, or frankly much of anything else except that I was still hurting from being teased and insulted at Baptist Church Camp, I took a one-day vacation from the Stillman diet for my birthday, had biscuits at breakfast and potatoes at dinner, and gained seven pounds overnight. And I was hysterical: was I going to have to eat nothing but boiled chicken and boiled eggs for the rest of my life? Luckily, schooll starts shortly after my birthday; I went back to glory and acclaim — I’d lost about 50 lbs — and the girls were suddenly paying attention to me. The seven pounds didn’t make as much difference then.

The point is, though, that while I’m weighing myself every day in order to have good data, this week has demonstrated that weighing every day might not be a good thing for everyone. In fact, if someone were to do a similar sort of experiment, it’d be interesting if they didn’t weigh themselves at all from the start of the 13 weeks to the end.

That person won’t be me though: that’s a kind of self control I don’t have. I’d have to know.

Psychologically, for me, this process of keeping the careful food diary, and weighing everyday, carefully capturing the data and charting it, seems best. But I can easily imagine someone who isn’t quite as much of a geek as I am being better off weighing once a week, or even once a month.

There’s a second lesson, though: I had, total just a few ounces of wheat over the two days — pie crust, the little bit of wheat in cornbread stuffing. But by the end of the day Friday, I was having all the GERD symptoms I hadn’t had while following my eating plan. They were, of not exactly agony, certainly very unpleasant, and what’s worse is that was what I knew I’d thought of as normal in October.

All in all, it seems like a lovely argument for staying the hell away from wheat.

Andy Strickland, one of my Facebook followers, said something very wise I wanted to repeat here: “I’m not on a diet, I just don’t eat that anymore”. I think that’s important and profound.