Longtime readers of the Karma Sense Wellness blog know that I’m not just the author of The Karma Sense Eating Plan (available at this link). I am its earliest adopter. Every couple of months or so I give an update on how I’m doing. This post is the next in that series.
Longtime readers may also be wondering why a blog known for it’s dated and immature pop culture references might conjure up the image of a RECENT book written by an ACTUAL adult who dominates TODAY’S popular culture scene. Year of Yes is a book by Hollywood powerhouse Shonda Rhymes, the creator of three of the most popular shows on television (none of which I watch because I don’t think any of the characters have superpowers nor do they make enough poopy jokes. She does get props for coining the word vajayjay, however). In The Year of Yes, the usually introverted Ms. Rhymes regales the readers with her real-life experience after pledging to resist her urge to say “No” and instead say “Yes” to the many unexpected invitations that come her way.
Well in my own way, I’ve been going through my transition to saying “Yes” and you’ll learn more about that in this post as well. But first, let’s get caught up on the health and nutrition aspects of my personal Karma Sense Eating Plan.
Update on My Updated Plan
In the previous post of this series, I described my plan’s pivot from a challenging and perhaps unattainable fat-loss/muscle-gain goal (8 pounds/4 pounds) to a pure fat loss goal of 10 pounds. I don’t need to lose the weight, but I am trying out a new eating protocol that I want to crediblyly discuss with my clients. The best way to do that is to follow it myself.
The original plan depended on:
- Restricting my eating to an 8 hour period each day. This is the equivalent of skipping breakfast and delaying lunch to later in the afternoon.
- Micromanaging macronutrients (a tongue twister, I know).
- Eating a crapload more protein each day than I could ever comfortably do.
The inability to do #3 led to my inability to do #2 (←not a poopy joke) and because of this, I was on a pace to reach my goal in 18 months. I don’t have that kind of attention span.
Therefore, I changed the above to:
- Restricting my eating to an 8 hour period each day.
- Eat what my body tells me to eat.
What happened? Suddenly I put on two-ish pounds of muscle (total) and lost three-ish pounds of fat. In other words, when I followed a plan to achieve an aggressive goal, I progressed at a snails pace. As soon as I dropped that plan, de-escalated that goal and decided to listen to my own hunger cues, I started making progress on the recently-abandoned aggressive goal.
Weird. Or maybe not. Maybe the problem was that I was eating in a way that went against the grain (I was literally doing that but that’s another story). Maybe I was uncomfortable eating all that extra protein because my body didn’t need it and it was just turning into extra calories.
I don’t know. And that is one of the major points I’m trying to make in this series. While the simple equation of calories eaten minus calories burned is a great starting point for building a plan to lose, maintain, or gain weight, we still have this to contend with:
the many ever-changing variables that drive our metabolism.
I don’t expect that I can carry on with my updated plan and still reach that crazy original goal of bulking up. I’m guessing I’d have to exercise a lot more than I’m able to do.
My new goal of shedding weight is still my target. The takeaway lesson from the above is that when you’re making changes in your life to improve your health, expect unintended consequences. Sometimes those consequences will be desirable. Sometimes they won’t. Whichever way things end up, learn from that experience and apply it to your future journey.
If you find a trainer, coach or program that promises exact results based on an alleged tried and true formula, you’re being misled.
Note that in the discussion above I said:
I put on two-ish pounds of muscle (total) and lost three-ish pounds of fat.
I used the suffix -ish because monitoring body composition with a household electro-impedance bathroom scale is mostly a waste of time. They’re notoriously inaccurate when measuring lean vs. fat tissue (they’re fine for measuring weight).
The traditional tool for measuring body composition is the skin fold caliper.
Proper use of the caliper requires extensive training and experience. Calipers are used to pinch the skin in a number of reference locations on the body. The thicker the pinch, the more fat you have. The measurements are then run through an equation that spits out your body fat percentage. While more accurate than my scale, even calipers are imprecise. The only way to get real precision is with expensive machines that go boop (e.g DEXA, BodPod, or full immersion body scales).
Since I have neither the time, money nor interest to be that precise, I use one of the lowest tech and most accurate measurements available to cross check my scale. I use a tape measure.
By taking a few measurements I can figure out whether a change in weight is due to a change in muscle mass or fat. Here’s what I do.
- Measure my waist circumference.
- Measure my shoulder circumference.
- Measure my hips.
If #1 stays the same or decreases over time AND #2 or #3 increase, any change in weight is likely due to increased muscle.
If #1 goes up I likely gained fat regardless of what happened to #2 and #3.
If you want to use this method, you should consider the area where you gain weight when you’re overweight. For example, some women tend to gain weight in their hips and thighs. That may make hips and thighs a more reliable gauge than the waist but for most people, regardless of sex, the waist is a reliable indicator.
Another tip if you want to use this technique is to get yourself a one-handed tape measure like the one depicted below. These allow you to accurately measure yourself in the privacy of your own boudoir (which I believe is French for the “place where I’m not welcome when I forget my wedding anniversary.”) These generally cost less than $12 on Amazon.
Finally, as discussed in Weighing the Options, your weight will fluctuate from day-to-day. Your girth, however, changes over extended periods of time. Don’t bother using the tape measure every day. Once a month is sufficient.
The Months of Yes Part
Mrs. H and I are nesters. After full days working our stressful jobs (for me that would be my job in tech, not my coaching career), we just want to hunker down at home and escape from the rest of the world.
Weekends aren’t much better. We do all the chores we had no time for during the week (for me that would include my coaching career) and then hunker down when we want to take a breath.
We don’t get out much and when we get invitations to go out, we often pass. It’s our habit.
Lately, we’ve made a concerted effort to “Shake it Up!” by saying “yes.” It’s premature to say that it’s made a change in our lives. There’s no doubt we’re more social than we used to be. For example, we’ve lived in our current home for over four years and we’ve entertained more people the last two weeks than we’ve done the entire time we owned it.
The “yes” principal was never part of my personal Karma Sense Eating Plan. Here’s how.
The Karma aspect of my plan includes the following habit. Since I’m saving an estimated five bucks a day by skipping breakfast, I pledge to donate the accumulated savings to charity. This is a personal donation and not to be confused with the donations that occur through sales of The Karma Sense Eating Plan.
Every couple of months I select a charity and make a donation.
The first contribution went to Deworm the World. They’re a remarkable and efficient anti-poverty organization that works to eradicate parasitic worms in the poorest places on earth.
The next donation went to Community Members Interested. Community Members focuses on building new schools in Nepal. If you recall, a horrible earthquake devastated that nation in 2015. This world capital of spiritualism still hasn’t recovered.
I’m now ready to focus on my next donations and I’m doing so using the spirit of “yes.” As I go about my day and learn that friend are doing some physical challenge (bike ride, walk, run) to collect for charity, I make a donation using my pooled savings. The “yes” is nearly automatic. If it’s a cause important to my friends, it’s important to me.
So far I’m fighting brain tumors, fighting breast cancer, supporting Doctors Without Borders, and fighting breast cancer (again). It’s a little less choosey than what I did the previous two times but it’s an interesting experiment.
We’ll see how it ends up in my next update in this series sometime in June. My next significant post will probably be about the sugar recommendations in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Talk to you then, sweetie.