Thursday, November 20, 2008


Today was my 9mo physical and it went well! I lost most of the weight gained (according to the study records- on my scale at home I know I lost it all) and everything else was normal (EKG, blood pressure, etc.).

I also got the results of my labeled water measurement taken at my 6mo physical. That is a test that measures exactly how many calories your body burns/consumes during a 2-week period. This test said that I was consuming 2070cal/day- 400 calories over what my prescription is...

I am still wrapping my head around what these results mean to me (both as a participant and as a scientist), and what I am going to take away from it- but here are some of my initial thoughts.

Maybe I should maybe be upset at this result- since it states that I am not following my CR diet as well as I should be- but there are a few things to note about this number. During this measurement I attended two weddings, flew to San Francisco, and ate more than I should have (and I recorded that). It was not a typical time for a measurement looking at how many calories I was consuming for the whole six-month period.

So I am not "really" upset at the fact that this number is high because it is probably an accurate reflection for that 2-week time. What I am upset about is how it will be used in the global data analysis of the study. I feel that this result will skew the conclusions that will be made or not made.... I am a better study participant than this number shows...

The test-coordinator assured me that at the 12mo mark there are more tests done that can assess my long-term "compliance" rather than this short-term assessment... I hope it falls in a more "typical" time frame.

This makes me think about the design of the study a bit. I heard that a few other participants were traveling during this time and maybe they also have "not typical" values being reflected in their results as well- so I wonder what should have been the priority: sampling at a "typical" time, or making sure everyone was tested at the same month/time enrolled in the study. The latter option was the priority and seems like the most unbiased method- it just complicates the data analysis...

I am going to read over some papers that talk about this assay (Doubly Labeled Water) to see if my biochemistry knowledge holds up (and if I can follow my carbons! Mel- I may need your help with this one!!) and maybe to see if I can understand how this raw number factors into the conclusions made from the pilot study of CALERIE.

I will keep you posted on my research...

They also told me I should exercise more. Apparently (this seemed backwards to me at first) if you are dieting and you loose weight it takes less effort (calories) to move the same amount than when you were heavier (OK). So to maintain the same "effort" (calories burned) as when I was heavier, I need to move more...

So for that I am going to start taking the stairs to my lab. There really is no excuse not to (my lab is on the 3rd floor) other than the fact that the stairs are in the most inconvenient part of the building... regardless- I will be taking the stairs!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lost it

My diligence paid off!
I lost my 4.6ish pounds gained.
I am now below where I was when this chaos started- and just in time- my 9mo physical is tomorrow and I get to find out all the details from my 6mo physical.

I feel good about the loss of weight and getting back on track- but I have a confession: I can not take full responsibility. I have been less interested in eating recently because I have been completely and utterly distracted by my latest obsession: the HBO series True Blood. It is terrible- the last time I was this obsessed with a television show was one "winter-break" a long time ago when TE and I watched every episode of season 1 of "24." I was also this obsessed with the Wire... for sure :)

But anyway- we started watching the show last Monday on On Demand, and in the last week TE and I caught up (11 hours of TV!) to the episode that aired on Sunday- which much to my sadness, it was the 2nd to last episode of the season. This Sunday is the final episode of season 1.

Usually- I am so behind in TV shows (I still have not seen Lost, Six Feet Under, Heroes, Entourage, etc.) that I can watch multiple seasons until I am sick of it/the show ends- but now I have to sit, impatiently waiting for season 2 to be made and for season 1 to be released on DVD. I am not sure if I like this situation I have made for myself

Needless to say: obsessive distraction is very good for reducing appetite. And much more enjoyable for me than my typical appetite reducing behavior (severe anxiety)!
Now if only I could figure out how to become obsessively distracted with something productive- like starting to write the failed chapters of my thesis... ugh.

If only failed mouse projects were as exciting as murder mysteries and romance between a mortal and a vampire...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wow! Who Knew!?

So in all my efforts to be good at my CR, I mindlessly ate 4 doughnut holes that one of my co-workers brought in today. That is not the good part :)
Afterward I checked online for the calorie information (that is the good CR part), and get this: 4 chocolate cake doughnut holes have.... 300 (!!!) calories! Four! 300!
I am having a hard time getting over this. :)
That totally blew my day out of the water. Luckily this splurge was before I ate lunch and I still have vegetable soup on hand...
Well- lesson learned.
That will not happen again.
It is amazing now I that I know how many calories are in one of those buggers, they seem so much less appetizing...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Comeback Plan

In an effort to get back on track I reread some of the hand-outs I got from my counseling sessions. One of them was about lapses and relapses. They recommended a strategy for getting back on track to CR and I will outline it here:

1) Remind yourself of the reason you joined the study.
Lucky for me I saved everything and I have my top 3 reasons I joined the study from my first meeting: diet motivation, to become healthier and more aware of my dietary needs, and to help science.

2) Review your progress thus far.
I have lost 20+lbs, learned a ton about healthy eating choices, met some amazing people and found a new passion for my research life beyond my PhD.

3) Renew your commitment.
CR is the only diet that has been shown to increase health and longevity. And I now know how easily I can incorporate CR into a "normal" lifestyle- which means I know what I need to do to eat a restricted diet.

4) Use PDA daily.

5) Weigh and measure all foods.

6) Decrease calories for a few days to make up for the extra calories you ate.
Hmmm. I should do that. Today?

7) Set realistic and achievable goals.
I will plan at least 3 dinners/week, I will limit alcohol, and carry more healthy snacks with me.

8) Planning out what you will eat at your next meal and the following day.
Yes. This is important

9) Use prepackaged foods (frozen meals or meal replacements).
Amy's burrito for lunch anyone?!

10) Call your counselor or a friend for a pep talk to help you activate your plan to feel optimistic about your success.
Calling all friends!! :) Send your words of encouragement.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Well... Let's be honest...

OK. So I gained weight again.

0.6lbs... but still. It is not a loss.
It was not a perfect weigh in since I have been starving for the last 2 days (weather?) and I had to eat lunch before heading to the CALERIE site for my weigh-in/counseling session. There may have been some extra food/water weight that factored into this weigh-in. We can not be sure since I have been "afraid" of stepping on the scale this week. To remedy my irrational fear, I have made a schedule to weigh myself every other day for the next two weeks. Which will be timely, since in two weeks from today I will have my 9-month physical and I would like to be in a restricted state...

But needless to say- the CALERIE counselor was very supportive and helpful- despite my gain. They have never been negative, or reprimanding, or even terse. I do not think it would help matters if they were -- and it is probably better that they are not any of those things -- I just have to remind myself that these "slip-ups" are data as well as my CR data- and I am not really destroying their study by gaining weight...

What I am going to do new in the these upcoming weeks is actually plan out my dinner ahead of time (calories included) so that I do not go into dinner thinking "I have 600cal left for dinner, and this meal here is-- ohh-- about 600 calories." Then in reality it turns out to be 750 and I am over again for the day. That will involve some mental calculation, which for whatever reason I hate to do. There is something about seeing the numbers in black and white on my PDA that makes it real. I think though for life after CALERIE it will help me to be able to do more mental calculating.

I will also keep posting. I love all the support :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Great Day

Yesterday was a great day for Americans! I am so so happy today. This picture is one of TE's pumpkin creations- he is quite the talented pumpkin carver :)

Not only that, I get to report that my soup last night was great! All I added was some salt and hot sauce-- yum! I am not sure of the calories so I am guessing around 80/cup which is in-line with commercially available "healthy-vegetable" soups.

Tomorrow is the big weigh-in day... I think I may have lost 2 of the 3lbs gained, but since I have not been weighing myself regularly I am not positive about that.

I will keep you all posted on my progress tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Intervention

It is election day here in the US! Everyone go out and vote if you have not already!

I have decided not to keep blogging about my daily foods this week. As a new intervention I made a big crock-pot of vegetable soup. We discussed at my last session that people who eat soup before a meal tend to eat less. I love soup, so this is something I am going to try this week. Hopefully. I have a lot of soup cooking at home- but I have no idea how it is going to turn out. I did not follow a recipe (vegetable soup, how hard could it be?!), I just threw any and all veggies I had into the crock pot with vegetable broth. What were the veggies I had on hand? Carrots, bok choy, peas, diced tomatoes, and a shallot. Mmm-mmm :) I will decide when I get home tonight what seasonings it needs (ginger? garlic? lime?) and hopefully it will be simple and yummy enough.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

This weekend

Howdy readers.

This weekend was baaad! Apparently the extra accountability has not helped. I only tallied my calories/food consumed from Friday evening through today- 10 minutes ago (at 10:30 on Sunday night). *Sorry CALERIE study coordinators!!!

First I will tell you a summary of what each day was like then I will discuss what I think I can do differently/what is going to be an ongoing problem...

Friday: ~1630 calories
What went wrong here... not calories, but quality of food/lack of making planned food decreased my satisfaction with my food and made me feel bad about my food choices.
The problem day began with the fact that I did not eat breakfast. I had a dentist appt and it did not go well, so by 7pm I had only eaten about 600 calories. My mouth pain was mostly gone and I was starving! Of course I had plans to make a yummy soup, watch a scary movie, and relax- but I needed to purchase the ingredients for the soup and it is always a bad idea to go to the supermarket when you are so so hungry. It was 8pm by the time I got home, so I did not feel like cooking for 2hrs before dinner would be ready, so TE and I ate Annie's Organic Mac&Cheese and garlic bread (where were the veggies?!). I ended the day 30 calories under, but it was bad food, and I am not sure about my recall...
Lesson: be realistic about cooking endeavors to cut down on the disappointment/satisfaction problem

Saturday: 2110 calories (!!)
Ugh. The major problem here was alcohol. If I had not had any, I would have been fine with the food calories. I did go hiking for 2+ hrs, but I doubt it burned the extra 600 calories I ate.
Lesson: Limit drinking calories. Go back to 1 or 2 drinks per day. Have lots of seltzer and diet sodas on hand.
Sunday: 2110 calories (!!)
Ugh. Ugh. Again alcohol calories along with not cooking for myself calories. TE and I ate a big breakfast and went out to run a bunch of errands- when we were finished we were both hungry and far from home. To avoid low blood sugar battles, we decided to stop and get a quick bite to eat. I snacked lightly while he ate lunch and I felt OK about it all until we went to our friend's house for dinner. With all the rushing around getting ready for dinner, I did not eat the yogurt and bran cereal as I had planned so I ate many more pre-dinner snacks than I would have liked. Again the calories add up much quicker than you think when alcohol (and cheese!) is involved. Next time I will bring a bottle of seltzer with me along with the bottle of wine...
Lesson: Remember to bring with me when out: granola bars, yogurt, water, peanut butter sandwiches, anything to keep hunger away while running errands/away from home.

Well- I guess I learned a lot. I wonder though, why now? Almost 9 months in and I am just now starting to have problems. Maybe it is the season: more dinner parties, irresistible baked items, and festive drinking. Or maybe the novelty is wearing off, or my motivation is waning, or I am acting overly confident, or maybe... it is just laziness. Whatever it is- I need to figure out how to beat it. How to overcome my mental block. I feel like if I can do that, my future success with CR, beyond this study, will be that much better.

Now how to ID the problem and fix it.... Last time it helped me to go through my folder of study hand-outs (I remember one that deals with problems on weekends), I think I will try that and also try to read more scientific papers showing the benefits of calorie restriction on health and aging.

And I will keep blogging this week. I need whatever help I can get!