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Serah - Striving for Strong & Sexy

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  • Serah - Striving for Strong & Sexy

    Spring is here, and though I can't wait for summer, this weak, flabby body simply is not ready.

    I'm Serah, a 30 year old female from Vancouver, BC. I let a perennially weak knee (which led to a torn ligament a few years ago) be my excuse for not keeping active, which I then blamed for getting fat. The lies we tell ourselves! Yes, that was an impediment; it should not have been a reason to simply give up on myself. I went from a relatively athletic 105 lbs. at uni to unsightly mess at 155 lbs. last week. I'm only 5'1", so I don't carry the 155 well, nor do I look (or feel) skeletal at 105. I'm not aiming for 105, or any particular weight, but to look and feel respectable in a bikini again. I spend a lot of time on and in the water in the summer, and though I know I won't have the svelte abs this summer (or possibly ever) I'm hoping for some substantial progress.

    What actually brought me around was feeling weak. I found my quads aching after a relatively short flight of stairs. I turned down hiking trips because I knew I simply couldn't keep up. We spend a lot of time sailing in the summer, and I simply didn't have the strength for all of it. Frankly, I'm tired of feeling like that.

    Though I've been following Marks Daily Apple for a few years, I only committed to starting a Primal eating plan about three weeks ago. In general, I'm feeling great. I lost 5 lbs the first two weeks, and another pound this week, and a small, but discernible loss in inches. I've been tracking my intake with myfitnesspal. I've always eaten "real" foods, and limited my processed food intake, especially since reading MDA... I somehow just never let go of the grains. Since I've started, I've had 0 wheat, and apart from one serving of rice at the beginning, no other grains. Meals are meats and vegetables generally, with herbs, butter and oils. My eating isn't perfect, and I'm happy to take pointers! My food tracker is here: Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal |

    My one big "cheat" so far: We ended up going for dinner at, of all bloody places, The Spaghetti Factory last weekend. Every. Single. Item on the menu had pasta. I made my way through, custom ordering chicken breasts in marinara sauce with mushrooms. I did indulge in a small scoop of ice cream... but I'd been planning for a big dinner and had left enough calories/carbs to account for something like that. After reading the long thread on "Sugar is not the problem. You are the problem." I feel much better about this now. Obviously, not to be a regular occurrence, as that's what got me to this fat bod in the first place, but small amounts of ice cream can have a place in this lifestyle.

    I feel full and satisfied, and come in near 1200 calories daily (sometimes 200 over, sometimes 200 under). I try to eat lots of vegetables, but as I'm sure with many starting out, there's always room for more vegetables. My carbs are usually close to 50g, again sometimes 75g, sometimes 40g.

    Ratios are consistently hovering around:

    Fat: 50%
    Protein: 35%
    Carbs: 15%

    Is this an OK place to be at 1200 calories, assuming my goal is fat loss? Last time I had a basal metabolic rate calculated (based on my lean muscle mass when I was about 125 lbs.) I needed about 1350 calories daily. Again, I feel good, and rarely hungry at these levels. Myfitnesspal tells me "You are eating too few calories. Not only is it difficult to receive adequate nutrition at these levels, but you could also be putting your body into starvation mode. Starvation mode lowers your metabolism and makes weight loss more difficult" but I don't think I should be worried about that after reading the Starvation Mode Myth thread:

    I'm moderately active during the day (not a desk job) plus usually 45 minutes of daily walking for my commute, but I know that I need to add in some serious strength training. That's this week's objective.

    I had some blood work (for the first time in years) in week 2:
    Glucose Fasting: 4.6 mmol/L (82.8 mg/dL)
    Cholesterol: 5.54 mmol/L (214.2 mg/dL)
    LDL Cholesterol: 3.61 mmol/L (139.6 mg/dL)
    HDL Cholesterol: 1.74 mmol/L (67.3 mg/dL)
    Triglycerides: 0.42 mmol/L (37.2 mg/dL)

    Trig/HDL: .55
    LDL/HDL: 2.07
    HDH/LDL: .27

    I'm not sure one week would have much of an effect on blood work, apart from the low fasting glucose. I think I have reason to feel ok about these numbers: ratios seem good, and due to the numbers on HDL & Trigs, I think I can interpret this as fluffy low-atheroschlerotic-risk LDL. However... lab report says I need to lower this by 50%! I haven't had my follow up with the doc, but I can see this being trouble. Especially if LDL numbers go up if I continue to eat like this. Also, the lab report says my triglycerides are too low. Is it possible to have too low triglycerides?

    In short, I'm feeling great, though was feeling a bit bummed at the slow down in weight loss after the first stellar two weeks. I know this should be expected though, and I should be happy with 1-2 lbs. a week. I'm feeling like I can keep this up. My plan is:

    1. Maintain a caloric deficit.
    2. Don't poison myself (cereal grains, PUFAs, & refined sugars)
    3. Give my muscles a chance to work hard.

    Anything I'm missing here?

  • #2
    Just shy of 4 weeks in, and I'm down another 4 pounds, for a total of 10lbs. And the easiest ten pounds I've ever lost! I've been consistently below 50g of carbs this week (and mostly feeling pretty good). Wednesday morning and Thursday morning I was craving sugar but I appeased it with berries with cream, and some dark chocolate covered mango bits (tsk-tsk). Even when my boyfriend is devouring an entire bag of corn chips, washed down with a litre of Pepsi, I'm not wanting to snack on junk. Curse him for a metabolism that allows him to do that (for now at least; it's starting to catch up to him. He eats Primal meals at least, as I'm the one who does all the cooking.) Breakfast could use improvement; though I'm pretty good at ensuring there are hard boiled eggs, left-over dinner meat or pre-cooked sausages and ready-to-eat veg (there must be others out there who hold the stem of a bell pepper and eat it like an apple?) I still forget them as often as not. I've not eaten a daily breakfast since high school; I wonder if a desire to eat early in the morning will come back as my body heals.

    I made a big dish of cabbage rolls with ground pork and no rice for dinner last night! Delicious, and it led to my discovery that simply eating meals with a good tomato sauce cures all of my cravings for pasta. All that time I thought I wanted spaghetti, and it was really just a good sauce! Also, leftovers are what make this whole thing work for me. Without a ready to go breakfast, and a lunch I can bring to work and microwave, I would not be able to do this.

    Measurements are slowly creeping down; I anticipate having a less than 30" waist again in the next two weeks! I have a rather hourglass shape, when slim and when fat. When I was taking my measurements today, I was moderately revolted to discover that my shapeless calf is not actually that much bigger than my fat bicep ugh. My weight seems to want to collect in my upper arms and chest (well, and my butt and thighs and stomach too...) No more, I say! I'm ready to say goodbye to big boobs (down 1.5"!) and pudgy arms!

    I'm still not doing any strength training. My excuse has been "We live on a boat! I have no space!" but I have a space at work I'm setting up with yoga mats and dumbells so I can do some bodyweight exercises here. Eventually, I can even put up some rings as I get strong enough for a modified Crossfit workout. I had a lot of evening meetings, and volunteer commitments last week (excuses, excuses!) but not many next week, so I have no excuse to not do some strength exercises. It's nice feeling that I have so much energy left at the end of the day that I need to find a way to burn it off! I heard about the Warrior Run and I'm wondering if I push, whether I'll be able to do the one in Vancouver in August. Certainly not competitively, but with a goal of completion. It's an exciting goal to work towards

    I've been reading my way through Good Calories, Bad Calories by Taubes. I feel like I've been duped, and that I should have known better all these years.

    Interesting tidbit for the ladies out there. I had a Mirena IUD put in last fall, and within a month my period stopped completely, despite having been as regular as could be before. Well, lo and behold, this week, for the first time in 6 months, my period is (ever so slightly) back. My guess can only be that some factor of the PB has realigned my hormones somewhat. I thought I read somewhere that insulin and estrogen have some sort of relationship. Anyone know anything? I'll do some digging...

    I'm feeling great, I don't feel deprived, and even if the weight loss slows down again (as it will) I feel positive that I'll be in far better shape this summer than I have in years.

    good luck to everyone else out there!


    • #3
      Sounds like you're doing great! I read Good Calories, Bad Calories and had that same sense of being duped.


      • #4
        I finished Good Calories, Bad Calories, and yes duped was my final feeling from it. It seems like all this data is out there, but just kept in academia, a lack of communication between research areas, and from the general public. Argh! I'm doing all I can to not be one of those annoying proselytizing health nuts, but I want to yell at my boyfriend "You're eating poison!" I feel that I sort of knew a lot of it, but I really needed to read it all in one spot for it to sink in. It was the best description of how insulin effects fat gain. Heavy on the science (which I love) but worth the read regardless.

        My tums has been very, very angry with me since Saturday. My mum had a wicked stomach bug, and I went over to walk her dog on Thursday. In the twenty minutes I was there, I somehow managed to pick it up. I hardly ate all weekend, and it was only yesterday evening that the very thought of eating didn't turn my stomach. Interesting thing during that whole time I was hardly hungry. Normally, if I'm sick, I'm still ravenous, just not able to eat. This was a case of I truly did not want to eat, and my body seemed to be quite happy just ticking along on fat (at least I can hope so.) Brain feels a bit fuzzy this morning, but I credit that with hardly eating for three days. Huzzah for inadvertent IF

        Boyfriend noted that he's noticed a disappearance in back fat! As nice as it is to know that the changes are apparent, it's still makes me sad to think that I was the girl with back fat. Eww. Not that I didn't know it... I just didn't realize that it had been quite so obvious

        I'm fairly well adjusted to PB now... at the least the eating portion thereof. Meals are easy. When I was sick, I had B go to the store and pick up some dinner. It was easy "Just get some meat. And some vegetables. I don't care what." Loving it!

        Oooh! I also bought a used copy of "Trigger Point Workbook" and tried some of the techniques for my knee. My IT band has been tight for years, and this really helped. Still sore, but not the pain that has brought me to tears of late. Read it!


        • #5
          I'm down a total of 14 lbs now, and 2.5" off my waist. Funny thing about the weight: I was at 146 last Friday (a gain of 1 lbs.), and weighed myself on my mum's scale on Sunday, right before Easter dinner: 150. Then today, back to 141. I'm fairly certain I've not lost 9 lbs in 6 days. Just the different scales, and the relatively slight fluctuations day to day. All I'm looking for is the trend now.

          I made up a spreadsheet tracking measurements, weight and BMI, and a graph from those. With 5 data points now, I can start to see the trend, which has been the best motivation yet. Yes, there are ups and downs, but a distinct downward trend And I finally understand the importance of the measurements, as they do not fluctuate nearly as much.

          My eating was sloppy last week. I suppose on could call it Primal, as I wasn't eating the things I wasn't supposed to (grains, sugars etc.) but I certainly didn't eat particularly well either. Ahh the joys of renovations.