As you may know, Bob, the knee that I violently dislocated in college (snapped a chip off the underside of the patella, required surgery to relocate it) has finally deteriorated to the point where I need a knee replacement. Well, to be honest I needed one about two years ago, but we weren’t in a financial position to afford that.
We are now, thanks to my contract work, but of course COVID-19 has made going into a hospital something of a crap shoot and I’m willing to put it off until the curve flattens to my satisfaction here in the clavicle of Texas. While I am waiting, I have decided to see if I can reduce my weight to the point where 1) it makes surgery safer and 2) it takes pressure off my bad knee.
Now, I’m a heroically sized woman with two metabolic disorders, so I’ve tried every frigging diet there is over the years. The only ones that ever seemed to work were some form of carb restriction, but for me those are hard to maintain because 1) buying all that protein and good fat gets expensive and 2) you have to do a shitload of cooking. Also, the moment I went off them the weight came back on, so not a long term solution for me.
In parallel, one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that my metabolism adjusts really quickly to any sort of change. Calorie reduction diets tended to work for about a week, and then I hit a plateau as my body clearly assumed I was in a famine situation and it had to hang onto every ounce of fat possible, so it slowed to a crawl. In the back of my mind I’d mused that I really should try mixing up eating programs in order to fool my metabolism and get past those plateaus. Hold that thought because we’re going to come back to it in a minute.
Last Thursday, I was idly doomscrolling through Twitter when I saw a promoted tweet by a trainer inviting me to find out what kind of body I had and what my unique metabolism needed in order for me to get fit. Normally I ignore those, but since I was in “let’s get knee surgery” mode I figured I would check it out. It led to a website that asked my sex, age range, height, activity level, and what my body shaping goals were. I entered everything honestly, and a video started that told me I was an endomorph.
Yeah, no shit, Sherlock, kinda aware of that. But the trainer went on to explain that endomorphs are metabolic marvels because — ta da — our metabolisms will adjust quickly to any sort of caloric restriction and slow down to a crawl in order to save our lives because clearly we’re living in a famine. Once regular caloric intake is resumed, it starts storing fat again to ward off the next famine. Okay, knew that already.
He then explained that what endomorphs needed to do in order to get fit is engage in metabolic confusion. Essentially, instead of restricting calories we need to talk our metabolisms into not shutting everything down by cycling calories and macronutrients — days that concentrate on good fats are followed by days that concentrate on complex carbs, and low calorie days are followed by normal calorie days.
*blink*blink* Oh. OH. Like mixing up those eating plans. Like the times I was surprised when I didn’t eat a lot one day, then ate a bunch the next day, and on day 3 I lost weight. You mean, I was supposed to be doing that all along?
Now, the science behind this is still a little murky, and proponents admit this. But from an evolutionary standpoint, metabolic confusion does make a certain kind of sense. We’re descended from primates that were never sure where their next meal was coming from, so lean days followed by feast days was just another week for them, and we still have those genes. (Man, do I have them.) Also, this may not work for everyone. If you can eat whatever you like and not gain weight, obviously this is not a good eating plan for you, and it’s probably not the best thing for athletes or bodybuilders. But for me, a 54-year-old writer whose exercise methods have been curtailed by COVID-19 and a crappy knee, and who regularly hits plateaus on other eating plans? Yeah, it might just work.
So I figured fuck it, it sounds reasonable (moreover, it sounds DOABLE), and I’d try it. I didn’t have anything in the house for a proper low-carb day so the next day, Friday, was a carbs day with a serving of carbs at every meal. I masked up and hit Kroger to get what I needed, and Saturday was a fats day, Sunday was a carb day, and Monday was a fats day — my schedule for the next four weeks would be M-W-F-Su as fats days and T-Th-Sa as carb days.
Now, mind you, even on carb days I’m not going crazy with carbs — I’m eating vegetables and lean protein, and drinking 64 ounces of water, and I’m doing my best to focus on complex carbs. Have I had some cookies or ice cream? Yes to both. But as the occasional treat, not as meals.
Today is Tuesday. Last Thursday I weighed 331.2. This morning I weighed 327.8. I haven’t done anything unusual, didn’t even really start working out (that starts this week), ate plenty, never felt hungry, and dropped 3.4 pounds. But that happens every time I start a new eating plan. The question is, will it actually continue this time?
I don’t know, but it’s not as if I have anything else to do right now, so what the hell, might as well experiment. The goal is to get under 300 pounds because that will be a point where a surgeon will be more willing to take me on as a knee replacement candidate (it also means I can climb ladders with some degree of safety). If I can go lower, great, but right now I’m just focusing on those 27.8 pounds. And if it looks like I’m plateauing, I’ll switch it up to fats on MTWTh and carbs FSaSu, or even do it one week fats and one week carbs, and continue to switch things back and forth as necessary.
Let’s see how this goes.