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T-Tapp Tuesday! Did I Diet?!

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Sorry I’m a bit late in the day here!  Today was music teaching day so I’ve been busy between that and catching moments to work on 2 essays for my personal trainer certification!

So the big question–did I diet? 

Big answer–NO!

I am not for deprivation diets of any sort.  Even when I was a part of First Place, a Bible study weight loss program, I didn’t go below 1800 calories.   

I am an emotional eater, and one thing I’ve learned is that any extreme focus on food, either avoiding certain foods or even eating more healthy foods,  is counterproductive.

When I started T-Tapp, I weighed 175 lbs., which is exactly what I weighed before I had Isaiah….four months before!  I had lost very little when he was born, and then regained 10 lbs. over the next few months.  Nothing I did, even “being good” and not eating too many treats over the holidays, did anything to budge a single pound off.  I had started working out with my routine again (core exercises from Peggy Brill’s The Core Program, light weight training, and rebounding) and again…not a single pound, inch, centimeter budged–nada.

Teresa often says if you have to focus on movement or diet, choose movement.  You are at least moving lymph and expending some calories.  You can diet and get small, but you cannot diet and get healthy or diet and build muscle.  You must move to build muscle, tone up, and help move out the toxins you’ve stored in that fat!

In fact, T-Tapp advocates not focusing on food when you first start.  I started T-Tapp in January 2007 (4 years ago tomorrow!), and I didn’t worry about anything food-wise until March.  At that time, I was still nursing Isaiah completely, so I just focused on not eating as much bread and pasta (which I ate way too much of!).  Although First Place advocated exchanges instead of calories, I still got tired of counting things.  It did, however, show me how imbalanced my eating was! 

Baby steps–that’s how I did it. 

I started eating dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.  Then started eating a better chocolate (Endangered Species 72% dark, as a matter of fact!).  After awhile, regular variety chocolate started tasting like wax!  Even to this day, if I give in at the check-out and get a Milky Way (what I used to buy a LOT!), I eat a few bites, and wonder WHY did I even bother?!  YUCK!

I started only having half a piece of bread at dinner instead of two.  Still had butter on it, though!  And sometimes homemade freezer jam, too! 

Added more vegetables in my diet (still struggle with that one). 

After a few years of T-Tapp, I learned about Dr. Diana Schwarzbein and The Schwarzbein Principle.  I started eating that way as much as I could, and after a period of not losing for 2 months, started losing weight, inches and sizes!   Unfortunately, life got in the way after a few months, and although I didn’t regain, my progress was more sporadic.

I hit an adrenal crash a year and a half ago by doing two no-no’s:  I didn’t eat enough protein and I overdid it with exercise at the same time.  If you don’t eat enough protein (and carbs–you need carbohydrates to synthesize protein AND to metabolize fat!), your body will catabolize itself (think “cannibalize”!).   It must have amino acids and it will do all to keep circulation, respiration and digestion happening.

Most “weight loss diets” have you cutting way back on one of the major macronutrients–protein, carbohydrates,  or fats.  Now, anything in excess is not good!  But you shouldn’t cut way down on your complex carbohydrates.  This is backed up by science, that your body needs some carbs to metabolize fat and synthesize protein.  You need protein to build body tissues.  You need good fats to help you stay full AND it is an essential ingredient for healthy skin and hair AND helps in transporting fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K–I always thought low-fat or non-fat milk fortified with vitamin D was a bit of a joke!  You need the fat to synthesize the D!).  Dietary fat also provides you with essential fatty acids which are needed for many bodily functions, including regulating your blood pressure.

Let’s take a typical scenario:

You go on a “diet”.  You start losing weight and feel encouraged.   After a little while, though, you hit the dreaded plateau.  You then decide you need either a new diet, to lower your caloric intake, and/or exercise more.   Sometimes, that works.  Then you hit another plateau.  Now it’s not working, so you conclude that diet is not working for you.  You try another one.  And the pattern repeats itself.

A very important thing you need to know is that a plateau is NOT a bad thing!   Losing weight and inches is a good thing, but it is still a stress on your body.  When you burn fat, remember fat stores toxins and hormones.    So as you burn it off you are getting rid of that, but it may not feel so great!   The body needs to regroup and rebalance after a period of loss.

What also happens, if you are not getting enough of the right ratio of nutrients, is that your body assumes it is in a famine.  Now, in case you didn’t know,  muscles burn more calories than fat.   The body says, “We’re in a famine!  GET RID OF THE MUSCLE AND HANG ON TO THE FAT! We’re going to need it for this famine!”   Basically it resets your metabolism.  Now 1500 calories no longer will “work” for weight loss.  You need 1200.  But what happens when the body resets for 1200 calories for maintenance?  How low can you go?

My mom was anorexic.  She never admitted it, but anyone who knew her could tell you that.  I don’t know what started it, but for the past 20 years she had trained her body to quit eating enough.  And it was quite obvious as her body ate itself up—she looked like a Holocaust victim. 

You may say that’s not happening to you.  Your scale tells you you’re losing body fat and not muscle mass.  I had never figured out how standing on a scale is going to measure that.  So I looked it up and found those type of scales use “Bioelectrical Impedance”.  I’m going to quote from my trainer’s manual, “Fitness: The Complete Guide” from the International Sports Sciences Association (p. 346):

“Keep in mind that BIA devices were developed mostly for the population at large and use calculations and norms for the average person.  In addition, recent scientific reviews of thes emethods indicate that they are unreliable.”

I would not rely on those to tell me I’m really not losing muscle mass!  I don’t always fit into the “population at large’s” statistics!

The ISSA doesn’t condone any diet or eating plan that goes below 1200 calories unless for a medical reason that is closely monitored by a doctor.  I personally believe even 1200 is low. 

The big problem with low calorie diets or cutting out a nutrient (such as low carb) is that it is damaging your metabolism.

Breaking down, or catabolism, uses up your neurotransmitters, and actually releases “feel good” hormones. That is why people get “addicted” to exercise.  Dieting can do the same thing.  But there must be a building up phase, or anabolism, and typically that doesn’t feel as good.  Someone whose metabolism is damaged may not feel bad symptoms until they stop the behavior that’s damaging.  Then they feel worse, so they think, “I’m going back on my diet!”  or “I’m going back to my workout routine!  I felt much better before!”

The time of rebuilding can even mean weight gain.  That is not what we want to hear!  But you must be willing to go through this time of rebuilding if you want to be well in the long run.

Sure,  some of these diets and eating plans make you feel great–for now.   You may even have great results!   (for now)   Dr. Diana Schwarzbein is an endocrinologist who has been helping people get well, mainly through a way of eating, for 20 years.  She firmly believes that many of the “degenerative diseases of aging” are really diseases of a damaged metabolism.

If you are interested in learning more about The Schwarzbein Principle,  I have posted links at the end of this post I  would advise you read the transition page first.  Then go back and read through The Program tab to get an overview of the 5 steps.

I made a comment on my Fabulous Family Friday that if you don’t fuel your body well, you will be fooled by food!    We think we’re doing the right thing–but face it–food is to fuel our bodies.  Yes, it’s nice to have comfort and fellowship, but those are not to be food’s main purpose.  If you are an emotional eater, going on a diet or doing something to decrease your appetite is not going to solve the underlying problem, and that form of idolatry may just find its way into another area of your life.

The flip-side of that is if you only eat when you’re hungry, you may also be fooled.  If you have a damaged metabolism, you may well not be hungry when you should be.

Dr. Schwarzbein explains a lot of this in her excellent books.  “The Schwarzbein Principle” is a good book giving you the basis of her program.  “The Schwarzbein Principle II: The Transition“, is to me, the “textbook” explaining much of the whys and hows and helps you figure out where your metabolism is, all without being too technical.  “The Program” gives a Reader’s Digest Condensed version of it all and gets right into the program itself.  All three books have sample menu plans, and the first book even has  a few recipes. 

She has you eating 3 meals and 2 balanced snacks a day.   That is interesting, because do you know what my trainer’s manual advocates for building muscle density?   5-6 smaller meals a day!  With a balance of good fats, good carbs, veggies and protein! 

The thing I love about SP is that it is doable.  I am not doing it 100% right  now, but just getting the basics of the balance of protein, good carbs, good fats and non-starchy veggies is a big help.  When I was doing this last spring (during my Daniel Fast, I was careful to get plenty of protein from legumes and nuts, and to balance the meals according to SP) I started losing again and felt really good–mental clarity, less foggy brain, less hormonal issues, and even my eyesight cleared up!

Dr. Schwarzbein’s motto is:

“You have to eat well to build well and feel well, and you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight!”

I say a hearty AMEN to that!

Your body has to perceive overall health and that it will be fueled well to release the fat.  You may need to give it time to “believe you” that you’re not going to turn around and starve it–again!  But once your metabolism heals, you will lose the excess fat in a way that is sane and healthy.

To date, after 4 years of T-Tapping, I have only lost at the most 38 pounds.  I have regained about 9 since Mom died last May.  But I kept losing inches even on fewer workouts over the summer! 

The amazing thing is–I have lost 174 inches!  And 8 sizes!  (Well, probably regained one of those!)  All I can say is muscle density is GREAT! :)

That is why I often say, “Weight doesn’t matter!”  If you are gauging your success on how much “weight” you’ve lost, may I suggest a better way?

There is a place for losing weight, but the scales absolutely cannot be the measure of success of a way of eating or an exercise program.

You want overall good health–not just a thinner body.

You want more lean muscle mass–muscle density, not just less fat.

You want to do all you can to live a full life as long as God allows–not just exist as you get older.

To do that, you have to move (T-Tapp!) and you have to fuel your body well (for me, that’s Schwarzbein!)

Following are some links that you may find helpful!

May we strike the word “diet” from our vocabulary and just focus on healthy, balanced eating!

I want to end this rather lengthy post (!) with a quote by Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, from the page on the transition on her website:

In the healing phase your body will repair itself from the damage caused previously by years of poor nutrition and lifestyle habits. You always have higher insulin than adrenaline/cortisol levels during this phase because this is a rebuilding time.

It may seem as if you are in suspended animation during this phase because though you are healing, it doesn’t feel or seem that way. As you improve your habits, you are rebuilding your biochemicals at a much higher rate than you are using them up, and this causes you to feel tired and to gain fat weight.

During the healing phase you expose your current metabolism because your hormones will react to your new and improved nutrition and lifestyle habits and reflect their true state.

Unfortunately, your body will not start working efficiently the moment you improve your habits. As previously stated, you did not damage your metabolism overnight, and you will not heal it overnight. During the healing phase, you are still hormonally out of balance.

The more damaged your current metabolism is, the longer you will need to stay in the healing phase and the more fat your body produces. In fact, as your ratio of insulin to adrenaline/cortisol increases, your symptoms will worsen.

As awful as this may sound, this is your body’s only way to heal. So do not be put off by the healing phase–it is simply a reflection of the damage that came before it. Since insulin is a rebuilding hormone and adrenaline and cortisol are using up hormones, you can only heal from years of using up your biochemicals by rebuilding them– this means higher insulin to adrenaline/cortisol levels. Unfortunately, even though you begin to improve your habits, the damage has already been done by your previous poor habits. Therefore, you will not instantly reap the rewards of your better habits.

The Schwarzbein Principle homepage:


The page you MUST read about the transition (especially “The Healing Phase” about half-way down, where the above quote came from):


(In case anyone wonders, no, I have not done her GI testing. I can see it could be beneficial, but it is not necessary to “do” the Schwarzbein Program.)

A picture of 5 lbs. of fat and 5 lbs. of muscle so you can see how the same “weight” can take up less space!


A thread on T-Tapp that I compiled a few years ago of many other threads which will convince you that “weight doesn’t matter”!


Another thread I started about a plateau not being a bad thing: