This week on Conversations With Coco + Friends, we talk about dieting in a pandemic and it’s so relevant to what you’re about to read. We chat through the difficulties of operating in extremes, maintaining a healthy balance between nutrition and movement if there is such a thing, and how our relationship with alcohol has changed rapidly over the past year. Cleo’s going to take it away with all the deats of the diet referenced in this week’s episode.
Y’all…. Your girl is BACK with another blog on weight loss. I know, I know, I did one of these a few years ago but *majimbo voice* oop, it’s a pandemic and let me be frank, I gained a lot of that weight back. Before you dig into this blog, make sure you listen to this week’s episode of our podcast. Now, get your cup of tea and buckle up, because this is a very detailed blog on how I lost 20lbs… again.
Just for some context, the image on the left is me at my smallest weight (202) and the image on the right is me a couple of days before I started the diet and I weighed 234 lbs. I wasn’t feeling particularly sexy about myself this day, which is ironic because it was a robe shoot in my undies.
Back in September, Coco and Jimmy started working with Jane Durst-Pulkys and all I knew was that they did some blood work and got a list of foods designed for them based on their blood, which I must admit, sounded weird. Everything they told me about this new diet sounded hard. But, one thing I have learned about myself is that when it comes to diet, exercise or pretty much anything else, I am always more successful when I am accountable to someone. Not to mention, I seriously gained 30lbs since I was at my lowest weight of 202 and I was not at all into it.
I decided to look her up and Jane’s, full and formal credentials are: Clinical and Holistic Nutritionist, who specializes in Metabolic Balance® weight management, which to me sounds pretty legit. Essentially, the Metabolic Balance® is:
“A method for adapting and regulating your diet in order to stimulate your metabolism. The system works with your body to encourage the release of insulin the way nature intended.”
I had a quick call with her and booked an appointment to meet the following week, and we sat down to talk about the program and what to expect from it. A couple of things were really interesting to me when I met her. First, she took a small sample of my blood to see what kind of “issues” I was suffering from within my body based on looking at the sample. My blood indicated that I have high acidity, which causes inflammation (who TF even knew that?). Then, the less fun part of going to meet with Jane is that she has an evil scale machine that is legit 5lbs heavier at all times than my scale at home and it measures everything… your BMI, the amount of muscle in each of your arms, your legs, your trunk, how much water is in your system, your body fat and about a zillion other things. It’s basically the most accurate scale you could ever be weighed with.
When I stepped on that scale, it said I was 234.8 and I was cheeeeesed. How did I let this happen again? FACK. So I left Jane’s feeling a bit upset with myself, but also hopeful that I could do this because let’s be real, I’m a master student.
For your reference, here were my starting measurements on the mean scale. These are the ones I think you’ll find most relevant:
- Weight: 234.8
- Percentage of Body Fat: 41.6
- Fat left arm: 6.5
- Fat right arm: 6.5
- Fat left leg: 13.6
- Fat right leg: 13.6
- Fat Torso: 49
- BMI: 36.8
Next, I had to set up a bloodwork appointment and then head back to Jane’s the following week to discuss the results. According to my bloodwork, I had high levels of “Transferrin” and high “TIBC” which means that I have an iron deficiency. But the biggest issue was the high “CRP” which means I have a lot of inflammation in the body. My CRP number should be around 1 and I was at 6.2. At this point, Jane also handed me a whole ass binder with a very specific list of foods that I could and couldn’t eat, which at first glance was alarming. But this food list was designed specifically for me, based on my bloodwork and to help me reduce the acidity in my body and get my metabolism in check.
Before I could start eating from my list of foods, I had to do a wash out — if you’re West Indian you know what that means. For those of you who aren’t, it means I had to take a special laxative to empty my system (it’s the same laxative you take when getting a colonoscopy). For the first two days of the program, I could only eat brown rice; OR potatoes; OR vegetables; OR fruits. Not all of them together, one category — and let me tell you that sucked big time. Not only because it’s boring to eat the same thing for every meal two days in a row, but I was also in the bathroom repeatedly while my body purged. While that part wasn’t fun, it for sure worked to help kickstart things.
Once my two days were done, here were the rules of the diet:
- I can only eat 3 meals per day (no snacking)
- Eat only one type of protein per meal (e.g., I can’t eat poultry twice in a day)
- There must be a minimum of 5 hours between meals
- Begin each meal with two bites of protein
- I can take no longer than 1 hour to complete my meal
- I have to eat one apple per day
- I have to drink 3.75 L of water every day (35ml of water per KG of body weight)
- Do not eat after 9 pm
- One cheat meal per week only
Here are the foods that I could choose from for my meals. Now keep in mind that this program is specific to ME and my body. You can’t just take these foods and apply them to yourself. Coco, Jimmy and I have entirely different foods that we could all eat from, which is what makes this diet very unique.
The next thing to know is that these foods must be consumed in a specific combination for this to work. Here’s what my daily meal plan looks like for this program.
The good thing about this is that I had the opportunity to use whatever combination of meals I wanted, as long as it included one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner. My go-to combination was Yogurt and fruit for breakfast, meat/veggies/fruit/bread for lunch and then fish or poultry with veggies and bread for dinner. What I also liked is that I could switch Lunch and Dinner anytime, all I needed to do was add or subtract 10g of protein and veggies for either meal. For instance, if I wanted Fish/veggies/bread for lunch, I would do 135g fish, 155g veg and a slice of bread instead of the higher portion.
Before I did this diet, I never thought I could be what I would describe as a “utilitarian eater” meaning someone who could eat the same thing day in and day out, but this diet turned me into one. During the first two weeks of this program, you have to stick to the plan religiously, no cheat meals, no deviations, and no exercise and I’ll be honest with you, it was difficult. The hardest part for me was the hunger. Usually around the 3-hour mark after a meal, I was very hungry, but I learned to lean-into the hunger and just deal with it. The other really important part of that first two weeks is no exercise. I mean, REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT. Your body will be running an incredible caloric deficit and exercise will not help you, please trust me on that.
In those first two weeks, I lost 14lbs.
TIP: If you go ahead and do this Metabolic Balance, I strongly recommend that during those two weeks you cancel all of your plans and avoid doing anything that might tempt you. Luckily we are in a pandemic, so there’s nothing to do anyways *eyeroll*.
After the first two weeks, you get to introduce exercise into the regime, along with one cheat meal per week and you also add oil to the diet as well. Now, y’all already know how I feel about “cheat meal” language and my position on that hasn’t changed (read more about it on this blog post), but it’s part of this program so it is what it is. The good news here is that after that first two weeks, you get pretty used to this method of eating and it becomes much easier. I also realized that I wasn’t eating enough vegetables in my normal life. I thought I was, but omg no.
I started this diet on Monday, October 9th and consistently stuck with it until December 15th and lost 19.8 Lbs. I took a month off of it over Christmas and got back on it in mid-January. I also started working out hardcore (5x a week) and what’s interesting is that working out actually slowed my weight loss, which was super frustrating for me. Now, before you get upset, it slowed my weight loss because I am absolutely gaining muscle mass as a result of working out.
My actual physique has changed during this time and I could see a dramatic improvement in my waist, thighs, midsection and overall body appearance. Not seeing the numbers go down as quickly as they did when I only restricted my food was annoying. I also think that we forget to talk about how ethnicity plays a role in BMI and weight, which you can learn more about on this incredible podcast episode of The Nod — the whole thing is good but if you want to skip to the part I’m talking about with regard to BMI, it’s close to the end where there is about 6:45 left in the episode.
Here are my Final Measurements from Jane’s scale.
- Weight: 215 (down 19.8lbs)
- Percentage of Body Fat: 38.7 (down from 41.6)
- Fat left arm: 5.6 (down from 6.5)
- Fat right arm: 5.6 (down from 6.5)
- Fat left leg: 11.7 (down from 13.6)
- Fat right leg: 11.7 (down from 13.6)
- Fat Torso: 42.7 (down from 29)
- BMI: 33.8 (down from 36.8)
Here is me at about 215lbs in both photos.
I’ve learned a lot since being on this program, and you know I always keep it 100, so here is my general feedback about the Metabolic Reset.
- Much like any diet, it works if you stick to it. Period
- You can absolutely become a utilitarian eater — meaning you can eat the same thing day in and day out over and over again with relative ease if you just put your mind to it
- This form of eating, in my opinion, is not sustainable long term for most people. I went off the rails over the Christmas break with my eating and I absolutely gained back about 8lbs (please know that it was worth every single bite of food and drink I had and IDGAF. I have no shame about eating indulgently during that time)
- Dieting in a pandemic is hard as fuck
For me, this is the kind of program I would do twice a year for 4-6 weeks to help me get back on track with my eating habits and lose some weight without starving myself to death, but it’s not something I can do long term; at least not long term in a pandemic. Things are so difficult right now mentally and emotionally and sometimes I just don’t want to restrict what I eat heavily. That said, there are many things I will take from this diet forward when sorting out how I manage my diet moving forward, including drinking 3.75L of water every day. WHEW WEEE did that water ever do wonders for my skin, which admittedly was already really good, but more water = more life. I’m also going to continue implementing simple lunches and dinners with tons of veggies and differing proteins as much as I can. Having a meal that took less than 12 minutes to cook every day made my life much easier, especially on days where I had lots of work to do. I may actually continue eating from different protein groups as a cycle off of this diet. I feel like keeping that variety in my diet was really helpful in keeping me from getting bored with my meals.
Shout out to Jane for being so incredible with helping me stay on track and giving me options when I needed them. Honestly, give her a call if you feel like you need to get your eating on track. She will help you and she’s truly a gem. You can check out her website here and follow her on Instagram!
Until we meet again, Cowes.