Well Mama Weblog

My Metabolic Balance® Diary

by Viviane Höger

My Metabolic Balance® Diary

Phase 1: The preparation phase – starts the detoxification process and is key in preparing your metabolism for the next stage of the program. Phase 1 lasts two days.

Day 1: We had dinner at friends’ house last night, and of course, in anticipation of my first day of the detoxification phase, I ate and drank far too much. The prospect of fasting for two days and then eating from a strict list of foods for 14 days made me indulge a little more than common sense would dictate.  In hindsight, prior to fasting, a sensible dinner and no alcohol makes a hell lot of sense.  I wake up with a mammoth headache. 

As part of the detoxification process, I am meant to cleanse my colon either by drinking Epsom salts or undergoing a colonic irrigation. This is supposed to help remove waste and toxins from the colon, and to keep cravings at bay once you embark on the strict phase.  

The thought of having a stranger see my colon contents fills me with dread, so I decide to go for the Epsom salts alternative. In the morning, and on an empty stomach, I dissolve the Epsom salts in lukewarm water as instructed by my local pharmacist, and brace myself…   

I have never done such a ‘cleanse’, and I am very worried about how my body will react. Will I have the spend all day in the toilet? Thank goodness it’s Sunday and I can stay at home all day if I have to. The pharmacist assured me that I should have a bowel movement within 30min of drinking the mixture, and that most people just need one visit to the toilet to empty the colon out.  Epsom salts are called ‘Bittersalz’ in German for a reason, it has indeed a very bitter taste.  A couple of lemon drops makes drinking it slightly easier though. So, I manage to get it down and wait…  It turns out I’m not one of the lucky people who get to flush it all out at once. No, of course I couldn’t be so lucky, and so I find myself dashing for the toilet, ALL day long… 

After emptying my colon several times in the space of one hour, I am ready for breakfast.  It’s meant to be half of what I generally eat.  I have some tea and a slice of wholegrain bread.  The headache subsides somewhat.  But it doesn’t take long for it to come back with a vengeance. 

Normally I don’t snack between breakfast and lunch, but today the morning feels longer, and I find myself longing for lunch. I make a vegetable soup with whatever I have in the fridge. It’s watery, green and very unappealing. My kids shriek in disgust and tuck into their bowl of spaghetti Bolognese. This sucks BIG time. 

It’s the longest afternoon EVER. My head has hurt for most of the day, and my husband complains about how crabby I am. Of course, we get in a fight about how he never supports me… More of the same soup for dinner and I am off to bed. It’s not even nine o’clock but I can’t stand myself.  I’m hungry. I’m actually ‘hangry’ – hungry + angry.  I find it hard falling asleep, my stomach won’t stop protesting. I’m not looking forward to tomorrow.

Day 2: I wake up with my stomach reminding me that I haven’t had much to eat. I look forward to breakfast, although I know it won’t exactly fill the hole burning in my belly. I busy myself with work. I have two clients to see for personal training and by the time I finish it is lunchtime. I have a simple salad of leaves and some paprika with no oil or any kind of dressing for lunch. It’s not enough. God I am STARVING. I have two large glasses of water and convince myself I am full. 

I thought yesterday had been the longest afternoon ever. No, today beats it, hands down. I feel dizzy, and my head has hurt for most of the day again. I read up on it, and supposedly headaches are a common feature of fasting. Some sources say it’s due to low blood sugar triggered by eating fewer calories, others say it’s due caffeine withdrawal, and some say it’s our body reacting to the detoxification process. I reckon it’s a combination of things. Most advice centers around drinking enough water. I am already drinking over two litres per day as recommended by the program though, so any more and I won’t be able to leave the toilet. 

I call the Metabolic Balance® office to check-in. I have been assigned my own coach. They assure me that everything that I am feeling is normal and recommend that I add a little more salt to my food and also to some drinking water. My body is losing minerals through the fasting process, and it’s important to replenish them.

I love my children more than life itself, but everything that comes out of their mouths today makes me want to scream. I cook dinner for them and for my husband and settle down with my last bowl of soup.  I go to bed early, and again, find it hard ignoring the hunger pangs and falling asleep. I don’t think I had ever thought so much about food in my life.

Phase 2 – The strict adjustment phase lasts a minimum of 14 days. Participants have the option to remain on this phase until they have reached their desired goal. During this phase our metabolism is supposed to slowly start adjusting and to become more efficient. 

Day 1: I can finally eat again! I’m so hungry that my breakfast of sheep’s milk yoghurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon and fresh mango tastes heavenly.  I’m allowed a slice of rye bread and black coffee too. Gosh I’ve missed my coffee.  I feel ok, satisfied, far from full, but satisfied.  

I’m off to the gym to see a client for personal training and teach a group fitness class. My headache persists and I feel quite wobbly and unable to focus during class.  You’re not meant to exercise during the strict phase of the program, when most fat burning takes place. It is thought that exercising inhibits the fat burning process because the body needs energy too fast (to contract and lengthen muscles, etc.) to be able to burn body fat. I do my best to teach the movements during group classes without following through the repetitions. I don’t actually feel I have the energy to go through with it.

Although it’s been a busy day at work and at home with the girls, there’s no denying or hiding. I am hungry. Gosh, I am starving. Dinner is a nice salad of spinach leaves and chicken. I chew it slowly, savoring every bite as if to make the food last longer.  Still struggling with an awful headache, so decide to take some ibuprofen and call it a night. My husband complains we can no longer watch ‘The Walking Dead’ (series about gruesome flesh-eating zombies) as we normally do in the evenings. I mumble to him as I head for bed: ‘I’m the walking dead darling…’ 

Days 2 - 4: still waking up very hungry, but generally feeling good after breakfast. The headache comes and goes now.  I’ve been adding a little more salt to my food, and this seems to help.  Reaching the recommended 2.3 litres (35ml per kg of weight) of water a day is harder than I thought though, clearly, I wasn’t getting enough water before as I find myself heading to the toilet a lot more often.

I’m really enjoying trying out new ingredients from my plan, and because I am getting a portion of protein with every meal, I actually feel quite full after eating. I’m allowed a slice of rye break with every meal too, and this makes a huge difference as far as my energy levels are concerned. This doesn’t mean that I am not hungry after a few hours though. I find myself eagerly looking forward to dinner every night.

The biggest revelation so far, is that I feel a lot less bloated. I am pretty sure this is due to the fact my plan doesn’t contain cow’s milk products.  I never thought I had a dairy sensitivity, but I feel positively better without my daily milky coffee.  I miss my creamy full-fat Greek yoghurt though.  Thankfully I am allowed sheep’s milk yoghurt, which turns out to be very tasty. In fact, I have it most mornings as my breakfast protein source.  In the plan, you have to have a different source of protein with every meal.

I weight myself on day four and I’m in disbelief, I am down just over two kilos. I worry that the weight loss is happening too fast. Is it just water? Am I losing muscle mass? My smart scale confirms it’s mostly fat.

I do some research online.  Surely loosing fat this fast cannot be good for my metabolism.  What about the metabolism going into shock and slowing down to conserve calories? It appears there is a distinct possibility this happens if you’re in a calorie restricted diet while working out a lot (not the case with the Metabolic Balanceâ program). I’m surprised to find out that there’s actually very scarce scientific evidence available that confirms the theory that losing weight fast is bad for you. 

Days 5-6: the weekend brings on new challenges and it turns out that socializing when you’re following a strict eating plan is not quite so easy. I’m not even allowed coffee or tea unless I’m consuming them during a meal, so when I join a friend for a mid-morning playdate, I end up having hot water, which by the way, is surprisingly soothing.  Our usual weekend pizza and wine night is out.  I haven’t missed wine so much during this past week, but watching my husband enjoy it while I drink tea in the evening makes me want to murder him.

I do realize however that my almost daily glass with dinner was getting out of hand. Having a glass of wine had become my reward for a long day at work and dealing with endless tantrums and whining from my kids. It’s nice to know I can NOT have wine and still have a good evening. In fact, I notice that I am sleeping much better now that I am not drinking regularly.  Of course, I’ve always known that alcohol impacts sleep quality, but since I often limit myself to a just glass, I didn’t think it would make a huge difference. Well, it does.

Days 7 – 11: another week begins, and it seems that every day eating from the plan is getting a little easier. My cravings for bread or sugary things subside. I also feel this overwhelming feeling of clarity and disposition, as if some kind of mental fog had lifted. I feel full of energy and ready to tackle my classes and personal training appointments. I also don’t feel as hungry between meals anymore. I manage to go eight hours (between lunch and dinner) without eating and without shouting at my kids. If this isn’t some kind of achievement, I don’t know what is! I weight myself again and I am now three kilos down. I feel good, lighter.  People have started to comment that my face looks thinner. Not such a great thing when you’re approaching 40 and trying to attain that facial plumpness that signifies youth. I am happy my abdominal area appears flatter though.  

Day 14: last day of the strict phase and I can hardly believe I have done this for 14 days now.  I had never followed any kind of diet or eating plan, by my own choosing, but I’m feeling very accomplished. Most of all, I feel healthier. I wake up feeling great. I’m full of energy.  Cutting out simple carbs and processed foods was relatively easy as I already had very little of them.  But I have found that the longer I’ve gone without sugar, the least I want to have it. I do miss chocolate though, so I’ll be having some tomorrow when I’m officially done with the strict phase of the program.

Phase 3: The Relaxed Adjustment phase - Allows you to start integrating additional foods into your daily meal plan. Your body's new heightened sense of nutrition will allow you to instinctively know which foods are right for you and which are not. You may also enjoy on occasion a "cheat" meal or two, savor a glass of wine or a special treat. More importantly you will learn how to handle these special moments in a healthy manner.

Day 15: I’m supposed to start re-introducing foods that were not allowed during the strict phase one by one now and to observe how my body reacts.  I’d like to try eating dairy again but feel quite nervous about it. I never thought I had an issue digesting cow’s milk protein before and used to eat cheese and yoghurt most days. But I cannot deny that my digestion changed completely since eliminating it for the strict phase of the program. I experienced a complete change in bowel habits, including much less flatulence.

Instead of having my usual breakfast of sheep’s milk yoghurt, which has a different composition to cow’s milk and is better tolerated by the body, I decide to re-introduce my sorely missed full-fat Greek yoghurt.  I’m so disappointed. I do get a reaction, not a pretty one. Will I eliminate it completely from my diet? Probably not. I miss cheese, and hello, fondue season is upon us! I will for sure continue to eat dairy, but in moderation, and most definitely not every day.

Day 17: I have my first cheat meal, and it feels exactly like this, cheating.  I kept to the plan during the day, but I then enjoyed some Mexican food at a ritzy new restaurant in town with friends. It’s not terribly unhealthy, and we shared, so I can hardly say I’ve overdone it.  I also have a cocktail and a glass of wine, and although I felt wonderful as I drank then, I do have a very poor night’s sleep. I actually look forward to waking up and getting back on track.

Phase 3 can last as long as you need it to.  At the moment, I am still working on introducing foods back and paying very close attention to how my body reacts.  The transition to phase 4 should be seamless.   

Phase 4: The Maintenance phase - is the final phase and participants can stay on this phase for the rest of their lives. Maintaining your ideal weight is simplified by following a set of nutrition rules that you have already become accustomed and have come to appreciate. You can enjoy your newly discovered lifestyle to the fullest and possess the knowledge of how to maintain a healthy, invigorating and happy Metabolic Balance® way of living!

Changes I have experienced and things I’ve learned about my body so far:

  • I’m sleeping better, most probably down to the reduced alcohol consumption. I even managed eight hours straight one night, something that hadn’t happened in many years.
  • My daily bouts of joint pain have diminished considerably. I still feel pain sometimes when working out, but happy to report I no longer feel any pain while at rest.   
  • My digestive health has seen a remarkable improvement. Gassiness, bloating and persistent diarrhea have but disappeared.  Perhaps a little too much information, but I feel it’s important to share. I’ve become very regular and stools are of normal consistency, finally.  
  • I’ve acquired a taste for rye bread. Rye, which is not gluten-free, causes a slow rise in blood sugars unlike white or even its healthier cousin, wholegrain bread. I will probably continue to have it during the week, allowing myself to indulge in other types of breads over the weekends.
  • I lost a total of four kilos, bringing my body fat mass from 21.3% at the beginning of the program to 19.2% at the start of phase 3. My muscle mass has remained more of less the same, going from 41.75kg to 41.40kg. This is irrefutable evidence that the program in fact delivers on its fat burning promise.
  • I have found out that cow’s milk products were most likely causing my IBS-like symptoms. I will continue to have them, but only sporadically. I don’t miss dairy as badly as I thought I would, probably because I am allowing myself goats’ and sheep milk products regularly.  
  • I’m drinking a lot more water than before. My bladder has now adjusted to the higher quantities, and I no longer need to constantly visit the toilet.
  • I’m highly allergic to dust, and unfortunately haven’t yet experienced any noticeable improvement in symptoms.
  • I’m more alert in the morning and have feel as though my energy levels have significantly improved, particularly after lunch, when I often struggled.
  • I’m still finding the stretch between lunch and dinner awfully long, depending on when I eat my lunch. But can comfortably go up to seven hours without food if I am busy. If I am at home and have access to food, staying on track still takes some effort. 

In summary, I feel healthier, lighter and definitely happier.  I’ve learned a lot about my body, and feel that the knowledge that food is medicine has somehow been validated by this experience.  Our body is constantly changing, so we need to get in the habit of listening to it more carefully.  We need to stop ignoring the signs our bodies send us no matter how trivial they seem to be.  Most of all, it’s worth acknowledging that something good can be made better if we’re just willing to give it a go.

Leading a healthy lifestyle takes life-long commitment. Most of us can agree that ‘old habits die hard’, but by deciding to make a change, you’re assuming command over your (old) habits and actions.

There’s no one-way to be healthy, but the Metabolic Balance® program delivers on changes that you can realistically make, stick to, and feel really good about.  Because in the end, you don't have to choose between being happy and being healthy - they're really the same thing!

Interested in finding out more?

E-mail me on info@wellmama.ch and I’ll be happy to answer any questions and help you figure out whether the Metabolic Balance® program is right for you.

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