My Experiment to Change my REE

This week I experimented with changing up my diet through meal timing, numbers of meals a day, and fasting. My experiment helped me lose 3 pounds!

My experiment included changing meal times to avoid eating later in the day AND reducing the total number of meals I ate in a week. I planned for two TYPES of days:

Days at home: I planned eating two meals before 4:00 pm.

Days at work: I planned fasting.

Days I work are the easiest for me to plan a fast. It is a hassle to pack food. I am busier at work and have a lot less time to get bored and think about food. Making workdays my intermittent fasting days was an easy choice. Our brains like easy!

I gave myself two ways to fast so I could change up my REE (Resting Energy Expenditure – we covered this last week) and avoid stagnating my basal metabolism. I could pick one or two fasting options each week.

24-hour fast – one meal before 4:00pm      OR

48-hour fast starting after 3pm on Sunday to 3pm Tuesday (or 3pm on Wednesday to 3pm Friday)

During my fast I had coffee, green tea, herbal tea, or water. I had vegetable broth when I got home at 3pm because it gave my mind something to “look forward to eating”.

On workdays I did either one meal before 4:00 pm or zero meals.

On days off I did two meals before 4:00 pm.

In addition to losing some weight this week I observed a few other things from my experiment:

  1. In choosing to do two 48-hour fasts I reduced the number of meals I ate in a week from 16 to 10.
  2. I was not hungry at work and much less “desperate” to eat a meal once I got home from work.
  3. I started thinking “I’m dining in on my own fat!” when my tummy growled at work.
  4. I really don’t need much food in a week! This observation showed me how much I overeat for my body!
  5. I didn’t plan what food I was going to eat; I just ate whatever I wanted to a satisfied level. I observed it was easier to pay attention to when I felt satisfied.
  6. I had a stronger desire to eat something healthy because I thought it was a good idea to make the meal “count” for my body’s nutritional needs.

On a very positive note for our weight loss group at work I have observed that the sweet things left in the lounge are not being eaten! We even had pizza left over three days later! This would have not been the case 6 months ago because everyone is much more aware of what they are eating and not going for the sugar and processed foods. Awesome!!

Changing It Up

We are going to review some physiology this week. It is important to understand that calorie restriction over a long duration is like fighting an uphill battle with weight loss. This is because obesity is due to hormonal imbalance and NOT calorie in calorie out imbalance.

Human bodies are elegant organisms that have survived because of their ability to maintain homeostasis. If there is a food shortage in our environment our resting energy expenditure (REE) – you may know it as the basal metabolic rate – decreases so we don’t burn energy the body “thinks” it may not be able to replace right away.

Restricting calories over weeks or months is like waving a red flag to our body’s hormonal energy homeostatic system forcing it to “think” it has to conserve energy by lowering the REE.

Science shows meal amounts and meal timing are two ways to increase our REE and continue to lose weight.

Here are a few ways to change up your diet plan within every month.

Change your intermittent fasting pattern. 

Making your eating window smaller on fast days by 2-4 hours.


Shifting your eating window on fast days to the breakfast/lunch side of things and not eating in the evening. Here is more science on how this works well. Basically, this will help decrease insulin secretion and you will store less fat! Even doing this a few days a month will help you store less fat.

Does the second suggestion immediately make these thoughts appear?

“But “I have to eat dinner with my family!”

“But I’ll go to bed hungry!”

“But dinner is my favorite meal!”

“I need to relax after a crazy day in the OR with dinner!”

These thoughts are the unconscious primitive brain’s way of protecting the status quo you are currently living. The brain wants easy, pleasurable, and is SOOOO afraid of change! Fasting at dinnertime is a BIG CHANGE but a simple way to keep the REE higher and help you lose weight!

Change the number of meals eaten per day a few times a month.

It is actually quite easy to have one or two meals a day on workdays. It may be easier to have 3 meals on the weekend with extra activities you do with family and friends. As always we want to wait to eat till we are hungry (or at least have a 3-4 hour span between meals) and stop eating when we are satisfied. CAUTION: eating to full, even if you are only having one meal a day will still force your body to store that unnecessary energy as fat!

Changing the duration of planned fasting.

If you regularly 24-hour fast on workdays change it up by throwing a 36 or 48 hour fast in there once or twice a month.

This will allow you to dine in on your stored fat by burning fat for energy like our body has been designed to do.

I have fasted Sunday evening into Tuesday morning (36 hour) or Wednesday morning (48 hour) because that works with my work schedule. I ensure my fasting success by keeping hydrated, staying busy, having my husband cook his own meals and keeping out of the kitchen so I don’t tempt myself. I find a good broth with sodium helps along with lots of warm tea (green and peppermint) and coffee.

As with any fast, if you develop nausea it is time to eat!

Experiment with these meal number and timing techniques and find out how they work for you. Let’s keep our REE guessing and the weight loss going!

Meal Repetition

This week I’m using an idea from Mr. Pareto to help understand why doing a meal plan can make losing weight easier. In 1896 he demonstrated there was a LAW OF THE VITAL FEW and The Pareto Principal was born. Today we know it as the 80/20 rule.

We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

We use 20% of our kitchen gadgets 80% of the time.

We watch 20% of the same channels 80% of the time.

And we eat 20% of the same food 80% of the time.

Take a look at what you eat and where you follow the 80/20 rule. You can create a meal plan around the 20% of the food you are already eating. You can put routine into your diet based on what you already like to eat! Here are a few reasons this can work with you in losing weight:

First it clears all these anxious thoughts out of your brain:

“I don’t know what to eat.”

“There is nothing I want in the pantry OR fridge OR freezer.”

“I want something different today.”

“I had that yesterday.”

“I like to be spontaneous in my food choices.”

“I had that for lunch.”

“I am supposed to have something different at every meal.”

“I’m too tired to think of what to eat.”

“My family doesn’t like the same things.”

Second, a set meal plan greatly eliminates wasting food and therefore saves money.

Third, a set meal plan takes all the drama out of what you have for meals and what your family anticipates eating on set days of the week.

Fourth, routine meals make food shopping so much simpler since you buy the same ingredients over and over.

Fifth, a set meal plan makes it easier to see where you can level up to healthier options like homemade pizza instead of the cheesy crust take-out kind.

Planning meals that are routine and repeated does not have to be boring!

Remember, “Meal planning is boring” is just a thought. . . . . . .

Trial and error builds a meal plan that works for a week or month or season. I have favorite foods I put in my cool weather diet (chili, soup, casseroles, etc.) that I don’t have as often in the warm months.

Written meal plans can be saved and repeated.

I know some people who are so organized they have the same shopping list!

Meal planning makes use of the Pareto Principal. If you are keeping track of your food this will become very clear to you!

 I challenge you to harness your ALREADY EXISTING routines and favorite habits around what foods are in your diet to create a meal plan. Then follow it. Boring can be a very underrated tool in losing weight, saving money and eliminating anxiety over what to eat every day.

Eating My Frustration

At the end of my first blog post in December 2018 I made this comment: “By the end of the year none of us will be afraid to try, fail, try, fail, try again and fail again. Because not doing anything is failing and nothing gets accomplished. By trying we learn.”

I have practiced failing a lot in the 6 months since I wrote this.

But I don’t feel like a failure because now I think differently about myself.

Mostly I keep thinking, “I haven’t got everything figured out yet but I will.”

I keep finding errors in my thinking and keep working to correct them.

When I overeat it is because I have failed to experience whatever feeling I’m having at the time and then make a choice to comfort eat away my negative feeling.

Tuesday I was frustrated by the actions of some co-workers. I came home and overate lettuce salad to comfort myself. It could have been worse if I had a bag of potato chips at home!

I had a life coaching call scheduled that evening so my coach helped me understand my thought process about work. I love my life coaches, they help me get out of my head and help me “see” what my thinking is doing to my feelings, actions and results.

My thinking about what was happening at work that day resulted in a general, unhelpful, frustrating thought spin and the results were I kept blaming my actions on other people. I had forgotten I can’t control other people therefore I can’t blame them for what I am thinking and doing!

I was generating my own frustration!

My coach reminded me I just needed to take care of my own business and stay out of other people’s business. Everyone wins!

At work I have explicit and implicit values by which I operate. For example, an explicit value (something clearly stated) would be: I am my patient’s advocate at all times – this is a value I uphold as part of my nursing profession. An implicit value (something implied but not directly stated) would be: I work with my team until all the work is done; there is not my work or your work because it is all our work.

As I thought about my thinking at work and how to lessen my frustration and blaming things on others I realized my explicit and implicit values about work are not carried around by anyone but me.

My values are important to me to the point I looked for confirmation they should be the only values and should be shared by everyone! That sounds silly once I expose my thinking to myself!

I unrealistically expected others to share my values. This was at the root of my thinking that produced my feeling of frustration. This was the feeling I tried to eat away with lettuce salad.

Being honest about why I am overeating turns a fail into a win! I’m on to myself!

And lettuce not overeat! (You have to say that line out loud for it to make sense!)

Cheese and Fear


I just finished reading Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson.

The book is about the different ways we approach change.

The four characters in the book are Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw. In the beginning of the story they are all happily living and eating in Cheese Station C.

Then the cheese disappears!

Sniff and Scurry noticed early on the cheese block was getting smaller so started looking for other cheese. When the cheese disappeared they were ready to leave Cheese Station C and go find more cheese. While looking they got lost, went down dead ends, got hungry, but they keep looking. Eventually they found new and better cheese!

Hem and Haw didn’t notice the cheese was disappearing until it was gone. They hung around and waited for more cheese to show up, got hungry, waited around, got hungrier, and spent a lot of time worrying. Eventually Haw ventured out to find more cheese, got lost, got hungry, was afraid to go on, wondered if he should go back to where Hem was waiting but eventually found new and better cheese!

Unfortunately, the story ends before we find out about Hem. I imagine he is still waiting for someone to come help him.

Think about your weight loss so far; are you a Sniff and Scurry or a Hem and Haw?

Losing weight entails changing lots of things like our thinking, food, routines, cooking style, etc. If we sit around like Hem hoping some kind of magic is going to happen we won’t lose weight. If we are a slow starter like Haw we are afraid to try something new but eventually find a way to lose weight and keep it off that will work for the rest of our life.

I challenge that we can be like Sniff and Scurry who look for change and take action.

If your “cheese” is to lose weight then you know what to do! Take action and do it.