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Taking it off

"We need to talk..." he said.

I'll be honest- I've never enjoyed hearing those four words, in person or on the phone.

My grip of the cell began to tighten.

"...about the cracker situation."


I felt myself sinking into my chair. As it happened, I was on the phone with SDGLN fitness contributor and co-owner of Carmel Valley based Tru Health and Wellness Craig Morgan. But in that particular moment, as far as I was concerned, I may as well have been on the phone with the spawn of Satan- a man who'd been sent to earth with a targeted mission of breaking my soul.

This was the first time in my life where my dietary choices were being monitored by a personal trainer. This was also the first time in my adult life that I'd been (albeit lightly) scolded for them.

Craig had called for what would be my first of three nutritional consults and we were having a difference of opinion as to my recently increased carbohydrate consumption. His disapproval was founded by his experience, expertise, and scientific fact.

My resistance was due to my overwhelming love of pizza, Gossip Grill's steak paninis, and the occasional meal of fresh mozzarella cheese, pesto, and well, crackers.

I felt like a kid who had just been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Literally.

My expanded correspondence with Craig and his business partner, Dave Zappasodi began in early December. At that time I was actively involved in something called the Concept2 Holiday Challenge- which entailed a personal commitment to log 200,000 meters on an indoor rowing machine (more commonly referred to as an "erg") between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you were to look the term up on Urban Dictionary, you'd see "erg" defined as "The ultimate torture machine used to simulate rowing with a sliding seat. Used in the Middle Ages to kill off those infected by the Black Death and deemed illegal by the Geneva Convention, it has somehow slipped under government oversight." (I'm fairly confident in my belief that anyone who has ever spent any amount of time on this torture device one of these bad-boys will agree- it's a killer workout.)

Yet two weeks into the challenge, I was astounded to see a nonexistent fluctuation in the number reflected on my scale. After having the phrase "The formula for weight loss is simple- eat less and exercise more" beat into my head countless times by Dr. Laura (don't judge me)- I was seriously confused.

So what does one do, in this type of situation? That's easy. If you're me, at least, you whine to your fitness columnists.

Derek Heintz, a contributor from Diverge Personal Training Gym, suggested I might be a victim of a glycogen spike.

"Glycogen is the storage form of sugars in our liver and muscles," he wrote. "For every gram of sugar you store you drag in 3 grams of water. So there is a high chance that you gained 2-4 pounds of stored sugar and water, but lost 2-4 pounds of fat. Yet the scale would show no change because they wash each other out."

That, as far as I was concerned, just plain sucked.

But lucky for me, the Tru Health guys invited me into their office for a full nutritional and metabolic analysis as a means of getting to the bottom of things.

The following Saturday morning, after a mandated 10 hours without food or liquids other than water, I arrived at their office- ready for a two hour metabolic testing process. The testing, they said, would analyze my metabolism down to a cellular level, allowing them to formulate a nutritional plan specific to how my body burns energy.

According to Dave, each and every one of us has a metabolic type which falls into one of four categories. Some of us have bodies that thrive on carbohydrates, while other of us have bodies that function in such a way that even if we’re consuming three small calorie restricted meals a day that are too carbohydrate laden- we’ll actually wind up gaining weight.

A few days later I got a call letting me know it had been determined I was a “fast-oxidizer.” Fast oxidizers breakdown carbohydrate-based foods rapidly; as a result, glucose is released into the blood quickly. Dave explained that any carbs I consume are turned into energy immediately (aka, they're oxidized quickly); and my body stores whatever is over and above what it needs right away as fat.

My stable weight, despite a marked increase in my physical activity, had not been a result of how much I was eating, but what I was eating.

Consequently, it was recommended I eat foods higher in protein and fat in order to slow down their oxidation rate.

Dave & Craig created a log-in for me within a portal on the Tru Health and Wellness website in which I'd be able to view a list of foods I should maximize (dark meat poultry, red meat, cheese, carrots, green apples. etc.), foods I should minimize (corn, potatoes, broccoli) and ones I should stay away from completely (fruit juice, processed carbohydrates, and red wine, to name a few).

I was instructed to begin eating five small meals a day, and to log what I was eating (and how I felt afterwards) into that portal.

Week one I was gang-busters about it. Week two, however, began on New Year's Day- and my first meal of 2010 consisted of two Bloody Mary's and the greasiest and most carbohydrate laden hangover meal I could find- which was chased throughout the day by what wound up being half a gallon of orange juice (I blame the copious amounts of tequila consumed the night before).

I guess one could say that I'd fallen off the wagon, and for the next week or so, my ass enjoyed staying firmly planted on the ground.

And on that fateful day of my first nutritional consult- Craig totally called me on it. I reluctantly admitted defeat and agreed to get myself back in on track.

To be fair about this experiment (don't let the fair skin and the English last name fool you- I'm half Italian- and someone telling me I should cut out the food group I was raised on had me questioning their sanity), I decided to put my diet completely in their hands; and for the next fourteen days, I did just that.

The “cracker situation” has since been dealt with. Mexican food is now eaten out of a bowl (as opposed to a flour tortilla), and I’ve rediscovered a long standing love affair with peanut butter. According to Dave, based on my metabolic type, it’s actually really good for me.

It has been just over a month since I first met the guys from Tru Health, and in terms of my health, wellness, and fitness levels, the impact they’ve had on my life has been surprisingly substantial.

I completed the Holiday challenge, have since gotten back into a habit of running 2-3 miles every morning, and am much more aware as to how what I eat affects how I feel.

Do I still think Craig is trying to break my soul? Yes. But considering I’m seven pounds lighter than day I got my metabolic results back, I’m kind of getting over it.

Margie M. Palmer is an award winning columnist and SDGLN.com's resident editorial dominatrix. She has been published extensively throughout the national LGBTQ media circuit and has been itching to revisit her days as a witty bantress. Although she'll be more of a guest contributor (as opposed to a regularly featured face), rest assured she still has quite a bit to say.