Sunday, December 2, 2012


This is not the first time in my life that I have adopted healthy eating habits.

Like many fat people, I was always relatively well informed about calories and fat and "good" foods and "bad" foods. (I hated even typing that, so insane is the concept of applying these terms to food. Food is not good or bad. It is food. Now what our bodies do with it....) I knew the whole calories in/calories out mantra (completely false and wildly uninformed). I read. I tried. I worked. I tried harder. I would - like so many others like me - achieve a little weight loss success and then gain it all back and then some. But oh, how I tried.

When my doctor (a former competitive bodybuilder, for what it's worth) told me to eliminate carbs the first time, I thought he was whack. I had read enough to know that you can't eliminate an entire food group and be healthy. I continued to eat what I considered to be a healthy, well-balanced diet. I also continued to gain weight. It was very distressing. Eventually I gave up on trying and just ate whatever I wanted. I didn't gain like crazy. I maintained. I reasoned - if I can torture myself to try to eat healthy and still be this weight, or eat everything that gives me pleasure and still be this weight -- well -- I think I'm gonna have to go with pleasure.

And I did.

I sort of epitomized fat and happy.

When I was distressed, it was because of societal expectations, not because of any self-hatred.

Spin, baby, spin.

One day I decided that fat and happy was cool, but I'd also like to be strong.

I started lifting which is a brilliant thing for heavy people to do. Our muscles condition quickly and nicely, generally speaking -- of course there are exceptions to every rule -- because we are accustomed to carrying around a lot of weight. It's not easy being fat. I'll tell you -- I've just lost 50 pounds and -- while I can certainly lift 50 pounds, I sure wouldn't want to do it all day.

When the doc approached me again about cutting out carbs, I was much more primed to listen. I did not cut out fruits or high carb vegetables, but I did cut out pasta, sugar, flour (not just white!) -- even oatmeal and other grains and (gulp) booze. He explained that while many of those things could be handled by most people my body did just terrible things with them. I made an appointment to see him in 6 weeks and I stuck to the plan. I ate no carbs and worked with my trainer twice a week and worked out on my own the other five days. When I returned to the doctor in six weeks time I had cheated exactly 5 times. I had eaten tortilla chips one night (no ill effect) had 2 dry martinis (no ill effect) had a bag of Chex Mix (no ill effect) and had a sugary cocktail (sick as a dog). 

In six weeks I lost over 20 pounds. I knew there was something to this. It was working. And I felt good -- better than I'd ever felt in my life. I left the doctor's office that day with instructions to set aside one meal every 7-10 days to eat whatever I wanted. There were only 2 rules: Never breakfast and never booze. The reasoning behind breakfast was this: eating carbs makes me sluggish and tired. Feeling that way in the evening is no big deal -- go to bed and sleep it off -- but feeling that way all day is a major bitch. I know. I cheated once for breakfast and had pancakes. It was most regrettable.

I have learned that incorporating that "cheat" meal is as important as not eating carbs the rest of the week. It's not only good for my psyche, it's good for my body too. I am absolutely certain that that weekly no-holds-barred meal will be the difference between this and every other time I've tried to modify my eating. It probably slows the weight loss process down, but I think it also provides an assurance that the weight that comes off will stay off. For what it's worth -- I do generally slip into a food coma following my "cheat" meal.

I'm not losing as quickly as I was in the beginning, but I'm still losing. I work with my trainer 3 times a week now. I cannot recall ever feeling better.

I cannot possibly emphasize enough that this is working for me because I have an extreme sensitivity to carbs. I have a pretty severe thyroid disorder, too, which plays into all of this. I will be cutting back on fruit and legumes soon. But this is because of my metabolism and my genetic make-up. Most people can include whole grains in a healthy diet very successfully. There is no such thing as a one size fits all plan. There are no universal truths.

People who claim that they have fallen upon the one and only way to be healthy and lose weight are dangerously irresponsible. It's important to find out what works for you. This seems to work for me.

1 comment:

  1. The calories in / calories out isn't total bunk, it's just not as simple as people make it out to be. As you said, there is no one sure-fire-for-all-people method.

    I personally minimize refined flours but I don't cut them out entirely. I should probably eliminate most / all booze but I honestly like the taste of some alcohols (I drink because I like the taste, it's rare for me to drink more than 1). Could I lose weight faster if I cut out all alcohol? Probably, but that's my call.

    I know with all the curling I've been doing this winter (3x per week, 100+ minutes per game) and biking to work now (minimum 3 miles per day) I've put on a lot of muscle mass. Not sure how much I've lost but clothes fit looser now.