The Battle of the Bulge

I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I've begun a diet.  I also mentioned I've lost about 12 pounds in the last three weeks.  Some of you have emailed me with questions about what I'm doing, what you should do, or asked me questions about dieting in general.

First of all, I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian.  I'm happy to share what I've been doing and what works for me, but everybody is different.  What works for me might not work for you.  I also want to say, upfront, I'm in no way advocating my way as the best way.  It is simply, what works for me.

Fad diets, extreme diets, don't work for me.  I don't think they work, long-term, for most people.

I started gaining weight after my car accident.  Surgery after surgery, and pain levels off the charts, are not conducive to keeping fit.  I tried dieting.  I tried exercising when I was physically able to.  Nothing seemed to work for me.

Last spring, I had a physical and an entire panel of blood tests.  I discovered I'm insulin resistant.  Once I understood what that meant, I knew what I needed to do differently to lose weight.

I used to have a "diet lunch" which sometimes consisted of a Weight Watchers pasta meal.  I thought I was doing the right thing because the calories were low, the portion was small, etc.  However, I wouldn't lose any weight.  Being insulin resistant means my body processes carbohydrates differently than most people.  My body turns carbs into instant fat.  (I'm summarizing in an unscientific fashion, but it's true.)

Basically, I've come to think of myself as being "allergic to carbs."

I cut my carbs way down and lost weight.  I kept off the weight I lost, and even lost more.  I felt great, my skin glowed … yay me!

(And no, I did not do the "Atkins Diet.")

Then there was a Medical Screw-up of Unfathomable Proportions and I was put on a prolonged, high dose of steroids.

I blew up like a balloon.

Poof!  There were TWO of me in one body!

(Well, not really – but it felt like that.)

Now I'm off the steroids.  I'm trying to get my weight back to where it was.  Initially, my weight loss was pretty fast.  (The steroids made me gain a lot of water weight.)  Now, my body seems to be losing weight at a more normal rate.

I'm eating lean protein, keeping my carbs between 55-65 a day (which is really low), and taking in fewer calories than I'm burning.  It has only been three weeks, and I already feel so much better.

And no, I'm not hungry.

I "allow" myself one cocktail or glass of wine a week.  Technically, alcohol isn't on the diet I'm *supposed to be* following.  However, since I will need to eat this way for life I've made "realistic adjustments" to the diet.  I avoid super high calorie cocktails like margaritas.  (Which is not to say I never have them … but I try to choose lower calorie drinks most of the time … like maybe a straight shot of tequila instead?)  

If I'm absolutely craving something, I'll let myself have one bite of it. 

As an example, my son had cheesecake this week, three nights in a row.  (We were given an entire cheesecake as a gift.)  On the third night,  I took one small bite.  A small bite and a big piece are not the same thing, by the way.  Allowing myself a taste kept me from feeling deprived, or like I'll never be able to have a certain food again.  I don't, on the other hand, sneak bites of carb-laden foods every day.  They aren't good for me.  They make me feel bad.  And?  They make me fat.

Will there be days when I eat stuff I shouldn't?  Yes.

Will there be days when I drink more than I should?  Yes.

I'm just trying to do the best I can, the majority of days.

A typical breakfast might be an egg on half of an Oroweat whole wheat sandwich thin.  Or, perhaps, a vegie scramble made with one whole egg and two egg whites.  I actually make veggie/egg scrambles a lot because they fill me up and taste fantastic.  (My son, who needs to GAIN weight, begs me to make them for him too – they're great.)

What goes in my veggie scrambles?

Whatever I have handy.  Today it was this:


Cilantro, orange bell pepper, tomatoes, green onion … a little fresh salsa.

Sometimes I'll have half a cup of lowfat cottage cheese for breakfast with a cup of sliced, fresh, strawberries on top.  I happen to love cottage cheese so I actually enjoy having a meal like that.

I try to eat frequently too, so my blood sugar stays level and I don't get hungry.

A typical day goes like this:

•  Breakfast

•  Mid-morning protein snack

•  Lunch

•  Mid-afternoon protein snack

•  Dinner

•  Evening protein snack

The snacks are often a nonfat yogurt or some other high protein food.  (I like the Trader Joes Organic Greek, Plain, Nonfat Yogurt.)  Sometimes my snack will be a handful of pistachio nuts or raw almonds.  (A handful equals 11 or 12 nuts, not 30 or 40.)  I love cheese so I might have a stick of nonfat string cheese, or a very small portion of "regular" cheese.

I usually limit myself to two fruit servings a day.  A giant apple counts as two servings, not one.  I often have a salad for lunch with some type of protein tossed into it … tuna, a hard boiled egg, some turkey or chicken.  Sometimes I'll have a turkey burger (no bun), with a small salad and a piece of fruit.

At dinner I have whatever I'm making for my family minus the carbs.  If they're having pot roast and mashed potatoes with a side salad, I have pot roast and a salad.  I don't "love" potatoes or rice so it isn't hard for me.  I do eat more lean meat vs. fatty meat, but I don't limit myself to just chicken and fish either.  I avoid pasta, but I've never been a big pasta eater so that's not hard either.

Side note:  Paul Newman's Lite Italian Salad Dressing only has 1 carb per serving and my family doesn't even realize I'm serving them a "light" salad dressing.

I don't eat many pre-prepared diet foods.  I don't like them.  If you don't like the food you're eating, you won't continue to eat it.  A lot of "diet" foods are filled with chemicals and crap anyway.  I try to avoid them.

Also, exercise is imperative to being healthy.  If you want to avoid health problems, it's important to move your body.  Take a walk, go for a swim, find something you enjoy doing.  You don't have to suffer through hours in the gym if you hate it … just move.  

Moving increases your metabolism which is always a good thing.

I have a slow, screwed-up, insulin-resistant, metabolism.  If I can lose weight, just about anyone can. 

Yes, even you!

© Twenty Four At Heart


14 Responses to “The Battle of the Bulge”

  1. Brad Fallon

    Foods rich in carbohydrates should be cut down because excess of that in the body is stored as fats and sugar that is why it is the number one cause of our excess fats in the body. I like to try your diet maybe it would work on me too!

  2. karen

    Excellent advice – I have about 15 lbs. to lose and I need to get motivated to walk for exercise again (snow doesn’t help – ask me how much I hate the treadmill). Arthritis in my neck and back make it important that I keep moving, even when it hurts! If you don’t use it, you lose it….

  3. Jan

    I have never been so happy and felt so good as I have since I got rid of all those processed crap carbs and industrial oils, so I know exactly where you’re coming from (bet you knew I would :P). And you are absolutely 100% correct, the way you eat (I dislike the word “diet” – it implies something extreme and temporary) is something that you need to be able to live with for the rest of your life.

  4. WebSavvyMom

    –>My husband and I are working on a better “diet” that doesn’t leave us hungry. It’s so much easier in the summer when we can walk out the back door to the garden and pick fresh vegetables. Doing it together helps a lot too.

  5. goodfather

    Nicely done! It must feel good to lose weight. I can’t really talk about weight loss, or ‘dieting’ or ‘exercise’. All ‘verboten’. 😉

  6. Di

    What is a veggie scramble? Is that just scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies mixed in, because we fix that on the week-ends and it’s oh so yummy.

  7. Linda

    I have done low carb successfully before and know it works. It’s funny because even the “media” is figuring it out now. I got a lot of shit from people when I was eating low carb 8 years ago. Now people look at me like I am smart. Go figure. I have been back low carb- no sugar, real food (nothing processed)organic whenever possible for 2 weeks now and have lost 5 pounds. I can live this way. Love it!

  8. Beth

    Grain-based carbs aren’t good for any of us. I’ve largely cut them out of my diet, too.
    I’m so in love with Mark Sisson and As he points out, grains didn’t enter our diets until about 10,000 years ago. Evolutionarily, we’re not designed to process them. Early man didn’t eat bread and pasta and all the carbs we do today. He ate meat and fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds and some tubers. Basically, real food.
    And he moved around a lot every day, hunting. Occasionally, he’d have to lift something heavy. Sometimes, he’d have to sprint after a kill or to get away from a predator.
    (I’m sure *you* know all this, but it’s an FYI for your readers.)
    Good job! Keep at it! I feel so much better when I don’t eat grains. And then when I do, my body is like, “Why did you do that to me?!”

  9. Rob

    It looks yummy to me.
    10,000 years ago humans ate whatever couldn’t outrun them. Ergo – agriculture! Grains and tame animals won’t move too fast. We’re so clever…
    Chasing and working for food burns calories. Like you wrote, “just move”.

  10. Momma Sunshine

    I’ve been doing a “cleanse” for the last couple of weeks. No sugar at all (not even fruit!), no gluten, no dairy. It’s just a temporary thing (though I’m starting to wonder if I might have a gluten intolerance!). My body is responding by dropping pounds without a whole lot of effort. I don’t feel hungry and still get lots of nutritious food. I honestly think we’re too carb-dependent! could have a lot to do with the rate of obesity.

  11. Freda

    Very helpful – thanks very much, I’ll try incorporating some of your advice into my eating plan.

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