I have neglected this blog. I decided to pursue other writing under an assumed name, because I felt I would not be completely myself if I was worried about what people may think of my deeper, more personal thoughts and feelings. However, I haven’t written much there, either. Writing for me comes and goes in terms of desire and inspiration, and it’s been a very eventful year. 2015 featured in its table of contents the death of my mother, the serious violation of my loved-one by a predator, a very difficult and stressful job that I left, and has culminated with my trip to the doctor. I left with a prescription for antidepressants, and also- a higher dose of Levothyroxine for my under-active thyroid. I feel better. I am grateful for the help, and I am slowing coming back into the light.
So, if you struggle with your weight despite watching everything you eat, portion control, and regular exercise, it’s time to see your doctor, especially if you are a woman, to see if an underactive thyroid could be the culprit. Let me tell you that my weight has already dropped by 8 pounds since getting the right dose of thyroid medication. My appetite is greatly reduced, and sometimes I have to remind myself to eat more. 1,000 calories seems like a lot now! And really, I need a bit more than that. As to low-carb, I have been doing that for so long, that eating that way for the most part is just my normal routine. The problem comes in when I start engaging in a few deleterious behaviors. If you are struggling to stay on low-carb, or have stopped seeing success, watch out for the following bad habits which may have crept in.
- Alcohol consumption. I had been creeping up on drinking. Usually I indulged in light beer, or that new water-based beverage with basically no carbs but still with alcohol. So your liver focuses on detoxing the alcohol, blood sugar actually drops, and you end up more hungry. If you are consuming very sweet drinks, however, that changes the dynamic a bit, and you are still taking in those extra calories in place of actually giving your body nutrition. Also, if you are addictive, as I am, it’s a very bad sugar substitute, alcohol. It leads to all sorts of evils. Keeping things in moderation is not what an addictive is good at. An addict is good at more and more all the time. I prefer the term ‘addictive’, because it means to me that I am prone to it, but am not necessarily committed to it. I believe the stress of the year contributed to my choice to drink more, but it’s certainly not a good self-medication therapy. Things were spinning out of control.
- Too many cheat days. A cheat meal is not the same thing as a cheat DAY. That one day of eating whatever I wanted was really hard to come back from. One meal is much easier to recover from, in terms of blood sugar levels. Besides, I always feel like crap after a big, nasty carb day. I don’t mean oatmeal and quinoa. I was loading up on cookies, donuts, and ice cream- like- all day long. Immediately I would retain fluids and be up about 1-4 pounds virtually overnight. No joke. Now, last night I made a tuna casserole, and I ate some for dinner. I won’t be surprised to find I am up a pound over yesterday, but I also recognize that will correct itself if I get back on track today. And I have no problem doing that, because I didn’t completely put my body out of whack by indulging all day long yesterday.
- No activity. I had a sit down job, and was mentally drained at the end of the day. I skipped too many workouts. It showed. At the age of 46-47, muscle loss happens more quickly almost yearly. It takes weight bearing exercise to keep muscle. Don’t neglect it, and don’t do overdo the cardio at the expense of weight bearing. it helps to actually schedule my workouts on the calendar. I even set reminders on my phone with encouraging , tough love messages, like, “Work out today, you know you want to!” Or, “Get moving, you lazy slug!” Whatever works. There are many great sources for finding a good routine. Gyms have trainers, often for free, who will help you put a plan together and hold you accountable for progress.
- Not weighing in once a week. It was easier to ignore the scale altogether than to face the truth. Weighing first thing in the morning once or twice a week helps me see the immediate effects of my nutrition and exercise habits and to make adjustments. Just don’t get obsessive about it. For example, don’t be disappointed when you’re five pounds up during PMS week.
- Stress. It’s easy to get worked up about the election, the cat that just peed on the bed when you just washed the comforter the night before, or that your parent is in the hospital. Stress is deadly. It’s deadly to your diet, your mental health, and many other areas of your physical health. Try prayer, mediation, yoga, talking to a friend. Do what you need to do to get healthy. Sometimes a therapist may be helpful. Sometimes a trip to the doctor is in order. Some people are just very good at staying low-stress, because they have great coping mechanisms and understand that life is a beautiful thing that is just naturally ‘flawed’. That’s part of the beauty. We learn, we grow in faith, or we suffer. We do all the right things, and we still suffer. But in the midst of that, be sure to keep reaching out. Talk to someone. Work through the issues. Worry won’t solve it.
- Food is fuel. It should be tasty and enjoyed, but don’t make it the love of your life. Focus on family, friends, staying healthy. Develop hobbies that don’t involve running to the kitchen for a mindless snack simply out of boredom.
- Getting SO bored of oily meat and salads! Believe me, I know! Go to http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com , as one shining example, of GREAT LC/GF and other diet specialty recipes and ideas. Start a low-carb board on Pinterest and look for and try the huge variety of recipes and refresh your idea of what low-carb is. Everybody is busy, but not every meal needs to be roast beef wrapped around 1/2 stick of butter. Get your creative juices flowing. Set aside a time and a budget for some of the pricier ingredients that low-carb can include. For example- almond flour, xanthan gum, Swerve, etc. You need to find a good source for some of these ingredients, because not all are available, or available at a good price, at the local grocers. Meanwhile, investigate new recipes for old standbys. There’s more to do with broccoli than just steam it.
- Peer pressure. Your family wants mashed potatoes, corn bread, corn, and fried chicken. Fine. Let them have it. You don’t have to eat it. Have a grilled chicken salad with avocado, and colorful red bell pepper, and make them jealous!
- Trigger foods. Pizza? Hot rolls? Fresh cookies? Decide if it’s really worth it. Decide if you can act in moderation. Do your best to just ignore it. It’s not a temptation unless you BELIEVE it to be. Maybe this is the time for the cheat meal. But maybe you can wait for the birthday cake on Friday. You get the idea. Have some suitable, satisfying alternatives in your pantry or fridge to satisfy the immediate urges, and carry on.
Favorite low-carb emergency foods: (assuming you are ok with artificial sweeteners . I have alternatives for those, too. )
Light and Fit Greek yogurt at 80 calories and about 9 net carbs. YUM. Very satisfying. Atkin’s meal and treat bars. String cheese. Flavored almonds, Low carb tortillas are in my home at all times. I use them for everything. Even my own pizza. I use liquid stevia in my coffee. Cottage cheese with berries on top. I make mock cheesecakes in single serve sizes using ramekins. I sweeten with Splenda or Swerve or stevia. Berry-protein smoothies. I use vanilla whey or vanilla vegan protein powder and mix with almond milk and frozen blueberries or strawberries. I mix in spinach as well, and can’t even taste it once blended. I have this regularly for breakfast.
Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. Light and Crisp crackers by Wasa. Peanut butter is a huge staple, as well as almond flour. I enjoy eggs, and use them in a variety of ways. The point here is, with a little investigation and strategy, you can build your own low-carb go-to stash that works for YOU. Notice that most of these have a protein component. Proteins and fats are your FRIENDS. Stop trying to avoid fat. The only time you want to avoid fat is when it’s the fake, hydrogenated kind found in things like Lil’ Debbie’s snack cakes, pre-packaged junk like Cheetos, bologna, etc. The more prepared it is, the worse it generally is for you.
So, I am back. The medication is certainly helping me get back to where I feel like me again, but God has been at work in my life big time. I am very grateful for all the support and love I have had from friends and family , and for all the prayers. If you see yourself in a similar struggle, don’t go it all alone. Talk to someone. Take your life back.