Low Carb Life

I’ve been trying to lose about 10 pounds over the past couple of months but not only did I not succeed at losing any weight, I actually ended up gaining a couple more pounds. This put me at my highest weight since the freshman 15 (ok, maybe it was 30 for me), back in the ’90s. No fun!

So I finally got fed up and took what I consider to be drastic step: a low carb diet. Jack and I have done this once before, last September actually, and found that it’s a good way to get back in control after a summer of too-much-fun and poolside drinking. When we did it last fall I had less weight to lose, and so while I only dropped about three pounds, I could see a difference in my face and how my clothes fit.

The idea behind a low carb diet is that your body will get into ketosis, and you’ll start burning fat for energy, instead of being fueled primarily by carbs. I’m definitely no scientist, but that’s my understanding of it 🙂 You do feel crappy for the first few days, while your body is getting used to the change. Last fall, when we did the diet in earnest, I did feel bad, but I was motivated. This time, I pretty much didn’t feel a change. I don’t know if this is because I was already feeling kind of lousy and tired from unhealthy habits, but I was convinced I wasn’t even in ketosis because I didn’t feel any different. But I got my ketostix and was happy to see that I was indeed in ketosis, after just a few days. I also lost about four pounds in the first few days. I know this is mostly water weight, but it’s motivating nonetheless. All my clothes fit SO much better after just a week!

The best part about this diet is it forces me to chill with all the sugar. I’ve always been a big fan of dessert, but training for my half-marathon last spring really cemented my sugar habit. We literally were eating Snickers before (and during) our long runs. I was at the point that I was craving sweets after every meal – even breakfast. Gross.

The worst part about this diet is, well, there are two things. One, it’s really easy to eat a ton of meat on this diet, which I don’t enjoy and do feel guilty about. Two, it really affects my energy level on my runs. I only ran twice in the last week and I felt exhausted throughout both of them.

Because this diet focuses heavily on eating a lot of fat, it’s important to eat healthier fats (avocado, grass-fed butter, coconut oil) rather than bacon all day, every day. I do have a heavy reliance on cheese, but that’s not necessarily a new thing for me 🙂 I’m eating shrimp, salmon, and chicken, and trying not to mow down on cheeseburgers. I’m also eating a ton of fresh veggies: big salads, stir-fries, roasted cauliflower. A couple of strawberries and a bite of dark chocolate when I do have a sweet tooth. All this fresh, yummy, mostly-healthy food, combined with good fats (heavy cream in coffee = true love), means I’m staying satisfied and not very interested in snacks. It also keeps me away from the booze, which is a good thing.

As for running, I have to accept I’m not going to be making any big gains right now. I’m spending more time in the gym, and we did two hikes this weekend. I absolutely feel less energetic when I’m working out, so it seems like a good time to do some weight training, rather than just aerobic activities. I’m also going to bed around 9:00 and getting a ton of rest, which is completely delicious.

I’m planning on keeping with this low carb diet for awhile. The more I do it, the less I crave. And I’m happy that I’m not really craving ice cream or bread. What I really want is a bowl of oatmeal, with honey and milk and walnuts and raisins. How wholesome 🙂

Have you ever tried a low carb/keto diet? What weight loss strategy works for you?


Lose 10: Update #2

So. This whole losing ten pounds thing. It’s reaaaaaallllly hard. It’s really not working. My weight is all over the place, depending on how much sodium I eat, or how much wine I drink, or whether or not I sweat buckets on my morning run. This week it’s been as high as 132 and as low as 127. I’m not sure if I’m losing weight or not.

This is absolutely frustrating and demoralizing.

As of this past Tuesday, I’m back MyFitnessPal. I loathe tracking everything I eat, drink, and do, but it seems to be what I need. It keeps me hyper-aware of what I’m consuming. It will also be helpful, if after a few more weeks I’m still seeing days in the 130s, to better pinpoint the foods and activities that are most beneficial.

In addition to the motivation I’ve got from the promise I made here, I also have two trips planned that are helping to keep me dedicated to this plan, despite my lack of progress. I have my first trip to Dallas to meet my new clients at the end of September, and Jack and I just booked a week in Mexico for January (!!!). It is so important for my confidence at work to feel I look my best. I’m generally older than most of the people I work with, so at least I need to be thin and well-dressed! Shallow, perhaps, but it really helps me feel less insecure. As for our winter vacation, we were excited to realize we have enough travel reward points to cover our flights and hotel, so we can save our money for meals and activities. I would love to spend that week in a bikini and for once not be self-conscious.

I’ll keep on keepin’ on with this diet. (The good news is my running is going well. I’ve been very dedicated to getting out there at least four days a week, despite the ridiculously suffocating heat and humidity we’ve had since May.) I’m only two weeks into my Lose 10 plan, and I’m for once focusing on the Big Picture instead of trying to lose five pounds in a week.

Here’s to a healthy and fun summer weekend!

Lose 10: Update #1

I missed my first Lose 10 by Summer’s End update on Monday! I am still trying to get into a routine now that I’ve started my new job. I’ve also spent every morning getting caught up on loan paperwork or emails from my team in India. Not much time for blogging 😦

Overall, the first ten days of my Lose 10 plan have been decent. Since my new job gives me a lot of flexibility on where I work, I’m no longer sitting in an office all day. This means there are no second lunches or ridiculous afternoon snacks that resulted from meeting leftovers or company “rewards.” Another thing working to my advantage is that Jack and I are in the process of being crazy-frugal in the month before our move. We aren’t going out to eat or ordering pizza. We’re trying to eat all the food in our pantry and freezer, only buying fresh produce, and so far that has been very healthy (hello, beans and rice!).

So, for the first week, I think I lost about half a pound. Not good enough, but I’m cutting myself a break because 1) my boss was in town and insisted on taking us out for delicious lunches and dinners, always with dessert (I know, poor me), and 2) I am still getting the hang of this caloric density approach. What I’ve learned so far:

My weight fluctuates a lot over the course of a week. Last week, it was as high as 131.4 and as low as 128.2. I’m going to try to keep track of it daily and be a nerd and plot it on a graph, so I can hopefully see the overall trend line going in the direction I’d like.

The caloric density approach is extremely appealing to me, because I like to eat; I often eat to the point of feeling stuffed; and I truly enjoy veggies. But. This takes some getting used to. First, the fiber. So. Much. Fiber. I’m so bloated from all the fiber, who knows if I’m losing weight or not. People have told me that my body will adjust, but I’ve tried high fiber in the past, and my body never gets used to it. Instead, I’m playing around with the times I eat certain food. Like, for example, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, while very delicious, are not a smart choice for my breakfast.

Another issue I’m wondering about is whether it’s a challenge to truly feel satisfied with a much lower fat diet. I pretty much always ate low fat until we tried a low carb diet about a year ago, and I honestly did enjoy all the butter, cream, and coconut oil we added to our meals then. I used to be sooo careful about the amount of oil I used, but I’ve gotten away from that since our low carb experiment. And I can definitely tell the difference in my weight, so there’s no doubt I need to get back to the little-to-no oil approach. But I’m finding myself, even after eating a huge salad plus beans and rice and two pieces of fruit, still wanting something else. I usually end having a small piece (or three) of chocolate. I’d like to find a better substitute. One night I made “nice cream” out of blended frozen bananas and cherries, and it was amazing. I need more stuff like that.

As with most diets, planning is crucial for success. I’ve been taking a big ol’ salad for lunch when I do go into the office. I’m stocking up on tons of fresh veggies so I won’t eat cereal or cheese sandwiches. I’m devoted  I’m also cooking large amounts of food so I’ll have leftovers. I love me some leftovers 🙂 Another aspect of planning is what to do when I’m out for work or we’re entertaining. Going out with clients means I will most likely eat fattening foods. It’s hard to avoid: you want the client to feel comfortable ordering what they want, and you don’t want anyone to feel guilty for enjoying themselves. In that case, planning ahead means maybe skipping a meal or doing a couple of extra miles. I want to be able to be flexible with this diet.

The most important thing I’ve learned over the past ten days is to be mindful of what I’m eating. Or maybe it’s more to be mindful that I am eating. And maybe I don’t need to be.