Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's a marathon...no, more like an Iron Man competition



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I have shared on Facebook that after accepting the work challenge in April, I am ten pounds from my goal. One of the first things people want to know is how I did it. The second thing they want to know is how long it took.

Despite the fact that I've lost 25 lbs since April of this year, I have lost a total of 42 lbs. It has taken me over four years to do it.

It was not quick. There was no quick fix. No crash dieting. No diet pills. No surgery.

The weight loss was more than just weight loss. It was a process. A journey.

We want to lose weight because we're fat. Nobody really likes being fat. (I guess there is a small percentage that accept themselves as they are, but most of the time, those of us who are fat have associated health problems. For me, it was heart palpitations and overall energy loss.)

I started my journey four years ago using Sparkpeople and watching my fat and calories. I also exercised vigorously. I lost 40 lbs. Over the course of my career as a paraprofessional in the middle school, I slowly gained 30 of those pounds back. (Hey! Adaptive curriculum often means hands-on curriculum and life skills - cooking, anyone?)

Last summer, after we came back from a Girl Scout trip, I decided I was going to lose weight. I don't remember exactly how I came across the low carb lifestyle (in this case, Atkins), but I found it. I ordered my introduction kit, used some Swagbucks to order Dr. A's book, and I was off and running! I did well with it, losing 25 lbs in 10 weeks. Then school started and I kind of stopped doing the program. But overall, I maintained my weight loss.

Until I didn't.

Slowly, the pounds started creeping up. I tried, unsuccessfully to set a start date for January 1, 2013. I was going to do it this time!

Until I didn't.

It wasn't until I learned about the challenge at work that I decided I was going to get started again. I had to fork over some cash in order to participate. After being reduced to one income this year, that $10 is a big deal. (Many will probably wonder why I participated if I couldn't afford it. It was motivation. I think because it hurt so much to lose it, I was going to do everything I could to make sure I won the challenge.

Except I didn't.

But I did keep on with program and am successfully 10 lbs from goal. I have never been this far and my success wasn't overnight. I didn't even learn everything I needed to learn just by learning about the lifestyle. Instead, it was a mental journey. I had to learn what true hunger cues were. And yes, during the beginning of my journey, I weighed and measured everything. Now I know what a cup or a half a cup of something looks like. But at the beginning, I needed that support.

Willpower alone isn't enough to succeed. I had to control my hunger. The way I did that was to stop eating sugar and white carbs. This isn't necessarily an Atkins idea, but a general low-glycemic index idea (how much food spikes your blood sugar). Because my blood sugar isn't spiking, my hunger isn't getting out of control and it's much truer than it was when I was "carb crashing". As I put it on my Facebook page:
Do you want to know how I lost weight? Really lost weight? I controlled my hunger. The way I did that was to limit foods that would spike my blood sugar and cause a huge sugar crash a few minutes (or hours later). When your blood sugar spikes and then drops, you get intense hunger cravings. Your body typically doesn't crave veggies or a nice, juicy burger; it craves some bread or the fries. In other words, "a quick fix" - the quickest and easiest way for your body to snag some energy. This idea took me years to finally realize and even after I read about it, I still didn't fully swallow the idea (no pun intended). It wasn't until I actually followed the diet (and it's not one diet in particular), I controlled my hunger and my blood sugar spikes. For a chronic overeater, this was my magic pill. The only difference is, unlike a pill that causes you to lose weight - until you stop taking it, this "pill" is as easy as cutting out (or even cutting down) on the white carbs aka "the quick fix carbs". 
 So, there you have. I'm certainly not supposing one diet over another. I believe, ultimately, you have to use what works for you. But I will say there is some pretty heavy science behind this whole blood sugar spike. Yes, our body is always striving for equilibrium (and without it, we're dead - or diabetic), but I will leave you with one question:

How do you feel after eating certain foods:

  • donuts
  • bread
  • pasta
  • soda
Next time, really pay attention. You may find (as I did), that your body doesn't react well to these foods, and you might see improvements by cutting them out (or at least cutting down on them).

As I near my goal, I am striving for the 80/20 rule. I don't shun candy and sugar and white carbs completely. I do eat them. Occasionally. I know full well that they aren't the best choice for me, but I'm making a conscious choice to partake in these foods. The only difference between today and a year ago is that these foods don't make up the majority of my meals - proof (at least in my eyes), that you don't have to cut foods completely out of your diet to enjoy them. Just do not make them the staple of your diet.

I leave you with this article about food cravings.

Until next time,

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