Weighty Matters

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No Carb, Low Carb, Carb Cycling

on August 5, 2015

After I had weight loss surgery and food was slowly added back in to my diet (Takes time for the stomach to heal.), my doctor was adamant that I should stay away from carbohydrates, including fruit.  No breads, potatoes, rice, pasta, crackers.  None of it.  All those foods would only impede my weight loss.

I was able to maintain that for a while, but eventually I got fed up.  (Pardon the pun.)   Yes, I know that eating too much of those things can, indeed, slow down weight loss, I think it’s really asking a lot of someone to completely evict those foods from their lives.

It’s doable, trust me, I know this.  Back in 1981 or so, I went a year eating nothing but 9 ounces of protein and a cup of leafy or cruciferous vegetables a day.  I lost 100  pounds, which was great.  However, I no doubt messed up my metabolism and body in the effort.  (It was a medically supervised program, but still, I wouldn’t recommend anything that stringent and restrictive again to anyone.)  Of course, as soon as I stopped doing the program — to be honest when I could no longer force myself to do it and was on the verge of insanity form it — I gained all of the weight back and more.  Yo-Yo dieting — not fun.

Anyway, after doing so well and losing a lot of weight quickly after the surgery, I got to the point where my mind, body and spirit started to rebel against the strict rules.    I just wanted to eat like a “normal” person which meant everything in balance.

I could do without rice and pasta, but, darn it all, I really like bread and just wanted to eat some of it sometimes.  And fruit!  If I was drastically cutting back on chocolate and other kinds of desserts, it became sort of cruel to expect me to not eat any fruit.

Over time, this whole carb struggle thing has really messed with my head.  I don’t have good perspective about them.  If I eat what I call “junk” carbs — white bread, pasta, crackers, white rice — I feel like I have totally blown my efforts.  Then I feel enormous guilt.  This usually leads to me eating more of the stuff because, at that point, if I’ve blown it for the day why stop?

This is not healthy for mind, body or spirit either.

That said, I also rationally and logically know that I’m not going to lose weight if I eat too many carbs, any more than if I eat huge amounts of refined sugar and huge wedges of triple chocolate cake for every meal.  Everything in moderation.

The problem right now is that I don’t trust the “everything in moderation” approach.  Actually, I don’t trust myself to maintain the “in moderation” part day by day and still lose weight.

As I’ve launched myself into this DietBet game for the next four weeks, I’ve been reading everything on the site as well as the blog posts by Heidi and Chris Powell, comments by other dietbetters, etc.  The Powells use a method called carb cycling when they work with their clients on Extreme Weight Loss.  I have not yet ordered their book but from what I read on the blog, they suggest alternating days between low carb days and high carb days with a reward day on Sunday.

A high carb day does not mean go crazy and eat nothing but carbs, but if someone has more than they would on a carb restricted plan, it’s okay.  On the low carb days, cut way back on the junk carbs.

I’m explaining this in a very simple way since I haven’t read up on it extensively, just enough to get the gist.  The idea of carb cycling makes a lot of sense to me, particularly the ability to plan and give myself permission to, wow, have some pasta at dinner one night or half a sandwich at lunch and not feel like I just trashed my health for the rest of my life.

The Powells think that the alternating days process also helps a person stay on their plan.  It’s as if it helps someone talk themselves out of having that cheat carb if they know that the following day is a high carb day and it would be okay.

You probably already guessed that I’m taking carb cycling for a test ride.  Yesterday was a “high carb” day.  A friend and I ate Mediterranean food.  I actually allowed myself to eat some of the pita that was wrapped around the meat I’d ordered.  Shocker of all, I ate some potatoes with my meal.

For today’s “low carb” day, I stayed away from junk carbs and the fruit that I had was on point.  I had good quantity of salad and veggies along with my dinner, too.  I have to admit that a yen for something like bread or rice crossed my mind a few dozen times a day.  When the thought came to me, I considered the issue, what I want and my goals for the day and decided not to give in.  I reminded myself that tomorrow is a “high carb” day and if I want to plan in a little starch of some sort, it’s okay.  I’m not dooming myself to fail.

It’s so important to have a good, healthy knowledge and perspective.  Once I think I’ve screwed up, it’s hard for me to reverse the evil thoughts for the day.  I know as I continue on this weight loss journey, that I really need to keep working on my relationship and thought processes with food.

What’s that old Yogi Berra quote?  90% of the game is half mental.  So it is with weight loss and healthy eating lifestyles.

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