Weighty Matters

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No Carb, Low Carb, Carb Cycling

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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Betting on Yourself

Have any of you heard of DietBet.com?  I vaguely remember seeing a television news story about people forming pools and betting on their weight loss, but I didn’t pay close attention to it.  Then the other day, a friend on Facebook posted that she’d achieved her four week goal in a DietBet game and earned slightly more than $40.00.

I know that for the past year plus, this friend has worked very hard to lose weight and she’s doing great.  I know how long she has struggled over her life.  How? Because she and I met each other when we were 11 years old.  We were roommates in a cabin at a summer fat camp.  Eek, that sounds harsh.  It was a camp dedicated to helping overweight girls lose weight through diet and exercise.

Just to side step for a little bit, because I love the story of how we reconnected after not speaking to each other for more than 40 years.  There are a couple of authors who I personally like, as well as adoring their books.  So, I’ve “Liked” their Facebook pages.  A few years ago, I added a comment to the status update of one of these others.  It turns out my long ago camp buddy is also a fan of this author, saw my comment and wondered if I could possibly be the same Mary Stella she knew when we were kids.  She contacted me and, presto, we reconnected.  Cool!

Back to the DietBet story.  I got so intrigued by the idea of a weight loss game pool that I had to check it out.  Okay, I’m sure my compulsive tendencies played a part.  The more I read the more I veered between laughing out loud, shaking my head in disbelief, and ruefully admitting that I admire the heck out of whomever came up with the idea.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, anybody can join up.  There are numerous “games” available to join at the DietBet site.  Some go for four weeks at a time; others for six months.  The concept is that you join a game for the join fee — which appears to average $30.  All of the entry fees go into a pot.  At the end of the four week period, everyone who has met the weight loss goal splits the money in the pot.  (DietBet of course takes a percentage off the top to pay themselves, their “guest hosts”, etc.  They also say that if, for some reason, there wasn’t enough money to make sure that every winner gets back at least 1 1/2 times what they put in, they’ll reduce their fee and pay out more to the winners.

Anybody can start up a game and, I think, the organizer can opt whether to make the game public so anybody can join or limit it to invitees, etc.  There are some celebrity game hosts, too, like Chris and Heidi Powell of Extreme Weight Loss on television or some of the winners or coaches from the Biggest Loser.

I asked a couple of friends if they’ve heard of DietBet.  I don’t want to say that we’re skeptical, but of course our first thought was, “How do they keep people from cheating?”

After a little more research I discovered that each participant takes their start photos and submits them for review.  One photo is a full length shot of them standing on the scale while wearing an outfit as if they were going through the TSA security line at an airport.  (No outerwear, no hat, no shoes, nothing in your pockets.)  For the second photo, when the period opens for submission of photos and starting weights, the company gives the players the Word of the Day.  The second required photo is taken looking down at the scale with your weight and at least your toes clearly visible and the word of the day written on a piece of paper placed right next to the scale.

So, unless one is psychic, one can’t submit a photo and weight that was taken more than two days before the start of the game.  At the end of the game, each person has 48 hours to submit their end weight photo.  I’m assuming there will be another word of the day to keep everyone honest.

The website has a community, places to post blogs, support from the organizers, ways to chart your progress, etc.  In my case, I decided to go with the Powells.  I figure that if someone is going to provide helpful hints, it might as well be the big guns.

Things I really like about the site include that they aren’t pushing a particular diet plan or weight loss program.  They aren’t trying to sell me nutrition shakes, supplements, exercise equipment or food items.  They do encourage you to invite friends to also join the game but that’s the extent.  I get that part.  The more players, the more money in the pot, the more percentage to DietBet.  This isn’t an altruistic place.  They’re a business that wants to make a profit.  I don’t object to honest industry.

This isn’t about who loses the most number of pounds.  The challenge is for each player to lose 4% of his/her body weight in four weeks.  There are rules about purging, starving yourself and other unhealthy practices.  At the end of the four weeks, everybody who lost at least 4% of their body weight wins an even share of the combined pot.  Players aren’t competing against each other, but challenging themselves.

Being both intrigued and compulsive, you know I had to sign up for a game. First of all, I’ll take my motivation from any source I can find.  Multiple sources of motivation are great! Secondly, I want to see how I do and find out if the spirit of friendly challenge will help, hinder or have no effect.

I won’t bore you with constant updates, but will let you know from time to time how things are going.  I’ll give you the final update and tell you if I reached the 4% goal by September 1st.  If you want to check out the site, it’s http://www.DietBet.com.

If any of you have already given this a go, I’d love to hear your impressions!


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