So yes. I’m still doing the low-carb thing, and I have to say, I’m totally loving it. So far I’ve lost about 14 (almost 15!) pounds, and I’m averaging about a pound a week. The best part of this is that my wardrobe has practically doubled now that I’m finally fitting back into so many old clothes that were too tight after I had Harris. There was one week where I finally fit back into about four pairs of pants that had been sitting in my closet all at once, and I just couldn’t believe how much my clothing options had totally grown. I’m finally a couple of pounds underneath my pre-pregnancy weight (which was a little higher than I had liked it anyway), and everything beyond is this I’m considering bonus. Since I’m still enjoying the way I’m eating and am still very motivated about my work-out, this feels very maintainable for me long-term, so I’m kinda curious how my body composition will continue to change.
What I’m eating on a daily basis is still pretty much the same as it has been when I started this about, oh, 5-6 months ago, and it’s become pretty normal and easy for me. For breakfast every morning I eat two eggs with a lot of butter (got burned-out on scrambled, lately I’m loving fried) and coffee with cream. For lunch I usually have a big salad, almost always consisting of a whole avocado and whatever other vegetables are lying around, and my homemade balsamic vinaigrette (just olive oil and balsamic vinegar), heavy on the dressing. For dinner it’s usually a pretty standard meat of some sort with one or two vegetable sides that I cook in lots of butter or olive oil. I don’t really snack anymore because I’m just not hungry for it, but if I do want one, it’s usually an apple with some almond butter. Oh, and I’ve been experimenting with smoothies lately (inspired by this helpful post on making Primal smoothies) and have been mixing-up things like peanut or almond butter, avocado, yogurt/milk/or coconut milk, cocoa powder, spinach, and stevia. You can’t taste the avocado, it just makes it smooth, and the chocolate/banana/nut butter combo is awesome.
I’m still having a hard time with the sweets, although I’m a lot better than I was. Anytime you’re trying to lose weight, no matter what type of diet you’re on, ya gotta cut the sugar. I do eat bread every once in awhile, particularly for the occasional grilled-cheese sandwich, but generally cutting-out the grains just isn’t that hard for me. It’s the sugar that’s killing me. I don’t really have physical sugar cravings anymore, it’s just mental. Like after dinner… I know I’m not hungry at all (whereas before I started this diet I used to be hungry about two hours after dinner every single night), but I still feel like I NEED something sweet. Sometimes I can distract myself until bedtime and sometimes I get a small something. Lately I’ve been eating a small bowl of stevia-sweetened plain yogurt and that does it for me. Or a glass of wine does a great job, too. In fact, for awhile there I was still eating a dessert-type treat a few times a week and losing weight, but I’ve cut that out in the past couple of weeks and noticed that I seemed to immediately drop a couple of pounds. However. I have to admit. I told Clay tonight that I was fondly remembering our old habit of making a batch of cookie dough and then eating it out of the bowl every night that week. (I know! How awful is that?!) I really miss chocolate chip cookie dough. So sometime soon, I’m totally gonna get a big spoon and go to town on a bowl of cookie dough, diet be damned!
So yeah, other than the occasional need for a sugar binge, this diet is really working for me. I think the main reason is that for me, hunger has always been the culprit keeping me from losing weight. I know now that much of my hunger was a legitimate physical reaction from insulin levels that were fluctuating all over the place from my high-carbohydrate/sugar diet, and by removing the stimulus, my hunger is completely different than it used to be. Before, I would get hungry about two hours after a meal. By three or four hours (if I had actually made it that long without snacking), I had that hollow, empty, I’m going-to-die-if-I-don’t-eat-right-now feeling in my stomach. Several times a day. Now, I start to feel kind of “not full” a couple hours after eating. Then slowly, almost imperceptibly, my hunger gradually grows little by little until about 5-6 hours after a meal I’m like, “Yeah, I could eat. I guess I’m actually kind of hungry. It’s probably time to eat.” Completely different experience for me, one that means that my life actually revolves around food way less than before I was trying to lose weight, oddly enough. My hunger isn’t controlling my day, I’m not spending hours standing with the refrigerator door open thinking, “Oh gosh, I just ate two hours ago, I should really hold out longer, but I’m STARVING!!!” For me, this is victory. Weight loss is just a bonus.
I’m still doing my Body by Science workouts at the local YMCA, and I really enjoy it. Here’s why I enjoy it: I go once or twice a week. It takes me about 15 minutes. I’m seeing results. That’s it. Yep–that’s it. (I use the rest of my allocated childcare time after my work-out to read a book and enjoy the free time!) I only do five exercises on machines: row, shoulder press, lat. pull-down, chest press, and leg press. And I only do one set of each exercise. The difference is that I lift a ton more weight than I used to back when I thought it was a great idea to do several sets of 15 reps. I lift heavy enough to where I can only do around 7-10 reps. and I’m at muscle failure by that point…. as in, I’m pushing the bar and it won’t go anywhere because my muscles are so shot. The intensity is so much higher than anything I’ve done before that my muscles need much more time to rest in order to grow, hence only doing it once or twice a week. I’m excited to see that I’m starting to notice some baby muscles appearing and as Clay will tell you, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with flexing in the mirror. Ha!!! Of course it’s nothing impressive, but I didn’t really have much going for me before I started this routine, so I’m kinda fascinated by the muscles I have gained! (Oh, and yeah… that whole thing about women needing to lift lighter weights for more reps so they won’t get bulky? Yeah, that’s totally a myth with no basis in basic physiology. The majority of women don’t have what it takes to get bulky, and muscle has less mass than fat, so the more muscle you gain by lifting heavy things, the less room it takes up, which means the smaller you get.) So I’m really enjoying what I’m doing, mostly because it doesn’t take-up very much time and I’m seeing results. Oh, and I’m doing no cardio—yes, NO cardio. I hate cardio, so I’m happy.
I was just remembering the last time I was in a weight-loss craze which was right before I got married. Friends will remember this weight-loss plan that I titled “Project Sex.” For about six months I worked my BUTT off. I spent about 1.5-2 hrs. in the gym for about 5-6 days a week. I remember that I would do 25 minutes of the elliptical machine, then run (ok, it was just an awkward jog!) for 45 minutes on the treadmill, and then do weights. I changed my eating habits by trying to eat smaller portions, and thankfully I had roommates who cooked me healthy food. But I do remember having a lot of standing in front of the open pantry while starving moments. Much of it was simply training myself to be ok with feeling hungry all the time… because I was hungry all the time. I lost weight, I think about 12 pounds or so, and I looked good. (I started at a much lower weight than I did this time, so 12 pounds later, I was MUCH smaller than I am now!) I think about that and compare it to my experience now, and it’s just funny to me. Because what I’m doing now just really isn’t that hard for me. I’m still eating lots of rich, satisfying foods that feel indulgent (Hollandaise sauce anyone?), I’m never hungry, and although my workouts are intense, I’m spending about 30 minutes per week max on them. And I’ve lost almost 15 pounds. Not that it’s super easy to change your eating habits, it’s taken effort to learn about the science behind what I’m doing and retrain my mind and food expectations… but seriously, compared to last time I lost a chunk of weight, this is just not really that hard. (and I’m so glad because seriously, there’s no way to spend that much time at the gym when you have kids!)
So that’s it. I’m just keeping on with what I’ve been doing, and it’s working-out great for me and feels really sustainable for the long-term. (other than my necessary sugar binges!) I’m planning for my next post to be about “common misconceptions about a low-carb diet” that just plain aren’t true, so if you have some questions about how this will affect my heart health or whether or not my body needs grains, etc…, hopefully that will answer some questions. Although, if you have any specific questions, leave me a comment and I’ll try to make sure to answer it in the next post.