So back to the drawing board it was. Books, websites, message boards, interviews with friends who had success and then going back to reading even more. What was apparent was that I could no longer go into this thinking about going on a diet. That’s a short-term mindset and what I needed was something that would be long-term —lifelong, hopefully. During this research period I came across the new version of the Atkins Diet. Since the death of Dr. Atkins his framework was updated and reworked by Drs. Phinney, Westman and Volek. In this very easy read, and supported by all the reading I did after that, there were changes I was looking for specific to me. The idea of being insulin-resistant is something that had surfaced during my pregnancies and I could have looked in a mirror when I read these articles. Again I am not here to promote any one process over another, so I am not going to expound on the information I learned. Please, go do the research yourself and see what fits your body type and lifestyle.
The rules are pretty simple: no processed food whenever possible, no sugar, low carbohydrate, moderate fat, high protein and plenty of water. In order to accomplish this we gradually changed our household over to follow at least some of these tenets. My children can tell you what is or isn’t allowed for Mommy (which makes them painfully effective police). Our quality of food has gone up and we make conscious choices on where and what we buy. We read every label. This year we invested in a local farm—it’s called CSA (community sustained agriculture). You buy a “share” and for the growing season you get a weekly share of whatever is harvested. You know where your food came from, it’s organic and it makes you learn how to cook with new things. You can find your own CSAs at www.localharvest.org .
My husband held out at first, until he saw how I was doing. Now he’s doing even better than me (you know how men are with this stuff, they sneeze and five pounds falls off). For the children we simply insert better choices into their repertoire whenever possible: whole grain breads, fresh fruit always on hand, balanced meals. Yes, we still let them have junk, but it’s controlled. I do not want them to feel deprived and that they have to pursue it as a forbidden food.
Did it work? Well, the first week was really difficult. It’s true what they say about having to detoxify from carbohydrates and sugar—by day four I was miserable and ready to ditch it. But change is not easy and I wanted to see this through, so I stuck it out. At the risk of sounding like a spokesperson I’m glad I did. My energy level went through the roof; I had no more afternoon brown-outs and can go consistently through till bedtime. I don’t get hungry, or at least not that gut-punching hunger. When I’m hungry it’s simply time to eat. I sleep through the night, which I haven’t done for ages. I’ve had chronic pedal edema since I had my daughter—that was gone within four weeks. No bloating, no gas and no feeling like there’s a rock in my stomach after I eat.
As time went on and I got used to it, so did my body. My palate changed, all my old stand-by comfort foods do not have the same appeal to me any longer. Sweets taste TOO sweet, and the pizza or pasta I would normally dive into tastes different. They also make me physically sick, especially if I try to eat the same amount I used to. I actually crave salads and vegetables, especially if I’ve been traveling and have gone without for a while.
My husband and I have learned new ways to prepare different foods (there are fantastic resources out there). He makes a killer low-carb waffle (yes, it can be done), and we learned how to make our own pestos out of stinging nettles and salads out of amaranth. If you had told me a year ago that I would routinely eat shirataki noodles (tofu & yam flour) and drink almond milk because I like it, I would have laughed in your face.
In the meantime, as we were feeling better and learning how to manage hunger and cravings another interesting thing happened—the weight started to come off. As of this writing I am down 48 pounds from my heaviest, and my husband is down 62 pounds.
So if you’re struggling to get those extra pounds off, all I can say is that if this old lady can do it, so can you. But if you haven’t succeeded in the past it’s time to rethink your approach. Here’s my advice:
PLAN: Do not just say “I’m going on a diet tomorrow.” Don’t rush it; plan it out—DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Look at what you eat, when you eat and then why you eat. Look at what you’re drawn to, what your cravings are. Then start doing your homework and find an eating style that fits into something you can do. Read the message boards, check the reviews on the books and look at it from more than one angle. Find some solid resources. There are great websites out there—www.livestrong.com, www.fatsecret.com, www.weightwatchers.com are just a few where you can find articles, charts, recipes and other resources.