Saturday, December 24, 2005

Low-Fat: Been There, Done That, Made Me Fat

This WTAE-TV 4 (Pittsburgh, PA) story about a woman who shed 100 pounds off of her body and kept it off for 10 years made me both proud and sad at the same time.

Fran DiVecchio, whose before and after pictures over a 10-year period are indeed amazing, now weighs 115 pounds and feels great. The story describes her as "a weight loss wonder."

They interviewed her to help others who struggle with their weight, especially during the Christmas holiday feast season that seems to trap most of the population and force them to gorge themselves on sugary, carb-loaded foods each and every year.

Her recommendation: Exercise about 10 minutes longer than you normally do.

As someone who already exercises 30-45 minutes per day, I cannot disagree with that suggestion. But what about the people who currently get ZERO exercise, which includes tens of millions of Americans according to a new fitness study released this week. Is 10 minutes a day going to keep the obesity monster away for them? I don't think so!

Unfortunately, unless you are already on a weight loss exercise routine, simply adding 10 minutes a day to your current workout of NOTHING is NOT going to help you. I applaud you if you want to try doing 30-45 minutes a day on the treadmill to burn a lot of calories, but it's not realistic for most non-exercisers who need to work their way up to that level. Getting the stamina to enjoy a 30-minute cardio workout each day will keep your weight under control and your heart healthy.

So what else does DiVecchio reveal as the "secrets" to maintaining your weight during the holidays?

"Portion control is key," she exclaims, along with 3 liters of water and a low-fat diet consisting of no more than 30 grams of fat per day.

Yikes, not that frightening message again. While I agree with the water part because it helped me in my low-carb lifestyle, I am having nighmares about my low-fat, portion-controlled diet in 1999 when I lost 170 pounds.

Sure, the weight came off on a low-fat diet for me and I started feeling better physically from not being weighed down by my obesity. But my problem was the nagging, constant hunger pangs that would not go away whenever I limited the amount of food I ate. Plus the low-fat foods were just so gross to me. Have you ever eaten low-fat cheese? Or how about low-fat turkey slices where they put something like 100 teaspoons of salt in them for flavor?! No wonder DiVecchio drinks so much water in a day!

Now that I think back on my low-fat diet experience, I wonder what my hunger level would have been like had I exercised even a little. You see, I lost that 170 pounds on a low-fat diet without doing any exercise and I used to brag about it. Boy I was such a dork back then, but I've learned my lesson now that I'm livin' la vida low-carb. :)

I just don't see how people can live that way measuring out the amount of food and putting disgusting low-fat stuff in their mouth all the time. Think about all of the sugar and salt that is added to these products when the fat is taken out. Is THAT really healthy for your body? I don't think so.

In regards to carbohydrates, DiVecchio said she doesn't concern herself with them "as long as I'm eating good carbohydrates."

How do you determine what those "good carbohydrates" are, though? Does the average Joe Schmoe on the street know the difference between the kinds of carbs? Nope. Most people turn the nutritional label on the side and simply look at the total carbohydrates to determine whether it is too much or just right. That's a poor way to judge whether a product is healthy or not.

Just as I limited my carb intake to 30-40g per day during my weight loss, DiVecchio says people should not go over 30 grams of fat per day. But the difference is now that I am maintaining my weight loss, I eat about 100-125g of carbohydrates a day while DiVecchio is still stuck on her 30g of fat schedule for the rest of her life. Yikes! Nightmare!

Whatever, whatever, whatever you do, listen to me on this: Don't try to do both low-carb AND low-fat at the same time. It will lead to failure faster than you can say ACHOO! The solution: DON'T DO IT! :)

DiVecchio does make two good points about weight loss that may help you: she concludes salt can "make you hungrier" and recommends putting a picture of yourself at your heaviest on your refrigerator to discourage you from snacking.

But, if you are hungry, you should eat. That's what bothered me the most about low-fat, portion-controlled eating. When the hunger pangs came on, what could you do? Those stupid portion sizes kept me from eating more than a morsel or two of food at a time and my appetite was (and still is!) HUGE. I felt weak, tired, and just plain cranky (as this low-fat dieter was earlier this year) when I was hungry ALL THE TIME!

This is what ultimately led to my downfall even after losing 170 pounds. I remember asking my wife Christine if I could go to McDonald's to get a Big Mac Extra Value Meal. She instinctively knew at that moment that the "diet" was over. Within six months, I had regained all of that weight. Sigh. I'm not proud of that period of my life, but it happened and I learned from it.

When I began the low-carb lifestyle as a permanent lifestyle change in 2004, I decided not to repeat those same mistakes again so I could finally get rid of the weight and be the healthy man that God created me to be. I am so thankful for the change that has happened in my life as a result of losing nearly 200 pounds. It is the greatest feeling in the world to be comfortable in the skin you're in (even if it is hanging a bit now. LOL!).

I have no criticism for DiVecchio and her remarkable weight loss success, though. She found a way that works for her and has kept the weight off for good. GOOD FOR HER! I'm glad she can continue to eat low-fat foods and not experience the problems that so many of us have suffered through on that way of eating. She'll be eating that way for the rest of her life and that's great for her and others who can keep that up forever.

Yet, with low-fat diets, I've been there, done that, and it made me fat...AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN! No thanks! I have too many painful memories of low-fat diets because that's what I thought I would have to be stuck with for the rest of my life. But the miracle of the low-carb lifestyle came into the picture for me last year and swept me off my feet to show me there is a better way to eat and lose weight. Now I will never be the same again.

Are you interested in trying the low-carb lifestyle to lose weight in 2006? There are a lot of books about there regarding the various low-carb plans, but this one is the best that I've seen to help people understand the science behind low-carb living. And if you need some inspiration to help you be the success you deserve to be, that is exactly why I wrote my book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."

I KNOW you can overcome your weight problem just as I did not that long ago. Make up your mind RIGHT NOW that this is what you are going to do and get ready for the time of your life as you take the pounds off! Come next Christmas, you'll be ready to share your story of success and triumph with the whole world. ARE YOU READY?!

12-29-05 UPDATE: I received an e-mail from Fran DiVecchio today requesting that I remove her pictures from this blog post. I gladly removed the photographs as she requested.

However, she also said that my post about her weight loss success on a low-fat diet was taken "out of context" and asked that the entire blog post be removed. That I will not be doing.

Although Ms. DiVecchio may not like what I wrote about her method of weight loss, that doesn't give her a right to tell me what I can and cannot write about at my blog. This is the United States of America and my First Amendment right to free speech gives me the freedom to write about whatever I want at this blog.

I applaud her for losing weight and keeping it off for so long using a low-fat diet, but I will not be intimidated or forced to remove my opinions just because somebody doesn't like them. 'Nuff said!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Have you ever eaten low-fat cheese?": I've had heaps of non-fat and low fat dairy in my low-fat days. It tastes atrocious. That's why I could never bring myself to do South Beach, even though it appealed to me because it's more accepted by the medical authorities than other low-carb plans: they use gobbles of low-fat dairy. Yikes. Another reason was the massive use of aspartame (I hate the aftertaste), and what really finished making it non-sustainable for me was the limitation of nuts (why the heck would they limit nuts, even in their own logics??? They pretend they're only limiting saturated and trans fats!)

11/16/2009 4:25 AM  

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