Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Low-Carb Living Is Always A Work In Progress

I am both criticized and praised for the way I write the posts here at my blog. You see, I'm not content with simply regurgitating health and weight loss information in a very dry, impersonal manner that does not give people any practical context for using it in their own lives. Instead, I make every effort to share from my own experiences to help others who may be going through similar circumstances.

Some say they don't care what some former fat guy has to say about diet and nutrition because all he is basing his comments on is what he has gone through and not basing his writings on any professional medical opinion. That's true and I've never claimed otherwise. Plus, I make that point abundantly clear every single time I write a new column. If you don't like what you see here, then nobody is forcing you to read it. There are plenty of drab and boring web sites out there to fit your tastes just fine.

At the same time, though, there are many more who are intrigued by my weight loss success story because I am able to connect with them on a personal level that helps them deal with their own journey because it is a very personal thing to go through. That's why I write like I do to hopefully convey that livin' la vida low-carb is about real people going through the struggles of life like everyone else.

Today, I have an example of someone who empathizes with my slight difficulty in keeping my weight from creeping up. As my regular readers recall, I gained 10 pounds back of my total 180-pound weight loss by the middle of 2006 which is why I started The "30-In-30" Low-Carb Weight Loss Challenge. While I lost down to 215 at one point, the weight has since crawled right back up again to the mid to upper 220s again.

The fact that I have blogged about my up and down battle with those last few pounds instigated the following response from another Atkins weight loss success story to share her similar experience and concern. Here's what she wrote:

I, like you, lost a big chunk of weight on Atkins/low-carb. Over 13 months I lost 75 pounds. I kept it off over a year AND I'm now seeing 5 pounds come back that I just cannot lose. I don't understand how I could lose the 75 pounds very steadily and not feel hungry or deprived but cannot seem to get going on this 5 pounds.

Now my friends, co-workers and even the owner at Curves say "But you are so skinny--you don't need to lose any more weight." Ah, but my thinking is if I allow myself to gain 5 pounds over the last 4 months, then what is to come? Another 5 in 4 more months and then another. Before long I don't think I'll be able to stop and I'm worried this.

I see you almost in the same boat with your 20 pounds that sneaked up on you and you also are having trouble getting it back off again. So, what is it that made us able to lose such a large amount and now we can't get this little amount off?

I know it has to be mental. I've tried all sorts of mind games with myself. The best I can figure out is that after losing all that weight I feel like I "deserve" a little glass of wine on the weekends and an extra handful of nuts. I also know I am eating past the comfortable level and into the stuffed area at times--even though it is low-carb/high-protein, it is still WAY to much for me to be eating.

It's obsessive behavior because I can't stop eating even when I know I'm over eating (like an entire bag of microwave popcorn)!! This is the stuff I did to gain the weight in the first place.

What is going on with me? I love my new body. I love the clothes. I love being healthy. Why am I sabotaging myself AGAIN?

Jimmy, thanks for listening to my concerns. I love your blog and read your posts daily. I also love the news, the tips, the interviews and everything else. Keep up the great work.

WOW, this e-mail couldn't have come at a better time since I was just thinking about blogging this VERY issue. I guess this confirms I needed to blog it, so here goes.

First, let me share with you my quick e-mail response:

Don't try to overanalyze it. Just keep livin' la vida low-carb (which is what I am doing) and get your smile on. Remember how far you've come so you have perspective on where you are going. It's gonna happen, just hang tough. I appreciate your honesty about this, but I urge you to keep at it.

Simplistic answer? Perhaps, which is why I'd like to expand upon my thoughts some more for this post. Let's look at the reasons for the weight gain. Mine happened because I allowed those extra indulgences like the dinner rolls at the restaurant to become way too regular in my diet. Sure, I felt like I "deserved" it, too, but I have since learned that livin' la vida low-carb is all the indulgence I need.

My slight weight gain last year wasn't 20 pounds, but rather 10. Still, like you, I didn't want it to turn into 10 more and then 10 more until I was right back up over 300 again in no time. NOT GONNA HAPPEN! In fact, the bells and whistles went off in my mind when I even THOUGHT about hitting 250 again. EEEK!

Your supporters are well-meaning when they say you look good enough now after your weight loss, so don't worry about trying to lose anymore. Trust me, I get the same thing all the time from people I know when I tell them I'm trying to get down to 199 pounds. They look at me like I'm some space alien for wanting to lose any more weight. They just don't understand that this is something I need to do for ME.

Remember this--these are probably the same people who very likely told you that you looked good when you were overweight, too, so they have a history of not being completely forthright with you. More than anything else, it is YOU who must make up your mind whether you need to lose weight or not.

Nobody can decide that but YOU. If you feel good at the weight you are at right now, then do everything you can to stay there. Otherwise, start on a plan that will help you lose it again! Don't obsess over all of this, though, because that can lead you right back into bad eating habits again that you will use to soothe your emotional pain. Then the weight goes up and you're back in that ruthless cycle that ensnares so many. Don't be one of them!

As of today, my weight is 229 pounds. That's one pound less than I was at the end of 2004 following my 180-pound weight loss that began at 410 pounds. Some may see that as a failure to lose any weight for more than two years. Another way to look at it, though, is I haven't GAINED any weight since 2003--THAT HAS BEEN OVER THREE YEARS IN A ROW!!! Now that's keeping the right perspective.

Is it frustrating to see livin' la vida low-carb be more challenging this time around than it was before (and, no, I don't subscribe to the one golden shot theory about low-carb)? Sure. But keep in mind that your body is different now as the skinny, healthy person that you are. It doesn't have to be a mental problem necessarily. Quite possibly it is physiological and paying attention to calories and portions may be what is needed for you now.

That may seem like a foreign concept to you in a discussion of livin' la vida low-carb because you never counted calories or portions while losing weight the low-carb way. But, again, that was when you were much bigger. Things have changed for the better and now your diet should change for the better, too.

One thing this e-mailer wrote that really hit home with me because I find myself doing the same thing lately is the part where she said she "can't stop eating even when I know I'm overeating."

Oh my gosh, it's confession time people. I've caught myself doing this just his week. I don't know if it's the cold weather, being indoors a lot, or what, but I have found myself eating a very healthy low-carb dinner and less than 30 minutes later opening up the cabinets to see what I could munch on. WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF? I'm NOT hungry!

Plus (even MORE confession!) I've let my cardio exercise slip up this week. I've cut my workouts short on the days I have done them and I've skipped the past two days altogether. Why am I doing this? Am I getting lazy even though I know how good exercise makes me feel when I do it? Talk about "sabotage!"

Let this all be a lesson to everyone reading my blog that old habits really do die hard. Even still, this is no time to panic. The key is to recognize when these feelings hit you and immediately find something else to occupy your mind until it passes. Remember, that's exactly how you did it the first time and I urge you to conjure up the spirit of that strength you had before. It will help you now.

You see, isn't it good to know that you're not the only one who has these thoughts because they can hit even the best of us? I constantly remind myself that I'm not there yet despite my successes in the past. It really does take a DAILY CONSCIOUS EFFORT to remain focused on the goal at hand and we must stay alert and ready for anything that could derail us, including our own self-pity.

More than anything, stay encouraged and don't give up hope. We beat ourselves up enough when we haven't been perfect, but it's not the end of the world. Recommit yourself starting RIGHT NOW to do this lifestyle change like you've never done it before. I'm telling myself this message more than anything because it is something I need to do as well. Just be glad you're not livin' la vida low-fat! Talk about torture! AAAACK! :)

Livin' la vida low-carb is always going to be a work in progress. If you ever think you have fully arrived, then watch out! Letting your guard down is in a sense being cocky and self-reliant when you know you are susceptible to having the whole house of cards come tumbling down on top of you at any moment. Zero in on what you need to do and then JUST DO IT!

I'd like to say a special THANK YOU to my reader for bringing up this incredibly important topic because we don't need to ignore it. This goes to the very heart of why people fail so often when it comes to weight loss and improving their health. Will it be easy to see this to the very end? Nope. But at least you actually care and want to do something about it. How many people can say that?

Now that's what I call progress. KEEP IT UP!

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Blogger mrfritznyc said...

IB here,

jimmy, I wouldnt worry about the aerobic workouts you've missed.

I think you should check out the book titled something like "The Slowburn Fitness Revolution" by the Drs. Eades of PP fame and Fred Hahn. It has some pretty radical ideas about exercise, particularly about aerobics. As in they are a waste of time. I was very skeptical at first but I have become convinced. It is really possible to get yourself into the best shape of your life with just one or two 20 minute workouts per week.

and of course, if you want to get past the "Atkins wall" it almost sounds like you know what you need to start concerning yourself with, but you just cant quite say it, you know, er, uh, dare I say it, you know, the little "c" word....

2/02/2007 9:35 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Yahoo! This morning I started on the treadmill again after months and months of mental resistance. I don't know what the resistance is from, but I'm not going to bother figuring it out. The fact is that once I get on the treadmill and do 30 minutes of walking, it's not unpleasant and it goes by very quickly. Even in this small time, I feel so much better, both physically and emotionally. I will make this a habit, starting at least three times a week, and I'll aim for five.

2/03/2007 2:32 PM  

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