Weighing in at 363 pounds, I was the fattest I had EVER been. Honestly, I was a burger and fries away from tipping 400 pounds. Damn, that sentence just winded me.
After my PCOS and Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, I felt drained. I have always been a fat girl but I had never suffered with high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol. I guess that could only last for so long though. I went to the house, shed my tears, had my little pity party and then got about the business of living. Dying wasn’t an option. It still isn’t one.
First up was to research the low carb diet. I had heard of the Atkins diet and wasn’t sure I wanted to do it. I always told myself that I didn’t want to make a diet change that I wouldn’t keep up. For instance, I never tried giving up bread, pasta, and rice because I felt like I wouldn’t do it forever so why start. I was right and wrong.
After researching and finding the role that sugar played in my diet, I had no other choice but to start. However, I acknowledge that there is no way to avoid sugar ALL together but we can choose healthier alternatives and smaller doses. That’s where the transition begins.
I didn’t dive into the low carb diet overnight and you shouldn’t either. It’s better when you do the legwork and work in stages. Here are some tips to help you in your transition:
Walk in your truth. It’s time out for b*llshitting yourself about what it is. I was fat, sick, tired and dying a slow and unnecessary death. Yes, PCOS played a big part in my weight gain and my inability to lose weight, but I wasn’t making the greatest food choices either. Lemon flavored Oreos, Trader Joe’s Ginger Snaps and gyros are my favorites. But, I had to walk in my truth and own my -ish. Was it easy? Nope! Am I better for it? Yes! I can go without the Oreos, ginger snaps and pita bread if it means I’ll live longer and healthier.
Research. Research. Research. Look, you can listen to people all day. In the age of Dr. Google, everyone is an expert. We know it ALL! However, you have to do your own research. Look online for scholarly sources, factual information and reliable data. The most important thing to always ask yourself is, “What vested interest does the author have?” For instance, are you reading a journal funded by a rice company telling you that it’s okay to eat all the red beans and rice you want? Know the sources. Know what stakes they have in the matter and make informed decisions. Two books I highly recommend are Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes and Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels. But in the end, make your own choices because you have to live or die with them.
Make a list of the foods you love. I love food. I don’t think there is a food item that that I wouldn’t try at least once. My favorites are mashed potatoes, fried chicken and anything with cheese. The first thing I had to do when transitioning was make a list of the foods that I loved and that I didn’t want to live without. You know cake is on my list. 🙂
Find healthy alternatives. After creating a list of the foods that you love, look for healthier alternatives. I created a row that listed food substitution possibilities. For instance, instead of pasta I make zucchini and squash noodles with my spiralizer. Also, instead of pizza dough crust, I make cauliflower crust. Yes, the taste is different, but it’s still tasty and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.
Commit to it. Changing your eating habits won’t be easy, but you can do it. You have to commit if you’re going to SUCCEED at this. I decided that I would set a 90-day goal to conquer the low carb diet. Did I succeed every day of those 90 days? Nope. But, I kept going back to it everyday. Each day, I made a healthier choice than the day before. When my 90-days rolled around, I was a low carb – high fat pro and I was about 20 pounds smaller. Just, do the damn work!
Keep a food journal. Keeping track of what goes in your mouth is key. The easiest way to do this is to buy a small pocket notebook and write your meals down daily, track your calories (if you choose to), and your carbs. Keep track of your water intake and any medical readings like blood pressure, diabetes, etc. You can also do this with an app, but seeing it and writing it will help you better process it. More so, you can better track trends like emotional eating or notice if certain foods spike your blood sugar.
Don’t try to be like everyone else. The biggest debate I see going on in the low carb community is whether artificial substitutes are acceptable or unhealthy. To this I say, “DO YOU!” I choose what is and isn’t right for me. If you try something and it leads to adverse effects or if it stalls your progress then eliminate it, If not, DO YOU!
Avoid the politics. Just like the artificial sweeteners debate, there is always this back and forth about whether low carb is a diet, lifestyle change or way of eating. Call it whatever you like, just do it if that’s what you want. Don’t get so caught up on the politics and semantics that you fail to succeed. It ain’t that crucial, so carry on.
Lean on your tribe. Your tribe will be more valuable than gold when the going gets tough. When your sugar withdrawal has you feeling like a recovering drug addict, you’ll need them to cheer you on and let you know it’s going to be okay. Don’t take them for granted or fail to acknowledge their presence. Oh, and if you don’t have a tribe then get one. There are plenty of people waiting to cheer you across the finish line, so let them.
Be your own advocate. There are many people who don’t agree with a low carb diet, but you have to make your own choices. There are times when people will think you’re crazy, your doctor may not agree, but you have to do what’s best for you. In my case, I told my doctor I was doing low carb after following it for about 2 weeks. I had lost 10 pounds. He was honest and told me that he wasn’t very knowledgable about it, but if it was working to go forth with it. He also told me to come and see him if anything felt off with me. My next visit with him, I was down about 30 pounds and he was happy. At the beginning and end of everyday, you have to live with the decisions that you choose. You should always put your health first. If low carb presents a problem for your health then speak with your doctor about something else, but do something. Last, if your doctor isn’t open to anything outside of pills and potions, get a new doctor. You are not mandated to see any physician. Shop around until you find a doctor that you’re comfortable with.
Don’t give up! #Thatisall
Living a healthy life takes hard work and perseverance. Even after seeing myself at my largest, I STILL want to eat the CAKE! The struggle doesn’t get easier. Add in the twists and turns of life and there’s more reason to throw in the towel. But, we can’t predict life, so we just have to learn to adjust and still do the work. There are many days that I feel that PCOS has dealt me a *itty hand, but I get up everyday, kick her @ss and keep it right on moving. Life doesn’t stop, so I can’t either.
Have you tried a low carb diet? What were your challenges? Share your successes in the comments below.
*Disclaimer: This post isn’t intended to be referenced for medical purposes. Please see your physician before beginning any new health regimens.