Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Diets Suck - Meenanful Life

Diets suck and then you die.

There's a reason you spell "diet" with "die."

Part of my Lent "giving up" stuff this year was dieting. And let me tell you right now, it was HARD.

I have a frustrating relationship with diets. About three years ago I put myself on a strict diet trying to get my weight down to the point where I could fit in my mother's wedding dress. Mom was 135 pounds when she got married and the dress showed it.



It was miserable. I was on a calorie counting diet and was always, constantly hungry. I know I wasn't getting the proper nutrients because I would sometimes have a cookie and count that in my calorie count, meaning I would ignore the salad or fruit at lunch.

I also had blood pressure issues. My family's blood pressure is naturally low. So when I wasn't getting the right foods, my blood pressure lowered to the point where I'd actually get dizzy standing up sometimes.

And I was always angry. Not fun.

The worst part yet was that I could never get below 160. I plateaued and no matter how much food I took out and how much exercise I added in, I couldn't get those extra 25 pounds off. (25? Yes? -does math- This is why I'm an English teacher and not a Math teacher.)

I did manage to fit into Mom's dress.

Sorry for the pose. Blame my photographers.
It did need some heavy modification for it to work though. But I fit it. It's something I'll never regret, despite the diet issues. That dress is gorgeous and I hope some day that my daughter (if I have one) would like to make it her own.

However, after the wedding and after I no longer needed the dress, I went nuts.

I started binging. I ate anything I wanted and stopped exercising regularly. And I gained weight. A lot.

When I was a kid, I never got over 190 pounds. My metabolism was strong enough that even if I went nuts, my weight gain would stop. And I carried the weight well too. I never LOOKED like I was near 200.

But this time, my body said "screw you" and went totally nuts. I was at 218 when I finally started this diet. And it was obvious.

So I tried a low carb diet. Ugh.

Honestly, I had been dreading doing this. I was ready to throw in the towel before I ever got started. All I could think about was the sugar I'd be missing and the hunger I felt from the last diet, and the plateau that never went away.

But I stuck with it anyway.

For the first week or so, I felt constantly hungry and angry. I wanted sugar so bad, it hurt. But on a low carb diet, you can't have sugar. Or sweet stuff at all really. And in fact, if you break your low carb-ness, it pulls your body OUT of dietary ketosis (where your body uses fat instead of carbs for energy. No, this is not the same thing as ketone acidosis, which is bad for you. Ketosis is not harmful like ketone acidosis is.). And if you break out of dietary ketosis, two things happen.

One, you're extra hungry. Your body has the ability to go into ketosis if you're in an area where there's not enough food, or if you're sick and not feeling well enough to eat. This is the reason we have fat stores. But once you're eating regularly, your body goes nuts and stores extra fat again in case you can't eat regularly again and you need the extra energy.

Two, you have to start ALL OVER kicking your body into ketosis. This means THREE FULL DAYS of no carbs. Which essentially is very low fat meat.

I love meat. I'm definitely a carnivore.

But when ALL YOU HAVE is meat, meat, meat, you get pretty upset about a lot in life.

Some doctors even report what they call the "carb flu" when you first go on a low carb diet. Everything makes you mad and all you want is sugar.

I still don't know how I got through those first three days.

However.

As time went on, got used to the low carb diet. Honestly, this diet was the best thing ever for me.

I've learned a lot on this diet.

1. I don't need sugar every day. Since being off the diet, anytime I buy something with sugar, I portion it out and eat only one portion a day. Not only is that awesome for keeping the weight off, but that means my snacks last longer!

2. I can eat less and still feel full. Rather than huge portions at meals and dozens of snacks throughout the day, I can eat just a little and still feel good.

3. I am no longer controlled by food cravings. I'm one of those people that likes to snack when I'm doing ANYTHING. Grading papers? Snack. Writing novels? Snack. Editing short stories? Snack. Drawing? Snack. But when you're stuck with limits on what you can eat, suddenly food isn't as appealing. There were times when I'd go looking for a snack and just GIVE UP because nothing looked appetizing. And as time went on, I stopped looking for a snack. I don't need it. I even stopped my sugar cravings.

Since starting my diet, I'm now 16 pounds lighter. No, it's not perfect and I'm about four pounds shy of what I really wanted to lose this time around, but you know what? It's changed my attitude about food. And I think that's made all the difference.

What do you guys think about diets?

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