New Year: Low-Carb, No Exercise, Respect the Food Allergies

I have no idea why I never stumbled on this approach before. I feel like it’s been staring me in the face since this fatigue stuff started. But, somehow, I never saw it. I wonder what other things I’m doing to myself that’s counter to my goals, but feels like I HAVE to keep doing. Let’s not go there. We don’t have that kind of time or introspection.

I’ve been struggling to lose weight for the past five or six years. I mean, it’s been a struggle since college, but usually all I had to do was eat less and exercise more. And boom, weight loss. And eating less never meant starving. I still ate most of the things I liked, just in smaller portions, less often, etc. It did take some work and focus, I had to be intentional. But it was truly never that hard. I usually fell off the wagon because it always feels “cool” to eat whatever I want. That’s how they portray “cool girls” on TV shows and in movies. They don’t worry about diets or counting calories. And are effortlessly thin. I know, I know, I know. I’m not effortlessly thin. And I also know most actresses aren’t either. SO WHY DOES HOLLYWOOD DO THAT TO US? Stop pretending there’s some sort of liberation in binge eating shitty food. It’s unhealthy. And not cool. Or cute. Or funny. If a fat lady did that it would be “so disgusting.” So. Just. Stop.

Off soapbox.

Anyway, the point is, I could go in out of more strict eating. Usually exercising fairly consistently along the way. I have always liked being active, strong, flexible, having endurance. But as the fatigue creeped up, I found myself struggling to keep up my former pace. And then I’d find myself heavier, and again, cutting back more on exercise. I’d still workout most weeks. On good weeks, 3ish times. On bad weeks, I’d normally still at least START a few workouts, usually pushing through even when my body would cry mercy.

And you know what? It didn’t help.

And when I’d add in a more restricted diet, my body pushed back more. More tired, worse sleep, more cravings, more hunger. So, what did I do? I’d go off of that “diet” and back to “normal” and eventually I’d try a new diet. Trying to workout all the time. I also had workouts I’d rotate through. Some longer workouts. Some shorter. Some more cardio intense. Others more focused on strength. I’d try walking. And jogging. And intervals. I’d also try all of the different “diets” with every intention of it being a lifestyle. Nothing. Worked. And for the naysayers (people can be such tremendous assholes!), no, really. It didn’t work. I’d go as long as I could. Sometimes I’d burn out in a matter of a few weeks. Normally I’d make it 3-8 weeks before being like, “OK, done.” So tired, so hungry, sleep screwed up. And then I’d go off, and focus on sleep, reducing stress, etc.

The single time I’ve lost over the past five years was over this summer when I got into fasting. I did one long fast (I believe 12 days?), and a handful of shorter 1 – 3 day fasts. And sprinkled in some intermittent fasting at the end, although that didn’t net me much more than the ability to keep established the reality that I don’t ever NEED to eat. The entirety of the weight I lost was while fasting. And guess what I did while fasting? I skipped working out. Now, the 12 day fast? I actually made it through that relatively easily. Easier than I expected. There were some days I felt terrible – weak, sick to my stomach, etc. But I never missed a day of work, my focus increased, and I felt really good for a span of several days. I ultimately ended it because I felt REALLY sick all of a sudden and decided it was time. And about 3 months later, my hair started coming out. And it’s still coming out at a decent clip. I’d read some people say that was a side effect, but not until I was about 10 days in. When I ended, I was thankful it never fell out. Well, I think this hair loss is from that. So, obviously a 12 day fast isn’t the answer. I’m not sure if a 2-3 day fast is, either. As those are so hard to start up after stopping. But, part of what a fast does is work on your insulin levels. And what else works on insulin levels? Keto/low carb diets.

I did keto for awhile early on in the summer (maybe late spring). And it was a tough first day or two, but after it was actually pretty nice. I enjoyed the variety of foods. I missed some things like bananas and potatoes, but for the most part, bread and rice maybe me feel lethargic, and I know I can eat an entire bag of chips or box of cereal or crackers without blinking. Plus, I’d read once you’re keto-adapted/fat-adapted, you can actually “cheat” (or go higher carb) for a short period and come back to low carb relatively easily. Some people even do so weekly just to have more freedom in their diet. Or they have success raising daily carbs. My problem was, like usual, I tried to pair the diet with working out. Crashed. Quit the diet, and assumed it was the diet’s fault.

Why? The exercise was always there, too.

So, this time, what am I doing? Avoiding the more extreme fasting, although maybe intermittent fasting will be a stage in the future. Quitting exercise for AT LEAST the first three months (potentially until weight loss stalls, even if that’s 6 months from now, as I have about 50 pounds to lose), and focusing just on diet. Just on cutting carbs. Planning meals, avoiding my allergy foods, getting meats, cheeses AND fruits and veggies in the diet. Keeping up with supplements. Making sleep a high priority. And NOT WORKING OUT. I’ll admit, I know I’ll miss it. BUT, if I can get the weight to come off, and get to a place where my body’s healthier, then I can hopefully add back exercise at that point and NOT burn out.

So many success stories with low carb diets DON’T include any type of exercise. I’m appalled at how many people say, “Nope. Never have worked out. I started when I hit my goal weight and wanted my body to LOOK different. The diet alone was enough work to learn and stay focused on.” I’ve read keto boards, mostly Reddit, but several places, and so many people said it. I just figured they had never worked out or didn’t like it. Never considered success could be in that formula.

I’m only three days in. But so far, the diet’s been pretty easy. I’m focusing on lower carb, cutting out sugar, breads, rice, starches, etc. Not being too crazy hyper-focused on any green vegetable, and not being too crazy focused on how much fat and protein I take in as long as I’ve hit my protein goal. So in other words, no worries about calories, yet. As soon as my appetite is in check, I’ll worry about calorie limits. Many say after the first week they started to track what they were eating, and if they weren’t losing, cutting back. If they were, then being aware of that total, and knowing where the next cut would come from. Others say they just ate any meat and cheeses to satiety and enjoyed a lot of losses for a long time before ever worrying about calories, intermittent fasting or even adding in exercise.

I know I post these things all the time. I’m an eternal optimist. But I HAVE to believe there’s an answer. I don’t like how I look or feel. I don’t like not being able to workout more than I am. I don’t like feeling guilty about what I am eating,  worrying what I’m eating doesn’t agree with my body and might make me sick or shorten my life. I want to find a place where I look and feel healthy. I am not getting any younger. But I certainly am not to a point where I should give up. There’s an answer out there. I feel really confident this might be it. And if it’s not, I’ll keep looking!

In the meantime, I’m really excited to try a bunch of new recipes. I found some low-carb stuffed meatballs. I’ve decided to make fish a weekly adventure. This week, salmon! If it’s terrible, I’ll have some backup foods. I got into a chicken-crust pizza last time I did low carb that I LOVED. It wasn’t perfect pizza, but it was a pretty dang good substitute. I LOVE medium-rare (or maybe a little rare!) steak on a salad. I have several veggie dishes I love, including a cabbage salad I have been eating a ton of. And there are plenty of “snacks” I’ve never made it far enough into low carb to try – for example, there are cheese chips – chips made out of cheese. And as much as I’ve always been afraid of pork rinds, I hear nachos with pork rinds are pretty divine. I’ve also heard there are some low carb ice cream options, if you ever REALLY need a dessert. Pizza and nachos are pretty much my cheats, though, so I see the former happening before the latter.

I also have a lot of recipes that relied a lot on peppers, even just for the tiniest hint of spice, and I know I have to cut that out. I also have to figure out better ways around eggs. Are they always actually necessary? I’ll find out!

The adventure of cooking is as exciting as anything for me. So if I can focus JUST on the food for three months, I might actually make it somewhere weight loss-wise. Here’s hoping. Keep a positive thought in your mind!




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