Many fewer carbs.
That’s the only resolution that I’m making for the year ahead – to change my diet pretty radically so that I eat only a fraction of the carbs I’ve regularly consumed for my entire adult life.
I don’t know if it’s just something that happens as we get older or whether it’s a change in my metabolism that came with the off-the-charts stress of everything I’ve had to deal with since 2010 – or both. However, in the past year or two, something has very, very obviously changed the way my body processes food – carbs and sugar in particular.
In years past, dropping weight after a pregnancy was a slow but predictably steady process for me, without any real effort on my part. By each baby’s second birthday party, I was comfortably back in a size 8. This even includes my postpartum weight loss with C, when I was already 40-plus years old. My body did the same thing after I had C that it had done when I had her 3 older siblings.
But since G’s birth in 2010, my weight – after a period of looking like it was heading in the right direction when I upped my water intake – just isn’t doing what it normally does. In fact, I have been gaining weight recently, and the carb cravings have escalated. Additionally, the weight I’m carrying is all settled in my midsection, which is concerning. And I think maybe the carb and sugar thing is one reason why I often get incredibly sleepy in the afternoons. (I say “one reason” because I’ve always loved a good weekend nap after lunch – at every stage of my life).
Not only do starchy and sugary foods seem to be causing me weight problems, I find that I crave them in a very intense way. I’ve always loved cookies and cake and waffles with syrup and that sort of thing – far more than I crave fattier things that are bad for you in excess, but my carb craving has really gotten worse. Lately, I’ve even found myself waking up in the middle of the night to scarf down something like a Pop Tart or Nutella on graham crackers. My daytime carb consumption has also escalated.
It’s taken me a while to accept that this change has occurred – that eating and metabolizing carbs has become a problem for me – and to accept that the change appears to be permanent. I kept kind of thinking it would just resolve itself and my body chemistry would revert back to how it used to be.
But now that I’m pretty sure that it’s my carb and sugar consumption causing problems for me, I am going to take the responsibility to make proactive changes in response, or I am very likely to end up physically unwell as I round the corner into the second half of my life.
I’ve already made some changes. I’m training for my first 5k, and I am lifting weights at home plus using a strength training circuit at the YMCA. I’ve become a big believer in strength training. And now I will be pedaling Ethel around, so that will be yet another way I will be getting regular exercise.I’m absolutely loving being more physically active, and the benefits are mental as well as physical. I feel just plain happier the more I move and run and get stronger.
Changing my diet is going to be a LOT more challenging for me than exercising more regularly. I have never successfully made any sort of radical, permanent dietary change for myself, and to be honest, my general M.O. has always been to just eat what I want when I want to eat it. But after doing a bunch of reading, and also after talking with other people who have become much healthier after drastically lowering their carb intake, I feel pretty certain that my own carb intake really has to be changed. Until I started thinking about it in an intentional way, I didn’t even realize how huge my carb consumption had become in recent years. Now that I have, here comes the fun (Ha!) task of cutting out most of them.
I haven’t yet decided whether there’s a specific diet I intend to follow – at least in the beginning, but I am leaning toward Atkins. The whole Paleo thing sounds interesting, but I know myself, and there’s no way I am giving up all dairy. I could never stick with that.
I’ve actually been sick with some kind of virus for the past day or two, so I haven’t had a chance to keep reading up on various low carb diet options, but at this point in my limited research, Atkins is looking like the best fit for me.
But until I figure out more specifically how I want to approach my diet change, I’m simply using a carb counting app to keep my daily carb consumption between 20-30 carbs daily. For someone who loves toast and sandwiches and pizza and craft beers and cookies, this is already proving a challenge, but I’m trying!
I’ll let y’all know how my low carb resolution is progressing as I muddle forward. Like I said, I’ve never tried to change my diet in any major, long term way before, so I am prepared for this to really challenge my resolve.
If any of you have ever switched to a low carb lifestyle, I’d love to hear about what prompted you to make the transition, how you’ve done it, and how you feel since going low or lower carb.
PS: Several of y’all have asked a very good question, which is whether I am seeing a doctor. The answer is yes, and I am having a full physical this month, just to make sure there’s no other reason for my weight gain and energy issues.