Hi, my name is Vivian, and I’m a carboholic. You may think that I’m being disrespectful to alcoholics/etc., but for me, this really is a serious problem.
This is the start of my story of how I am changing my life. I did not start this journey with a plan. This is an evolution…
Carbs aren’t bad, or are they? I’ve come to the conclusion over the last couple of months that my body processes carbohydrates different than most people. For the average person, they can eat a regular meal that contains carbs, and nothing different happens to their body. If with the next meal, that person then eats a meal without carbs (say a salad), they will likely be able feel full (albeit maybe not fully satisfied).
First, I’m going to clarify. Everything has carbs, carbs are part of food and energy and are needed. In reference to this article, when I discuss carbs/carbohydrates, I’m referring to bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar, etc. I’ll discuss where Fruit and other carbohydrates fit in to me later as well.
Second, everyone’s body is different. This is my problem, how I identified it, and how I am changing myself. You may read this and think that I’m going too extreme and everyone should have a balanced diet with carbs at every meal, what’s the problem? That may be the right answer for you, but for me, this is what I need to do to make my body healthy and happy.
This is the cycle I was in prior to my recent epiphany:
- At least one mocha a day. Doesn’t sound bad to most people, but every bit of sugar then made me crave sugar more.
- My breakfast was almost always 80% or more carbohydrates, with my favorite breakfast being a bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Other favorite breakfasts were cereal, tortillas, and french toast. I rarely ate french toast since I was considering just sugar as the evil being in my life (although I ignored this with the previous and next behavior)
- As I had more mochas, the cravings for chocolate became more to the point where every afternoon and/or evening I would look for excuses and reasons to have something chocolate. I probably gave into this craving 3-4 times a week. I felt good about myself that I didn’t give into those cravings daily, but the reality is that I was giving in more and more.
- I did not have a single meal where there were no carbs, with many of my meals being almost 100% carbs, like a big bowl of pasta. Even if I ate a salad, I would need a piece of bread to feel ‘full’.
- It felt like I needed more and more food to get that ‘full’ and ‘satisfied’ feeling. Any meal where I didn’t have those needs met, I would get cranky.
- I couldn’t go more than 3 hours without food. If I was in a position where I had to wait more than an hour after my average meal time, I would even start to physically get sick to my stomach and get the shakes.
- Food was my whole goal. When breakfast was finished, I was already planning lunch. When lunch was finished, I had to figure out what to do for dinner while wondering how I would last until that time.
The catalyst, weight gain and health issues
Why did I even start this process? When you talk to anyone who has gone vegan, or gluten free, or has undergone any dietary adjustment, the reasons for those adjustments were usually brought on by weight gain and/or health issues. I am no different.
My husband had gone on a diet as part of a competition with a couple of his friends. The one to win the most weight in a 3 month period would get $50 from the other two. Money is a great motivator for him, so he started doing his diet of “the half diet”. We went on a vacation just a week or two after he started this diet, so for most of the week he was pretty good, with several ‘cheats’.
When we came back from our vacation, we both weighed ourselves. He had lost weight and I had gained 10 pounds. I was so mad. Seriously mad. I did not over-indulge. Many meals I had split with my father and most of our meals were very healthy. My cheats, except for the mochas, were the same as my husbands. What in the world? My heart collapsed. I felt like a total looser and failure for having gained so much weight.
Not only had I gained weight, but I also had a lot of swelling in my feet and legs, letting me know that the issues I was having with my kidneys were still a problem. In my mind, I actually gave up and got very angry with my husband. I know that’s wrong, but my emotional state was so fragile that he, unfortunately, became the punching bag (I’m so sorry honey!).
Ok, before I started this process, I told myself that I will allow myself to have ‘cheats’. However, my cheats are not allowed to be spur of the moment. I will allow myself a cheat once every 3-4 weeks. But, it has to be a planned cheat. Otherwise, I will find that there is always a reason to cheat.
Step 1: Stop the caffeine and sugar
I had already decided to stop sugar and coffee before the trip, realizing how bad my addiction had become. So, the next day, I didn’t have my mocha. OMG! I was dying. I had headaches, axe in the head piercing headaches. At work, I couldn’t concentrate. Even the simplest of programming tasks took me days, making stupid and silly mistakes. This lasted at least 6 weeks.
How did I feel after that 6 weeks? I felt deprived constantly. It doesn’t help that my company has an expresso machine with all the syrups. Every day I would avoid the kitchen in hopes that I didn’t give in. I didn’t. I got over that damn addiction and was able to start feeling somewhat normal.
Throughout this time, I still was mad at my husband. I had lost the extra 10 pounds I had gained on my vacation. But every day it felt like my hubby would come out of the bathroom and exclaim how much weight he had lost. I should have been happy for him, but I wasn’t. I was still miserable. I kept telling him that I can only do one thing at a time, and coffee and sugar was enough. For that time being, it was.
Step 2: Move to whole grains
This kind of coincided with Step 1, but the reality is, I had been moving towards whole grains and brown rice for a while. At home, we have been eating white fiber pasta for a while. But brown rice had eluded us. My husband and son just could not eat it.
So, one day I told my husband to just go get the most expensive brown rice he could find. He did and he liked it! Well, I don’t think he liked it so much as he could eat it and feel satisfied pairing it with Chinese Stir-Fry dishes. Yay!
I had also started eating whole grain bagels most of the time. This didn’t seem to do anything for me at all, but I know it’s a healthier alternative. I just wish that this change had done something more visible for me.
Step 3: Stop carbs in the morning
This was the hardest one to do. Name a breakfast that isn’t carbs? Sure, there are a lot of healthy breakfasts out there, but most are carb based like oatmeal. I started a regimen of egg white omelets. Every day. An Egg White Omelet/Scramble.
At first I was a bit annoyed, but as time has gone by, I have begun to look forward to my eggs in the morning. Most have some type of vegetable (spinach, kale, zucchini, mushrooms), some type of meat (turkey, ham, sausage), and some type of cheese. Usually, I just buy the carton of egg whites from the grocery store. Occasionally I have Egg Beaters (which to me are silly since they are egg whites with chemicals to make them look and taste like scrambled eggs).
I enjoy using my previous night’s leftovers for my eggs. Some of my favorite have been pulled pork and dover sole. YUM!
Oh, and please don’t tell me that “yolks aren’t bad for you”. They are for me. I had my gallbladder removed 10 years ago, and since then, the yolks cause serious digestive stress. Since then, I try to avoid the yolks. Not because they are unhealthy, but because they make me sick.
Step 4: Reduce food intake and no Beef!
I took a page from my husband’s diet and started doing the 1/2 diet with him for dinner, sometimes lunch. I also stopped eating beef. Why stop eating beef? It’s hard to digest and takes a lot longer to get through the body than lean meats and vegetables.
After this step, I did start to finally see some weight loss. Not a lot, but a little. About 5-10 pounds more and another month or so into this transformation had occurred.
Step 5: Only one carb-meal a day
This one was a little harder to do. I decided to have one meal a day be carb-free. Whether it was a salad, or a plate of veggies and lean meats. I tended to make this my lunch, since it was hard to watch my husband and son eat pasta or rice or whatever without being able to have some. Heck, it was torture cooking it if I couldn’t eat it!
I started getting more creative with my salads, adding tons of vegetables. I would eat a huge salad since I still wasn’t at the point where I wasn’t hungry all the time. ALL THE TIME. I was starved constantly. But, I started losing more weight so I felt like FINALLY! Something is working. For the first time in my life, I was actually on a ‘diet’ that was working, even if it was torture.
I also kept the carbs I had at my dinner to about 1/2 or 1/4 of what I was doing before.
I lost about 10 more pounds after this change. And, at the end of another month, I stopped feeling famished constantly. I started feeling full after my salad or plate of veggies and chicken.
Epiphany: I felt hungry after eating carbs
As I had said, I would have carbs for one meal. Occasionally, that meal would be lunch. I found that whenever I had a lunch with carbs (whether it was brown rice, pasta, bread), I would be starved by 3pm. I would have that empty feeling in my stomach. When I had my cabbage and chicken salad, I felt great. No afternoon crashes. No stomach grumbling waiting for more food.
Wow, that was a shocker to me. I had always thought that I couldn’t get full without my bread or pasta. I always thought that a vegetable based dinner could not fill me up. Something had changed in me. It was then that I decided that I needed a complete change in my life.
Step 6: Carb free
I tried it once or twice in a couple weeks where I did not have any carbs at all through the whole day. Was I still hungry? What would my body feel like?
The shocker was that I really wasn’t hungry at all on those days. At all. I cannot remember a time in my life where I wasn’t hungry, even after eating a big meal. I realized then that I needed to stop carbs all together. That my body needed me to make this transformation.
So I did. I am probably 3-4 weeks into a fully carb-free lifestyle. I am at the point where I can cook pasta for the whole family and just not eat it. I made spaghetti and meatballs (lazy jar sauce and frozen meatballs), and I made a stir fry of zucchini for me and I had zucchini with my meatballs and sauce. Seriously, I did not feel cheated. So strange.
Step 7: Add in the exercise
I was not completely sedative during the process to date, but I was doing things that were easy for me. I would walk 1-2 miles in the afternoon with coworkers or swim 1/2-3/4 mile in the lake. But, none of these on their own were doing much for my physical self. So, time to kick it up.
Let’s start with letting you in on a little secret. I do not like to do anything other than swimming. I hate to sweat. Sweat is needed for exercise, I know this. That’s why swimming is by far my favorite active sport to participate in since any sweat just gets washed away. But sweating? gross.
The big problem is that swimming on it’s own doesn’t seem to help me lose weight. I can swim a mile in a pool or open water, and then nothing — no weight loss. I can swim every morning for 3-4 times a week for 6 month for 1-2 hours, and I’ll feel better, but I won’t lose more than 5-10 pounds.
So, I am slowly starting to ‘workout’ using our elliptical. Before this change in me, I would go on the elliptical for 5 minutes and be dying. I’d stretch myself and usually quit at about 12 minutes. It was pure torture.
I didn’t even try to get on the elliptical until I was about 35 pounds lighter. My first time on, I did 20 minutes. It was hard, but no way did I feel like I did before. Now? I can increase the intensity a little do 30 minutes easy, and I have done as much as 45 minutes.
I plan to keep doing the elliptical, walking and swimming. I plan to add in more activities that I find enjoyable as my body becomes more balanced. I am trying to make this a lifestyle change, not just a fad.
So what does my daily intake look like now?
This is an example of what I will eat in an average day. I focus on vegetables and color. Bright green, yellow, orange, red… the more color the better.
Egg White Omelet with zucchini, red peppers, green onions, turkey, and cheddar cheese (sprayed with Pam not oil or butter).
Bag of chopped salad from Safeway, either the Kale salad or Asian salad with cooked chicken, tomatoes, avocado, and cucumbers.
I tend to either have a piece of fruit like banana or peach, or I’ll have some cheddar cheese, a couple hard boiled eggs, or peanuts. Sometimes I’ll have a combination depending on how much I had at lunch or how late it was.
Chinese stir fry with chicken and green beans. My husband and son will get brown rice, but as long as I have a vegetable, I’m happy.
That’s it. I drink water constantly throughout the day as well and will eat vegetables, nuts, and proteins when hungry. I add more vegetables when I need more food.
If I had gone straight to this at the beginning, there would be no way that I could maintain it. After a slow progression, it is really working well for me.
Carbs that I allow
Fruit, fruit, and fruit. I believe that fruit is good and should not be removed from my diet. So, I eat it. I’ll have a peach, or some cherries, or pineapple. It’s healthy and fresh. I don’t eat fruit 5 times a day, but one or two a day is perfectly reasonable for me.
Other sugar based items that I allow myself are beans, salad dressings, dried fruit (in small quantities), Chinese stir-fry, and other items that really are not ‘desserts’, but are foods that are enhanced by sugar or are high in complex carbohydrates.
I am not trying to be crazy, just healthy.
It’s all about a healthy lifestyle
My main goal is to lose weight, but it’s all about changing my life to be healthy. I met with my Doctor last week and he was thrilled with the changes that I have made and is completely encouraging me to keep it up. All my lab results were perfect whereas before they were borderline. My kidney functions are perfect with all the markers showing no problems.
Of course, not all diets are good for everyone, so talk with your doctor about any changes to your diet. (CYA)
Setting goals and rewards
I have given myself several checkpoints where I will get a good reward. When I reach my post-baby weight, I will book a trip for the whole family to go to Universal Studios Florida. Then on my second long goal weight I will book a trip to Italy. I think it’s important to reward yourself for achieving such a difficult task. So, if you do start on a journey like this, be sure to have a reward for yourself in a way that is not food related.
It has worked… 45 pounds so far
Since this whole process started for me on April 20th (the date I am writing this article is September 7th), I am 45 pounds lighter. Not only have I shed 45 pounds, I have shed 2-3 clothes sizes, stopped having swelling, dropped my blood pressure, went from being pre-diabetic to being normal, and I am feeling more comfortable sitting in chairs, lying down, bending down, or just being part of a normal society.
I am no longer hungry at all. I can go hours (although I try not to) without breakfast. I don’t need much more than a couple peanuts in the afternoon, I no longer need that sugar to keep me going. I am changing me from the inside out and I like what I see.
The weight loss is in waves
I find that I lose about 5-7 pounds fairly quickly and then stabilize for a couple of weeks. This, in my opinion, is a good way for my body to adjust to the new weight. I am scared of losing too much too quickly and putting a strain on my heart and body. I want it to be a natural progression where my body adjusts to the new lifestyle and moves my body to fit the new lifestyle.
It’s not over…
I have several weight goals set for myself. I am 1 pound away from one of my weight goals (pre-baby weight). After that I have another 20 pounds to go for my post-baby weight (yes, I lost weight after my child). I have a couple other goals after that which I think I can accomplish.
This is me today
This is me 45 pounds lighter.
I am still fat, yes I will use that word. I am. The sad part is, most of my friends do not even notice that I lost so much weight. It really hurts that I can lose so much and not have it be noticeable. It shows me how truly out of control my body had become. Will it take another 20? 45? 60? pounds for you to notice that I’ve become someone new? What will it take?
When my husband had lost 27 pounds on his diet, we went out to dinner with friends. Everyone RAVED at how amazing he looked. He looked so good. “Wow, look at Mickey! ” At that point I was at 35 pounds. Not a peep. I looked as awful as I always did, no need to notice me. Was I jealous? You bet I was (again, sorry Mickey for the snide remarks). I was more upset with myself at how awful I must be as a person to let myself get this far down the rabbit hole. (yes, I know this is negative, and I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. But this is me being brutally honest.)
Still to this day, at 45 pounds, most people don’t notice (unless they know I’m trying to lose weight). I know I should not worry about it, and I’m trying not to. I will try to get over the hurt I feel when that 45 pounds is just nothing. Maybe that hurt will always be there and remind me not to let myself get back to this point.
Please don’t judge me
One of the worst things that has happened to me through this transition is when I have friends offer me something, like chips or a cookie, and, after I politely resign, they try to convince me that ‘it’s ok’ for me to have it. That a little isn’t bad. They’ll try to tell me that carbs aren’t bad. They are right. Carbs aren’t bad for them. They are for me. Let me be healthy and live the lifestyle that I need to live.
Also, please don’t try to tell me what exercise I should do. I should bike, or run, or whatever it is that you like. I think that’s great if you enjoy biking. But me? I’m not comfortable with it. Please don’t think that you are supporting me by forcing your ideas of exercise down my throat. I am doing what is working for me. I’ll add in more exercise as I feel like it will work for me, but that is going to be my choice to do when I feel comfortable.
Is this forever?
My plan is to have this be my lifestyle up until I lose my stretch goal weight. At that time, I will decide whether I just stay with it or add in no more than one carb a day. I’m hoping that my body will eventually change to allow me to move to a more consistent lifestyle with the rest of the world, which would make it easier to maintain. Do I think I will get to my ‘stretch’ goal? I have no idea. Time will tell. I can tell you this, I do plan on not going back to my old lifestyle ever again.
Is this for you?
If this article resonates with you, that is great. I can’t tell you if my plan will work for you. Everyone is different. If this article just seems like a lot of whining, then I doubt you read to this point. I don’t expect the world to change with me exposing myself like this. But, it is freeing to be truthful and honest in a very brutal way.
Why write of my pain and misery?
I decided to write this blog post so that I can just get the words out of my head. Do I hope to help someone? It would be nice. But the purpose for me is to formalize my goals and to let go of some of these thoughts and feelings that have plagued me for most of my life.
For some, this will make no sense to you. For others, you may relate to some or all of what I have been through.
How does this affect Dish Ditty?
That’s something I’m not sure I can answer yet. I think you’ll find less Noodle based dishes (my true food love) and you will find more vegetable based dishes. I still have about 20 recipes built up that I haven’t posted, and sometimes I make things that don’t fit my diet so that I can make my family happy or just get the recipe recorded for the family.
Soon you may see a new section which will highlight my carb free lifestyle. I’m not sure yet what to call it, maybe “Carbless Ditties” or “Carb-Free Ditties”. Comment if you have an idea for the new section.
And the journey continues…
I am not done, as you can see. I have a long, long way to go. I have had some serious emotional distresses over the last couple of weeks and I did not revert to my old ways. I have hosted several parties and dinners with friends, and I was able to not stray.
I think that proves to myself that I can do this. That I have made a change. That I can continue this journey without fear of straying off the path I’ve carved. That I am strong and can conquer the world as I know it. It proves to me that I can do something that I previously thought impossible. It proves to me that the world is not unchangeable and that I can make a difference in my own life.
Author’s Update: Two days after starting this article, I hit my pre-baby weight goal. Here is a picture of me after working out in my new workout gear of size XL that I bought at Marshall’s. I haven’t fit into XL for as long as I can remember.