Lifestyle vs. Diet

Today I want to ramble on a bit about what it really feels like to change your lifestyle from whatever it was before to a LC one. Please note that I use the term ‘lifestyle’ here; I know I’ve called this a ‘diet’ in the past, but I’m not comfortable with the connotations behind that word so I’m going to elaborate somewhat. For me, the word ‘diet’ infers either a temporary change of what you eat, or, to follow the literal definition, simply ‘what you eat’.

So what’s the difference then between a LC diet and a LC lifestyle?

Simply put: an LC diet is a temporary diet change that will – in theory – let you lose weight over a set amount of time before you go back to eating whatever it was that you were eating before. Like most ‘diets’, doing this is likely to cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost over time, but we don’t judge, so if you’re aiming to lose those 10kg before your wedding next year, by all means go for your life. A lifestyle change – no matter if it’s dietary, physical, whatever – is permanent. And by permanent I mean, ongoing for the foreseeable future. I’ve made a lifestyle change, as I know most of you have too. For me this means reducing the amount of carbs – especially processed ones! – that I consume for the rest of my life. It’s not just a passing fad for us ‘LC lifestylers’, but before any of you start to pity us, it’s okay. Just because we’re in this with both feet, we’re also in it with both eyes open, and if that means we’re going to need a cheat week once every six months, hell, let’s do it! It means that we’ve committed to a dietary lifestyle that aims to keep our blood sugar level by eating low carb and/or low gi. We – mostly – avoid caffeine, fight off cravings by dealing with their chemical and psychological sources, manage our constipation with high-fibre foods, and above all, aim to maintain a healthy weight – this is after we’ve lost the excess! It’s not a constant battle, per se, but rather, it’s something that we’ve chosen. It’s a way of life, just as say, vegetarianism, veganism, or halal choices are a lifestyle/cultural/religious choice, low-carbing can be a choice as well.

Some of us have made the switch for health reasons – like me, with the PCOS and the no-gallbladder thing – while others want to avoid certain processed foods and have made the decision to eat ‘cleaner’. Whatever the reason, it’s an acknowledgement that some things just don’t have quick or easy fixes and require a complete change of living.

When you start out, it’s important that you keep that in mind: what are you doing? Is this a lifestyle change or a diet? Are you going to be in it for the long haul or just the short term? No judging, just make sure you know what you’re going to be doing: this is a commitment thing. If you’re going to do this, make a plan for it. For example, last year in November (2013) I weighed in at 82.2kg. I set myself the rather steep goal of losing 30kg in a year. As I progressed, I realised this wasn’t going to be that easy, given the pitfalls and curve balls that life throws, so I extended that to a year and a half. It’s November 2014 and currently weigh 60.8kg. That’s a 21.4kg loss and that’s bloody awesome, but yes, it’s around 9kg short of what I’d aimed for in the beginning. I realised about half way through the year that I was losing weight too fast; I admit I kind of freaked out when I realised one week that I’d lost 3.4kg. That’s too fast, and not sustainable, so I readdressed the weight loss and now I’m more comfortable. Keep in mind that I’m not in a rush, sure, I’ve set myself a timeframe in which to lose the weight, but I’m more concerned about maintaining it when I get there than getting there as fast as I can.

So what does it feel like? I feel better! I feel awesome. It’s not just the clear headedness that comes from removing processed junk out of my system, but also from losing all that weight. I look at pictures of myself from a year ago and wonder how I didn’t notice that I was lugging all that extra around. At the time I didn’t think it made much of a difference, but golly gee wiz, it makes a difference! I feel more energetic, and yes, occasionally when I slip up some I feel dizzy or nauseous, but I know how to fix it now. I’ve become more in tune with my body, and I know what to listen to and what to ignore. I know that dizzy means I need some protein, nauseous means I need a low gi hit of ‘good’ carbs – usually a carrot or a tomato with some salt! – and I know that headachey means I need to eat now. I also know that I need to eat every 2-3 hours or those symptoms start. This means I now carry snacks around in my bag to avoid me turning to easy available things that might lose me my carb count. I’m being overly cautious at the moment, obviously, because I’m still in the losing weight part of this lifestyle. I’ll tackle the ‘maintaining weight’ bridge when I get there…

Clear skies,

Vee

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Weigh-In-Wednesday

After a week of being an absolute rule-breaker – note to self: don’t ever forget to refill BC script again! – I’m rather un-disasterously at 60.8kg. And trust me, after all the ice cream, chocolate, lasagne, bread, pastry, cake, and fruit I consumed last week, the fact that I’ve not gained 5kg is a miracle…

Clear skies,

Vee

The Carb Binge

Most of us on an LC diet develop coping methods to deal with our cravings. I’ve discussed some of these coping methods before, so excuse me if I repeat a few things, but hey, if it’s worth saying once it’s probably worth saying twice.

Let’s start with guilt. We wield guilt with great precision and skill to stop us from raiding the fridge at all hours of the day/night; think of it like a scalpel we can use to cut through our cravings. Just make sure you don’t cut yourself in the process, targeted guilt is fine, but don’t bring yourself down. Stay on target.

Another tool we find in our arsenal is substitution. I know I sometimes call this ‘transferrance’ – and no, I didn’t get that from a psychologist but rather from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld’s League of Temperance. The idea here is that rather than giving into the craving you substitute something else. Some people drink a glass of water or have a handful of nuts. I’ve gone the way of herbal tea. It does work, if you let it.

The next thing we can do is distract ourselves from the desire to eat. Read a book, go for a run, write… Treating our carb craving like a craving for addictive substances often helps. (This is not meant to undermine people who suffer from serious addictions, it’s an appropriate analogy however!) For example, if you find yourself sitting in front of the TV thinking you should be eating, is that a desire to be doing something with your hands or chewing? Are you actually hungry? Take up knitting, or get one of those hand crunch exercise thingies. Distract yourself until you can overcome the craving!

The next technique is something I like to call ‘self talking’,  but it probably has a better word in more knowledgable circles. This basically involves talking yourself out of the craving by convincing yourself you don’t actually need what you want. Sometimes this has the best effect when addressing yourself in a mirror. Give it a try.

Then there’s always the remove temptations from your home, or remove yourself from temptations. This isn’t always possible, especially if you, like me, work at a cafe or bakery. You can’t always stay away from the things you need to avoid, I mean, hey! You need a life too, and not just one that revolves around your new lifetstyle. You also don’t want your friends to dump you cos you keep saying ‘no’ to every proposed outing in your attempt to stay away from things that might tempt you.

And finally, my weapon of desperate last resort, and the reason for this long-awaited post: the carb binge. Sometimes I just can’t stand it anymore, and for whatever reason I can’t fight any more I just give in and stuff my face with whatever I want. I pay for it the next day: bloating, tummy aches, sore throat, lethargy, and sometimes a headache, but at least I have my cravings under control. In the last year of weight loss, I’ve let myself go like this maybe three times. It really is a last resort and I don’t recommend it as it will make you feel like you’re starting over the next day, but if you have to, you have to, just don’t let it become a regular thing or it’ll beat the point!

And that’s all I’ve got for us at the moment. Any ideas? Comments? Coping mechanisms? Share share share!

Clear skies,
Vee

Weigh-In-Wednesday

It occurs to me that I didn’t check in last week at all, which is probably because I was recovering from a carb binge…….

Anyways, back on target now. 59.5kg. The aim is to be around 56 by the start of December, but I’m in no rush. I find that the harder I go the more severe my occasional splurgea are so I’m applying a ‘steady as she goes’ method instead.

Clear Skies,
Vee