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…