Low Carb Cha-Cha (or, Diet Really Can Improve Your Mood)

So, it’s time to give an update on my recent lifestyle change…and I realized today that I never really gave the story behind it. So, here goes (you might want to grab a beverage of your choice for this — it’s a bit long).

This is me, last night, before my first DDP Yoga workout. Don't I look thrilled?

This is me, last night, before my first DDP Yoga workout. Don’t I look thrilled?

I’ve been obese (not just the bogus BMI definition, but my own “I-feel-crappy-and-way-too-large” definition) for most of my adult life. Years ago, a similarly generously-proportioned friend and I would joke about our growing waistlines (“Don’t get between us fat chicks and the buffet!”).

It stopped being a joke when I started getting shaky between meals.

It got even less funny when I stopped being able to walk up a flight of stairs without huffing like a steam engine.

I tried Weight Watchers a couple of times, but never stuck to their plan. Sorry, but counting points is no less confusing or frustrating than counting calories. Of course, I blamed myself and my lack of willpower/laziness for falling off the wagon. I never blamed the fact that I just felt crappier on that diet — because that’s how you’re supposed to feel on diets, right? Right??

Side view. Ouch.

Side view. Ouch.

I did some farm work for a few years (if anyone ever needs a reason not to eat factory-farmed pork, I can give them an earful), and that at least kept me somewhat physically active. Nowhere near “in shape,” but I was at least doing a lot of walking.

Then I started freelance writing full-time, about five years ago. (Yes, I realize it’s an odd shift — farm hand to freelance writer. My work history has been…colorful.)

Anyway, that meant sitting at a desk all day. I was already, as I mentioned, too big before the desk work. Freelancing put even more inches around my middle, made me even more sedentary, and pretty soon I found myself so exhausted all the time that I couldn’t function without an hour-long (or two-hour-long) afternoon nap.

A couple of months ago, I was cruising the documentary section of Amazon’s streaming videos (I’m a docu-geek), and I ran across a film called Fat Head. When the description said it was a response to Super Size Me, I was sold — that film had always rubbed me the wrong way, though I couldn’t put my finger on why.

To make an already-too-long story a tiny bit shorter, Fat Head made some great points about how the body actually processes carbs — points that made a lot of sense to me. I watched it again, and then started buying ALL THE BOOKS and reading ALL THE WEBSITES I could find related to low carb.

After convincing myself that the science was as sound as it…er, sounded in Fat Head, I passed the movie on to my mom (I get my “fluffy” body type from her), and started throwing away every bit of bread, cereal, and other junk in my house. This is mildly amusing, since I used to make fun of the Atkins diet, or tsk-tsk sadly over the people who were skipping an entire food group.

Lest the worriers...er, worry, Atkins is not all-meat, all the time. This is the kick-ass salad I have with lunch and dinner just about every day.

Lest the worriers…er, worry, Atkins is not all-meat, all the time. This is the kick-ass salad I have with lunch and dinner just about every day.

I started out with just restricting carbs to less than 100 per day, but I apparently have one of those metabolisms that can’t handle carbs at all, so I went on Atkins induction a week and a half ago. The first three days, I’m not gonna lie, were torture — I’ve always loved veggies and fruit in mass quantities. Cutting fruit for two weeks turned out to be harder than cutting the bread and sweets I thought I’d miss.

And Easter Sunday wound up being the day after I started induction (planning is apparently not my greatest skill) — so I had to resist an absolutely gorgeous fruit salad and chocolate cake. I managed, but I think the fingernail marks will never leave my palms.

Last night's dinner. Lemon pepper salmon and green beans to go with my kick-ass salad.

Last night’s dinner. Lemon pepper salmon and green beans to go with my kick-ass salad.

On Day 4, though, it was like a fog lifted. I woke up not feeling exhausted for the first time in…well, I can’t even say. I don’t remember a time when I ever woke up feeling refreshed and not like I needed to go right back to bed. And my mind felt sharper; it was easier to focus on work.

The cravings also seemed to just switch off. I know some people won’t believe me, but I haven’t craved anything sweet or starchy since those first few days.

Even bigger news: for the past two days I’ve felt downright wired. I’ve never had this much energy to burn — I have to go for a walk, or I’m going to climb the walls. For the past few years, I’ve barely been able to drag myself out of bed — “exercise” was a four-letter-word — and now I feel compelled to exercise.

I have a recumbent stationary bike, and DDP Yoga, so I’ll be burning off some of that energy every day from now on.

I don’t have any impressive weight numbers to give you — I’m trying not to be a slave to the scale. But I did take “before” measurements:

  • Upper arm: 16.5 inches
  • Belly (at navel): 47 inches
  • Belly (above the navel – I’ve got an upper-belly bulge. Sexy, I know): 49 inches
  • Thigh: 27.8 inches
  • Bust: 53.4 inches

And yesterday almost all of them were smaller:

  • Arm: 16.5; no change.
  • Belly (at navel): 45.75 inches; -1.25 inches
  • Belly (above the navel): 46.25 inches; -2.75 inches
  • Thigh: 27.2 inches; -.6 inches
  • Bust: 52 inches; -1.4 inches

So, that’s my backstory and update-til-now.

Still with me? You’re dedicated. 😉 Got a diet/exercise story to share? Just want to lend your support? It will be gratefully received in the comments.


Low Carb Cha-Cha (or, Diet Really Can Improve Your Mood) — 15 Comments

    • Oops! Forgot to add the link. It’s a yoga program developed by Diamond Dallas Page. Yes, a professional wrestler. Yes, that’s amusing to me, since I like neither wrestling nor yoga, LOL! BUT, he incorporates resistance by using your own body to build muscle, so it’s not like classic yoga – and he’s fairly entertaining. So it’s not like watching paint dry, which is how I feel about most yoga programs. 😉

  1. PROUD of you! Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to following you through the journey. 🙂

  2. That’s fantastic that you’re feeling such a boost in your energy. It’s hard to stick with anything if it makes you feel worse. Good luck!!

    • Thanks! And yeah – that’s why other diets just haven’t worked for me – I always felt miserable on them. This one I think I can actually stick with. 😉

  3. I can’t wait to see your after pictures either. I love that you are so open. I’ve had the bulge battle myself since I was nineteen–yoyo diets–am very impressed with the energy that you have gotten with your low carb diet. My husband who is in great shape just told me (before going for his very regular exercise routine) that I need to eat half as much food and to go on a no carb diet. As I sit before a full length mirror seeing myself the way everyone else does, I am determined to take it off I spite of the physical challenges I have due to a stroke. So today’s the day of my new beginning and a new me. Continued success with your great endeavors.

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