Sunday, July 31, 2016

When fat stopped being my enemy

It's no secret I have been struggling with my weight ever since my youngest daughter was born ten years ago. I just couldn't seem to get back to normal and people were like "oh, you're getting older." and I was like- how come so and so is the same age as me and looks amazing? So, I started the diet and exercise game.
So much fun. I think I started out with South Beach. I did that for a while, lost some weight, got to feeling better, gained it all back. I was really tired and it was clear to me that something was wrong with my body that was not normal to me. My doctor kind of made fun of me a little and also told me I was getting older but tested my thyroid at my request anyway. Guess what? I was right.
My thyroid was not functioning well. So, I went on medication and this was supposed to take care of the problem. It did not. I tried more diets. I got help from a personal trainer. I joined the gym, I worked out every single day for three months. I would work out two to three hours a day.
I lost some weight. I toned up. I looked better. But I couldn't maintain that level of anything. It was just a constant uphill battle for very little overall change. Even the trainers were pessimistic about what I could do. They kind of scoffed at the amount of weight I wanted to lose and behaved as if that was unrealistic. But I wanted my body back. I wanted to be where I was before. Is that so wrong?
So, I tried more diets. I tried the seventeen day diet and talked about it on my blog. I lost about 17 pounds with the 17 day diet and that was awesome but I just could not keep it up. Because I'm weak? Because I don't have the stamina? Not really. Because it made me miserable. And there is only so much low fat, high protein one person can eat before you just want pie. A whole pie.
I would despair because I felt like such a failure. All my grit and stubbornness and determination just did not translate into anything lasting or anything I could keep doing. A person can only eat so much boneless, plain chicken breast before you lose your mind.
Every diet I went on was low fat, low carb. And I would go back to it every time. I would cheat on my cheat day and try to go back to normal. Inevitably I would end up binging a little out of sheer hormonal frustration. I've never been an overeater but this kind of dieting was making me crazy.
When I gave up smoking, one of the ways I coped was to eat a tiny piece of chocolate every time I had a nicotine craving. This was not so bad when I was pregnant but now it morphed into a wicked sugar habit and when I went low fat, I became desperate for sugar. You have not lived until you have tasted and been thoroughly offended by reduced fat sour cream. There is no reason why that abomination should exist.
I tried the smoothie diet. Just lots of fruits and veggies- properly pulverized in kefir yogurt. And more low fat stuff that tastes like crap.
For a while I just wallowed in depression and tried mindful eating and home made pie. I just stopped and tried to just eat like a normal human. If I stopped dieting for one second, I packed on the pounds. I gave up on myself after I tried this horrific fitness class where I was humiliated and mocked on a daily basis. I left crying every day. I would sit in my car after class and weep and feel shitty. Every single day the trainers were mean to me and made fun of me if I couldn't keep up with the rest of the class, if I wasn't fast enough or if my knee pain was preventing me from doing what they wanted me to do. They told me it was normal to puke after class. Newsflash. Working out should not make you throw up.
After three months of humiliation and torture, I quit that class. I couldn't do it. Or more to the point, I just didn't want to. I didn't believe in them and they didn't give a shit about me. I had lost six pounds in three months.
I gained it back in a couple weeks.
I went to a good friend who gave me a diet and exercise routine to follow and working with him was great, and he was really kind and the routine was totally reasonable and the diet was totally reasonable and I did well with it for a couple months before I started to slip, but it boils down to this. I was unhappy. And after I fell off that diet, I never really recovered. I gained more weight than I had ever gained before. The weight that I had been the most afraid of happened. I had to buy the largest clothes I had ever bought and I hated the mirror. I hated looking at myself. I hated shopping. I hated every single thing I put in my mouth and I felt the worst I have ever felt. Much of my ugly weight gain was happening while my mother was gravely ill and I was just not coping. After she died, I thought without the stress of taking care of everything that everything would lessen but you still have to grieve.
I hate to say it but for the most part, I just gave up. I didn't want to give up. But I was sick and tired of failing all the time. That wears on you.
Last October, my best friend started talking about this awesome new diet she was on and I was just like- yay for you. But I was completely pessimistic about anything working for me. I was mildly intrigued but not even interested. But she kept after me. I said "Okay, after I get back from Germany, I will call you and you can tell me what to do."
At that point, she had lost like thirty pounds and I was like- wait a minute- maybe this is something I should pay attention to. I figured the best way to do this was to start in the new year fresh after the holidays.
So, I did.
I read up on this totally weird diet. Keto. High fat, low carb. The science goes like this. Your body can either burn fat or carbohydrates. If you starve it of carbs, it becomes highly efficient and burns fat. Hmmm. That sounded logical. First she told me what I would have to give up. No bread, no pasta, no sugar. Pretty standard for every single diet I have ever been on. Yeah, okay, I wanted to lose weight, I will give all those things up. And check this. No cheat days. No cheating at all. You have to put your body in ketosis to burn the fat and cheating is counteractive. Absolutely no cheating.
My first thought is- I'm going to fail at this because I love sugar and I need it. I mean, why can't I eat just a tiny, tiny piece of chocolate? Just one little mouthful...?
Ok fine.
But guess what? There is an up side to this diet.
There is?
Yes. There is fat.
Okay... what does that mean?
It means bacon. It means cream. It means butter. It means fried stuff. It means cheese. It means full fat sour cream.
Wait-- hold on-- explain that.
I like milk in my morning tea.
I used to put skim milk in there. But I would rather put two percent. My best friend says "Don't put milk in it. Put in heavy whipping cream."
WHAT??? But...are you serious? I thought you said this was a diet... She says to me, you need to consume 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrates per day to start out.
So the first day I have bacon and eggs for breakfast. I have a salad with ranch dressing and cheese for lunch and for dinner I have chicken sautéed in olive oil with homemade alfredo sauce and spinach and green beans with real butter on it. I think- no way am I going to lose weight eating like this. And after the first week I lost two pounds.
That was eight months ago. That was 40 pounds ago.
This is literally the only diet I have ever been able to stick to.
I admit that I have cheated, very moderately about four times. And the next day I went right back to the diet and after about a week, I began to function at full capacity again.
Also after the first week-- all my sugar cravings completely disappeared.
After the second week I had more energy than I had in a long time.
After the third week, my skin started to glow.
After the fourth week, my pants started to get loose.
After that I could walk four to five miles at a time without breaking a sweat.
I have gone down four sizes and I'm not even sure how many inches I have lost but all my clothes are looser and everything I wore last summer is something I am swimming in.
All that is great. But the best part is how happy this diet makes me. For the first time, I don't feel deprived or ripped off or like I am suffering. I embraced everything and began to learn to cook gluten free, sugar free yummy treats like chocolate chip cake and lemon tart. I found a good sugar free ice cream and I can always have whipped cream. Butter is my friend again. I have a choice of all kinds of yummy treats that I can eat guilt free and dinners I can completely enjoy.
What's my secret? Slather it in grease and put some butter on it.
I'm not saying this is going to work for everyone. Not at all. But I am relieved to finally have something that works for me. And I am glad that I didn't have to give up. I hit my first goal and my second one is right around the corner. Yes, I had to give some stuff up. But the best part is, I don't mind that at all. The benefits are great and the inconvenience is small. So if you are struggling, hang in there. And I hope very much you find your answers.


Leon Gottfried said...

Congratulations, Vanessa. On our last visit to Phoenix we were amazed at how good our daughter looked and felt, and we're so happy that her discovery has worked so well for both of you!

BowlingTrophyWife said...

Okay, you've convinced me and since you've not asked for $19.99 on late-night tv, I'm going to try this. I, too, have struggled miserably over the decades with both anorexia and bulimia (which are two sides of the same coin, so to speak). I even went so far as to sign myself into Hyland Center for four months in 1987 and was promptly diagnosed as anorexic. I faithfully attended Overeaters Anon meetings for close to fifteen years before a major relapse in 1994-1995 saw me gain another seventy pounds. There used to be an advertisement for some cough-remedy product around that time, featuring Shaquille O' Neil and his mother. The tagline stopped me cold...paraphrasing from memory..."If this medicine can stop my son's cough and cold at six foot nine and 295 lbs, it'll stop yours..." I've yet to begin the shrinkage of old age and I still stand five-feet four inches tall. At the time the cough syrup commercial was making the rounds, I weighed in at 293 lbs. I went back to OA and dropped 120 lbs in eight months. Happily, I've managed to keep nearly 75 lbs of that off - however - I've spent the last thirty years despising myself. the irony is that - and I feel a lot of the women who take this subject to heart will agree - at 17, I weighed 110lbs soaking wet and loathed the sight of my body to the extent that I went through all of high school and into college refusing to wear shorts. My maiden name, Klepacki, became "Cleofatra" and/or "Chubs" - I'd go swimming only if I knew I was around 'safe' friends. This went on for decades and I'm sorry to say that I listened to everyone who called me fat, including my ex husband. FAT?! 110-125 lbs! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I got a book at the time, "Cheap Chic" - full of women who dared to show flair and style in their choice of clothing and accessories and I'll never forget a stunning photograph of Cher, clad in a dark sweater and skin-tight jeans, the caption of which read, "Cher, wearing a pair of jeans that fit the way jeans should fit." I'd stare at that photo and know, no matter how many Sego shakes, Tab and Ayds (remember those?) appetite-suppressant candies I consumed, I was never, ever going to look like 'that' in a pair of jeans - not even with the help of a bandsaw and duct tape. My mother screamed at me on my wedding day in 1980, that I looked like a "Fat, white cow in a lace slipcover" - I weighed 123lbs and at twenty did not have the maturity or willingness to believe that all that fat was simply in other people's heads.

BowlingTrophyWife said...

Continuing on for a bit....Five years ago, I realized that of all the things I truly love, swimming is probably the most enjoyable - and I seldom did it over the years, even when a pool was nearby (I lived less than a mile from the U City Pool) because I felt so conspicuous and pale. I don't know what inspired the light bulb to go off but I said to myself, "Self, you're fifty one years old and you've denied yourself the pleasure of swimming because you care too damned much of everyone else's opinion. So much so, that you're probably going to go to your grave without ever swimming again." I got brave and started wearing shorts and going to the pool. No, I'm no beauty and I've the added bonus of skin which can only be described as "Paler shade of Pale" due to Russian and Scottish antecedents, along with Roseanne Rosanadana's hair in red. The one time I tanned was when I was living with my folks in Mexico. I looked mighty weird; apparently there's some melatonin issue with me and I didn't so much as 'tan' as break out in big brown splotches and blots of tan that didn't quite meld together. Great, there I was flabby, frizzy and splotchy and I hid from the world for thirty some years.

I absolutely could stand to lose about fifty pounds but sensibly realize I'll never be the willowy, Larraine Newmanesque size 7 I was into my late twenties. I got there by eating next to nothing and vomiting when I committed some dietary offense, such as eating a whole burrito from Naugles (I also ate an ENTIRE box of Ayds chocolate-mint bon-bins one evening. I don't think I slept for about a week afterward.) I've tried everything: Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers (several times) Hospital Nursing Plans from nutritionists, the Phyllis Diller Prune/Kumquat Diet (okay, I made that up) - and nothing has worked for very long.

I'm sad that I can't hike and bike like I used to - even ten years ago. I live in a gorgeous area, surrounded by the Uwharrie Mountains and thousands of miles of hiking trails, whitewater rafting sites (another love which I've stopped) and there are days when even walking my dog around our community complex is too much. I've got a kyak hanging on the garage walls that hasn't been used in nearly six years with half a dozen beautiful lakes within a ten minute drive from my home. I don't want to go this way, this little-by-little wearing down of physical capabilities. I've cousins my age who are profoundly disabled by overweight and diabetes. I remember the midnight walks I used to take in my teens and early twenties. I probably walked around the city of Columbia Mo a hundred times and thought nothing of it, the heels of my Fryes clocking along the pavement from Jessie Hall to Broadway, up and around Stephen's College, ten miles some nights, easily, then in some of the towns I lived in during the 80's. There was something about being under my own steam, my own power that I miss dreadfully and I ache with the knowledge that I've let a lot of my life simply slide on by while I weighed, measured, binged, purged and gazed longingly at bathing suits.

I'm grateful you shared this, as well as the fact that I have heavy cream in the fridge even as I type this.

Linda Gottfried said...

So happy for you and Annie; this diet seems to be the right one for both of you! I admire your determination and applaud your effort; a healthier life is a happier life! 👍👏🤗