Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Weight Thing

In case you didn't already know, I used to be fat.  Like, really fat.  Like, I was literally morbidly obese.  At 5'7, 275 pounds, my BMI was 43, which classed me as morbidly obese.  The worst part was that I was a sweet and naive 17 year old and I didn't understand how sick I was.

I did managed to lose weight, though.  Slowly, in steps, it came off.  Some came off when I fell in love with Chad and started treating myself better.  Then we started going out and being active together, and more came off.  I moved in with him and took over cooking almost all the meals, and more came off. 

In 2010, I went on a low calorie diet, started running three days a week and lifting weights once or twice, and within five months, I had lost another 30-35 pounds.  By then, I was down to 185.  I wanted so badly to lose another 10 pounds so I could shout from the roof tops that, HEY WORLD, I'VE LOST 100 POUNDS!

But low calorie dieting is terrible.  I'm sure anyone who has tried it can understand what I'm talking about.  I was eating about 1500-1700 calories a day, and later once I'd lost 30 pounds, I shifted to 1300-1400 calories a day to try to lose more weight.  My goal was 160 pounds, which would just get me into the "normal" BMI range.

I was hungry all the time.  Like, hungry to my core.  I couldn't eat enough to satisfy the hunger I was feeling unless I ate over my calorie range.  I didn't shun fat, but I also knew that fat was 9 calories whereas carbs and protein were 4, so I tried to avoid it so I would be able to eat more food, because I was so hungry.  And being a vegetarian, it was remarkably hard to get enough protein.  On days where I was trying really hard, I'd eat about 60g of protein, but it was mostly from soy, low fat dairy, and wheat gluten.  

The worst part was the food obsession.  I would think about food every moment of the day.  I would carefully weigh each and every item.  I had to specially formulate recipes and carefully divide the results to make sure I was getting the right amount of calories.  I spent hours a day typing in the foods I'd eaten in Sparkpeople.com's food diary.  And at the end of the day, I would go and check how many calories I had left and try to get as much extra food as I could.  Food was my life.  I dreamed about it.  Meals were the centers of my day. 

That's why I loved the idea of low carb dieting so much, when I finally opened myself up to the science behind it.  I wanted to just eat what I wanted of low carb food, stay away from the higher carb items, and watch myself effortlessly get skinny.  I did lose some weight.  I was 195 pounds when I started, and managed to lose 10 pounds in a month, bringing me back to 185.  But I haven't really lost anything since then.

I know this system works, because I've seen what it's doing for Chad.  He was lean before we started, but he managed to lose about 20 pounds while also putting on muscle.  So I know it's not that this low carb idea is wrong.

Some days I struggle mentally with this.  Sometimes all I want to do is lose 20 more pounds and I think I'm willing to do anything I can to get there.  But then I remember actually being 175 at one point while low calorie dieting.  I had to starve myself to an incredibly uncomfortable level to get there, and then my will power just broke and I couldn't stop myself from putting those 10 pounds back on.  Maybe my body is trying to tell me that this is the weight I'm supposed to be at.  Losing 90 pounds in very respectable.  And I can't expect my body to work the same after being at 275, either.  I don't think it's actually capable of being very lean after that.

But that doesn't stop me from wanting to be skinny.  I know I've written in the past about how sick it is for us to want to be skinny, that we should be striving for health instead, but I can't help it.  I still want it.  I want to be one of those beautiful models who looks great in a bikini.

To what lengths am I willing to go to lose weight?  I've thought about trying nutritional ketosis, like Jimmy Moore.  I've thought about a low calorie low carb diet.  I've thought about cutting out dairy and eggs to see if that helps.

But I worry.  This doesn't seem safe.  Pushing my body to extreme lengths to lose weight that probably isn't causing me any problems.  I worry about nutritional ketosis.  There are people in the paleo crowd that claim that women need more natural carbs (from  fruit and veggies) for their fertility.  I worry about low calorie low carb diets, because Chad and I are trying to conceive.  What if I got pregnant and I didn't know it?  A low calorie diet doesn't just starve me; it starves the baby, too, and the first couple of weeks are when the nervous system are developing.  As for cutting out dairy and eggs?  What the heck would I eat if I couldn't eat dairy and cheese?

Some days I want so badly to be skinny.  So, so badly.  But most days I long for something simpler.  To be healthy.  That's the real goal here.  To feed my body.  To build up muscle I lost as a vegetarian.  To correct the harm I did on a low calorie diet.  To be whole.  To never be hungry to my core. 

I wonder if there's some in between road, where I can respect my body and  feed it what it needs, but at the same time start shedding the leftover bulge.  I just don't know.  I really don't know if it's a fight worth fighting.


  1. Ketosis does seem to work pretty amazingly, so what about doing it part time if you're worried about it?

    We're naturally in ketosis when we wake up in the morning (because any remaining glucose has been used during the night), so a carb free breakfast each day would sustain ketosis until lunchtime. I think?

    Great blog by the way, I love it. Came across you through Fat Head :)

  2. First off, you have done an amazing job at the weight you've lost already, Julie. 90 lbs. is nothing to shrug off!

    But...I understand you wanting to realize 100 lbs.

    You say you are low carb. My question is, are you entirely grain-free? Have you considered it? If you are trying to get pregnant, I can assure you that it wouldn't be unhealthy for your baby / fetus to be 'primal.' You might want to check that out, and the best source is Mark's Daily Apple. There's even a section up top that says 'start here.' For myself, I've found that only being grain-free (and mostly sugar and processed foods free, but not 100% at that)...has stopped my cravings. Even a little bit of grain, intentionally or hidden in processed foods, can set cravings and hunger off again. But when I'm grain free and getting enough meat and fat (I use coconut oil or organic salad dressings)...I'm pretty much hunger free and certainly cravings free. Even after an 18 hour intermittent fasting.

    You might want to research it...give it a try. You've got nothing to lose but 10 lbs., and perhaps a little inflammation caused by grains. :)

  3. @Anon: Thank you for the nice comment :) I love hearing that others enjoy reading my blog! As for extending the morning ketosis... that's a pretty good idea. I already eat a 0 carb breakfast, and could easily extend that to lunch. Hmm... Thanks for the idea!

    @Gwen: Thank you for the suggestion! Actually, I am grain free and have been for about 10 months. I'm also soy free, seed oil free, sugar free (except for occasional treats), and almost all processed food free. I eat about 50g of carbs a day, but mostly I focus on feeding my husband and myself good, whole, natural foods. (I love Mark, by the way; very smart guy, very dedicated to helping others.)

  4. I understand how you are feeling :) I am stuck at my weight and can't seem to shift any more. Unlike you though I only eat approx 1200 to 1400 calories at most a day. I think this is my age, you just can't have so many calories as you get older. The great thing is though that because all the food I eat is good food (ie low carb, primal) I don't feel hungry. I hate that "diet" hunger you were talking about.

    Just remember the weight you have already lost is amazing and you are in a small elite group of people to have actually lost weight and kept it off.

  5. I too know just how you feel. The desire to be a certain weight is certainly strong. In my case it is still a matter of optimum health. I'm not even sure I have dropped from obese to over weight as yet, even though I have lost 70 pounds.

    Cycling from everyday low carb for several days a week then doing two extra low days can work too. I did a program that helped keep my in ketosis by having a protein only day once a week. It will not harm you or the baby at all but I do think staying balanced is best. In other words don't do what I do, Fat Fasting, unless you are limiting it to 1 or 2 days and only once a month. I posted a little about it on my Fat Fasting page at http://withgodnothingisimpossible-tracker.blogspot.co.nz/

    Have you looked in at Kris Kessler ... Beyond Paleo. He has a booklet called The Healthy Baby Code and he's all about before you get pregnant through to nutrition for the baby.