My Health Journey – The Low Carb Years

When I got to collage, things got REAL. I didn’t have parental support and knew that if I was going to make it there, it was all on me. I had no concept of money and the cost of living plus my education expenses took every dime I had. We joke about the crap food we ate, but thats all we either made time for or could afford. Forget fitness or diets, I had no time or interest for either anymore. All my efforts were focused on work, studies, and making ends meet.

After my first year, I landed a pretty sweet job as a cell phone sales associate and my money situation drastically improved. That was when we starting eating out a great deal and drinking a fair amount of beer.

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Now we had extra money to spend on eating out and buying beer. Let the good times roll!

Often we reminisce about hangovers at Ryan’s buffet and how we would smuggle cookies out with us for a late night dessert after we were already so stuffed from pigging out while we were there. Me and my roommate would have an evening out at Red Lobster, each ordering the Captains Platter. We were out of control and by spring of my second year at college it showed!

In 2 years I was very unhappy with my weight gain and tried hiding it chunky knit sweaters and layers.

My wake up call came after a cruise with some friends. After we got the pictures developed, I was horrified. I couldn’t believe how fluffy I looked in them. How did I let it go this far again? If it’s the freshman 15, then it must be the sophomore 20.

 

Wake up call cruise

I knew I had to make some changes and luckily an episode of the View helped me do just that. I saw Susan Somers on the View and decided what she had was for me. She talked about being able to eat all the fat and cheese she wanted. After the episode, I made a trip over to books a million and bought the latest copy of her book. I will never forget one of the headlines “Fat- Eat To Your Heart’s Content”. I was thrilled! Oh and no working out necessary? Sign me up.

 

Introduction to Low-carb eating

Then I went on to read that sugar and alcohol was off limits. What!? I lived on sugar. I agreed with Buddy Elf, I tried to stick to the four main food groups: Candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. Well, not that bad, but I did have a problem. Oh and a decent amount of beer. I loved sugar! I ate it all the time when the low-fat craze was popular. This was totally different, scary, and yet a little exciting. I had been fat deprived for years and the idea of eating as much as I wanted of it sounded delicious! No more low-fat dressings and cheese!  And so began my decent into the low carb canyon.

 

I was eating a lot more veggies and 
I was proud of that.

 

Additions to my Low-carb Library 

Ironically, I found artificial sweeteners, full fat,  and veggies at the same time! What an adventurous season. My stomach was in minor distress, but who cares, I was going to get skinny and everything tastes amazing! Or it did at first. I lost a good deal, plateaued and then I noticed I was putting weight back on. You see, I was living on mostly meat and cheese and it felt kind of gross . Mrs. Somers failed to mention in her best seller how awful cravings would become. That the simple act of a friend eating her salad cracker would send me into a spiral of benging on white bread and cereal for days.

 

Eating low carb did teach me some healthier habits. For example, I started to really enjoy salads and all my meals now contained some kind of green veggie. Quitting sugar was a good thing right? Well yeah, but not when you replace it with artificial sweeteners. I was putting it in and on everything I wanted or needed sweet. This is turn, made my body crave the real thing. There is a ton of research now linking artificial sweeteners to increased weight gain and myriad of other scary health risks. Since I stopped eating artificial sweeteners I no longer have those intense sugar cravings. I can actually enjoy a sweet treat occasionally and not loose complete control.

When I started gaining weight again, I ramped up my research and looked beyond the low-carb, no exercise advice I was following. It was then That I came across “Body For Life” by Bill Phillips. His plan was much more balanced.  He didn’t eliminate entire food groups and he also explained why exercise was important.

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Oscar and I were on board together!

Stay tuned! In my next post, I’ll detail our experience with Bill and our love-hate relationship with exercise.

As so my library of diet and nutrition books starts to grow.

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My Health Journey Part II

My relationship with food evolved over the years. As a young girl, I found a great deal of comfort in food. After the death of my mom in 1994, and then again in 98 with Grandmas loss, I took in food as a friend and consoler. It was comforting and always there. While grieving all the loss and change in my life, it was my one constant. After all, it is the center of so many activities. When with family, friends, or just by myself food was always a familiar presence. Others around me seemed to feel the same way. It was normal, right? When you are happy, EAT! Grieving, EAT more! Celebrating a special occasion, eat all your favorite foods in one day!

The 2 years following my mother’s death I gained about 30 pounds. Here I was, headed into high school finding comfort in food but shame with how my body looked. I can remember coming down with a cold, going to the doctor where I had to be weighed and feeling shocked and numb by the number I saw on the scale. Mortified and embarrassed, I decided my relationship with food had to change. I made it my mission to get educated and take action.

I know, I know this hair is wild. It took years to get it right! This was taken the Fall following my Mom’s death.

Even with my new found determination and recently acquired knowledge, it was a constant battle. I remember trying to cut calories by skipping lunch but then pigging out after school. I tried dexatrim diet pills sold at my local K-Mart retailer. Oh and lets not forget the tasty shakes from slim-fast that made me just want fries and a burger to go with it. I continued a low-fat, high carb diet for the most part. It was the way of the time. All the health magazines and dieting groups were advocating it. I ate fruit loops and skim milk for Breakfast. A can of regular soda for lunch. A ham and cheese sandwich with rice crispy treat as a snack and maybe a small plate of whatever we were having for dinner. That, for me, usually contained meat and some other form of starch. I felt famished or sluggish often but thought that was the price I had to pay in order to achieve my goals.

Picture on the left was about the time I realized I wanted to make a change.  A couple years later on the right, I had made some progress in my new mission.

Eventually, I found the gym and some minor success with weight management but more importantly community and stress relief. I picked up some good habits and advice at the gym. I learned about the importance of veggies as well as how regular exercise was key to maintaining a healthy fit body.

Finishing up high school I was in good place overall , exercising and avoiding most junk food but then college and all was lost for a while….

On my Senior trip I felt good about my body.


In my next post I’ll take you back to my “freshmen 15” experience and introduction to low-carb dieting.

Mood Boosting With Exercise

I am simply unmotivated to work out because I could get an amazing body or even drop a few pounds. However, when I have a case of moodiness or feeling a bit grumpy my workout always turns it around!

According to J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise psychologist, “When your body comes under stress or experiences pain (hello, burpees), neurochemicals called endorphins are produced in the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland. Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort. They can also help bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.” He further explains, “Endorphins are also involved in natural reward circuits related to activities such as feeding, drinking, sexual activity and maternal behavior.”

So there you have it folks, exercise is a natural pain killer and stress reducer! In my experience you don’t have to put in hours at the gym to reap these benefits. I have taken 20 minute brisk walk and felt these wonderful side effects of moving my body.

For more information about the psychology of exercise and the brain. Read the book Spark by John J. Ratey. It was such an eye opening book about medicine and how our bodies can produce many of the chemicals we need by just exercising.

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Get your copy here:

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Wishes Fulfilled by Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Currently I am reading this book about  manifesting and I am trying to wrap my head about the concepts presented. I love learning about different ways of thinking and all things spiritual.

The book is teaching me how to tap into my subconscious mind by saying only what it is that I desire as if it’s already true each day and also at night before nodding off to sleep. I have to say I have been sleeping better! I have a bad habit of reviewing the days problems before sleep, and according to the book, that trains your mind to stay focused on what it is that you don’t want!

Also I am finding as I think through the material and practice its principles I’m becoming more aware of self talk. Prompting me to take action in changing any thoughts that don’t align with my goals or don’t come from a place of love.

As always, Dr. Dyer encourages me to stay connected to God and remember that I am here to serve others!

Clink this link to get your own copy!

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My Health Journey – The Beginning

Diets and I go way back. Like back to 11 years old.

I remember my first diet: Low-fat. Just count the fat grams, no more than 20 per day. Who remembers that fad? I was delighted because low fat, no fat cookies were the bomb and made up a large portion of my daily food allowance. No surprise that didn’t work out. Living on bread and sugary snacks made for zero weight loss and lots of sugar cravings.

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I can only find a few pictures that don’t remind me of dealing with food issues as a kid.

I was a fluffy kid past 3rd grade. I rarely ate vegetables. I lived on refined carbs, sugary drinks, cheese, and sometimes meat. I can’t remember being extremely active either. If I recall correctly it was about this time that video games came into our lives with Nintendo and entire summers were spent inside trying to win Super Mario Brothers levels.

Then came my preteen years and some how I managed to loose some of my fluff. Not sure if it was getting taller, softball, or the boys I had crushes on but whatever it was, it was addicting. I was getting compliments and praise from everyone, plus my clothes looked  and felt great. I knew then that I had to get it together and figure out how to be keep the weight off and loose more.

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When I starting forming body issues and diets came into my life.

And so it begins… the next 10 years are filled with stories of weight loss and gain. Fad diets, gym memberships, workout videos, and weight loss books. Depending on who I was hanging with or what sort of stress I may have been experiencing my weight was all over the place. I kept a wide range of sizes in my closet because I never knew what the scale was going to say. My happiness always riding on a number and pant size.

Next post I will continue my weight story sharing some of the specific things I’ve tried in my quest to conquer health.