Friday, January 18, 2019

Low(er) Carb Me: Why and How it Looks for My Life

Over the course of my life, I've done multiple diets. I've done Weight Watchers (twice), Whole Thirty (twice, modified) and Paleo.  It's always been weight related, but more along the lines of "I want to lose weight to look better" not "I need to lose weight to deal with some health issues," which is where I am today.  And, thanks to my doctor, I'm now going low(er) carb.

How I Got Here
I've always avoided low carbohydrate diets because, hello, I'm southern. Sweet tea. Cupcakes. Pasta. All the good things in life.  For the most part, I assumed that if I ate fairly decent and worked out a lot, it would all take care of itself. And, for the most part, it did. I did really well with Weight Watchers, losing 50 lbs in college and keeping most of it off until about four to five years ago. You can read all about that hereI tackled it again with working out like crazy and mostly eating okay. That time I struggled big time to lose weight. It wasn't until I did Whole 30 and Paleo (ahem, low or no carb) that I actually lost a good amount of the weight. That should have been a big clue, but that sweet tea. It's part of my soul. 

So, February 2016. When I had Carter, I was a really ugly number that I won't say. But I will say that I gained 50 lbs while pregnant with him. And I worked out up until 34 weeks. Let that sink in. 50 lbs while still working out 3 times a week up until essentially the last month. I had pre-eclampsia with him and was basically put on blood pressure medication to even be able to leave the hospital. 

31 weeks and still going strong!
Those five days we spent in the hospital were mostly about my blood pressure.  The pre-eclampsia. The magnesium I was on that he subsequently got some of and caused sleepiness, delayed hunger and jaundice. My crazy blood pressure spikes. Those five days were on me. And it was hard, made me a little crazy, but we were able to leave and we went on with life. 

I started working out again when I was cleared. I lost about 30 lbs of my baby weight within the first month or two, but the rest just hung on for dear life. But trying to breastfeed and do a diet weren't working so I didn't even think about working on my weight until after I weaned from pumping at 6 months. 

1 week post partum vs. 3 months
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I had my annual physical and my six month check-in since the last time I saw my doctor. My triglycerides were high. My weight was high. And my A1C was 5.9. Pre-diabetic is 5.7. My doctor gave me homework to work on my weight, but mostly, to reduce my carbohydrates. So, here we are. 

What it Means for Me
Before I had Carter, I was healthy. Or at least I thought I was. I had an OB/GYN, but that was it. Now I have a General Practitioner I see every 6 months, a cardiologist and an OB/GYN. It's kind of crazy, but I also feel lucky that I get a chance to fix this before it gets worse.

Part of this means I don't get to say "oh the scale doesn't matter" any more. Now the scale matters a heck of a lot. It's still not the end all be all and I know that some weeks will be worse and some will be better, but I also know that the number on the scale has to go down. I can't dismiss it and say, "oh I'm losing inches" anymore. The number has to go down or I stay on blood pressure meds and I go from pre-diabetic to diabetic. That's kind of terrifying, by the way.

It also means a life style change. If you've fought your weight your whole life, or even a few years, you know that diets don't really work. At some point, you stop them and then you gain the bad habits back and the weight that went with them. That's why I liked Weight Watchers - it taught you a new lifestyle. So I've been working to find a low(er) carb lifestyle that works for me.

What it Looks Like
I didn't go total low carb. I'm not doing keto, because I like to be realistic. I work full time and have a baby. Things need to be easy. And I also need to want to eat whatever it is we're having for dinner or else I'm real quick to suggest a Cookout or Taco Bell run. And the hubs rarely says no to either of those. I also know that high blood pressure and diabetes is genetic for me, so these changes need to be things I can stick to. Not something that I can brush off with "Oh, I'm going to do this until I lose weight and then go back." Nope. Not an option. These changes need to be for good, because I'm fairly certain it doesn't get easier as you get older.

Here are the biggest changes I've made:

I only drink my coffee in the morning and then no more sugary drinks.  This hurts my heart. Big time. But I was drinking way to much sugar! This means no more sweet tea, no Diet Mountain Dew, no extra Starbucks runs. Sigh. How this looks in real life is drinking water in the morning on the way to an appointment instead of my coffee because I know I'm going to get Starbucks afterwards.  And to be clear, coffee by itself isn't bad. It's the sugars in how you make the coffee (ie - my lattes with syrups) that are bad. I do still allow myself a glass of wine, but only when I have extra calories at the end of the day.

I changed my snacks at work to good fats and protein. We've been pretty lazy about choosing good snacks lately. Apparently most people do their snacking at night, I do mine during the day at my desk.  I was doing a lot of crackers, chips, cookies, etc. Now I've graduated to 100 calorie nut packs (portion control!), wheat thins with Laughing Cow cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese. I've even eaten lunch meat and a slice of cheese as a snack when I was out of carbs for the day. I still allow myself Milano cookies for my lunch dessert and the occasional Hershey's kiss. So far, this has worked out really well for me. I don't really miss my old snacks and I'm not wasting precious carbohydrates on snacks when I could use them on a better dinner.

I changed my macros. I use MyFitness Pal to track what I eat. I've used it for a few years now and it works well for me. I load everything in that morning that I plan to eat that day. I meal plan on the weekends, so I pretty much always know what I'm eating for lunch (leftovers from the night before) and dinner. My macros were 50% carbs, 30% fat and 20% protein. I did some research to find out what low carb was (25% carbs) and then found somewhere I was more comfortable. I'm doing 35% carbs, 35% protein and 30% fat. And I'm finding it pretty easy to stick to those ratios (or somewhere close) just doing my changes.

We cook most nights and only eat out twice a week. This was a big change. I'd gotten really lax the last few months about cooking. It was so much easier to just to get take out somewhere than me try and cook a meal. We'd already talked about this before the doctor's visit because hello January credit card bill. It was scary. But I also know that it's easier for me to make better choices at home than out. I got an Instant Pot and the new SkinnyTaste One and Done cookbook for Christmas and I've been wearing them out! I've simplified the meals I make and I try to choose ones that are better for us, have more protein and, if they have carbs, they're good ones. Like fruits, vegetables, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc.

I focus on better choices. My ultimate goal is to lose weight. I have weight goals in mind, some I've even voiced to Aaron. I might even publish them soon, who knows. The next goal is to reduce the number of carbohydrates that I eat and, when I do eat them, to choose better ones. So I've focused on better choices. This past Sunday, we went to my niece's birthday party. I ate two cookies and a cupcake. But those carbs were worth it! My better choices that day were: I didn't eat the chips at Jason's Deli, I brought my own drink to the party and drank that instead (Crystal Light Lemon Tea), I ordered a salad at Wendy's that night for dinner and drank water instead of getting a diet soda. I did eat more carbs than I should have, but those better choices added up to a lot of carbs that I didn't eat. And that's what I'm focusing on. At least one better choice a day. A salad instead of a burger. Drinking water instead of coffee at home so I can drink a Starbucks. Saying no to the donuts in the break room and not even looking at them. Getting water instead of sweet tea at a restaurant.

And it's working. Because I've been doing this for two weeks and I've lost 2.8 lbs. I've had co-workers ask me if I'm losing baby weight.

I was working on the same 2-3 lbs from July until December, if that tells you anything.  I'll be posting some recipes I've found that we really, really like and other stuff that works for me and this new lifestyle. You can also follow more on my instagram @thezinnlifeblog.

What are some good choices you've made lately?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hello 2019! Challenges and Goals for the Year

We've been in 2019 for two weeks! I'm starting this year off right - I've been riding my Peloton and cooking! I started writing this post two weeks ago and am just now posting it, so new year, still same me.  Also, as of today, I have an 11-month old. Whoa!

Last year, I chose a word for the year and set three goals. I chose 'grace' knowing that 2018 was going to be a big year and a bunch of life changes and boy was it!

Carter Hollon joined our family February 16. He was two weeks early thanks to pre-eclampsia. Being a mom has the been the best and hardest part of my life. In a matter of seconds, everything you once knew is gone and this whole new world takes over. Over the past year, I've struggled with identity loss, finding balance, finally realizing, and accepting, that rarely is there total balance.  Choosing 'grace' as my word was huge for me. It released me from so many expectations that I would have put on myself, making those struggles that much harder. Whenever I felt like I failed, I remembered to give myself some grace. And for the most part, it worked. Crying and buying things also helped.  

My three goals were to survive (which we did!), keep blogging (which I kinda did?) and to be healthy. If you take into account all that grace above, I'd say I did okay!

I've been thinking about my word for this year and I'm going with 'intentional'. I want to be intentional with my time and focus on family and relationships. I want to be intentional with Carter and what we do with the little time we have with him, his toys, the books we read, etc. I want to be intentional with our money and save more and spend less on Cookout and Taco Bell. I want to spend our money on experiences with my family. Finally, I want to be intentional with myself.

That's a big one.

So, if you follow this blog, you know that I've struggled with my weight and getting healthy. It's pretty much why this blog exists.  Turns out having a baby pretty much kills your body. I've been on blood pressure medication since Carter was born. I wasn't able to leave the hospital without it. Now, I'm also pre-diabetic. Both of those are hereditary for me, but also have everything to do with my current weight. The good news is that both of those are easily controlled by diet and exercise. The bad news, is that my diet now actually plays a role. RIP sweet tea and lovely carbs. But I need to take care of me, so I will.

In keeping with my 2019 word 'intentional,' these are the challenges and goals I've set for this year:

1. Do something athletic or to move every day. I'm not saying do a full-blown workout everyday, but rather, something that gets me moving. This is actually the winter challenge for Peloton. They've challenged their members to do a class every day from January 7 - February 5. It can be a full blown class or just a 5 minute stretch. And with the Peloton, I have no excuses. I can do a ride, yoga, a 10 minute core or arms workout, or 5 minute stretch. But doing something that gets me moving every day makes me focus on my health much more than I ever have before.  So far, I've only missed one day since starting this challenge on the 5th!

2. Eat out twice a week or less. I started this challenge for January with Aaron. We eat out WAY too much. My credit card bill in January was a clear indication of that. And it's not even that great - it's a bunch of dirty chinese (you know, the places in the strip mall), Cookout and Taco Bell. If we only eat out twice a week, we are going to choose better places. And I'm going to eat a lot better!  Do I think this will always happen? No, that's why it's a challenge!

3. Do date night/date day monthly. Ya'll, I love my doctor. I never had a general practitioner (GP) before Carter because I never got sick (that had nothing to do with my immune system and everything to do with not having a kid!), but now I have one and she is amazing. She also has five kids and understands the working mom struggle. She suggested we do date "days" and let daycare do the babysitting. We've done it a few times, but I want to make sure we do it or a date night at least monthly.

4. Do a family day once a month. I was writing out these challenges and goals and I thought about the fact that I had nothing for Carter! I don't really want to emphasize things like "no screen time" or other things that just make me feel like a bad parent. Instead, I want to focus on things we can do together. Our weekends tend to be full of errands and social gatherings, etc. I want to focus more on the three of us and do something as a family once a month. That could be going to one of the museums in the Triangle, going to the park, a day trip somewhere, etc. But a day or afternoon that is just about us being together.

5. Be better about blogging. I kind of fell off the face of the earth blog-wise after Carter. It's hard. I work full time, mom and wife full time. So I don't always have time. But I'm forever thinking about things I could blog about and then forget to sit down and actually do it. So, this is me, intentionally stating that I'm going to do better at this. Will I? Who knows. Hopefully! 

So, this is me in the beginning of 2019. Starting my journey to a healthy me all over again, mom to an almost one year old, community development professional (you know, my real job) and, hopefully, still a blogger. Let's do this guys!