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?

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for focusing on your health! You look great, and I think the smile on your face in that last picture that says you feel better has a lot to do with it.

    My husband and I went through a period - mostly when I was in grad school - where we ate so much junk that we put on some extra pounds so we did the Cooking Light Diet. It's not really a "diet" but more of a tool to help you figure out how to eat the correct kind of foods in the right portion sizes with the right snacks to make sure you're reaching your goals. We both saw tremendous success with it, so I always recommend it to folks. Plus, it has different features like "carb smart" recipes to help you choose recipes that are low/no carb. So, if you're looking for more or new tasty, healthy recipes, you should check it out.

    Anyway, you got this! You're doing a great job so far and I know you'll be successful. Keep up the great work :-)