One Hammer Does Not Nail All
Saturday, June 04, 2011
At one time, I weighed 160. At my height of 5'0, that made me obese. I was able to lose 30 lbs, but I stabilized at 130. No matter what I did, I hovered near 130-135. A few times I dipped below 130, but I never stayed there for long.
Whenever I explained this problem, people treated it like it was my fault. "How much are you exercising?" "What are you eating?" The last question was valid, actually, but not in the way I expected. It was baffling. I dare make the claim that I had one of the cleanest food diaries on Spark. My only processed food was Kashi cereal. No fast food. Lots of veggies and fruit. Low fat/meat.
But there was something more. I was eating a lot of starches and grains. Afraid of the low-carb, I ate a serving of starch or grain with every meal because this is what I was told we are supposed to do. Cereal at breakfast. Bread at lunch. Rice, pasta or potatoes at dinner. All I had to do was watch my calories, they said.
For many people, this may not be a problem. They can lose weight happily all the way to goal, munching cereal, breads and pastas.
Is it genetics? In a sense, yes. Some of us, I have discovered, are more carb sensitive than others.
Lack of exercise was not my problem. Take a look at my photo gallery. I am an active person. I love activity. Getting me out of my chair to go biking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming - almost anything - is not a problem.
FitGirl15 described this perfectly. I am "FitFat".
I have the internals of an athlete, and the physique of a couch potato.
I am the most active person out of my group of friends. Yet I stayed around 130-135lbs. Unambiguously "overweight". Some said it was just genetics. Some said that I was healthy, so why worry about a little extra fat? Some suggested going vegetarian. None suggested the maligned 'low carb'.
It is almost taboo to mention such a thing. Try anything, but don't stop eating bread. That's dangerous.
I cut back my sugar consumption back a long time ago. I stopped drinking 32-64oz of fully leaded Coke per day. I quit eating Snickers candy bars. I stopped buying boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes. All that played a part in losing 30 lbs. But years of this kind of abuse apparently took its toll. I am more insulin resistant than I realized. I thought insulin resistance was only important for diabetics.
The sad thing is, I believe I was already in a minor state of insulin resistance, but none of my doctors were going to do anything about it until I was on the verge of Type II. I don't blame them. It's not easy to spot on the radar.
Just the fact that I carry more bodyfat than I should means I have more insulin resistance than I should, however. Excess insulin floating around means my body will never dip into my fat stores, even though there is plenty of fat energy available. I am in a state of imbalance.
I am a libra. I cannot stand imbalance.
We need to stop treating every person's situation with the exact same hammer.
There is another kind of sugar that I did not suspect and wasn't aware of. Grain/starch carbohydrates. I knew whole wheat is better than white bread, but switching to multi grains was not enough to swing the tide.
Vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates, but they are lower sugar, and usually come with fiber, which slows blood sugar. Breads and starches are treated like sugar by the body. Some will have no problems with this. Others, do.
No bran muffin can compare to the fiber in an apple for the calories. 5g fiber/340 calories in a Tim Horton bran muffin, versus 4.6g fiber/70 calories in an apple.
I remember going to a Native American museum. There was a display of a Native American skull with advanced tooth decay. It was about early dentistry, and various attempts to fix the decay. The display said the decay came from eating corn, which gets dissolved into sugar by our saliva.
I have always had problems with my dental history. Obviously from cola and Ding Dong abuse, I have fillings on almost all of my molars. Even years after quitting cola, I had early stages of periodontal disease. I build up plaque on my teeth rapidly, and have to see the dentist every 3 months to get it scrapped off. My dentist says it is body chemistry - some people build plaque more easily than others.
I wonder. I wonder if it was the 160-200g of grain/starch carbohydrates I was eating per day, that was converted to sugar. The sugar then feeds the bacteria that causes my wild plaque build up. I'll be very interested to see what my dentist says the next time I see her, now that I have cut down to 70g carbs, almost all vegetable/fruit. It's amazing how many calories are reduced when there is little bread, rice, or potatoes.
Note that in no way am I advocating an all bacon diet. I think a diet low in vegetables and fruit will increase cancer risk. Beta carotene and fiber from veg/fruit are known to lower cancer risk. However, I now believe that high grain carb diets are contributors to a number of diseases from diabetes to gingivitis.
Eating a high amount of vegetables is something we can all improve to do. I'm just choosing to pass on the bread portion.
Does it mean I will never again touch rice, pasta, or bread? Unlikely. I'm sure I will enjoy occasionally. I'm just changing a few things. Instead of pasta as a main course, I'll instead make a side portion of carbonara, and serve it with a main portion of chicken parmesan.
More protein doesn't have to mean meat, if that is the choice.
There is a strange thing when I mention to people what I am doing. There is almost a revulsion, "Oh no, you're not doing low-carb are you?" They start going into how all the meat and fat is going to cause a heart attack and kidney damage.
I know, because I've been that person too. A friend of mine went low-carb before her wedding. She dropped fat like crazy. She didn't do the stereotypical Atkins where she had gobs of bacon and cheese. We ate lots of sushi, and she just ate the sashimi, rather than the rice rolls. She ate plenty of vegetables, also breaking the low-carb stereotype. She looked great at her wedding. Had a healthy baby. Lost all her pregnancy weight (she only gained 17lbs) doing the same thing.
So I can understand the fear people have about my sudden dietary change. But there is something else too. There is almost a fear of, what if I am right? What if after years of spinning my wheels getting nowhere, I finally defeat the myth that this is my destiny, to always be teetering on the edge of fabulous?
After years of seeing my weight cycle up and down between 130-135lbs, I finally feel I got a handle of this. On just this change of dropping the grain/starch portion with every meal, I am only seeing my weight slide down. The way it should be. I'm sure I would be seeing even better results if I could exercise. At the moment, I'm suffering from a cold. But here's a very strange, anecdotal coincidence. Every time I have a cold, I almost always got an ear infection to go with it. I have a malformed sinus duct that tends to clog with fluid when I get sick, which leads to an ear infection. I usually try to pump massive amounts of sudafed to keep my sinus from building fluid. This time, my cold is clearing up, with no sudafed, and no ear infection (knock on wood). I didn't get the tell tale pressure buildup in my ear. No grain sugars to feed bacteria to clog my sinuses? Totally anecdotal, I admit. But whatever it is, I am going to take it as a blessing.