So just to clarify for those of you who may be reading this who aren’t of the female gender, but being a woman can REALLY suck sometimes. Not just because of the monthly visits, childbirth and menopause (WOO FUN!), but just our bodies in general can be a massive pain in the you-know-what.
I haven’t written much about this here because it’s kind of boring, but I have been losing weight since about early May. 32 lbs. as of this writing, and 4 dress sizes. How did I pull off this amazing feat of fat reduction? I’m still asking myself that one. Turns out that after the onset of connective tissue disease and after my hysterectomy low these many years ago (9) that I am unable to lose weight the way I used to: by doing lots of exercise and eating whatever the heck I wanted. Also? I am 40. I believe it is a known fact that the second you turn 40 that your body says to the little squirrel on the wheel that is your metabolism “WHOA THERE BUDDY! Don’t go so fast! Take a break. You’ve EARNED IT.” And suddenly that muffin you used to be able to eat with no problem becomes a dimple on your butt.
And so I had to figure out other options for losing weight. Since lots of exercise was not going to work for me, it was going to have to be pure diet. And when your diet consists of a lot of chocolate and french fries and very little in the way of nutritious content, the mere idea of eating better can be a rude awakening.
So I tried a calorie restricted diet. I AM NOT GIVING UP ANYTHING ELSE, AS GOD IS MY WITNESS! may have been heard in my house. Because, as I am fond of saying, when you can’t eat things like gluten or lactose or yeast, you find yourself wondering if your next meal is going to be cardboard with margarine. However, calorie restriction is not something my body enjoys, and it rapidly rebelled with things like dizzy spells and exhaustion. And weight gain.
So I tried the Atkins diet/4 hour diet. And it did suck. And my body did rebel, and I did crawl into my endocrinologist’s office with hypoglycemia and circles under my eyes and she did look at me and say, “GOOD GOD, WOMAN, DRINK A MILKSHAKE!” Or something like that. Because apparently my body doesn’t like it when it is deprived of sugar. Even after a month. I had lost 8 lbs., but I felt like crap and never wanted to leave my bed. My husband lost a ton on that diet, but we aren’t going to mention men and weight loss because it is an entirely unfair playing field. Also? I gained the weight back in about a week.
SO I bought the book by Jorge Cruise (Mr. 8 Minute Exercise) called “The Belly Fat Cure,” because I had a lot of belly fat. Turns out the meal plan was pretty simple and I could follow it easily enough – reduced sugar intake, reduced carb intake, lots of protein. I could even have ice cream EVERY DAY which went a long way towards making me want to follow the diet. However, my body rebelled when it discovered that the ice cream (Clemmy’s) has something akin to ragweed in it, and I wound up covered in hives. About the same time I also found out the breakfast bars I had bought to replace my soy breakfast bars that were SO GOOD (and that caused me to turn into a sobbing teenager and which were subsequently banned by my OB/GYN for overloading my system with estrogen) had saccharin in them. Turns out some people with sulfa allergies can react to saccharin. Consequently I had 2 different kind of hives going on at the same time. That was fun.
But finally I found a sugar free substitute that worked for me: Splenda. At this point I don’t care if it has carcinogens or is going to kill me eventually. I can eat it, it doesn’t give me hives, and I don’t find myself crying during “The Big Bang Theory” anymore when I eat it. It is a win-win all around, frankly.
So the eventual formula was:
1. Eat more protein. I tried having breakfast every day, but since I don’t eat gluten, I dislike breakfast. I dislike eggs. So I have been drinking a protein shake in the morning and this works.
2. I eat 1 of several different low carb/low sugar microwave meals for lunch. My favorite is the Beef with Merlot sauce by somebody I can’t remember, that actually tastes pretty decent. This way I remember to eat something, and it doesn’t taste too bad. Otherwise I will get 2 hard shell tacos from Taco Bell.
3. I eat whatever dinner my husband or the children or I choose to make. I just tend to eat less of it.
4. I eat 1-2 sugar free chocolate ice cream bars a day, depending on how bad a day it has been. My personal best was 4, but let’s not be too judgy – it’s been a long summer. They are carb-smart by Breyer’s, and taste pretty good. I also have a bag of sugar free chocolate chips and I will have a few if I get a hankering for chocolate.
5. I have to get a certain amount of actual sugar in my body every day or I will fall down from fatigue. I have small boxes of Junior Mints scattered around the house for this purpose. Each mint is 2 g. of sugar and I have yet to eat an entire box at one sitting anymore. Unlike the old days.
6. I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates from bread products. I had reduced them because of the gluten, and now I eat very little GF carbs as well. Occasionally I will have a GF bagel or roll, or pancakes. But I have lost most of the craving for them. And since my body usually retaliates by gaining several lbs. of water weight in retaliation, I don’t feel the urge to eat them.
7. I drink a lot of water.
I have also discovered that I don’t feel the urge to eat as much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I will still eat a basket of blue chips when out with my friends, but I usually don’t fill up to the point of being full. And I do not ever deprive myself. Ever. If I feel like I need those blue chips? I eat them. If I feel that I need a hamburger and french fries and a milkshake? I eat it. But I have discovered that those needs are few and far between. And the french fries from McDonald’s taste horrible to me now. Which was something I thought would never happen.
I have gone on weekend trips and gained a pound or so, and have always managed to get back on track. There are weeks when I wind up simply maintaining, and that is fine. Like I said, it has been a long summer and I am happy that I am just upright and functioning, frankly. Losing my belly fat is simply a bonus.
This is what works for me and my very strange body. What works for other people might be something different. And you might think “Where is the fruit?” (I don’t like very many fruit items.) Or why don’t you eat X, Y, or Z? Or don’t you know that A has carcinogens that will kill you, or that drinking protein shakes every morning for the rest of your life will clog your arteries? (I made that last one up.) Why yes, I have heard these things, and YOU don’t have to do them. But for now, they work for me, and I am going to take what I can get. And the mere idea of counting calories or having to remember points or anything else added to my already rather hectic life is more than I can handle.
Also? I bought a bicycle. One of these. They are not the sexiest things, nor the cheapest things, nor the easiest to transport, but by God it is like riding in a recliner and it makes me happy. Maybe when the weather is no longer crazy and my life settles down I will be able to ride it again.
All of this culminated in me discovering that I can no longer shop at Lane Bryant. Where I have shopped rather exclusively for the past 9 years, and where they have jeans that fit my butt with swayback.
I have to tell you – it was rather frightening and exhilarating at the same time. My husband said to me “Honey, I know you like that store. Where are you going to shop now that you can’t shop there anymore?” My response: “Everywhere.”
Except that everywhere is a frightening thing. While a size Large is generally a size Large in most places on the top part of the body (except for the fact that apparently all clothing has very skinny arms now), pants are still a mystery to most manufacturers for women. Jeans? Even more so.
This has resulted in my going in search of jeans that will fit my body, and it has not been fun. But I am going to write-up my experiences at various places in hopes that it will be of help to someone who is in the same position. Because it can be very scary to suddenly realize that you have no idea what size you really are, or what size society thinks you are. And according to my research thus far? Jeans manufacturers think I am 4 different sizes.
But that is for Part 2.