Goal Weight: 220 lbs.
Achievement Unlocked: 100 lbs. Lighter!
So, here I am on the other side. 409,106 Calories later. 19,708 grams of carbohydrates later. And more importantly, 100 lbs. later.
My blood pressure has left hypertension entirely. I'm still considered 'obese' on the BMI index, but at 215 lbs. I'll be "overweight" instead. 220 is right at the door and I'm okay with that. My doctor told me normal for my size is 160-195 lbs, but looking at myself right now, I'm not terribly interested in looking like a toothpick. I have progressed from being a big guy to having a 'dad bod'. So that's plenty of progress for me.
There's some things I've learned in this pursuit of mine.
-- Sugar is overrated. It really is. (I'm focusing on sugar at the moment, not carbs in general... it'll get it's turn soon.) We all have been conditioned to crave sweet things, and breaking the grasp of Sugar is a key component to getting any diet to work, but it's just one taste out of many, many others. While going the opposite direction flavor wise is tempting (replacing sweet things with salty ones), it comes with it's own dangers (hypertension, kidney failure, etc.) However, unlike sugar, salt has a natural counterbalance. Water. Take too much sugar and you can't really eat something else to get it out of your system any faster.
-- Portion control really is a bitch. In fact, when it comes to carbohydrate-loaded food, I found it was just easier to deny it and eat something else instead of having an 'appropriate' portion of it, because a single serving is so small, I'd want more. That's one reason why Paleo worked for me: if I wanted to gorge on food in a single sitting, as long as it's meat and vegetables I made myself, I totally can. It's not easy to get full on a salad, but the satiety from having seconds and thirds without going in a bad direction (usually eating anything full of carbohydrates) is nicer than micro-managing everything I touch like with most diets.
-- Carbohydrates aren't the enemy, but they're EVERYWHERE. Very few things have no carbohydrates naturally. (Those zero cal, zero nutrient drinks do, but there's no "Sugar Free Tang" oranges growing in groves.) To have no carbs in a diet is IMPOSSIBLE. If that's a joke I've heard on TV, it's just now hitting me. Eggs are one of the few things with no carbohydrates. Most natural meats have none. That's about it. All vegetables have some carbs. Nuts have carbs (I know, Paleo says no peanuts, but that's one of the 'rules' I cheated on with Paleo, because I have no food allergies.) Fruit are almost entirely carbohydrates, even if they're far more beneficial than breads and sugars. You can't hope for a carb-free diet unless you're measuring every single thing you eat and touch. So, having a REASONABLE carbohydrate goal matters. And if you're going to have snack-y carbohydrates, aim for foods that have carbs AND something else. (Just as much carbs as protein and/or fats is the idea. You're having grams added in one column, but it's adding grams in another too, instead of just carbs. That's how you snack and stay on target.)
If you're going to achieve ketosis (The "keto" diet, or less than 45g of carbs per day for three days, while keeping fat and protein balanced), 20g is your goal, but it is very hard to do. If you're diabetic, blood sugar is important to maintain, so ketosis is suicidal. 100 to 150 grams is necessary in a day if you need blood sugar. I'm not diabetic, nor am I interested in "veggie shots" to keep my percentages even, so 50g worked for me. It was comfortable enough that having two servings of Broccoli for lunch didn't ruin my goals, but not so high that weight loss was 1-2 pounds a month instead of per week (which is the desired goal... healthy weight loss is a pound a week.)
-- Track your food. I can't stress this enough. Get in the habit of eating, then entering food into a diary. This is the sole reason why my diet worked. It's not about punishing yourself when you do break your goals for the day. (For example, My goal 50g of carbs, when in the third day on the diet I just had 108 in lunch alone from two small slices of pizza!) But instead, it's to make you aware of what you eat in a day and know what is and isn't enough. Don't congratulate yourself too much, but don't berate yourself when you miss a target. It's just food. You're still okay. Tomorrow, you have another chance. That has to be the mindset, because the "I'm falling apart, so f*** it" and eating everything you see instinct isn't about food, it's about the emotion. Emotion is a different battle that has nothing to do with a diet.
-- Which brings me to my last point. Emotionally, I'm still me. I'm still a 38 year old man going on 12. I'm a big kid at heart. I love stupid jokes. I have a low-brow sense of humor that makes me giggle at dumb stuff. I'm depressed a bit, even now. That isn't different than when I started this diet, but if anything, the diet did remove my health as a stressor from my life. My father died from a heart attack. My grandfather lived much longer than he did, but he met the same fate. Next month, I'm going for more tests and blood work at my doctor to see what's next to do to avoid facing the same fate. I NEVER thought I'd be in this position in my life, and I'm here.
So, that's all I wanted to share. If you're thinking about doing this, do it. It's worth it, and if I had to start over again, I wouldn't change a thing.
Now comes the hard part. Maintenance. Staying right where I'm at.
No, my name didn't come from food,