For the past 6 weeks, I’ve been back at it – low-carb style. I never abandoned low carb, but I did lapse into some bad habits that were undermining my progress. I also let rumblings in the Paleo community tempt me into the “safe starch” realm. I have no doubt that many folks do better with some more carbs in their life, I’m just not one of them. Sadly, I fear I’ve pretty much already ingested all the carbs I can handle! I cannot deny that the lower I keep my carbs, the better I feel.
I am keeping my activity in line with my eating style and avoiding anything that depends too heavily on tapping into glycogen (glucose stores). I’m focusing on walking a lot more (low and slow), yoga (also pretty low and slow), and short but intense cardio (intervals) and resistance training (lifting). The former are good for general health and some minor fat burning and the latter create a good hormonal response that triggers muscle building – more lean tissue means higher metabolic rate. All of it is either fun or short enough to make it hard to talk myself out of doing. And, the leg presses are doing some wonderful things to my butt. Just ask Cute Man…
I feel strongly that for most people, a general Atkins-style low carb or Paleo lifestyle can (and possibly should) be done without counting a darn thing. Once you take out the “food without brakes” as described by the Whole 9 folks, it does pretty much fall into place. This has worked for me in the past. However, I have been struggling for close to two years now and winging it is simply not working for me. I find too many ways to undermine my plan – whether it’s Paleo treats or simply too much food or some combination, it’s just not working.
As a result, I’ve been using My Fitness Pal again to put some structure into my day. I have a calorie target, but if I am truly still hungry, I do go over it without freaking out. For the most part, it tends to average out over the course of a week, which is great to see. Check out this post about how to configure My Fitness Pal for ketogenic diets (you have to tinker). My main goal is to stay under 50 carbs a day; ideally, I stay under 50 total carbs, but as long as I’m under 50 net carbs (which subtracts out fiber), the day is a success in my book. I’m also working on titrating down my protein a bit. I want to eat enough to fulfill my needs, but not leave much over for my body to produce glucose with the excess (gluconeogenesis). As a result, the vast majority of calories are coming from fat (about 70%!) You’d think that would involve mainlining butter, but it really doesn’t. I’ve found the high water/fiber of veggies (low calorie/high volume) plus fat (high calorie low volume) is a winning combination. Add in tons of homemade bone broth and you’re in business. If you’re interested in what all I’m doing, you can find me on My Fitness Pal – SammyDs.
I have to say that it truly feels good to be feeling good again! My mind is clear, I have more energy, and my PMS and other hormonal symptoms are calming back down. I have to remember to listen to my own body first and foremost. It is so easy to be swayed by messages that my addict’s mind loves to hear. Any excuse to give into the addiction and I’m there. That all being said, I am not living a bland life. Contrary to what many Paleo purists would advocate, I do think that life is just better with some sort of treats involved! I either have small amounts of dark chocolate or whip up some sort of baked treat (gasp!) I’ve been experimenting with sweeteners like Swerve
and am enjoying having a few things I can make and enjoy within this lifestyle. My absolute favorite find is this Nutella Swirl Tea Loaf. Seriously. So. Good. Keeping track of my carbs and calories helps me keep the portions sensible. So far, this strategy is working for me. I’m following a mentality much more in line with Maria Emmerich and Vanessa Romero as opposed to a strictly Paleo one. I’m finding the balance refreshing and it’s fabulous to see the scale moving downward, to feel my clothes getting looser, and to be getting compliments again (oh, the vanity!)