Oct 06 2014

A New Leaf…

Published by at 11:20 am under Food,Health,Personal

This blog has, far too often, served as a chronicle of diets Michael and I have undertaken at various intervals on our quests to lose weight, to feel good and to eat ethically. I think Michael and I have treated ourselves like medical guinea pigs and we have the records to prove it – not just on this blog but also in food logs on loseit.com; in step and exercise logs on fitbit.com; and in Michael’s own fancily designed spreadsheets. I have handwritten food journals from as far back as 2009. While Michael has been a healthy weight in the not-too-distant past… I have been overweight for essentially my entire life, and obese for the last 10-15 years. And we can talk about how weight and BMI may not be the best measurements for some members of the population, but I’m not an athlete with enormous muscles who is at 15% bodyfat. I’m just a fat chick.

We talk a lot in this country about the obesity epidemic, but I’ve spent my entire life overweight and I can count on my *thumbs* the number of medical doctors I have had who were sympathetic and understanding about my weight. You bring them food logs for a month and they think you’re lying. You can tell them you weigh and measure every darn thing you eat and they still think you’re lying (even when you’re as crazy as I am and you log the insubstantial quantity of calories in things like: sugar-free gum and mints; black coffee,  dried herbs in recipes). According to 95% of the medical doctors I’ve seen and the majority of fitness blabbermouths and angry commenters on internet forums, I must be lying because otherwise weight should fly off of me according to the current fitness Zeitgeist of calories in / calories out. I’m lying about what I eat and how much exercise I get and I’m fat because I lack self-control. This is the prevailing attitude, even in a county where so many people are likely in the exact same boat as I am.

For the past two months (August and September), I decided that Michael and I would eat vegan + fish, that I would limit the servings of carbohydrate I took in (averaging about 100 net grams of carbohydrate a day, with at least an additional 30 grams of fiber). I spent half an hour every day doing yoga, four days a week doing High Intensity Interval Training on my elliptical for 25 minutes and the rest of the week I was going for walks or doing substantial house cleaning for an hour or two. Every single day for two months, I logged my calories and I worked out for at least an hour daily. I lost a couple inches from my waist, but I lost zero pounds. Zero. I was running a caloric deficiency (calories in vs. calories out is the gospel, right?) of 500-700 calories DAILY. I should have been losing a pound a week at least.

Now my primary care physician couldn’t care less about what I’ve been eating or if I’ve been exercising. She thinks I’m lying about it, anyway, because I’m still fat. My physical is usually a 5-10 minute long affair where we talk briefly about my thyroid and she orders my yearly fat-chick bloodwork. Every year, my bloodwork comes back the same: my thyroid levels are fine, my cholesterol is fine, my fasting blood glucose is fine. I stay on the same dosage of thyroid hormone and that’s it. Nothing changes, from year to year.

However, I lucked into seeing an OB/GYN three years ago who has been nothing but sympathetic about my weight. We’ve talked diet every year, and it usually boils down to a discussion of vegan vs. low-carb. This year at my appointment, she mentioned that she had attended a seminar recently regarding weight loss and that she has started seeing patients for weight loss on a regular basis. Based on our discussion, she ran additional bloodwork to verify whether I am showing symptoms of insulin resistance (which hasn’t been returned yet). I provided a history of my weight gain and weight loss and a weeks worth of food/ exercise diaries. Upon her review of all of it, she remarked that I must be frustrated with the lack of progress and recommended I begin a low-carb diet (40-50 net carbs a day).

My bloodwork hasn’t been returned yet, but Michael and I began a low carbohydrate diet in earnest last week. In one week, I have lost five pounds. I’m not eating any less calories (I have the food logs to show it). I’ve been working out less this week due to keto-flu. And to be honest, it doesn’t make sense that dropping from 100 net carbs a day to 40 net should really make a difference. But apparently, it does make a difference.

Now, Michael and I have done low-carb diets before and both of us have lost weight. Michael blogged here about Gary Taubes and fructose and obesity in 2011. At the time, we were on Medi-fast which is not the most low-carb diet (I averaged 85 net carbs on Medi-fast) but it is also extremely low fat and low calorie. Our diet now is neither low-fat nor low-calorie.  I’m limiting my carbohydrate intake to 40 grams net, hitting my protein goal of 75-100 grams (I tend to eat higher on days I do yoga because of muscle recovery) and I eat however much fat I want beyond that. I haven’t had any difficulty in hitting well below my carbohydrate limit and I’m eating as many calories as I ate before. If I continue to lose weight on this diet, I can’t wait to lob a middle finger at everyone who treated me like a fat slob when I spent years working my butt off and following the prevailing fitness ideology in an attempt to lose weight. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself there.
For the time being, this diet is working and I suspect it will continue to do so. I’ll be interested to see where I am in a month.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “A New Leaf…”

  1. jess says:

    RE: insulin resistance – it also goes along with PCOS. Not sure if you have those symptoms but I imagine your ob/gyn has considered it since it sounds like she’s on the ball. (hirsutism, irregular menstrual cycles, actual ovarian cysts…).

    I have similar experiences with doctors, except they never seem worried about my weight and I have to bring it up as an issue (“oh you play ice hockey? you’re fiiiine.”).

    ah well. good luck with the lowcarbin’.

  2. Kara says:

    Yep, Doc is operating under the assumption that I have both insulin resistance and PCOS. The tests she ordered were for insulin, testosterone and c-reactive protein (the c-reactive protein was an interesting one to request, as far as I can tell it’s not a standard test under the circumstances but makes a lot of sense for current thinking about insulin resistance). I never really considered that I might have PCOS as I have a regular cycle and my ultrasounds have been normal, but the doc is pretty certain I do have it.

    I kind of understand doctors not necessarily being concerned about weight when you have such a healthy lifestyle otherwise. I’ve had to be pretty pro-active about discussing my weight and trying to pick the doctor’s brain on what I can actually do to try to bring it down to a healthier level. Telling me to go to Weight Watchers and then brushing your hands of it doesn’t really cut it.

  3. jess says:

    Funny thing! I didn’t think I had PCOS either because I have regular cycles and I’m not terribly hirsute… but hey! doc found lots of cysts when they were looking for something else (and the cysts were NOT seen on my ultrasound, only when they opened me up). and hey! I certainly have the signs of insulin resistance, so… yeah. They may want to put you on metformin (nickname: metfartin) if the bloodwork comes back — they put a lot of women with PCOS+insulin resistance on it. ah bodies, how do they work.

Leave a Reply