Saturday, February 25, 2012

Getting Off the Crazy Train

This week's changes in my eating have given me a bit more clarity about my weight, my weight loss history, and my future. Somehow, the loosening of the reins of restriction has helped me "see" part of the problem of why I have not lost any fresh pounds in the past 16 months.

Restriction is, for me, part of weight loss. I think if you are honest with yourself, you'll agree that restriction of some sort is necessary to lose weight. Maybe it is a food group, or a certain trigger food you have to restrict. Maybe it is portions or carbs or calories. The fact is, if you just kept eating the way you ate when you were fat, you'd still be fat. You don't lose weight without making some kind of changes.

Some plans are more restrictive than others, and that can be good or bad depending on what you need in your life at the moment. I *needed* to cut out a lot of things in order to gain clarity and get control of my binge eating. Cutting out bread, grains, sugar, fruit and even high carb veggies helped me figure out how those foods affect me. Adding them back in slowly also is helping me discern how those things help or hinder my weight loss and health. That is important to me.

But sometimes restriction starts to backfire. It is a fine line between restricting enough to lose weight, and restricting so much you can't stick with a plan. That's what started happening to me, over time. At first, cutting out so much stuff and sticking to low carb veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats and Medifast meals was great. It was fairly easy. I dropped 59 pounds in under 8 months and changed the way I look at food forever. Then it started getting hard to stick to. Over the past year, I have gone on and off the 5 & 1 plan many times because it was getting hard for me to stick to. When I was ON plan, it was easy, food took a back seat, and I lost weight. Yet, when I'd give in and eat something higher in carbs it would knock me out of the mild ketosis that is part of the Medifast plan. Getting back into ketosis was sometimes physically difficult, including headaches and nausea. The other thing about low carb eating is that you can drop and gain water weight super fast, because carbs are stored in the body with extra water. Eat low carb for a week, lose 5-8 pounds. Eat high carb for a DAY, gain 3 or more pounds. It's water, but it still feels great coming off and horrible coming back on.

Thus, the crazy train I have been on for months now. If you pay attention to my Weight By Month page, you'll see what I mean. Take the past year:

184 April (-1)
198 May (+14)
195 June (-3)
184 July (-11)
191 August (+7)
201 September (+10)
190 October (-11)
203 November (+13)
214 December (+11)
201 January 2012 (-13)
199 February (-2)

The scale swings widely with my going on and off low carb eating. Up ten, down 11. Up 14, down 13. It is a crazy train. I cannot do it anymore. That's partly why I decided to Transition to a more moderate carb way of eating. Even if I only lose a couple pounds a month, it *has* to be better for my body than that.

A low carb plan, a restrictive plan like Medifast, is fine if you stick to it. But I have come to believe that if you get to the point you can't STAY on plan, it's better and healthier to do something else. So if you are on Medifast, BE on Medifast. Do it in as short a time as you can. Do it 100% and get it done so you can transition back to whole foods. I am transitioning early but I am doing it for both my health and my sanity. I do need to lose weight for the sake of my health, but I am listening to my body and hope to see a more moderate downward slope rather than the crazy train I was on before.


Anonymous said...

I'm trying to be realistic about the losing weight journey and sometimes it can be crazy making. I have lost 95 pounds in 18 months. You would think that I could lose that last 5 so I could call it an even 100. However, it hasn't been that easy. And, even though I'd like to lose more, I made a conscious decision that it was more important to maintain the loss than to try and be so restrictive. My fear is that I will begin to binge eat and/or eat in secret. So, I try and maintain my healthy eating patterns, I allow myself some indulgences and I've incorporated exercise into my week more days than not. And sometimes it gets overwhelming when I think that it's always going to be this way...having to remain very aware of what I'm putting into my body. Good luck and I believe that you're headed in a positive direction!

Jenn said...

I was just having this conversation with a girlfriend of mine (both of us on MF). She was so frustrated by exactly what you said: going high carb one day screws up for a week, makes you gain weight quick and makes losing it harder. She's still working her way through the 5&1 - after a 45lb loss, I stopped. I just couldn't mix one single more packet of powder with water. I went to the store and bought all natural/organic/sugar free whole foods. Starting today, brand new & fresh. I'm not low carb, just having them when they fit in with a normal lunch. Like today - whole grain english muffin with a can of tuna, some mustard, sprouts and carrots. It was so strange to eat a piece of bread and not feel like I was doing something horribly wrong!!

I know from reading your blog, you stay low carb because carbs trigger you for overeating. I agree, it's a tough balence to find in what's too restrictive and what is smart. For me, peanut butter & cereal is a huge trigger. So they are not in my house for a while.

I also ditched the scale for the next two weeks. I know that it will go up since I have chosen not to follow the MF transition program and just dive right in. I don't need the mental anguish of seeing the # increase. It's a common theme that most people feel better when eating healthy and moving their bodies. Good luck to yoU!!!

Karen said...

I totally agree, Lyn. Either 99.95% on MF or don't do Medifast. Anything less keeps you going in circles.

Reading the book Refuse to Regain by Barbara Berkeley really gave me perspective for what maintenance was going to have to look like to maintain my MF weight loss. I've had two unsuccessful tries at WW maintenance. But I can build on what did/didn't work.

Studying that book, trying new recipes (lots are modified Paleo or Paleo), having MF bars occasionally and getting into that mind set will keep me off the crazy train this year.

Bravo for going forward and learning what you need to learn. Learning from your past weight loss tries and taking what works and leaving behind what doesn't work is a key skill, IMO.

I applaud you and am cheering you on for the last amount you need to loose.

Anonymous said...

You should give yourself credit. You didn't regain the weight you lost. Keep going! I love this blog.


Marilyn said...

Your new approach sounds quite sane to me! I applaud your success at dropping the pounds you already have, maintaining as well as you have, and continuing to stay diligent and CONSCIOUS of what you're doing with food - for those of us who have carried a LOT of extra weight for a long time, it is a real challenge!! Thanks for sharing your experience so consistently with us! XOXO - M

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This is an important issue. But how low carb were you before and what are you aiming for now? I've been losing well on aiming for 100 grams per day which I think is lowish but seems doable.

Lyn said...


I was aiming for 80-85g carbs/day. That includes ALL carbs, not "net" carbs. I am not sure where I will land with my carbs now but want to stay over 100g/day to stay out of ketosis. I am adding back in fruit and dairy over the next few weeks so that shouldn't be a problem. I will continue NOT eating things like bread, rice, other grains, and baked goods on a regular basis for now.