Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Losing Weight With Real Food (and regular exercise)

Through a series of events beginning with when I got married, I gained about 20 lbs over the last year and a half. Definitely nothing to qualify me for The Biggest Loser or anything, but certainly enough to shock yours truly - who formerly belonged to the club entitled, "I can eat anything I want and still lose weight. In fact, when I overeat, I somehow lose weight."

Before getting to weight loss, we should address what caused the gain:

1) I am not in college anymore. By this I mean, instead of a fresh faced 19 years old with a metabolism that resembled a speeding bullet, to being 27 years old, very near to the "big 3-0." Not a huge factor, I don't personally think, since none of my family members seemed to gain weight until they were having children, and I have yet to experience that.

2) Birth control. When dh and I first got married I went on The Patch. I figured it was the best means of birth control that would also be reliable. I was wrong. While on the birth control, I gained about 15 pounds. Then I gained 5 more when I got off the birth control. I learned that this is because women and their fat retention are directly related to estrogen production. An excess in estrogen means your body will "collect" fat. A sudden drop in estrogen such as what happens when you get off birth control causes your body to automatically "cling" to that fat, in case you run out of estrogen. So getting on and then off of birth control caused issues there.

3) Depression eating. When we had been off the patch 4 months, we started trying to start a family. We got pregnant pretty much right away, and because that whole time I had been exercising and trying to eat in ways that were better for fertility, I actually lost 6 of those 20 lbs in 6 weeks on my treadmill desk. Losing the baby a month later, though, I gained all 6 of those lbs plus 4 back because I could not stop eating. I have struggled for a long time with overeating in the past (of course, it really never affected my weight. Somehow back then I ate with supposed impunity).

OK, so now on to what I've done to lose weight, and what it has to do with Real Food:

First of all, I cannot neglect the important factor of exercise. As I briefly mentioned above, I work on a treadmill desk. I walk at a slow pace (1-2 miles an hour) for the majority of my work day, Monday-Friday. This averages about 8-10 miles a day. This has definitely played a part in my weight loss, but it is important to note that I was on this same treadmill desk while I was stuffing my face over depression in the winter, so the treadmill desk alone is not enough.

When the new year began, I new I needed to take drastic action. I wanted to get down to a reasonable weight before we got pregnant again. I had just watched the documentary Fat Head with my husband, and we decided we needed a lot more protein in our lives. Particularly because I had been hypoglycemic in the past (though our use of sucanat instead of sugar, as well as our switching to real milk, both seem to have played a role in balancing my sugar), I thought it was important to try and implement some of these things.

Protein Based Snacks.

Usually I bring granola (complex carbs and some protein) to work with me as a snack. I did an experiment for a few weeks (which I have sense tempered as I will describe). I only brought hard boiled eggs and mozzarella cheese with me for my snacks. Lunches were salads with chicken. I felt so full during those days, and had ridiculous amounts of energies, but I had to work hard to get up to 1600 calories. Amazing. Who knew low calorie could be so satisfying, and so easy??

I tempered it a little bit for the sake of avoiding monotony. I do also bring my homemade granola for one of the snack items. We have started eating eggs and /or bacon many mornings for breakfast. Recently I switched even that up to full-fat yogurt, a hard boiled egg, and granola with real milk.

I am eating full fat of real fats, fewer carbs (but not eliminating them entirely). When I do eat any grains or other carbs, I try to combine so that I am eating them with high protein foods. We have switched to frying our fried foods in pork lard.

These are all things that the mainstream food media tells us will make us fat, and what are the results?

I have lost 4 lbs in six weeks. It does not sound like much, I know, but it has been consistently down. On the treadmill desk before, I lost an average of a pound a week, which is exactly what the average is for work-walkers. based on my weighing in, it took me about 3 weeks to lose the first pound. That is, I think, partly because while I was implementing the new eating habits, I wasn't exactly doing away with the junk food I had grown so accustomed to while I was depression-eating post-miscarriage. Took me a few weeks to wean myself off of the chocolate. Regular weighing showed, though, that I was at least not gaining any more. Then, when the weight started to come off, it came off consistently at about 1 lb per week, just like before.

I will certainly keep periodic updates on the progress, but I am thrilled that I have already lost almost half of what I gained in the winter, and exactly 20% of what I gained overall. And I am not feeling deprived. I am not craving anything because I am feeling satisfied. This is a "diet" I can live with and not yo-yo on. And - in addition to slowly but surely losing the weight I gained - I feel amazing. More protein has meant more energy for me, and who couldn't use more of that?

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, visit Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more great posts!

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