Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Declaring War: A Simple Low Carb Strategy that Works

"Keeping it simple" with the low-carb lifestyle means no daily fussing over what to eat. I'm not talking about special occasions, where we have no control over planned menus (but there's a strategy for those times, too!). No, my subject is the every-day menu. It's no help to work ourselves into a tizzy, especially if we're just starting, dealing with a stall, fell off plan, etc. All we have to do is keep it simple.

The real secret is in those three little words. I have a few more to share (please take your pick which you like best!): Make it so. Just do it. Stay on plan. Kick the carbs.

Ok, so how to keep it simple? The answer features three easy tips to remember.

1) Eat clean.
Focus on real fats and proteins first, with a small helping of lc veggies for lunch and/or dinner. That means real foods, no lc or 'sugar free' snacks, whether store-bought or homemade, no sugar-free ice cream, and no nitrates, sulfates, or aspartame. An extra tip: For the first two weeks of low-carbing, totally avoid nutmeats. (Nutmeats are good for us, but it's very easy to over-indulge.)

2) Eat to satisfaction, not to the point of being stuffed.
If you're truly hungry between meals, eat a small protein snack with a full glass of cold water or with a cup of tea with half-n-half or real whipping cream, or brewed, natural green tea lemon. [Whatever you do, please avoid starving yourself - that sets up your metabolism for Starvation Mode. Ask me how I know.] Want a sweetener with your tea? Try natural stevia...there's a lot of scary news about aspartame out there (just search the Net!).

3.) Take your vitamins!
(For general ideas on what you will need, please see the sidebar for "Do You Know What Your Supplements Are?")

Due to my own experience, my honest opinion comes down to this: The 'simpler' we keep the menus, the 'easier' we hit our goals for health and fitness. If we get too wrapped up over 'what' we are going to eat for our daily meals, we might talk ourselves right out of our healthy resolutions. Sure, eating is meant to be enjoyable, but who says simple can't be good?

After all, we can save the lc treats for very special occasions - and I mean very special. After all, a treat is supposed to be a rare thing, not a regular indulgence.

Dr. Atkins once said 'just one bite' of a 'treat' is the kiss of death to everything so far accomplished. It can and probably will take one full week - yes, seven days - for our quirky metabolisms to get chugging again. Who needs the agony of self-recrimination? "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." Some people accept what happened, accept the consequences and get right back on track; others have a much more difficult time, falling into the same old traps repeatedly.

I have a simple solution for that one: Imagine a huge skull and cross bones on that 'treat' - and nip that temptation right in the proverbial bud. Then laugh at that stupid 'goodie' and think, "Hah! Lead me not into temptation" - and walk away. We are definitely strong enough to refuse the poison - and we're worth it, too!

Our real aim is proper nutrition to force our whacky metabolisms into working as they should, which means adequate calories (1200 being the absolute lowest for a woman, 1800 for a man), enough fat intake for the thyroid, enough protein to maintain the body's repair systems (so "Ye Olde Metabolism" won't dig into our own protein and muscle reserves, which is bad news), and a lot less carbs to force the metabolism to draw on its fat reserves.

After all, people, this is war! War against Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome or insulin resistance - different names for what is essentially the same metabolic issue. How we plan our lc menus greatly depends on how much we want to win all the battles. The direct, simple approach works beautifully. Even if one battle in the war is longer than we expected, we should have every intention of winning the whole war with flying colors, wild fanfare and lots of trumpets!

For those interested in 'keeping it simple,' I'm happy to share an example of today's menu (which is also quite appropriate for Atkins Induction):

B: 3 hb eggs, 2 slices of fried hard salami, 12 oz. black tea with 3 tbsp. half-n-half

L: 2 cups lettuce, 6 oz. chicken, 2 tbsp. cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp. real bacon bits, 1 condiment pkg of full-fat ranch dressing

D: Ditto lunch plus 1 slice baked bacon

Liquids for the day: 135 oz. water and 12 oz. tea with half-n-half. (Oh, and a few Sugar-Free Rockstars!)

Vitamins and Minerals: Micro-K (Potassium), Vitamin E, Vitamin B Plus (Super B's), Acetyl Carnitine, etc.

Calories 1693
Fat Grams 109
Carb Grams 15 total (not net)
Protein Grams 147

For the low-carb lifestyle, those are good numbers...they are not too low, not too high, but 'just right.' (Alright...Say goodnight, Goldilocks!) :>

An Invite to Readers of This Blog - Aka Followers

Having just added the Followers option (top right margin) to this blog, I'd like to invite those of you who regularly check this blog to add yourself as a Follower!

Should you also have a low-carb blog, too, please join the Followers list of Delightful Designs of the Divine Miss M...and I'll return the favor!

In a world wherein the "low-carb lifestyle" is still viewed with a jaundiced eye, those of us who know the great health benefits of low-carbing really have to stick together!

My Renewed Focus on Fitness

As of the first Monday of February 2009, my goal is not only healthy, low-carb menus but a renewed focus on exercise. The last few months of my life didn't allow for any kind of regular exercise. It really didn't, because there were various, legitimate setbacks. That's the way I look at them - just setbacks.

Focusing on EFGT (Eat Fat, Get Thin) had good results - to a degree. That is, I lost 14.6 lbs. total - three times in just a little two weeks. The scale simply wouldn't go lower. In fact, it bounced. Every Saturday, I hit the same number. On Sunday, the scale number bounces right up. No change in the woe, no cheating. And it takes days to get that 3 lb. overnight bounce off. I don't blame EFGT for that problem. No, something else is going on, and it's been going on for well over a year!

Since the end of November 2007, the 'stall-gain' has been my "Never-Ending Story." Well, it's time for that story to end! Not only am I tired of it, I'm sure those who read this blog are tired of hearing about it. Either way, that doesn't seem fair - and you know, it really isn't.

Obviously, the low-carb lifestyle offers all kinds of great health benefits. Slower weight loss, as one approaches goal, is expected. However, no weight or no inches lost or, even worse, stall-gains for welll over a year is plain insulting and downright demoralizing! Some time ago, I concluded this finickety body must have reached a point where it needs increased exercise, even as I alternate it.

Though I reached that conclusion awhile back, I did not want to act on it. That is because I tried the alternate route before (alternating exercises from toning to cardio, etc.) - and it didn't work for me. I hurt myself when switching to toning/cardio exercises, even though I followed instructions at a local workout place. The 'hurt' was not due to incorrectly performing the exercises. Nope - it seems fibromyalgia was the real cause.

Even though I previously worked out faithfully for 5 months, building myself up for the next phase of exercise, it seems I can't handle machines, even set at the lowest weights. Fibro muscles can manage them for awhile but not for long (in my case, within one short week of M-W-F workouts, I was experiencing severe breast tissue pain. Doc says the tissues were inflamed from the toning exercises. It took a month to recover!).

Seeking an alternative, I discovered Callenetics. They don't hurt me. Yep, I feel the muscles stretching, but the next day there is only very mild soreness. That, I can handle. Callenetics are challenging, providing a total body workout that stretches muscles first. There are no pulsing movements but graceful and steady 'holds' of position. Once I finish a set, I find myself totally relaxed and ready for sleep.

That said, I'm not an afecionado of workout DVD's. Maybe it has to do with doing exercises in the house. I prefer to go out and 'do something.' Still, preferences about where to exercise don't matter if I can't get any exercise accomplished!

So one thing at a time. First, I'm going to start anew with my favorite exercise, and alternate it with something different. My ultimate goal is to exercise each day. For now, it might be every other day, to let my muscles rest and repair between workouts. I'm not going to worry too much about time, but my goal is at least 1/2 hour of daily, focused exercise - steady walking, Callentics, or water exercises. I'm also seriously looking into Zumba, because that's my idea of plain, old-fashioned fun!

I admit I don't like the idea of lots of exercise, and I'll say why:

First, I'm a regular Jane, who must take something from her day to get that exercise done. (Believe me, if I could live in a sunny, low-humidity state and swim and exercise in the pool all day, while my personal chef made our family's healthy, low-carb meals, and my nanny watched the kids, and a tutor taught them at home, that would be my equivalent of earthly paradise.)

Second, I do ponder the future and wonder if I will have to not only exercise daily but will eventually have to increase it. That's a scary thought. How will I get the time to do it?

Housework, unfortunately, isn't enough exercise. Walking up the steps a few times a day doesn't quite get it, nor does standing at the sink washing or drying dishes, and that sort of thing. On the other hand, low-carbing and my self-designed Water Workouts now allow me to stand at that sink without pain. Ditto with the steps (even though I still creak at the knees!). And I can walk now, standing straight up - without a cane. No cane, very little pain. I couldn't do that before low-carbing and thrice-weekly Water Workouts. The point is that I refuse to lose all the good I've "gained."

So...alternate the exercise it is! I know, too, that exercise has to get one to the point of a windedness. (Not gasping for air, but just enough so that one can only speak a few words as one exercises. Then you know you're pushing yourself to the right limit.)

Anyway, regular exercise (along with low-carbing) is the goal for this month. I figure 14.6 lbs. in a few weeks is very good, but seeing that scale jump right up 2 more lbs. on February 1st got me plain mad. Mad as in very determined.

As the old saying goes: When the going gets tough, the tough get going!