Friday, August 21, 2009
Induction Junction: What's Your Function?
I'm typing in red because it's a RED LETTER day - it's back to Induction for me! With my apologies to Grammar Rock, I have a new spin on its famous old song (Conjunction Junction). Here's my version: "Induction Junction, what's your function? Cuttin' back carbs to get healthy and lean..."
Not only is it true that "Man shall not live by bread alone," but it is very possible and very healthy to live without it!
My personal health issue is simple: Over two years ago, I lost alot of weight and inches (within 6.5 months!), my health greatly improved (for which I will be forever grateful) - but, but, but - I never hit goal weight.
My goal weight is not just a vanity issue. I truly needed to lose another 40-50 lbs. Sometimes I feel embarrassed even thinking about how much more I had to go, which is simply ridiculous of me. All that weight gain was really not my fault; it was all due to a medical condition. But our absurd culture ingrains into our heads the silly idea "It's your own fault," and it's hard to completely overcome it. The truth is that insulin resistance is a nasty thing with which to live, and still the medical world (overall) doesn't recognize the real problem. So one must be very determined to stick with the low-carb lifestyle. As I've said before, the battle really begins in the mind, and that is also where it ends.
Since the embers of my inner fire were recently stirred, I want to keep that fire going. In fact, I want to have (and be) a blazing fire of motivation. It's very true that when we help others, we are also helping ourselves. And since stoking the inner fire of perseverance is entirely up to me, I went looking for the (proverbial) wood to feed that fire.
What I did: I opened up my original Low Carb Journal, and then my old Fitday entries, and it really helped. I do not mean to sound conceited, but I have to admit that in reading all my older entries, I amazed myself. And I asked myself, "From whence did all my determination come?"
It came from being fed up. Fed up with pain, illness, and (gulp) obesity. Fed up with "diets" and exercise that worked (fabulously) for almost everybody else, but never for me. What was I doing wrong? I was determined to fight back - determined in a good but competitive way, determined to win the battle against the raw metabolic deal I'd been dealt.
In again reading the first year of my personal Low Carb Journal, it was almost like reading about someone else's life - almost, but not quite. After all, it was only 2 years ago. It is not that I had not forgotten; I (usually) have a good memory. But the 'impact' of it all had lessened in time. And in the past 10 months, I've been fighting setback after setback.
It's not easy to describe how I felt when reading it all again, but I can say it was worth it - living again all the painful effort to make the menus easy but low-carb (painful only because I was in physical pain), the edgy remarks, "You mean you're never going to eat a piece of bread again? How about a potato? What about spaghetti? Well, you've tried it before - what makes you think you'll do it this time?" (thank goodness, these remarks did not come from my husband); all the effort it took to first get into a public pool and exercise (despite my embarrassment and my exhaustion), and then reading again of my euphoria the day I could walk without a cane...a euphoria that lasted for months. Truly, the results of the initial 6 month, low-carb journey was very much like a miracle.
So, all that has happened in the past 10 months are merely a setback. A temporary setback. So what? Ten months does not a lifetime make. I had yet another setback because I quit smoking (again, for my health) but breaking that habit, as everyone warns, means weight gain. (Sometimes I have to wonder if just breathing makes me gain weight, too.)
One way to overcome the smoking habit is to replace it with a good habit. Induction is one good replacement, and finding a new exercise I enjoy will be another. This weekend, the indoor community pool will close for 2 weeks (clean up time)...so I may start walking the track. Or riding a real bike! (I haven't done that in years!)
As for Induction...I've learned a lot about it through experience.
Back in the day (not so long ago) when I went on "The Woe that Shall Not Be Named" (sounds like Lord Voldemort, "He-Who-Shall-Not-Be Named," doesn't it?), I had first interpreted the direction about using just enough fats "to make it work" in this way: Use "real fats" without going overboard. I was still thinking in Atkins-ease (which really was a blessing in disguise, and which is not "The Woe that Shall Not Be Named"). Therefore, I carefully measured real fats (butter for scrambling eggs, "real" dressing for salad), and I did not use any "low-fat" products.
It was only later that I switched to the "low fat" option. Those were difficult months, because the weight loss was downright weird. However, by learning to 'tweak' the low-carb lifestyle, and by faithfully working out in the pool, I did lose 50 lbs. in 12 weeks. Then it all came to a screeching, painful halt.
That led me to further experiments in cycling fat, protein, or carb grams. I kept exercising, too. I lost a little more weight, but it was ridiculously slow - too slow for a person so far from goal. Eventually, the weight loss came to another grinding halt. At the beginning of the sixth month, I turned to Protein Power - I upped my protein intake a bit, I divided carbs carefully per meal, and I also measured real fats. I then lost the final 28 lbs. out of 100 - and then it all stopped. After that, I entered "Bounceville," and couldn't get out (it was something like the Hotel California!) - how maddening, especially when I was only 20 lbs. from Onederland!
Still, as it turns out, my first interpretation on the use of fats was the correct, healthy one.
Of one thing I am certain: pulling back on the protein grams is not good in combo with "low-fat." All that does is lead to Starvation Mode. Since I kept reading books and website on low-carbing, eventually I discovered that we really do need fat. It's just insane that we're culturally trained to despise the word "fat." Being fat is one thing, eating fat is another. In most cases, including real fat in one's meals means "fighting fire with fire."
I see it this way: In the pioneer days, people knew that one way to fight an approaching raging fire, sweeping the prairie, was to dig a trench around one's house (not too close), and then set a new fire on its other side. (That is, of course, if there was time to dig such a trench.) A ring of fire then went around the house, and when the bigger fire finally hit and consumed the smaller fire, the whole fire then died down. Amazing strategy, isn't it? That is what is meant by the old adage, "Fight fire with fire."
So - the way to fight too much body fat is with clean, consumable fats. Butter, olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil - they're all good. (But stay away from oils like corn and canola. And watch out for those sneaky "spreads" that pass themselves off as butter!)
Sure, there might be times to "cut back" on the fats - but that should not last for more than 2 weeks (ala Stillman's). And by "cutting," I don't mean switching to low-fat margarine, dressings, and that sort of thing. If anything must be cut, it seems the first thing to cut is either the carbs or the proteins. If one's carbs are too low, then up them and drop the protein grams a bit. Cutting back on real fats means simply that - use 1/2 tbsp. instead of a whole one when scrambling eggs. Lightly drizzle meats instead of soaking them.
But don't give up the fat for good, because the good we get from real fats is too good to forsake.
In the meantime, today I restart my personalized version of Induction, with a touch of Lindora and Protein Power (2 or 3 days of all proteins and 'just enough fats to make it work" - to kick my quirky metabolism in the caboose - then switch to 30 total carbs per day, instead of the Atkins Induction Level of no more than 20 carbs a day). After all this time and experience, it makes sense to start at a higher level of carbs and then lower them.
This time, I'm gonna make it!