30 Nov 2009

Tackling middle Age Spread The Atkins Way

Over the past year, I have put on almost a stone and I couldn't understand why - I had not eaten more, drunk more and in fact, now we have a dog, I was doing more exercise than I used to.
Off I go to the doctor who says this weight gain is entirely, she says, due to the fact that as a woman 'of a certain age,' my body is no longer handling carbohydrates in the same way as it used to.
Now, I realise that as someone who went from a UK size six to a size eight, no one is going to be weeping for me over this weight gain and in fact, my face looks, if anything, better for the extra pounds. My body however, felt like it was splitting its skin. At 5' 3" and a very petite build, the extra pounds felt more than I should be carrying around. I wanted to 'stop the rot' - ignoring those first few pounds will make it more difficult to tackle when the next few pile on.
So what to do? I've never dieted before and had no idea how to start. My doctor recommended a low-carb diet, such as Atkins. So okay, I buy the book,Atkins Made Easy: The First 2 Weeks, buy some shakes and morning bars and off I go.
For the first three days I had the headache from hell. Right behind my eyes. Withdrawal from caffeine (no more Pepsi Max), sugar and carbs, combined. I was tired and weak, though not hungry. And by the end of those days I had lost only half a pound.
But I did not give up - for what alternative did I have - for me it wasn't a question of eating less or eating low fat - I was already eating small portions of low fat food before the diet and had only put weight on.
By day four and five, the headache had gone, I was actually eating more than I used to and I had lost one and a half pounds.
Now, three weeks in, I have lost five pounds - not the huge weight loss Atkins is famous for, but as a percentage of the 12 pounds I wanted to lose, actually pretty great. I felt good too - I don't think about food outside of meals, I found it easy to stick to - just substitute salad for pasta and still have the tasty sauce, have the sunday roast but without the potatoes. This meant I could still cook for the family while not having to do a whole different meal for myself. Decaf coff - with cream! Fantastic!
I haven't missed the carbs at all - though I know that as per Atkins programme, I will need to add some back in to find my 'critical cabohydrate level' ie, the amount of carbs I can eat without putting weight on. You are not supposed to go back to 'regular' eating, it is an approach for life.
I think people who criticise the approach tend not to know what it really involves - you aren't supposed to stuff your face with huge amounts of bacon and eggs every day or tank up on large portions of allowed food and you do need to take a nutritional supplement (I use Multibionta).
I realise that I may have found it easier because I didn't overeat in the first place - I just needed to change the balance of what I was eating but it has come as an eye opener that it can make such a difference.
I no longer feel bloated and stodgy after meals - and not because I haven't eaten as much but clearly, wheat doesn't particularly agree with me.
The hardest thing I found was giving up my nightly whisky and hot water. Now I drink a cup of Redbush tea. But I find it a lot easier to get up in the mornings, to look at myself in the mirror without feeling old and pudgy and to know that adding years doesn't have to mean adding inches.