Since July 1 of this year, I’ve been on a pretty strict low-carb diet. People have been asking me about it since my weight loss has exceeded my usual six pounds, so I decided to just write a blog post. My whole life I’ve gone through cycles of losses and gains–each diet I go on (usually calorie counting) ends in a six pound loss, followed by a wild calorie binge. This time things have gone differently. That isn’t to say there haven’t been problems, but I’ve actually lost twenty-five pounds. I don’t know how good at math you folks are, but that’s a few more than my typical six.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had some issues with the diet and I’ve fought through them. Some days I’ve wanted to give up. No. Most days I’ve wanted to give up. But, every single day, I wake up and keep going because the fruits of my labor will one day pay off and I won’t be the only one affected. My choices will also have a baring on my children’s lives and choices they make. I want them to see their mom succeed because I want them to know that they can do things, too. I want them to see that if you want a healthier lifestyle, you have to put in the work, but that it’s totally worth it. If I’m honest, they are the reason I keep going and try so hard. I don’t want them to think Mom is a quitter (ha!).
I am not a doctor and if you have some health or dietary issues, you should certainly see a real physician, perhaps even a dietitian, before you begin the low-carb lifestyle change (because it IS a lifestyle change). A lot of low carb options are also pretty high in cholesterol, so, depending on your health and your family history, you may want to keep that in mind when you shop or meal plan.
I follow guidelines to eat by. When I started out in July, I only allowed myself to have between 20-35 carbs/day so that my body would get used to not having them. I wanted to make sure I trained myself well since there is a lot to learn in the beginning. But, since I have quite a few pounds to lose, I also set myself a limit of 1200-1500 calories/day. I feel like that’s a reasonable amount. Usually I hit somewhere around 1300, but sometimes it’s less. It’s rarely more than that. I try to get my protein in, too. High protein is important for me because I never get enough protein. I am not a big meat eater. Also, I bought a bag of stevia and went sugar free. No pasta, no breads, no rice. I took into account that my family has an insane history for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart issues, so I try to stick with lean meats, light butters (if any), and instead of eating lots of bacon (as I’ve noticed a lot of low-carb eaters do), I eat turkey bacon. Also, I bought a book of heart healthy recipes and I’ve learned to change just a few ingredients in some really great recipes so that I can enjoy them too.
So, with my new lifestyle laid out for you, I’ll hurry up and get to my big tips.
- Eat breakfast. There is definitely something to the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
- Sit down and write out a plan. Sometimes just seeing something literally spelled out in front of you is a really great way to assure that it’s a permanent plan, that it will stick. Remember to include a reminder to drink plenty of water. Eight glasses (eight ounces each) of water a day is recommended, but honestly I hardly ever drink that much. If I hit four, I’m doing well. I strive for more, though. You can tailor your plan to fit your needs. Low-carb eating ranges from only limiting carbs to a full on Keto lifestyle (which I decided wasn’t for me). Some low-carb eaters set a limit, such as fifty, but will eat toast or bread so long as it fits under fifty carbs for that day. I have chosen to forgo the breads, pastas, and rices altogether.
- Do not weigh yourself every single day, but if you do not own a scale, I would recommend you buy one. Mine is digital and also measures bone mass and BMI. It’s more technologically advanced than I was prepared for, but I love it. I record my weight in my planner, but there are apps where you can track your weight, too.
- Track what you eat. Write it down, along with the carbs and calories. Or, you can get an app for that, too. I use Spark People, but a lot of people prefer My Fitness Pal. I didn’t like the latter, but most people do. Use whatever makes you comfortable.
- Create an exercise plan. If you have medical needs and see a doctor regularly, ask them for suggestions. If not, walking isn’t crowded and is a very heart healthy way to exercise if you don’t live anywhere near a gym or don’t want to pay for a membership. Also, on rainy days, you can check out Leslie Sansone’s Walk-A-Mile DVD’s. I bought a pair of small weights to carry while I walk, too.
- Remember that you are human and humans sometimes make mistakes. You might cheat. And, if you do, you can always make up for it by starting over the very next day. If I have one too many carbs, I try to, at the very least, keep my calories where they need to be. I have only gone over with both once. And, I keep losing. I figured I’m losing about 2.5 lbs. / week. Slow and steady. Last week I lost less than that, but it’s okay because sometimes it goes that way. Even if you gain, it’s okay. Just keep going.
- Look for a support system. Spark People has a great online community. I’m in a low-carb group on Facebook, too, and those people are fantastic for sharing their own ups and downs, sharing recipes, and it’s nice to know that I have help if I need it.
- If you’re a milk drinker, try some unsweetened almond milk. I love that stuff. Buy some peanut butter (whichever kind you like) and keep it handy. Stock up on sugar free jello, Powerade zero, bottled waters, lean meats, cheeses you like, and veggies. Google and Pinterest will be your best friends for recipes. I may even share some of mine here, too.
- Do not plan cheat meals. In fact, plan your meals ahead in order to avoid the cheat meals. A cheat may happen, but don’t plan them. If you eat out, usually you can find some kind of lean chicken and veggie meal. If you eat fast food out (which sometimes happens), you can always get a salad or a burger (and ditch the bun).
If you’re interested in a low-carb lifestyle, just remember that if I can do it, you can too. I still have a long way to go, but every journey begins somewhere. Feel free to share your tips and tricks in comments. I’m always learning something new.