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Friday, 16 February 2007

Thin enough to go to the gym - Part Three

June 2006 saw me cough up my money and enrol in my local WW group. I did the quiz, bought the books and came up with 18 points a day.

A few things bothered me -
1. I was the thinnest person in the group, every week there were new people who never returned and heaps of lifetime members starting again.
2. Everything that had a fat content had more points than it's equal caloric equivalent. In other words - an apple was worth 1 point, but an egg was worth 1.5.
3. The leader was a little flaky - an older lady, still overweight and fairly clueless about nutrition and exercise
4. After a few weeks, the meeting subjects began to get repetitive.

I stuck with it principally because I was eating more than I had on my own devised calorie controlled diet [the under 1000 calories one previously mentioned]. I had decent weight loss and started a new game - how much can I eat and how little can I exercise and still lose weight. Hunger was once again a problem, but I expected that, I was used to that. But the cravings were unbearable. What was I craving? FAT.

Suddenly I found myself wanting deep fried anything. For the first few months I denied myself and exercised my will power. Strangely, my period stopped.

Then I began cheating within points. I can remember being so pleased to discover that a lemon tart from the bakery was an excellent weekend breakfast because it only had 3 points! I could eat junk food as long as I didn't eat as much real food in order to have enough points to cover the indulgence. I ate blocks of chocolate and fish and chips and filled up the rest of the day with "free" veges and low fat dressing. Protein barely got a look in, too many points, I could eat more rice or potatoes instead.

Predictably, my weight loss ground to a halt around the 60kg mark. All that sugar, carbs and trans fatty acids started a miserable cycle of binging and starving. I felt like crap and once again I had devised a way of living that was unsustainable. I made life time member [62kg was my goal weight according to them] and tried to get back under the elusive 60kg without going mental.

Wasn't happening. I wasn't happy - I figured that the WW way was not the KatieP way after all.

After much reading of various diet books, I decided to try low carb. Given my history with Atkins I was a little skeptical because I remember feeling awful on it. I had already given up wheat so giving up sugar, the morning oatmeal and rice was the next step. On 29 October 2006 I 'temporarily' gave up all dry carbs.

As mentioned in my blog around this time, it was hell. I felt grumpy, had no energy and was not enjoying myself. But strangely, I wasn't hungry. After being hungry for almost two years [with some time off for bad behaviour], I felt so relieved.

Anyway, all of the details are now recorded in this blog. I didn't count anything for the first 2 months and I gained about 1 kg a month. In hindsight, I suspect that I might have gained 2 kgs of muscle from eating protein again as I didn't change size and I continued to lift heavy weights. Got serious after Christmas and am still tweaking the right combination of carb, protein, fat and exercise in order to lean out. It is very slow, but I don't mind.

This morning I weighed 60.9kgs.

My diet is roughly 30g carbs : 100g protein : 100g fat = 1400-1500 calories.

A typical day is
B: eggs, LSA, cream cheese
L: tuna or salmon and salad with full fat mayonnaise
D: chicken or fish with veges/salad and cheese
S: nuts sometimes in the afternoon, whipped cream for desert

I am concentrating on whole foods [no protein shakes for me], moderate protein and quite high fat. I surmise that if I am a fat burner now, I should eat fat (mostly olive oil, nuts and butter).

I exercise 4 or 5 times a week. At the moment I am doing compound lifting with heavy weights 4 x a week, 5 reps x 6 sets. This week I have had sore muscles again for the first time in a long time. I do high intensity cardio courtesy of Cardio Coach three times a week. So sometimes I do weights and cardio, sometimes just cardio.

My goal used to by 57kgs but I am not sure anymore. I will be happy if I stabilise at any 50s number, 59.9kg is fine by me. That's less than a kilo away!

The miracle is that finally I can keep living this way indefinitely. This morning I even had some apple with my pancakes. There are so many variations I can try - carb cycling, post workout carb loading [read porridge for breakfast in winter], cheat meals, calorie zig zagging etc.

These are the some of the lessons I have learnt
- low calorie diets eventually lead to metabolic suicide
- exercising too much is just as harmful as not exercising at all
- it is relatively easy to lose weight, but stabilising at a new "set point" takes courage, trickery and many experiments
- the scales don't always tell the truth
- you have to assess your own risks
- playing with your body and mind is really quite fun - it is the one thing you can control
- habits are hard to break - this works in your favour if it's a good habit
- you can change how you feel - it feels good to feel good

... I could go on all night!!!

What is low carb luxury - fried eggs in butter, bacon, eggplant cooked in olive oil, whipped cream, capsicum, carrots, strawberries, lean chicken breasts, chicken wings with the skin on, pan fried salmon, garlic prawns, pizza without the crust, gourmet cheese, low carb maple syrup, sugar free dark chocolate, macadamia nuts, diet coke ... I feel like can indulge every day - so guess what, I don't!! There is so much food to choose from that makes my mouth and my tummy extremely happy that I don't crave anything.

You can keep your bread and rice - I'll take the good low carb stuff!!


  1. Keep up the great work! You have the right attitude to achieve permanent success!

  2. katie - it's good to read your thoughtful posts since you've obviously been in the trenches (as opposed to just spouting the cliches like they sometimes do at WW). I had a similar moment of revelation when I minimised refined sugar.

    I actually eat plenty of carbohydrates but minimising overly processed sugar/carbs had a similar effect on me as what you've experienced (drastic reduction in hunger levels, finally feel satisfied and can keep it up indefinitely).

  3. Anonymous4:56 pm

    Just discovered your blog and like it a lot!

    I can't agree with you more regarding Weight Watchers. I've tried it 5 or 6 times and it just doesn't work for me. The points systems makes me become OBSESSED by food, which is not normally me and not a sound long term way to loose weight and maintain the loss.

    This time around I am just counting calories, eating whole foods, whatever I want and cutting simple carbs way down. I have lost 40 lbs so far and it hasn't felt anywhere near as hard as when I did Weight Watchers.