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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

What Flicks the Switch?

Sometimes you are just in the zone. You look forward to training and your eating is totally on plan. It seems like second nature and life seems calm and settled.

Other times you feel like you are drowning. You set out every day to go to the gym and eat within the guidelines you have committed to, and by 4pm you are still in your pyjamas, you have eaten everything in the kitchen and been to the corner store three times for treats. You promise yourself that tomorrow will be a fresh start but the next day is exactly the same.

What makes the difference? What have you done differently that has made your world swing from calm to chaos and how do you get things back to calm again?

For some people it is training every morning. As long as they get up and go for a walk/go to the gym they are set for the day. Their food choices are great because they don't want to waste the effort they have put in already.

For other people it is having a deadline to meet. A party, reunion or wedding set at a fixed date is what puts all thought of 'cheating' or 'relaxing' far from their thoughts.

For me it is the S food - Sugar and Starch. I am like an addict. If I try to moderate my intake and have a 'normal' amount each day I eventually spin out of control. Even healthy low GI starches (rice, oats, wholegrain wheat) totally derail me.

I can vividly remember the very first time my eating behaviour relapsed after losing 20kgs. I began eating healthy in January and in November I was given a huge basket of Freddo Frogs. I only meant to have one... I spent a long time after that night not knowing how to get back in the zone and not knowing why.

Then there was the period when I was touring overseas in Japan, Singapore and USA. I was trying to eat healthy foods by sticking to plain rice, grainy bread and cereal. I crashed and burned nearly every night.

I did quite well on low-carb until I introduced carb re-feeds. Even my Body for Life challenge [equal protein and carbs at each meal] saw me bingeing once a week on my free day.

To flick the switch to 'on' for weight loss/maintenance I need to keep away from the S foods. If I limit my carbs to 50-75g a day from mostly non-starchy vegetables, nuts and dairy I feel completely calm and in control. I can eat no-sugar chocolate and ice cream and I am OK. Give me rocky road or a piece of cake and I am ravenous for two days afterward.

To foil the deprivation monster I make sure I have my daily treat - chicken wings with the skin on, chocolate protein bars, peanut butter, Camembert cheese, and the aforementioned no-sugar frankenfoods but I have discovered that I need to eliminate the things I know will make me crazy and fat. There seems to be a strong case for both biology AND psychology.

What is the one thing you need to do to flick the switch?


  1. Yeah, stay away from carbs as well. By that I mean wheat, oats potato and even rice. I call them all "white death". I was so sick after my last intake whilst I was away from home, abdo pain, nausea and bloating. I have decided to follow a gluten free diet, trying to make sure I eliminate gluten totally ie the hidden stuff. I feel so much better, it's unbelievable. No bloating, no pain and so much more energy. So I get my carbs from lots of veggies etc.

  2. It's all about carbs.
    That's what I have to eat too about... I stay 60/day usually unless I'm physically active then I can get away with 70.

  3. BTW it has nothing to do with psychology and everything to do with insulin.

  4. Each to their own but I LOVE CARBS and so does my body which keeps me at peace and my switch flicked!

  5. I'm with long as I leave the carbs alone, I'm able to stick to a healthy way of eating. Give me any of the white crap, sugar crap and I'm away with the fairies into major sugarland.

    For the most part - I rarely miss the high carb foods.

    Oh, and I agree with has everything to do with insulin. I'm sure you've read Gary Taubes....what an expose' on the lies we've been told about carbs and fat, eh?

  6. Hi Katie,
    We sound so alike. I am exactly the same. I am doing no 'S' foods at the moment and am feeling so calm. Glad to know I have a partner in crime :-)

  7. I love my CARBS as well - our bodies RUN on carbohydrates. I'm not talking sugary processed crap but less processed sources such a fruit, veggies and moderate grains etc.


  8. It is all about Insulin. It is the one hormone we can control.

  9. Oh yes, Taubes' book was fanastic, although I had been a devotee to the LC way of eating for years before reading it. It wasn't anything much new for me, but it was still great to read it from someone else... especially someone who came to this conclusion based on logic/research alone.

    At times I wonder if my passion is delusional, if it is possible for the rest of the world to be so hopelessly wrong about the correct diet. Taubes book affirmed I'm not wrong, this is actual logical fact. He has no personal stake in this, his life was not revolutionized by it the way mine was. I've lost and maintained a loss of 160 pounds for nearly 6 years now, I've improved my emotional/psych problems almost to a degree of being cured via the diet's mood stabilizing & antidepressant properties... it's just saved my life in so many ways.

  10. I think that we are all different and what works for one doesn't for for others. I wish I could get stuck into those carbs, but they make me sick. I think the one size fits all type of thinking is a problem. I feel so much better getting carbs from veggies and some types of fruit. I'm actually loving the 'eating clean' philosophy!!

  11. I think we are all different - responders and non responders. Some people have issues with carbs and some (lucky ones) don't.

    There are many theories about metabolic types, fast/slow oxidisers etc. but all I know is what works for me.

    I haven't read the Taubes book, I shall look for it at the library.