I hear a lot of talk these days about our (female) bodies. If you think about it, a woman’s body is a vessel; more so than our counterparts. Many of us give birth to another life. Some even do it multiple times. Carrying a baby to term is no easy feat. The female body makes a monumental transformation during pregnancy and child delivery – whether natural or by c-section.
The younger you are, the better your body adjusts and heals from the process of having a baby. For women in their 20s to early 30s, it is a lot easier to bounce back from childbirth.
I had three children between the ages of 27-33 and managed a decent bounce back within months of having my daughters. I was able to lose weight easier and had a lot of energy; despite the first three months postpartum depriving me of sleep.
I had my last child well into my 30s. My weight after having my youngest, a son, was right at 200 pounds. Being of 5’3 stature, I was feeling the weight. Not only was I physically feeling the weight, but emotionally it was also weighing down on me.
I decided to research which diets worked best. There were many diets to choose from the low-fat diet, the Weight Watchers – points system, vegetarian, lean cuisines, Jenny Craig, and on and on.
In early January 2001, after yet another new’s years resolution to lose weight, I found the (then) popular Atkins’ Diet. Dr. Atkins’ study revealed eliminating carbs and sugar (i.e., white foods (sugar, rice, flour, potatoes, dairy & fruit), your body would go after the fat for its energy source and the more fat you lost, the more weight came off. This diet seemed doable, although I have to tell you for sugar eaters like me, eliminating sugar from one’s diet was not easy.
You literally go through withdrawal. Following the tenets of the diet are absolute and that is no more than 21 carbs per day. The induction period is the toughest because you have to get yourself in a state of ketosis, and that is only done by eliminating all sugar even sugar from fruit.
However, once you stop eating white foods you will immediately start to feel your body literally dis-inflate. I felt it first in my hands. My rings were not quite as snug. Truth be told low carb eating can actually be a very delicious experience. As you watch the pounds melt off of you, you will feel more and more empowered to create delicious meals and you will be motivated to remain within the constraints of the diet.
If I can give you one good tip with any diet, it would be to try to drink a gallon of water per day. The low carb diet involves a lot of protein intake and your kidneys could be negatively affected so keep that in mind as another must do to weight loss. The Atkins brand developed really good vitamins as part of the marketing package, but many diet developers do that.
Weight loss occurs, for the most part, after the elimination of certain foods from one’s daily diet. Certain vitamins and minerals are needed to replace the nutrients we are not taking in; such as those you get from fruit.
With the Atkins diet, you can incorporate some fruit but later into the diet, certainly not during induction (2-4 weeks). How do you know if your induction period is working and your body is in a sugar-free state? Ketosis testing strips should do the trick. You can pick up a box of strips at your local pharmacy or Walmart for under $10.
Once I became used to the low-carb lifestyle, I started to incorporate exercise. During the induction period, you will notice the weight start to come off. Some people lose more weight than others. However, I was feeling a bit sluggish at first from the lack of sugar/carbs; but that passed after the induction period.
Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend working out during induction, but you read your body and decide for yourself. For those of you who are like me, exercising outdoors always worked best. I started by walking a mile a day at a nearby park. I just walked one mile a day, walking a little further each time, a block at a time, or whatever my body allowed me to do. I did this daily. Gardening is also a great workout.
After a few weeks, I had enough energy to step-climb at the park’s baseball field bleachers. It was a great work out – that combination was a huge contributor to the weight loss. By the time I made it to my optimal weight of 128 (size 4 pants) I was biking 20 miles 4 times per week. I was 39 years old, it was easier then.
Within 6 months, I went from my highest weight of 202 to my lowest at 128 by June 2001. Today, the Atkins Diet has morphed into many other like-minded diets, Paleo, South Beach, Keto, just to name a few.
Many nutritionists will argue against the merits of those diets, but if low-carb works for you, and you feel good, you should do it. Of course, you should follow up with checks on your cholesterol levels and blood pressure; drink a lot of water and exercise. That had a lot to do with the amount of weight I lost in six months.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Commit to sticking with the diet for at least 40 days.
- Read nutritional information on your food purchases; you will be surprised how many carbs certain food items contain. Remember, its 21 carbs per day, total.
- Avoid eating out or drinking alcohol. These two changes alone will make a significant stride and save you money as well.
- Don’t skimp on the foods you purchase for your diet. Its cheaper than the medical costs associated with obesity.
- Try not to start dieting around the holidays, or around a vacation or big event. Unless you are willing to be very disciplined during these events, you are just setting yourself up for failure which will discourage you from pursuing the success of this type of weight loss. During the period before you start a diet, plan for the diet by doing your research and reading about the specifics of the diet you choose. In the meantime, you can start incorporating a little movement (like walks and light stretching) as you work your way into the new way of eating.
- Start in the new year. I know its cliche, but if you commit to 40 days at the beginning of the year, you are more likely to stay the course.
- Plan to Drink a lot of water. I buy a gallon of water and mark the hours on it with a sharpie (see attached) and then I fill up the same gallon the next day and use the same gallon for one week. Then I buy another one and start again.
- Eliminate high carb products from your pantry and refrigerator. Donate unused boxes of pasta, rice and such to a local food bank or leave with a church pantry near you. Replace those items with low-carb eats.
- Measure and weigh yourself, write down the starting date and measurements and weight in a diary, on a calendar or in your cell phone.
Next, on Journey with the Menopouch (Mile 2), I will share the difficulties of losing weight during menopausal years, some solutions and some shopping ideas and must-haves for staying the course on your diet.