Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Meat and Potatoes (or not)

The question I get asked the most lately is "What are you doing that's making such a difference?" (Last night I had someone I know quite well walk by me without saying hello, which was a little odd. She did a doubletake and then told me that she hadn't even recognized me.)

The short answer: I don't eat anything that comes in a box or is found in the middle of the grocery store.

Think about it for a second—all the stuff that's good for you is on the outside walls of the store—dairy, vegetables, fruit, meat, fish. The middle of the store is all the stuff that's been processed, is full of additives and high fructose corn syrup, or has had any nutritional value it might have contained processed out of it. It's just twisted that during processing, natural food can lose most of its nutritional value, so at the end of the processing they have to add back in nutrients. Eating through chemistry.

When I decided it was time to do something about my atrocious eating habits, I turned to my trainer. She'd already been where I was at the time. She lost nearly 100 pounds six or seven years ago and has successfully maintained the loss. She taught me how to eat a more whole food, carb-controlled diet. I stopped eating anything processed. I moved to eating grass-fed beef, pasture-fed chicken eggs (what I call happy cows and happy chickens—eating what they're supposed to eat, outside in the sun). I stopped eating most grains. Cut out bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. I still eat a little bit of brown rice and whole-grain oatmeal. I eat an average of 85 grams of carbs a day. I get the majority of it from vegetables and some fruit.

I eat meat. I eat eggs. I eat butter and cream. All that stuff that’s “bad” for you. I almost never feel hungry. For the most part, I don’t crave sugar or chocolate or junk food. (Although, last night I made dinner for a friend which included this signature chocolate thing I make for dessert. I almost fainted from the smell when I cut open the package of chocolate chips.) Last month I ate a piece of wedding cake at a friend’s wedding. It was the first sugar I’d eaten in six months—I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would. I just don’t seem to have that raging sweet tooth I’ve had most of my adult life.

And, yes, quitting all the carbs cold turkey was hard.* Especially the first 3 or 4 days. I basically sat in my living room at night having a battle with myself and trying to ignore the cravings and the late-night grazing habits. But once I started getting some good food in my body, the cravings went away and I started seeing results pretty fast. I dropped 40 pounds in the first four months. I’ve dropped 74 pounds to date from my heaviest weight. Just by cutting out anything that came in a box or had sugar or grains in it and working out 5 or 6 days a week.

My A1c dropped from 7.2% to 6.2% and three months later to 5.6%. My cholesterol dropped from 318 to 236. I have so much energy I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes. And the depression I’ve suffered from since I was a kid—gone. Completely.

*This does come with a word of warning, though. This is something you have to do cold turkey. It's really not something you can ease into. And it can really mess up a relationship if you don't warn your partner about what you're planning on doing before you do it, as well as leaving your friends scratching their heads when you retreat for a few weeks to battle your food demons. (Ask me how I know.)


Rabbitch said...

We're glad you're back. Well, that half of you is back.

I really didn't know when you first walked up last night if I was supposed to say "Hi TMK" or not -- because the person talking to me *sort* of looked like you but smaller. And happier. And more outgoing, too.

I didn't want to be an ass and say hi to a total stranger.

The fact that I made an ass of myself later in front of *MANY* total strangers has nothing to do with anything. That's just part of being me. Shut up.

TMK said...

Rabbitch: It was great seeing you, and your ass, last night. ;-) I'm pretty sure the people standing behind us line thought all seven us were certifiable.

Kristen said...

Keep working and learning. You're inspiring me to keep on track.

Nora said...

Hey TMK - I just added you to my bloglines. Thanks for sharing your story! Congratulations on coming so far - I look forward to cheering you on as you continue on your journey.

Erika said...

So your magic secret is "eat better and exercise more?" THAT'S CRAZY TALK.

Any idea what your average caloric intake looks like? I've noticed that moving away from carbs and sugars will naturally result in fewer overall calories consumed (damned corn syrup).

Marianne said...

YES! Stick to the outside walls of the store! I've always kind of done that but for the past couple of years have really stuck to it... for my eating habits.
A question... are you Type O blood type? (since Norma is your friend I'm not too embarrassed asking this question)...

TMK said...

Erika: As a rule, I don't count calories, but my intake is around 1800 calories a day right now. Once I get to a reasonable goal weight this will probably increase a little bit so I can put on more muscle.

Marianne: I'm probably the only person on earth you doesn't know my blood type. I've never been able to give blood because of the whole "no veins in my arms" thing, and I've never had an injury that required a transfusion so it's never come up.

nieka said...

TMK - so glad I found your blog. When I read your beginning stats, I thought that's me! Same weight, same height - but I'm twice your age. Keep up the good work - you are an inspiration to me.
Did you know there is high-fructose corn syrup in low-fat mayo?

The Old Man & His Dog said...

Nice work!

Jules said...

Hi TMK - thanks so much for that link to Mark's Daily Apple in your last post! I'm not diabetic, but I've been told I'm at risk for developing it because I had gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy, and it's good to know there are definite steps I can take to increase my chances of avoiding it. I think I'll go take a walk, even if I would rather sit around and knit. :)

Karen said...

You're inspiring me to get back on "my program" too...I remember when I was on said program, which was undertaken as the antidote to depression, it worked rather well...no depression, no weight issues, plenty of energy. It involved no processed foods, no white flour, no sugar, no alcohol. I mean, it really was healthy. Then I went to a birthday party after being on my program for 3.5 years....and had a piece of cake. Had no idea that cake could make one drunk, but I was staggering drunk from it. (cheap thrills) Okay, it's been up and down since then, no excuses but there have been contributing factors. I get it. Thanks for the reminder. Next time I'm crying my eyes out over nothing, maybe I'll remember about the sweets...

Naomi said...

Hay!!! Love your posts. It is full of good reminders!!!

I laughed about the part of letting your partner know when you do the cold turkey thing....it was like the warning label - don't forget to read the fine print!

Wish you guys were here enjoying the sun with us!

Anonymous said...


I had gestational diabetes with both of my pregnancies. With my DH supervising my diet I was able to avoid insulin. I have to definitely agree with you about the sugar withdrawals-I was a v. whiney emotional pg woman each time I began the diet. I need to get back on it-I've been abusing dark chocolate in a serious way-and I'm hoping by reading your blog I'll get inspiration.

Gail said...

I'm enjoying your blog. You're my hero.

Can you tell more about carbs? I thought complex carbs (whole grain bread etc.) broke down slowly and so don't cause the sudden upswing in blood sugar. I heart my brown rice and whole gain bread, and need some good reasons to say goodbye to them.


weebug said...

welcome to the blogsphere!

Elizabeth Spinner said...

Great. Now in addition to being a long term relationship inspiration, you are also a healthy-eating inspiration. :-)

Giynlith said...

Congrats on the lower A1c and cholesterol scores! :)

Sunflowerfairy said...

You might just be my hero.

From someone who is doing daily battle with food, it's refreshing to read someone that says it's hard, but worth it- to change the way we eat.

I'm not overweight, but I have a sweet tooth and all that comes along with it. I know I shouldn't be eating that crap. But it is soo hard for me to stop those cravings. I think it's almost as hard as any other addiction- alcohol vs the alcoholic, gambling vs the gambler.

It's such an exhausting battle every day.

fran said...

I hopped from Yarn Harlot's blog to you.
You made me cry.
That is a good thing.
I have "high" fasting blood sugars and am a walking time bomb for lots of bad things, due partly to genetics, but more to 45 years of bad habits.
In response to my high blood sugars, I have been trying to cut way back on the bad white food group family. I am having some success, and now that I found this, I am feeling even more inspired.
I had lifted weights back in my 30's and loved how strong and alive I felt. We moved to a teensy house with NO place to set up my weights and boom, I was done. I have been trying to get back to it somehow ever since. I even went so far as to set up my weights in the barn, but when it is -30, it is soo easy to think "I am staying in the flippin' house". I am planning on setting them up in the slightly more user friendly spot this summer.
Sorry- I didn't mean to get so long winded- you got me moving!
To whom ever said that low fat mayo has high- fructose corn syrup in it- ALL low fat stuff has corn syrup in it. That is how they compensate for the lost fat taste wise. Avoid it like the plague.
One question- how does a sweetener like real maple syrup shake out in this eating style? Is it best to avoid any sweeteners?
thanks for sharing your "diary". I'll keep watching for new news.