I went to the doctor yesterday. It was a physical with follow-up from my lab work earlier in the week. All of my numbers had come down and I was doing great! I still have some personal goals to meet, but I was happy and so was the doc. She told me, whatever you are doing, keep doing it! It is working. So, I figured I would share with you how that I have accomplished what I have so far and encourage you to join me if you are on a similar journey.
First, a bit of background... in this time of recognizing and struggling with my sugar levels, I did some research on reversing type 2 diabetes and how to control without medication. For the record, I am not opposed to medication. It has saved my life more than once. However, because my levels were borderline, there was a chance I could reverse it and I wanted to learn more about it. The recommendations were straight forward: lose at least 10% of your body weight and lower your carbohydrate intake. So, I set out to drop that evasive 10%. When you are a larger person, that 10% can be a big number. But I was determined.
I have done Atkins and Keto with limited success. Both worked for a while, then they both stopped and reversed. It is also really difficult to sustain. If either work for you, great! For me though, I wanted something realistic that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life (which will hopefully be nice and long by taking good care of myself!) I knew that super restrictive diets, particularly of carbs, can be really difficult to stay on, mostly because our bodies prefer them for fuel. But, I also recognize that in order to help my blood sugar levels, I needed to reduce my carb intake.
The first thing I did was prepare. In order to eat healthier, you have to have healthier food to eat. I know from experience that things like cheese sticks, nuts, and fresh produce are important to have on hand. I also have found eggs, butter, berries, and lunch meat, of all things, to be very helpful to keeping things going. You may like different things, and that's okay. Find healthy snack and simple meal staples that can sustain you.
The second thing I did was track. I hate having to track my food, but it is super helpful. I knew where I wanted to stay in terms of calories and carbs, and I tracked in order to make sure I was staying there. I also had to be honest with myself when I didn't make good choices, so emotional eating and bingeing were curbed through that, too. It really helped to open my eyes to portion sizes and diet tankers. (By the way, candy is a terrible diet tanker. Full of carbs and calories, but very little nutrition and definitely doesn't fill you up.) I used an app on my phone, but you could certainly use a notepad and pencil if you prefer. The point is to keep up with it. I chose moderate numbers, like 150 grams or less for carbohydrates and 2,000 calories or less. Some days I was under, some days I was over, but I was rarely hungry or feeling deprived and that is important.
The third thing I did was budget. Not with my wallet, but with my carb and calorie allowance. I found that I had an easier time eating low carb during the day, particularly for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I then saved most of my carbs for dinner, which I could spend on eating a serving of pasta or rice with my family and not have to cook 3 different meals. I could adjust that if I had lunch plans, or even breakfast plans. If I was going to a party, I still ate cake and all of the other goodies, just in moderation.
The final thing I did, which I believe to be the greatest goal of this and the key to sustainability, was listen to my body. I learned by listening to my fullness cues, I didn't need as much food as I thought to be comfortable. A simple snack or meal could do the trick without a lot of bells and whistles. I also recognized that if I was feeling extra hungry, a large amount of lettuce or broccoli could help fill me up and still not wreck my carb goals. I also tried to curb the mindless and emotional eating through mental work - reminding myself that I am not hungry, just bored, anxious, etc. - and physical work - moving around, doing laundry, cooking, etc. I also stop, even when at a restaurant or family dinner, when I am full. No need to over-stuff, I can either take something to go or have another opportunity.
In a future post, I will talk more about the mental tips and tricks that I touched on the last paragraph. For now, though, I hope that you will be inspired to keep it focused, simple, and sustainable as you aspire to reach your fitness goals. Please share in the comments any of your tips and tricks! Godspeed on your journey!