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Long time low-carber needing some advice

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  • Long time low-carber needing some advice

    Hi everyone,

    I'm not sure if I'm 100% primal, but I've been 100% low-carb since the end of 2001. It's been quite a journey, and along the way I have educated myself relatively comprehensively and keep buying just about all the low-carb books out there to keep my commitment high and my knowledge-base wide. Mark's book is now in my shopping basket on amazon!

    From 2001 till 2004 I lost approximately 100 pounds. It was always a slow journey; even going low-carb, my body resisted weight loss - I would go for months without losing anything, but I always had faith it would come off eventually, and it did. I started off only semi-low carb, then with the research I was doing realised that Atkins was not the terrible fad diet it was touted to be, and went fully low-carb - and over a year, lost the rest of the weight. I was 33, and weighed less than I had since I was 13 years old.

    From 2004-2007 I hovered between about 158 and 146 pounds - and maintained my lowest weight of 146 pounds for about eight months. I generally stuck to low-carb principles (I do eat dairy, although not a lot) 95% of the time, so every so often I had to get stricter with foods and calories to lose the five pounds or so that would creep on.

    I got married in 2007 and found myself pregnant in early 2008. I was very, very sick. I tried desperately to stay low-carb for the first few weeks, but just couldn't do it. Hard as it was to imagine feeling sicker than I did all the time, I felt even worse when I tried to stick to low-carb foods. I couldn't even look at protein like chicken or meat or eggs. I'm sorry to say that I ate junk. I threw most of it up for a good few months, but there was a window of about two months when I was only throwing up once a day but still felt too sick to eat protein when I started gaining weight rapidly. About six months into the pregnancy I was able to switch back to low-carb, and didn't put on any weight from them till my son was born. I only put on about 26 pounds the entire pregnancy, so I was really happy about that and expected to be able to lose it easily.

    My sisters, who both already had several children, told me that they did not have enough milk for their babies when they tried to low-carb, so for the first few weeks of my son's life, I didn't eat low-carb, as I wanted to ensure a good milk supply. As someone who is horrendously addicted to carbs, I couldn't eat even remotely healthily when allowing myself to eat them. After a few weeks I had put back on the seven pounds that my son was taking up - so I was actually the same weight I was when still carrying my son.

    I went back to low-carb, and thankfully still had plenty of milk for my son.

    However, he is now 14 months old, and I still weigh 30 pounds more than I did when I got pregnant. I didn't lose *any* of the pregnancy weight at all.

    I feel like I've tried everything. I am hovering around 188 pounds, and feel like a failure. I know that I am still doing the best for my body by eating low-carb, but I don't *look* like I want to look, or how I want to look so as to show people the successful face of eating truly healthily.

    I have tried to up my fat intake as opposed to protein intake. I have tried to limit my calories. Nothing seems to work. I am already nearly 37 and if my son is to have a sibling, I can't wait too long before trying to get pregnant again, but I'm terrified that I'll put on another 30 pounds I can't get rid of if I go through another pregnancy. I really really want to lose some weight before I get pregnant again and all control (might) go out of the window.

    I guess I'm just asking for some advice - anything people can recommend that they think might help me. It is so discouraging to have to do this journey again when I feel that I didn't 'stray' but only ate what I had to eat because my pregnancy was so difficult, and to be 'punished' this way. My 100 pound weight loss and the feeling of control around food I enjoyed for the first time in my life when I discovered low-carb were the things I was more proud of than almost anything. After a lifetime of feeling ugly and different, I felt amazing; finally part of the mainstream, fairly slim and shapely.

    I am grateful I am still 60 pounds less than I was at my heaviest, and I am maintaining my weight, and of course my bloodwork is terrific, but the last time I was this weight all I had to do was eat low-carb, and over a twelve month period I lost 25 pounds. It was only when I reached the 150s that I had to watch calories in order to get down to the 140s. It's been a year of low-carb post-birth and I'm still 188 pounds. I don't feel like I have the strength to severely restrict myself for the length of time it would need for me to lose this amount of weight, and I no longer have the confidence that it would work, even if I did restrict myself.

    I'm not tall either (5'3") so the weight is more significant than if I was a few inches taller.

    Sorry for such a lengthy introduction - and I will be very grateful for any tips. I'm considering trying IF, but worried it'll be too hard to get through the difficult first few fasts when I'm running around after a 14 month old.

    Thank you so much,


  • #2

    I read most of the post, and re-skimmed twice.

    Could you post an example of your daily diet? And maybe what you do weekly for exercise?


    • #3

      Are you and your son sleeping through the night?

      Any other stressful events happening in your life?

      Don't be a paleotard...


      • #4

        sure thing.

        my daily diet tends to be:

        2 eggs (organic) for breakfast - either fried in butter with a smattering of cheese on top, or scrambled with some cream or parmesan

        for lunch i have burgers (not homemade but 100% beef) obviously without the bun, or tuna with mayo/pickles/tomato, or leftovers

        for dinner we'll have things like wings, or salmon with stuffed mushrooms and broccoli soup, or hot & sour soup that i make from scratch with real stock, or leftovers from the weekend. i do a lot of cooking on the weekend - roast chicken with lemon and basil, steak salad, bolognese sauce over zucchini strips, roast vegetables, things like that. i make dessert at the weekend only - chocolate mousse with 85% chocolate and eggs and a bit of splenda, or vanilla pots de creme using coconut milk, egg yolks and erithrytol/stevia.

        I will snack on nuts sometimes, and sometimes on sugar free chocolate, although i try not to. i've also tried to stop drinking diet coke, although i was definitely drinking it for most of the past year.

        Occasionally I eat sweet potatoes, but obviously not when I'm really trying to be strict with calories/carbs. I find they don't start my carb cravings like other things like regular potatoes or bread would.

        Obviously with a young baby sleep has not been great this year. For most of the year I was up at least once a night, usually more. Now we are doing better, but he's had patches of sickness where he was waking up a lot at night. Right now he sleeps through most days from about 6.30pm, but he tends to wake up by 5.30 or earlier needing attention, so even though we are often in bed by 9.30, i'm still usually unbelievably tired (and yes, we've tried putting him to bed later but it makes no difference, he still wakes up early). The last few days he has actually slept a bit later, thankfully.

        Exercise, unfortunately, is pathetic, and always has been. When I was much younger and dieting at college (low-fat on which I lost about 25 pounds over 16 months of excruciating hunger and then rebounded to an all time high, putting on 75 pounds), I would do aerobics work outs a few days a week.

        Over the seven years in which I was low-carbing and successful, I rarely did 'formal' exercise, but I don't have a car, and I walked everywhere, so it was definitely common for me to walk upwards of six hours a week. When I did exercise, I tried to do a weights video, but after a few days of consistent exercise (every other day) I started to feel constantly weak and shaky and stayed that way for a couple of weeks, so I had to stop.

        Unfortunately, unlike many low-carbers I have read about, I never got the energy burst they got by turning to low-carb. Exercise exhausts me, I never get the adrenalin rush or endorphins. I had chronic fatigue for a year when I was 25, so that could have something to do with it, and with my body's reaction every time I try and exercise formally. Essentially, I lost the weight the first time without any formal exercise.

        Now, I feel far worse than I did before my pregnancy. I am heavy and tired all the time, and I don't know whether it's the excess weight, or tiredness, or nutrient depletion from the pregnancy, or some hidden issue, but I never have much energy. Thyroid tests come back normal, as does everything else that I've tested. Blood glucose fabulous, triglycerides very low, cholesterol in perfect ratios.

        I suspect I have PCOS, as I had many of the symptoms before beginning to low carb. I'm sure that low-carbing is what enabled me to conceive so easily.

        We have moved house recently, so I guess that has its stress, and just having a new baby is a radical alteration of my life! I was single for a long time, no long-term relationships, and over the course of the past 3 years when already in my thirties I met the (very wonderful) man who is now my husband, got married, endured 9 months of pregnancy hell when I basically became a hermit I felt so sick (while continuing to work), and then obviously experienced the joys and stresses of motherhood. So yes, life has been stressful!

        I recently started taking cod liver oil, drinking coconut milk with dolomite powder for calcium, and taking natural vitamin c (after reading Sally Fallon and Mary Enig's newish book, I forget the title). It's too soon to tell if it's doing anything though; it's only been about a week.

        Hope this helps, and thank you anyone and everyone for suggestions and thoughts.


        • #5

          Oh, also - I have no access to grass fed beef or organic chicken, so I have to eat the regular stuff. I do eat organic free-range eggs from hens that are free to eat a natural diet.


          • #6

            It sounds like you're getting enough protein and fat. I notice that you're a little low on the veggies, so maybe adding more of those might help. I have heard that too much protein can actually drain your energy, just the same as not having enough protein will.

            I think that all of the stress and lack of sleep are not helping either. If you can, take naps during the day. Or you could try going to bed earlier yourselves so that you'll be rested when your son gets up. Sometimes I feel much better when I start the day off earlier.

            Something that also may be affecting you is the type of meat you're eating. It is probably full of hormones and that can mess with you a lot. I really do understand the huge price of grass fed, but if you can't even find hormone free in your area, you may want to try getting it shipped from somewhere in state (so it's not so terribly hard on the environment).

            You say that you're taking calcium, perhaps you need to add magnesium somehow. They work together well, and magnesium is definitely needed.

            Maybe you could try yoga as it can help with both stress and energy levels.

            Then there is also the possibility that there is something wrong with you that can not be fixed with diet. However, I would wait for everything to settle down before you consider this, perhaps a month or so and see how things go in the way of energy.

            I hope that helps.


            • #7

              mile sprints/intervals/< 20 min cario sessions once a day.


              • #8

                Could be as simple as cortisol from stress and lack of sleep.

                If increasing fat has not helped try increasing protein for your workouts if that does not work then maybe increase carbs above 50g but below 100g.

                Are you eating as much as your husband? When portions are divied up is yours the same size or half?

                You could be eating more than you need.

                Don't be a paleotard...






                • #9

                  i actually think i&#39;ve come down with the flu today, so i won&#39;t write more now except to say thanks for all the suggestions.

                  i live in israel, and there is *no* grass-fed beef here. i can&#39;t ship it in from america! :-)

                  it&#39;s funny that you ask about my husband... he is a hair under 6&#39;2" and weighs under 160lbs... he is always hungry and has a whole other relationship with food - has learned to ignore his hunger because he finds it impractical to cater to it since he is basically hungry an hour after he has eaten, throughout the day. he has been eating moderately low-carb with me for a while now, but whether he eats carbs or not, found it impossible to put weight on. i read &#39;life without bread&#39; which has a section about underweight people, a few weeks ago, and there was a letter from someone who put weight on by eating lots of low carb food, lots of fat, so my husband now drinks two cups of full fat cream a day (he finds drinking easier/quicker than eating) and in 3 weeks has put on six pounds, so he&#39;s now at 156. it&#39;s going to be interesting to see what happens to him in the next couple of months!

                  anyway, other than the cream, i eat approximately the same amount as my husband at meals... but he doesn&#39;t eat an awful lot.


                  • #10

                    So what you are saying is at 5&#39;3 you eat as much per meal as a 6&#39;2 man who is hungry all the time? Plus snacks?

                    Don't be a paleotard...






                    • #11

                      I have two suggestions for you to consider.

                      1. Is your son fully weaned? I ask because several women on a low carb board that I frequent found themselves unable to lose at all while they were nursing (and for others the pounds just dropped off!).

                      2. If you are eating exactly as you did when you lost weight (both quantities and level of carbs) but not losing, you might consider getting your thyroid tested. Thyroid disease typically manifests in women at times of hormonal shifts--e.g., puberty and menopause, as well as childbirth. A low level of T3 makes it impossible to lose weight.

                      Finally, you might consider dropping the chocolate and nuts until you begin to lose again. Foods you eat on maintenance often can&#39;t be eaten when you&#39;re trying to lose.


                      • #12

                        "for lunch i have burgers (not homemade but 100% beef) obviously without the bun, or tuna with mayo/pickles/tomato"

                        Your lunch kind of stinks... try a big salad with some meat or ensure there are leftovers.

                        Sleep depravation is rough... been there. It&#39;s tough to get the energy to do anything when you slept 2 2.5 hour blocks the night before.

                        Try to find some form of excersise that you consider fun.

                        The weight will come off... it just might take time. Just in time to get prego again


                        • #13

                          I feel for you, I really do, and I completely understand what you&#39;re going through. Folks who tell you to get out there and run, or work out more, are well meaning, but if they&#39;ve never been a mother of a young infant or toddler, it&#39;s hard to take their advice. In my twenties, I had five babies within 5.5 years, so I understand completely what it&#39;s like. And, it&#39;s easy to forget what the hormones that are raging through your system are doing to your body&#39;s ability to lose weight. In your child-bearing years, the last thing your body wants to do is lose its hard-earned weight! Your body knows you need that weight to survive a period of starvation, as you need to remain fertile and also provide breast milk, as well as take care of your babies.

                          It sounds to me like you&#39;re doing everything possible to take care of yourself and your precious son. If you want to have another child soon, continue to eat healthy, don&#39;t worry so much about your weight and the expectations of society. You&#39;re healthy, as your bloodwork attests, and you need your energy. When your child bearing time is over, then is the time to think about losing more weight, and you&#39;ll need to understand that it will be more difficult than it was before you had children; it will take longer, too. You need to take care of yourself and your babies, and let the weight come off slowly. You&#39;ll do it! You have more nutritional knowledge than 99% of the people out there. Some of us are simply a little more cuddly than others.

                          Edited to add: And, continue to avoid carbs as much as possible. Carbs are poison!


                          • #14

                            As Sharon said, don&#39;t worry so much about what you weigh. Focus more on how you feel.

                            Stress and lack of sleep are right up there with diet when it comes to Quality Of Life and Health. For yours and your family&#39;s sake you should make an effort to get an extra hour or two (which I understand is extremely difficult with a young child, or any child, but it should at least be attempted) and try to do whatever you can to lower your stress.

                            I HIGHLY recommend you start exercising - this can help you knock out two birds with one stone, as exercise can really help you lower your stress levels.

                            Find yourself a good power vinyasa or similarly athletic yoga studio in your area and take 2-3 classes a week. I guarantee you&#39;ll start feeling better soon. If that&#39;s not available, let us know what is and maybe we can suggest some other alternatives.

                            Diet -> Sleep -> Exercise -> Health. And the stress will follow (aided by some meditation or summat)


                            • #15

                              "So what you are saying is at 5&#39;3 you eat as much per meal as a 6&#39;2 man who is hungry all the time? Plus snacks?"

                              yes, but you didn&#39;t see what else i wrote - he doesn&#39;t eat a lot. ie, he also has only two eggs for breakfast, if he had burgers he would only have two, like i do (200g). if he had tuna he might have two cans whereas i&#39;d only have one. he&#39;s a slow eater, and he gets full really quickly - he just gets hungry again quickly too. he does not eat enough; it&#39;s not that i eat too much, and when he eats banana chips or peanut butter or nuts etc in between meals in an effort to put on weight, i don&#39;t eat those with him!

                              trust me, i&#39;ve seen what men eat, and i don&#39;t eat anywhere near the amount they do - my husband is not typical.

                              and i don&#39;t &#39;snack&#39; a lot - i eat a handful of nuts if i&#39;m starving because i had lunch at midday and supper won&#39;t be till 8pm. or i take a 92 cal bar of sugar free chocolate. that kind of thing.

                              thanks everyone for the advice, and sharon thank you so much for the sympathy. sometimes i think what i need more than anything is for someone to just say "it absolutely stinks and it&#39;s not fair and i get it"! :-)

                              emmie, i stopped breastfeeding when my son turned six months, precisely because i wasn&#39;t losing any weight and hoped that by stopping i would start losing. now i know better, i won&#39;t necessarily wean so young with the next one since it didn&#39;t make any difference.