If you have known me for a long time, you know that my weight has fluctuated quite a bit since my teenage days as a professional dancer. And by fluctuate I mean going up, up, up the ladder. No one likes to be overweight, especially not former dancers who were, by training, obsessed with their appearance and constantly comparing their bodies to other bodies in an effort to stay at the top of the game. Even back then I felt too big, and my body (in retrospect) was pretty much perfect back then. I remember trying all kinds of fat-restricting diets in an constant effort to weigh as little as possible (without relying on cigarettes or eating disorders). I also remember feeling like my eating was out of control, and worrying that if I ever stopped exercising 5-6 hours a day I wouldn't be able to eat like that any more. I remember looking at people I considered "fat" (back then, "fat" meant "not emaciated") and promising myself that I would never, ever look like that.
I quit dancing after high school and promptly gained about 20 pounds. I was not happy with that, but I still looked fine. As a missionary in the Philippines, I lost those 20 pounds, probably due to a combination of stress and parasites. Shortly after my mission, I married Dan and we moved to Michigan. I got pregnant a few weeks later, and was soon puking my brains out. But then the little guy was born, and I started nursing him. Within a few months I had reached a new all time high weight, 20 pounds above my college weight. That was the first time I really felt like I was "fat". I had said I felt fat before, but this was different. Now other people agreed with me.
Okay, blah, blah, blah, fast forward through three more babies, a weight gain of approximately 20 pounds per baby, and now nobody who sees me can imagine that I could have possibly been a professional dancer, unless it was in a ballet company for obese people. Needless to say, this transformation over the past twenty years from perfect body to lumpy apple body has weighed heavily on me (ha ha). More than once, someone looking at our wedding photos on the wall has actually asked if that is me with Dan (no, that is Dan's first wife, but I love her so much I like to keep a picture of her with my husband on display right here in my living room).
Recently, my weight has crept up to a new all time high. One Saturday night a few weeks ago, I was complaining to Dan about this and expressing my sense of despair at ever being able to lose weight. He mentioned, again, a book he's been reading online about this topic (Why We Get Fat and What to do About it by Gary Taubes), and I asked him to read me the relevant parts. This is another book that pegs carbohydrates, not fats, and not even calories, as the real enemy to weight loss and maintenance. I actually buy this argument and was happy to hear it again. For two and a half weeks now, I've been eating significantly fewer carbohydrates, and I'm losing weight.
The most striking thing about this "lifestyle change", besides the weight loss, is that I don't feel hungry the way I used to, and I no longer feel sick to my stomach if I go more than an hour or two without food. I can eat breakfast and then wait 4-5 hours without additional food and without feeling hungry or sick before eating again. I also don't physically crave sugar when I don't eat any. I think I'm an all-or-nothing girl when it comes to sugar. If I have a little, it awakens a powerful monster inside that tears the earth apart to get more and more sugar. If I have no sugar, I can just keep having no sugar, and my body doesn't feel like it needs it (although my brain wants it).
It doesn't hut that every time I get on the scale I weigh a little bit less--that is extremely motivating. And it is getting easier to bend over and to get up and down from a seat or in and out of the car. So, yay. I am haunted by the knowledge that I may fall off this wagon and gain all my weight back and more, but for now I'm feeling stronger, healthier, and slimmer. And I feel like such a stud every time I don't eat sugar!! Or fruit! Or grains! Or beans! Or carrots, corn, potatoes, or peas! And I also feel like a stud when I have a giant salad for lunch, or a bowl of roasted Brussels sprouts, or a spaghetti squash. And I love that I get to eat yummy, yummy cheese. Right now in the fridge I have Extra Sharp Cheddar, Jarlsberg, Queso Fresco, Smoked Gouda, Parmesan, Feta, shredded Mexican Blend, and Mozzarella. So if you're ever in the neighborhood looking for cheese, you know whose door to knock on.