Last fall, I got a Fit-Bit for my birthday. I love to walk, and the Fit-Bit seemed like just the thing to keep me active. I'm wearing it right now, even though typing does not translate into steps. Fall is a lovely season here in New Hampshire, the skies are clear, the air is crisp, the mosquitoes have gone underground (or where ever it is they go). I took advantage of the season, and my Fit-Bit reported that I was logging 26 to 28 miles every week, an average of nearly four miles a day. Some of these were hilly miles—and I often exceeded the 15 flights of stairs that is the recommended daily goal.
I was trying hard to get fit and I was on the right path. Or so I thought. I did not get on the scale—I have a long and tortured relationship with my scale and it was a relationship I would just as soon end as continue—but I felt healthy. Then I went to the doctor, where the scale is a necessary (and to my mind, evil) part of protocol. To my horror, I had gained thirteen pounds since my last visit. This on top of what had already been an odiously large number. (There are reasons I despise the dreaded scale).
After a day of disbelief followed by several days of depression, I went into full diet-woman-warrior mode. These numbers would not stand! In the name of all that was holy, I would not be defeated! I went on a strict calorie diet. I kept walking. I was tired and miserable most of the time.
By Thanksgiving, I had lost six pounds. Although I knew dieting would be all but impossible over the holiday (It's Thanksgiving, people!), I was determined to go back to battling pounds once the turkey was made into soup. Only, I didn't. It was December, the season of bright lights and gifts and cookies and stress. Cookies and stress are a bad combo when it comes to the do-or-diet wars. I ate. I drank. I did not get on the scale.
At least not until after the decorations were all packed away in the storage space under the stairs. I faced the music. It was not pretty—I had gained the six pounds back and added two extra pounds for good measure. To say I was distraught would be an understatement.
I have a few friends who are into glucose-free, no bread diets. One of them posted an article by Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity expert, online. I'd never been a fan of no bread diets. I'd tried one once and had dreams of French baguettes floating over my head just beyond my reach. My cravings were so bad I would have joined bread-eaters anonymous had such a group existed. Unfortunately, no such group existed and I eventually gave in to those cravings.
Still, desperate times were at hand and so I read the article. Dr. Ludwig addressed exactly what I had been going through for most of my life—that is, periods of hard dieting where I am both miserable and fatigued followed by weight gain that exceeded the weight I'd started at originally. He explained food in a whole new way. And it made a lot of sense.
Basically, what he said was that calories aren't equal. That what we've long believed—eat less, exercise more and you will lose weight has never worked in the long run. You don't have to look far to see evidence of this. Besides myself, I can name countless people who have dieted and regained the weight they've lost. It's a sad statistic, but a true one. Dr. Ludwig suggests that, although a handful of walnuts and a glass of soda might have the same number of calories, how they act in your system is vastly different. I was fascinated. So fascinated that I went and bought Dr. Ludwig's book, Always Hungry, and read through it with a voracious hunger.
Still, I considered not following the plan. Following the plan would mean giving up bread again. And not only bread, but pasta and potatoes and added sugars. It would mean more cooking, more planning. Even if he did allow for wine and chocolate (and trust me, no wine and chocolate would have been a deal breaker) and did include things like butter and cheese, it would be a big change and a difficult one.
I decided to give it two weeks. I can do about anything for two weeks. I bravely stepped into the breach and, although I didn't follow the diet to the letter (there's a menu in the book which I didn't follow to allow for personal taste), I certainly followed it in spirit and ate all the kinds of food in all the recommended combos and avoided all the foods that the diet recommended I avoid.
I can't claim a happy ending. Not yet, anyway. I can tell you I've been on the program for three weeks now. I've lost five pounds, which is good news. The better news is that I'm never hungry, I have more energy than I've had in quite some time and , best of all, I do not crave anything. Not even French baguettes. Also, I love the food I'm eating. It tastes great and it's satisfying.
I'm hopefully optimistic. From time to time, I'd like to share some recipes with you. Not diet food, exactly. Just good honest, clean food without additives and sugars.
This is a simple salad that makes a great side for dinner or lunch.
Tomato, Cucumber and Kidney Bean Salad
I tomato, diced
I cucumber, peeled and diced
I 15oz can of kidney beans, drained
6T olive oil
2T balsamic vinegar
I garlic clove, minced
Toss tomato, cucumber and kidney beans in a medium sized bowl.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, and garlic to make a dressing. Mix well.
Pour dressing over tomatoes, cucumbers and kidney beans. Toss until vegetables are covered.