My First 2 Weeks On Induction Again – An Update

As mentioned in a previous post, I wasn’t minding the store, and my weight climbed to 215 from 180 – 35 lbs.

I knew what was happening – intellectually, at least, but I still let it slide – until the ‘button chase’ began.

What’s the ‘button chase’?

It’s when the button on your pants doesn’t quite reach the buttonhole and you end up spinning like a dog chasing their tail to get the one into the other.

I have no fat clothes – I threw them all away, so unless I want to go out and buy new clothes, I have to lose weight – I mentioned this in another post as a useful tool to maintain weight-loss.

You can’t rationalize away the fact you can’t shoehorn yourself into your pants, so on December 31, I went back on Atkins hardcore.

So it’s been 2 weeks – what’s the story?

I’m in the groove. I’m in ketosis consistently, I feel OK now – pretty good, actually. I’ve lost 15+ lbs. and the scale now hovers a little below 200. I’ve stalled, but this doesn’t concern me – I see the ketosis sticks turn color and know I’m reprogramming my body to burn fat – and I’ll get on the scale some time in the near future and see I’ve lost a few lbs. overnight – how the hell that happens I’ll never know.

I’ve noticed other things harder to notice if you’re not paying close attention to your body:

  • My GERD has diminished greatly. I honestly thought that it was more of a result of the weight, but it seems the low carb diet is what is reducing it, because I’m still fat, in my estimation. I still get heartburn after certain foods, but my Tums consumption is way down.
  • My head seems more clear. I do believe – and seem to confirm this go-round – that what Atkins referred to as ‘brain fog’ – is real. Two weeks into low carb, and I do feel somehow calmer and clearer in my thinking.
  • My appetite has changed. Hunger on Atkins is different – I’m repeating myself, but reconfirming as well. The deep and intense cravings that I would experience when eating high-carb change to something more manageable – when I eat a lot of carbs, the cravings that follow seem more like demonic possession. I would dream about food. Right now I’m working on not forgetting to eat, as starving yourself is relatively easy in Atkins, but you must eat to lose weight.

The way I see it, I can ride this wave all the way to 175 – it’s manageable and sustainable.

But one takeaway that I’ve suspected in the past, but now confirmed is: it is actually easier to take the weight off than keep the weight off. I’m talking about Atkins here – my two experiences losing weight low calorie were grueling – a relentless climb up a steep mountain. They were not sustainable – that’s why both times the weight came right back on – with a little extra added – within a year.

The last paragraph has a certain ‘duh!’ factor to it – of course it’s harder to keep it off than to lose it! Way more people lose weight and don’t keep it off than those who do.

But zeroing in on low carb weight loss, there’s more to it.

Ketosis bestows upon the Atkins dieter a boost to one’s willpower – the chemical transformation of your body’s fuel system gives the low carber an edge. Ketosis is an appetite supressant – and I believe it’s impact is more subtle than that – it changes the nature of hunger itself.

The problem is when you no longer need to be in ketosis and begin eating more carbs, you lose that advantage.

In the past, I thought that the occasional ‘low carb vacation’ was OK, but from where I sit now, it seems that, at least for me, if I want to stay at my weight, I need to reconsider how I managed my weight loss the last time.

Should I consider a total ban on high carb meals forever and ever? That sounds like it kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

Should I consider a mandatory ‘induction week’ – say one week a month – to maintain?

Or is the answer that I just stay away from the high carb ‘crap food’ the sugary, starchy processed comfort food, but not demonize the good carbs found in wholesome foods like fruits.

I’m thinking out loud here and it’s the last one that sounds like the best course. One low carb blogger (I’m so sorry – I forget who) made the point that true vegetarians don’t go “what the hell – give me a steak” now and then.

They never eat meat.

So perhaps it takes a similar internal agreement – I will never eat real mashed potatoes, white rice, or macaroni and cheese – and a bunch of other things – again – ever.

Is that what it takes? Maybe – I have to live with this thought for a while, see how it feels – if it fits me.

I had thought that I could indulge on occasion but the ‘occasions’ became so frequent that they began blending into one another – and here I am looking to lose 25 lbs I had already lost.

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3 thoughts on “My First 2 Weeks On Induction Again – An Update

  1. Well, thanks a LOT, LCC. So I’m showering this morning, thinking about what’s happened to me in the last two weeks of my re-induction, and plotting out my discourse to share with you and whomever visits these blogs. I come upstairs, sit down to the computer, bring up your site, and find you’ve touched on pretty much everything I was going to say!

    But what does that tell us? That you and I are somehow twins separated at birth who have an inate ability to experience the same things at a distance? (Likely not, as I’m 56 now!) No, it demonstrates the constants of the Atkins approach. Examples:

    – That “weird” feeling in the beginning of induction: For those who take the time to research the science behind induction, the “brain fog” for lack of a better term, and the associated feelings that something is different in the old noggin, is the brain’s reaction to having to switch to a fuel source other than its favorite (ketone bodies versus glucose); this change requires a period of between one and two weeks to occur. There is a cellular barrier that is more adept at allowing the passage of glucose as fuel, but once the only real source is ketone bodies, this cellular barrier adapts. One of the things that happens in the liver during ketosis is that the fat cells, which normally would not be usable as fuel for the brain because they are too long molecularly, are split in half to beome ketones, which then are able to pass through that cellular barrier. (Note: some of this is from memory from a great article I read when first in Atkins 4.5 years ago, so if someone checks this and finds it less than accurate, please speak up.) One of the points I was going to make this morning is that I am “over the hump” so to speak, and my mind feels sharp as a tack. I finished the New York Times crossword puzzle this morning and got every answer right, although I did spell “weans” wrong (I always thought it was “ween.”

    – GERD and other heartburn ailments: I too used to keep a couple bottles of Tums and Pepto Bismol in the medicine cabinet prior to my first Atkins round. I think a couple years later I needed some and bought a bottle of sugar free Tums and took a few. When I had heartburn a couple weeks ago, oddly the first night of my re-induction, I took a couple (the bottle was still nearly full), and there was no change in a half hour so I looked at the expiration date and found it was two years beyond. I took a couple more, and the burn subsided. I bought a new bottle last week to keep on hand, but have not had to open it and I suspect I may never have to.

    – Ketosis: Having the ability to see if what you’re doing is working is a big plus, not only boosting your morale, but confirming that what you’re eating is making your body do what you want it to do, which is to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs. BUY THE KETOSTIX. Don’t buy the small containers of 20, my drugstore tried to sell me those for $10, but when I asked about larger quantities, they advised they could special order those and have them the next day. I got 100 stix for $20, do the math and check your ketones once a day or more. I’d also advise not to pay too much attention to the depth of the color because, as LCC has pointed out, Ketosis is Ketosis, damn the darkness. Yesterday afternoon I did NOT noticeably change the color, but this morning I did, to the first level, so don’t let inconsistency discourage you. LCC has also suggested that hydration is a factor in depth of color, but as I am drinking a minimum of 64 oz of water daily, I have to suppose it is for another reason I read about years ago: some people’s bodies utilize ketones more efficiently than others. Remember, the ketones in your urine are an indication that your body is turning fat cells to fuel cells, but these are the ketones that your body HAS NOT USED and is flushing out. If your body is using ketones for fuel and the excess is not as great as in someone else, you’re burning them up and there are fewer to “light up” the stick.

    – Appetite: This is the clincher as far as I’m concerned. Those of us who dared try this “radical” diet when it was all the rage several years ago quickly figured out the reason it was working for us was because we never got much of a chance to feel hungry. Our poor pals eating low calorie and no fat were always hungry, and usually put whatever weight they lost back on pretty soon. Meanwhile, we were (are) satisfied, and with good reason. Some still wonder, “How can you be eating bacon and steak and butter and still lose weight?!?” HA-HA. Read the book. My need to snack now is more out of the old behavioral boredom late at night, and I find nibbling on a slice or two of cheese does the trick.

    – “Cheating”: Never say never, I say. But never say “always” or even “often.” I lost 30 pounds plus the first time around and maintained it for an extensive period of time during maintenance. What messed me up the first time was medication that changed my metabolism, but my SECOND failure was due to my own refusal to accept reality. I like popcorn, and after my substantial loss, I would treat myself to a small bag of popcorn when going to the theater, which was not that often. I never suffered any weight gain from this, and so my mind, reverting back to behavioral disfunction regarding food, rationalized that if eating popcorn at the show didn’t have an effect on my weight, then I could eat popcorn as a snack whenever desired. I bought boxes of microwave popcorn and started using them as my evening snack instead of something actually low carb. I refused to pay attention to the nutrition panel on the box. I began having a full bag for my snack EVERY NIGHT. I’d stopped weighing myself daily, confident in my long term stability. Two months later, when I finally couldn’t deny what my body was trying to tell me because my clothes were doing the talking (the “Button Chase” had begun), I somehow got the courage to step on the scale and found I’d gained 8 more pounds on top of the 12 from the medication I’d never managed to be able to shed.
    The point I’m trying to make is that, after you’ve reached or nearly reached your goal, having something NOT low carb OCCASIONALLY is probably not going to cause you problems. The problem comes from letting yourself believe this is anything but a special treat and at the same time something to be feared. I truly and honestly believe the reason Atkins changed my life is because I learned things about the science of nutrition that put fear into me. Knowing what those two bagels on Fridays had been doing to me made me shiver. (Here’s an interesting story from well before my Atkins period: years earlier, I’d been on a diet that really was pretty sensible, and had lost some weight but eventually put it back on, but the book I’d been reading had stated something about carbohydrates and what consumption does to insulin levels. One Friday (bagel day at work), I’d had my usual two bagels with butter and then had to go to my urologist for a checkup. After I’d gotten back to work, I received a call from his office asking me to come back in for another urine check, because my tests strongly indicated diabetes! Well, by that afternoon, my urinalysis was fine. I re-read my book, and during my next visit with the doctor, I mentioned how I’d had two carb-laden bagels RIGHT BEFORE coming in for my test, and he pooh-poohed the notion, saying they wouldn’t have caused that much of a change that quickly. After all I’d read to the contrary, I decided he didn’t have as good an understanding of it as I now did, and from then on avoided eating high-carb foods before having urine tests and never had another issue with it.)
    Anyway, back to my point: Special treats and fear. FEAR: I learned to think of carb laden junk as my enemy after learning about what they has been responsible for doing to my body for most of my life. This was not so difficult a task on Atkins because, as LCC has also noted, one’s appetite changes on a low carb diet. Additionally, there is a distinct effect I’d read about but personally experienced the first time around that I believe holds true no matter how long you’ve been eating right: eating carbs creates a craving to eat more carbs. Cut the carbs out, and suddenly they don’t have the appeal they used to. On previous diets, I was not able to pass a snack vending machine without inner turmoil over wanting whatever was in there. I wanted any of it, all of it. Once into Atkins, I found I could stare at the thing and not feel one ounce of desire. Where before I saw items of pleasure and satiety, all I saw now was crap; perhaps tasty, but dangerous, crap. I genuinely laughed at the Friday morning donut and bagel table at work each week, and had not the faintest need to have any of that sugar and white flour garbage everybody else was filling themselves up on. SPECIAL TREATS: When you’ve gotten the fear of crap into you, you should be able to love your enemy on occasion. For me, that meant being able to have a reasonable dessert when eating out at a nice place (that would be once a month or less often in my life). On our first resort vacation after losing weight, I refused to eat ANYTHING not on the plan, although I drew the line at beverages. No gain after returning home, and then back on the plan. The next vacation, I allowed a few French fries once in a while, but still shunned breads and starchy vegetables. Again, no gain, and back to business at home. Bag of popcorn at the show? Sure, but small, and that’s it: AT THE SHOW. So you still have to have the knowledge and the healthy fear that comes from it if you want to be able to have a special treat every so often. Listen, there are enough low carb foods that one can have that will do the same trick that nobody needs to fall back into the depths of carb and weight gain hell again. I’m surprised any of us do, to tell the truth.

    So, LCC, here we are, both essentially, time-wise, at the same point in our “re-induction” as I like to call it, and both experiencing the same things. I like it, it’s an affirmation. I did finally lose another 2 pounds yesterday, now totaling 6 in the first 10 days. Chartwise, I’m tracking pretty close my loss the first time around (I weigh and log my weight every day, letting the spreadsheet formulas calculate loss and cumulative loss, and the graph charts it visually, which is another motivational tool). I’ve reviewed my food logs from the first four weeks in July 2003, and I’m being meticulous about recording my daily meals in a spreadsheet as back then, which for me is a necessity in making sure I am keeping my carbs at 20 or less, and seeing where they are coming from. I also get to see where my calories are, but this is not an issue I am concerned with as my days are consistently between 1200 and 2000 calories.

    Here’s a couple added things I want to say before I close this long-winded reply:
    – For the past few years, I’ve been over-producing mucus, which in the past six months has become so constant and so voluminous that it is not only inconvenient for me in getting rid of it, it is annoying in both noise and habituous activity (coughing, clearing the throat, spitting up) to everyone around me, particularly my spouse. Last week at my six month doctor visit, I told my doctor I was desparate, something had to be done about it. He prescribed the generic version of Mucinex, which I found I now had to buy over the counter because my health provider won’t cover it. As I was price-comparing and about to purchase the other day, I noticed that I hadn’t been spitting up much in the past few days. Up until then, it had been practically 24/7. As of today, I feel clear and mucus-free, and this is my 11th day on induction. Coincidence? I think not. Another nail in carb’s coffin.
    – Energy. I chuckled a few days ago reading all the comments online from people who experience rushes of energy soon into induction. I certainly wasn’t feeling any. But you know what? In the past couple days, I’ve noticed there’s more spring in my step, and the lethargy that was part of my life the past six months since I downslid is lifting. I feel like MOVING. Odd, isn’t it? Where before I would think about getting on the treadmill and then realize I had no intention or desire to do it, I’m now actually thinking about getting on tomorrow morning when I rise, like I used to. I believe you don’t have to exercise to lose weight. In fact, what I’ve found discouraging in the past is that I usually wind up stalling loss while I’m replacing fat with muscle. But getting into better shape is part and parcel with losing weight, so maybe tomorrow I’ll start my routine again.
    – Attitude: You’re right, LCC, this is a sustainable approach, and one that keeps building upon itself as one continues. My attitude is gaining momentum, and even my desire to get back on the martini train is tempering itself with the knowledge that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I’ll know I’ll be self-disciplined when Wednesday comes and I have my first drink in 14 days. Alcohol gets used before fat, and I don’t want anything to prevent much of THAT!

    Adios for now,
    Megamas

  2. I love you guys! Everything you say is so true for me and I think most low carbers. When you eat carbs and crave more, I’ve heard it called “waking the dragon” and that pretty much describes it for me. So, I’ve learned a lot of alternate low carb sweets and grab a water when I think I want something special. It is a constant discipline, but like I’ve said before, I don’t want to go back…..God bless you both and keep those thoughts coming into my life!

  3. Denise, those comments made all my blathering worth it! I think we all bring something to the table from our research and our experience. Like I said earlier, these common threads are like affirmations to me, they bolster my resolve to succeed (again). Anything I’ve learned that I can pass on, I will, because knowledge is power. LCC used the quote, “Those who know and do not act, still do not know.” I’d like to give that a twist: “Those who act and do not know, still have not acted.” So many of my friends who ultimately failed and gave up on Atkins tried to act, but they did not know. That is, they did not know that what they were doing was wrong because they would not bother to take the trouble to read and understand what they were attempting. Denise, stick with it, be proud, share the power.

    That being said, today’s dumb story: I got up, had coffee, read the paper, cleaned up, did my blog reply above, went grocery shopping, came home, unpacked, and my wife and I ran off to see “Atonement” at the theater at 1pm. About a half hour into the movie, my stomach started making some very loud and objectionable noises. I whispered to her, “I just realized I haven’t had anything to eat today!” Needless to say, that led to an early dinner, but this is going to be a VERY low carb day.

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