I’ve been in the state known as ketosis, brought about by following the rules of Atkins Induction, more times than I can count. I have also been either very successful or not-so successful at staying in Induction for an extended period of time and losing weight.
While I am not recommending long-term ketosis- Atkins doesn’t, and you’ll find few people who do as there’s little research as to what it might do to long-term health – I try to stay in Induction for extended periods – months.
Anyways, for those of you who don’t follow my blog, to summarize the last couple of years: I’ve been maintaining while trying to lose – win on one level, but a big fat fail on another.
I lost my weight in 2003, when I was a carb fiend. Such an abrupt change to low carb produced phenomenal results: 65 lbs. in the first year – another 15 in the second.
As is standard with losing weight and aging, some has crept back on. I’m still down 50 lbs. from my high in 2003, but I’m not satisfied.
So I did some looking back at what I’ve tried that succeeded, what failed miserably, what caused initial progress to evaporate, what and what traps have I fallen into again and again.
I started with a very personal list of concepts that I wrote up a few mornings ago:
Find What You Lost, Remember What You’ve Forgotten
You forgot how to live surrounded by cookies, cake and ice cream and not eat it. Remember how you had your low carb sweets and managed to stay away from the regular stuff.
Remember how you used to fill your mind with spiritual and motivational content. You’re more cynical now, it seems. It might be a good time to revisit it.
You forgot how good it felt to be thin and don’t feel it’s worth the effort so you attempt half-heartedly rather than whole-heartedly.
You forgot how poisonous the news is to your mind and how much healthier you feel on a total news diet.
You forgot how good simplicity feels, how less is more, how to live without needing so much.
Your existential crisis of the moment is because you’ve forgotten how to live in the moment, awake, and counting all the riches you have through good luck and hard work.
You’ve forgotten how good self-discipline can feel if you only hang in there and make it through the initial rough part.
You feel like a fraud because you’ve forgotten that education isn’t knowledge, degrees do not impart wisdom, and study does not inevitably lead to good judgement.
You also feel like a fraud because you’ve forgotten that setbacks do not equate to failure.
You’ve forgotten how procrastination is evil in that it fools us into thinking that ‘tomorrow’ doesn’t really mean ‘never’.
Pretty words – but the trick to ask yourself is how to make them actionable. Without actions attached to the above, it’s all just mental masturbation.
In my experience, at least for me, losing weight is mainly a head-game – a battle between who you are and who you want to be. It’s not a fair fight. Who you are at present has the home-court advantage.
Go ahead – try and break a habit. You might have initial success, but those years of ingrained habituation will wait until you are not paying attention or weak and try to sneak back in.
This is why I think the ‘Just do it’ crowd – who can’t seem to fathom that someone might be having a problem – are pinheads, in my humble opinion.
Plato said: ‘Know thyself.’ To which Oscar Wilde retorted: ‘Only the shallow know themselves.’
So, keeping this all in mind, not as discouragement, but armament against what I will inevitably come up against, I’ve turned the pretty words into some actionable, measurable goals.
So here’s my checklist for this particular try at VLCD. It’s complicated by the fact that I have been withdrawing from nicotine (from my failed nicotine-as-weight-loss-device -experiment), and my doctor recently advised me to cut way back on the coffee. (I told him I only drink a pot.)
This gives me absolutely NO substance to overconsume, which will be tough – I always had some small vice to compensate for a vice I had recently given up. Now, whatever portion of the brain controls the love of small vices, it will now go hungry.
Anyway – the rules I am trying to follow this time are:
- One large coffee per day. Decaf is fine if I want more.
- Resist the temptation to look at the news. It is not actionable and only depresses me.
- Instead of reading the news, journal your progress. This has proven helpful in the past and prevents ‘forgetting’ what has been learned.
- Measure weight once a day. Any more is noise.
- Check blood glucose a few times a day, as I am still learning about my early-stage diabetes.
- Eat a fatty breakfast – somewhere around 3-400 calories. Even though I’m not hungry most mornings, past experience shows I lose weight when I eat breakfast.
- Take my vitamins after breakfast.
- Drink at least 2 liters of water per day. Seltzer is fine.
- Explore hunger. Meditate on it. Allow myself to be hungry. Explore the fear and learn to be unafraid. I had food, and I am going to have more food. The fear is primal. Conquer it rather than trying to eliminate it – that has been a failed strategy.
- Don’t go more than 6 hours without eating. I’m not out to starve. The larger goal is to be healthy. The weight will follow.
- Zero bread – even the low carb type.
- No low carb junk food. Sorry, Atkins, this means the bars and shakes.
- Three heaping teaspoons of fiber therapy every evening before dinner.
- No eating after 8pm. After 8 pm is my ‘stupid time’. Here is where I am most vulnerable to the ‘just a little taste’ trap. A total prohibition prevents this.
- Count calories without fixating on it. We’re trying to be close and use the act of counting as an awareness exercise.
- No alcohol. While I have proven time and again I can drink alcohol and maintain, I have also proved that I cannot lose weight and have alcohol – and losing weight is the point of this.
- Think you’re doing good and want to ‘reward’ yourself? Go ahead – but have it have NOTHING to do with what you put in your mouth. Clothes, toys, movies are fine. But don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that a cheat is a ‘reward’ – this is a mind game you play on yourself, pure and simple.
- Make this list a checklist of sorts. You should be able to go down this list daily and see if you’ve followed all the rules.
There you have it. I’m starting day 4, have been successful so far, and lost a few pounds. Right now, the coffee issue is the toughest.
It’s way too early to tell how I might bet blind-sided – caught unawares by the forces inside me that are absolutely against this plan and conspire to trip me up.
In a way – that’s kinda the fun of it.