So I’m on a weight loss kick. My doctor does not think this is warranted but I’m vain enough to disagree. I miss my six pack abs (ok, they were only consistently a four pack with a Mom belly but still…), and I miss the way my pants used to fit. Menopause is a wicked miserable jerk with a bad sense of humor and along with the meno-5, I’m forgetful, irritable, exhausted, and bloated. And I still cycle so PMS is still a thing. This is full blown peri-menopausal syndrome, or so I’m told. Whatever it is, I’m fighting back.
The plan involves some calorie cutting and some exercise increases but nothing crazy. Lots of folks I know (including my sister, the diet and exercise guru) believe in the protein heavy, carb light, omit all sugar way of dieting. I can’t even count how many people have told me to “just stop eating carbs” as a way to drop weight. That whole Atkins, Zone, Paleo thing really works. Well, guess what? I’m losing weight without doing any of that. I’m still eating carbs and sugar. And losing weight. So it is possible.
For those of you who have followed this blog and/or know me at all, you know I am very active. I walk with the dogs for miles every day, up and down a mountain. I wrestle with the 86 lb puppy daily for at least 30 minutes. I hike longer hikes for work or pleasure or both on a weekly basis. I was doing regular trail building or trail work last summer. And I gained between 5 and 10 pounds. I didn’t dig out the scale until after the diet plan went into full swing, so I don’t know exactly how much I gained. Let’s call it 5 pounds. I’m focused on getting rid of these 5 pounds, but at my fittest and happiest I was probably 10 pounds lighter. The 5 pounds must go – it would be really nice to keep going and take off the entire ten but I’ll be delighted with 5. Five pounds doesn’t sound like much, but one of my good friends totally nailed it – “on me,” she said, “five pounds is double chins and stretch marks.” I’m a petite framed, 5’1” tall squirt. I just can’t carry any extra weight without looking and feeling like someone pulled the pin in an emergency inflatable life raft.
I should admit I’ve never had to diet or restrict or put any effort into my eating (beyond my neurotic organic health food vegetarian macrobiotic songbird-friendly sustainability criteria). I have eaten oreos hand over fist because they were free, and had tortilla chips and wine for dinner (ice cream for dessert, of course). I’ve considered granola an entree and clif bars a nutritious meal for a growing child (I’m not exactly proud of that one…). But I’ve always kept the big picture in mind and kept to a general Michael Pollan-esque regime because that’s what has always made the most sense to me on every level.
At this point, I am claiming success for the method. The numbers on the scale are going in the right direction. My back, shoulders, abs, and arms have regained the definition I missed, and I’m starting to look like I did when I met my husband 7 years ago. Here are my basic changes. Read ‘em and weep, carb haters.
- I sleep more. I am going to bed earlier. At least one hour earlier every night. I was staying up too late and the dogs wake me up at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. I read somewhere that your body can’t shed weight while you’re sleep deprived. Maybe it’s true or maybe I remembered the whole article all wrong. Google it if you want but I am still going to sleep more.
- I eat more. I was in the bad habit of skipping lunch. I’d be starved by 3 pm and snack most unwisely. No more of that. I eat lunch by 1 p.m., and I make myself a BIG plate of something (and yes, some days that something is pasta, and it is delicious), and sit down to eat it. It’s really hard some days. I’m way too busy, but this is important so I just put other stuff off.
- I sill eat carbs. I eat bread. I eat pretzels. I eat whole grains and not-so-whole grains (white basmati rice. It’s really good.). I drink beer. And yes, I’m losing weight. Eating is a celebration and a joyful experience. I’m not giving that up. Period. It’s not up for discussion. I have delicious homemade French bread every morning for breakfast. Two big pieces. Often with homemade marmalade and butter. Plenty of butter.
- I bought a rowing machine – a Concept 2 erognometer. I’m working my way up to 30 minutes, 5x/week. I started with 5 minutes a day and am increasing slowly. It’s kind of boring but whatever. It is making me look and feel great. I’m only at 15 minutes per session and I see results. I think 30 minutes, 5 times per week will be awesome for my body. I’ll let you know.
- I stopped eating ice cream at night. Ok, in truth, I stopped eating ice cream completely. I didn’t eat much, but most nights I had one small scoop with the hubster as we watched Foyle’s War. We’d stop the episode halfway through and have a bowl of ice cream. I don’t love ice cream that much. It’s yummy but I like French bread more. I like beer more. I like chocolate more. So I cut out the ice cream. Once a week or so I have a small scoop of mango sorbet and that’s great. But not necessary. Maybe I’ll stop that too if I get fed up with the pace of my progress.
- I still eat dark chocolate. Every day. It’s only a small piece. See #3.
- I started using hiking poles on my daily walks. I have no idea how much using poles is affecting weight loss or calories burned or whatever, but it is a change. I just thought I may as well get started using poles – there are so many good reasons to use poles.
- I still snack, just as often as I always did. I still eat corn chips or pretzels for snacks. But I bought some raw organic almonds (yes, I had to remortgage the house but whatever), and at least once a day when I go to get some chips I remember the almonds and have a handful of almonds instead. And when I eat the chips, I don’t eat them out of the bag any more. I get a plate, and serve myself a reasonable serving. I’m sure I’m eating a smaller quantity of that stuff now. With all the money I save by having the tortilla chips last longer I can buy more almonds.
I know I could lose the weight much faster if I stopped eating all carbs, and stopped all sugar and stopped all food that contains the letter “e” but screw that. I am 48 years old… I know how to wait for things. And I know that if I drop the weight by no longer eating a whole category of nutrients, that’s doomed because eventually, the diet will end, and I’ll go back to eating my regular way and kablam: The meno-5 will be back in no time. The way I’m doing it is sustainable. I’m not making any change that I’m unwilling to live with for the rest of my life. I’m not making any changes that aren’t easy and comfortable. Because as vain as I am about refusing to share my waistline with the meno-5, I’m even more stubborn about enjoying my food. I am going to eat well, enjoy meals, take delight in a kickass IPA, and lather, rinse, and repeat. Life is too short for making food anything but a joy.