Low-Carb, High Fat are Not Naughty Words

I’m a romance writer, and as a published author that means book signings, public appearances and getting my picture taken–a lot! And I hate getting my picture taken.

One of the reasons– I’m not photogenic. Seriously, I’m not. I’m a fairly attractive woman, some might even say pretty (thanks, Mom!) but the camera hates me. It always has, no matter what my dress size is. That photo here? Took me over 30 tries to get a halfway decent picture of me that actually looked like me.

Another reason I hate having my picture taken–I’m fat. Yup, I said it. I’m fat. No, this is not a new revelation, although I’ve found some people think if they say something about it, it might ‘enlighten’ me into losing weight. Like they told me something I didn’t know and I’m going to take their words to heart and immediately jump on the treadmill.

Newsflash–that rarely happens. There are a lot of other myths surrounding fat people, but I won’t get into that now. I’m not here to whine. I made my own bed, so now I have to sleep in it.

Here’s my story:

Ever since an accident when I was 19 that laid me up for months, I’ve had a weight problem. In between having five children, I was up and down the scale so much, I nicknamed mine the seesaw. But about 6 years ago, that seesaw sank right into the ground and stayed that way. I was at my highest weight ever. I was miserable, my back hurt all the time, my joints ached constantly, I had moderate rosacea and I always felt sick. And the worst–a form of acid reflux that had bile rise into my throat while I slept. I would wake up gasping for air.  It burned, it was painful and more often than not, I inhaled the bile and burned my trachea. It would take about an hour of coughing and chugging down milk for the unpleasantness to stop enough so I could sleep.

Eventually, I joined Jenny Craig.

I’m sure it’s no shock to anyone that the Jenny Craig system can be expensive, but I wasn’t going to put a price tag on my health. I could afford it, so I was going to do it. The food was pretty damn good, even if they didn’t have a lot to choose from for me. That’s not their fault, I’m very picky about my food–and I don’t like peppers. It seemed everything had peppers in it.

Anyway, the food was good, the desserts were yummy, and except for the time between lunch and dinner, I was never really hungry. My counselor was compassionate and very knowledgeable. I lost a LOT of weight and my back stopped hurting. My joints still ached and the energy I was expecting didn’t show up, but I looked better even though I had a ways to go.

The problem? I was sick all the time. Constant fatigue, to the point I couldn’t make it through the day without a nap (as a writer, this didn’t shock anyone) I couldn’t go through a week without getting either a sinus headache or migraine, sometimes both at the same time. Ever have that?I have. It sucks.  It got to the point where my kids were shocked to see me at my laptop in the afternoon since I would usually be in bed and only reappeared in time to make dinner. But at least I was doing well on Jenny Craig.

Then the recession hit.

As the wife of a business owner, a contracting business no less, the recession hit us hard. Money got tight and suddenly, I couldn’t afford Jenny Craig anymore. I was on my own.

So what does an overweight person do when no longer on a food plan? Go back to old habits, of course. Within half-a-year, I’d gained back 15 lbs. I tried eating healthy by many doctors’, nutritionists’ and even our own government’s standards. Low fat, high carb. Lean meats, lots of grains, and the least amount of fat you can achieve.

Fast forward 6 months, I was still sick, and only about 5 lbs lighter because I couldn’t stick to any diet. At least with Jenny Craig I had accountability. Having a personal counselor was great and facing that scale with her right next to me kept me on the straight and narrow.

On a side note, it was at this time I was doing research on coconut oil and all it’s fabulous benefits, but I’ll save that for another post. I bring it up now because it was my interest in coconut oil that prompted my oldest son to direct me to a documentary called Fat Head. He’d seen it listed on Netflix’s “watch instantly” queue and thought I’d be interested because they mention coconut oil.

So I watched it. And the movie changed my life.

I won’t go into all the details now, but I will say it lead me toward low-carb, medium-protein, high-fat eating. Not exactly cheap, but still cheaper than Jenny Craig. I signed up on the Atkins website, read the forums and dove right in.

The first few days were fine. Eating like this definitely keeps you satisfied. But after about a week, I suffered from what’s commonly known as “Atkins Flu.” My head felt like it might explode, I was nauseous and my joints were screaming. But I carried on, having read about this on the forums and even expected it to happen. There are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms–like drink lots and lots of water and sip beef broth.

Then I woke up after about 3 days and I felt fantastic! All of a sudden I could get through the day without feeling so tired I had to sleep. No more headaches that lasted for days. No more joint pain. I was doing housework that I’d normally ask my kids to help me with. And best of all, no more acid reflex! I could sleep through the night. All this with still a ton of weight to lose–okay, I don’t weigh a ton, it’s a metaphor, so hush.

In western medicine, there is no cure for rosacea, and mine was disappearing! However, that could be from the coconut oil I’ve incorporated into my diet.

So for years I was doing everything “right.” Trying to lose weight, listening to the so-called “experts” and the whole time I was making my health worse. Now, I eat eggs, bacon, fatty meats, butter–all good things that have been vilified by the medical community.  This is not a no-carb diet, but a selective carb diet. You don’t need a lot for “brain food” as the experts lead you to believe. You get brain food from healthy fats, but even so, the small amount of carbs you do need can be obtained through eating vegetables. Avocado, for instance, is an excellent choice for both fat and carbs.

I still struggle, but I’ve begun to think of this as a lifestyle and not a diet. It’s not about the weight loss anymore, although that is important, but feeling good and being healthy. When I eat right, I feel great, when I don’t, the headaches, especially, come back with a vengeance, as does the acid reflex. Not fun.

If you’re interested, I strongly suggest watching the documentary Fat Head.  The narrator and star, Tom Naughton, explains everything so much better than I could and he’s funny! Personally, I could’ve done without the beginning commentary against the movie Super Size Me, but I understand why he chose to add it. You could probably find the movie on YouTube, but, since Tom does a blog (linked above), research and spreads the word all for free, I chose to buy his DVD to support the great work he’s doing. I watch it whenever I need a kick back into eating right.

So that’s my story. join me on occasion as I continue my journey on writing a best-selling romance novel, researching healthy nutrition and maintaining the low-carb lifestyle.

Until next time, my friends, eat healthy and happy writing!

~Maggie

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This entry was posted in acid reflex, carb, Fat Head Documentary, healthy fat, high fat, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Maggie Van Well, migraine headaches, romance, romance writer, rosacea, sinus headaches, Tom Naughton, weight loss. Bookmark the permalink.

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