While modesty prevents me from disclosing how much I weighed when I started my new diet campaign one week ago, I can happily report that I have lost three pounds since then. I do realize that when a woman appears to lose weight, she may in reality have lost nothing at all. We women retain a lot of water, and with our cycles our weight can easily vary by three pounds from one day to the next. Having said that, I’ll add to the mix that I no longer have a period, that my weight no longer does that ‘younger woman’ flux, and that I weighed myself at exactly the same time in my schedule one week later as a means to reflect the change in my weight as accurately as possible. So, in fewer words, the gist is this: Atkins works.
There are two things I want to report about my first week’s experience with this seemingly crazy, unnatural diet. First, is that I am very seldom hungry. Honestly. Even during the course of a regular, non-dieting day I am often uncomfortably so – and during a good old-fashioned low calorie, low fat diet I become absolutely ravenous. The only thing that would keep me going during a Weight Watchers diet was the reward of my weekly visit to Mr. Lee’s Evanston Grill for his locally famous and much beloved Bi Bim Bop. (That, plus the burning image in my mind of zipping up my beloved size 8 vintage cocktail dresses once again.) I had my oasis in each week – that glorious relief, that reward, those beloved flavors, that sexy, fatty, perfectly marinated beef. It kept me going. Then after my respite, it was back to a long week of hungry hours, of my being constantly preoccupied with my next bite, of watching my daily ration of points disappear quicker than I’d expected.
The second thing to report is not as encouraging as the first. It is this: salt and fat become tedious, and sweet snacks are virtually nonexistent on the diet. For me that’s generally ok – cuz I don’t really find sweet foods all that compelling. Sure, I love a great dessert, but I’m happy 90% of the time if my meal doesn’t end that way. And if given the choice between chocolate and salami, well… nuff said. But when you’re eating meat, eggs, fat and cheese – and the salty flavors that go with that territory – you find yourself really wanting the contrast. Plus on Atkins you can get a funky taste in your mouth in the beginning – as well as headaches (things I’d forgotten about) and you really want some relief. Even sugar free gum has carbohydrates, so the options that you might have thought were abundant are really not so. The solution? Ah, the Atkins staple; sugar free jello and artificially sweetened whipped cream. Now I really dislike artificial sweeteners. So much so that I cannot stand more than one sip of diet Coke – no exaggeration. However, in the context of some over-the-top, full-on fatty, heavy cream, a pinch of sweetener (gotta watch out there too – not all artificial sweeteners are low-carb!) can do the trick. So my relief comes in the form of jello – and changing up the flavors helps to reduce the monotony just a bit. (A very tiny bit, but a bit nonetheless.) Another tip: a shot of breath spray gives a little temporary relief too.
The fact that I awake each morning knowing that I won’t have to be distracted by hunger throughout my day is such a plus – I’d even go so far as to say that I see it as a kind of upgrade in my overall quality of life. I certainly can’t imagine living so strictly low-carb all of my life, but I can see the obvious advantage of exercising a little self-control and avoiding the gratuitous starchy foods that are all too easy to eat in large quantities. I don’t need heaping platefuls of rice or endless pieces of fresh-baked italian bread. If I set out to have a taste of rice, pasta or bread and am not starving at the outset of my meal, I think I’d be apt to eat less. Frankly, I piled on the mindless carbs mostly cuz I was hungry. (This does however require some planning; protein needs to be on board and in your system before you’re faced with some tempting carbs.) Not feeling such a terrible gnawing in my gut gives me much more power to say no. I’m not saying binges are off the map – I believe every experience has its time and place. But in abstaining totally, it’s given me a bit more perspective on how many carbs I used to eat, and how thoughtlessly I did so.
Sure hope I don’t appear to be standing on a soap box here, just want to pass on some of my observations from this first week of re-acquainting myself with the Atkins diet. Not sure if I’ll be as chipper and upbeat about it in the future as I am today. I’ll check in each week to report on the process – I myself am curious about how my feelings will change, and if my progress will be steady or stall out after just a few more pounds. I think I can increase the likelihood of my success if I step it up a bit too; if I add routine workouts and watch my carbs a bit more diligently I think it’ll help. Many was the time I ate more than I’d thought by making an assumption about something before checking first. (Pickled okra are not carb-free, who knew?)
Although three pounds isn’t going to register on my frame, and my pants likely won’t begin to fit differently until I’ve lost a good ten pounds, I absolutely know that something in my body has changed. Also, I’m thinking it’s a good time of year to try out a new diet – no parties on the horizon, no food-related holidays to pose undue challenges and stress… and a still a couple months yet til my half century birthday. So I’m feeling ok, hopeful. A subtle feeling of dread is lightening as I assert a bit more control over my life. I do realize that total control over our lives is never fully within our power – but with that in mind, I am enjoying the result of my current, tiny success.
What I really miss most is a glass of wine. When I’ve seen ten pounds gone, I’ll treat myself to a glass. That first sip will no doubt be more enjoyable than so many that have come before… Til then, however, it’s one week at a time….