So what happened? Several things, all of them good.
First, I busted through my stall. For about six months, I had stalled in the 242-245 pound range, though in recent weeks I had gotten up to has high as 249. That was a good 25-30 pounds above my ideal weight (I am tall). On January 1, 2012, I weighed 249.8 pounds and this morning, January 30, 2012, I weighed 233.8 pounds, for a total loss of 16 pounds.
Second, my blood glucose levels were excellent. They fell, and rapidly. In particular, my fasting blood glucose levels were a bit high (the "dawn phenomenon"), but they fell to below 100 most mornings. One-hour readings were almost always below 120 and two-hour readings were close to 100.
Third, I broke an addiction to artificial sweeteners. I haven't had anything with an artificial sweetener for 30 days now and have drunk nothing but water and herbal tea. Something caused me to have big headaches the first week, as I was weaning myself from non-natural foods. It was like the caffeine withdrawal I had when I finally gave up diet colas three years ago (I am not a coffee or caffeinated tea drinker). I don't know what caused the headaches, but I am wondering if it wasn't all the artificial sweeteners I had been consuming.
Why I Believe it Worked
So why was I able to drop 16 pounds in 30 days, when I was stalled for six months? Because I was consuming fewer calories, bottom line. When you cut out dairy, sweeteners (artificial and real), chocolate, and other processed foods, you simply eat less. I noticed that immediately, when I realized the range of foods available for me to eat was quite limited. I also stopped snacking. Plus the foods I actually ate were whole and real. I only ate out when I absolutely could not help it.
After going gangbusters on a low carb diet, I got sloppy and started eating things that were probably not good for me. Dark chocolate tops that list. I pretty much ate some chocolate almost every day and for me, chocolate is a trigger food. Also, I bought into all the "high fat low carb" fairy tale hype I had seen on the Internet. So I was making an effort to add fat to everything. What I didn't really realize was that a low carb or Paleo diet is already high fat; you don't have to add fat to make it high fat. When you cut back on carbs, fat fills the void. Naturally.
I also ate a lot of energy dense foods as snacks, such as cheeses, almonds, almond flour, other nuts, and ice cream. You simply cannot eat all you want of these types of food and lose weight; calories count. This is a message that needs repeating on the Internet.
Challenges I Faced
It wasn't easy to do. I got withdrawal headaches from something that were very unpleasant for the first week. Then my father passed away and I spent 10 days on the road, eating what I could, when I could. On only one occasion during the funeral trip was I forced to make a compromise. I hadn't eaten much and, because of traveling, had to eat on the road. I probably consumed fewer than 1,000 calories that day, but I did buy a stick of beef jerky and some smokehouse almonds from a convenience store to get through that particular situation. I also had a really bad cold two weeks into the process and took some cold medication (but not a lot) . I had wanted to have a chemical free experience, but life happened.
Here are some lessons I learned:
- Calories count.
- Whole foods are best.
- I was addicted to chocolate, which means I will probably have to avoid it in the future.
- I can survive without diet soda.
- I miss cheese, but will not go overboard with it when it is reintroduced.
- Coconut oil is my friend.
- I got sloppy and careless on the low carb diet, and consumed too many calories each day, which is why I stalled.
- Paleo is a much better eating philosophy than low carb.
- The low carb conventional wisdom found on the web (e.g., "Add fat!") is wrong.
- However, as a road warrior, low carb is easier to live with than clean Paleo, if one is forced to eat out a lot.
I will be gradually reintroducing some of the foods I have not eaten for a while, but continue to pay attention to calories. I am getting near my goal of 215-220 pounds and I want to reach that, as I want to go paragliding in Switzerland this summer. I am still taking refuge in the Carbsane Asylum and not blindly accepting what I read on the web anymore. There are many wise voices on the web, but also lots of fairy tales.