I’ve been a member of online forums for years, but this is my first foray into blogging. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and one of my heroes, Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, even suggested it to me. So here I am!
My primary motivation for creating this site at this point is to share my low carb recipes. But I also hope to inspire others to be as healthy as they can be, no matter what health issues they are dealing with.
Rather than explain it all over again, I hope you don’t mind if I post a copy of how I got where I am now from a forum where I am an active member:
I’ve been asked many times about my low carb journey, so I thought I’d post it here so it’s easier to find. 8+)
Where to start?
I have never been skinny. As a kid, teenager, and young adult, I was at an acceptable weight for my height (5′ 3 1/2″), but had to fight to stay there.
I was a gymnast from Jr. High into young adulthood (and worked at a gymnastics academy) and was active playing tennis, hiking, swimming, doing aerobics, weightlifting, brisk walking, etc. I watched what I ate and that was what “they” said was healthy: low fat/high carb with whole grains, fruits, veggies, and very little meat, fat, and sugar.
I got married at almost 21, then had to wait for my husband to get his dream job before starting to have kids at 25. (I worked while he went to college. When the state legislature finally approved money for the job he wanted, we started our family.) I had a miscarriage and then 3 beautiful sons. After each pregnancy, I got my weight back down to around 120 by continuing to stay very active and watching what I ate.
During the last pregnancy (I was 30), I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. (Looking back, I’m positive I had it during the 2nd pregnancy, too.) I was given the typical “diabetic heart-healthy diet” to follow during and after the pregnancy, which I did. It worked at first and I lost so much weight walking every night with a fussy newborn in a frontpack that my OB/GYN didn’t recognize me at my 6 week checkup! I also breastfed my kids for at least a year and that helped take the post-PG weight off.
But my weight kept creeping up, even when I cut my food intake at one point until I was basically living on rice cakes and Diet Coke. I went to Jenny Craig a couple of times and spent a fortune to take the weight off. (I went from 160 to 120 once.) It worked until I got to maintenance and went back to cutting the fat way back and eating more carbs (but not calories) again. I was also working out for an hour most days, but the weight wouldn’t stay off and I felt more and more wiped out.
Just before Christmas in 2001, I had to have major sinus surgery. (I weighed about 140 at the time.) The surgery went fine, but afterward, my vision got blurry and has never been the same since. I couldn’t seem to get my energy back and though I wasn’t eating more than usual, gained 30 lbs in 3 months.
Over the next year, I gradually gained more weight until I got up to 183.5 lbs. I saw my regular doc, but she just said gaining weight and feeling tired and achy was normal for my age (I was 42!). I had been asking her to test me for diabetes every year when she checked my cholesterol levels (which I took Lipitor for). But she only tested my fasting level, which has always been in the normal (not even pre-diabetic) range. I told her it was higher than normal for me, but she just said it was fine.
When I wouldn’t take my age as an answer for my problems, she sent me to a rheumatologist for the pain and achiness. He took 9 tubes of blood out of me to test and tried mega-doses of ibuprofen, which didn’t work. Then he put me on prednisone, which didn’t work, either. But I was researching prednisone online one day and saw that it can raise BGLs (Blood Glucose Levels). With my history of gestational diabetes and my grandmother dying from type 2 at age 59, I knew that wasn’t good.
So I dug out my old meter and tested my BGL after eating. It was in the 180s. Not good… There must be something wrong with the strips… They’re old, after all… Got a new meter and strips and tested after eating again: 280s! REALLY not good! So I called the doc the next day and spent 1 1/2 hours on the phone with her nurse convincing her to order an OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test) to prove what I already knew. The lab didn’t want to do it, since they were already doing one that day. Tough! I had already been fasting all morning for it and was on my way!
So when I saw the doc, she put me on Glucophage and mumbled something about the Atkins diet and sent me to diabetes classes and a dietitian who taught me all about counting carbs and following the American Diabetes Association’s guidelines. Meanwhile, I checked out every book in the public library about diabetes and low carb.
I started keeping a journal (and still do) with my fasting level, what I eat for each of my 4 meals per day (and the carb counts if I know them) and what my BGL is 2 hours after. I started out basically following the South Beach Diet guidelines, but found a lot of the foods it recommends make my BGL go up. As I have lowered my weight and BGL goals, I have found Dr. Bernstein’s plan (with a few tweaks) works much better for me. He (and others) also taught me what a truly nondiabetic level is and why I want to stay there.
Speaking of weight: I lost 50 lbs in the 1st year after I started eating low carb. After a few months, I started seeing an endocrinologist who told me to eat more carbs and double my Glucophage (which was out as generic metformin by that time); I ignored his advice and kept eating low carb. I kept my A1c under 5.9 for the next few years (It was 6.5 at diagnosis), but I was fighting to keep the last 10 lbs of my original weight loss off.
In 2005, my arms and neck were getting more and more painful, tingly, and aching, so I mentioned it to my endo. He sent me for nerve conduction studies to rule out diabetic neuropathy. They shocked me and stabbed me with needles and found out there was nerve damage, but not from neuropathy. So I was sent for an MRI which showed I have a herniated disk, bone spur, and misaligned vertebrae in my neck. It also indicated osteoarthritis (which I was told was from being too active!).
In January 2007, I got the flu and couldn’t keep anything in me (including meds), so I stopped taking the metformin and a generic statin for my cholesterol (which I didn’t really need, since my low carb diet had raised my HDLs for the 1st time in my life and my total stays under 200 without it). I kept a close eye on my BGLs with my meter and was able to keep them down by watching the number and kinds of carbs I eat even more closely. It helped that my husband started eating low carb with me in late January.
In July (even after 2 weeks of vacation messing with my BGLs), my A1c (average glucose level) had dropped from 5.8 to 5.0. And my triglycerides dropped from 170 to 60 in that same time period without any meds! I had also lost about 15 lbs since January, but gained about 5 back on vacation.
So, I’m up to today. I am at an acceptable weight for my height with a BMI of just under 23, but I’d like to lose a little more. I would love to weigh 120 again, but for now, my goal is just to get back under 125. I have been walking my Golden Retriever for 1/2 hour almost every night since we got back from vacation in late June, but I have to be careful not to overdo it because of the OA.
This morning I barely dropped under 130: 129.8, but I had lunch out again, so I’m not sure I will maintain that by tomorrow morning. But this has been a way of life for me for over 4 years, so I’m not too concerned about it. I know it will eventually come back off. I’d like it to happen sooner rather than later, but it’s not worth giving up lunch out once in awhile… 8+)
This was posted on August 5, 2007, so there have been some changes since then. I got my weight just under 120 this winter, but am fighting to get a few lbs that have crept up on me back off. I am also in the process of getting tested and treated for thyroid disease. My latest A1c was 4.9, even though it’s winter and I find it hard to move around much during the cold weather. Hurry up, spring! 8+)