Learning to Love Low-Carb
I’ll be honest, when my dad first suggested that I needed to cut out the carbs in my life, I laughed him off and told him it was impossible. However, my weight was saying otherwise. Over the past 6+ years, my weight has slowly and but surely crept up, and I wasn’t stopping it. I had worked out, cut calories, skipped meals – but it all lasted just a few weeks, and nothing seemed to work. I’d eventually go back to the same ol’ habits of eating whatever I wanted without thinking twice.
Sure, the wedding in a few months has played a part in my decision to take the low-carb plunge, but it’s more than that. I wasn’t happy with myself, I was always tired, and I want to have kids in the near future (without the added complications due to being unhealthy). I went in to this new lifestyle thinking that it’ll be hard, but knowing the overall benefits are worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t cut out carbs completely, but I definitely cut them down drastically. For example, a dinner at Carrabba’s consisted of 1 loaf of bread dipped in olive oil and herbs before dinner (yes, I can eat that by myself). Then, the entrée was breaded chicken parmesan with spaghetti, some more bread, all while washing it down with 2-3 glasses of wine. If I didn’t have dessert, I’d have another glass of wine. Sounds like a great time, but afterwards, I felt like shit. Not only did I feel incredibly bloated, but I surely looked it, too.
We all have heard it before - it’s all about moderation. But it’s more than that – it’s making smart swaps as well. Take the above example: no more bread before dinner (or at all, for that matter), grilled/blackened chicken instead of breaded, and steamed/grilled veggies instead of pasta. And if dessert is ordered by the table – have 1 bite and THAT’S IT – or, trade that bite of dessert for a glass of wine – you can do either/or, but NOT BOTH. My biggest accomplishment? Taking home leftovers because I drank 2 glasses of water before I ate. I can still eat at Carrabba’s (only once in awhile), but it’s all about making those small, but important, adjustments.
I always thought it was impossible to forego bread and pasta, but each day that I feel better about myself, the less I miss it. Plus, I have so much more energy! That’s a huge positive for me – I’m only 28 (soon-to-be 29), and I was always tired after work. So much so, that I couldn’t even bring myself to work out. Now that I’ve cut down on the carbs, I have a lot more energy to work out (and that’s a MUST). Sure, I have my good days and my bad – so I decided to make a list of my New Health(ier) Choices and then my Cheating Choices (because you can’t completely deprive yourself – it’ll never work!).
Here it is…
My New Health(ier) Choices
- No Bread
- Tip: If I must have bread (either for a sandwich or hamburger), I turn to these small, low-carb, whole-wheat tortillas. These have changed my life! Thanks to my friend, Johanna, for introducing us!
- No Rice
- Tip: I loveeeeee sushi. If I don’t get it sashimi-style (no rice), I get the rolls that are wrapped in cucumber instead of rice. Or, just scrape the rice off the roll (it’s a little time-consuming, but worth it.)
- Tip: Cauliflower rice is a popular option. Recipe for Cauliflower Fried “Rice” here.
- No Potatoes
- Tip: I was never a huge potato fan, so this isn’t that hard for me. However, I do miss my sweet potatoes, so having a small one (baked only) every so often is OK. Make sure to forget the butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon only.
- Tip: Cauliflower, the magical veggie. Here’s a recipe for Mashed Garlic & Cheese Cauliflower.
- Tip: If you must have fries, limit yourself to 5, and don’t dunk it in anything. Not sure why I picked 5, but that seems to do the trick.
- No Added Sugar
- Tip: This one is a bit controversial, but I opt for sugar substitute. If you are against this, try out Stevia or Truvia products. They taste similar to sugar, but are all nautral (or so they claim).
- Tip: I still eat fruit – this is the most natural form of sugar, and fruits are good for you. Just don’t go overboard on an all-fruit diet. I once read that fruits with seeds in them are the best for you – since they have the highest fiber. These include strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.
- Work Out at LEAST 3 Times a Week. Even if I can’t get to the gym for 1 hour of cardio, I garden, power walk for an hour, or clean the house like a mad woman for a few hours. I’ve been good at getting in 4 days a week at the gym, though.
- Tip: Go with a friend! Trust me, this is HUGE. It makes the time go by faster and more importantly, you motivate each other to actually GO.
- Drink A Lot of Water.
- Tip: I got a water bottle that has a built-in straw, and I swear I fill it up 8 times a day without knowing. That’s a little over a gallon of water I drink every day! It fills you up, makes your skin look nice, and you just feel better overall.
My Cheating Choices
- Tip: Fortunately for me, this has little-to-no carbs; however, I do opt for the low-fat or skim milk options (even though this may add additional carbs, the lower calories and fat are worth it!)
- Tip: Let’s be real, I’m a social drinker AND it’s football season. My drink of choice now is vodka, water and 2 lemon wedges. But I can’t drink that all day (or while tailgating), so I choose light beer and I make sure to not eat ANY carbs that day or night.
- Tip: I don’t have any alcoholic drinks at dinner (unless it’s Friday or Saturday night).
- Tip: I’m having a cheat day (usually on Sunday), I don’t drink – just water to rehydrate myself from the Saturday before (I’m a bigger college football fan anyways).
- Tip: I look for low-carb options like this.
- Tip: If that’s not available, I only take 1 little bite and I SAVOR it.
- Fast Food
- Tip: That’s right! A late-night of drinking often leads to trips to McDonald’s, only this time, I order a salad. They are surprisingly good and filling – just go easy on the dressing.
- Tip: If you must have a cheeseburger, take off the bread.
For more carb info, follow this carb chart – it’ll make it whole lot easier for you…
So far, I’ve lost 15 pounds in 2 months… and there’s no stopping me now! Like I said, I really don’t miss anything terribly bad. And if I do indulge or cheat, I make healthy swaps to make up for it. Try it for yourself, you’ll be happy you did!
p.s. Pinterest of course has great ideas and recipes. I’ve started 2 boards to help me stay on track: I’m Sexy and I Know It (healthy recipes and workout ideas), and Healthy Holiday Food (the holidays are coming up, time to prepare!).
p.p.s. I am not a dietician nor am I any kind of expert. Please consult your doctor before you decide to change your diet and workout routine.