Alright, so I've been in a bit of a low carb slump lately. I've been bouncing around the same weight (10lbs above goal), seemingly unable to lose more, but maintaining fairly well.
I'm honestly not too fussed about making a specific number goal on the scale, but I do have some important body shape and food-approach goals. For body shape, I've been doing a great weights workout and some cardio when I'm in the mood. For the food-approach, I'm collecting information from a variety of sources: Martha Beck's The Four Day Win and Marc David's Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well-Being have been invaluable in this quest.
Looking at my progress over the last month, I'm not impressed. I've been eating very low carb, going to the gym, and have not made any downward progress. I see a slight reshaping muscle-wise, but nothing to write home about.
Then...the Mother's Day Diet Massacre hit. I enjoyed a couple of fantastic hamburgers on the grill, and was all prepared with an 85% dark chocolate bar to enjoy instead of the ice cream cake. With dessert, we also had some incredible coffee, whipped up in the blender with powdered milk and no sugar. Or so I thought...
Turns out powdered milk has 13g of carbs for a 4 tablespoon serving! Considering my carbs have generally been under 10g for the whole day, this PLUS the 8g from the chocolate was quite the sugar blast.
When I looked up the carb content, it explained to me my inexplicable decision to dip low-carb pork satays in sugary plum sauce. And my consequent carb-fest the following day - eating toast with margarine (which I don't even like) and vanilla ice cream (my least favorite flavor). I was eating things I'd wondered about for months and been tempted by...just to taste them.
Lessons learned? I find sugar intensely addictive. A sugar surge through my system leads me to crave and most likely give in to those cravings.
The food tastes like crap. Seriously! I thought toast would be so crunchy and yummy - nope. Bland and yucky.
Well hey, I knew that already. This weekend was a humbling experience. I feel like I've come a long way in my relationship to food and sugar specifically, but I clearly still have a long way to go.
I do think it's worth examining what happens or leads up to a fall off-plan like this. Definitely, part of it was the sugar surge from the Mother's Day meal. I'm also pretty sure part of it was brain deprivation from not eating anything remotely carby since January.
Jimmy Moore has an interesting approach to ward off this kind of brain deprivation: planned diet vacations. In his post, Who Says You Can't Splurge On Low Carb, Jimmy explains his "planned splurge":
"I have a date circled on my calendar that I have predetermined is my time to eat and enjoy whatever I want to eat for one meal. Just ONE meal is all this is good for! Whether it is pizza, Mexican, Italian or whatever floats your boat, you can eat all you want of whatever you are craving the most until you get your craving fulfilled."
He's clear that this splurge knocks you way out of ketosis, causes you to gain weight, and may not be the best idea for everyone. But, he concludes:
"...please be careful not to rationalize this method when you see a box of doughnuts at work and tell yourself that THIS will be your "splurge" meal. It doesn't work that way. Plan it well in advance, look forward to it to avoid temptation, do it enjoying every single bite and then get back on the plan as soon as possible."
I know a few low carbers swear by the occasional carb-up, claiming it kicks their metabolism into gear. I've always been pretty skeptical about dipping my tongue in the satanic sweat that is sugar.
But I've been doing some reading around, and I think from a psychological point of view, these cheaters are onto something! I'm not planning to eat carbs every 6-8 weeks, but I do think a forseeable future of purely strict, clean eating can send you a little bit loopy.
Thus, very occasional "diet vacations" are beginning to make sense to me. My hat is off to Jimmy Moore for being able to do this in the weight loss phase of his plan - I don't think that would work for me. But for the maintenance stage, this seems like a sensible enough strategy, and lets you have a rare day off for a special occasion.
So, what do you do after a carb-up, whether it's planned or not-so-planned? Dr. Micheal Eades' book Thin So Fast recommends a version of a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF), which seems to get your insulin levels back to normality, and gets rid of the water weight gain FAST.
That last part was all I needed to hear to give it a try. Check out my next post for full details on how to do this fast, and my massively speedy weight loss after just two days!