Friday, May 21, 2010

Living Low-Carb, One Year Later

It was one year ago today that I decided to try a low-carb diet. I'd begun yet another diet (and this blog!) on February 1st, 2009, and I hadn't made much progress on the low-fat, restricted-calorie system I'd always previously used to take off excess weight (though, obviously, not with long-term success!). But after reading a lot about the low-carb approach online and buying the original Atkins diet book, I decided to give it a shot.

And here I am, one year later and 65 pounds lighter - from 273 lbs. on May 20, 2009 to 208 lbs. on May 20, 2010. Am I pleased? Oh yes. It hasn't always been easy, and there was one period between my birthday in late October and New Year's where my sugar cravings got out of control and I got lazy about exercising; on the other hand, as I've commented before, that might have been good for me, because I learned that I could stop that kind of slide before it got too far out of hand, instead of feeling powerless like I had in the past.

More important, I'm nearing the best weight I achieved on my last low-fat, calorie-counting diet: 202 lbs., in the early summer of 2007. (In fact, that's the best weight I have recorded for myself going back to 2004, when I was in the 250's; I don't have records from prior to that.) But then I got an injury that put a stop to my running and my will power evaporated, and I quickly started gaining weight back. Worse, I stopped weighing myself out of avoidance, and by November of that year I found myself over 250 lbs. again, well on my way to passing the 280-pound mark yet one more time.

Looking back, though, I think at least part of the problem in 2007 was that even before I got injured and couldn't run, I was already nearing the end of my "diet rope" with the low-fat system. I was bone-tired of never feeling full, never eating any rich foods, and practicing the various other kinds of daily, even hourly self-denial that kind of lifestyle requires. (And I'm sure all the low-calorie carbs were not helping my glucose and insulin situation, either.) Right now, though, I'm not feeling that way about living low-carb. I'm still enjoying what I'm allowed to eat, the occasional sugar cravings are manageable, and I'm seeing my best weight in 3 years and perhaps my best fitness level ever. I definitely feel that I can maintain this for some time to come, though it's impossible to know for sure.

In the meantime, though, I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Wish me luck as we head into summer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Tortoise and the Hares

This morning I ran a 5k for the third time since last fall: the cleverly-named See Spot Run in Guthrie, Oklahoma, a race to benefit the no-kill Free to Live animal sanctuary north of Edmond. It's a good cause and a good motivation to keep pushing myself while working out, so I figured, why not?

My time was also okay - a 31:33, only 2 minutes and 17 seconds faster than today's winning time for the 10k, which certainly keeps my speed in perspective. On the other hand, that's a minute faster than the two 10k times I logged last September and October, so obviously I'm improving, however slowly. And I was not the slowest guy in the 45-49 age group, either, which I believe is a first for me!

Of course, whatever time I post, I can never let myself forget that running a 5k represents a personal victory for me. It's a fitness victory, since I would never have done this when I weighed 285 pounds and had a hard enough time just hauling my body off the sofa, much less moving it faster than a slow walk for 3 miles.

Even more important, though, it's a self-esteem victory. I know I'm no longer enormous, but I'm also well-aware that I don't exactly cut an athletic figure out there, weighing as much as I still do. There was a time when I would not have wanted to expose either my out-of-shape body or my less-than-graceful running style in front of race spectators, but I'm much better with that now. They might not know how much weight I've lost and what running a 5k represents for me, but I know it, and that's enough.