Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sugar Hates Me: A Weight-Loss Journey Story

I don't often get onto a nutrition/eating disorder soapbox, but today I'm going to do just that.

We eat healthfully around here.  Vegetables are de rigueur, there's always fruit in the house, we don't have boxes of sugary cereal, etc., etc., etc.  But when I was a teenager, I ate crap.  Let me amend that:  When I ate, I ate crap.  A typical day for me went something like this:  Get up at 5:30, head to school at 6 and grab a gas station (QuikTrip, so does that really count as a gas station?  Never mind, I digress...) cappuccino on the way.  I would down that before band started at 7:30.  Lunch was open campus at 11:25, but I rarely went out.  If I had lunch, it was usually a container of fries or some Swiss cake rolls… and a Pepsi.

Lunch of Champions
For dinner as a young child, I ate whatever my mom fixed.  I was (and am) not a picky eater.  But by the time I got a car, I had a job I worked from 3-6 each day (during which I might drink another Pepsi or nosh on a Three Musketeers bar, one of the few candy bars I could eat with braces on my teeth), and a couple days a week I'd go from there to tae kwon do, so by the time I got back to the house, I had to fend for myself.  My dad was usually out in his shop, my sister in her room doing homework, and my mom had taken a job teaching ballroom dance, so she was out of the house more evenings than not.  Sometimes there were leftovers, sometimes not.  I don't eat sandwiches, so sometimes I'd just skip dinner.  I didn't know how to cook and certainly wouldn't have been permitted to ransack the kitchen, so it was easier.  Some nights I didn't come home because I had social events I wanted to attend, so I might have grabbed something out, but it certainly wouldn't have been anything good for me.  Taco Bueno and I were good buddies.

Obviously, in the long run, my diet did not do good things to my metabolism.  When I gave birth to Doodlebug, I had eaten whatever I wanted and gained about 30 pounds.  I did not lose this weight while nursing.  When I got pregnant with Boo, I weighed about 50 pounds more than I had in high school… and I gained another 20-30 with her.  I was not a small woman.  I was borderline for gestational diabetes - on the happy side, so I didn't have to do any treatment other than watch what I ate - and again, I didn't lose weight after she was born.  My body holds onto poundage.  Natural consequences of my teen diet, I suspect.

I have worked hard in the years since Boo has been born to take off those extra pounds.  My body will allow me to lose about 10 pounds at a time, which I do sensibly by watching what I eat and exercising, before it will decide that it needs to readjust to its new dimensions.  I will never be as thin as I was in high school, but given the fact that I never ate a lot - or ate a ton, because on weekends when my mom was home and fixing food, I'd inhale everything in sight - that's probably a healthy thing.  But I've noticed that my body is very sensitive to weight changes.  At 170 lbs., I had migraines once a week.  I was miserable.  My blood sugar fluctuated wildly, and my doctor had me mentally flagged as a pre-diabetic.  He didn't want to write it on my chart and have insurance go nuts, but it was there in the back of his mind.  My blood pressure wasn't bad, but it wasn't ideal, either.  At 5'8", I was barely overweight, but my body was reacting as if I was morbidly obese.  As I've lost weight, the migraines have all but vanished.  I haven't filled a prescription for Treximet in several years.  My back rarely spasms any more.  Even my blood sugar stabilized.  These are all good, good things.  But I still have to watch.

When we moved into this house, we gained an extra refrigerator.  At first it was primarily used to hold leftovers and extra produce, but it also has become the 'drink fridge.'  This definitely saves us space in our refrigerator, which is barely large enough to hold the food that we go through in a normal two-week shopping cycle, let alone extra beverages, but it also means that we can keep pop on hand all the time.  And Pepsi is my Achilles' heel.

I drank the last Pepsi in the box one day last week.  I hadn't realized how often I'd been drinking it until a day or two later when my blood sugar crashed (yet again, because that's been happening more often lately) and my son ran out to find me a drink to help me stabilize.  I ate something (completely unhealthful, but helpful) instead, and I remembered that the way I lost the first five pounds when I started my long weight-loss journey was to give up Pepsi.  I've put on 6.  Hm.

Yesterday I forced myself to drink several glasses of water instead of ingesting extra liquid calories.  I'm three pounds lighter today.  I can understand a normal fluctuation of a pound or two, but three seems significant.  I am reminded of how slow my metabolism is and how sensitive my body is to extra sugar.

This infographic that I saw on Pinterest reminded me of exactly why I try to eat healthfully - and why I tend to avoid cookies and sandwiches and cake:

Click to enlarge
I hate avoiding Pepsi.  I hate how much I have to watch what I eat.  But at least I get it.  And if it means I'm not passing out every afternoon from blood sugar spikes and crashes, then it's worth it.  I can only hope that my kids will be smarter than their mother and avoid the same pitfalls.  Society is cruel, but longterm damage is far worse.  I don't want them to have the same struggles.  I don't want them to feel like they're missing out on their favorite foods (or drinks) because of bad choices they made decades earlier.  I want them to be healthy.  I think modeling that is the best way to teach them.  I can only hope I'm doing a good job.

1 comment:

farmwifetwo said...

I need to lose about 20lbs. I'll still be "curvy" but I'll never be skinny so that doesn't bother me.

So about the same time you did your Pepsi "stop", I stopped the lunchtime Coke. I don't think I've lost a pound, but now when I try to have sugared pop, the rush is unpleasant. Coffee with milk, is fine unless I drink it after lunch... so it has to be the sugar.

Now, if I could kick the sugar habit entirely....