New pants, new perspective

Sep 12, 2011

This post is a little bit different than my usual ravings, but hear me out.

Just over a year ago, I purchased my first ever pair of 40" waist pants. I'd just clicked over a BMI of 30, felt tired all the time, and apathetic about getting active. That, along with an upcoming vacation, was the final impetus for me to begin a diet.

Rewind way back to the summer of 2000. I was living with my brother and sister and they decided to go on a low-carb diet according to Dr. Atkins' best-selling book. I was very skeptical at the time that anything other than honest exercise could lead to reliable weight-loss. Yet household grocery shopping would become less-complicated if I joined in, so I did.

In the first two weeks I lost fourteen pounds. I was hooked.

However, I made a critical mistake back then: when I reached what I thought was an ideal weight: I quit the diet and went back to the way I was eating before. During the next decade, I gained all of that weight back and more.

Since low-carb worked so well for me before, I decided to do it again starting in August 2010. Fast-forward thirteen months to today: I've lost 54 pounds, landing me at a BMI of 23.3; I've become more active, biking to/from work and strength training; and a few weeks ago I had to buy new pants. The size? 34" waist.

This time though, I don't want to make the same mistake as a decade ago. The term "diet" implies a temporary change in what you're consuming, but going back to the foods I used to eat would just start the gain/lose cycle all over again. I want to stay at this weight for the rest of my life. Could it be safe to eat low-carb for the rest of my life?

So this past month I began to do more research beyond just the carb-count in various foods. Eventually I came across Tom Naughton's site and his documentary Fat Head. I found this information incredibly eye-opening. I already knew that carbs were making me fat, but I never realized that so-called dietary guidelines have only been pushing high-carb/low-fat diets on us since the late 1970s. Before that time "common sense" was that you skipped the bread, potatoes and apple pie if you wanted to lose weight. Unbelievable.

What happened since then to turn all that on it's head? Who is responsible for usurping a perfectly healthy diet with one heavy in refined grains and sugars? Oh, right, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Did you know there are no clinical studies which definitively link high cholesterol, saturated fat or salt consumption with weight gain or heart disease? When diabetes essentially amounts to a carbohydrate intolerance, why are high-carbohydrate/low-fat diets the current medically-approved prescription? That and other facts really surprised me and made me question everything I've been told about what foods I should eat. When I first started my diet, I still avoided too much salt and worried about the number of eggs I was eating. Now I ask myself why I did that without questioning the reasoning behind it. I was told salt and cholesterol and saturated fat were bad, so I believed it.

I highly recommend watching the Fat Head documentary, which will change your entire perspective on what is, and what isn't, a healthy diet. What if what you've always been told is "good for you" is actually the reason you're gaining weight and feeling unwell? What if the entire "obesity epidemic" amounts to nothing more than a shift to a diet humans are just not equipped to digest properly?

I know what you're thinking. Come on now. Diet advice on what's supposed to be a techy-comic blog? I promise this will be the only post I make about it (at least for a long while), but I thought it was too important to go without saying here. I urge you to check out the following links/books and re-evaluate what you've been told by health-experts.

Saying "it worked for me" makes it sound like low-carb is just one of many avenues to reliable weight-loss which are specific to each person. In reality, when you look at the studies and research, low-carb is what most people should be eating for optimal health.

So now I've said it :) Ignore it, or check it out yourself. At least I feel like I've made an effort to spread the word. Oh, and I love my new pants.

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