Forty Years of Yo-Yo Dieting

I’ve been promising for awhile that I would write about the way I’ve been eating lately.  I’ve already shared with you the positive effects on my health and my weight.  I haven’t sat down to write before now because it feels important to start at the beginning, and the beginning was a LONG time ago.
I went on my first diet when I was a slightly chubby four-year-old, on the orders of my pediatrician.  So I have spent a lifetime feeling fat (even though there were many periods in my life where I now believe I looked just fine), and have been off and on diets ever since.

Me at age two, before hopping on the diet treadmill
Me at age two, before hopping on the diet treadmill

What that first diet was I don’t remember, and I had plenty of treats as a child.  What I do remember is always having the sense that I wasn’t supposed to be eating them, and feeling guilty when I did.  I remember weighing in at the Diet Workshop every week, and eating things kind of like brownies made with Sweet ‘n’ Low and drinking Alba 77.  As I entered high school there was the Scarsdale Diet and then the Change-Your-Metabolism-Diet.  Some of them worked better than others, but I never lost ALL the weight.  I never weighed the magic number the weight tables told me I should.
That's me in the middle, when I was about ten, and always on a diet
That’s me in the middle, when I was about ten, and always on a diet

After gaining the Freshman 15 in college, I came home for the summer and went on the rice diet.  Only instead of the recommended two weeks I did it all summer long, along with walking several miles each day, swimming laps at the pool, and doing 150 sit-ups and crunches every night after working full-time as a Cracker Barrel waitress (a brutal job).  I went back to school weighing 142, my lowest adult weight, but still unsatisfied because the Met Life table said I should weigh 130. (The rice diet allowed me one piece of fruit for breakfast, and one piece of fruit plus either three rice cakes or a cup of plain rice for lunch and dinner.)
Fall 1986 after the rice diet--please excuse fire-damaged picture
Fall 1986 after the rice diet–please excuse fire-damaged picture

I continued dieting all through college, eating very little a lot of the time but what I now know to be all the wrong things (bagels, giant corn muffins, sandwiches, pizza).  After I graduated and got married I found another diet in an old magazine–I can’t remember what it was called but it was mostly vegetables.  I lost 30 pounds in six months (I was still far from 130 but I look good in pictures from back then!), then got pregnant and gained 70 lbs.  I used that diet again after Emily was born and lost almost all the baby weight, the only time I ever came close to doing that!
Leslie's Graduation
1989 – college graduation

Right around this time the low-fat craze started.  I read a book that said you couldn’t gain weight unless you ate fat.  If you avoided all fat, you could eat anything else you wanted and you couldn’t help but lose.  I fell for this hook, line, and sinker, and ate carbs like crazy, avoiding cheese, meat, and french fries, and gained instead of losing.  At some point I did Jenny Craig.  There were a couple of stints in Weight Watchers, one of which helped me lose 60 lbs. in time for my sister’s wedding, at which point I got pregnant for the fifth time.
When Lorelei was little I stopped dieting.  I told myself when I was ready I would join a gym and do Weight Watchers again, but that what I needed to do was live life without constantly feeling guilty about food and bad about myself.  And I do believe I needed to do that.
Me holding Lorelei in a four generations photo taken in 2006
Me holding Lorelei in a four generations photo taken in 2006

In the meantime, while not avoiding the occasional treat, I ate what I considered to be healthy:  beans and rice, whole grain bread and oatmeal and other whole grain cereals, lots of fruit and vegetables, very little meat or cheese because they were high in fat.  Of course, I had my vices:  coffee with cream and sugar, Mountain Dew Monkey Ice from Weigel’s, a shared dessert while eating out, but although I went through fast food drive-thrus with the big kids almost daily, I rarely indulged.
I didn’t weigh myself for many years, and while I did not balloon when I stopped dieting constantly, I did slowly add pounds.  And I got older.  Finally, my weight began to affect the way I felt.  A friend not much older than I had a close call.  My left leg was swollen and painful, and walking upstairs made me breathless.  I could tell my blood pressure was getting high (after a lifetime of being subnormal!), and I started to get scared.  I decided that in 2014, as soon as I had access to medical care, I would have everything checked and then start a journey to better health.
I’ve been sharing some of this journey with you in my ObamaCare posts, without including a lot of details about how I’ve changed my eating habits . . . but now this post has grown very long so I will make this a two-parter with Low-Carb Love Affair to be published in a day or two!

Five Favorite Low-Carb Things To Eat

five favorites
Y’all, I used to scoff at low carb.  But now I’m a believer.  I’ve lost weight but more important I reversed those pesky numbers which were inching up into critical territory.
I love to eat, and that hasn’t stopped.  So herewith I share with you five favorite low carb things to eat.
1.  Apple slices with peanut butter.
This is my bedtime snack these days.  Crunchy all-natural peanut butter because we have ALWAYS used all-natural peanut butter and Kroger brand because we are thrifty.  Okay, I know you aren’t supposed to eat right before bedtime, but I used to eat a big bowl of carb-filled cereal every night before bed.  So I’m getting better.
2.  Hummus with just about anything dipped in it.
Except pita bread because carbs.  Usually it’s celery, occasionally it’s baby carrots, sometimes it’s mushrooms or red or yellow peppers.  You can buy big containers of all kinds of hummus super cheap at Aldi.  Trader Joe’s also has good deals.
3.  Nuts.  All the nuts.
Oh, nuts. So high in fat.  So bad.  At least, that’s conventional diet wisdom.  Y’all, I eat great quantities of nuts and so far I am still losing weight, but if I stop it will be because of the nuts I’m pretty sure.  I buy the cheap mixed nuts from Kroger, peanuts, cashews, sunflower kernels, almonds, and cashews.  Whenever I get hungry between meals I grab a handful, which is roughly a serving.
4.  Eggs.
Another perfect food with a bad reputation.  Eggs have all the good things in them and they are cheap.  Well, except when you start feeling guilty and buy cage-free.  We consume way too many eggs to be able to afford to pay $4 a dozen, so we compromise and buy one dozen of those for Emily, one dozen of the super high omega-3 kind for me, and three dozen of the cheap kind for Teddy.  No, I am not kidding.  That’s six days’ worth.  I sometimes wonder if the grocery clerk thinks we own a restaurant or run an orphanage.    Anyway, I eat two scrambled eggs for breakfast EVERY morning.
5.  Steak.
I love steak.  It’s one of my favorite foods period.  And suddenly it’s not a forbidden treat–it’s a staple!  We buy steaks by . . . I don’t know, the ton or something . . . from this guy who sells them off his truck for ridiculously low prices.  So there’s always steak in the house, although it disappears more quickly when Teddy is home.
I plan to write a longer post some time in the next month or so on my current diet (and my past diets) so we’ll call this a teaser post.  Head over to Mama Knows, Honeychild for more favorites!

Obamacare Revisited

I know I just updated recently but I have some things I really wanted to post about and I don’t feel like waiting!
Let’s start with the not-so-good parts, because while want people to see the enormous good in our Obamacare experience I lose credibility if I insist this new health care system is perfect.
I already told you that four out of seven of us were approved for subsidies and enrolled in a plan, while the other three were inexplicably deemed ineligible. And when I say inexplicable, I mean not only can I not understand it, neither can any of the Healthcare.gov customer service people I’ve spoken to. Anyway, I appealed this decision, through a formal process that involved submitting all sorts of paperwork. I think I had 30 days to do that, which means I probably did it in February some time. A couple of months ago I got a phone call about my appeal, and then last week I got a letter saying to expect a call at a certain date and time, and to be prepared with the information they wanted. Well, the day came and I waited and waited and they never called me. I called the next day and spoke to a very nice and very confused woman who finally figured out that they called Teddy instead of me even though it said RIGHT IN THE LETTER that they would be calling my number. So she fixed the number and said the next thing that will happen is that I will get a letter setting a formal telephone hearing. So we’ll see.
In the meantime, the Marketplace wrote me and they want MORE financial information, which is the second time since I applied that they’ve asked for more information, and I they want check stubs for everyone in the house who works, which is kind of difficult since two of us are self-employed. So there is no denying that it’s the government, and a bureaucracy, and that I (or you) could run it better. (Not that private insurance companies are any better, and that’s a moot point anyway for the many Americans who are uninsurable or can’t afford insurance–so you take the bad with the good.)
But on the bright side . . . Last week I went into the doctor’s office for a fasting blood draw, in preparation for yesterday’s checkup, which my doctor set for three months out from the last one. When I walked in she told me that basically I had reversed every single problem I arrived with. 🙂 She was so impressed that she gave me a hug! My blood pressure has gone down to borderline, my cholesterol is just two points shy of normal, my blood sugar dropped nine points, and my triglycerides dropped over 100 points. And . . . I’ve lost 27 pounds, without being on any official regimented diet, and WITHOUT BEING HUNGRY.
Now, some people might say that Obamacare doesn’t deserve the credit for this, but let me tell you a story. Six years ago I had my last checkup and got blood work done. At that time all of the above factors were close to what they are now, so above where they should be but not yet dangerously so. But because I did not have insurance, that one appointment was all I got. No one offered me any suggestions. They said, “We’ll keep an eye on it,” but how could they when I couldn’t afford regular checkups and blood work? This time, I’ve seen my doctor three times, the wellness nurse three times, and the nutritionist once. The nutritionist will continue to monitor me and do bloodwork every three months to track my progress. Moreover, they gave me the suggestions and the support I needed to succeed. This is what preventive medicine is all about. Without it, people bumble along and get fatter and sicker and end up in emergency rooms having heart attacks, or going on disability, costing ALL of us money (not to mention the cost in human misery, which is far more important to me). This kind of care makes sense and I am so grateful to be benefiting from it.

Me, Happy to Be Insured and Getting Healthy
Me, Happy to Be Insured and Getting Healthy

For more on our journey from being uninsured to becoming healthy, and on my views on Obamacare in general, see the links below.
The $64,000 Question, Answered
Who Are the Uninsured?
Uninsured No More
ObamaCare Update
ObamaCare Update 2
ObamaCare:  My Latest Update