Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bye, bye carbohydrates (for now)

You know that scene in Braveheart where Mel Gibson is like, "They'll never take...our FREEDOM!" and then everybody cheers and goes into battle? Under similar conditions, I would totally join the fight. Except you'd have to change "freedom" to "carbohydrates."

Freedom is nice -- don't get me wrong. But can you douse it in tomato sauce and twirl it around your fork? I didn't think so.

Imagine a world without carbohydrates. Without pizza and cold beer, friendships would wither. No lollipops in the doc's office? A whole generation would go un-vaccinated. And forget going to the movies; honestly, what's the point without the snacks? Birthdays, holidays, Happy Hour -- these are mere excuses to eat cupcakes, Bundt cakes, champagne cakes. Pot stickers. French fries. In the culinary world, "fun" is spelled C-A-R-B.

Can you tell I'm hungry?

For the past week, I've been curbing my carb intake. A combination of health, strength and weight-loss goals have led me to conclude that my healthy obsession with pasta, toast, and corn chips at every meal may not be so "healthy" after all. No, I haven't eliminated them entirely (what do you think I am, masochistic?); the only rule is, if I'm going to eat carbs, I have to eat them in the hour after I work out.

(My layperson understanding of why: your body needs carbohydrates after you exert yourself, and whatever "bad effects" carbs usually have, in terms of turning to fat, are negated because after a workout your body is still in fat-burning mode. This especially applies if you've really exerted yourself with high-intensity intervals or something similar -- which I've been doing, miserable and red-faced.)

It hasn't been an easy transition. There are no support groups for Carboholics, no twelve-step program, no sympathy cards for the loss of a loved bread.

But on my uphill journey I've learned that, with every loss, comes a victory: I have, for example, mastered the art of preparing eggs, salads, and protein shakes -- which, given my level of culinary skill (which, on a scale of 1 to 10, is "Can Boil Pasta") are praise-worthy accomplishments. I've learned that "kale" can be steamed, baked, or eaten raw; that carrots taste better when you buy them with the green stuff still attached; that you can basically put anything in an omelet.

And, truth is, working out has actually gotten to be way more fun: after the jump-squats, pull-ups, and kettlebell swings, my final exercise is usually to conquer a heaping plate of spaghetti.

Bring it on!



  1. Tell me about it! I had to cut flour, wheat and sugar from my diet for some health stuff and it is sad-sauce. But the fun news is I lost 30 pounds so I just try to remember that when I walk by cupcakes.

    I've come to enjoy polenta instead of pasta (since cornmeal is a "whole grain") and I do get small amounts of oatmeal and other whole grains, and for that I'm grateful! And omelets ARE awesome. Mediterranean omelets are my favorite!

    Hope you are well, lady!

  2. I honestly don't know of anyone who has been able to stick to a no/low carb diet for any length of time since all the stuff you love seems to contain carbs. Best weight loss program is calorie counting. Burn more than you take in--HAS to work. It's relatively easy to cut back to a 1200 cal/day diet and still enjoy things you, well, enjoy. If you have not overdone it earlier in the day, you can actually have ice cream later in the evening if that's your weakness. After you've been keeping track of the caloric intake of your usual foods, it becomes quite simple. The first week or two you may be hungry, as with any diet. Just my opinion and from personal experience. But good luck to you whatever you do!