Count carbs, not calories

Count carbs, not calories

Diets are absolutely no fun. Whether it’s forced upon you or it’s your New Year’s Resolution — no fun. And the older you get, the harder it is to drop some weight. But as a living testimony, I’m here to tell you it can be done, and to the tune of 51 pounds in 5 months.

At 42, soon to be 43, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing 300 pounds, I was constantly tired all the freaking time. I could sleep 12 hours straight, wake up and an hour later, be ready for a nap. So I went to the doctor explaining my symptoms and, of course, I pled for blood work to be done. Results were elevated glucose levels (too much sugar) and high liver enzymes and off to the gastroenterologist I went.

First and foremost, the dreaded words “you are going to have to lose weight” were spoken. Not 10, 20 or 30 pounds either. He wanted 60 pounds gone. My liver was fatty and it was attributed to my diet. I’ve never eaten healthy. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve eaten fruit and vegetables. My diet consisted of mainly Whataburger or Taco Bell, washed down with a Coca-Cola and topped off with one or two Little Debbie snack cakes before bed.

Many moons ago, I was able to drop a smooth 30 pounds on a version of a low-carb diet, but as I mentioned earlier — the older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight and keep it off.

Fast forward to March 1. I start with a low-carb diet again and was able to drop a few pounds, but it was time to kick it up a notch.

First and foremost, no more Red Bull (not even the Sugar Free) and no more caffeine. That was relatively easy. I fell in love with water again (at least 2 liters a day) and I took a liking to Coke Zero, which shortly will be discontinued and turned into Coke Zero Sugar (blah). I instantly felt a difference without caffeine in my body, so that was great start.

And you may decide to count calories or carbs. I went with the latter, and never thought once about what the calorie count was in each food item. I tried to stay below 30 grams of carbs per day, and wouldn’t eat something if it had more than 7 grams of sugar.

So it then came time to decide what to eat, and I chose the mighty egg.

Many go on the popular boiled egg diet, which suggests you can lose up to 24 pounds in just two weeks. I’ve spoken with many who have tried the diet and they saw success, but I’m horrible at cooking and not a big fan of boiled eggs, though I do love the scrambled version.

At least once a day, I would eat three to four scrambled eggs with cheese wrapped in a low-carb wheat tortilla (yes, they make those) and a few pieces of bacon or sausage, and this would go on for a while, and I mean weeks. Other proteins I eat include grilled chicken and fajita beef, and treats like oatmeal with cinnamon.

Weight began to drop instantly, first 10 then 20 and finally 30 pounds. Along the way, I found some wonderful surprises, including Cheerios, which is about as good as it gets for cereal, with fat-free milk. If you like almond milk, that is also a great substitute. Just don’t eat a big ol’ fat bowl of it.

A glorious find was Walden Farms. Their products can be found at most grocery stores and they have coffee creamers, syrups of all sorts including pancake syrups, ketchup, caramel sauce and barbeque sauces that are made with no calories, fat, carbs or sugar, and they literally taste amazing.

A nice little substitute cheater is Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookie. Made with no eggs, no dairy, no soy, no GMO — it’s a vegan protein cookie. Now, you can’t have one of these every day because they do have a lot of carbs and sugar, but throw one in every week or so. Birthday Cake and Peanut Butter are my favorites.

With a complete diet change, you have to exercise. I was struggling to walk 1 mile having to frequently stop along the way. I never got frustrated and would listen to podcasts while I walked and what turned into walking 1 mile a day has now turned into 5 miles a day, sometimes 6. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that often trigger a positive feeling, and I live by that. There are days where I cannot exercise, and I literally get upset that I missed a day (never thought in a million years I would say that).

I also downloaded a free app on my phone that is a distance tracker to show you how far you walk and how many calories you burn, so you don’t need to spend a ton of money on those trendy FitBit watches when you can get something just as good for free.

Lastly, if you have to cheat, don’t cheat with a plateful of food. Reward yourself with a cheat meal but maybe a fourth of what you would normally eat. And don’t step on the scale every day; it’s bad for the psyche. Try once or twice a week.