Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Defending Another Devil – Midweek Rant #2

Ok, first, feel free to read here, I don’t mind.  Just come back, will ya?  Charlotte got me thinking about how our bodies are different.  The study says men can get along just fine on carby diets, and it’s supposed to make us chickypoos at major risk for heart disease.  Also keep in mind I’m a bit of a grumpypuss this week so ranting and barely edited dialogue forthcoming!  This is but one person’s experience with carbohydrates (all health and fitness freaks, please recoil in horror instinctively…)

As for the research – I’m going to say different strokes for different folks.  As a super active sporty fit kid and then serious gymnast, I gravitated towards an extremely carb heavy diet, all but vegetarian (a little meat in my pasta or rice or sandwich didn’t bother me, but I loathed the idea of a big steak or chop), and I ran on it extremely well.

The key component for me is the being super active and balanced.  I’ve tried to limit my carbs and my body rebels, even after months.  I’ve tried to up my protein and fat intake, and my body doesn’t respond positively or negatively (just makes it extremely hard to lose/maintain weight).  I find that at a certain stage of half training I crave protein (the major heavy mileage/fast paced stuff) but at all other times it’s really unnatural for me to cram the stuff down my throat to the tune of 100g per day or more like the daily recommendations would have me do.

I don’t *get* the phenomenon that other people have told me (my mom for example) that when they have simple carbs they just go crazy wanting to stuff their face with them.  For example, if we both opened a half gallon of ice cream at the same time, my parents might eat it in a few days.  Same with our houseguests – she was pregnant, sure, but they went through a half gallon every 3 days or so and ALWAYS had some in the house.  For us, we’ll have a measured serving every few days and it will probably get freezerburnt before it’s gone.  We tend to only buy the “Ben and Jerry’s” size, which usually takes about a week.

I do get crazy with the sugar during the end/after half training.  For that last month or so, I NEED the simple carbs to do what they do (not give me a super full feeling and get calories to my body quickly).  Or I’m in danger of getting dizzy and almost passing out in the shower after an 11 mile run – note to self, when burning 1200 calories on about 100 consumed that day, EAT then stretch and shower.  On training runs, you don’t eat complex carbs or protein or anything with nutrients (since it goes through you too fast to have any benefit), the only thing that matters is that it contains easily digestable calories, and a little caffeine if that’s your thing.  Right after really hard workouts, you ALSO need some easily digestable calories.  I know there are records of distance runners out there operating on lo carb diets, but I can’t imagine it.  It would definitel have to be a VERY DELIBERATE choice and take months/years of training, weaning yourself off carbs, and I just can’t see enjoying that.  At all.

However, what happens after a race is my body takes a while to realize that I’m no longer stressing it out so much, so the appetite is there, and I do get a little of the sugar addiction just because I’m putting so much more than normal in my body.  I normally have a /sweets off switch.  I eat a little, it makes me feel a slight bit nauseous (usually at or just below whatever 1 serving is on the package) and then I leave it alone.  During the end/right after I lose that ick switch so I have to go through a period of detox where I have to smack the chocolate chips out of my hand sometimes and it is just about impossible to refuse cake in the in the breakroom at work.   After a week or two going mostly cold turkey, I’m good though to resume normal operations.  For example the cavalcade of comfort food coming through the office this week (cookies! doughnuts! cake! more cake! leftover easter candy!) has been tempting, but avoidable.  As much as I’ve been bitching about it on twitter.  I mean seriously people, you must have Quix-diet-dar and be trying to send me into a tizzy… sigh…

It’s a touch different with salty carbs (which have always been my weakness), but beyond the potato chip devil (seriously, one serving per day until they are gone… and that takes restraint), I’m not tempted to binge at all.  I certainly have had instances of eating way more than a serving, but it usually includes being at a party, being genuinely hungry, and a liberal dose of booze.  But as I discussed earlier in the week, for the same calories of food, I don’t feel full without my side of mashed potatoes, or rice, or bread.  A sandwich with 4 oz of turkey (even if it’s not whole grain bread) is more satisfying and filling to me than an 8 oz steak.  I eat and enjoy whole grain/brown stuff when I can because I know it’s healthier and I genuinely enjoy stuff like my sprouted grain bread, but I don’t feel negatively affected if I have a delicious turkey on sourdough.

My main problem is the “stand in front of the fridge and stuff my face” – for some reason those calories don’t register the same (and they certainly don’t count in my head the same), and they’re hard to track.  Two turkey pepperoni, a pinch of lowfat shredded cheese, a spoonful of leftover veggies, some baby carrots, a melba cracker, some pop chips, a bite of jerky, and a few pistachios – how do you quantify that?  However, if you look at the general combination of the snack, it’s generally healthy – a little lean protein, a little good fat, some fairly decent carbs, and some veggies.  If I could put that all on a plate, go sit down, and enjoy it as a snack, I’d feel full and life would go on.  I’m working on it.  But I don’t just cozy down with a bag o empty calories – I’ve tried, I get half a serving in and realize how many calories and how UNFULL I am and put it back.

Then, there is the mental wellness and happiness aspect.  The idea of lo carb makes me want to crawl in a corner, rock back and forth, and cry.  Getting me to do anything productive or active without some bread or noodles is like pulling teeth.  Now, I won’t tell you how to live your life.  Rock on with your Atkins or primal.  Enjoy hissing at potatoes and calling everything not sprouted “yicky white bread” like my moms.  Toss your hamburger buns in the trash and pick at your sandwiches sans bread.  I just won’t be joining you and damned if I’m going to feel bad about it anymore.

I’ve been told I act/think like a male type brain (whatever that means) anyway, maybe I’m just wired differently.  As the article says.

Have a crazy carb binge story?  Think I’m full of crap and just making excuses and I’m subconsciously killing myself slowly with yicky white bread?  Anyone else just not *get* the “carbs are the devil” mentality this decade?  And have successfully lost/maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle unaffected by whether you choose white or wheat?


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  1. Divinari

    I think that one-size-fits-all diets are a bunch of crap. Don’t ever eat this, always eat that… it’s poo. No nutritionist would probably have ever told me to cut out wheat, sugar and eat more, but that’s what I’ve done, and I feel better and I’ve finally begun losing weight. (okay, well, I did once I started eating more. Trying to eat more, with everything I _can’t_ eat is difficult). No carbs? Dear gods, rice is my savior. I can hardly have any other grains/carbs, and short grain white rice is like my personal little siren (as in singing me to my not-doom, not the woop-woop cop car siren).

    As so many people have told me over the years, everything in moderation. Have some carbs, if you want. Just don’t have that be everything you eat. Same with protien. Same with everything. 🙂

    Over the years, you’ve become more and more in tune with your body, listening and figuring out what is good for you and not, in the realm of food. I’m pretty sure you know that nomming on tons of cake isn’t good, if only because it’s kind of like a viscious circle, it seems. You seem to know what’s good for you, what works, and what doesn’t, and generally can work your way around it all. 🙂 At least, based on what you post here and various other places. 😀

    I also link-hopped over to Charlotte’s blog and boy do I have some problems with that “research”. Women are afraid of getting fat, based on stimulus reaction looking at pictures of obese people? Okay, did you show them skinny people? If you’re showing morbidly obese people, show emaciated skinny people, and see what kind of reaction you get. I think those studies are flawed on a number of levels. Grr.

  2. Well, I won’t give up carbs, because I love them. Yes, I do tend to eat more whole grain breads, pitas, etc. but that’s because I love them too better than the white stuff. But I hate whole wheat spaghetti so I won’t eat it. My issue is that when I’ve trained for my long distance races in the past, I’ve been able to be completely carb happy to my heart’s desire. Then the race is over and I have a tough time dialing it back to fit the post race activity level. But give up carbs, nope, never.

    My carb story comes from the 1 time I did try to give them up. I don’t even normally crave sweets and especially not doughnuts. But after 2 weeks of eating no carb, I pulled into a Dunkin’ Donuts, ordered a medium black coffee and 3 glazed sticks. (These sticks are the cake-like type.) I literally ate one of them whole before I got out of the parking lot. Then when I got back to my office, I locked myself in and inhaled the other two.

    I’m definitely a moderation girl because deprivation only gets me doughnut thighs. Yuck.

  3. Where to start?? You bring up SO MANY interesting points that I just want to go paragraph by paragraph and be all “yeah, what she said!” It’s taken me a lot of years to figure out how to eat so my body feels best and I’m still not sure I’ve got it all figured out but it sounds pretty much like you. Carb heavy, little-ish protein (unless I’ve done some serious weight lifting and then I crave it or I crash) and I’m ALL about the candy after a long run. I cannot keep myself away from it. But then today, when I didn’t work out I didn’t have any sugar cravings at all. All day long! Hmmm.. maybe I should quit working out? LOL.

  4. MizFit

    Im with charlotte in the wanting to go sentence by sentence 🙂
    and as sappy as it is THIS IS WHY I created my tagline of fitness isnt about fitting in.

  5. I agree that different things work for different people. I’m like you — I’ve had halloween candy in the house now since, well, halloween and I just don’t feel the urge to stuff my face with it. I went through a bingey stage (hello, college!) but then grew up and now I’m pretty good about moderation.

    Except I could, if I let myself, eat an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting. No problem there. But I restrain myself.

    My mom believes that wheat in general is the devil. If I have a headache, it’s wheat. My son’s cranky? Wheat. It’s her thing. Maybe it’s just a mom thing? Dunno.

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