Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are you a Carb or Sugar Addict?

Many of you know how long I've been on this weight loss journey. I've been on a dieting rollercoaster ride for years - losing 3 lbs, only to gain 5 lbs back.  I've done Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Fit for Life, Paleo Diet, The 15 Day Diet, the list goes on... I recently decided to get back on Weight Watchers, while doing the Walk Away the Pounds exercise program 5 days a week, 3 miles per day.  I've done this for 4 weeks.  And what has been my total weight loss?  Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I initially lost 3 lbs the first week, and got very excited, but then the weight loss stalled, and back it came.  Probably was just water weight. Save the talks of muscle weighing more than fat, I totally understand the concept behind that (Though a pound is a pound, whether fat or muscle.  Muscle is just more dense than fat, but I digress).  The problem is, I worked my butt off this past month, which I can't say I really have in the past.  This led me to really get concerned about my health.  I started to research the idea of gaining or stalled weight despite vigorous work-outs, and Eureka!  I fell into the world of Insulin Resistance.

Insulin Resistance is a condition in which your body makes too much Insulin.  It's not quite at a Diabetic level yet, but headed in that direction.  The order goes - Insulin Resistant, Pre-Diabetic, Diabetic.  I'll try to condense the definition to avoid sounding like a Mayo Clinic nerd-bomber. So here goes:

Insulin is a hormone that your pancreas makes.  It basically controls how your body stores and uses carbs.  When we eat, our digestive system breaks down the food into nutrients and glucose.  Normally, once your glucose level increases (right after, say, you eat something like an amazing cheeseburger and a side of fries), insulin is produced to help your body take in the glucose that has just been ingested to help various body parts with regular daily activity. It then stores extra glucose away for future use.  Sometimes this process can get all screwed up (many times due to years of crash dieting, gasp!). What ends up happening is that your body becomes resistent to insulin.  This makes the pancrease all, "What up yo! I need to make more insulin since you ain't actin' right!" thus more insulin is created.  The body is not able to handle too much insulin, which leads to fatigue, weight gain, and metabolism issues. 

Overtime, if Insulin Resistance is not rectified, you can become Diabetic, which is when your pancreas either gets tired of the supersonic insulin production and just shuts down, or your body just stops responding to your natural insulin production completely.  Whoa. 

I started to read up on specific symptoms of this condition, and BING!  I had almost all of them.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  These are the common symptoms:
  • Low energy
  • Overweight (especially around the abdomen)
  • Carb cravings
  • Sugar cravings
  • Dry skin
  • Difficulty losing weight despite exercising
  • Sleepiness right after a meal (I always thought this was just the -itis, hehe)
  • High Tryglicerides
  • Brain fogginess
  • Family history of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease
I have 8 out of the 10 symptoms.  I plan on going to the doctor in a few weeks to see if I can get an official diagnosis, although often a diagnosis is made just by counting the amount of symptoms and risk factors you possess. Some doctor's do a blood sugar test, so hopefully I can get one done.

Now before you guys start sending Get Well Soon e-cards and virtual hugs, the good news is that Insulin Resistance is totally reversable!  The main treatment is a low-carb diet, and exercise.  Also, there is a supplement called GlucoBalance that has a combination of specific vitamins and minerals that help to stabilize blood sugar naturally, as well as curb carb/sugar cravings.  I'm currently reading a book called The Insulin Resistance Factor by Antony J. Haynes, and the diet that I'm starting isn't as strict as the other low-carb diets I've been on in the past.  The focus is more about health instead of just weighing less.  You're allowed to have whole wheat carbs (i.e. bread/pasta/rice), but just in limited quantity, such as 1/2 a cup at each meal.  So it's not as restrictive, but I believe it will be more effective.  It's five meals a day, 3 main meals plus 2 snacks.

I'm actually relieved to be going in a certain direction when it comes to my health. It always seemed odd to me how difficult it has been for me to lose weight, despite my many attempts.  I'm hoping that this will be the key to finally feeling and looking healthy again.  How about you?  Have you battled with the bulge for a long time?  Do these symptoms sound familiar?  If so, you're not alone.  The best thing to do is see a doctor to be a certain, then find a great online forum that can give you the support you need. And hey, you got me too!

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