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Stretchmarks like Rings on a Tree

Friday, June 10, 2011

I weighed in this morning, and I was in shock.


I haven't seen that number in...I don't know how long. College? After college? Before the boyfriend that nearly wrecked my life?

Here is the condensed story of "me".

I was never overweight as a child or teenager. I was moderately active in high school and college with soccer and martial arts. After college, I got my first "real" job that wasn't minimum wage. It was a desk job as a computer programmer, and I was "on-call" 24-7. I worked somewhere between 60-80 per week. A coworker and I became romantically involved. We ate out at almost every meal. McDonalds for breakfast, Mexican for lunch, and Chili's or Applebee's for dinner. I went from about 127 to 160 in a very short period.

I drank about 32-64oz of fully leaded Coke per day. Why I did this, I don't know. Obviously this was bad for me. Why I blamed "old age" (at 26) for "slowing metabolism", I don't know. I can only conclude it was arrogance. I arrogantly believed I could eat and drink like this without consequence.

Anyway, dear boyfriend was financially irresponsible. He nearly destroyed my immaculate credit record by draining our bank accounts and my credit card. The one smart thing I did was kept a personal savings account with my own money in it hidden from him. When I left him, I used that money to leave and move to Seattle.

So I moved to Seattle broke and fat.

It took me 5 years, but I paid off the debt while maintaining my great credit record (tip: always pay on time). I didn't have to declare bankruptcy. I borrowed a little from my parents towards the end, then paid them back. I got rid of the last of my financial baggage from that relationship.

But I still carried the weight. I was able to lose a lot with a healthier lifestyle in Seattle, but I could never quite get below the 130 threshold. I got to 127 once before the new boyfriend (now fiance) and I went to Jamaica, but it quickly rebounded.

Here's a sample of a day before I cut starchy carbs.

Breakfast: Blueberries, yogurt, 1 cup Kashi cereal.
Lunch: Udon noodles with asparagus, onions and bell peppers, and poached egg.
Dinner: Stir fry with pork tenderloin, 1 cup rice.
Snack: Grapefruit

Sounds pretty healthy. I didn't lose any weight eating this kind of stuff on a daily basis, though. So this must have been a high fat/high calorie day, right? Wrong.

Calories: 1249
Carbs/Fat/Protein: 190/47/66
Ratio: 52/30/18

Calories in - Calories out completely failed. According to Spark, this should be the perfectly balanced ratios.

I was maintaining my weight and bodyfat. Where is the junk? So unfair to have junk in my trunk and I didn't even get the benefit of being "bad".

With the exception of the breakfast, my meal was fairly typical of an Asian diet. I have often pondered why my Asians relatives can eat rice at every meal, and yet not have the overweight/obesity problem.

Well, I think it really comes down to they consume a lot less sugar than Westerners, especially Americans. We buy 12oz cans of Coke. In Asia, coke cans are 6oz, and most kids share a can with a sibling or friend. They drink it maybe once a month as a treat, not everyday like Americans. Asian desserts are not very sweet compared to American cakes. Most of my friends in school didn't like my Korean sweet red bean and rice dessert because they weren't as sweet as a Twinkie.

If we were to look at the mitochondria of Americans, we would find signatures for corn. Corn in the form of high fructose corn sugar.

Which is what I did with those 32oz Big Gulps. I used to buy them because they were a "good value". $1 for that much Coke - what a steal.

There is always a price. My price was damaging my metabolism. Fructose in high quantities has been shown to damage insulin receptors, increasing insulin resistance. Higher insulin resistance means less able to tolerate carbohydrates. It means weight gain, difficulty in losing weight, and higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome like diabetes. High fructose corn sugar found in soda is a super concentrated form of fructose.

If I had just eaten fruit, I'd probably never have developed an insulin problem, so I don't want anyone to think I'm saying "fruit is bad!". But super concentrated fructose like soda...well. It is unnatural. You'd never find that much fructose in an orange as you do a can of Coke. That was damage. Time will tell how much I can heal. It is unlikely I will be able to recover the sensitivity that I had before my weight gain. I feel relieved that I at least know what is going on, and I can at least halt the progression.

No doubt some people will have done the same or worse than me, and were able to bounce back, no problem. I was not so blessed. My body is clearly telling me "no more".

I am half Asian, and if Asians generally eat less sugar, then it makes sense that Asians probably have less tolerance to it than other ethnic groups. Studies have shown that Japanese who immigrate to Hawaii tend to develop diabetes at a much greater rate than European immigrants. Most likely due to adopting a higher sugar western diet that they have not adapted to. While I am also half German, I think I have inherited less tolerance to high carb/sugar from my Asian ancestry.

I feel lucky that I can do something about this before I do develop metabolic syndrome. No doubt if I had developed detectable levels of insulin resistance, everyone would have said it was my genes. "She worked out, ate low fat and healthy, and still got diabetes." "Oh that's a shame, just can't fight genetics."

I think perhaps I have more of a propensity towards insulin resistance, but I refuse to accept this as my inexorable fate. Not after what I have seen with my own eyes.

So now I am steadily losing weight by cutting out starchy carbs, which was the hidden form of sugar I didn't pay attention to. Some skeptics say it is just water weight loss. No doubt some of it is water weight - insulin has the effect of making your kidneys store more water and salt than it should. But here is my evidence that it is something more:

- My measurements are shrinking. I've gone from 33inch waist to 29inch. While I don't have quite a washboard, my stomach is looking more flat, rather than distended.
- Lean mass is holding stable. No drop in muscle, according to my data.
- I fit into a pair of jeans I haven't worn since college.
- My bra fits evenly across my back, without squeezing fat.
- Stretch marks.

If I'm feeling less shy about it, I'll share some before/after photos later. Right now, I'm just holding them private, as proof and motivation that I am on the right track.

The stretchmarks are bothersome. I look at them and sigh. However, as unsightly as they are, I am looking at them like tree rings. They have a story to tell. Abusing my metabolism, and arrogance of my youth. Bad choices.

But I also intend for them to tell a story of redemption and hope.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Why do so many of us have these absolutely dismal boyfriends in our pasts? We are all clearly smart, strong, capable women.... yet I can't tell you how many blogs I read where "loser boyfriend" pops up (myself included!) Thanks for sharing your story! I have to say, I'm experimenting a bit with eating less/no carbs at dinner and after, and I'm definitely having success as well, so you're definitely onto something here!
    3512 days ago
  • ANDREA409
    Very exciting results! I'm elated for you, girl. emoticon emoticon
    3512 days ago
    DDOORN: I haven't had Mongolian BBQ in so long! You made some great choices, I would have picked the exact same thing! ;) Sounds delicious - yum!

    FITGIRL15: Yeah, it probably just is "luck" of the draw again. DRAT
    3513 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/10/2011 9:42:15 PM
    SEDGEY: To be honest, the grunge rocker boyfriend sounds like WAY more fun! ;)

    If you don't have time to read, watch "Fathead" if you haven't already. It will give you a good intro to what I am talking about. And it features the doctors of "Protein Power" - Drs. Mike and Mary Eades.

    Highly recommend "Protein Power", if you like to know the science heavy whys and hows. If you want just a more quickie get right to it, try the "30 Day Low Carb Diet Solution", also by the Eades. It gives a very layman's description of what is in "Protein Power", but gets right to it. It also gives a 30 day meal plan.

    I think it is a very easy plan to follow. Less restrictive and more flexible than Atkins. And it still works! I mean, the reason I am so enthusiastic about it is because I cannot believe how well it works!
    3513 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/10/2011 2:00:14 PM
  • no profile photo CD8937156
    I guess I'm slightly relieved to hear that even gainfully employed computer programmer boyfriends can wreak as much havoc on one's metabolism as hard-drinking grunge rocker boyfriends. I thought it was just me. ;)

    Thanks for detailing so much of what you've been learning. I haven't had time to read much for myself (we did finally watch the Stanford video last night!) so it's been extra helpful for me. I need to redouble my efforts since the bakery aspect of my life is starting to affect my results. Luckily I introduced a seven seeds bread this year. I will limit myself to that (open face) with the occasional 100% whole wheat slice and get back on track.

    Glad to read of your results too! Great job. :D

    3513 days ago
    Awesome blog! Great job!
    3513 days ago
    Thanks for keeping us updated on your journey - you have really regenerated hope and motivation in me.

    I am working on shifting the ratio of carbs and protein in my own diet and while I'm not sure the weight is changing (not on speaking terms with my scale at the moment), I do know that my blood sugar has already stabilized. Now I get normal hunger pangs and I do not get that low-blood-sugar-gonna-kill-someone-
    if-I-don't-eat feeling!

    Love watching your progress!!
    3513 days ago
    For the record... I have never been extremely overweight and I have stretchmarks... yet my once seriously obese sister-in-law has NONE! I honestly think stretchmarks, like anything else... is just luck of the draw!

    I'm soo happy that you are finding the right diet for you that works with your bodies natural tendancies! :)
    3513 days ago
    Hey, instead of stretch marks, why not consider them VICTORY marks!

    Thx for keeping up your anti-sugar, anti-grain blogging...I'm continuing to re-double my efforts to avoid those as I *KNOW* that my most successful periods of weight loss / maintenance was when I had minimal grain products among my food choices.

    Dined out last night with my clients who chose to go to a Chinese buffet. Me? No problem: head over to the Mongolian grill and assembled a plate full of shrimp (4-5), crab (couple small pieces), chicken (one chunk), peapods, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, shiritaki noodles and had 'em all chopped and stir fried jazzed with some of those hot spices. I wanted to have some fruit for dessert, but was too STUFFED to even THINK about it...! Yum!

    I was pleased to see some of my clients try this also...they never knew how to use this part of the Chinese buffet before...always loaded up on all the unhealthy stuff.

    3513 days ago
  • KELPIE57
    I'm following with interest......
    3513 days ago
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