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How I Slowed My Metabolism

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I've been looking into sugars and how they are metabolized because I believe this is how I damaged my body.

Before 2000, I was normal weight. Like many teenagers and 20-somethings, I thought I was fat when I was the farthest thing from it. When I was 13, there was a commercial from Special K cereal. It had a jingle that ended with the line, "Can't pinch an inch on me." From that point on, I was convinced I was fat because I pinched an inch on my gut. This seemingly innocuous event was the start of unrealistic expectations throughout my teen years. I started the concept of 'dieting' at 13 years old.

I was never really overweight, I only thought I was. In 2000, I started my first career job, got a boyfriend, and started making some extraordinarily bad choices with diet.

I ate super-sized breakfast and lunch at McDonalds. I bought 32oz fully leaded Cokes to drink at my desk. I didn't cook at home because I didn't know how, so I ate at KFC, Applebee's or Chili's for dinner. I drank oversized adult kool-aid margaritas that didn't have a drop of real juice.

I must have been taking in about 3000 calories per day. I'm a petite 5'0". That is beyond ridiculous. I gained weight very rapidly to weigh in at 160lbs. I might have weighed more at one point. I stopped weighing myself after a while because I didn't want to see it. I pretended that it wasn't happening.

Before I went on this crazy spiral, I could eat bowls of rice and potatoes with impunity. I ate pizza, burgers, and beer without gaining a pound.

I think I was fairly lucky growing up because my mom made food from fresh ingredients. I didn't eat a lot of processed foods. Once I was on my own, I didn't know how to cook, so I relied on processed foods and restaurants. I said that I 'didn't have time' to cook.

I am convinced that those 32oz Big Gulps of Coke and the Kool-Aid Ritas did the most damage to my system. Even though I was never diagnosed with clinical insulin resistance, my body showed signs of damage.

Insulin normally tells cells to start storing sugars, fats and protein in cells. However, when you chronically abuse your body by overloading with sugars, cells stop responding. It is because they seem to have an upper tolerance where they risk cell death if they take any more. So they shut down, and stop listening to the cues. This is insulin resistance.

Then something fortunate happened. My boyfriend and I broke up. Ok, it seemed devastating and the worst thing ever at the time. But this ended up being the best thing ever. He was a loser that was dragging my life down. I moved to Seattle and transformed myself.

Clean slate. I ditched the sugar. No more Big Gulps. No more chain restaurants. I learned to cook.

Combined with buying a bike, I lost 30 lbs. But then I stalled and stayed there until last year.

I thought I eliminated all sugars, but there was another type that I didn't know about. Last year I made the revelation that breads, pastas, rice and potatoes are another form of sugar. Carbohydrates, no matter what the source, is converted into glucose. (Except fiber, which is an indigestible carb.)

Eating 5 servings of grains/starch portions per day was enough to keep me fat. Didn't matter that I averaged 1 hour of exercise 5x per week, and about 8 hours of exercise on the weekends. I could not lose the fat. I was fit-fat.

All I did was drop my grain/starch portion to 1-2x per day. The weight I struggled to lose was finally starting to slide off again.

But I still don't tolerate carbs as well as I used to. True, I am 12 years older than I was in 2000. I'm not a 20-something anymore. However, I suspect that the Big Gulps accelerated the natural age related slow down.

I don't blame the soda industry or 7-11. It was my own stupid fault for drinking those things. Did I really think I was so invincible? Bizarrely, when I weighed 160lbs at 28 years old, I blamed 'slowing metabolism'. Yes, I slowed my metabolism by damaging my insulin sensitivity.

The past is past. Can't change it. It's clear that 1-2 portions of starch/grain is all I can handle. So my beloved rice, potatoes and pasta are things I enjoy less frequently.

That's not such a bad thing. I find that they are something I savor, and perhaps I appreciate a little more.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Lactose is no good for me, since I'm lactose intolerant. ;) I eat cheese and yogurt, because the good bacteria eats the lactose that make me uncomfortable.

    I eat very low sugar fruits in general, like raspberries, blueberries, and dried cranberries.
    3132 days ago
    Some sugars are ok though, naturally occuring sugars like lactose in milk and fructose in fruit are better for you than the refined sugars in soft drinks. Try keeping a bunch of grapes handy for a sweet treat.
    3132 days ago
    I took a fitness nutrition course, in which we (as the health profesional) were forced to use the Canada Food Guide as our guide in creating healthy diet plans for people wanting to get a hold of their weight problems or reach other fitness goals.

    Ugh... this food guide is TERRIBLE... and will keep MOST PEOPLE FAT!!! 6-7 servings of carbs a day, only 4 servings of protein/dairy!?!?! Yeah, NO THANKS! I never used that course knowledge... After my body building experience and my Sparking, I felt that I knew more about healthy eating then they did!

    I agree, too much carbs can allow us to hold on to excess body fat... but I don't think that everyone needs to go low carb as a lifestyle! You will never build muscle under such low calorie diets. Complex carbs give you the energy to workout harder/longer and for those who are fitness NUTS like me, I need energy to be there when I need it!!!
    3132 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/25/2012 11:15:44 AM
    I also believe I damaged my metabolism from years of excess sugar and possibly starch intake. It sucks, and sometimes I wonder if it will be permanent, or if it is reversible at all... but even if it isn't, a low-carb diet is something I will just need to learn to live with for the rest of my life and I am OK with that.

    It does come down to personal choice--unfortunately, the damage I did was during my childhood years and I did not have the healthiest parents in the world to help me change my habits. But really, I do think some of the responsibility should now fall on the government: there is so much new evidence that Americans eat WAY too many carbs compared to other nations (especially processed stuff like bread and crackers), and that soda in particular causes insulin resistance... we really need better education and FEWER SUBSIDIES so the stuff isn't so cheap. I would vote for a soda tax.
    3132 days ago
    Whole grain doesn't matter for me either...it's all a trap that builds or holds the weight for me.

    While we of course have our own personal responsibility for our food choices, my pet peeve is that there are MANY potent sources of influence against which we must swim:


    3132 days ago
    Great blog and some great responses!!! emoticon
    3133 days ago
    Good read...thanks
    3133 days ago
    Yeah, I know for some folks, the whole grains don't matter. What I've been reading is that for some folks (this is heart health and weight), just getting the carbs out and the weight down is much more important and gives better results.
    3133 days ago
    GETSTRONGRRR: Thanks for leaving your great comments! You've given me some interesting things to think about. It's good to challenge what we think we know every once in a while. I'm in way better shape in my 30s than I was in my 20s, myself.

    EATNBOOGERS: For me, whole grains didn't matter. I was eating whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. My weight loss didn't budge. The effect was the same, 5-6 servings of any grain will grind my fat burn to a halt.
    3133 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/24/2012 1:57:40 PM
    More and more people working on heart disease are realizing that simple carbs aren't great for heart health. I'm more concerned about the processed carbs--the white flour/pasta/rice etc--than whole grains. But I hear you.
    3133 days ago
    Thanks again....I have immensely enjoyed your posts since we "friended"

    I believe I'm in a similar boat...albeit I'm 52. Still, I am fond of telling most of the 20 & 30-somethings that work for me that I'm in better shape today than when I was 30 & 40.

    I work out a lot, lifting weights 3x/week and doing some form of cardio 3 other days. Since joining SP in jan 11, I have lost maybe 10-15 lbs, but transformed my body by adding some muscle & dropping inches.

    Yet when I took a bodyfat mesuarement earlier this year through a thing called a "BodPod" (see my blog at;


    My bodyfat came out to 27%!

    So I have high hopes to see how all this works out!

    here's to low carb living!
    3133 days ago
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