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.