Last week I met the man that I have to thank for my LCHF journey – Prof Tim Noakes. In South Africa, Prof Noakes is the most vocal proponent of the LCHF lifestyle and it was when I read an article of his (http://www.health24.com/fitness/Diet_Supplements/16-481-512,73175.asp) that the lights finally came on and I realized what had been going on with my body all these years. I did not take notes or record our meeting, so these are most certainly not direct quotes and I apologise sincerely if I got the wrong end of the stick, but this is what I took out of our conversation:
Prof Noakes is one of the most encouraging, inspiring and affirming people I’ve ever spoken to. Later I reflected just how important it is the have your own cheerleading team. Friends and family who understand what you’re doing and support you 100%. So often we are discouraged by people around us – find your supporters and connect with them often. Thanks O, Jeanne and Jax!
How much carbohydrate should I be having in a day? Less is definitely more when it comes to carbs. The less you have, the faster you will lose weight (because your body will burn fat instead of getting its fuel from carbs in your diet). Some people find that their weight loss plateaus – it could be because they are eating too much protein. While insulin is far more affected by carbs than it is by protein, excess protein could result in gluconeogenesis – where your liver changes protein into glucose. If this happens to you, drop your protein to 1g per day per kilogram of weight (so if you weigh 70kg, you can eat 70g of protein per day) and increase your fat intake. Happily this does not seem to be a problem for me.
How do you increase your fat intake? If you’re anything like me, you’ve been eating low fat meals all your life and high fat is not only a real mind-shift, but also unpalatable. Try the following: avocados, full fat yoghurt, macadamia nuts, flaxseed oil, bacon (unless you’re cutting down on protein).
I’m often not hungry and have found myself skipping dinner quite a lot these days. As a pre-diabetic, insulin resistant person I used to have to eat every 3-4 hours or else my hands would start shaking. Now I’m not eating for hours and hours and I feel great. Is this normal? YES. The Prof says that he often forgets to eat these days! And apparently it is a good sign – it shows that your mind has rewired itself and is accepting your new way of eating and how your body is functioning.
Realistically, could I go back to my old UK size 12, after being overweight for 16 years? YES! This surprised me. I thought that after carrying so much weight for so many years, the best I could hope for was a size 14. Prof Noakes feels that at the age of 35 I am still young enough for my body to bounce back. If you are 65, it is difficult for your body to correct a lifetime of imbalance. However, you can still lose weight and dramatically improve your health – its just that you may not be able to get back to your ideal weight.
I’ve got so much excess energy now. I was exhausted for the first 3 weeks as my body adjusted, but since then I am bouncing around all the time – is this normal? Yes. Once your body starts correcting itself you do have a lot more energy.
My BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) is to run a half marathon in early 2014 – is this going to be possible, and how? YES! YAY!! I always thought that if you were overweight you shouldn’t try to run because you will damage your joints. Prof Noakes had this advice: walk for 30 mins a day. Once you’re going strong with that, run for 1 minute within those 30mins. Just 1 minute. Do that for a week. Then add another minute in the second week, but not consecutively. So you could walk for 10mins, then run for 1 min, then walk for 10mins, run for 1 min, then walk again. In the 3rd week you add a 3rd minute, again not consecutively…and after 20 weeks you’ll be running for 20mins. Wow. I started with my first minute of running the morning after our meeting. It sounded like a herd of elephants was on that treadmill but I could do it!
What about weight/resistance training? I am already using the machines at the gym to make sure that I strengthen my muscles a bit. The Prof’s advice was to keep the weights light and to allow my body to get used to this new routine for a while. Do not push through pain. If it hurts, stop. He suggested working with a personal trainer but my budget does not stretch to that. For the moment I’m working on different muscle groups every day – shoulder/arms then chest/back then legs – in addition to my 30mins on the treadmill. I also do 100 sit-ups and then finish off with a little stretching.
Finally, success is in your mind. If you believe you can achieve it, you can. Keep your eyes on your goal and go for it!!
Apart from my first 1 minute of running, my other achievements this week were losing another 2kg (down 13kg now) and restraining myself while wine tasting! I was the designated driver, so that helped! I faced my first picnic of the summer at a sunset concert and didn’t miss the carbs at all. Crudities, cream cheese, chicken and biltong (beef jerky) were the order of the day!