In my previous blog post, My Journey – (All About me), I mentioned that our Low fat, high carbohydrate diet led to issues for both my husband, Glen and I. They were on opposite sides of the scale – literally. For me, it was a journey filled with huge amounts of frustration, confusion and concern.
Having been a ballet dancer during my school days and always been blessed with a lean physique, I never worried about weight, ate exactly what I wanted and ended school weighing in at 57 kg in 1990. This remained until I met Glen, in 1999. A few months down the line I lost 3 kg’s, which took me to 54 kg’s. The only thing that changed, was switching to a Low Fat diet – fat became the enemy – no more full cream milk, it was now either low fat or skim milk, fat free yogurt, canola margarine, Low Gi bread. I was having loads of sugar too, sugar in coffee, coke was my liquid staple and yet I lost weight.
For many, this won’t seem like an issue at all – losing weight, how fantastic! But for someone, who doesn’t need to lose weight, it can be incredibly concerning and leads to questions – What is wrong with me? Is my thyroid OK? Do I perhaps have an incurable illness?
Glen was an avid cyclist at this stage, cycling about 20 km every day and then about 90 km on a Saturday morning. He was fit and started to shed some kg’s, he had been to see a dietitian, as he had suffered from a gout attack and it was suggested that he follow a good, ‘healthy’ diet, low in purines, this diet was high in complex carbohydrates fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but more stringent on the simple carbohydrates, so white bread, cakes, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and products consisting of high-fructose corn syrup were outlawed. Saturated fats from red meats, fatty poultry and high-fat dairy products were cut back further. The gout vanished and over about a year Glen lost about 20 kg’s, he was still over weight, but felt better. He completed the Argus Cycle race and the Knysna Cycle Tour without issues. It still fascinates me that someone can cycle between 100 – 200 km’s per week and only manage to lose about 20 kg’s, exercise definitely helps, but think that we still have a great deal to learn in this area.
And then came the children
In 2001 I fell pregnant with our blue eyed boy, Daniel (Glen’s cycling became a forgotten activity during our nesting phase). I had a pre-pregnancy weight of 54kg and gained 17kg’s during my first pregnancy. It was a fantastic pregnancy, certainly didn’t feel overweight, was well proportioned and had no problems at all. My craving for cheese in my first trimester was huge. I also had a craving for chocolate milk or hot chocolate. Perhaps my body was trying to tell me something…
After Daniel was born, and weighed in at 3.65kg’s, it took 1 week and I was back into my size 32 jeans – I was breastfeeding and tried to get in enough fluids by drinking rooibos tea, which I struggled with after pregnancy, and Jungle Juice (I shudder to think that I consumed so much aspartame / phenylalanine, as I had no idea that Berocca contained this artificial sweetener). Throughout my life I took great care not to consume aspartame, but we now find it snuck into so many products, including fruit cordials, which we regularly quench our children’s thirsts with. (Check ingredients labels carefully, Moms and Dads).
Within a couple of weeks I was down to 50kg’s and that is where I stayed until my next pregnancy in 2004. I gained 20kgs with our blue eyed girl, Kate. Again a great pregnancy, only craved, Steri Stumpie – chocolate flavour. Kate weighed 3.84Kgs. 4 Days later I was back into those size 32 jeans and within a month my weight sat at 47kg’s. Feeling a little anxious, I chatted to my Doctor, who recommended a Thyroid test, which came back absolutely fine.
Baby’s flourished, but I could have done with a few KG’s.
For 10 years I have struggle to get to 50 kg’s, 48 kg’s has been the norm, this is 9kg’s less than when I left school. A very unusual problem for a postpartum mum to have, in fact I have come to the conclusion that I am not a normal woman. 🙂
Psychology and views of society are very interesting. During this time the comments of concern for me, from people I knew or who were close to me, flew in…
They included –
- Why are you so thin?
- Are you ill?
- Why have you lost so much weight?
- Have you had blood tests done? Etc, etc.
These questions have led me to believe that for some reason people are far more concerned about weight loss rather than weight gain. Weight gain has become somewhat of a scary new norm, that doesn’t get noticed. With Glen and my opposite weight issues, I can quite confidently say that Glen wasn’t asked about his weight gain once. Words can be harmful, even though it may come from a really good place.
In January, 2012, we decided to visit a dietitian, both Glen and I wanted to resolve our weight issues and were placed, once again, on a ‘healthy’ Low Fat, Heart foundation diet, but again, what we didn’t know at that stage, was that it was packed full of carbohydrates. I was allowed to eat more than Glen, but Glen was constantly hungry. I couldn’t get over the amount of starch, which I had to force down. The average day consisted of
- Skim / low fat milk, low fat yoghurt, cultured milk, low fat cheese
- All Bran flakes, oats, wheetbix or bread
A mid morning snack
- Fruit or fruit juice
- Bread, crackers or rusks
- Protein – (Egg, cheese, chicken without skin, small chocolate or small pkt crisps or Peanut butter)
Mid afternoon snack
- Bread or Fruit
- 1 Cup Starch for Glen and 1.5 Cup Starch for Janine (Rice, potato, pasta, corn, sweet potato, cous cous, beans, pap, samp or bread)
- 150g lean protein and
- .5 Cup some veggies (carrots, peas, beatroot, onions or butternut)
Late night snack (Choose 1)
- Marie biscuits,
Looking at this diet now, I can not believe that our Medical aid gave us a substantial amount of vitality points and paid for the assessment, which led to even more weight gain.
Our pancreas’s would have been sent on a merry, insulin producing joy ride, but then again, we were so keen to sort out our weight loss and weight gain woes, we would have tried anything. We followed this way of eating for 2 years, measuring everything and gaining and losing nothing. It was a completely disheartening exercise, but we had to do it and we most certainly learned a great deal from it.
Glen weighed 134 kg’s in February 2014 – it is easy to write this figure down a year and a half later, but in February 2014, just before his 50th birthday, this figure of 134 was rather scary.
The good news is that there is hope and where there is a will, there is most certainly a way – I can assure you. 🙂