Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sugar: the Bane of my Existence

I am not even sure where to start. I have severe (SEVERE!) Insulin Resistance. When I eat anything with sugar in it (or carbs that will eventually turn into a form of sugar) my body cannot process it. Here's a (as-brief-as-I-can-be) rundown of IR:

Insulin resistance is a condition in which a person's body tissues have a low level of response to insulin, (insulin: a hormone from the pancreas that helps to regulate the body's blood sugar levels). As a result, the person's body produces more and more insulin to maintain normal levels of glucose in the blood.

Long version:
After a person eats a meal, digestive juices in the small intestine break down starch/sugars in the food into glucose. The glucose then passes into the bloodstream. When the amount of glucose in the blood reaches a certain point, the pancreas is stimulated to release insulin into the blood. Eventually, if everything works correctly the glucose is converted into energy. If the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or the insulin receptors do not function properly, the cells cannot process the glucose and the level of glucose in the blood remains high. Excess blood sugar gets deposited in fat cells, causing weight gain. The more weight you gain, the worse IR tends to become.

It is a VICIOUS cycle.

Short version: (yep, another bulleted list!)
Eat Sugar/Carb containing foods.
Blood sugar goes up.
Pancreas makes insulin.
Insulin receptor cells do not recognize the need to function.
Pancreas makes even more insulin.
Meanwhile, excess blood sugar is going to your fat cells.
Finally insulin works a bit.
Now, blood sugar will drop quickly.
Because you of the drop, you now feel hungry/crave sweets again.
You eat more Sugar/Carb foods.
Repeat cycle.

Now, insert "You feel like crap.", "You feel bloated/heavy.", "Your joints ache.", and "Your have zero energy." into the cycle above at various points.

I live this life. Continuously.

The only time I feel better is when I cut out ALL sugar (and carbs). After a "detox" phase of about 2 days (where I am literally like a pissy-drug-addict-coming-off-of-the-good-stuff) I am a different person. Yes, really.

I am extremely energetic. I am happy. I have a positive outlook on things, including my weight (LOL). My body (knees!!!) does not ache. I feel lighter. I can even run my fat butt up my porch steps. It is amazing. This lasts the entire time I eat like I *should*. Then comes the boredom with the same foods over and over. I start to miss fruits. I lust over some real bread. I see a baked potato. I need pasta. I somehow convince myself (easily) that I can have just a small bit of said pasta/bananas/bread/etc... BAM. I begin to binge. Bad. Then so begins my IR cycle.

What is a gal to do? I KNOW I need to cut out sugar PERMANENTLY. I have attempted this, with a good-faith effort 3 times in the past 12 months. Good grief, was I testing a theory or what?! The longest I lasted was a good, solid 2 1/2 months. The last 2 weeks of which, begin to feel like torture when I would think about what I could *not* eat.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention...I drop weight. Pretty easily. But I have to be very strict with my eating. Every day. Every meal. Every bite. Literally only meats, cheeses, veggies, eggs and 1 serving of dairy a day (greek yogurt or milk). A rare, small serving of strawberries or raspberries seems to be ok too.

The other major thing I notice when I eat zero sugar is regular periods. I mentioned in this post that due to my PCOS I have maybe one a year. Well, cut out the sugar and WHAM. Instant period within about 5 to 7 days! In the months I ate like this, I had a regular period each month. Mind blowing! Well, part of the science behind that is that estrogen is stored in fat cells. When you begin losing weight and shedding excess glucose, the fat cells you are "shedding" begin releasing the estrogen into your system. This works with my wacked out hormones to create an ideal period-causing-cycle!

Somehow, in spite of the bit of amazing energy, weight loss, and regular periods... I still fail.

The point of this looonnnngggg post: I have been doing Weight Watchers for 3 weeks now. I have been able to eat anything I want, just less of it. As long as I stay within my points, I am supposed to lose weight and feel great. Well, not me. I have been miserably hungry ALL THE TIME. I have even gained a pound. My IR cycle is very prominent with this way of eating. It is *supposed* to be calories in/calories out. With IR, there is much more involved. Don't get me wrong. It IS calories in/calories out BUT with no-sugar/carbs the cycle stops dead. You do not crave the crap all the time. In fact I am never hungry at all. What a free feeling! Without the sugar highs and crashes, I do not crave stuff, and when I do eat, its basic foods like protein and veggies, therefore I take in fewer calories.

So, WW = FAIL. Yes, I was sorta successful in the past with WW, but I was miserable. I was hungry. I was obsessed. I still felt icky. This only leaves me with what I know works. So why can't I stick with it?

I sure would like to answer that, then fix it so I could be happier and healthier.

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