I’ve told my story before, my struggle with body image and an eating disorder that almost killed me. I’ve traveled a very long road to recovery and currently have the healthiest relationship with food that I’ve ever had. I’m eating well (my only cravings are almost always after a big workout) and I have more energy than I have since before having kids. I’ll always struggle with body image or see some way I could improve physically, and I may never be able to truthfully say that I LOVE my body. Still, I love myself; the parts of me housed inside of my skin, my spirit and persistence and confidence in myself, and I believe in my abilities and strength.
But, I do not love my “baby belly”. I love the children that it grew and birthed, but I am not in awe of the aftermath. I don’t believe pregnancy is meant to wreck your body. Change it? Absolutely, but leave it deflated and dysfunctional? Absolutely not. I have many regrets from those prenatal months when my ignorance led to a neglect of things that may have saved some of the issues I have now, but that’s another post entirely.
Three pregnancies in three years coupled with extreme weight gains (60lbs+) and little to no belly support or skin care is a perfect recipe for the mess that is my midsection. Stretch marks, Diastasis Recti, and a natural propensity towards fat storage has left me less than impressed with how I look even though I am in the best shape of my life.
I don’t love it and I don’t have to live with it. I’ve avoided most dieting programs up until now because I am breastfeeding and know that my body reacts negatively to calorie restrictions, especially low carb situations in regards to milk production. Now that Ella is over a year and eating solids regularly, I am not as worried about my milk production and am going to begin my first try at carb cycling. My supply is well enough established that I’ll be able to tell whether or not it’s being affected too much. Ella still nurses a million times a day and weaning is not something any of us are interested in.
Carb cycling is (at the most basic level) alternating days of high and low carb intake while keeping fats at a minimum. This forces your body to turn to fat for energy, thus helping you burn fat and lose weight if that is your goal. I don’t really want to lose much weight or compromise my strength gains so I will not be restricting calories much, just changing up my macros. Currently I eat around 130-160g protein a day, 65-75g fat, and fill in the rest of my macro needs with carbs. It’s taken me years to figure out what feels right to me, what keeps me fueled and full, and the right ratio of everything especially on my high training days. With this diet I’ll be dropping my fats to .25-.5g per pound of body weight dependant on low/high carb days, my protein intake to 1.5-2g per pound of body weight depending on training days, and my carbs will fill in from there. On low carb days I’ll be avoiding grains all together, focusing on fruits and on high and medium carb days I’ll be adding in oats, rice, and the occasional sweet potato. 2 days of low, 2 of moderate and 1 of high is my goal but I’ll be re-evaluating as I go. I expect to be a little sluggish and hungry, I also expect to be kind of grumpy, so I’ll need all the love I can get.
Have you had any experience with carb cycling? Did you feel it was effective? Lay it on me. I need all the support I can get as I prepare to give up the love of my life, chips and salsa.