When Zero Calories Make You Fat
May 14, 2013
Moving to Japan ten years ago, I saw an opportunity to lose some weight and improve my health generally. I watched my intake of calories, fats, sugars, and carbohydrates, and I walked for at least one hour roughly 29 out of every 30 days, rain or shine. I was certain the fat would melt away, but after nine months of this routine I don’t think I lost more than 10 pounds.
Why wasn’t I losing any weight?
Next I tried a local hospital, geographically convenient, specializing in nutrition and weight management. They told me very little I didn’t already know, but in wanting to make good I diligently followed all of their advice and submitted to weekly blood samples and other monitoring. After six months I lost… ten pounds.
And then this past January I read an article about the findings of a medical study that had “ME” written all over it. It was one of those life-changing epiphanies. Though Yukiyo had been urging me to stop drinking diet soda for years the findings of this study were still quite shocking. And all of it seemed to apply to me.
Essentially what it says is that diet soda causes weight gain. It doesn’t help keep weight off at all, but in fact destroys one’s metabolism to the point where weight can actually skyrocket and dieting becomes nearly impossible. I began drinking diet soda in February 1985 and, at my peak, was downing two liters of the stuff every day.
I haven’t touched a drop since. For the first couple of months, I switched to regular soda, though limiting myself to one can or 16-ounce bottle per day, and now I’m down to two or three a week. By mid-summer, I’ll limit myself to about one can of regular soda per week.
In its place I’m drinking filtered tap water, lots of it, one-and-a-half liters per day or so.
Within a month I could feel the difference.
And, thinking I may be on to something, decided to add a kind of exercise I never did on a regular basis before: walking up, UP, UP steps and steep hills. Plenty of opportunity for that in hilly Kyoto. The Arashiyama Monkey Park, Kurama Temple, even a stone’s throw from my house there’s Takaragaike Park, where near the Cherry Blossom Forest one can find a long series of steps that provide a decent, 30-minute uphill climb. The first few times I made these walks I prayed that whoever would find my slumped-over body knew CPR, but my stamina has been building gradually, and now all these climbs are no big deal.
I haven’t changed much else. I’m eating moderately smaller portions, fewer desserts, more green vegetables, but eliminating diet soda, drinking a lot more water, and walking up these steps and footpaths are the only real changes I’ve made to my lifestyle, and only the walking involves an investment of time.
The result? In just the last five weeks I’ve lost 15 pounds. That’s a drop in the bucket for somebody my size, but it’s a start. Maybe a real, honest-to-goodness start. I’ll keep you posted.