We interrupt this blog to talk about weight loss

June 17, 2008 | 49 comments

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you couldn’t care less about the topic of diet and weight loss, you really want to avoid this post. Close your browser immediately at the risk of trauma from severe boredom. Perhaps you could use your time more wisely to go read about something interesting, like Darwin’s discussion of evolution and Catholic teaching or coverage of an important topic such as how to fold a chip bag without a clip.


I’m going on a three-week diet, starting today. Why am I telling you this?

In case there are some fellow armchair nutritionists out there who might find that interesting. In the likely event that nobody falls into that category, I’m also putting this into a post so that I can quickly link back to it as needed (for example: “I know this is my twelfth post this week where I analogized faith to garlic bread, steaming bowls of fettuccini alfredo and/or nachos, but it’s because of the diet.”) I think it’ll really streamline my posts.

I pretty much know how it’s going to go, because it’s something of a routine by now. It seems that I have some mild form of insulin resistance and therefore have a hard time losing weight until I give my poor pancreas a rest by laying off foods that increase the insulin response such as pasta, breads, sweets, alcohol — in other words, EVERYTHING THAT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING. Kidding about that last part. (Sort of.) Anyway, when I do this I lose a bunch of weight and even keep it off after returning to normal moderate eating habits…until I get pregnant and lose all self-control and gain a bunch of weight again. Here’s a chart (click to enlarge at your own risk):

Here’s where we are right now:

This phase ain’t pretty.

Every time I do this diet, I exhibit the withdrawal symptoms that you would expect to see when one is trying to simultaneously kick addictions to heroine and crack cocaine. (Note that I am not claiming that I actually experience such serious withdrawal, just that I excel at boldly exhibiting its symptoms). My natural inclination when I go to restaurants is to ask the waiter to bring me the wine list and a bowl of some substance not found in nature, preferably deep fried, with a side of ranch (I’m borrowing from the wit of Heather Armstrong there). Foregoing simple carbs has been known to make me question my own existence. And yet, here I am, facing three weeks without them.

In case anyone is wondering about the details (maybe one of the two of you who are still reading), I’m doing a highly refined diet plan called Jen’s version of the No-S Diet with some elements of South Beach and some spiritual components that I make up off the top of my head based on what I would imagine Light Weigh would be like if I had the time and money to do it. Catchy, I know.

Anyway, all this is to say: if I am completely incoherent for the next three weeks, this is why. Wish me luck*.

* I would ask for prayers but I don’t want to use anyone’s valuable prayer time for such a silliness. If, however, you are finished praying for the intentions of everyone you know, for all our world leaders, for people suffering from every type of illness, for the poor, and for world peace, then please keep this little endeavor of mine in your prayers.


  1. Mary Poppins NOT

    Your flow chart looks mighty familiar to me, except after baby number five the “loose 25 pounds” part never happened, then I had baby number 6 and baby number 7, and now I am 42 years old with 50 pounds to loose and I wonder where on earth is THAT will power going to come from? I haven’t the slightest notion of where to begin. So, I get a glass of wine, and forget about it. Sweet.

  2. TRS

    I feel for you!
    In a restaurant I tear through the pre-meal bread like it’s air!!! Can’t stop even if I wanted to.

    Thankfully, I’ve never had to lose more than 8 pounds (don’t bother to nail me on that – I know I know) but I love to eat!!!

    I recently told BF that with my idea of ‘starving’ I’d make a terrible Ghandi. I can’t even make it through Good Friday!! It’d be about three o’clock of the and I’d be ‘starving’ and scrounging for food… Asking God to consider my fast metabolism and forgive me.
    BF said that rather than a hunger strike… I’d have to go on a binge.
    “Listen people! I’m going to eat until we start to see some results! Keep the pasta coming.”

  3. Kerry

    Jen, this post is flippin hilarious, and I can so relate right now!
    I am actually going to go click on your insulin resistance links…b/c there is a real possiblity I could have trouble with that too.

  4. Stephanie D.

    My heartfelt sympathies and good wishes. I did South Beach for 4 months and lost 40 pounds, stalled out, got discouraged and now it’s 50 pounds later–in the other direction, of course!–and I am facing the need to do it all again.

    I SO hear your pain!

  5. Creative Clayer

    Good luck! It’s funny your comparison of weight loss to cocaine or heroine withdrawal. I’ve personally been through cocaine detox and survived. I did it on my own without a rehab clinic or much help at all really. I still can’t manage to stop eating like food is my ticket to heaven. πŸ˜‰

    Which I’m sure is no consolation for you…sorry.

    I guess if we could all wrap our minds around “this food could kill us” it might be easier to want to diet and exercise. One desire has to outweigh the other, and whichever one does, wins. Sometimes I think it’s gonna take hypnosis before I actually follow through with any diet plan! ha!

  6. razzler

    This is so funny. (In a sympathetic wway, or course!) I love the chart. I won’t mention how I lost a stone and a half without even realising it, over the last few months.

  7. Kelly

    Well, you’ve made me laugh. I love your flow chart. And I wish you well. It’s a hideous, hideous thing that food can be so detrimental. One of the greatest joys of living is a hot pile of nachos.

  8. Sta

    Good luck! I like the sound of that No-S diet. Maybe I’ll try it… I’m gearing up for a little dieting of my own, as soon as I have myself a baby. Since it’s my first, I have no idea what to expect my body to be like after the birth, but I’m keeping my expectations low. I’ll be interested (really!) to read how this goes for you. Seeing other people losing weight is always inspiring.

  9. The (Almost) Amazing Mammarino

    Hey Jennifer,

    I feel your pain! I am doing Atkins right now (I’m in the induction phase, which means 20 carbs or less a day). The cravings haven’t actually been too bad, it’s just that there are so few low carb foods I like. (Too bad I can’t have filet mignon from Longhorn every day!) The worst part is breakfast because I. HATE. EGGS. I just don’t know what else to fix.

    The worst moment was going to Longhorn for Father’s Day on Sunday, and not getting to eat that warm, moist hearty bread they bring out. I did enjoy my steak, but still . . .

    At least, it’s working. I’m losing exactly a pound a day. But after a couple of weeks I’m going to start gradually adding the carbs because I don’t think this is the healthiest way to go. After all, the creator did die of a heart attack. I only do this diet when I’m desperate. Which I am, because we’re going on vacation soon. Which involves bathing suits.


    Good luck to you!

    • PJ

      Dr. Atkins did not die of a heart attack. He was a healthy person who walked to work every day. One icy morning he slipped and hit his head on the step going in to work and he died as a result of that injury.

  10. Jennifer F.

    Forsure –

    I interpreted your comment to mean that you didn’t want me to publish it. Hope that’s OK!

  11. mrsdarwin

    Everything is funnier with a chart!

    I’m in the “gorge for two” third trimester phase of the cycle. And I can’t figure out why my legs are so fat.

  12. Jet


    3 things help me: 1. “The solution to pollution is dilution” (not my quote, of course), so drink lots of water; 2. load up on (nonwheat) fiber; 3. walk or dance/jump around with kids–anything to raise body temp and heartrate and move muscles: 3X10 mins a day is fabulous!
    *Rely on the Saints for inspiration! πŸ™‚

    Caritas, pax et salus,

  13. amy

    I can’t believe how timely this post is… I’m on day two of low carb. I’ve done it before, but fell off the wagon at some point or another–bread (and sugar) are definitely addictions for me. I’m trying to keep my goal in mind but at the same time just trying to make one day at a time, ’cause if I think too much about avoiding bread, potatoes, and Rolo’s for the long haul, I want to give up right away! No Rolo’s? Oh, the horror! Giving up junk food during Lent is one thing, giving it up permanently (because, well, it’s junk) is something else entirely.

  14. Marian

    Ah, the “macabre dressing room experience.” Very common this time of year. I will not be shopping anytime soon. Those bright flouresent lights and 3-way mirrors are brutal.
    This was so funny, but in that rar too true to life way…

    I wish you well.

  15. Milehimama

    Well, since a Mass is infinitely holy, I’ll tack you right onto the end of my intentions.

    It’s not silly to pray for an increase in virtue and decrease of vice… (fortitude…gluttony)

  16. SuburbanCorrespondent

    I can’t even look at a cookie or piece of bread without gaining weight. I found Weight Watchers, with their point system, very helpful; things like pasta and rice and bread tend to have more points, so I tended to limit my consumption of them so that I would have points left at the end of the day for dinner. And it encouraged life-long eating habits that cut down on the bad stuff, which is useful. Because as you get older, the bounce-back after babies, etc., gets less and less and slower and slower. Believe me, I know.

  17. Matt

    You might like to check out the Healthy Catholic podcast (http://healthycatholic.com) for some personal coaching by a priest. πŸ˜‰

  18. SteveG

    Didn’t get a chance to read the other comments yet, so sorry if this is a repeat.

    I have struggled with the whole carb thing for the past 15 years or so, so I’ve been through this too.

    I recommend checking out the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet. It’s the only one that has both worked, and that I’ve been able to stick with for more than 6 months.

    The basic premise is low carb breakfast, low carb lunch, and then a ‘reward’ meal at dinner where you can eat carbs (not gluttonously), and even a small desert.

    They explain in the book how it controls the insulin release while still allowing you to enjoy the carbs of your reward meal.

    It works, and is doable long term because…well…you get to have some carbs at least once a day.

    Good luck!

  19. maggie

    I’ll be right where you are – and blogging about it – in about four months. And I, too, must give up everything worth living for. I could probably eat whole sticks of butter without gaining a pound, but let a single noodle pass my lips and it’s all over. SO UNFAIR.

  20. Jonathan


    A small bit of advice, do not diet. Dieting is the worst thing someone can do to lose weight. It destroys self -esteem and confidence and in some cases is bad for your body. It must be a lifestyle change in activity and diet to truly work. Otherwise you will almost certainly gain the weight back. Weight loss is 90% eating right and 10% exercise. Its much harder than dieting for three or four weeks but the results will be maintainable and longer lasting. Sorry for the rant, but as an amateur nutritionist I abhor hearing of people dieting and then banging their heads against the wall later. Good luck with whatever you choose however.

  21. Tienne

    I’m in the same boat as you! But for me it’s not weight loss, it’s health reasons that require me to completely abstain from sugar, fermented foods and all grains except brown rice (so that’s bread, alcohol, processed food of any kind, all fruit including dried, vinegar, soy sauce, mayonnaise, etc etc.) My doctor is now telling me that I might want to try Food Combining (The Body Ecology Diet) since my symptoms are not entirely disappearing yet. I haven’t had the heart to tell her how much I’m cheating.

    I mean really, like I’m going to host my friends from out of town and take them out for Indian and NOT eat a samosa.

    God Bless you for your efforts to bear this with grace. I, too, am much too willing to let everyone around me know how HARD this is. Your post about carrying your cross really resonated with me. It shouldn’t be so difficult to give up luxuries that are bad for you, and yet we’re so spoiled and weak that it’s a true sacrifice. Next time I’m tempted, I’ll offer up the suffering for your strength, too. We can be in it together. πŸ™‚

  22. Melissa

    oh I’m cracking up. I could have written that graph myself. This time I’m trying to lose it 4 months postpartum rather than 14, which means I’ll probably have Irish twins.

  23. elizabeth

    You mentioned giving up wheat products during Lent — did that result in much weight loss? I would think after six weeks without white carbs you’d be lean and mean.

    I bought the Carbohydrate Addicts book (the diet steveg) mentioned, but it was too cold turkey for me (even withe the one reward meal a day). I went into such simple-carb withdrawal I got anxious and panicky.

    I’ve been trying to incorporate the tenets of “French Women Don’t Get Fat” into my life. It’s all the same advice we’ve heard before: lots of fruit and veggies; wholesome, unprocessed meals; no beverages other than water, black coffee and the occasional glass of wine; bread OR cheese OR chocolate OR sliver of dessert a day. The problem is, it’s harder than it sounds.

  24. Ginkgo100

    Before I got pregnant, I used to blithely brag that oh, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, instead I have self control. Then I got gestational diabetes and could no longer deny the fact that I always have had a sweet tooth, and never have exercised self control over it. Learning to eat like a diabetic was miserable. I succeeded only because of the regular threats of insulin shots from my OB.

    So I feel your pain. No bread, pasta, and sweets is such a surprisingly difficult sacrifice! It’s not as if there is starvation involved. It only seems like it.

    (Unrelated note: Guess how many times I had to stop typing and discipline my 3yo while writing that last paragraph! That’s right: way too many.)

  25. Kelly @ Love Well

    I love that you made a flow chart. LOVE IT!

  26. ashleyrae

    Jen, I LOVE the Light Weigh. But you are right – you really need to do it with a group and to make the time to do it right. I spent the last semester of college doing the Light Weigh with a group (on cafeteria food too!) and it helped me slim down for my wedding day.

    Long story short: my dress arrived at Christmas and didn’t fit – not even a little bit. So I got serious and lost 15 pounds in 3 months and my dress was a perfect fit on my wedding day.

    Then I got lazy and lost my wonderful Light Weigh group. You really have to have a support network and you have to be willing to sacrifice your desire for food. It’s so tough. But now I’m pregnant and determined to keep myself healthy throughout – I don’t wanna go crazy in the last trimester!

    I’ll pray for your motivation.

  27. Katie

    Oh I love your chart! I laughed so hard, I totally empathized. Good luck! I’ve still got 23 pounds or so of the 50…ish I gained with this last pregnancy.

    Dramatic sigh.

  28. Milehimama

    Maggie said…
    I could probably eat whole sticks of butter without gaining a pound,

    So unfair! LOL

  29. Literacy-chic

    Man, it’s daunting to look at the number of comments when I’m apparently THIS late to the party (guess nobody needed the disclaimer, LOL!) and when I try to read & consider all of the previous comments before making my contribution (it’s the grad student in me, I think). Repressing that impulse because otherwise I won’t comment, however: Gee that diet looks cool. Wonder how I could use it since I’m still breastfeeding on demand and my 7 1/2 month old is only getting solids once a day? Limiting calories makes me sluggish & cranky, but this doesn’t require that. I would like to see some more details about how this works for you, and the insulin inhibiting condition you have!

  30. nicole

    Good luck! Don’t punish yourself with guilt.

  31. Rocks In My Dryer

    That is REALLY hard. I tried the modified South Beach plan and couldn’t cut it. Chin up, friend.

  32. Nicole


    I could not agree with you more. I’ve tried all the diets, mainly South Beach, but Weight Watchers Online is the ONLY thing that works for me. I can eat anything I want, just in moderation…no “certain foods you have to give up as long as you stay on the diet” stuff. I highly, highly, highly recommend it to everyone I know!

  33. Carrie

    I lost 20 lbs with the YOU on a diet. It is easier than most diets I’ve done in that you cut out things you shouldn’t be eating in the first place; high frutose corn syrup, partially hydrongenated oils, and all enriched flours (i know all good bread seems to be made with enriched flour but there are some out there that arn’t). Just read the labels and avoid those things and you will lose. That combined with no eating after 7pm and a pedometer to see how much you really are moving (10K steps is the goal) each day it is as easy as that. Good luck and good health to you!

  34. lyrl

    Mammarino said…
    there are so few low carb foods I like… The worst part is breakfast because I. HATE. EGGS.

    How about yogurt? Or peanut butter something – maybe spread on a banana?

    Best wishes to everyone working
    toward a healthier diet!

  35. Jordana

    I’m at the about to have a baby part and am thinking delusional thoughts about how this time I’ll be able to lose the weight quickly — although that hasn’t happened with any of my other four pregnancies and I’m obviously even older now than I was at the end of those.

    I hope the weight comes off for you and stays off and I hope that some day I might actually get back down to my target weight too.

  36. Patricia

    Hi Jen,
    New Reader here and exploring the Catholic Faith. I love this post; cracks me up. I am there now!


  37. Maria

    Man, I’ve been around that block a time or ten. May I be the first to congratulate you on the next baby!

  38. Anonymous

    I will pray for you. Have plenty of vegetables and fruits instead of meat(red meat). Eat in small portion and spread out your meal intake. Exercise and relax!
    My way of coping with junk food addiction, each time I had the urge to eat potato chips, I offered up my urge as a scrifices/”luxury” to God for prayers intention. God bless.

  39. The Sojourner

    I’m with you. I don’t want to be a twiggy-type person (and with my German peasant genes, never will be), but I could stand to slim down a bit. Unfortunately, my mother, my boyfriend, and my best friend all have their birthdays this month and I cannot resist the lure of cake and ice cream. Gack.

  40. Liz

    I lost about 20 lbs doing the Light Weigh, but gained it all back and messed up my bone density from not getting enough calcium on the Light Weigh. A few years later I did Weight Watchers online and lost over 60 pounds (right now I’m up about 5 lbs, but still wearing a size 6/8). So I’m a real fan of WW’s.

    I’ve tried the low carb diets, but I get tachycardia and feel awful. You might find that WW’s Core program works for you. It emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins and seriously limits simple sugars and processed carbs (nor example oatmeal is Core and you can eat it to satisfaction while bread of any type is not and you have to deduct bread from your weekly points allowance). You might find this more doable and less apt to cause crankiness and obsessing about dieting. You can even have whole grain pasta once a day.

    Seriously, WW’s is the healthiest way to lose weight that I know of. The only reason I’ve gained back five pounds is that I haven’t been counting my points carefully this spring. I seem to have pretty much found my set point and it’s just a few pounds heavier than my goal weight (which was below the high end of the chart – I’m still at a normal weight even 5 pounds up).

    Now if someone would put together a Light Weigh type program using WW’s eating plan… Of course you can’t really do that because WW’s stuff is patented or something, but it would seem like a bunch of Catholic gals doing WW’s could an offshoot support group.

    Of course all of this does bring up the question of how much of this diet stuff is health oriented and how much of it is vanity induced. I’m enjoying the health benefits, but I’ll admit that my initial motivation was to not look like the frumpy mother of the bride when my dd finally got married.

  41. Deborah

    I’ve popped over from the Witts on a few occasions but felt the need to say hello on this one. πŸ™‚

    Due to a skin condition I’ve had since birth but that has gone bezerk in the past year, as of April 1st, I have eaten no corn, wheat, sugar, white rice, white potatos, peanuts, or anything with those ingredients in them (or at least not knowingly). Last year in April, I dramatically changed my diet, went from sedentary to running for 30 minutes three times a week and after fourteen weeks of such efforts had lost 3 lbs. I was frustrated.

    Thanks to the skin issues, I haven’t even been able to walk at many points during this process but since beginning to eat in this manner, I’ve lost 24 lbs from a year ago. I *never* would have believed it to be possible! It’s been 8-9 years since I’ve been in the 150s!!!

    Also, Little Miss I Hate Fruits and Vegetables, by the great grace of our God! πŸ™‚ is s l o w l y learning to like some new things…just this week I’ve had the first grapes and strawberries of my *life* that I didn’t dislike, and I’ve even added tomatos & peppers to my salad *on*my*own* AND actually didn’t mind the flavor! And I thought to be beyond such miracles! πŸ™‚

    Believe me–I understand the trauma of not a single chocolate chip in 77 days, not to mention standing in the kitchen and looking about myself to wonder, “What in the world can I eat??? I’m *STARVING*!”

    All that to say, I will be glad to pray for you as I give thanks and eat my chicken & mushroom & wild brown rice for lunch and many congrats on being a good stewardess of your body! πŸ™‚

    ~Deborah πŸ™‚

  42. happy appy wife

    I’m in love with your flowcharts. They truly are a work of art.

    You can accomplish your get fit goals!

    Some advice – Diets don’t work. It’s eating/exercise habits that have to change.

    Some things that help me stay fit:
    Eat healthy for my body type and metabolism (and yes, that means saying no to all those processed foods with bad carbs and empty calories)
    Walk 1 mile per day – time investment approx 20 min I use this time to pray and meditate
    Make a commitment and ask others to hold me accountable (goals without deadlines are just dreams)

    Good luck!

  43. allyouwhohope

    I am having a ton of luck on the G.I. diet (lost 16 lbs. in 7 weeks) and being a huge fan of fried food and baked goods, I am doing surprisingly well being satisfied with only the foods I am allowed to eat. I’m actually about to bake some low g.i. brownies right now! Thanks, by the way, for your comments on my blog around the time I started my diet. I am really hoping diet alone is enough to fix this insulin-resistance problem (and my PCOS).

  44. Maria

    Praying for you! I am with you 100%. Just posted on this topic of weightloss.

  45. MichelleF

    Hi Jen, first time commenter, longtime reader! I came into the church this Easter and your blog was a wonderful companion during RCIA for me. I shared your thoughts many times. It seemed whatever was on my mind you were writing about. Simpatico, as my DH would say. On the diet front I took a look at the NoS link today and it is exactly what I’ve been telling my DH we need to be doing. It is common sense and it is the way we used to eat before we {the universal “we”, mind you} started to gain so much weight. Good luck and I’ll be praying for you. Oh and just to be clear Mr. Atkins didn’t die of a heart attack. He fell on icy pavement in NYC, hit his head and died of complications. Take care and keep up the fantastic writing!

  46. Jen #2

    Preachin’ to the choir, sister.

    Remember the 56 lbs I lost after B? About HALF of that is back plus five additional lbs, with a little more than 2.5 months of third trimester eating for 1+Sumo.

    I will absolutely pray for you!

  47. Mary

    If you are not pregnant or nursing you might want to look at http://www.eatstopeat.com. I started it Monday and my second fast will start tonight. I like how it’s not low carb, low fat or low anything really. It’s just fasting twice a week.

  48. Weight Loss

    Weight loss industry will focus on the way people should feel while doing it, in order to achieve better results and stay healthy all the time. Being healthy and thin is not a dream, it should be something, that is a reasonable and easy to be done.

    The modern obsession with a thin body is another problem that women face now a days. Women try everything in order to get this extra pounds off, things like pills, patches, diet, hunger, exercises and all kind of weight loss products.

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