Hang around any LC community for more than five minutes, somebody will hop on the message board and ask, “How man carbs can I have?” Or “What can I eat?” Or “Why does LC work?” Or even the dreaded, “Why am I not losing weight?”
These questions can be frustrating to us old-timers. Not because we don’t want to be helpful! That’s a big part of why we participate in LC communities, along with personal benefits of staying on track. But consider this: If there is a whole library full of books on how low carb plans work and how to undertake one successfully, how could you possibly expect good answers to these questions as they apply to you personally in a paragraph or less?
There are a plethora of different LC plans, with DIFFERENT daily carb restrictions, allowed foods, and advice for success. Different approaches, different strokes for different folks, you know? I cannot tell you what will work best for YOU. I can tell you what worked for ME. That’s useful for sure, but not the same question at all.
But I still can help. Here are some things I’ve learned from the few thousand low-carbers I’ve met in the course of my own journey.
Survival Tips for the LC Noob
- Get the book! Those that read up, select a plan, buy the book and follow it are the ones I put my money on for the long haul. It’s your road map to success. It gives you the in’s, outs, what to expect and how to cope with common concerns. The people who aren’t willing to invest $10 for a copy of Protein Power, who feel like they already know enough because their cousin’s girlfriend’s sister “does Atkins,” generally drop out in fairly short order. This is one of the biggest hallmarks I’ve found to predicting a good outcome.
- Attitude will make or break you. The ones complaining about what they CANNOT do are usually right. The ones who focus on what they CAN do are also usually right. Focus on what you can do, what you do enjoy, or ways to make Low Carb fit into YOUR lifestyle. Focus makes issues more powerful. Direct your energy to what you want, not what you don’t. It works better.
- Focusing on speed of loss, scale-worship, or generally approaching LC as a crash diet IS setting yourself up for failure. Sometimes, the scale will bless your efforts. I’ll dance with joy right along with you! But sometimes, it’s the tape measure that tells the tale instead. Sometimes, it’s just how you feel physically that lets you know you’re on track (or not). Sometimes, there are other concerns that must be ironed out. What’s always clear, however, is that if you STOP eating LC, you stop getting the benefits of LC. This isn’t a fast, temporary fix. If you go into it requiring a guaranteed rate of loss until you can go back to eating Snickers for breakfast, why bother?
- Beware Frankenfoods. Everybody gets excited the first time they find an old favorite in “carb-legal” form. Specialty products can be a solid, useful way to extend your options, but be selective! Junk food is still junk food, even if it’s got “Low Carb” plastered on the package. Discrimination and moderation are key. If you’re having issues losing and you’re not sure why, this is the first place to look. Real, natural foods bring the best results overall.
- Tracking is your friend: carbs, inches, weight, exercise, all of it. I’ll be honest–I HATE tracking, with a passion. But I also know it’s highly effective. When you’re starting out, tracking your eating is a must and cultivates that oh-so-useful habit of reading labels. You most likely won’t need to do that forever but initially or whenever you’re struggling, tracking can pinpoint trouble spots. Progress tracking also helps remind you of how far you’ve come if you ever need a shot of encouragement. It’s worth the trouble.
What are your best tips for folks new to low carb?