A year before becoming a dad, I decided to try the low carb diet. I’d lost over 100 pounds since high school, but there was always that 15 pounds I could never shed. After starting a low carb diet, though, I saw amazing results in only eight weeks! I lost 20 pounds, my body fat percentage went from 18% to 9%, and I was finally comfortable in my clothing. I felt super accomplished, and I vowed to maintain a low carb lifestyle (as well as sufficient exercise and sleep) for the rest of my life.
How naive I was! A low carb diet takes stamina, self-discipline, and focus. And I had a never-ending supply of all these things before parenthood. But as you know, parenthood also takes stamina (to deal with tantrums), self-discipline (to not order pizza every evening for dinner), and focus (to ensure that your children are safe, heard, and loved). By the end of the day, there’s barely enough energy left to brush your teeth before collapsing into bed.
So, is low carb diet success possible as a parent? The short answer: yes. The long(er) answer: yes, but it takes way more work than before parenthood.
Low Carb Diet Before Parenthood
It was so easy to keep a carb-free home before parenthood. If I didn’t want it in the house, I didn’t buy it. Instead, I stocked up on low carb diet essentials – peanut butter, vegetables, chicken, cheese, salami, coconut flour, eggs, avocado, and coconut oil. My husband had a few treats for himself, but otherwise our kitchen was stocked with food from the outside aisles of the grocery store. And working as a teacher meant that what I packed for lunch was what I had available for lunch. If it wasn’t in my lunch bag, it wasn’t tempting me.
I had energy and time, you guys! After a day of teaching, I had the stamina and self-discipline to go to the gym for 60 – 90 minutes. And I lifted weights and did cardio that entire time! While I was working out, I wasn’t worrying about being too selfish or not being a good parent. I was worrying about proper form, getting in one last rep, and snagging the last treadmill for my cool down walk.
Sleep is essential for low carb diet success. Your body needs time to recover, and my body was able to recover for eight full hours each night. Yeah, I got eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. It was amazing.
Low Carb Diet After Parenthood
Keeping carbs out of the house is impossible. My daughter loves toast, pancakes, strawberries, cereal, crackers, grapes, and every other carb in the world. And I can’t blame her – carbs are delicious! But now those foods are abundant in our house, and after a hard day of parenting, the self-control necessary to not give in to temptation is monumental. Some days I’m successful. But some days, I need to cry and eat ice cream, cookie dough, and/or an entire box of Ritz crackers after her bedtime. It’s called survival.
I still make exercise a priority, but I find that since more of my energy goes to my daughter, my energy reserves for the gym aren’t what they used to be. Just getting to the gym requires a heavy dose of motivation on my part, and most times I’m exhausted before I even arrive. My weeks are filled with many more “Rest” days than before.
I mean, does this even need an explanation? Since parenthood, I’ve become such a light sleeper, so I’m lucky if I get six hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Some interruptions are created by myself (why did I drink a full glass of water right before bed?). Other times, my daughter coughs, she kicks the wall in her sleep, or our dog leaves the bedroom. Everything wakes me up now, so most days I wake up tired. And I know it doesn’t help that I stay up until 11 p.m. each night, but I need my alone time to watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and browse Pinterest for two hours.