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The Truth About Abs Is...

I learnt the hard way about two years too late.

@okinawa_life

About a month ago, I was coerced into what I can only describe as a meat-eater's worst nightmare. A no-meat diet. Yes, unless you're vegan, vegetarian or fruitarian it might be one of the worst things anyone could bring up in conversation. No bacon, no burgers, not even chicken. And myself, being a life long meat eater couldn't think of anything worse than surrendering myself to a diet of fish, rice and vegetables—because that's all my mind could think of when I heard "no meat." In reality, it might be one of the best things I ever done.

Now, I know what you're thinking: This is just another typical "vote for veganism" piece. It's not. One: because I said I'd do it for one month ONLY, and two: because I was doing it for my body. This was in no way a lifestyle choice. Let me give you a bit of backstory. I’ve been diabetic for 15 years, meaning all that carb I’ve eaten and injected for and lack of exercise done to burn it off has caused all that carb, to sit in my fat stores—and right where I don’t want it—in my lower stomach area. I started exercising and eating better after my boyfriend moved out of his Uni house in 2015. But three years on, I've seen changes in all the wrong places; namely everywhere except my lower stomach. So this four week stint of no meat and low carbs was all for my body and mainly my lower stomach.

Around the same time, I “reconnected” with a friend on Instagram after noticing an incredible transformation from her. She looked a lot fitter and a lot healthier, so I asked her what her secret was. Her answer: weight-loss tea. Frickin' weight-loss tea! This is not what I wanted to hear now, but back then it was the exact gem of info that I needed. So after a month of exercise and a month of weight loss tea did nothing (surprise, surprise), no meat and low carbs, plus exercise seemed like the way to go. And it only took me three years and a bogus stint of shitty weight loss tea to figure it out. Hurray for me.

The four weeks weren’t torture, but they weren’t easy either. I’ve never wanted some chicken so much in my life, but that month wasn’t the end of the world. The first week was difficult because I didn’t know what to cook other than fish, rice and broccoli, and I didn’t see the results I wanted after seven days. But was I really going to after the eight years of my teenage life plaguing my insides? No. The second week was better, the recipes were better, I went for foods other that fish (halloumi, tofu), I exercised harder than I ever had and I felt less bloated, plus my lower stomach was actually looking a bit better. The third week was a tad different. We visited my partners mum as we usually do when the chance arises. Her and her partner are a little bigger than us, but his mum is trying to lose weight as well, so I was hoping she might take five days of our diet with an open mind. Sadly, not the case. While there was no meat at any point of the trip, there was chocolate, sweets, nachos and I'm sad to say a big, cheese pizza and garlic bread from the local takeaway. Needless to say, by the end of the five days, I had gained the weight I'd lost and my bloating was back with a vengeance so I wasn't very happy when we both returned home.

I told myself at the beginning of week four that pudding was off the menu, all chocolate—unless dark chocolate—was out the window, no snacks of any kind - except apple and peanut butter—were allowed and that for the final week, I wasn't going to give up until I'd seen the difference that I had at week two. By the end of what felt like the longest month, I had lost very little weight, but my stomach felt smaller and made less gurgly noises which I'm putting down to better digestion. I felt better in myself, healthier, more energetic and more awake which wasn't what I was aiming for when I started, but it was something at least. 

A month on, I added meat back to my daily routine, but stuck with the low carb diet. What I actually figured out from this no meat stint was the it wasn't all that red meat that was the problem. Actually, it was the carbs I was supplying alongside them. I've talked about the inner workings of a diabetic but what I didn't mention was that the majority of us are also coeliac. I found out about two years too late but that fact is, coeliac or not, carbs are a devil if you want to be cutting down on belly fat.

The truth about abs is, yes they are made in the kitchen—the amount of greens, carbs, meat, everything you eat correlates to the dream body you want. But the real secret if you want a healthier you is cutting down on those carbs! I'm not saying scrap all carbs for every meal. Really don't, we're human and need them to survive, but a quarter of your plate or less should be dedicated to them. And I'm not saying it's easy. Just because you say b'bye to carbohydrates, doesn't mean you'll see the difference. As always exercise is key, so I won't lie, losing weight is never going to be a breeze. But I see a real difference in my whole body when I eat less of what's bad for me and exercise well. Brighter skin, less spots, better digestion, and a slimmer waistline. 

This isn't about being skinny, it's about being healthy and if cutting carbs leaves me with less bloating, less digestive issues, gives me better skin and a better sleep at night, then I can skip the second helping of roasties.

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