Be very careful with the low carb diet if you are already prone to constipation because the lack of carbs (pretty much your exclusive source for fiber) makes normal people constipated; if you are prone to constipation in the first place, it can mess you up seriously. Personally, I think low-carb diets aren't healthy, but some people do need to do it because they have better bowels without the carbs. If that fits you, then good. If not, just be careful and don't let yourself get backed up. There's a few people on here who can tell you how horrible it is to have to go to the hospital and have a nurse dig poop out of you!
There's a lot of literature out there that points to diets not working (thus why there are a million of them out there--if any one diet worked, then why would we need the other million alternatives?). Even medical journals are beginning to grudingly admit that hey, if dieting worked, we'd all be getting thinner, not fatter. More Americans diet now than ever before and more Americans are fatter now than ever before.
I can tell you from experience that dieting doesn't work; I dieted, then slowly gained all of the weight back I had lost, even though I didn't eat more calories than I was supposedly burning up in the course of a day. Yes, I exercised. Yes, I completely gave up cokes (diet and non-diet). Yes, I gave up all forms of fast food and almost all meals out. And yet I gained back every last pound. In fact, I couldn't lose weight unless I constantly dropped my daily caloric intake; I could eat 1200 calories a day, supposedly be burning up 2200 a day and I didn't drop a pound for three weeks soild. The dreaded "dieter's plateau". The explanation? It seems your body thinks lack of food equals starvation and so it lowers your metabolism to compensate, trying desparately to keep you from getting too thin. Mind you, our genes get to decide what's "too thin" on us. Just because we think a size 6 American is normal doesn't mean our genes think it's normal. Also, there's the fact that some of us just have broken bodies and genes or no, we are what we are, given the circumstances. Me, I have no gall bladder and apparently your gall bladder helps regulate your appetite. Thus why yesterday I could eat a full meal, feel that my stomach was full, and still feel hungry. Some days I just can't eat enough to satisfy me. A lady I work with, though, also has no gall bladder and subsits on half a coffee mug of oatmeal and half a dozen blueberries for breakfast and then may have a child-size container of soup for lunch. I think she eats air for supper.
A study of Amish people who do not diet found that they had much lower levels of fatness than the average American (in fact, they probably have the same levels of obesity now as existed 100 years or more ago--fat people are not a new phenomenon, just the numbers of them have gone up). They routinely consume bread and cakes and
cookies made from lard, eat a good deal of meat, flavor their vegetables with gravies and meat fat and yet, like the French who smoke and eat foie gras (fatty duck liver) and rich cheeses and cream, they have low levels of heart disease. Meaning low fat does not necessarily mean better health (which was just proven by a new study). The conclusion of the researchers? The Amish walk and work off everything they eat. An average Amish woman walks about
9 miles a day and an average Amish man walks about
12. That doesn't take into account the physical labor they do, like plowing or washing clothes by hand. That's just walking. The average American walks about
3 miles a day. When I wore a pedometer for several days (I work in an office) I didn't even get that.
So apparently if you do enough exercise, you have a good chance of being of average size (no promises about
being a size 0). But the government recommended amount of 30 minutes 3 times a week isn't going to cut it. I can walk 1/2 a mile in 10 minutes. Which means I need to walk for 3 hours at a decent pace in order to get my 9 miles in. Of course if you take up jogging, you can get that same mileage in in less time; I don't know about
you, but I'm not real big on jogging, except to the mailbox and back.
All of which is pretty depressing and doesn't help you that much, I know. If it makes you feel any better, our size standards have slowly been going down over the past few decades so what looks fat today wouldn't have been considered fat 50 years ago or so. I did some reading on the internet and unless I'm mis-rememebering, the BMI scale was invented back in the late 1700's or early 1800's by a statitician--not a doctor--and its scale was set based on the statistical distribution of people then, not based on any correlation at all between weight and health (by the way, 30 minutes of exercise a day, regardless of weight, provides a good deal of improvement in overall health and an overweight person who exercises regularly is generally healthier than a skinny couch potato). In the early 1990's the scale was revised down so that people who had been normal were suddenly classified as overweight (and some overweight people became obese overnight). And there seems to have been no research done to show that this revision was necessary or that weight even equates to health for most people (it does if you are underweight or seriously overweight). There is even some talk of revising it downward again so that even more people will suddenly be "overweight". One wonders if we aren't creating our own "obesity epidemic" by just saying, hey, if you're not a size 6, you're too fat! Most Hollywood starlets and pretty much all models--whom we hold as our ideals--actually fall into the underweight category, which has been proven to be more dangerous to your health than being moderately overweight (and especially so among older people).
So, you can try and fit three hours or so of exercise into your day, or you can exercise some for your health, eat what your stomach can handle and just accept that you've done had a baby, Miss Scarlett, and you ain't never goin' to be no 18 and a half inches again. Never. Hey, all of us here have broken plumbing. When the plumbing's broken, nothing else works right either. There are people here who can't keep weight on and are dangerously thin, and there are people here who can't keep weight off. I worked very hard and denied myself all the pleasures of the culinary world for 4 or 5 months to get down to a size 10, only to see my weight creep back up again, despite my watching what I was eating, to a size 14. I've just had to say hey, I've been a size 14 since I hit puberty, this is the size that my body wants to be and I can wage war against it for the rest of my life and not get anywhere and miss out on ice cream and
cookies and pizza and the occasional non-caffeinated coke, or I can accept it and learn to not hate the way I look (boy, losing weight sure did make me hate myself and the way I looked; I never could lose enough, never look good enough; I hated myself thinner much more than I did when I was fatter). I know my gaining weight back up to my old size is different than you guys gaining weight that you never had in the first place, but, like I said, when the plumbing's messed up, everything else suffers.
My advice would be to exercise because it's good for you (and walking usually helps either ease cramps or loosen up the gas so you can expel it), and eat what you can tolerate. If that's soy milk and spinach, fine. If that's ice cream and chocolate milk, then that's okay too. We who have stomach problems can no longer play by the rules of normal, healthy people (that includes what you're expected to weigh). Yeah, sure, fruits and vegetables are good for you--if you're normal. But what if you have IBS and they tear you a new one? What if all you can eat is meat and bread? Do you eat a "healthy" diet and never leave the bathroom or do you eat a "bad" diet and have some quality of life? Me, I always err on the side of "quality of life". If you diet and get worse constipated, isn't that wose than not dieting and being fat? It takes a whole lot of fat to impede you, but not much intestinal distress to immobilize you (no pun intended).
And, I'm afraid to say, going on a low calorie/fat diet took me from occasional bouts of bile diarrhea (which I had medicine to treat) to having almost daily constipation, some of which was quite severe. Really, I have felt better since going off the diet than I did when I was on it. And that's not counting the fact that eating pizza makes me happy (and, conversely, going without pizza makes me unhappy).
Oh, and Tara, studies show that it's easier for an overweight woman to conceive than an underweight one. Apparently your body is less fertile when it thinks you aren't sturdy enough to carry and feed a baby. So, if nothing else, look on your weight gain as potential baby padding.