Earlier this year, I decided to take another look at what I eat, how I feel, why it is so difficult for me to lose weight and why it is so easy for me to gain.
Let’s back up a tiny bit. About 10 years ago I was about 70-80 pounds overweight. I was unhappy with the way I looked. I exercised, but I didn’t eat well. I didn’t know that at the time, really. I mean, I just ate what everyone else ate: Junk. I didn’t know anything about food, fats, carbs, calories. Not really.
Then I decided, for a variety of reasons, that I really needed to lose weight. I was pretty desperate, actually. And I started exercising even more, 2 times a day, for about an hour each, at least. I did yoga and pilates in the morning. I ran or went to the gym in the afternoon.
I found a website called e-diets. I met a bunch of like-minded folks and formed some tight (and lasting!) online friendships, some of which have become IRL friendships. E-diets gave me a meal plan. I followed it. It was 1200-1500 low-fat, high carb calories per day. Lower sugar, but not low sugar or no sugar. I exercised pretty much every day, again, for nearly 2 hours. I became pretty militant about the whole thing. And, following this program, strictly, over the next 9-12 months I lost that extra 70 or 80 lbs.
I got down to a size 4. I had been pushing a size 18. I am petite by nature, standing only 5’4″ tall, and being quite small boned and small of structure. I was pretty small at that time. It was also a completely foreign place for me to be.
I gained about 10 or 12 pounds, and stayed at that weight for about 2 years, give or take a few lbs one way or another. My eating, exercise and diet changed to a more “normal” level. And then some serious stress hit and I didn’t manage it well. I gained weight. I have struggled since that time to figure out how to lose weight again. I gain. I get militant. I do a cleanse. I do HCG diet drops. I go vegan. I try low carb. I exercise a ton. I don’t exercise at all. Back and forth. Back and forth. Up and down, up and down.
The last 18 – 24 months have been very stressful for me. I keep struggling to stick with any kind of plan or process because my life is so challenging for me to manage. And, I have come to the conclusion that being militant, exercising for 2 hours every day and eating 1200 calories a day is simply not sustainable for me over the long-term. There is no FUN in living that way. For me.
So, I looked around. What was out there? What could I do? I did a lot of research. I have a number of people close to me who have had success with following a paleo, low-carb, caveman, Weston A. Price, or Wheat Belly type of diet. These diets are heavy on meats, fats, eggs, full-fat cream, butter, vegetables, etc. They limit or completely restrict grains of almost any kind. And legumes. And sugar. And alcohol. And processed foods. Several people I know have lost weight, gotten to their “natural” weight and stayed there, following one of these types of diets.
The weight came of easily! 40 pounds in 2 months! Fibromyalgia pain, depression, anxiety, diabetes, high cholesterol…all decreased or dramatically improved. I read “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes, a giant tome of a scientific book about why people get fat and how calorie restriction is not the way to go. I read “Wheat Belly” by Dr. Gary Davis, a cardiologist who purports to have helped hundreds of patients and clients lose weight easily when they simply remove all grains from their diets. I looked up the Weston A. Price foundation, a proponent of “paleo” style eating. I read, I listened, I talked to friends and co-workers. It seemed like a wonderful solution! Eat eggs, meat, cheese, veggies, all you want! Lose weight! Sleep Better!
So, after thoughtful consideration, I decided to try Wheat Belly. Dr. Davis’ approach to low-carb, no grain eating. I bought his cookbooks, followed his page on Facebook, cleaned out my cupboards and dove in.
Nearly a year later, how am I doing, you ask? How gloriously do I feel and how much weight have I lost???
Not one single pound.
Oh, I lost a few pounds her or there, and then they came back a week or three later.
I tried for months to avoid grains in all forms, eat low-carb, high fat. I cooked that way, baked that way, shopped that way, ordered out in restaurants that way. I slipped up a few times, or didn’t realize something might have wheat or flour in it, but that is life. Isn’t it? I mean, unless I am personally going to prepare every morsel of food ever to pass my lips (which there is no way in hell I’m going to), there are going to be times when “forbidden” foods will be consumed, intentionally or not.
And really, shouldn’t our bodies be able to handle the odd bowl of chowder without causing a complete and total stall in progress?
I believe so.
Here’s the flip side: I totally do feel better when I limit the amount of bread and bread based products I eat. My digestion is much happier, I don’t get bloated or have upset tummy problems. I have much less indigestion. But you know what I don’t have?
Better sleep. Less anxiety. More energy. Less body fat.
I went to a naturopath, whom I really liked. I had some blood tests, a saliva test. We determined my hormones are all out of whack, my thyroid is probably low-normal, my adrenal glands are wiped out with exhaustion, my cortisol (stress) hormone behaves crazy throughout the day. A whole slew of hormonal/chemical problems.
You would think I would be excited to learn this, right? A SOLUTION! A KNOWN ISSUE!
I wasn’t. I was actually really pissed off. I don’t know if I can explain why. Maybe I felt betrayed by my body.
She suggested I start taking a number of supplements to try and help improve my problems. The list included things to help my adrenals, thyroid, hormones, cortisol, magnesium, natural anti-inflammatories, and more. The regimen ended up costing nearly $400 per month, and had me taking something like 16 pills per day, at least! Some two or three times per day. My insurance doesn’t cover naturopath treatment, so that was another $100 a month in office visits.
Guess what will not solve my weight problem? Throwing money at it. And honestly, I don’t have a spare $500 a month to spend on supplements.
I could go to my regular FNP and see if she can prescribe me pharmaceutical solutions, but, as anyone who has read this blog over the last number of years already knows, I am not a fan of chemicals and big corporations trying to poison me with their chemical concoctions. My insurance would cover the cost of all these drugs, which I find somewhat ironic. But I’m not willing to do that.
Where does this leave me?
Well this story doesn’t have a nice pretty wrap-up, I’m sorry to say.
Where this leaves me is with a physical body that is overweight, joints that are painful, poor sleep, high anxiety, apparently hormones that are totally out of whack and no solution.
I will probably try to continue to limit the amount of wheat and bread I consume, simply because I do feel generally better without those foods, but ultimately, I have no idea what to do next or if I am just destined to be physically heavier than I should be for ever.