Two years ago, I embarked on a change of lifestyle designed to not so much lose weight (although there was that) as to define for myself a healthy lifestyle. When I began this journey in May 2011, I was 90 pounds heavier, had high cholesterol and triglycerides, plaque in my arteries and lots of inflammation.
When I visited the doctor for the first time back then, it was because of excruciating knee pain. I had been certain my meniscus was torn (thank you Internet self-diagnosis) and I would need knee surgery. And being so overweight, decided to do something about that at the same time. I might add, the knee pain wasn’t the only “sore” spot. I’d been a migraine sufferer since childhood, and it had gotten so bad that I unless I took three Advil and two Tylenol before bed, I was sure to wake up with a rip-roaring headache!
My doctor did a lot of blood tests, but in the meantime put me on a detox diet (an elimination diet) for 10 days. The detox diet gradually eliminated certain foods (starting day one with flesh — although it was only for the 10 days (I’ve not become a vegetarian), and anything processed, white, or sugary (including artificial sweeteners, except Stevia). After the 10 days, we would begin what my doctor called a “core wellness” program designed for health. The weight loss would happen as an organic result of that change in lifestyle.
I was completely skeptical. I’d tried everything from Weight Watchers to Jenny Craig to every new wonder-herb that came on the market. I’d been dieting since I was 10 years old. (Seriously, my pediatrician put me on Preludin! aka speed). I’d tried Sugar Buster and protein fasts (everyone remember the liquid protein diet?), and Atkins. None of them worked long term. Why should this one?
By day three of the detox diet, my knee pain vanished. I wasn’t aware of it until 10 days later at my doctor’s visit when my doc asked me, “So, how’s the knee?” I hadn’t realized I’d been pain free. And not only that, my headaches? Gone.
It has been more than two years since I’ve popped any sort of pain killer — not even an aspirin. Incredible. Who’d have thought? Inflammation — caused by what I was eating! The more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned that pain can very easily be related to diet.
Within a few weeks of the , I’d lost my lifelong sweet tooth. I no longer craved ice cream, frosted cakes (my weakness — skip the cake, let’s get to the frosting!), raw cookie dough, blah, blah, blah.The 90 pounds took about 18 months. But it wasn’t really a diet. It was a real change in the way I ate.The pounds came off (with some peaks and valleys, frustrating plateaus that seemed to last months) and I began to feel better than I ever could remember.
About eight months ago, I decided to go it alone. All my numbers were perfect: LDL, HDL, triglycerides No fat deposits in my liver, and my arteries were completely clear. My blood pressure was normal. All of this done without drugs (except the blood pressure part — I was on meds until it regulated itself). My body was free of visceral (systemic) fat. All with just healthy eating — sane eating. Not starving, not dieting, just eating the right foods, or rather, not eating the wrong foods.
My doctor told me (although according to the charts I was still about 50 pounds overweight) that the fat that remained was subcutaneous fat, and while it would be great to get rid of it through targeted weight training or surgical means, it was not impacting my health adversely. Imagine that! A weight loss doctor who understands that you can be “overweight” and still quite healthy!
The going it alone part worked well until stresses started to build, and while I never gave into the corn syrups, fat cravings, and assorted other “bad foods,” nor re-developed my sweet tooth, I found that I was eating the right stuff, but way too much. The pounds began to creep back. Grapes were my first overindulgence. Don’t believe it when anyone tells you fruits are “unlimited!” I realized I was eating them like candy and stopped. Next came air-popped popcorn. Great, very healthy, but too much is too much. OK, now what? I substituted peanuts and pistachios. Also good, full of protein. But too many…well, you know the routine.
I was terrified to look at the scale; all those beautiful new size 12-14 clothes were beginning to get snug (but stil fit). I wasn’t looking so great in my workout clothes either.
Now, I have never been thin. Nor do I have a burning desire to be a Size 6. But I was beginning to feel more easily winded during my workouts. My trainer noticed it too, although she didn’t at all notice I was looking heavier. But I did.
I looked at the scale and realized I’d put on 20 pounds. Embarrassed to return to my doctor, I tried Weight Watchers and other diets, but none of them quite cut it (for me at least).
It was time to do something about it. I’m a big coward when it comes to pain, and I didn’t much relish the return of those headaches, knee-aches. Embarrassed to phone my doctor, I emailed her, head hung low and waving the white towel. I’d failed.
She emailed me right back, told me I had so much to be proud of, not the least of which was maintaining the healthy eating habits (if not the quantities), and to come on in. She would assess the problem and work with me to get back on track.
So here I am, back on the old detox. The good news is, six of those 20 pounds I put on were lean muscle mass (thank you weight training!). My diet for the next 10 days: nuts, fruits, legumes, lots of veggies, olive oil and a ton of balsamic vinegar. Grains for the first few days, dairy products, too will go by Sunday. By day eight, I start adding everything back one at a time, and then done with detox and back on track.
My goal? To shed those 20 pounds and maybe another 20 after that. Right now, I’m feeling great that I’ve made this step, feel positive about what I have accomplished and look forward to getting through the elimination diet. Fingers crossed.
I’ll keep you posted! Meantime, have any of you been in a similar situation? How did you get through it?