Ever since the boy was a baby I've tried to eat whole foods and eschew processed foods. Admittedly there have been seasons where I achieved that with much more success than other seasons. Income, time, and available resources/foods all played a part. So did my upbringing and just some bad Standard American Diet habits.
But for the past three weeks I've been living a different food lifestyle and I'm loving it! I wanted to wait a bit to share with you because I wanted to share some of my success as well as the rationale.
For some time now - about the past three years really - I've been noticing a rather annoying weight gain. It's fairly typical for me when my babies begin to wean (weaning = eating foods other than breastmilk). At about the one year mark my kiddos start to eat table foods. We exclusively breastfeed till they handle table foods. It's about that time that I forget to lower my food intake. As I produce less breastmilk I need fewer calories. If I don't reduce my intake I gain weight. It's a simple formula and yet every.single.time I forget. Or if I don't forget I just don't wanna do it.
So when the pounds starting inching back on me in 2009 I kind of just ignored it. After all, I was 41 and really figured who cared if I gained more weight. I'm a middle aged woman. It's not like I'm out cruising for guys. I'm married with three kids. I rationalized it. I forgot about it.
Then the next year came and the next and....I was really getting to be unhealthy.
Now I've been overweight or obese my entire life. I'm not joking folks. I've seen photos of me as an infant and a toddler and remember the painful shopping trips where I had to go to the fat girls department and couldn't wear the cute clothes my little sister did. I didn't eat any more than the rest of my family and yet I was fat. I went on my first reducing diet when I was just 10 years old. My mother and my family doctor decided it. I was permitted 1000 low fat calories a day. Surprisingly I did well. I followed the diet and did my normal summertime activity. We lived in the country and I rode my bike everywhere. It wasn't unusual for me to ride 5 miles or more a day. I wasn't a couch potato. I was just fat. The pounds came off easily. Soon I was 20 pounds lighter and approaching a normal size. I still wore a woman's size 14, though, at 110 pounds and 5'2" tall.
High school came and I yo-yo dieted. I know some of you can relate. I'd go from overweight to close to normal weight and back up again. I gained and lost the same 15 pounds over and over again.
Then I got married. I stayed pretty stable for a few years. That is until I had my son. I easily lost the pregnancy weight. I never have gained more than 25 pounds during a pregnancy and lose it all within the first month after the birth. But those weaning pounds are my nemesis.
Anyway...this post is getting really long. Back to the original situation. I had gained about 30 pounds during the baby girl's weaning process. This was on top of my already obese middle aged weight. It wasn't good. I was beginning to have some physical issues that bothered me. I had restless leg syndrome at night. I had horrible leg pain in general and muscle cramps. I'd take mineral supplements and it would help a bit but then they'd come back. I had suffered from IBS for years - ever since I had my gallbladder removed back in 1994. Most of this I just accepted as being part of my life.
Then I noticed some recipes a friend of mine was posting on Pinterest. I knew that she was eating gluten-free and had wondered for some time if some of my digestive issues were related to food sensitivities. The big girl has had a host of severe sensitivities and in my years of research to help her I realized that many of my childhood symptoms pointed to food sensitivities in me - constant runny nose, congestion, diarrhea, etc.
So I followed some of those recipe links I found back to their sources. I read about the Paleo diet. I read about the Primal diet. I decided to give it a try.
I hesitate to label my new method of eating because for some reason those labels really inflame and anger people. I don't get it, personally. Just because I choose to eat certain foods and exclude other foods from my diet doesn't mean that I'm judging your choices. Honestly. If your body thrives on a vegan diet then you should eat that way. If a Standard American Diet full of chemicals is your preferred lifestyle, then go ahead and support the food industry. (that was somewhat tongue in cheek because I do honestly believe that is deadly and have my own bodily degradation to prove the point) But there are many many dietary choices that are healthy for different people. My only true food soapbox is that you eat FOOD, not chemicals.
So what am I eating? First off, I want to dispel the myth that I'm a carnivore. I'm very much an omnivore. Yes, I'm eating meat, but not in huge quantities. In each of my daily meals you'll find some meat. My portion sizes are probably smaller than what the average American puts on his/her plate. My macro-nutrient ratios are roughly 60% calories from fat, 30% calories from protein, and 20% calories from carbs. Since I'm trying to lose body fat I consume a lower proportion of carb based calories than some other folks would take in. Over time that amount will change.
grass-fed meats (beef, chicken, turkey right now because that's what is in my freezers)
fruits (in limited quantities)
raw nuts and seeds
raw nut butters
healthy fats (fat from pastured meats, coconut oil, olive oil)
natural sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, raw minimally processed sugar) on rare occasions as a special treat
What I'm not eating:
foods containing preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, other food additives - this pretty much eliminates most boxed and canned foods
grains (and any foods containing grains)
legumes (and any foods containing legumes - the exceptions are fresh green beans and fresh snow peas or snap peas)
I'm excluding the grains, legumes, and dairy because many of the foods in those categories are known allergens. I believe that my digestive system has been damaged from years of exposure to allergens and that I have what is known as "leaky gut syndrome" and that's the source of many of my physical issues and also the excessive weight gain.
My body is extremely efficient at storing excess calories. So much so that with moderate activity I will still gain weight on a caloric intake of only 1300 calories a day. That was, at least, on a diet that included grains, legumes, and dairy.
I've been consuming in excess of 1800 calories a day these past three weeks and I've LOST 15 pounds and dropped one clothing size. I have not increased my activity levels at all. In fact, I've been rather sick this past week and have hardly left my rocking chair on several days.
It's not about caloric intake for me. It's about WHICH foods I'm eating and which foods I'm not eating.
As much as it pains me I'm going to post some photos of me taken prior to the dietary change.
This was me at my highest life weight - 264 pounds. I'm morbidly obese. These photos were taken March 1, 2012. I had the photos taken because I had plans to start an exercise program and wanted before pictures. I did try the exercise program for a week. After experiencing extreme joint pain, though, I stopped. The weight quickly went back on.
Today I weight 248 pounds and I'll continue to lose weight. I'll get some current photos up here soon to show you. I've been eating this way for just over three weeks. Again, I need to make it clear that I have made no other changes to my lifestyle. My activity level is the same or probably slightly less. I have plans to increase my exercise, but am in the midst of an upper respiratory infection and won't be doing that until I heal a bit. :)
The weight loss wasn't the reason I made these food changes, though. It was my general health that concerned me. Well, within three days of the dietary changes the IBS stopped. This is probably too much information, but my bowel movements went from as high as 10 per day to just one or two. You see, because of the leaky gut syndrome I also had nearly constant diarrhea. Sometimes it was so severe that I couldn't leave the house. I had lived with it for 20 years thinking it was just something I had to deal with. In just three days of being grain-free, legume-free, and dairy-free it stopped. For the first time in decades I didn't feel bloated and sick.
I also noticed that my nighttime leg pain was gone. I didn't have the muscle spasms and restless legs that kept me awake. The swelling in my lower legs and feet was also reduced. Shoes that had been tight were now loose. This all happened within one week. It wasn't correlated to weight loss because those few pounds weren't enough to significantly alter the load on my joints and leg muscles.
It was nutritional changes. It was the result of my systems beginning to heal themselves.
Now don't get me wrong I'm very happy to be able to wear clothing that is one size smaller. I'm happy to see the numbers on the bathroom scale getting smaller and smaller. But I'm ecstatic to notice my body healing itself. I'm so very thankful for the improvement in my overall health. I'm excited to know that I've finally found the plan that brings health to my life.
- A 40 something mama meandering through life an 8 year old girl (the big girl) who is a ball of lightening and a 5 year old girl (the baby girl) who brightens our lives with her smiles. I'm grounded by my 40 something husband and partner (the hubster) whose quirky mannerisms brighten my days. Our family is rounded out with with an eclectic 21 year old boy-man (the boy) who I hardly ever right about now since he's off starting his own life.
I've been a single mama, married mama, divorced mama, career mama, SAHM, and WAHM. There was a short time of my life when I wasn't a mama, but that was a LONG time ago!
I hold an AA, BS, and MA and most say I'm wasting them by devoting my intellectual capabilities and energy in the nurture of the wee ones that I've been entrusted to raise, but there is nothing else I'd rather be doing these days. :)
I love hearing from readers, so please share your thoughts and leave comments, too!