Losing Weight.. Again. This time is different

You can choose a healthy diet

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Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

Losing Weight Again

It all started with a video on Netflix. "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". That documentary was followed by another, "Forks Over Knives". We watched the movies in February of 2012, and before I knew it, my husband and I had started down a weight loss road different from any other that I have ever experienced, and, from my vast experience, far more effective than anything I have done before.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me share a little background.

I have struggled with my weight most of my life. I went on my first diet in fifth grade, after being called chubby. I remember the lunch lady chiding me for eating a peanut butter sandwich. She suggested I stick to celery and carrot sticks. When I asked her if I could put peanut butter on them, she shook her head and walked away in disgust.

Throughout middle school and high school, I was constantly viewed as older than my real age. By eighth grade, I had shapely breasts and hips, fitting of an eighteen year old. I liked myself, kind of, but was often told by adults that I would be sorry when I grew up fat. I was self-conscious around my friends, most of whom were stick-thin and flat chested.

Looking back, at old pictures of myself, I guess I was healthy but not slender. After having my first four children, I struggled back into a size nine, sometimes starving myself and exercising to extremes to make the shift happen. After I turned thirty, something else shifted; namely my metabolism. Child number five was born after that point, and I struggled to lose the baby weight. Dieting and exercising, which had saved me before, seemed to have no effect on my body. The next three babies wreaked havoc on my form, and I ended up fat, bordering on obese, nearing forty and hating myself.

If only I could be as skinny as I was at thirty, I thought hopelessly. Running, which I loved, had become a chore. Dragging a nearly two hundred pound body for miles down the road made me feel better mentally, but I couldn't get the weight to budge. My knees ached, my lungs screamed for air, and my body bobbled down the road.

I carried it well, and denied that I had a weight problem. I could still nearly squeeze into size fourteen, which I held as a great accomplishment. When the size fourteens stopped fitting, I started wearing a lot of leggings and loose shirts. I told myself that I wasn't fat, that I had just gained a little weight over the winter. Or that I was still carrying extra baby fat from baby number eight. The problem with that story was that baby number eight was nearing six years old, and I could hardly use that excuse any longer.

Before the weight loss journey

This was me, a couple of years before I changed my diet. Summer 2009.
This was me, a couple of years before I changed my diet. Summer 2009. | Source

You have the power to choose what you eat

A Shift In Thinking

In 2011, after my then- husband had an invasive abdominal surgery, during which they removed a large segment of his intestine, his doctor suggested we watch the movie "Food Inc."

While he lay recovering in the hospital, I pulled it up on Netflix instant streaming, and watched it on my laptop. After seeing the horrors of how our meat is raised, I suggested we become vegetarians. While Charlie watched the movie, and was equally horrified, he was not ready to make a significant shift in our diet. I began adding whole grains into our diet, and I became more mindful of organically grown and raised food, but we didn't make any major changes until January of 2012.

In January, I had decided that the problem with my weight was that I had no time to exercise. A friend at work had lost more than fifty pounds during the course of the previous year, by exercising every morning at 5 a.m. at our local rec center. I was inspired to do something, anything, to change the shape of my body, and to feel better again.

Let me pause for a moment to say that while I still run, I now live in Wyoming. A place that gives winter the chills. I like to run outside, and during the winter it can become difficult, between several feet of snow, and early morning temperatures that sometimes hover around -20 degrees. So, I haven't been exercising as much as I did when I was younger. And I rationalized that because of the longer, colder winters, my body had adjusted by gaining weight to stay warm.

I suggested to Charlie, that he allow me to join the rec center in order to facilitate my weight loss goals. He smiled kindly but offered that our family couldn't afford the money, and I hardly had the time, between being a full time reporter for the Uinta County Herald and having a thriving massage practice, as well as the additional writing I try to accomplish. Undaunted, I retorted that I too could arise at 5 a.m. and exercise at home. After all, I was the proud owner of twenty years worth of exercise videos that were only gathering dust.

So for the first month, actually, for several months, I got up at 5 to exercise. And for the first month, not only did I not lose any weight, but I think I may have gained a couple of pounds. It was frustrating, to be getting up early but to have no results to show for it. I did consider the fact that I hadn't changed my eating habits, and in fact, they likely deteriorated, as I was so tired all the time, that the only answer seemed to be more food.

In early February, Charlie and I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead". The program chronicles the life of an obese man who decides to change things for his health. He embarks on a thirty day juice fast, after which, he changes the way he eats, and changes his life.

After some discussion, we decided to try a lesser version, the ten day "Reboot" diet, in which you drink only freshly juiced fruits and vegetables for ten days. The first day, I wasn't sure I could make it. By the second day, my head ached and I was exhausted. Day three was worse. Suddenly, by day four, I felt better, I had more energy, and more important to me, I had actually lost several pounds. We continued on the ten day fast even through Valentine's Day, and a Valentine's Day ball we attended. We actually ate just salad at the ball. It fell on day eight or nine of the ten day fast, but we stuck with plain salad, and enjoyed every bite.

By the end of day ten, I had lost nearly ten pounds, but I was afraid that as soon as I started eating real food, the weight would come back. This has been my result anytime I diet. Do really great on the diet, lose ten pounds, go off the diet and gain it all back, plus an extra pound or two for good measure.

While we enjoyed our juice fast, we also continued to explore different ways of eating, and found another documentary on Netflix, "Forks over Knives". The doctor in this documentary explained how altering your diet could change you health for the rest of your life.

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

It's Not as Hard as You Might Think

While we enjoyed our juice fast, we also continued to explore different ways of eating, and found another documentary on Netflix, "Forks over Knives". The doctor in this documentary explained how altering your diet could change you health for the rest of your life.

After watching "Forks Over Knives", my husband decided that for his heart issues, a plant-based whole foods diet might be our answer to health. In as much as I plan to live to the ripe old age of 111, I decided that I might benefit from taking care of my health now.

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn suggests turning to whole foods for healing. His revolutionary study describes how, by changing their diet, cardiac patients were able to reverse the effects of heart disease. My husband was sold on the idea, and me, frightened by the weight loss yo-yoing that has been my entire adult life, I decided I had nothing to lose.


You can lose weight. You are in control of your health.

Change your mind, change your life

The first thing that has to change for any weight loss program to be successful, is your mindset. If you continue doing what you've always done, you will continue getting what you've always had. It was with this in mind that we decided to change our diet just for a month.

Esselstyn's son, Rip Essselstyn has also written a book, The Engine 2 Diet, which outlines some of the principals more in depth. A video on Netflix "The Engine 2 Diet Kitchen Makeover" helped show us what to look for, what foods to avoid, and which foods to embrace.

At first, we just ate a lot of salads. Then we learned how to make hummus, and we now creates some of the best vegan food you can imagine. Shopping for crackers to accompany our hummus was a long exercise, the first few times, as we scrupulously read labels on every cracker package in the store. Fat content is important, and both Esselstyn's recommend completely cutting out fat.

While this seems drastic, most Americans eat way to much fat daily, and low fat diets typically recommend cutting fat to 29 percent. According to Esselstyn, this is still way too much, and will not significantly reduce heart disease. His recommendation of a plant based diet limits the amount of fat you take in, because plants do not contain much fat. He recommends cooking food without adding extra fat, and cutting out the cheese and dairy.

After three years of following a plant based diet, I can say that while I have lost about thirty pounds for good, I still enjoy cheese. I realize it prevents me from reaching some of my health goals, but overall, my cholesterol is way down and I am much healthier.

A healthier lifestyle

With my youngest children on a trip to California in August 2014.
With my youngest children on a trip to California in August 2014. | Source

Rip Esselstyn

How It Works For My Family

Changing the way we eat has been somewhat hard. First, my husband and I had to change our thinking. We have both always believed in the body's need for protein. And I always thought milk, cheese, yogurt and dairy products were good for me and my family. It required a major shift in thinking, to eliminate most dairy. We do keep skim milk on hand, for the kid's cereal. And I drink mostly rice or almond milk, when I feel the need for milk. Mostly, I eschew milk altogether.

After cutting out meat, fat and dairy, I lost about 25 pounds in four months. This may not seem remarkable, but for me, it is life changing. I have struggled for so long with my weight. The constant fluctuation has been tiring. Changing my eating required me to view food and my body differently. Once I decided to help my heart, the weight melted off, without any extra effort on my part. I was concerned about being tired from not having enough protein, but as Esselstyn points out, most of us consume way more protein than our bodies require.

During a recent blood analysis, my iron level was down significantly, which was the probable cause of recent tiredness and lack of energy. Over the counter iron supplements have done the trick, bringing my iron levels back into the normal range.

Our children have had the hardest time with our new eating. Gone are the Sunday mornings loaded with pancakes, butter, eggs and bacon. We do still eat whole grain pancakes, but now we top them with fruit rather than butter. And real maple syrup, rather than brown-colored corn syrup. They miss the bacon, but of eight children, several have a weight problem. My three younger kids, who still live at home have a chance to learn healthy eating habits. My grown children now face more serious struggles with weight than I ever did, because I did not teach them good habits and healthy choices. I am hoping that as my nutrition improves, I can set a better example for my family moving forward.

Of course, our kids still enjoy school lunches occasionally. I do allow them to make lean turkey breast sandwiches, and they drink skim milk rather than almond milk. For the most part, our entire family has shifted.

Some may think this is a drastic change, a passing fad, or a crash diet. For my health, I have changed my eating and changed my life. No longer do I feel stuffed and guilty at the end of the day, wondering how I will ever lose weight. No more feeling ashamed about the way I look.

Sure, I see a hamburger occasionally and think it looks good. When we eat out, I will sometimes taste a french fry or a bite of dessert. Unfortunately, and I say that tongue in cheek, my palate has changed, and fatty meals no longer appeal to me. The feeling of fat congealing on my tongue grosses me out.

Overall, the change has been a good one for me and my family. It has not been hard, nor too expensive, nor inconvenient. We chop vegetables together, and share meals just like we always did. One of the benefits of not using fat has been the clean-up. The kitchen and dishes no longer have a greasy residue to contend with. And neither does my heart. And that is the best reward of all.

Changing your diet to become healthier doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can choose to eliminate certain foods gradually, add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and slowly improve your health.

Whatever decision you make, the choice is yours. You can be healthy today, in this moment, or you can continue on as you always have.

Namaste friends, and happy eating.

Update

2015, and the weight is still gone
2015, and the weight is still gone | Source

Real life update, January 2016

It has been nearly five years since I began changing my diet in earnest, and I have lost a lot more than just weight.

As I cleaned out my health, I also cleaned up my emotional baggage, well, most of it.

Charlie and I have parted ways. And I am not following a strict vegan diet. That lasted about a year or so, and then I began to add fats back in, and some dairy products.

Currently, I enjoy a plant-based, whole grain diet. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and natural peanut butter. I still love cheese. And I make meat for the kids. About three or four nights each week, we eat vegetarian meals. The other nights, I usually make a "normal" or "traditional" meal, such as pot roast, roasted chicken, or meatloaf. In addition, I make lots of vegetables to accompany the meal. I don't usually eat the meat, but sometimes I might try just a bite.

I try to do a juice fast for a week, at least every couple of months, just to keep my system clean and get "rebooted." My last juice fast was at the beginning of this year, 2016, and lasted five days. As usual, the third day was the hardest, and days four and five felt great.

As for exercise, I teach two yoga classes every week day, at 6 am and 1 pm. Beyond that, I try to lift weights at least three times each week, and I have begun swimming laps a few times each week, in preparation for my first triathlon.

Overall, the last five years have given me an opportunity to make peace with myself, no matter what I look like.

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Comments 6 comments

cvanthul profile image

cvanthul 4 years ago from Florida

This is very interesting. I've had much of the same problems as you, though my weight problems didn't start until my 20's (too much partying) and now at damn near 40 I'm really struggling to lose the 30 pounds I'd like to lose though I've lost 32 since last May. Funny thing is, your palette really does change. I still enjoy fatty foods but would prefer a salad over a burger, a fruit over chips.


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 4 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD Author

Congratulations on your currents success. It is no small feat to lose weight after 40. It feels like an uphill climb.

Namaste.


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 4 years ago from USA

Real cool hub, Deborah. Pardon the pun, but you had a lot to digest in the article.

I don't have a weight problem myself, but I have learned along the way that for each pound you want to lose you have to get rid of 3,500 calories-worth of either food intake or burn that much up with exercise. Also, humans and the great apes are two critters that don't create their own vitamin C within their bodies and thus have to get lots of it in their diets. Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath (scientists of note) believe(d) that heart problems are mostly due to vitamin C deficiency. Could be. Things to think about, right?

Gus :-)))


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 4 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD Author

Gus, thanks for the insightful comment. I have heard of health problems caused by Vitamin C deficiency, and I believe it to be a valid point. I take large doses of Vitamin C, to ward off illness during the long Wyoming winters, and I haven't been sick for years.

Namaste.


Green Art profile image

Green Art 4 years ago

I've recently seen the two movies, "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and Forks over Knives" and have started making some positive changes in my eating habits. It really is a transformation in thinking about food and what your body truly needs. I used to bicycle everywhere and eat more of a plant based whole foods diet. Then I got married, drove everywhere, had two children and started eating the all American diet of meat, dairy, and processed foods. YIKES!! Well, needless to say I've gained weight and started to have some health issues. I am determined to reverse the damage I've done and live a better life. This is another great reminder that it can be done. Thanks so much for sharing your journey! It gives me hope that I can do this too. Voted UP!


Deborah Demander profile image

Deborah Demander 4 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD Author

Green Art, thank you for the comments, and congratulations on your journey. It is sometimes difficult, but definitely worth it. It can be done.

Namaste.

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