Thursday, September 13, 2012

What DID I do...part three...the story and the end of this matter!

Now, I didn't make all of the changes on the last post at once.  Although I'm capable of "cold turkey", it was rather that I just didn't know what to do, or in the case of grains, that there was even a problem.  One piece of learning lead to the next, and after some time...I had an accumulated pile of knowledge in front of me, and a laundry list of things I'd already changed which added up to, essentially, the paleo way of eating.  Had I found the websites on paleo first, with the huge list of things to change...I might have stuck my head in the bag of bagels and never come out again!

Alas, I think it's my distrust for Western medicine and a small, yet BAD set of experiences with doctors and hospitals, that made this path a soft, moss covered one!  Watching my dad die a slow, painful death from cancer was the rocky path that made me realize I needed to change A LOT of things in my life. Not everyone has lost a parent that way, but those of us who have, I would guess, feel the strong desire to not go out that way or cause our loved ones to have to endure it with us.  Plus, I want to not only be around to guide and care for my own children, but I want to be the one leading them across the monkey bars, and going down the BIG slides...not the sick mom sitting on the bench watching.  

So here's essentially how I got from point A to point B...there's a lot of missing pieces to the story, but it's all I care to tell right now. At the end, I list all the sources, books, websites and blogs I've used along the way.

I've been slowly omitting chemicals from my diet for quite a while.  It started with high fructose corn syrup, then anything hydrogenated, then BHT, and anything that I could not pronounce or that I'd never seen separately at the store.  I learned about pesticides, and the "dirty dozen".  I gave up on regular grocery store produce (it always DID smell funny) and started to only buy organic, at Whole Foods.  It started to kill our food budget.

Once Trader Joe's opened up, we started going there but I noticed that a lot of their products contain sugar and corn starches.  We selectively shop there now, usually for wine!  Next, Natural Grocer's opened up on Metcalf and the farmer's market started up full-swing...and I haven't been back to Whole Foods yet.  They're too big for their britches, and have been the source of a lot of controversy with their "Chinese Organic Spinach".  I don't trust them. I love Natural Grocers, they only sell organic produce and they have really good groceries.  It's probably as good as you can get.  Otherwise, I shop for everything else at the farmer's market...with the days growing colder, I cringe at the thought of not having the market anymore.

After having Chubbersons in November of 2011, I weighed about 185 lbs.  My weight was coming off slowly but surely, but that wasn't my main concern yet.  Chubs had cradle cap, which I treated with homeopathy, but he also had a bad diaper rash.  I'm talkin'....bad.  I was using disposable diapers for the first few weeks just to keep the laundry load manageable, but I ditched them at this point and went back to cloth diapers.  The rash persisted.

I tried homeopathy but the fact that nothing happened told me that either I had the wrong remedy, or some issue was "competing" with the remedies that needed to be addressed first for them to work.  I've had great successes with homeopathy.  I've been treated for chronic issues that have all but disappeared, and I also have a large kit of remedies that I use on myself and my family from time to time.  

When I was a month from having Chubs, I fell off the back steps and sprained both ankles.  I couldn't even stand up.  My husband brought me a remedy called "Injury combo", and one called "Hypericum" which is for pain and twisted ankles.  30 minutes later I was walking around the house with minimal pain.  Homeopathy can work miracles if you know how to use it.

Since the "little sugar pills" didn't work, I realized then, it had to be diet-related. Since baby boy was 100% breast fed, that meant is was MY diet. 

I started looking into rashes and realized that I needed to go back off of sugar.  I'd always thought I ate "low sugar", but obviously it wasn't low enough.  I was also in "celebration mode" as bringing a new baby into the world and having them be OK...that's reason to party!  I loved cinnamon rolls, I loved muffins...but I also loved crackers, bagels, chips, naan bread...the list goes on.

The change was easy as Lent came early, February of this year.  I gave up bagels and lattes as my food sacrifices, and naturally avoided sugar by avoiding "dessert".  I wasn't sure how that would end up as I don't usually bother "giving up" anything that I will just run back and gorge myself on after Lent is over.  Could I never eat a bagel again?  Or a latte?!  Have mercy!

Not only did Chubberson's rash clear up with these changes, but I started dropping weight effortlessly.  That means, with little exercise.  My slogan is, "I don't run unless chased".  Frankly, my body composition and weight has always made running very unpleasant.  I also can't stand workout gyms, they stink.  Plus, the last thing I want to see is some guy, or gal for that matter, in spandex pants gazing at themselves in a mirror.  It was also too cold to get out to a park with 2 my exercise consisted of going up and down stairs for diaper changes!

By the end of Lent, I had lost about 20 lbs.  That may seem like an unhealthy amount of weight to lose so quickly (6 weeks), but I was still losing pregnancy weight, and I had also started to learn about grains, sugars and other "poisons" and had drastically changed my diet.  But I felt guilty.  During Lent, I ate copious amounts of butter...apples with roasted almond butter...coconut oil...cheese, and even bacon cheeseburgers.  How did I just not blow up like a balloon?!  Conventional wisdom would say I should have...none of those foods are low-fat, on the contrary.

What I learned was that fat burns clean in the body, it's the body's fuel of choice.  Sugars and carbs all have "by-products" and turn into fat, your body can only use so much sugar at a time, the rest is stored for later on our stomachs, legs, arms...everywhere!  By severely limiting my sugars and grains, I turned to healthy fats for my fuel source and my body responded appropriately.  After having 3 c-sections, I never thought I'd have a remotely flat thank God for coconut oil!  

Onward.  My next goal was to lose 1 pound per week until my birthday, which was 10 weeks away.  The other layer to the goal was...I wanted to weigh less than my husband.  Weighing in on Friday mornings, I started May 4th at 163 lbs.  By May 25th...I weighed THE SAME as my husband, 157.  By July 6th, (which happened to fall perfectly on a Friday) I weighed in at 151 lbs.  I'd lost 12 pounds!  I was officially lighter than my hubby and felt AMAZING.  I had so much energy...I could play with the kids all day and get my housework done without feeling like I was dragging.  

I'd also introduced fermented foods into our diet...sauerkraut, beets, pickles, kefir.  It was a combination of learning what sugar does to our systems, and the amazing healing properties of these fermented foods that helped me get even more serious about food.  In July, I watched the Real Food Summit which was an online series of talks about nutrition.  They were so eye-opening for me.  I ended up getting the whole set for free by some really cool chance. 

As I was happy with my new weight, which was the lowest I'd weighed since High School, I wasn't trying to lose anymore, I just wanted to be super healthy.  But the more I learned, the more I lost...the wisdom I was gaining was the key to losing.  I now weigh 141 lbs. and I have a new goal.  I have a "major birthday" coming up next year, and I don't want to look my age!  I'm not sure what weight I'm going for as I care more about being healthy and in shape as opposed to simply having a number to reach for.  A number is an easy gauge for most of us, but I look at clothes and how they fit.

It's a lot more fun to shop at the *small* end of the clothes rack...and easier to find things on sale that aren't UGLY.  This is a weird one, even my shoes are looser.  I even lost fat on my feet!  My wedding ring flew off my hand at one point and it was lost for about a month or so!  Fingers shrunk too.  Found it at the bottom of a laundry basket that I'd been reaching down into...just slipped off.

Currently, I just started the "Primal Blueprint 21-day Challenge".
My goal is to add in 15 minutes of fun exercise over and above merely carrying my children up and down stairs.  The other day I took them to the playground and we ALL played together in the sun, FUN!  I've also taken my measurements to see if I change shape instead of just dropping weight.

That's my story, most of it anyway...!

First, I credit my faith.  I prayed for help with being healthy and to lose weight.  God always gives me what I ask for (within reason) and knows what I need most.  I could never do it for myself or anyone else, but when Lent rolled around, I knew I didn't want to let Our Lord down.  

Second, my husband always has my back and is my biggest fan!  He was learning about diet and nutrition before I was willing to be into it, he use to make the kefir and leave all those stinky jars and utensils in the sink!  ;) Kiss kiss.  Now I do it!

And then there's my friend Chris, who has plowed through the icy waters before me and tossed back books, articles and websites to learn from.  Not only did he give us our copy of Nourishing Traditions, but he also recommended The Perfect Health Diet to read. His passion for food and cooking has always been inspirational to me.

Here's a list of tools I used to lose weight, get rid of chronic headaches, rashes, aching joints, and a raging attitude problem! Just to name a few... :)
  1. The Perfect Health Diet...First, this is my MAIN eating plan.
  2. Nourishing Traditions.  This is the main cookbook I use. 
  3. Eat Fat, Lose Fat - Know your fats!  Canola oil is bad for you, vegetable oil is poison.  Read this book to understand WHY.
  4. Mark's Daily Apple - a paleo blog I read regularly. 
  5. French Women Don't Get Fat - this was the book I read that started me thinking.  It's important to not become a person simply AVOIDING bad food, you need to savor life and savor each moment!  Savor the butter, eat GOOD ice cream in small amounts, not JUNK ice cream by the bowl!
  6. Real Food Summit - I watched these and it supercharged my life! I own the whole package, it's all wonderful info and advice.
  7. Dr. Cate - for those who find they can only believe health advice if it comes from a trained doctor, I present, Dr. Cate Shanahan!
  8. The Healthy Home Economist - wonderful advice that is NOT candy coated.  She's passionate about health, from a mom's point of view.
  9. Paleo Diet Lifestyle - Try the beef stroganoff!  We did.
  10. The Unrefined Kitchen - paleo from a Christian perspective.
  11. Nouveau Raw - while I don't eat a raw diet for the most part, this site has wonderful advice on soaking nuts, sprouting flours and making fermented vegetables.
  12. PaleoTrack - Want to track and test out your "paleo-ness"?! Keeping a food diary is also a great way to learn which foods you can and cannot tolerate.
Now, here's some advice based on things that I see people, including myself, struggle with.
  1. Educate yourself.  Read, read, read.  Trust people, not businesses. Don't believe TV personalities! There's big profit to be had in weight loss, make sure you don't just fall into someone's $$ net.  Not everyone selling a book has the correct info...BUT, some people with the correct info...happen to be selling a book.   
  2. Do not be a slave to advertising.  Don't believe words printed on the side of a box saying that the contents are healthy. Better yet, don't even eat out of boxes!
  3. Eat real food.  If it's in a box, bag, jar or can...question it.  
  4. Real labels.  If you can't read it, don't eat it!  If you don't know what an ingredient looks like on it's own, or you cannot buy it at the same store...don't buy it!  Research ingredients...what IS sodium benzoate?  It's in most soy sauce and hundreds of other products...what IS you know? Do you eat in anyway? Do you feed it to your children and KNOW what it does to them? 
  5. Go gluten free.  Most people, even if not diagnosed with celiac, have an intolerance to grains.  This is one of the absolute best ways to lose weight.  Do not bother eating grains unless properly prepared. Your gut will thank you in the morning. Making sprouted flour and soaking the phytic acid out of your brown rice is for later. Just ditch the grains at first, and then add good ones (once you really understand what that is...I didn't at first) back in to see if you can tolerate them. 
  6. You should be sweet, your food shouldn't.  Sure, experiment with the alternative sugars...but don't be tempted to get fixated on paleo desserts.  Honey is still a sugar, fruit is still a sugar.  Ever look at the sugar content on a bag of raisins?  1/4 cup = 29 grams.  That's a lot. Don't think that eating paleo desserts means you're's just a step, keep stepping!
  7. Better yet...GET A DIVORCE...from your love affair with sugar!  This is another golden key to losing weight.  Your body turns most sugar into fat.  When The Perfect Health Diet says eat chocolate in moderation, make sure you know what that looks like in your hand.  It's probably a tiny square of at least 71% dark chocolate, possibly once a day.  "Moderation", like "Modesty" one of those fluid things for people...don't play games with in the know about what fructose does to you.
  8. Do it for someone you love.  I could never lose weight for myself...I've never cared about clothes enough, I guess! I went from a size a size's a heck of a lot cheaper to shop for smaller sizes as they are not the norm!  My husband sure likes it...and it's easy and fun to do for him.  And my kids?  I can keep up with them now, and carry them up the stairs without needing an oxygen tank by the time I reach the top (drama...). Even better, do it because our body was given to us by God...take care of it.
  9. Eat your vegetables...ROTTEN, baby!  Consume fermented foods every day.  Make sure they're actually fermented, and not just preserved junk.  A lot of the pickles at the store contain sugar and vinegar, and sometimes even sodium benzoate.
  10. Don't JUST count calories, not all calories were created equally. And it will make you crazy.  If you need to count and make lists, count sugar grams, keep those really low (around 12 grams per day) and it will go hand in hand with healthy eating.
  11. Don't JUST eat anything you want, even in moderation.  There's a lot of TRASH food in this world, avoid it like the cancer.  (Modern lingo for "Avoid it like the plague".)  While you're still having food cravings, anything you "want" will be a lot of things your body doesn't need, it's just addicted to them.  Your body is telling you that you're lacking a nutrient THROUGH that craving.
  12. Eat when you're hungry, and don't eat when you aren't.  Think you're always hungry?  You might just be eating too many "empty calories".
  13. It's good to be different.  It's ok to NOT eat the birthday cake.  It's ok to pass the roll basket right on by. Social pressures can be rough at first, but saying NO to junk food is a fleeting moment in time compared to an entire evening of sitting around with a stomach ache, or lounging on the couch with a dull headache.  
  14. Remember the 80%/20% rule.  Your body composition is 80% due to diet.  No amount of running on a treadmill will fix what a bad diet has created. 
  15. And Fertility? I know so many people struggling with this right now. Diet can possibly help tremendously!  Here's a good article.  
So, keep your food clean and nutrient dense, get a little exercise, a little sun and partake in a lot of laughter...and thank God that I'm done talking about all this stuff!  I'll be back next time with the many glories (including pictures) of...

Ice Cream

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What DID I do...part two...the MEAT...

"Our story doesn't fit on a bumper sticker" is what my friend Chris said when we were talking about how difficult it is to "concisely" tell others what we've done to lose weight and regain health.  I've been trying to figure out how to make this second blog post short and sweet, but I'm finding it impossible.  I've learned so much about nutrition, food, the body, health...that I can't possible fit it into a story without it turning magnum opus.  Oh, and it did!

I've written down all the glorious details which will debut as part three, but for's the MEAT of what I did, what worked for me and how I strive to eat every day. 

Ditch GRAINS, especially products with refined flours. Only eat properly prepared whole grains or white rice in moderation.

Ditch SUGAR, especially high fructose corn syrup and refined, white, brown or powdered sugar.  Even "organic" sugar.  No pesticides is nice, but it's still a refined sugar.

Ditch preservatives, colorings, additives, and "enhancers".  If you can't read it, don't eat it.

Essentially...Ditch PROCESSED FOODS, even from Whole Foods.

Eat what GOD put here...the way GOD intended it to be raised or grown.

Eat in STRICT MODERATION the things of man's hand...unless what they "manufacture" is made with integrity and concern for your health, and not just a concern for their bloated bank accounts.

Eat healthy fats.  Butter from grass-fed cows and coconut oil are my favorites.  Never eat vegetable oils, especially canola and soybean and NEVER hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.

Make all your meals.  Even your pickles...

Food that is "quick, easy and cheap" usually comes with an expensive price tag in the long run called medical bills and medications. Eating REAL FOOD IS quick, easy and cheap...we do it on less than $500 a month for 3 eaters, soon to be 4!

Lastly, pray to God for help, but don't ever leave that for last!

Part three...coming soon. The whole "before and after" story, more details about how we live with links to good books, websites and blogs.  

And then maybe part four, five...who knows?!