One thing that I am never in short supply of around here is fantastic support and feedback. If I share a certain dilemma I'm having with any aspect of my weight loss progress, in no time I'm getting advice, opinions, and ideas from friends and complete strangers.
While I love all the support, getting so many ideas can get a little overwhelming. I try my best to look in to whatever suggestion is sent to me, and often try and see if the idea works for me.
Then, after I wrote my article on food addictions, moderation, etc. I received an email from a complete stranger that has become somewhat of my knight(ess) in shining armor. She first contacted me as a reader. Nothing more. She read what I had to say about my take on food addictions, how I perceive moderation, and could sense my overwhelming feelings of self doubt and worry about how I was going to continue with my eating. Or more appropriately, my diet...in the sense of what I eat, rather than a way of eating.
She offered kind words of encouragement, and told me that I would eventually find my way... if I was determined enough to find it.
I emailed her back, thanking her for the support. I let it slide that I was feeling super overwhelmed, because I had received several suggestions about which diet plan I should try, which ones were the best, which would offer me the most flexibility in my eating, etc.
She then emailed me back and let on a little secret about herself. She is a licensed nutritionist. She used to be close to 300lbs, took on the help of another nutritionist and a homeopathic doctor and within a year had dropped 100lbs. She entered in to a loving relationship with looking at the body's reactions to certain foods, went to school, and became a nutritionist. She now works with a different homeopathic doctor, and they both specialize in finding ways for their patients to lose weight based on how certain foods react with the body.
Hearing her story, I was fascinated. She shared that one of the biggest problems that the dieting world shares is their love to jump on the bandwagon of certain diet programs. When, the harsh reality is, everyone's body is different. What may be healthy and helpful to one person could be disastrous for another. While cutting gluten out of a diet may be necessary for one person, it could be a digestive nightmare for someone else. By not eating any processed sugar or flour may be the only way to go for many healthy eaters, it can also be the difference between life and death for certain medical conditions. And so on and so on.
Since then, we've been emailing back and forth several times a day. I share with her a suggestion I'm given, and she gives me her feedback. One thing that I've learned in the last couple of weeks is that a one sized fits all diet may not be the answer for me. Nor the answer for lots of people out there.
I emailed her yesterday asking if I could share our conversations, and what I have learned since speaking with her. She obliged, with the condition that I keep her anonymity. So, from now on we will call her "Sally". Being that she has given me such invaluable information and advice, I couldn't possibly fit it in to one post. So, I'm going to just start at the beginning and share each day until I get it all out.
So, here's Part 1: Sally's Story
One thing that really grabbed my undivided attention was her recount of her childhood. Her parents were both "good eaters". Her mother stayed at home, and her father was the breadwinner. Her mother cooked and prepared three meals a day. Breakfast was always the full kind... eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, etc. Lunch was some kind of grilled sandwich, or a bowl of macaroni and cheese, or a bowl of some kind of soup that her mother prepared with leftovers, served with some form of bread or rolls. Dinner was ALWAYS some kind of meat and potatoes. There was often a salad or veggies served with dinner, but the main attraction was the meat. Either a steak, fried chicken, meatloaf, pork chops, etc., etc. Then served with a mound of fried potatoes, or mashed potatoes, or potatoes au gratin, or baked potatoes. You get the picture.
Three cooked meals a day. Seven days a week.
No one counted calories or hunted down "healthier options". They ate big hearty meals three times a day, and the kicker? Not a single one of the household was overweight.
She went on to explain that her mother ALWAYS kept a trim figure. She spent some of her time each day moving along to some work-out VHS tapes, and the other parts of the day cleaning or working out in the garden. Her father worked hard on a construction site and was never considered to be an overweight man. He was tall and lean his whole life. Her brother followed in her father's footsteps shooting up to be over 6' tall and has always held on to a muscular physique. He was a football player, and a basketball player, and a baseball player. The only person to ever have any weight issues was Sally. Sally then explained that up until she was 18, however, she was never overweight. She was a cheerleader, a runner on the track team, and also a competitive swimmer. It wasn't until she left home, started working herself (choosing to hold off on college for a while), and moved in with some friends that she began to pack on the pounds. She left home at 18 weighing 137lbs. By her 21st birthday, she weighed in at 304lbs. Three years and a gain of 167lbs.
What astounded me more was her recollection of why she packed on so many pounds in such a short time. She lived with two other women after leaving home. Both were self proclaimed "fitness gurus". One ate nothing but fruit, veggies, whole grains, chicken, and fish. She steered away from any and all processed foods, white sugar and flour, and red meats. The other was vegan. No meat, dairy, eggs, or anything made with them. The two women had strict diets and strict work-out schedules. They ran several miles a day. They did yoga. They performed body cleanses and detoxes on a regular basis, sometimes going days with eating nothing but salad and drinking weird concoctions to rid the body of chemicals and toxins.
Of course, Sally became intrigued and jumped head first in trying to eliminate everything she'd done growing up and jump on the health conscious lifestyle.
She started with eliminating red meat. Then she participated in the detoxes. Then she cut out all sources of white flour and sugar. She chose to eat whole grains, lots and lots of veggies, and only ate fish and chicken as her meat sources. She ran with the girls every day, participated in their other fitness routines, and continued to swim several times a week.
She did lose weight at a rapid speed...going from her 137lbs frame to hovering around 110lbs. But, she also noticed a change in her energy level. She was tired all of the time. She had constant cramps. She often felt light headed and nauseous.
A quick trip to the doctor discovered a plethora of problems. She found out she was anemic. She had endogastrititus. She had a bowel obstruction. And she was underweight... unhealthily so.
Cutting out the red meat kept her iron levels dangerously low, causing the dizziness and fatigue associated with her anemia.
She had an allergy to a certain grain that had caused the irritation to her stomach, causing the cramps and aching sensations that ended with the endogastrititus.
Her rapid change in diet had also caused her digestive issues, requiring an enema to remove her bowel obstruction. It also led to the drastic weight loss, because her body was being starved of the required nutrients she wasn't getting by "detoxing".
What she thought was a healthy switch to her lifestyle was actually causing disastrous effects, that could have possibly killed her had she not sought out medical help.
When she received all the information, her eating style took a complete 180...and she went off in a tirade of eating anything and everything she wanted. When she started to gain her weight back, it just kept going and going and going.
She noticed her weight gain and decided to try several diet plans. They would work for a while, she'd drop a few pounds, but it didn't take long to gain it back and then some. Whatever plan she chose ended up causing her some form of "issues", and she'd give up and try something else.
After a few years and an almost 200lb weight gain, she just couldn't figure out what the heck to do...and that's when she tracked down the support she needed from the nutritionist and homeopathic doctor.
Once they got her fixed up with a livable diet plan, and exercise routine, she dropped 100lbs in a year, then an additional 40lbs the next year...and now maintains her 160lb-ish frame, and has maintained for the past 10 years.
Like I said before, she decided to go to school to become a nutritionist and now makes her living working side by side with a homeopathic doctor helping people with weight issues.
For some reason, she managed to find me. She wants to help me. And just the past couple of days, the information she's shared has been astounding. I just couldn't keep it to myself. I want to share it with others, too.
And she's OK with that. As long as I'm the one sharing. Fine by me!
So, for the next few days, I'm going to share what she's shared with me. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to put in to practice what she's advised. She's advised me about how to approach my eating rather than telling me what I should eat. She's already shared what foods are better for certain weight issues. She's explained what types of exercise will give me the best bang for my buck, and how simple some of the exercises are.
I can't wait to start seeing the results from this information. I sense a feeling that she found me for a reason. She may be the answer to everything I was having problems with.
I guess we shall see.
Stay tuned, cause it gets awesome up in here over the next few days!
Till next time!
a/k/a Mad, Fat Woman