Part I addressed who I was.
Part II is about how I got to where I am now.
At 422lbs, I couldn't see myself ever being able to change. I seemed to lack the willpower to stick with any diet for more than a couple weeks (the longest I'd ever stuck with something was 85 days). I was desperately attempting to hide the truth of how badly I had let myself go from everyone, including myself.
I felt as though I hit bottom more times than I could count, and somehow still couldn't get the motivation and the willpower to stick with anything. With much wailing and gnashing of teeth and utter despair, I would beg myself, my husband, the universe for help. I would make plans, I would get motivated and inspired and be ready to take control of my life and my health, but I still felt like I was waging an uphill battle, and destined to keep losing ground.
By October of 2011, I'd been playing at trying to exercise a little more, trying to make better choices for myself and my family for a couple of months. It was a more-than-slightly half-assed attempt, and I was feeling like I needed to do more, but I was at a loss for what to try. I was convinced that nothing would really work for me, and it seemed too much effort to keep trying.
My mom had given me a box of magazines- weekly and monthly women's publications, some dating back 5 years or more. I was flipping through them idly, on the off-chance that I would find some gardening tip or picture of a room or house or a hairstyle that I liked. I came across an article on a celebrity Hollywood diet in a magazine from 2009. I didn't care about the diet, but the actress looked familiar, and I ended up skimming the article to find her identity. The diet she swore by was paleo…. I hadn't heard of it before, and it piqued my interest enough that I made a mental note to Google the paleo diet later.
And promptly forgot.
Two days later, I was on a social media site and came across a post regarding a young man who had lost a significant amount of weight on paleo, and he thanked the paleo community on that particular site for all their support. Out of curiosity, I followed the link to the community and began reading.
What I saw changed my life.
(Dramatic statement, yes, but it's an accurate one!)
Over the years, I had become very discontent with diet after diet that I had attempted or that someone in my family was trying. It didn't make sense to me that someone could eat all the cabbage soup they wanted and lose weight and then be able to successfully keep it off, or eat anything they wanted for one hour a day to 'cure' obesity. I couldn't wrap my head around being able to eat foods filled with chemicals and preservatives and additives and artificial flavors, sweeteners, thickeners, and fillers that made the foods low-fat or low-calorie and still be considered a 'healthy' diet. Being able to eat a pound of sausage and a brick of cream cheese because it was lower in carbs didn't jibe.
Paleo (and Primal, which I discovered in my reading) clicked with me. It just made sense– the idea that our bodies may not have adapted to handling the modern foods- most of them being over-processed and additive/filler/preservative-laden- that are so prevalent in our diets, and that having these foods in our regular may lead to health problems much greater than (and seemingly not linked to) being overweight.
The more I read, the more the concept of focusing on quality plants and animals and the right fats appealed to me. I studied up on paleo through different websites for about 8 hours that day, and had made the decision that I wanted to try it. I was willing to give it 30 days to see how my body responded. That night, I talked to my husband, got him on board with my giving it a trial run.
I'd never intently researched a diet before, but I read everything I could get my hands on for 3 days straight. Most diets I planned on starting I would push off until the following Monday (a clean start, one last hurrah,and all that), but this was a Friday afternoon after I'd already had breakfast, lunch, a slice of cheesecake and 3 mini MilkyWays- but I was ready to start, then and there. Out of curiosity, I started a journal and began seriously recording my foods as well as my thoughts and feelings and questions and comments- another first.
It didn't take long for me to notice a change once I started paleo. On day 3, I had more energy than I knew what to do with. On day 6, I thought my face looked a little thinner. On day 7, even Chris noticed and commented on it!
I felt so good, had so much energy that I started parking a couple stalls further at the grocery store, taking the steps instead of the elevators, walking the boys the half-mile to and from school more often. It wasn't much, but it was a start.
I had decided to do a ketogenic version of paleo, because I needed something that would give me really good results really fast to keep me motivated and encourage me to continue. My goal was to keep my carb counts at under 30g a day.
I was shocked at how easy I found it to give up the grains and the starches that I had loved. While I enjoyed pasta and rice, I was a big fan of potatoes and a lover of all things bread. Going without them was fairly easy for a food lover like me, though, because I could focus on other really delicious foods. I didn't feel like it required willpower…it just seemed easy.
This is not to say I wasn't tempted. God, was I tempted. I was the only one in the family doing this, and the boys and Chris were still enjoying pizza and biscuits and gravy and fries and things that really nudged at my memories of food. Let me tell you, they pushed my fatgirl buttons more than a few times! Chris made the boys grilled cheese for lunch one day, and it was almost my undoing…I had to step outside and eat my salad on the back porch wrapped up in a jacket and a blanket around my legs against the November chill. I would catch myself about to pop a noodle in my mouth or scoop up a bite of rice or finish off a half-eaten egg sandwich out of habit….but it was only out of habit. It wasn't a strong desire for these foods that I had to pit myself against…it was just trying to turn off all the sensory memories and pleasure receptors that food had always given me.
For our anniversary (about a week after starting paleo) DH and I went hiking. That was a first, let me tell you! I found myself with all this energy that I wanted to use, so we began taking the kids on more physcially-active outings, and I began putting that Total Gym in the basement to work a couple times a week.
It was a HUGE thrill that after 2 weeks of paleo, I was able to go through my closet and find clothes that fit me again. I was so motivated by my successes that I was excited to keep going. It was easier to pass over the breads and potatoes, and I was getting out and walking more in the evenings.
By Thanksgiving I was about 6 weeks into my changes. I was seeing the results, and I was, for the first time, very comfortable going to the family dinners. I knew the aunts and uncles and cousins wouldn't able to see the changes in me, but I was okay with that. I could see those changes, I could feel them, and I felt amazing. It was easy for me to skip over all the carb-laden, non-paleo food items that overloaded the tables.
The next day, I allowed myself one bite of a leftover pumpkin dessert and one bite of pumpkin pie, and ultimately regretted it. Two days in the bathroom being fairly miserable- of just 2 bites of desserts- convinced me that 'cheating' and going off paleo just wasn't going to be worth it (although I did test this theory a couple more times…because I'm stubborn like that).
The scale we'd bought after getting married had given out the year before, so I could only gauge my progress through the fit of my clothes for a while. In 8 weeks I had gone from a size 5x shirt to a 3x fitting again. My size 38 jeans were gone, and I was in a size 28. I was thrilled!
I was exercising more- focusing more on getting out a couple evenings a week to walk the neighborhood and go to the park. I began jogging, as much as I could- it was only an attempt lightpost-to-lightpost on the half-mile loop of the park. I'm sure it looked ridiculous, my huffing and puffing and struggling to make it all the way from one light post to another, and usually falling waaaaay short. I went at night, when it was dark, and prayed I wouldn't see anyone else there while I was lumbering along. But I was out trying to do it- and I didn't stop. That was a huge success for me right there.
The day after Christmas, I hopped on my mom's scale out of curiosity, and damn near fell over.
329.5lbs. Holy crap…75 pounds lost in 10 weeks!
I believe the 'Hallelujah Chorus' may have played.
Several times over.
I was amazed, thrilled, almost disbelieving. My body had responded so well to cutting out the grains an sugars and processed foods, the weight was literally falling off of me. I was more convinced than ever that what I was doing was right for me.
I plateau'd for a while (more on plateaus- and how they suck- later), lost more. I ended up dropping all but the merest pretense of exercise for a while (Life got in the way. That's 'Life' with a capital 'L'), I ended up doing so poorly on my diet for about 3 weeks that I lost all energy and was dragging. Apparently that happens when you're taking in less than 800 calories a day.
Really, I take a certain amount of pride in that, foolish as it may be. I'm the girl that would stand over the trash can shoving a Hostess pie into my mouth, and somehow I'd shaken that obsession with food to the point that I went 2 whole days without eating, and 3 weeks of less than 800 calories a day. Please note, this wasn't a conscious decision to do so; stress and a crazy schedule took their tolls. I do not recommend, advise nor condone anyone to restrict calories so drastically! It definitely had a negative, lingering impact on my health for a while.
At 6 months in, I weighed in at 282lbs. I lost 140lbs in 24 weeks.
|progress pics 10/14/11 – 04/14/12|
Are these results typical? Probably not. This is what worked for me. My body responded ridiculously well to cutting out the grains and the sugars and the processed foods- so well that it convinced me that I needed to move my children and my husband over to paleo/primal. Not so much for weight loss for the kids, but to not only help set them up for a lifetime of healthier eating habits, to to give them the best chance to have their bodies work at peak performance. At the end of January 2012, our family went (for the most part) grain and sugars and processed-foods free.
This is my journey to date (as of 5/10/12).
I've had a few ups and downs along the way. It hasn't always been a smooth road- but life rarely is.
The more I've lost, the more I've changed, the more I've discovered about who I really am, and left behind the person I thought I was.