I had joined the gym and was going three days a week, but I was seeing no results. I was still eating pretty much the same way I had always done, but now that I was exercising my appetite increased, so I was really eating more than ever. I felt justified; I was burning it off right?
This pattern went on for at least three months: I was working out regularly three to four days a week and feeling stronger. Then I would come home and eat, and eat, and eat. I would look at my body in the mirror and try to see the difference. I would suck in my gut and pose—still so far to go, why wasn't I getting thin?
I was still convinced that my hormones were out of balance from giving birth and breastfeeding. I started to research hormone imbalance; I read as much as I could. That's when I learned about insulin and blood sugar levels. I wanted more information and I bought a book that changed my life: Beat Diabetes Naturally. I read it cover-to-cover and followed the advice.
I matched the description of Type 2 Diabetes perfectly. For example, I was sleepy after eating, I had low energy and severe mood swings, I was obese, and I carried my fat in my belly area. Those were the indicators that really stood out for me.
If I was going to make the new me, it wasn't going to be a diet; it wasn't going to be a part-time effort. This was going to be an entirely new episode in my life, a new way of living. I could be the healthy person I wanted to be, but I had to embrace the process fully.
OK, here are some down-and-dirty eating tips:
First, always eat protein with each meal, even snacks! Easy protein: skim milk, broiled chicken breast cut into strips (always have a bag in your fridge), whole unsalted almonds, or other nuts, hard boiled eggs—stay away from, too much lunch meat, it's high in sodium and preservatives. Cheese is a friend, but it can also trigger a binge, use with caution.
Second, the carb rule according to Krista: Carbs include fruit and veggies as well as grains. You need carbs! Eat whole grain only, fiber is your friend! Think rolled oats, barley, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, raw fruit with skin, and of course all vegetables are good, duh!
Third important tip: good fat is your friend. Think olive oil, nut oil, fish oil, coconut oil, and real organic butter if you have to (eat the real deal, and make it the best quality possible!). You need fat for healthy body function; humans were designed to eat it. Stay away form "no fat" diets, they will set you up to fail.
Krista's advice on sugar: This is huge, stop using all white sugar or any artificial sweeteners! That's right, no fake sugar. The only sweetness you will get will be from whole fruit, eaten with a protein. As you become used to less sugar, you can use honey or pure maple syrup—the body reacts differently to those sweets.
No alcohol! The body reads it as pure sugar, so you will have to stop drinking for the first year. After that drink only once in a while, keep it light, and eat protein with it.
This is how I did it; I'm sure there are other ways, and I'm a chef, not a doctor. What I do know is I lost over a hundred pounds with no medication or surgery.
When you first start the changes in your eating, you will be shocked; drinking coffee without sugar and half-and-half was a major upset for me. Change is never easy, and when you are first starting out there are many bad habits to break, as well as new good ones to learn. The first year of your eating journey is the hardest, I can't say that enough! Stick with it! I swear it will get easier!
Losing weight has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and I'm one tough chick! I hate being hungry, I hate saying no to myself, I hate not getting what I want. You will have to go through months of no obvious progress, and countless lost family eating situations (birthday cakes, pizzas, fast food, bake sales, etc.). You will have to carry around healthy snacks with you at all times. You will need to eat every four hours, and you will need to go to bed hungry. Basically you will become high maintenance, get used to being a priority!
With that said, you can do this; take it one day at a time, and when you mess up—and you will—don't beat yourself up, just start over the next day and continue on the path of strength and happiness.
I will continue to talk about food in upcoming blogs; it's a major subject in my life, and one to which I've given a lot of thought.