I have been overweight since I was 12. I hit 4 foot 11 and that’s as tall as I’ll ever be. When I entered puberty, everything went to hell. I often joked over the years that when I stopped growing upwards, I started growing outwards. I didn’t know until recently, but my hormones were like hurricanes out of control from the start, wreaking havoc on my metabolism.
I was attending T.O.P.S. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) with my mother at eleven-20 pounds overweight, I went to Weight Watchers at 12.
I tried slim fast at 14 and when that didn’t work cause I was having dizzy spells and had to stop- I essentially settled on starving myself all day, and having one meal a day. I went to school everyday, having not eaten, and binged when I got home from school, and snacked until I went to bed. I was the of the fatter girls in my class, back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when body positivity wasn’t a concept. My self esteem and self confidence took a major hit from the name calling and taunting that came from my school peers.
Being from a low end of middle income family didn’t make affording healthy foods easy…but more influencing on our way of eating was the low fat diet guides that pushed cheap margarine, low fat pastas,cereals and other high sugar foods, while demonizing eggs and red meat and butter.
I never ate many fruits beyond apples, or canned peaches and I didn’t even know what a steak, hard cheddar cheese, broccoli or yogurt was until I was in my late teens!
My mom was almost 400 pounds when I was about 10 or 11 and had gastric bypass to lose the weight. At 26 she was told if she didn’t quit smoking and lose the weight, she’d be dead by 30! Still, all our meals were pasta, meat and potatoes, and bread heavy. With canned corn and peas as our vegetables. We ate boxed cereals and oatmeal for breakfast daily, smothered in sugar and had treats on weekends. I don’t think we ate a salad until I was in my teens! There was all the occasions through the year for sugary fatty food too- Christmas baking enough to feed an army, Easter baskets full of chocolate, a garbage bag full of Halloween candy to last till Christmas.
You know, the usual typical North American High Carb lifestyle.
I graduated high school in the 170 pound range, ( where I am right now with my weight, at 42) and I was of the heaviest girls in my class.
I didn’t exercise much anymore because I had asthma, and running made it worse. ( why did gym class include all physical activity that is impossible for fat and /or asthmatic kids?)
I’d skip gym class as often as I could get away with it after grade 10, because I was always the last picked for team sports, and was teased and picked on for being fat in our required shorts and t-shirt attire for class. I certainly did not learn to like physical activity in my teen years. I was depressed and a loner. The high school years were not my best years.
At about nineteen I started having hip pains and was told it was probably my arthritic genes and from being overweight. Everyone in my father’s family had arthritis, so they didn’t look any further for a reason for my pain beyond being fat and genetics. (Hind sight-it was my “healthy” diet causing me pain.)
I was told to go on a “healthy low fat diet” & give up sugary treats for healthy fruit snacks and it would help.
So, I did…and….I gained weight!
I entered adulthood still struggling with my weight and eating an unhealthy high carb, low fat diet like pretty much every one else- the standard government recommended “healthy” food guide for most of the world.
In 2003, 3 years after the birth of my first child, and 29 years old…I started to get a handle on emotional and boredom eating and I was learning to enjoy the me time of fitness, as a new mom.
But being ADHD all my life and not knowing it till then, I was still feeding my lack of dopamine with sugar and carbs to give me a short lived rise in focus, daily. So, every attempt to lose weight was usually a failure because it required daily exercise for over an hour, and my brain chemistry made me crave carbs in the late afternoon more in order to have some attention span.
The low fat high carb diet was the faulty foundation creating this paradigm…but, like everyone else on it who CANNOT lose weight, I was blamed for lack of willpower, not trying hard enough and unlucky draw with bad genetics.
By 2004 I worked hard at exercise. Everyday for an hour was a requirement just to see a 1 pound loss a week. This was while limiting sweets and following the standard recommended calorie intake for my height and age for weight loss. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to lose 30 pounds.
Then I got pregnant with my son. Trying to stay active through pregnancy proved to be an issue with dizziness whenever I exercised and severe morning sickness that lasted 6 months. If I wasn’t sick…I was constantly hungry.
I was nearing gestational diabetes by the time my son was born at 38 weeks at 8 pounds 13 ounces!
Let me be clear in pointing out I was eating “healthy” then. Lots of healthy fruits and vegetables, low fat chicken, whole wheat breads, and the truly occasional small ice cream or half a chocolate bar. I was being a good healthy mom of 2 to be.
I gained 50 pounds through his pregnancy and tipped the scale at 220 the week he was born. On my 4 foot 11 frame, I was morbidly obese, and newly diagnosed with ADHD.
While weight loss and healthier eating was on my radar, learning to manage my ADHD with a 4 year old and a brand new breastfeeding baby was a higher priority then. Since I couldn’t take ADHD medication until he was weaned, I relied on carbs to feed my adhd need for dopamine boosts for 18 months until he weaned.
For 30 some odd years I just accepted my so called genetic fate and dealt with the hip pain, lived overweight and took pain medications. With all that AND ADHD, and being the one in charge of running the home, I then struggled with depression, anxiety and massive life overwhelm for 5 years.
Being fat wasn’t as high a priority as figuring out how to do the day to day things I needed to do as a mom and struggled through with my ADHD, massive depression and anxiety.
Once I was properly medicated for ADHD, and began to develop better skills to manage the depression and anxiety, things started to get better.
I had serious side effects from anti depressants so I chose Vit D and Vitamin B complex recommended by my ADHD doctor, along with my ADHD meds to manage my depression. It lifted it somewhat with a better handle on my ADHD medicated, but the depression and anxiety was always looming behind me in the shadows.
As the Kids got a little older and easier to manage, I got better at exercise again, and managed 3 times a week. I was doing all the “right” things like limiting the fats and overt sugar intake…but it didn’t help.
They blamed my weight gain on the medications I had been taking for the last few years ( Anti depressants, Anxiety medications, Arthritis Medication and Birth Control to manage the painful periods) Then, told me I was in my 30’s now. It’s just a fact of life- it gets harder to lose weight as you get older, get used to it.
By 2010, I was “pre diabetic” and about 199 lbs.
Hey! at least I was still under 200 I told myself! (my cut off for how heavy I’d ever allow myself to be.) I was active enough. living rural, growing a garden, cutting wood up for winter every spring and fall, swimming all summer, bike riding with the kids. My friends all said I was so active I should be literally bone thin…and I wasn’t. I could never manage to lose more then 5 pounds a season. ( now I know that Calories in and calories out IS crap, and hormones and low fat high carb eating was the issue)
In March 2013, I was diagnosed with Diabetes 2, and I was over 200 pounds again….225 pounds to be exact!
I was floored! I was being GOOD. I ate the recommended healthy food guide, and I exercised intentionally 3 times a week OVER all the housework, yard work and chasing two small kids I did daily!
Having seen most of my mother’s family struggle with Diabetes 2 all my life, and seeing them having to get their legs chopped off and going blind- Having attended funerals from diabetic death earlier than necessary-When I was told “You are diabetic, here take this metformin.” it scared the living shit out of me!
Clearly what I was doing wasn’t working, and something needed to change!
If you had been paying attention to healthy eating/diet trends, like I was- low carb, paleo, primal, sugar free and grain free living were becoming “all the rage” then.
Though they get crapped on in mainstream media, and get dubbed “Fad Diets” and “Unsustainable Diets” There is a very good reason for their rise in adoption and popularity.
THEY WORK!and we’ve been being lied to for a very long time by “the establishment”.
So, before I was even told I was diabetic at that appointment- Due to my eating healthy according to the food guide that just wasn’t working, I had began to dig deep and read about Low Carb.
I was ready to go LCHF the minute I was diagnosed with Diabetes….But, before I tell you about the last 4 years of that…(and how I REVERSED my Diabetes type two and lost 54 pounds so far)… Let me tell you the story about what cemented my decision to go Low Carb High Fat as a way of life.
Hint…I hate being told I CANNOT do something!
That same week I got diagnosed, I was sent to a diabetic nutrition clinic to be taught “how to eat healthy, living with diabetes” with that Food Guide I pictured above.
WHAT A JOKE! I was told to eat 45 grams of carbs per meal, 3 times a day. ( And Oh…by the way salad carbs didn’t count, I could eat all of those I wanted!)
I was told I should eat low fat foods with “healthy” whole grains and lots of fruits & non starchy veggies. ( the very diet that got me sitting in her office in the FIRST place!)
I was told “No, do NOT cut out fruits, your brain needs glucose” when I asked if I could cut back for a while to get my blood sugars down to normal.
Then, I was told to eat oatmeal every day to lower my LDL cholesterol and to eat low fat to raise my HDL cholesterol as well, or I’d have to go on statins.
I had outright refused statins just days earlier. I argued about it at my diagnosis appointment, because my health care practitioner wanted to automatically put me on Statins as a “new protocol” for precautions recommended for newly diagnosed diabetics! I’m glad I had done my reading before that!
I argued “Why is there a “normal’ range for LDL then?,” because even thought it was high..it was in the “high NORMAL” range.
I was also told by this dietitian to eat every few hours to keep my blood sugars stable.
The Diabetic Eating Plan was eat two 25g of carbs in snacks between my three 45g of carb main meals a day!
I sat there just listening to this dietitian, dismayed at what she was telling me! I didn’t eat that much in carbs NOW! I had to literally check myself to make sure my jaw wasn’t falling on my lap at her advice!
Their “healthy” management plan (from the Canadian Diabetic Association) was for me eat this high carb way, take metformin, and see how my sugars were in a few months. If needed, I could take up to 6 metformin a day and then after that-insulin needles were an option depending on how my body handled this “healthier” diet.
I was floored! THIS was a diabetic/insulin resistance healthy diet plan!?
I began to ask her about low carb eating…(thinking I’d be pleasing her that I was willing to cut out the cause of diabetes).
I imagined she dealt with stubborn unhappy people everyday unwilling to cut out the carbs from their foods. I thought if I showed willingness, she’d offer me sage advice to go LCHF- she was a dietitian after all!
I was thinking…if carbs are glucose, and glucose raises blood sugar…then raised blood sugar is from too much carbs, it just made sense to ME to eat LESS CARBS.
I was about to say that to her…but she butted in and stopped me and suddenly my head was spinning from the idiocy of her very serious reply.
I was told quite sternly “NO! low carb is not healthy, you need carbs to live, and it is a dangerous fad diet that doesn’t work!”
After the “Ketosis is dangerous for Diabetics on Low Carb Diets” line, I then I got the “too much meat and fat and cholesterol” talk to go with it.
But, I had already done my homework and that was my plan to manage my diabetes2.
So, I just kept my mouth shut, played dumb, nodded my head in all the right places, and took her info like a good little compliant patient, while knowing inside-LCHF was the right way to go.
I immediately threw her info in the trash can in the parking lot when I left her office that day, and in March of 2013 I starting transitioning to a low carb eating life.
That first 25 pounds made a significant change in my appearance because of how short I am. All I had done to start at that point was cut out bread, pasta, and potatoes. I ate rice once or twice a week, and had a treat day once a week for ice cream or chips, I had a chocolate bar once a month on our shopping trip day to the city.
It’s been 4 years now since I’ve gone Low Carb. My last HbA1cs were “astounding” and the numbers of a non diabetic according to my Health Care Practitioner.
In total I have lost 54 pounds and kept it off…it has been a very slow process due to some food allergies and intolerance issues I didn’t figure all out until just in December of 2016.
Since getting those figured out, I’ve started losing weight again.
Recently I’ve been losing inches faster than bodyfat as the inflammation goes down, and the joint pain goes away.
I have PCOS, thus Insulin resistance and many Hormone imbalances I’m trying to sort out to get the last 30 to 40 pounds off.
Having figured out only recently I am allergic to MANY vegetables- Its like LCHF Phase 2.
I feel like I’m starting all over again removing foods from my diet. I eat a more Low Carb way now called Keto, or ketogenic diet…which I will write more about separately on this blog, if you’re interested.
I intend to share the rest of my journey on this blog as I go in regular blog posts as things progress frpm here.
I still have about 40 pounds to lose to be no longer “overweight” and my belly and hips is where I still have the most fat to lose, due to Insulin Resistance.
Since this is a lifestyle and not a diet…I’m not stressed about how long it will take from here to get to where I want to be.
I’m healing my body from a lifetime of eating foods that make us sick, and I am saying yes to Health, and Living a life of Happiness while I get there
If your story sounds similar to my beginning story… If you have type two Diabetes, prediabetes, PCOS, or you struggle with trying and trying to lose weight unsuccessfully, I share here for YOU. Because there is a better way, and if *I* can do this…YOU can too.
Don’t spend the next 20 years struggling with poor nutrition advice that got you where you are in the first place.