What a difference a year can make...

I haven't written on this blog in over 2 years but thought it would be a good place to share what I've been working on this past year. I am pretty embarrassed to share this story and these images with you but know it will help me to stay accountable and keep moving forward. I guess I can start my story from the beginning...high school.

In high school I was on cheer and we worked out a TON! I ate whatever I wanted and never worried because 3 hours of cheer practice would wipe it out. I always stayed in the low 120s...bigger than all my friends but very healthy for my height. I maintained this for the first two years of college...I didn't gain a pound!   In 2007 Brant and I got married and literally I started gaining weight the next month! What the heck?! No change in my {horrible} diet and no change in exercising {sometimes}. On the day we found out we were pregnant, I was 143. I was not happy with that...the year before I had been able to maintain in the high 130s with lots of running and a personal trainer. I didn't change my diet, though, and only lost a few pounds. By my first midwife appt I was down to 136...I really should not have lost weight but I was very nauseous and couldn't eat much. And much to my surprise, I could not stand the thought of sweets! I actually didn't touch very many sweet things until about 35 weeks. It took me forever to get back to pre-pregnancy weight and then on the day I delivered I had only gained 15lbs total...something I do not recommend. I dealt with pre-term labor and anemia of pregnancy...hmm both things coincide with poor weight gain during pregnancy. I was not expecting any of this...with how I had been gaining weight I thought for sure I would gain 40-50lbs...pretty common now a days with the food we consume...carbs and sugar! I came home 12 hours after giving birth and had lost 11 lbs...by day three I had lost all 15 lbs that I gained. By 4 months post-partum I was only nursing (not eating better or exercising) and was 137. I was pretty excited. But all of the sudden, my eating like I was still nursing 10-12 times a day caught up with me.  Brooke dropped nursing sessions much sooner than other little ones and while we made it to 15 months of nursing, she just didn't do it  more than was necessary to keep her little body going.

Long story short...by 18 months postpartum I was at 150.2 lbs. I felt AWFUL. I knew it could be much worse but I just didn't feel good. I had no energy and I was breaking out like crazy! This was not a "you just had a baby" problem. I decided enough was enough and I was going to change things once and for all! I worked on my eating habits first...lots of tracking what I was eating! Once I started to notice I was dropping weight from better eating, I then added in exercise. DVDs from http://www.momsintofitness.com/ really helped me get going. I also got back into running and was doing a local boot camp for a while. Over the last year I slowly dropped the weight and am now down to 130 lbs even...that's 20 LBS!!! I have SO much more energy {most of the time ;-)} and my skin has cleared up considerably. So without further ado...here are my before and after pics...eek! You can click to make them bigger...if you really want to, LOL! These are from this same week last year and tonight...

I have some toning to do now! Lindsay Brin from Moms Into Fitness just put out a new DVD series called Pretty Fierce: Lean Out for getting lean once you only have 5-10lbs left to lose and it's been at least a year since you've had your little one. I have my copy and I can't wait until next week to start...I wanted to give my darn knee at least two weeks to heal...darn runner's knee!

My diet has changed a lot over the last year...even from what I was initially doing to lose weight. As a nurse I knew I couldn't just eat in a way that I thought was "healthy" but wanted to do lots of research and find what was actually true! After LOTS of books, blogs, internet searches...I kept coming to the same conclusions...

*Our society's main issue is carbs and sugar...grains and processed sugar specifically. Huge spikes in insulin and blood glucose are not good and that's exactly what these cause. We tell type 2 diabetics to lower carb and sugar consumption...if they truly follow the diet their blood sugar levels stabilize and many not only lose weight but become much healthier all around. Why are we waiting to tell people to watch the consumption of these only once they are diabetic?! Many people (even skinny people!) are pre-diabetic and have no idea.
*Grains of any kind, even "super grains" like quinoa, can cause inflammation within your body...they cause lots of tummy upset/acne/migraines not just to those with true Celiac disease.
*Healthy fat is your friend...eating "low-fat" items is much worse because they have to put extra junk in it to make it taste better! Even skim-milk has more sugar than whole milk! The US went "low-fat" around 1957 and yet we have a bigger obesity epidemic than ever! Hmm...
*Obviously fresh fruits and veggies are good for you but it's also about WHERE they come from...if they are grown in poor soil and covered in pesticides they will NOT have the same nutritional value. Eggs that come from chickens that roam freely and eat what they please are proven to have my high Omega-3 fatty acid. Oh and meat...yeah our meat is NOT supposed to be eating corn!

Here are some great books/documentaries that really explained to me not only what was happening in my body when I ate what the government would call healthy {and no I am not a bigger government conspiracy person, LOL!} but also what is going on with the food in the US today:

*Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism (Maria Emmerich) http://www.marianutrition.com/
*It Starts With Food
* Food Inc
*Forks Over Knives (although I think becoming a vegetarian is good for some just not me)

Anyways, after all of this research {which I continue to do}...I think the answer for me is Paleo. There are tons of books and websites that go in depth and exactly what this is (there are more strict versions and more lenient ones) but for me it means:
*NO grains of any kind
*NO fake butter
*NO fake sugar (thankfully I never did "diet" anything before because I hate the taste it leaves. Did you know aspartame is actually an amino acid and one of the only "foods" that can cross the blood-brain barrier...not good!)
*Organic (as much as possible) fruits and veggies
*Grass-fed/free-range meats
*Organic/free-range eggs
*Organic/grass-fed butter
*Organic whole milk and cheeses (minimal amounts...and only white cheeses...did you know they die cheese yellow?! Yeah I didn't know that either until I began this journey.)
*Coconut milk/almond milk (finding ways to make our own because there is only one brand that does not contain carrageenan (dehydrated seaweed...which helps these milks to stay shelf stable and is thought to be carcinogenic but is not known for sure.)
*Coconut/almond flour for baked goods (low carb= no blood sugar spikes)
*Coconut oil for cooking and olive oil for dressings (never knew before that olive oil is not meant to be heated...it becomes unstable and rancid at high temps)

So as you can see it's not just about cutting out grains but eating from the best sources we can. It can be VERY shocking to see an $8.99/lb sticker on your meat but knowing it's actually healthy and not full of chemicals (like ammonia to kill e-coli from cows in meat packing plants) makes it worth it. I know eating this way is NOT an option for every family but as you cut out all the processed stuff...you realize you are spending less on the junk and can put more into the quality items you do want. Also there are farmer's markets for your fruits and veggies and farmers right here in AZ to get quality meat from in bulk which makes it much cheaper. I hope no one takes this as "You HAVE to do this" and "It's the only right way"...it is simply what has worked for me and now our family. In the end, everyone has to do what is best for their family :-)...even little changes can make a huge difference.

As far as Paleo, I want it to become just the way I eat...not a diet. I know I will have slip ups...most people say you really regret it when you do though because it hurts your tummy :-(. Which should tell you something...if you cut out veggies/fruits completely and then try to eat them again there are no side effects but a crazy night of pizza/pasta/cookies could have you in some real trouble! For now, it will be a day to day challenge that if I am serious about my health, will be completely worth it! I also want Brooke, for many reasons not just weight, to have a healthy view of food. I want her to know it's important to care about what she is nourishing her body with and also how her food choices impact the community around her. We may not think it's a big deal to buy food from all over the world but imagine if more people tried to buy locally what that would mean for just our area!

Thanks for reading my novel and if you are at all curious about any of the info I just rambled on and on about like a crazy person...just ask! Excuse any typos/grammar...so not my thing ;-). Oh and I wasn't paid for any of this...I really LOVE everything I recommended!


Tyah Ferguson said...

Oh Heather I loved your post!!! SEriously loved it!! I am so proud of you for taking on that challenge and journey after having Miss Baby B!! You can just see your skin and body glowing and more lean! You look amazing! And I loved your food (chemical) list!! Never knew the seaweed and almond milk thing! Great to know!! Congrats again! You are doing amazing!

Ashley Elston said...

You look amazing, Heather! Which brand of almond milk doesn't have carrageenan? And is it any good? haha. I'm hooked on silk almond milk original, unsweetened :/ Also, what are you doing to replace grains? All grains... not just wheat/gluten? Thats a lotta hard work lady. Hope all is well!! -Ashley E

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