The Easiest Hard Thing I’ve Ever Done

Continuing yesterday’s theme, lets talk about NSNG and why I made the leap.

First and most obvious, I have lived my life under the wing of my brother. SO many of my favorite things came at his suggestion- my love of Stephen King.  My love of reading in general.  Half the music I listened to through high school and college.  My first Kindle.  My second Kindle.  So many things all came at some level on the basis of an introduction from my brother.  I hope he doesn’t read this cuz it would NOT be good for his ego…

But more importantly, as he continued to proselytize the benefits of NSNG, I realized it was just a full application of something I’d long suspected about food in general- we are damaging ourselves at the hands of so many laboratory generated foods instead of just eating that which God put before us.  I have long loved to cook and did a pretty decent job of cooking from scratch, but there was still a fair bit of processed food in my Standard American Diet (SAD) because working full time and commuting 50 miles a day means getting home late and taking short cuts to get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour or tossing some toaster waffles in and calling it breakfast because, after all, breakfast IS the most important meal of the day and it’s more important to eat than the specifics of WHAT to eat right? Or maybe not.

Between my brother’s relentlessness, the puzzle pieces falling into place with “eat real food” and some more reading, everything just made sense.  We evolved eating real food,  meat when available and as much of it as possible during those times, plants to supplement the meat. Fresh and seasonal always. And any time I can eat bacon and cheese without guilt, well, I’m in.

So I read a lot. And I started reading labels on everything. Boy howdy the places manufacturers shove sugar into food. I still haven’t gotten anyone to tell me why I need sugar in my salad dressing.  Or vitamins.  Seriously. WHY???  (It turns out when we started stripping fat from our diet, food manufacturers found need to replace the fat with something in order for the food to, you know, actually taste like something, so sugar was the go to.  And when people started suspecting sugar was a problem, well, the manufacturers started calling it by dozens of other names, but in the end, it’s all still sugar and your liver doesn’t care what form it takes, it all causes a blood sugar response.

It turns out that blood sugar response was exactly the thing that I needed to control to put the last of the puzzle pieces together to form the pretty picture. What started out as “Sure I could stand to lose a few pounds” turned into so much more for me.  Two of the hallmarks of PCOS are insulin resistance and low level inflammation.  Eliminating sugars and grains from my diet has allowed me to gain control over those symptoms and reverse some of the effects.  All while feeling more satisfied with my food than ever before.

I won’t lie, breaking up with these foods was not easy. There were a few days of feeling like dog meat (probably an electrolyte imbalance, I’ve since learned. I needed more salt, magnesium and potassium to minimize this effect.  Luckily I LOVE avocados and they are a great source of the last two. And really the first cuz a little salt on ’em makes them all the tastier), and at first it was hard to pass on things that I loved (cupcakes.  Lunch out with co-workers because they wanted Noodle & Company or some such place that wasn’t particularly NSNG friendly. Cupcakes), but the weight loss at the beginning was significant enough to make it a little easier to keep mind over matter.  And I was far from perfect.  If I could get through 6 days without caving to something, the 7th was OK to have the forbidden foods. Not all day, maybe just a treat for breakfast (Ham and Swiss croissant from the local bakery or garlic bread from our favorite restaurant? YES PLEASE!) but it didn’t take long for me to notice those little cheats which seemed like the key to keeping me honest, actually came at a price- my joints swelling noticeably and very quickly (like by the time we left the restaurant) and an increase in cravings the next day or two, which made me fight like day 1 all over again.  So in time it’s gotten easier to walk away.  Losing 45lbs in 8 months time is also great incentive! And bacon.  Bacon makes all things possible, amiright?

Now?  I was recently complimented on my willpower. I actually laughed.  There is no willpower involved anymore.  I love real food.  I am not afraid to live a little and eat a little something here or there that isn’t NSNG compliant, but I don’t enjoy those things enough to over do them.  So many of the things I used to eat are no longer even remotely appealing. Couldn’t tell you the last time I “treated” myself to a soda- it is no longer a treat to me.  Frosting (my biggest weakness was cupcakes) is just plain gross.  Cake, well, I might have a nibble, but a couple of bites satisfies any craving I might have and more than that just stops tasting good.  I’m not the least bit shy about asking for a veggie substitution for fries  and burgers taste better without the bun or standard puddle of ketchup.  But lets don’t be shy with the bacon or cheese, shall we? For once I finally have control of my diet instead of my diet controlling me.  No more Hangry.  Sometimes I skip meals because I won’t eat for the sake of eating. Eating is something one does when hungry and only until full.  Snacking rarely happens but if it does, it’s usually a few nuts or some cheese and/or sausage.  I feel good in my skin for the first time in many many years and I’ve been told more than once that projects in virtually aspect of life.  So those first couple of weeks of “pain” were totally worth months of positive gains from healing myself from the inside. Turns out maybe losing weight is easy once you find your why.

What to read more? This is a pretty good read on the basics of Low Carb/High Fat eating for health.  Another day we’ll talk about the actual food.

You Never Know the Day That Will Change Your Life

 

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I think this is true of both good and bad change.  You never roll out of bed knowing today is the day I’m going to meet my spouse, find a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing you, lose someone important to you.  You just don’t know.  And a lot of times, when those huge life moments happen, you don’t even know how huge they are until days, weeks, or even months have gone by.  But when it hits you, you realize just how huge that day was.

For me, one of those days was February 12, 2017 . Not so long ago, right? But also almost a lifetime ago.  February 12 is the day I drove myself to Columbus, OH, to attend a mediation with my brother as we finally resolved a long-running (and silly, but expensive) situation.  Sounds thrilling, right? The mediation was exactly as exciting as you might think, and while the impact had some great benefits and all, that isn’t the part that changed my life.  My big brother is the one responsible there.

For a couple weeks before meeting up with him in Columbus, he’d mentioned this new “diet” he was following- No Sugar, No Grains (NSNG).  Mostly I laughed it off.  There’s no denying I’d gotten past the part where my weight wasn’t a noticeable problem, but who in their right mind gives up sugar OR grain, let alone both, right?  But then as we were walking to dinner, he was telling me more. And every time food was a subject of conversation or necessity, he’d tell me a little more.  And being the gullible little sister I am, I resisted but was secretly paying attention. And I ate a little less bread at every meal.  And then I spent 8 hours driving home in a car that was malfunctioning while stuffing my gob with Chex Mix and washing it down with Diet Coke.

But once home, I kept pondering this NSNG thing my brother was telling me about. And I slowly started to dial back my grain consumption.  And I started walking past the candy dish at work, one trip to the bathroom at a time.  And then I started to tell my husband about this idea. And as always, he was incredibly encouraging and supportive. Because the elephant in the room was that I’d gotten rather large and there was no denying how this was affecting lots of aspects of life, from my pants not fitting to flirting with high blood pressure to a whole lot of other things.

Oh, and did I mention I was diagnosed with PCOS 15 years ago? PCOS is the best worst excuse for carrying extra weight. Honestly read anything about it and you’ll get the great conundrum- PCOS commonly leads to carrying excess belly weight that would be greatly helped by losing weight but its extremely difficult to lose weight with PCOS.  So the good news bad news here is that PCOS became a great excuse to hide behind- it’s not ME eating wrong, it’s the hormones making everything difficult.

It turns out this cockamamie diet idea of my brothers completely changed my life. In 8 months I have lost a little over 45lbs, gained a ton of energy and confidence and have learned that I can control my world by making good food choices. It’s one of the most empowering ideas I’ve ever stumbled across and for the first time in my 43 years I have truly changed my relationship with food. So as much as that years long legal situation wa frustrating and annoying and just plain stupid, it also brought me to a new place in life I might never have found were it not for two days of listening to my brother go on and on about his new NSNG lifestyle.  So like I said, you just never know the day that’s going to change your life.