A LITTLE OFF TOPIC: Eating Plans…do they work?

Hey, all! As some of you may already know, I am on a journey to better health. Now, there have been bumps on that road, but I, like many of you I am guessing, have tried out some eating plans out there with mixed success. I am at the stage in my life where I am looking for a plan that will revolutionize the way I eat from here on out, not just give me a “diet” per say that will last until I lose weight and then send me off on my own to get right back into the same food struggles I had before. Is anyone out there feeling me?

So, I have been on some of these really good and well regarded eating plans with mixed success and wanted to talk through them, some of the pros and cons, ups and downs. I am in no way endorsing or meaning to criticize any of these plans. All of the ones I am speaking on today are GOOD plans. They are sound and well-researched. I am simply sharing my experience.

21 Day Fix

This is a fabulous plan. The plan involves containers color-coded for each type of food group (protein, fruit, veggies, etc). You calculate (very easy, the book has the formula) how many of each container you get per day and what types of (for example, proteins) go in that container. It can train you what kinds of foods are good for you to eat as well as teaches you portion control. And what actual portion sizes should look like. Never before did I realize how many vegetables I should be eating! What a learning curve! I did well on this plan. I lost weight and, more importantly, I lost inches while on this plan.

There is a set of exercise DVDs with the program and they are different each of the 7 day week. Which I love…not the same video over and over again. But I will admit, I wasn’t totally consistent after that first week. I tried, I really did. But it was difficult to motivate myself and I was on restrictions from my doctor about exercising (I had some medical issues at the time). I was a part of a Facebook Group that did a great job of keeping each other accountable and encouraging each other, but still, something wasn’t quite right.

When I did exercise (the workouts are great for all levels – there is a “modifier” to help those who aren’t as hard core as others), I felt bad for 2-3 days after. Not sore, just bad…there’s no other way to describe it. No one else in my group had this experience, my doctor became curious about this issue. Was I working out too hard? I insisted this wasn’t possible…I wasn’t huffing and puffing, I was not sore afterward, I wasn’t even sure I worked hard enough to raise my heart rate (as I was under strict orders to stick with the modifier).

Still, something wasn’t right and, in the end, I struggled to stick with the plan. But I admit that was all me, not the plan’s fault. As I said, I did lose weight and inches…even with the exercising deficiencies.

Trim Healthy Mama

I’ll be honest, I thought this was the plan that I would make it on. It is all about food freedom. The plan is based on the research that your body burns most effectively when you eat either fat or (healthy) carb at a sitting, but not both at the same time. So, you anchor your meal with a protein, eat either a fat or carb, and fill out your meal with veggies, etc. It sounds a lot harder than it is in practice. Trust me. Once I got going, I really enjoyed it. The cookbooks are full of easy, yummy recipes…including chocolate cake! And you eat plenty.

Then the THM sisters (who do all that wonderful research) came out with a “Work-in” video series. 5-15 minute workout sessions. Who can’t get on board with that? Well, my doctor had determined that I my body was overstressed and under-recovered (which he believed was the bulk of my exercise-then-feel-bad-for-2-3-days-problem). So, I got the exercise program, but was unable to use it. The most exercise I am permitted by my doctor is restorative/relaxing yoga.

When I first started on THM, I lost about 10lbs…my husband lost like 40. Bitterness, party of one? Yeah. But overtime, I felt less motivated, life stuff happened, and I lost my focus on the plan. I’m still really fatigued all day, no matter how much sleep I get and I’m having a myriad of problems…abdominal pain that no one can track down or eliminate and other random ailments. Then, as I’m coming around, learning to cope with these pains, things are falling back into a routine, and I’m ready to get back on plan, my doctor does a thorough blood panel on me. And decides I need something radical.

The Elimination Diet

So, my doctor sees in my blood work that I’ve got sensitivities in my body to certain food groups. And a raised white cell count. Which, I had been running a slight fever (unexplainable) for a couple of months. Now, we are starting to find the answer. He believes now that I have what is termed “leaky gut”…where certain things are seeping into and inflaming my small intestine. So, we need to eliminate the culprits and start from square one. He also notes that I am having an allergic reaction to something I’m eating. Likely one of these foods. So, we need to eliminate all of these things, and then slowly reintroduce them and find out what it is.

So, I’m on the strictest plan I’ve ever been on. And following it the most faithfully. Because now my health is on the line. Before, it was all about “becoming healthier” or “I’d like to lose a few pounds”. Now, it’s different. I am working to eliminate this pain I’m in. I’m working to improve some of these numbers he showed me in my bloodwork that we had never looked at before.

So, I am (have have been for a week now), and will be for a total of 30 days, dairy free, gluten free, sugar (and sweetener) free, grain free, carb free, (and I know you’re thinking “taste free”, right?). I have a regiment of how many servings of protein, veggies, fruits, nuts, fats, and dairy alternatives I am supposed to eat each day and I am supposed to eat all of those servings (one of my problems on all of these plans has been eating enough). And I have lists of what is “allowed” in each of these categories.

I’m not gonna lie, it was intimidating. I did not look forward to it. And I needed every ounce of encouragement I could get. But I’m going to say that it has not been as difficult as I thought. Sure, I have my moments when I crave a caramel latte or ice cream or cheese. But those moments are fleeting.

But in 7 days, I have lost 10lbs. My abdominal pain is gone. Gone. A couple of my other problems have vanished completely as well. And I have more energy that ever and don’t struggle with fatigue.

Now, as I say that, I would not recommend a diet like this for more than 30 days. Nor do I intend to be on this plan more than is absolutely necessary. But I am enjoying the benefits and am eager to see what my plan transitions to next. Perhaps my doctor will transition me to THM or 21 Day Fix. I feel I am in a much better mindset now to follow one of those plans.

Rewarding Yourself

I believe in non-food rewards. The healing and weight loss is a reward, yes. But the non-food rewards help me get through those tough craving moments. I have several non-food rewards I can choose from at the end of every day in which I don’t cheat. And every week without a cheat, I have a larger non-food reward. Then I have a grand prize planned for making the 30 days with no cheats.

And that, my friends, is what I know…

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