I like to cook. Oh, and eat, too. It's one of the ways I show love to the people around me - and food is also my default consolation AND celebration choice. As a result, there is too.much.of.me. This has a double meaning - obviously weight, but also I've come to realize it's an example of selfishness.
I've fought this battle for many years. (I can vividly recall comments from a doctor's visit back in high school). I gained slowly but steadily in college. I did Weight Watchers before we had kids, and while I didn't make it down to my "wedding weight" I was able to get to a place where I felt healthier. After two babies, my weight was not in a good place, and eventually I learned that my thyroid wasn't working quite as it should be. That's now regulated through daily meds, but of course the pounds I accumulated didn't magically melt away. I signed up for WW again when D started kindergarten, but I can't honestly say I gave it my all. I was stressed and "easing the pain" by shoving things in my mouth. We moved to South Texas, and I took part in a First Place for Health group at a local church - basically Weight Watchers + Bible Study. I lost nearly 40 pounds during that time (also was using sparkpeople to track my food) but I felt like food was still controlling me - thinking ahead to my next meal, strategically planning my calories. And frankly I was hungry a lot of the time, so was cranky. Yes, my family is available to verify this detail ;) I still needed to drop more weight, but stalled for a long time and then the numbers on the scale started to creep back up. My solution: stop getting on the scale.
I know I"m being a bit flippant about this, but seriously, there's a lot of pain there. Watching my kids play and wishing I could join them. Flopping onto the couch after dinner, exhausted even though I hadn't done much.
Earlier this year, a small, informal Bible study that I take part in went through Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. It's not a diet plan, but rather an encouragement for women in particular to turn their weight battle over to Christ. I nodded along with all of her excellent points, but still didn't make changes. Meanwhile, a friend of mine was counting calories and doing all the "right things" and had lost about 70 pounds. She's part of the small group, and mentioned that she'd heard some good things about the Trim Healthy Mama program.
Huh? Never even heard of it. I came home that afternoon and hit google -- and was intrigued with that I found. Reviews like this and this. I liked that it was from a Christian perspective and dealt with real foods. I had read enough about "alternative" approaches like Paleo & Wheat Belly Diet to know that I was interesting in going beyond the government's food pyramid suggestions. Anyway, I ended up ordering the book that day; it wasn't cheap, but it was still way less than what I had spent on WW in the past!
It arrived, and it's biiiiiig: 619 pages. Not a fast read. It starts out by describing a couple "types" of women: Whole Grain Jane, Drive Thru Sue, Raw Green Colleen, and Farm Fresh Tess, and talks about pros/cons of their diets. They talk a LOT about insulin, and described it in a non-clinical fashion that I could easily understand; I was definitely interested in this part as I have a strong family history of diabetes. They then go on to talk about Biblical Truths, and finally describe the plan they've created. The basic idea is that all too often we are giving our bodies both carbs and fat, but our bodies can only process one of these fuel sources at a time. Basically meals should be centered around protein, but then weighted to either fat or carbs. S (Satisfying) is very similar to Atkins, and E (Energizing) is healthy carb, low fat (more like today's typical "diet" food, but avoiding refined carbs).
It took me almost two weeks to read up to the recipe section (200 pages). It's not that it's a hard read, but I was just overwhelmed and trying to process it all. It's a big change from what I'd been taught was "healthy" for many years, and I didn't just want to skim through the info. I also read more about certain topics - google is definitely my friend!
A few more program basics:
- NO SUGAR! This includes coconut sugar, brown sugar, agave, etc. They also do not recommend chemical substitutes like Splenda or aspartame. Instead, they recommend all-natural alternatives: stevia, xylitol, or erythritol. (I think that was 2 days worth of online research right there for me!)
- Avoiding wheat, unless it's been soaked, sprouted, or sourdoughed.
- No potatoes - they spike your blood sugar too much.
- Mix it up - you can't eat just E or S meals.
- Spacing 3 hours between eating - especially important if you're switching between S/E. There are also "Fuel Pull" foods that are neutral, so great for an occasional snack.
- Some foundational foods: salmon, berries, eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, almond milk, old-fashioned oats, quinoa
- Some other items they recommend that aren't exactly American staples: glucomannan, nutritional yeast, red palm oil, defatted peanut flour, whey protein (and yes, the type matters - the big jugs from walmart have lost most of the nutritional benefits due to processing), chana dahl beans (baby chickpeas!),
FYI: these are all guidelines, especially if you're actively trying to lose. They stress that each person will respond differently to different foods, hormones, etc. so you need to find what works for you.
Anyway, I've now been THM'ing for nearly two months. I've lost just under 20 pounds and am feeling more energetic. The first few weeks were really hard - I hit what I believe to a the "sugar wall" about a week in: I was tired, slightly nauseous, and had a killer headache but it only lasted 2 days. It took about two weeks for me to really understand the fuel sources idea, and how to implement them. By the end of the first month, I was already looking at recipes and mentally revising them to fit. I have MANY more pounds to go, but I am actually hopeful about this process. I'm not feeling ravenously hungry OR cranky, and I'm not tracking every bite of food (of course I'm not eating 14 oz steaks with every meal, either, LOL). There's a very active FB group where people can get their questions answered, as well as share recipes, tips, etc. There are also several sub-groups for special cases (pregnant/nursing, those who have 50+ pounds to lose, food allergies, etc.) It's been amazing to see all the testimonies on the FB group - people going off blood pressure meds, managing IBS or Crohn's, no longer needing insulin shots for Type 2 Diabetes, etc. There's a lot of good information in the book, and I don't regret purchasing it at all.
That being said, I do have a few complaints/observations:
- I think the sisters are stretching it a bit with some of the Biblical "justifications." I'm not saying that I disagree with their views, but picking a single phrase out of an OT passage doesn't sit well with me. Furthermore, I absolutely disagree with their stance on "unclean" meats - "Some people believe the New Testament has more freeing guidelines toward unclean meats." (from page 54 of the paperback). SOME PEOPLE? I seriously question how they can read Acts 10 and still write that sentence.
- Their four "intro ladies" are each simply lacking knowledge for optimum health. But what about the obese woman who is an emotional eater? There was really no mention of this issue (but the Made to Crave book I mentioned earlier fills this void nicely).
- This is a self-published book. It's actually better written than many self-published titles I've read, meaning it's not full of spelling and formatting errors. BUT sometimes the organization is a bit odd, and it definitely needs a much better index. I also would have appreciated footnotes about their various health claims, so that I could research the topic myself.
- Recipes. I *HATE* how they're formatted. I want to be able to see all the ingredients/measurements at a glance. I've actually started retyping some recipes just for my personal use.
- Both of these ladies homeschool, and sometimes I felt like their "ideals" were pretty unrealistic for a family who has made a different choice. My kids attend public school, so are getting birthday treats at least once a week -- it's tough to get their palates to adjust to Stevia when they're still chowing on HFCS at their school desks.
- I felt they tried to cram too much in this book: hormones, marital relations, exercise... The "Foxy Mama" chapter described how things should IDEALLY be, but intimacy is a complicated issue, and there's no way that can sufficiently be addressed in just a few pages.
I could say tons more, and perhaps I'll share more thoughts in the future, but for now I'm signing off. Time to go make a protein shake before I pick up the kiddos :)