There were periods of time (as in years) of Collin's early life when I was using nachos and sundaes to make it through The Days. I don't necessarily regret that decision - I needed every tool I could get my hands on and eating tasty food worked, if only temporarily - but I definitely did not enjoy the more long-term effects: slowly increasing weight, exhaustion, achy joints, and more. Collin was barely three and I could hardly carry him up and down the stairs. I finally reached a point when I realized that what I was doing was not working, that the costs were vastly outweighing (pun intended!) the benefits and that something needed to change.
I've always been fairly medium-ish, but by the time I reached this turning point, I (like most women I know) had also tried pretty much everything to lose a little bit of weight. Nothing worked. At least not well or for long. But, with my sister's guidance, I had been making a slow transition to real, unprocessed food and in doing some reading on it, I came across the idea of a Primal diet. It made almost too much sense to me and sounded a little too good to be true, but the enthusiasm in the online community was also infectious, so I started experimenting with it. Within 48 hours of going off of grains, all of my achiness completely disappeared and I stopped needing a nap every day. Soon, I was eager to see what might happen if I committed to a Whole30. I was astounded. That was over a year ago and I haven't looked back.
Things I Did:
- Ate fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, seeds, and nuts (until I totally overdid it and gave myself a raging nut intolerance)
- Did some strength and speed exercises twice a week for 15 minutes
Things I Did Not Do:
- Count anything, calorie or otherwise
- Control portions
- Go to the gym. In fact, I kind of jumped for joy when I read about the chronic cardio effect and kissed those slogging workouts good-bye
I found amazing recipes for things like chorizo sweet potato skins and shredded chicken with bacon and learned new, more delicious ways to make vegetables. I found snacks like jerky and Larabars. Sure, I sometimes missed some foods, but I was really too busy being almost freaked out by the way my body was just kind of morphing on its own. It was like I was finally giving it what it wanted so it could do its own thing.
- Lost 40 pounds
- Dropped 4 clothing sizes
- Improved sleep
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased strength and energy
This was in a matter of months. You know I would not lie to you.
Now look, I'm not about to post before and after shots of myself in a sportsbra or anything, but I am strong and healthy and I feel good in my clothes. If you're a parent of a kid with special needs, I don't have to tell you what a tremendous gift this has been. So many of the little things in this life become big and you end up (very willingly) making sacrifices that adversely affect your own health and well being. What freedom to discover that it doesn't have to play out that way! No change I made required me to take any extra time away from Collin and, in fact, now that I am so much healthier, I have more time and energy to spend with him and advocate for him.
When people ask me (and they do) what I did and I tell them, invariably they immediately tell me all kinds of excuses for why they would never be able to do it; the most common by far is the one or two or seven foods they couldn't live without. You might think the same thing. And to that, with love and a genuine desire for your welfare, I say:
Nobody is saying you can never have any one thing again. You better believe I had a (big ol') slice of homemade apple pie on Thanksgiving and real hot chocolate at Christmas and Graeter's ice cream in the summer. But when I have those things, fully enjoying them (even though they are invariably not quite as amazing as I remember or imagine them to be), part of the joy is realizing that there is no amount of bread or dessert or queso that comes even close to matching the awesomeness of being a fit and happy mama for Collin.