Typically, the first thing you do when you haven't posted in three months is write some long self deprecating paragraph right about here that delineates all the reasons why you've been absent, lamenting writer's block, sunspots, the current national social climate, and why you can't ever seem to get a decent tomato in the supermarket, and all the ways those very serious conditions scheme to keep your blog in blackout mode.
Imma skip all that.
Honestly, over the last however-many weeks since I've blogged, FANTASTIC things have been happening. Here's the deal.
On September 20, 2012, the day began with a garbage bag. I took a big black bag, opened the door to my pantry, and chucked a whole bunch of food. On the advice of a friend, I decided to experiment and see if the elimination of wheat from my diet would address some very persistent and unpleasant health issues I was having. Scary as it was, I decided to go all-in. And since the program I began with suggested the elimination of sugar, I was down with that as well.
Those of you who have known me all or most of my life know that was probably an even bigger deal. I have been a sugar hound from pretty much day one. I essentially torched my House of Comforts and watched it burn to the ground. I didn't write about it when I started because I was afraid this would be 'just another thing I've tried' and that my enthusiasm would fade over time. I have certainly lost weight before, and I am all too familiar with the feeling of clinging desperately to little victories trying to drown out the massive anxiety caused by maintaining a relationship with food that was difficult to manage. That describes my experience with every single "diet" I've ever been on in my life. When the marching bands in the positivity parade got back on the bus all that rang in my ears was my obsession with what I could and couldn't eat, when I could eat it, and whether I was 'doing it right'. Eventually the stress of that day to day would cause me to let go of whatever I'd aspired to do. So you see why I was reluctant to say "Yaay, loookatmeee".
Four months on, it doesn't feel so crazy to talk about what has been happening. Because what has been happening feels like a miracle.
First, some realities:
1. I have not had any wheat whatsoever, or any sugar other than what naturally occurs in fruit and vegetables, since September 20, 2012. Absolutely none. I've deliberately and systematically rejected the typical American diet.
2. I had to retool my cooking completely, which necessitated the purchase of some new-to-me ingredients. I had lots of help from more experienced wheat-free cooks and access to a ton of recipes that are both delicious and easy to prepare, so I have by no means freelanced this process on my own.
3. I no longer eat any processed food. None. No boxed dinners, no canned soups, no frozen dinners, no commercial snack foods. Obviously I'm not churning my own butter and such, so there is some element of processing to what I buy, but if something has a giant paragraph of ingredients I don't buy it. No fast food. I do still eat in restaurants but I make very careful choices, and there are some places where the menu is a total lockout. (ie Pizza Hut) I no longer eat fried food of any kind.
That probably seems like a grim and heavy list. It probably sounds boring and oppressive and horrible.
Here's another list.
1. Since 9/20/12 I have had absolutely no heartburn. This was the first thing to go. I used to have it for some duration or intensity every.single.day. Some foods I ate would burn from the first bite going down. I had acid reflux. I would wake up coughing and sometimes with acid backed all the way up into my throat. I had to be careful not to eat at least five hours before bed. I took omeprazole on a regular basis and I had to keep Tums in my locker at work. This has completely and totally ceased.
2. I had chronic edema, which gave me swollen ankles and feet and it hurt to press on my shins. Its gone.
3. My feet hurt every day. In fact most of my joints used to hurt every day. There were days when I could force myself to walk a mile or so and I'd be all right, but I'd pay for it the next day with stiffness and soreness.
That is completely gone. I can be on my feet all day with no issues. Nothing hurts.
4. The initial impetus to try this was a persistent and very itchy rash that kept recurring. It would retreat but never really leave me, and nothing I tried to control it for about four years did any good.
It is completely gone.
5. I had persistent fatigue. I never felt rested, never felt energized, dragged myself through most days with an outward good attitude (publicly, anyway) that was an effort to maintain. This is gone.
6. Through no other effort than this change in diet, as of this writing I have lost 39 pounds. This was never the goal, but it is happening, and now exercise is returning to my life not as a hated chore to mold myself into a less-hated form, but because I have energy, I want to spend it, I like movement, and movement feels good.
7. My focus, concentration, and energy level has increased. A lot. So much at times that I feel obnoxious to myself. :)
The anxiety I felt any time I ever approached this life improvement process from a weight loss angle is gone. I feel strong, energized, and hopeful. If I were to put a number on it I'd say I feel about 25 years old. I see what is possible, and it is exciting. The weird thing is, it hasn't been hard. Some food is just food, some food is a drug, and when I stopped using the drugs, there was no more negotiation, no more struggle, no more deprivation-feeling, no more distress.
So I'll be checking in with this from time to time, I decided that it was important for me to chronicle what's going on so I don't feel sad that I didn't keep track later on. I'm doing some things to make it all fun and I'll be writing about those here, efforts to fine-tune my nutrition and movement and make the best of what it turning into a very, very good thing. I spent enough time feeling hopeless...it is time for a little freaking-amazing.
Here's a bit of encouragement. I watched this documentary recently and it has a LOT of good (and sobering) information in it.
Oh, and the guy pictured in the first little screen shot? That's Joe Cross. He has an amazing story to tell too, which you can see in this second film.
Change is possible.