The Only Diet Post You'll Ever See on This Blog

I stay away from talking about fitness and diet, in general, unless I'm directly asked.  It's like politics or religion - everyone has an opinion, it's probably different from yours, so it's best to let it rest.

That said, it's a huge part of my life, and I thought I'd share my own journey, since so many equestrian bloggers are sharing their fitness stories and journeys right now.  I hope this helps you, I'm really nervous to post this and I want you to know that I don't post it to brag.  Know that I have been there too.

2009

Five years ago I weighed 126lbs at 5 feet tall.  Then I found out I had a gluten intolerance, read Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It, and Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, and lost 21lbs.  That was before I started working out and doing CrossFit.  The weight loss was almost 100% diet.  Today I weigh 105lbs.

Me and my Grandma in 2009, close to my highest weight, but I was in denial that I was gaining weight and was trying to avoid weighing myself, so who knows?

What follows is an uncited, mildly organized brain dump of what I do and what I have learned, which I don't even consider a diet anymore.  It's just me, and I'm really passionate about it because of how it's changed my life.

If you want to label it, it's a mix of Paleo (but not strict Paleo!), low-carb (but not strict low-carb!) and gluten-free (very strict gluten free!).  I almost never feel hungry on it.  If you want to go in-depth on anything I talk about here, I recommend getting one of the two books above.

Gluten free for about 18 months here, 105 lbs.

This is what I did:
- I cut wheat out.  Even if you don't have an intolerance, modern wheat is the source of a lot of modern society's weight and diet problems.  Over the past 50-60 years, humans have dramatically altered the wheat plant to make it have higher yields, be more drought resistant, and have a shorter growing season, and the unintentional side effects of that genetic manipulation are insane - it's more addictive and destructive to our bodies than ever before.  (This absolutely includes whole grains!!)  It actually has similar chemically addictive effects on the brain as cocaine, which is why it's incredibly difficult to quit eating it.  Have you ever heard someone say "Oh no, there's no way  I could give up bread!"?  I have, many times, and also said it myself.  It's truly nothing like the wheat our grandparents ate as children.

It also spikes your blood sugar, the inevitable crash of which leads to intense hunger.  From the moment it enters your mouth, chemically, it's telling your brain to eat more and is doing nothing to satiate you.  Ever wonder why it's on the table immediately at most restaurants?  They want you hungry before you order, not full!

This pancake is made of CREAM CHEESE AND AN EGG.  That's it.  How cool is that?  Tastes like a pancake too!

- I did not limit my fat intake - my body does it for me.  A common diet misconception, which has been popular since the 1980's, is that fat in = fat out, and this is why people are miserable and hungry when they "diet".  Fat is an essential part of your diet, AND it plays a big role in making you feel satiated, which means you're better able to regulate your food intake.  Wheat has the opposite effect, it inhibits the body's ability to feel full.  I never feel that empty, hollow, ravenously hungry feeling when I am regulating my diet with enough fat and not a lot of carbs.  When I was craving something bad for me, I ate a single slice of bacon or a spoonful of almond butter, a small thing that packs a lot of fat, and that killed the craving.  You would not believe how much butter and heavy cream we go through in a week!

Winter root vegetable and beef stew with a side of mashed cauliflower.

- I did not count calories.  Not all calories are created equally, so counting calories doesn't make sense in the same way counting macronutrients (next) does.  With my body able to naturally regulate my food intake with wheat off the menu, I didn't need to.  My body's signals about what it wanted to eat and when were a lot more clear without wheat clouding my brain and blood sugar.

We make a batch of something on Sunday usually, and eat leftovers through the week.  Often it's chili!

- I counted macronutrients - at first.  You need to know what types of macronutrients you're eating and in what quantity - protein, carbs and fat.  I am less strict about it now, but it was instrumental in my weight loss.  Plus, so many foods aren't what they used to be due to human intervention - fruits, I'm looking at you - and can be a weight loss derailer.

Creamy sausage and vegetable soup.  All of my recent food pictures are winter food.  I promise we eat more than just soups and stews, that's just all I have pictures of.

- I understood that the beginning sucked, and leaned on my husband. Without him, I couldn't have done it.  The first few days of coming off wheat are insanely bad.  Emotionally, mentally, physically.  By day 4 things start to get better, and eventually it loses its grip on you.  I leaned on Nick to help me get through it.  We scoured the Internet for recipes that looked delicious (love what you eat!) and cooked together.  If he had been eating pizza while I was in that first week, I couldn't have done it.

The end result is that I lost 21 lbs, have great cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, get far less headaches, have no more inflammation, and have never felt better.  I weigh less at 27 after 4 years of marriage than I did at 19!

In the end, you have to find what's right for you in both diet and exercise, because otherwise you'll never stick with it.  That's what's most important.  This is what worked for me, and if you want to give it a try and are interested in advice or recipes, I'm happy to give it!  Back to horse stuff tomorrow.

Here, have a cute pony picture as a reward.  Dude loves his door being down!

34 comments:

  1. Great post! It was really interesting to learn about your journey, and what has worked well for you food-wise. There is an OVERWHELMING amount of information about diet and nutrition out there, and not every diet works for every person, so I find it really neat to see what works for you!

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    1. It is totally true, there is a lot out there. It's hard to sift through it all to find the truth. I really liked the Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It for that reason.

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  2. I find it very interesting reading all the different things people have done to lose weight and increase their fitness levels. And I agree that it's 110% about what works FOR YOU. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Glad you liked it, you're welcome!

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  3. Really interesting read, thanks for sharing!

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  4. I've been starting to read and trying to figure out ideas of what could work for me to lose weight and the amount of information is overwhelming. I don't have any interest in a diet that is about starving myself to lose weight, I've seen enough people to know where that ends. I was working out and loving it but the time just isn't there for me (I know people say you have to make it work, but I need 8 hours of sleep and I need an hour to sit and relax in my day!). A full time plus job, husband, 3 dogs, and 2 horses just doesn't leave much time for me. I lost weight just working out, but have been even more depressed that I even started because once I stopped I got fatter than before. So frustrating. Anyways, I will look into the books you mentioned but would be curious to know how you decided what books on nutrition were valid? And how do you cut out wheat and have anything left to eat, lol. I find this stuff all so interesting.

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    1. I totally know what you mean about needing 8 hours of sleep and time to relax. I do not work out in the mornings for just that reason, and that means I can only go to the gym when I don't ride.

      My husband got me started on it and showed me the books. He found out about it on reddit.com/r/keto, where there are lots of pictures of success stories and a good community of people going through this together.

      Cutting out wheat was challenging at first, but not so hard anymore. We eat a lot of steak, chicken, casseroles, salads, stews and soups. Sometimes gluten free pasta, pizza, cookies and bread, but even though they don't make me sick, they do cause me to gain weight, so I try to make those special occasion items. Pretty much anything can be made gluten free these days, so I don't feel like there's any food I'll "never eat again." I had a hard time with it in the beginning, but then after my gut recovered and healed from it, it started making me so sick when I ate it that I didn't want it anymore. If you do try it, I have a ton of recipes I can share.

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  5. Horrible pun warning - this is good food for thought. ;) Thanks for sharing

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    1. Oh wow, that WAS bad ;-). You're welcome! I hope it doesn't make you feel intimidated about feeding me next month, I am really quite flexible. Let me know what you're going to provide ahead of time and I can bring GF bread or flour or whatever I need to bring. So looking forward to going back there and seeing you again!

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  6. You and I drink the same Kool Aid pretty much which is also why I'm hesitant to participate in the recent resolution posts about diet/fitness and can totally understand your nervousness.

    No husband to lean on but horses yes, because diet/fitness can be a lonely world. My current diet (little d) is a lot like yours, no calorie counting, high protein and veg, less carbs and gluten (for not the same reasons as you but hey protein andvegs are the super delicious). <3

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    1. I figured we were. Diet with little d! It's a lifestyle, not a Diet with a big d.

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  7. I've been trying to cut out grains as well. It's a desperate attempt to get my constant pain under control.
    I can't bring myself to give up nuts or beans, but I haven't had a sandwich in 2 months... and let me tell you how I LOVE sandwiches!!
    Boiled eggs, cheese, peanut butter, and fresh produce are staples for me right now. Chili, vegetable soup, and turkey breast happen in large batches and get frozen.
    My pain still ebbs and wanes, but I think it is beginning to recede. I just can't give up corn chips, yet... It's just not the same chili without them... but I aim for moderation.
    My husband and I tried juicing, but as a meal replacement, it didn't work for us. Now, we mini-juice as a snack before cooking dinner. I just find it easier to drink my salad than eat it...
    When I started cutting out the grains, the groceries I stocked changed dramatically. Slowly, it spilled over into hubby's leftovers-turned-lunch. Then he started working out with me (sometimes). When he sees me on the bike, he grabs his jump rope. This time, he is leaning on me.
    He made a great point last week: it only takes one of us to hold the other one back. He bought ice cream a little while back, but with the extra fats I've pulled in, I don't crave it at bedtime...
    Still looking for more long term options, but it is a step, and it seems to be one that is headed in the right direction for me...

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    1. A lot of people go gluten free for pain management. It's been implicated in IBS, Crohns, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, basically anything inflammatory. I am with you on the corn chips though, omg, nachos are my achilles heel!

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  8. I know you said this is the only diet post you'll do--but can you share the recipes for those soups?? They look amazing and I am a soup fiend!

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    1. Sure! Email me at my spam account at jalean 11 at gmail dot com and I can send them to you, or as much of them as I have - my husband likes to shoot from the hip while cooking!

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  9. It really is super easy to eat healthy on a diet that excludes processed grains. I'm glad you've found something that works well for you and that you had a great support system at the beginning - I find that is vital to success! And I agree on the 'not counting calories for calories sake'. I also keep track of protein/carb/fat intake, etc., because in the end those are the most important!

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    1. It really is - just keeping processed grains out of my diet almost makes it effortless. I spent the last two weeks preparing to go to that party in a slinky black dress, cut out aaaaaalll grains, and looked great. Then I had Chipotle as a reward the next day - ha.

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  10. Thank you for sharing! I have been trying to cut out gluten and while I've limited it I certainly am not gluten free yet. I have upped my vegetables and meat and I feel so much more full and full for longer and not bloated...in short it is amazing! I am loving the trend towards getting healthy or stronger instead of just skinny.

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    1. If you are seeing an effect, you'll probably go fully gluten free eventually. I was totally in denial at first, even angry at my husband for suggesting I was intolerant, since I had eaten it my whole life. But I kept feeling more and more side effects every time I ate it, it was crazy. I am also loving that trend, it's so much healthier!!

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  11. Great advice. I think the mental game is probably the hardest to overcome.

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  12. Thank you for the advice.
    I've been struggling for the last little bit to lose weight and I must admit, I am a HUGE gluten lover.

    I don't know how I can give up my spaghetti :(

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    1. I still eat spaghetti! It's just made from corn. And let's be honest, if it's covered in sauce, it doesn't really matter what the noodle is made from. There's even off-brand Kroger generic gluten free spaghetti, it's never been easier to give up wheat! Do it!

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    2. Instead of spaghetti, try spaghetti squash! It's amazing!! And it's all vegetable!!!

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  13. Thanks for writing this - it's thoughtful and respectful.

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    1. I'm glad you feel that way. I was worried it would be perceived as the opposite, so that makes me feel good.

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  14. The most difficult thing for me right now is that my husband and I have opposite goals - he needs to gain weight and I want to lose it. And I wish I could say he eats healthy, but he doesn't...he literally forgets to eat. I've had a subtle want to try paleo or gluten free but I just can't quite bring myself to go there...even though I know it would make me healthier! :/

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    1. That's really, really hard. You won't be able to say anything to change his mind, but I will tell you that we always have guys looking to gain weight in the gym, and they all do it on a mostly Paleo basis. It's the protein he needs, anyway. Lots of eggs for those guys. :) Best of luck!

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  15. I envy your ability to give up wheat/grains. It is not something I've been able to do completely although I have been able to cut way back. And the weeks when I get more protein and vegies make a huge difference in how hungry I feel and how much I eat.

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    1. I don't want to paint it as easy, it definitely wasn't. It's kind of cheating that it made me feel so bad after a while, because I got so sick I just wasn't motivated to eat it. It's hard, but worth it, as you say.

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  16. Interesting post! I would love to cut back/out processed grains.. but I start getting into trouble because I'm a vegetarian. It gets hard to come up with things to eat when you don't do either!

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    1. Agreed. Meat is a central component to my diet, it would be difficult to do vegetarian, and I think impossible if vegan.

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  17. Awesome post!! I had to go gluten free as well after dealing with being extremely sick because of it. When I went off of it, it was amazing how much weight I lost (so. much. bloating.) and how much easier it was for me to get into better shape! It's been so hard especially because I can't have dairy either, but gosh, it's good to be healthy.

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