After generalized anxiety had moved into Mary’s life and a visit to her doctor left her with a pre-diabetes diagnosis she knew that it was high time to make a change. Read on for this very inspiring story.
I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but it is my hope that someone will be inspired by my story. My promise to myself when I started this journey last January was to acknowledge my success and determination when I officially lost 50 pounds (23 kg). I’ve achieved that goal. If you do manage to stick with me until the end of my rambling here, you are likely one of those people who has encouraged, supported, and inspired me during the past few months, and for that, I thank you.
Sometimes we find ourselves stuck — in a thankless job, in a damaging thought process, in a bad hairstyle — or just generally in a funk that nothing seems to jar us out of.
I was just this stuck a few months ago, in a state-of-being that rendered me exhausted, steadily gaining weight, lacking zip and zeal, anxiety-ridden, and downright down in the dumps. I was 53 years old and my children were grown and successful. I was no longer “sandwiched”. I was fortunate to have a good man, a decent job close to home, and a nice tidy pension awaiting my 55th birthday. I should have felt happy and fulfilled and excited about the future.But I didn’t. Out of nowhere, really, generalized anxiety had moved into my life. The brain fog, accelerated heart rate and palpitations, stiff joints, and bloated body were literally weighing me down, crippling me and robbing me of my mid-life freedom. The activities that once brought me joy now filled me with dread.
Ironically, I’ve always worried about my coronary status. My mother had coronary artery disease, and her father before her. I see my mother in the mirror more and more each day. I have all the markers of the disease, yet here I was wallowing in what I thought was a self-induced state of premature aging. I’d try to exercise and eat better, but I’d be hungry, fall off the wagon, and give up, and gain back what I lost plus some. It seemed so hard.At a medical check-up this year just after Christmas, everything seemed fine, except, of course, for my weight, and my fasting glucose level. My primary care provider spun the computer screen around for me to see my numbers. One of them was in red (and of course, my over-thinking mind also saw flashing lights, too.) “You have pre-diabetes. You have to start cutting the sugar – BIG time,” she said.
I’ve worked around this woman my entire career, and I know she doesn’t sugarcoat anything (pun totally intended). I knew then and there that it was high time I became unstuck. Having diabetes in my retirement wasn’t part of my plan, and if I kept on with my current lifestyle and the SAD (Standard American/Canadian Diet), I’d be in line for some kind of significant cardiac event – sooner rather than later.
I immediately started to cut all sugar from my diet – actual sugar and anything that converts to sugar — and it wasn’t long before I realized that I was feeling better. I didn’t find it all that difficult to do, either; having that red number in my lab panel emblazoned in my retinas was a constant reminder. Every time I felt weak in willpower and ready to cave to a peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich, the thought of my erratically fluctuating insulin levels stopped me.
Coincidental with the bad-news-blood-panel, I had been attending sessions fairly regularly for a few months at a local gym. (Quite frankly, had I not been offered a free membership through my daughter’s employment there, I wouldn’t have darkened the door in the first place.) My lab results prodded me to enroll in their new-year transformation challenge — because of that damn red number, I deduced that I had nothing to lose by signing up. This was something completely out of my comfort zone, but I was scared. It’s remarkable what fear will make a person do.The first week I was irritable, overwhelmed with all the talk of macros and ketones and portions, feeling water-logged and thinking, “nope, this isn’t for me.” However, to my surprise, by the time the 8 weeks wrapped up, I had dropped significant pounds, but the biggest revelation was how much better I felt!
I was really intrigued by the intermittent fasting aspect of the challenge, so I had begun to follow various social media pages about insulin resistance, and a friend sent me a link to a documentary about the “black death” pandemic of obesity. One of the interviewees on this documentary was Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist based in Toronto. Then another friend put me in line with dietdoctor.com, another fabulous website that Dr. Fung is affiliated with. In the course of my research, I also stumbled upon Dr. Ken Berry, a family physician practicing in rural Tennessee whose no-nonsense and down-to-earth YouTube presence made me wish he was my doctor.
These guys really had my attention and I actually felt sort of redeemed. Clearly, I was insulin resistant and carbohydrate intolerant, and my obesity was a result of hormone imbalance compounded by the Standard American (and Canadian) Diet, not the fact that I wasn’t “eating less and moving more”. But the really fascinating thing was that they said made sense, and they’re reversing type 2 diabetes in their patients! The science behind it speaks for itself. The “low-fat/healthy grains/calories-in-calories-out” theory that has been so pervasive since the 1960s isn’t helpful at all. It’s a Big Fat Lie.I now eat whole foods that are low in carbohydrates and moderate in protein, and I eat natural saturated fat to satiety, combined with occasional time-restricted eating. I eat when I’m hungry (which isn’t all the damn time anymore!) and I stop when I’m full. I haven’t so much changed my diet, as much as I’ve changed my lifestyle. I’ve learned to heed my body’s naturally wired signals. I’m losing all that visceral abdominal fat that screamed “coronary candidate”, and I’m eating tasty, whole, simple, more-often-than-not-home-cooked food. I don’t have the cravings anymore. I’m satiated. I don’t feel one bit deprived. I sleep better. My husband isn’t forced to wear earplugs every night anymore as I’ve ceased to snore. My blood pressure is better. I can wear my engagement ring again. My waistbands don’t roll. Eating out doesn’t have the same appeal it once did. I’m more comfortable in my own skin.
And kudos to my husband for his support. Although physically fit and not overweight by any means, he’s feeling better just like I am, and we are both noticing more energy and less anxiety, and other little nagging things that we were both contending with have eased. Naturally, we had attributed our heartburn, insomnia, sluggishness, and stiff joints to getting older – all of those things have, for the most part, disappeared with the restriction of wheat and carbohydrates along with the increase of natural fats in our diet.
I am 50 pounds lighter than I was in January. My fasting blood glucose is normal. My beta blocker has been decreased by half and I’m on a mission to get off it altogether. I have more energy. I’m no longer anxious all the time and I’m palpitation-free. I eat whole natural foods, limited dairy, primarily grass-fed meat, and lots of green vegetables and berries. I do not drink sugary soda drinks or fruit juice, but I do drink lots of sparkling water. I exercise when I can and incorporate occasional intermittent fasting into my schedule. I happily avoid the inner aisles at the grocery store. And I’ve also learned that I’m much happier and content when I avoid unnecessary stressful situations and toxic people. In other words, I’ve come to know myself better and I finally respect my self-worth.
So, what’s the take-away from all this rambling?
I’m now completely convinced that what I was feeding myself was allowing my weakest points to be preyed upon.It’s time we all get back into our own kitchens, quit snacking mindlessly, and return to eating non-inflammatory, whole, natural foods that don’t come in a package. We are sadly living in a world of “diabesity” with many chronic diseases that can be directly linked to our over-consumption of carbohydrates and refined food. Perhaps it’s not all attributable to diet, but it’s a little difficult to deny that it doesn’t play a large role in our sorry society.
I am passionate about the ketogenic way of eating. I believe in the science behind it because I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of adopting this lifestyle. It has simplified my life. There is so much proven research that has been and still is being done in support of it, and it needs to be shared over and over and over again.
Recently, during the course of a typical workday, I happened to assign codes to an emergency room record for a patient who presented with fatigue, weakness, and high blood sugar. The attending physician documented in the discharge instructions – “lengthy discussion re: type 2 diabetes. Advised on low-carb high-fat ketotic diet.” Yes! They’re starting to get it!
We’ve all been blessed with one life, and one body by which to live it – and we’re worth it!
And, yes, I am proud of myself. This journey, which is still ongoing, is not just about fat loss. It’s also about embracing my middle age and realizing that perhaps the best is yet to come.
Congratulations on your big success, Mary! Thank you for sharing your story!
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It would also be greatly appreciated if you shared what you eat in a typical day, whether you fast etc.