I was the scrawny kid who turned into a pudgy teen who slimmed out again and stayed under 120# until I was nearly 30. I’m 5’ 3”. I lost pregnancy weight very quickly after the births of each of my two children. After the first baby, I wore my pre-pregnancy jeans home from the hospital. Yes, they were tight, but I could do them up.
Hate me yet? I kind of hate that young woman myself! And then, like with so many women, a few pounds came on here and there until, in my early forties, I was over 160#. I knew I needed to be healthier.
Both my husband and I had been raised by parents who farmed and gardened and cooked from scratch. Our own lifestyle was much the same. We cared about nutrition and health. We were active and motivated. And my husband stayed a healthy weight.
One day in the summer of 2006, I stepped on the scale and found myself at 168.5#. I freaked out. You know how you have to “be ready” to make a change? Well, I was ready, then and there. Although I’d been a walker for a long time, I turned into a jogger. I’d been a member at Curves, but I stepped it up a few notches. I found The G.I. Diet Book by Rick Gallop and learned about glycemic index for the first time. Based on this book, I watched carbs counted calories.
I worked very hard and lost thirty pounds, then spent the better part of a year at just around 140#. I was happy with that, but the weight began slowly to creep back on. I noticed. I cared. I tried. But even though I believed I was doing all the same things as I had been doing while losing, I just kept gaining. Not rapidly, but surely. I still don’t completely understand what happened at that time, but it was severely frustrating.
Just before Christmas 2010, I fainted, falling and conking my head. I felt extremely weak for a long time after that, only regaining strength over a period of months. The doctor requisitioned an electrocardiogram, which showed no issue with my heart, and my blood pressure was in normal ranges. He also ordered other tests, but there was nothing conclusively wrong with me.
I slowly regained energy. And my weight crept up.
In the spring of 2015, it happened again. I fainted. Went to the doctor. Had another electrocardiogram. Still nothing showing. My blood pressure, however, was sky high, so I went on medication for that. More tests. Was it my lungs? Was it something autoimmune?
Slowly (much more slowly) I regained energy. And my weight crept up.
And on October 27, 2017, I had a heart attack. Yes, the doctor should have sent me for an echocardiogram when the electrocardiogram was inconclusive. An echo would have clearly showed the blockage that had been affecting me for years. Looking back, there are a lot of things that should have happened differently. But you know what? I’m alive. I’m thankful. And no good comes from holding onto the negative emotions, so I don’t.
At the time of my heart attack, I weighed 172#. Was the weight gain more of a contributor to the heart attack or more of a result of the undiagnosed heart problems? I think more of the second, but there’s no way to know for sure. Either way, that’s where I was, with two stents in my heart, too much weight, and doctor’s orders to go on the DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. (I’ll leave you to google it if you want.)
I read through it and I just couldn’t do it. While it’s rich in vegetables, it’s also low in fat and encourages grains like ready-to-eat cereal, pasta, rice, and bread with no mention of whole grains. Only lean skinless protein is allowed. To me, it felt like 1990 all over again. Hasn’t the low-fat high-carb diet been completely debunked? Apparently not.
The purpose of the diet was to lose weight and control my blood pressure (also with medication). Even though post heart attack it seemed very brave and possibly foolish to strike out on my own rather than follow medical advice, that’s what I did. I’d picked up a copy of Trim Healthy Mama — No More Fads (no longer in print) a few years previously, but it didn’t make sense and I didn’t want to quit sugar, so I stuffed it in my bookcase.
In November, 2017, I read it twice, ordered the two cookbooks, and joined several THM groups on Facebook. I had all the motivation I needed. I wanted to lose weight, but more than that, I wanted to live and thrive.
Hundreds of thousands of women have had real, lasting success with THM. There are amazing testimonials of women and men who’ve lost a hundred pounds in a year with this way of eating. It turns out that The G.I. Diet book I’d found years earlier was part of the THM solution. It turns out the ketogenic diet is part of the solution, too. THM is a sum of those parts and more.
I’m hesitant to even begin to give the principles of THM here. If you’re remotely interested, I urge you to read the Trim Healthy Mama Plan and discover the details and science behind it. But, very briefly, the goal is to stabilize blood sugar levels. Without spikes and dips in glucose, your body can heal. So…
• No sugar. There are a wide range of natural sweeteners (stevia, erythritol, monkfruit extract, xylitol, and more) to take its place. Sweet desserts are possible (and frequent).
• Ditching the other white carbs: white rice, white pasta, white bread, and replacing them with brown rice and sprouted or (true) sourdough bread.
• Anchoring meals and snacks with protein.
• Recognizing two major, valid fuels (fats and carbs) but separating them by three hours so your body only has to deal with one at a time. Basically, having both ketogenic-style meals and low-fat, moderate-carb meals, but not together.
• Real food. No pills, no special drinks, no tiny, expensive packaged meals, just real food — even at restaurants. There are some special ingredients, but you don’t need them. You can do THM from your local grocery store and add the fun stuff or convenience foods if you want them.
In 14 months, I’ve lost 12 pounds — I’m back to 160#. I have renewed energy and health, and I can’t see any reason to try some other fad diet when I’ve got everything I need with THM. Nothing makes more sense to me, so I’ll keep plodding along and it will continue to drop. Slow is fine. It’s working, and when I get to my goal weight, THM has built-in tools for maintenance.
I’ve ditched some of the post-heart-attack meds, but I’m still on statins for cholesterol (mine is hereditarily high) baby aspirin, and blood pressure meds. Those will likely be with me for the remainder of my life. After the close call I had, I’m okay with that.
Links for THM:
• Official THM website
• Trim Healthy Mama Plan
• Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook
• Trim Healthy Table Cookbook
• Trim Healthy Mama Podcast (also available on iTunes and Podbean, etc)
• Trim Healthy Mama Facebook Page
• Trim Healthy Mama Facebook Beginners Group
• Quick Start Guide from Gwen’s Nest
• My THM Pinterest boards
Know what else I like? The sisters who started this movement, Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison, are Christians. They’ve had their share of health and weight struggles, spending years vegetarian/vegan but found themselves losing health.
They dug into all the diet books out there. Why did this one work for some people? Why not for others? Was it sustainable long term? Why or why not? Then they analyzed all their findings in light of the Bible and began to create the THM eating plan. Early feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Women were having excellent results: losing excess weight, becoming healthier (in some cases able to discontinue long-standing meds), and finding joy in the journey.
Now these two sisters and their families have a thriving business, but their true heart shines out in their weekly podcast. They give the glory to God and live to bless others.
I’m thankful to be numbered among those whom they’ve blessed.
You all know I’ve written and published over two dozen Christian contemporary romance titles under my tagline Where Food Meets Faith… and Fiction. For the most part, my heroes and heroines have been healthy, active farmers, gardeners, beekeepers, and avid foodies. Raindrops on Radishes is the first time I’ve “gone there” with obesity as part of a heroine’s journey. Check out the background in my Inspy Romance post How Fat is Too Fat? or just go straight to the Raindrops on Radishes book page for the description, first chapter, and links.