How My Desire to Lose Weight Led to a Complete Lifestyle Change


The night before my younger son was born (as seen on the left above), I weighed more than I ever want to weigh again. And losing that weight was a lot harder than with baby number one. That came as a shock, accompanied with a good deal of worry over whether I would be able to keep the weight off – if it ever came off at all.

I have one of those lovely body types that gains weight if I so much as look at a cupcake. I’ve tried various exercise routines over the years, and finally found success with a combination of P90X and a couple interval routines, which have helped me achieve a level of fitness I never expected. The problem is, however, that exercise is only part of the solution. Living under the impression that I could work off the pizza and doughnuts and Saturday morning fast food breakfasts only lasted so long—just long enough for me to start regaining my baby weight (but this time without the baby).

When my clothes became uncomfortably tight, my options were to give in and buy larger ones or revolt against what I’d done to myself and take action. I took action.

Taking the First Step

Before actually doing something, the shift came from within. I know that sounds metaphysical and whatnot, but it’s absolutely true. There is a huge difference between thinking, Hmm, I really could lose a few pounds and realizing, Something has to change, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen—permanently. Follow-through is a must, but there has to be that driving decision first.

Going Wheat-Free

I heard about Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back To Health a year or so before I decided it might be worth looking into. I didn’t want to cut out wheat. It seems to be in everything, including many of my favorite foods, but I was desperate and hoped it would make a difference. My husband thought author William Davis, M.D. was a quack, but since I was the one buying groceries and cooking, he had little choice but to eat my wheat-free food, at least at home. He lost nine pounds.

I’ve been reluctant to discuss this decision because most people think I’m stupid, latching onto a fad. I mean, why deny myself “regular” food if I don’t have an allergy that prevents me from eating it? At the same time, however, I was pleased by a number of people who came out of the woodwork and told me how going wheat-free has changed their lives for the better. As a friend said, even if only one-quarter of the book is true, that tiny bit of information is worth heeding.

Today’s wheat has been genetically engineered to grow more plentifully, and in doing so, its gluten content has risen dramatically. Franken-wheat, some call it. What struck me most about Davis’s research was the number of conditions apart from celiac that are affected by wheat consumption. Many of Davis’s patients had problems that no other doctors could fix, yet the simple deletion of wheat from their diets solved them.

And then there’s the obesity issue. Although whole wheat is recommended as a fiber-rich staple that should be a part of everyone’s diet, whole wheat bread elevates blood sugars nearly as high as white bread (don’t believe me—believe Harvard Medical School). While this is particularly harmful to you if you’re diabetic, this even affects people like me. The two slices of whole wheat toast that I used to eat every morning caused a blood sugar crash that made me ravenous two hours later.

Experimenting with Paleo

The Paleo Diet has a lot in common with Wheat Belly, although there are places where the two diverge. If you follow the “primal” version, you can have dairy, while many Paleo followers shun milk products altogether. Either way, the main idea is that humans started as hunter-gatherers, and we survived just fine without processed foods.

Paleo depends on many natural foods, but carby foods like corn and legumes are a big no-no. There are a number of great Paleo recipes that I’ve tried, but I have not gone completely Paleo. Instead, I use a blend of the two diets I’ve discussed, as well as some gluten-free selections. Even so, the mere deletion and substitution of certain elements of my diet isn’t enough, which leads to the third and most drastic thing I’ve done.

Making My Own

Making my own what? Well, a lot of things. Pizza dough, protein bars, almond milk, almond meal, coconut milk, coconut flour, peanut butter, tomato sauce. When I cut out wheat, I knew we couldn’t eat out as much, so that meant cooking. By making a lot of things from scratch, I not only keep the cost down, but I also control what my family eats. The pre-made items that I do buy go through a lot of scrutiny first. If I don’t know some of the chemical-sounding ingredients, or if sugar is toward the top of the list, I make it on my own. I also avoid buying canned or frozen food as much as possible.

In short, I’ve become one of “those” moms.

Using Nature’s Supplements

I started to take an interest in natural remedies while doing research for a character in one of my novels. (It always comes back to writing for me, doesn’t it?)  Many people never think twice about popping a pill to fix their problems, but I would rather live in a way that keeps me from having problems to begin with. And if I need medical help, I would rather use nature’s treatments first.

I never even knew coconut oil existed before I read Wheat Belly. I assumed that I would have to buy it at a specialty store and was surprised to find it everywhere I normally shop. While I knew that hydrogenated oils are bad, I didn’t realize how bad. A friend gave me the book The Coconut Oil Miracle, by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D. This truly is a miraculous oil. Not only is it a natural antibiotic, but it’s also antiviral and can even help fight the flu.

So what does coconut oil have to do with weight loss? It gives us energy and increases our metabolism. This is wonderful for people like me. I have to exercise two to three times more than people with fast metabolisms just to keep from gaining (and that’s only if I eat right, too).

To Make a Long Post a Little Longer. . .

What I discovered, even before I lost any weight, was that I was transformed, and not just physically. Although changing my eating habits certainly keeps me satisfied longer, the way I think about food (it’s not a social or even a comfort activity for me anymore) underwent an even more powerful transformation.

The weight loss is great, but the health benefits that I will reap from my change of lifestyle will last me, I hope, much longer than the clothes that I can fit into again.

Related articles

The Benefits of Cutting Out Gluten but Not Going Gluten-Free

Dr. Peter Attia on Ketosis

Mark’s Daily Apple (we don’t need grains)

Best Sugar Substitutes

All Sorts of Pretty (almond and coconut recipes)

You Don’t Have to Take My Word for It


Research (Photo credit: astronomy_blog)

Anybody remember Reading Rainbow with Levar Burton? I watched it when I was a kid, and the line I always recall is, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Burton was encouraging kids to read the books he told them about and discover the wonder of their stories themselves.

Nowadays, I think we need to hear more of that, whereas what we seem to get is just the opposite. We’re supposed to believe that whatever we see in a commercial, read on our favorite social network site, or see in a news report is the gospel truth. Because, of course, no one would ever promote false advertising or report something without fact checking first – right?

I was watching the news several years ago when an eager reporter, who was about to fly out on his vacation, had a flight delay. Lucky for the uninformed public, he was the first guy on the scene, ready to tell us exactly what was going down. A bomb, he said. I have no idea where he got his intel, but apparently it didn’t need to be vetted, and suddenly this supposed bomb was headline news. Several hours later, his network sheepishly admitted that the “story” they’d covered all morning was just a reporter getting excited to break some news. No bomb threat. Nothing suspicious at all.

The mainstream media, modern marketing, and your general idiot on the street who doesn’t know what he’s talking about are all eager to spread the word, no matter if it’s true or not.

Some say that with the likes of YouTube and the Internet in general, people will do anything they can to get attention. If you subscribe to a social media site like Facebook, how many pictures do you see every day with someone holding a poster board that says, “My dad will get me a bike if I get 100,000 likes” or “My mom will stop smoking if she gets a million likes”? I could go off on a whole new tangent about this, but my point is that so many people are vying for attention that they’ll say – and consequently believe – anything that garners attention.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I like actual empirical evidence. For instance, I read product reviews. Sometime between my first and second pregnancies, my favorite maternity clothiers decided to vacate the brick and mortar stores and sell almost exclusively online. Now, if it’s hard to find clothes that fit a normal body, that problem is only magnified when you add a pregnant belly to the equation. Many reviews clued me in on the problems with the fit of a dress or shirt, and I steered clear. Others sang the praises of the durability of the fabric of a pair of pants. Still more had both positive and negative reviews, so I had to really think carefully about my buying options.

Hmm. . . Thinking carefully or critically, even. I hope that’s not a foreign concept to you, dear readers, although I’m losing more and more hope for people in general every day.

If you’ve read my personal account of signing on with a scammer agent a few years ago, you’ll know that I can get sucked in, too. One too many rejections can even make the thickest-skinned of us turn stupid. Someone likes my story? Really? I’ve never heard of this agency, but it must be the real deal because they like me!

To make a long story not quite as long, a funny feeling and Google search that reinforced that feeling showed me what I chose not to see when signing the (as it turns out) not-so-quite-legally-binding contract. Now, I always check out prospective agents on Preditors & Editors. But you know what? There’s dirt out there on that site, too. Fortunately, I was able to corroborate Pred & Ed’s lack of trust in my own agent with my personal experience, and other research has given me confidence that it continues to be a good resource.

Recently, I decided to take the plunge into the wheat-free/gluten-free realm. It wasn’t a decision I came to lightly, nor an easy one. It actually came more than a year after I first heard of the idea of dropping wheat specifically. I finally consulted Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, at the same time knowing that a lot of people have negative things to say about it. One blogger (and a gluten-free guy, I might add) posted his refutations to three points that author and doctor William Davis made.

I researched enough references in Wheat Belly to make my head spin, and all that I can figure is that Davis fudged some of his statistics to further convince readers that no wheat is the way to go. I could be like the anti-Wheat Belly blogger and say the whole book is bogus. . . except that I know what he says about diabetes is true because of research that my dad did years ago, when he thought he might be pre-diabetic. I’ve heard anecdotes from people I know who have read the book – including an endorsement from my own doctor – and have read an array of articles by other doctors who point out enough similar evidence to come to my own conclusion: some of Wheat Belly may be merely well-informed opinion and against conventional wisdom, but much of it makes absolute sense. Still, I know many people will think I’m crazy and argue with me about my new lifestyle choice. Just know that I didn’t make this decision because some Hollywood starlet said it would turn me into a supermodel.

There is little that bothers me more than watching or reading something that was not researched properly. What works on the silver screen or in a book doesn’t necessary equal reality. That’s why I so admire those people who go the extra mile and do mounds of research. If you’ve ever read a Michael Crichton book, you’ll know what I mean. Back in the days when I thought that writerly skill could save me from having to do all that work (if it’s good enough, they’ll believe anything, right?), I wrote a story that opened up with a passenger train wreck. And I just assumed that, having taken a trip via Amtrak in the sixth grade, I was an expert. It never occurred to me that I might need to go to the library and look up passenger trains, accidents, policy about what law enforcement does in the clean up and investigation. I thought that if I gave my story a sci-fi twist, I could fudge all that stuff. Please forgive me, I was only thirteen.

How many parts of our lives would be improved if we did due diligence? For one, I know that my husband and I wouldn’t have jumped feet-first into a thirty-year fixed loan on a condo that would lose over sixty percent of its value before you could say “housing market crash.” Maybe people in general wouldn’t fall for as many bad car deals. Maybe we wouldn’t hit “send” too soon, lacing cyberspace with rumors that are difficult to track, even harder to take back.

Shopping for a TV today? Or an agent? Whoever it is doing the selling, you don’t have to take their word for it.