Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate, Completed 5/2017. T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and eCornell.
Well I did it again. I lost the same 40-60 pounds for the 7th time in 20 years. I am currently 46 years old. Every time I lose the weight, people ask if I feel great. No, I feel terrified because even thou I worked hard to lose the weight, I didn’t know how I was going to maintain it. I didn’t want to weigh or measure everything for the rest of my life. I was tired of carrying premeasured portions of food in my purse. But this time is different, its different because of the way I lose the weight, has taught me how to eat for the rest of my life. Do I have limitations on what I eat, yes, but I don’t feel deprived. I am finally free of cravings and feeling deprived. I follow a Whole Foods Plant Based No Oil, Sugar, Salt and Flour concept under the influence of Chef AJ and John Pierre with their Ultimate Weight Loss Program.
I am your typical American Italian girl whose parents are from Brooklyn, they grew up on Long Island and moved to New Jersey to start a family. We, my parents and my older brother and I, grew up at the Jersey Shore where all the New Yorker came every summer. We lived a pretty rough life. My parents worked hard for what we had. We always had food. My mom was a great cook with what she could buy.
I first realize that I was overweight in 6th grade when in gym class, we had to weigh-in by alphabetic order of our last name. My maiden name began with an A so I went first. And I heard all the other girls weights and realize I was in the 100’s and they were not. My first weight loss diet was when I was a senior in high school. A boy that I had a crush on said out loud for me to hear “she is too fat”. So I went on a program much like weight watchers but a competitor of weight watchers, it was called Lean Line. I was success at losing weight because my mother planned all my meals and made all my meals. I remember one time that I was really hungry and she said “eat an apple” and I said “no I want food”. 😦
My parents had no money to send me to college nor was it ever discussed that I would go to college but I wanted to go so I started out at community college and then a small private college in Savannah, GA which was cheaper than colleges in the north. (I was in totally culture shock, but that is a story for another post) I worked full-time the 5 years that it took me to graduate. I made poor choices in guys and suffered some consequences from that. I lived in many places not really settling. All of which caused me to eat recklessly. When I graduated college, I moved to Austin TX to follow a boy, and had my first job, my boss was very encouraging of me to work out and eat better so I joined a gym and lost the weight that I gained during college. But I was pretty much just starving myself.
I had moved back to NJ after that relationship didn’t work out and gain weight again. And then lost it with the popular diet pill at the time called Phen-fen. Once it was pulled from the market in 1997, I had gained the weight back.
My mom, who was always overweight, suffered from many health issues from when I can remember. Her heart was poor and she had a pace maker and then she had diabetes and at the age of 54 she lost the use of her kidneys. After 1 year on dialysis, she develop an infection and they couldn’t fight it with medication and the day that she was supposed to have it surgically removed, her blood pressure was too low for the surgery and they waited to see if it would rise but she had a stroke and was unresponsive. It was a big blow to us. I was 29 years old. Old enough to know better but I was making poor choices in my personal life, to know better. The stress of my mom dying had caused me to lose weight because I was sleeping more than anything.
At 35, I decided that it was it, I was going to be single and time had passed for me to be a mom. I started to take better care of myself and went on weight watchers. Lost the weight (again) and got into cycling. It was my first time ever being athletic. I really loved it and met D, at 36, when I didn’t expect it. D and I had the same wants and desires, we spent many, many, many miles cycling together and enjoying life. And we had the typical dating relationship and we both wanted the same things so we married when I was 38 and we had our son when I was 39. No complications and he is a healthy boy. FYI, I ate REALLY badly when I was pregnant and gained so much weight that I had to sleep sitting up because of acid reflux.
Then we got pregnant with our 2nd baby when I was 41. And at that same time of excitement, we found out that my dad was diagnosis with Pancreatic Cancer. I was clueless about it. I remember people’s faces when I told them that my dad had Pan Can. They looked at me with shock. And then I had the 1st of 5 miscarriages at 12 weeks. This was not easy for me but I thought, I am under stress and this is not the right time. We will try again but I needed to be strong for my dad. He tried for one year to fight it with 2 different drug studies at Rutgers University and some chemo but the cancer was still growing. My father had remarried to a wonderful woman who was a nurse and took the most amazing care of him. After the year of fighting, he knew there was no other way and he went home under hospice care. For 9 months, he suffered a slow painful death and it was a lot of stress for my step mom and me. I helped as much as I could with being one hour away and with my son being under 2 years old. The last 5 days of his life, we had to give him morphine and Ativan every hour and I was on the last duty to give him the morphine when I found that he had passed. At that point of my life, it was, and it has been the hardest thing that I ever had to experience.
At that time, D and I decided for a new change and to move to the next town over which is a great town with lots of great neighbors. It all happen so fast. I had to adjust to the changes in my life and to my body. We tried 4 more times to have another baby but we were told that my egg count was too low and at age 43, too old. That really hit me hard and I fell into a deep depression. I could not talk myself out of it like I had with every downfall in my life. I didn’t want to get up but I had to because my husband and son depended on me. I had to go to work, I had to make meals, and I had to live for my son.
I was doing yet, another diet program, Medifast. If you don’t know Medifast, its processed “meals” that you eat 5 times a day and then eat a 6th meal of a protein and veggie. You are limited on the veggies and portion size. It was not sustainable for me but I lost 40 lbs and I was only able to have a bowel movement like every 3 days. Well, after being inspired by a family member who had lost 85 lbs with the Dr. McDougall program, my husband and I ventured into the plant-based world. I figured that this would help me to lose more weight. I watched Forks over Knives and he watched Dr. Greger’s leading causes of death and I pronounced that I wanted to be vegetarian and he proclaimed that he wanted to be vegan. So we moved forward with cleaning out the house of any animal products and only had vegan products in the house. Noticed that I said products. We ate pasta, chips and salsa, any type of chip that was vegan, but we didn’t cut out the oil. And that first year. I gained the 40lbs back.
So I had to educate myself on how to do this right. I was on Facebook constantly following post, learning who the key players and reading links to as much as I can. I first discovered The Chef and The Dietitian. I loved those videos and thought the Dietitian was close to me in age and I can relate to her. But then I started to follow the Chef, Chef AJ. She was on to something. She was losing weight and making her voice heard. And I loved her honesty and witness. So I got her book Unprocessed and read it, in one day in June of 2013. Her life story was so similar to mine just different players. So I sent her an email and she emailed me back. I followed her and loved her posted. After many emails back and forth between Chef AJ and I, she emailed me to tell me she was coming to Maryland to do a talk and I was so excited to have her on the east coast that I didn’t mind driving 3 hours to the all-day event. Cue my next inspiration, Sharon McRae of Eat Well Stay Well. Sharon was hosting an all-day immersion and AJ was going to present.
June 2014, Chef AJ’s presentation at the event in Maryland, was intriguing, she talked about how she viewed calorie density and foods that she has been eating to lose weight. I have to say that the first time that I saw her in person, I was taken back on how thin she was after watching the videos of her. She was on to something great but I was not ready to hear it. I left that conference still eating the way that I was. And the rest of 2014, I was eating vegan but still allowing oil, sugar, salt, and flour be greatly exposed to my cooking and eating out. And not to mention wine, I am a social-able person and wine was so much fun and then eating food with the wine. I didn’t realize it then but I realize now, I am an addict. I have addict qualities. My drug of choice was food. People laugh at me when I mention it but really, just because we need food to survive, doesn’t mean it is okay to consume it in large quantities and without respect to how much and what it’s doing to my body. I was out of control. Now if typed all that about alcohol, you would have sympathy for me but because it’s about food, most people would say “get it together girl!”
Let’s face it, the most popular weight loss program allows you to eat all and any food in portion controls but you have to be strong and control the portions and once you lose the weight and your will power fades, so does your control. I had to eliminate the foods that caused me to lose control. And that was sugar, oil, salt and flour. Breads and Pasta, are vegan but they are so high in calories that eating a small amount never filled me up.
January of 2015, Chef AJ announces her new Ultimate Weight Loss Program being offered on Facebook to a private group. I needed this. I watched all the videos and was following the program and lost 10lbs but then I got cocky and thought I could have a glass of wine, some chips, and some vegan products and socialize and that lead me back to my old ways and I spent the rest of 2015 not on board. I would get on the boards and comment here and there but I was not doing well and I never spoke up or asked for help.
January 2016, Chef AJ and John Pierre announce UWL Mastery. I thought, I am not a master but I needed the help so I joined. It was financially more than I wanted to spend but I had spent more than that on other weight loss programs and spent more than that on processed foods that got me into this mess. So the first month was like UWL Boot camp and I was in it to win it. This time my head was in the right place. The other ladies that were eager to be open with me became my instant friends this past year. We bonded and kept in constant contact. We challenged each other in our daily steps and activities. We held each other accountable for what we ate. If we slipped, we reached out and there was no hiding. If you were not present, then you were getting texts or phone calls. I lost 20lbs in just the month of January alone. Which just says how bad I was eating prior. I now have a daily bowel movement. (TMI) but really that says a lot! It amazing to lose it after struggling for long. And then I started to do yoga which I never did before and then I discovered that our town’s recreation center had a Boot camp class directed under a group called Exit 4 Boot Camp. Which became key for me as another community in getting fit. Right now as I sit and type this. I am completely far from being that depressed person lying in bed after my miscarriage. I also started running this year with lots of encouragement from my neighbor Beth. She has helped me from running a mile to now 8 miles. Someone said to me the other day, are you that running girl? I am categorized as a runner! I have energy. I am healthy. I feel alive. And the months that followed in 2016 I have lost a total of 45 lbs. Now I have to tell you, it’s not about the scale but I know that you need to hear the numbers to understand what I lost.
And using Chef AJ’s 7 C’s. What has been successful for me is that I changed my lifestyle, I surround myself with a positive community that are liked minded who help me to be compliant, my commitment to make this work, I consistently work on in habits, my continuing education by going to plant-based events, listening to podcast by leaders in this movement and my compassion to live this way.
So this is my first blog post…………I hope you know me now and I hope to help you.