Here’s Why The Goal Is Health Not Skinny

Cindy selfie photo

Societal expectations on weight are not something I can afford to give much consideration.  I have three “fat disorders”. If you are not familiar with fat disorders, let me give you the basics: One is Dercum’s Disease, which is very rare and out of nowhere put piles of lipomas and 60 lbs. of non calorie based fat on me in the 2000’s. The other two, lipedema and lymphedema, looking back I know that I had them growing up. We didn’t know what it was called but I always had one leg fatter than the other and was always pudgy with out of portion fat arms, legs and a huge hips.  A veteran dieter by the end of third grade. Typical dieting had no impact. If I had known that, I would have been spared two years as a child eating nothing but tuna fish sandwiches. I grew up always sick because of lipedema and lymphedema.  I struggled to know as a girl that my value and beauty couldn’t be based on societal expectations.

I know many of us who have had any of these conditions, because of the ignorance of the medical profession and general public, have suffered misplaced blame for what the world sees. Since learning from researchers what my misshaped, painful swollen body really is from, I have gone through a myriad of emotions. 1) Relief that it wasn’t a character flaw that I was fat. 2) Anger that for decades doctors who I trusted, knew nothing about fat disorders. They didn’t treat me with respect.  3) Gladness that I now knew what it all was and could learn to work and live with it.

The best day was years later when I could just accept my health circumstances and focus on what I could control.  I started to notice I had lost the desire to eat animal products. They slid off my list menu of menu options one by one.  Around the same time, I got my lab work done and my cholesterol was 300 with an LDL of 184. My blood pressure was high. With a family history of heart problems, my cardiologist put me on medication. There was far more I could do for these issues than I could do for the fat disorders.

I watched documentaries such as Forks Over Knives, read some books and pursued health through 100% low fat and glycemic plant-based eating. I have since eaten beans,whole grains, legumes, greens, root and cruciferous veggies. I really enjoy fruit too.  Many in the fats disorder community are riding the KETO diet wave, and to be honest I use to do the same, but it made my cholesterol numbers ridiculous. So I listened to what my body was telling me. I took my eating to the appropriate direction.

Several weeks later, my LDL had dropped from 184 to 79! My blood pressure returned to normal. My blood sugar was greatly reduced.  I also noticed that while this sort of eating didn’t cure me of the 3 fat disorders, it did greatly reduce the inflammation of my body. Between March 29, 2018 and June 3rd, 2018 besides dropping my LDL 57%, and other positive outcomes, I lost 34 pounds! (actually 62 lbs as of 7/28/2018.

I looked at full body photos of me from before and after the weight loss. Understanding where each pound came from as I saw the swollen face and large hips in both photos, I felt pride.  There I was at two different degrees of fat disorder pudginess and I noticed that I looked healthier now. It was an accomplishment especially under my circumstances to lose such weight. Someone on the street wouldn’t know that, but who cares? I know!

I can swell up in the same day, like in the first two photos here, And the other two show even more drastic changes over months. But I can still swell up at any weight as shown in the first two photos.

I’m taking care of the rest of my body beyond the fat disorders and it’s greatly adding to my quality of life. At the end of the day, no one can ask for more. If I do lose enough weight to be smiled upon by those who walk by me on the street, that’s great, but my happiness isn’t dependent on that.

My final words today are to my sisters and brothers in the fat disorder community.  I see you doing a lot of KETO. I know that you are losing weight, but please realize that I’ve lost weight and controlled the inflammation at least some, by eating the exact opposite of KETO.  I know how KETO works, I tried it myself and it was dangerous to my body. Don’t forget that you being around for a long time matters. The qualities you and I both bring to this world isn’t dependent on what size we are. But cutting your life short by a decade or more because of ignoring things like cholesterol is foolish.   Some people end up dying young or worse, having a stroke and being a vegetable for the rest of their lives in a nursing home where you know what is going on around you but you have no ability to communicate. No matter what your size would be, death is death and crap existence is crap existence. So think beyond the fat disorders once in a while.

Also, remember it is possible to gain weight that is not fat disorder related. At some point many of us still have to face discussions about food addictions and weight loss just like anyone else, and for valid reasons. Only each of us can do that for ourselves and keep our minds open to reason. We can do that without degrading ourselves.

My doctors never mentioned Plant-Based eating to me. I did it on my own terms based on my own research.  It wasn’t until for my check-ups with two of my specialist that they told me that I was doing exactly the right thing for my overall health and for the health issues they were assisting me with. That includes my Dercum’s Specialist.  I believe that some of our doctors are scared to talk to us because they know it’s a touchy subject.

So do it for yourself. Go for health, you can never go wrong doing that. You are wonderful and more than good enough no matter what weight you are. You are not a clothing size or weight number, but you would be horribly missed if you died before your time.

 

 

Easy Enjoyable Travel And Still Lose Weight And Manage Chronic Illness

Wrote this in May of 2018: For the first time since I can remember, this past week I traveled and came back home weighing less than when I had left on the trip. I had more energy to endure the trip as well. I want to thank the guidance I have received from the books of Dr. Neal Barnard to help this miracle happen.  Saying it was a “miracle” is no exaggeration. Sticking with a low fat, 100% plant based diet with no added sugars or oils  has made it possible.

Everyone worries about gaining weight when they travel. For those of us with Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema, where it’s common to gain 12 pounds of lymphatic inflammation weight in ONE DAY, we typically dread traveling. It’s not because of calories, it’s because of too much activity, our legs being down too much, stress, lymphatic issues and eating inflammatory foods common to most people’s way of eating. For me it takes time off my feet and bed rest to lose those 15 lymphatic fluid pounds. It’s horrendously painful.  (Thanks Dercum’s Disease). How Someone Can Gain 15 Pounds In One Day Stanford Video

On this recent trip my husband had to drive us nine hours through three states, for me to see a specialist at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio for my Dercum’s Disease. Having just lost 32 pounds, lowered my LDL cholesterol 57%, and finally reduced my swelling and inflammation a bit from the lymphatic problems, I was dreading the problems a trip like this could cause.

Traditionally, my husband and I would eat fast food by frequenting drive thru places.  We wouldn’t have time to seek out places that served the foods I would need. If my appropriate dining options only offered ice berg lettuce in a dish, I would be driven back to eating what I simply couldn’t do again.  If I brought anything with me it would have to be raw. If the “raw” was not as tasty as I managed to make my food at home, I would be tempted to  eat forbidden food.

As it turned out, I found a way to stick to the foods that would allow me the energy to enjoy the trip AND keep that pesky 15 pounds of lymph weight from piling on. I even lost weight.

This is what worked for me and could work for you:

 1) For car trips, bring  your own food.  It was very easy  to stock our cooler with individual meals that included unsalted raw and roasted nuts, nutritional yeast, greens, riced cruciferous vegetables, meaty high fiber black beans, salsa and luscious strawberries.  The idea was to have them handy incase at any meal situation there were no appropriate food choices over the following 3 days.  The idea was also to make sure that there was joy in the meal through textures, flavors and color. My food was overflowing with life, balanced nutrition, and flavor.  I was happy to eat it. Never deprived.

Summer Strauberry salad

 

2) If you must eat out, look for places with at least a veggie burger and/or good fresh salad bar. Never did find a veggie burger but we did find places serving salad and fruit. If there isn’t a non animal protein source on the salad bar, have some nuts in a baggie at your disposal to toss on.  Here, fresh peas are the perfect protein. Most places have lemon slices and  that is perfect to use in place of salad dressing.

Summer Vegetable Fruit Salad

 

3) Be willing to be reasonably flexible when traveling with others.  The trip can’t be about just your needs, it has to respect the others traveling with you as well. Being able to compromise is key. For us the trade off was that my husband wanted to eat a certain style of food that I could not. I did the plate of vegetable toppings at a sub shop so he could get a sub. A man has to eat and on his own terms. I can still reasonably take care of myself and eat as well.

Another meal I ordered in a restaurant was a small pizza with no cheese but with a pile of mushrooms, side of roasted, with no butter or oil, carrots.  It was not 100% on target for how I usually eat, but it was a reasonable choice so my husband could at least eat something he preferred.  It was important to watch the size of the portion of the pizza that I ate for one that meal.  It was good to see my husband happy with what he ate. And I really enjoyed one bit of a diet splurge on eating part of the pizza for that meal. I could still enjoy the social aspect of eating in a pub with my husband.

 

 

4) Location, Location, Location .   Do a little research and see if a plant-based diet friendly store such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, or even Aldi is somewhere close to where you will be staying.  You likely will have to replenish your fresh food supply even if it’s just finding a package of raw nuts to toss on a simple salad you pick up on the way home.  We lucked out. There was a  Whole Foods store directly across from our hotel. Also a couple vegan friendly restaurants literally just feet away from where we stayed.

 

Summer Traveling Healthy Food Access

 

5) Build in time and opportunities to mentally and spiritually find joys that are not food related. This is important for those who feel they are giving up the fun food they equate with road trips. People tend to allow themselves foods that typically they wouldn’t normally eat. Gas station foods such as candy bars, soda pop, chips, and other road trip staples you want but say no to yourself regarding, can make it more likely that you will finally will give in. Find a different trade off. We were just an hour from my most favorite place while I was a student at Miami University. We took a detour to spend a few moments there. It helped me to stay connected to joys in life. It was an emotional spiritual luxury to spend time there.

Miami University Boat House At Duck Pond

 

6) Honor what you know to be true about your chronic illness. For me it means using a motorized scooter so that I don’t build up too much lymphatic fluid and lactic acid.  I didn’t over schedule myself.  There was rest and down time.

The medically successful visit to my specialist had a lovely time with my husband and enjoyed the food every step of the way. It was all so relaxing for us both.  I still got to celebrate that moment of victory when I weighed myself the first morning after returning home. Who says you can’t have it all?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Life Is Like An Infomercial, And It’s Pretty Darn Amazing!

Really, I have written and re-written the headline for a few hours on and off and it kept coming off as the title of an infomercial. Annoying for me at first, but there are some wonderful reasons why today’s topic sounds like something that everyone wants, because it is what everyone wants. No I’m not trying to sell you anything.

As a matter of fact a  billion dollars a day is spent on trying to avoid heart attacks and strokes. People do try to change their diets but the typical diet changes only alters their numbers downward by 10% on average.

What I did is being done more and more by people from all walks of life. For the last six weeks I’ve eaten a 100% plant based diet. No meat, fish, dairy or eggs, No added sugar or fake sweetners, and no wheat.

All I did was change my diet to a plant based diet for six weeks and there was a 57% drop in my bad cholesterol numbers, Also my high blood pressure normalized  and my blood glucose levels are now cut in half.  I also dropped 30 pounds.  All of that  is without exercise (nothing against exercise, in my case I’m disabled and unable to exercise).

Below is a plant based crust with no oil, topped with vegetables and homemade vegan parmesan cheese. Plant based means be creative. 

Pizza Good

 

“But”, you say, “what about your protein and calcium levels?”

The blood work after 6 weeks of eating like this shows that my protein and calcium are firmly in the normal levels. So I’m doing great. Between the beans, nuts, grains and greens, I get plenty of both protein and calcium plus iron as well.

I am both surprised by this and relieved. Would have been a bummer to see that LDL drop 57% and other positive changes, but for the plant based eating to turn out to be unhealthy.

I’ll be honest I had to really do some serious research.  I was forced to find a new way of eating.  I credit information found in documentaries and books written by researchers for helping me make sense of it all so I kept it healthy. (Would 6 weeks of eating nothing but Swedish Fish candies have been as effective? I doubt it).

Some of my favorites include the book and documentary “Forks Over Knives” that is on Netflix and I believe YouTube.  Books and studies written by Ornish, Dr. Neal Barnard, and those other doctors/researchers associated with “Forks Over Knives”.

It’s been like a rebirth.  The icing on the cake is that it’s improved my memory and ability to focus.

When you are disabled, and start qualifying for Senior Discounts, what more can an old lady ask for? I walked out of that doctor’s appointment yesterday as if I were selected to be Miss America. It was like winning the lottery.

Removing animal products from your diet, when you’ve done your homework, can be  safe and can possibly help to improve your physical and mental health.

It’s not hype. It’s just vegetables, fruit, beans and grains and whole lot of research and praying.

Below can you spot my before (April 2018) and 30 pounds lost  after (May 2018) photos? Hard to believe they are the same person, but they are. The rest are the foods that I came up with to enjoy. Recipes to come in future write ups. Note I have disabilities that make me swell up. The diet has helped to reduce the inflammation quite nicely.

 

Never Give Up On Your Health.

 

I’m not affiliated with any of this, but I want people to know about this. If you are around St. Louis, MO  on July 14th, 2018, please consider registering and attending the St. Louis Plant-Based Summit. Register Here

STL Plant Based Summit