Let me first start by saying losing the weight was a complete and honest accident. I used to think I ate healthy, and I’ve always been on the smaller side anyways — I used to get made fun of in school because I was so scrawny.
But I recently had a life-altering event that took place, and changed my life forever. It was my wake-up call that motivated me to make lifestyle changes, which in turn lead me to my unexpected weight loss.
Losing Weight & Body Changes After Kids
Throughout my adult life, my weight has fluctuated (slightly), and even after having kids I was totally fine with my weight and rarely weighed myself. I figured if I was eating healthy, and I was healthy overall, then I was at the weight I was supposed to be.
At the same time, I was struggling with chronic bloating. I was also trying to work out more to get back to my previous (pre-kids) body. It wasn’t a hard-fast goal, but like I said, I used to be naturally small, and losing or maintaining weight wasn’t ever hard for me, so why not give it a go?
Was Something Deeper Going On?
But I wasn’t having any success, and it made me wonder if something was going on that I couldn’t see or feel on the outside. It made me think… If I’m doing 30-40 minutes of cardio 5-6 days per week (sometimes more), AND I’m eating “healthy, ” and I’m not losing ANY weight, and I’m STILL chronically bloated… maybe something bigger is wrong.
Even with my suspicions, I told myself that women’s bodies change after having kids, and although it would be nice to get back to my previous (pre-kids) body, if it wasn’t meant to be, then it simply wasn’t meant to be.
My Bloated, Unhealthy Self
At this time, I was nearly 140 pounds; a weight I had only been during my pregnancies, and no, I’m not pregnant in that photo. I’m also not very tall, and I’m flat-chested, so it’s not like I could blame any of those extra pounds on my boobs or height! I also unknowingly had about 10 pounds of water weight (bloating) going on that I lost after implementing some of the things I’ll talk about below.
Now I want to make one thing very clear — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my weight in the photo on the left, but my energy levels had been so low over the last few years, that looking back, I know now that I was severely unhealthy at 140 pounds. Again, nothing to do with the pounds per se, but rather the effects it had on my overall health and wellness. I have much more energy now and I feel so much more like myself than I have in years.
My Wake-Up Call For Change
Not long after that “before” photo was taken, I came down with a scary case of Mono (aka Mononucleosis) for the SECOND time in my life. If you’re not aware, that’s very rare to get mono twice. My mono then re-activated my Epstein Barr Virus, which most people recognize as the virus that causes your first case of Mono.
EBV (Epstein Barr Virus) is a ferocious monster, and it’s incredibly rare to get it re-activated. It can wreak havoc on your immune system, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, thyroid glands, and make you feel like you’re dying. I won’t get into it too much (you can read about my story in this post here) but I couldn’t get out of bed for a month, I couldn’t take care of my kids, I couldn’t walk, some days I could barely even talk because I didn’t have enough air in my lungs to do so. It was horrifying. That’s when I knew I had to make a change in order to be around long enough to take care of my family and watch my kids grow up. Because after an overwhelming amount of research, if your EBV gets re-activated once, it will always haunt you, and it can come back at any time if you’re not careful and cognizant of how you’re treating your body.
The Change to Save My Life
I could NOT allow this awful virus to come back again. I could NOT allow it to take over my life again. It was a wake-up call to say the least. A big, scary, in-your-face wake-up call. I was going to HAVE TO make a change in my life if I wanted a chance at a long, healthy life.
Now I know you might be thinking, “Well, I don’t have the Epstein Barr Virus, so my case is totally different than yours.”
Well, sure, my case is different than yours, but only in regard to my wake-up call. You might have a different wake-up call. But know this, the changes I had to make, ANYONE can make. Anyone can adopt these same diet principles and see change; Positive change that doesn’t just look good on the outside, but FEELS GREAT on the inside.
My New, Healthy Self
Today I’m 112 pounds. I eat more than I ever have in my entire life. It’s been a journey, and on some days it was a struggle, but my health is all that matters at this point. I’m at the weight my BODY wants because I give it all the nutrients it wants and needs in order to thrive and function at its best.
The below list is everything I did in an effort to mitigate my Epstein Barr Virus, and along the way I noticed some drastic, and quite unexpected changes.
I also haven’t worked out since before I got sick. I dance and play with my kids all the time, so I consider that my daily exercise!
10 Steps to Lose Those Extra Pounds and Get You on the Track to a Healthy Life:
1. Begin a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet
I understand a vegan, whole-foods, plant-based diet doesn’t sound appealing, and it even sounds overwhelming, but it has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If you think about it, it’s a very simple concept. The idea is that you’re making your food from WHOLE ingredients, not store-bought, processed junk. I also like to buy organic in order to avoid as much chemically-treated foods as possible.
Disclosure: I DO eat fish about once a week (or once every other week), and I’m not going to freak out if I eat a bite of chicken here or there. My (mostly) vegan diet is for health reasons, not political reasons. I also know that a meat-free diet doesn’t work for everyone. The point I’m making here is that if you change your diet to predominately whole foods (ie. veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds etc.), even if it incorporates high-quality, organic meats, you will still be much better off than eating pre-packaged, processed junk.
2. Remove ALL Processed Foods From Your Diet
This is a hard thought to process for many people; it was for me too. Most people say, “Well…. what CAN you eat, then?”
I tell them “Well, I can eat REAL food! haha”
This is another hard-to-accept, but simple concept to follow. If something is made by someone else (i.e a food that goes through a substantial process to be made, and/or a food that’s made out of ingredients you can’t pronounce, filled with preservatives & additives), simply don’t buy it. I make a few exceptions, which I’ll write a separate post about soon.
Another good tip, is if the ingredients are more than one, two or three ingredients, you want to stay away, because that tells you the producer of the packaged product most likely added a lot of salt, sugar, preservatives, and other sneaky names that you can’t pronounce, but are are actually horrible for you. To give you some understanding, we even make our own granola at home so we can control what ingredients go in the recipe.
To be fair, there are a lot of new companies that produce quality vegan and whole-food items that limit (or remove) any preservatives, added sugar etc. I’ve found a few good items at Whole Foods that I’ll keep in the pantry that are (by definition) processed, but are done in the healthiest way possible.
Also, all those added chemicals, refined sugar, fake sugar, added salt, preservatives and words you can’t pronounce that are listed in the ingredients of a processed product… well those ingredients not only make you gain weight, but they also HINDER you from losing weight. Double whammy. Once you cut out processed foods, you are not only cutting out the added calories that DONT FILL YOU UP, but you’re also allowing your body to process the GOOD food (fruits, veggies etc.) that your body NEEDS. These two things combined make you shed those extra pounds fast.
3. Cut Out Gluten
Yes, I have a gluten-intolerance. No, you might not. Or you might, but you just might not realize it. Either way, if you’re eating a ton of bread and carbs, that’s not healthy for you at all. Sure, carbs are a necessary part of the food triangle, but not at much as the Standard American Diet (SAD) tells us. Notice something? The acronym for the Standard American Diet is quite literally SAD. You can check out my article about the SAD diet HERE, and why I stay away from it.
Anyways! If you cut out gluten, you might have a happy surprise that your inflammation that you once had miraculously goes away, even if you didn’t realize you had inflammation. For me, it was chronic bloating and water retention. I lost 10 pounds of water within the first week of cutting out gluten. At the time, I didn’t even know that was possible.
4. Cut Out Processed Sugar (This Does NOT include Whole Fruits)
This one is HUGE, and I’ve even written an entire article dedicated to the harmful effects that added (processed/refined) sugar can have on the body. Everyone knows sugar turns to fat and has a ton of horrible things associated with it, but it also HINDERS you from losing weight. Refined sugar is toxic to the body when over-consumed. The daily recommended dose of refined sugar is 20-30 grams, but before I changed my diet, I was easily consuming 200+ grams of sugar per day without even realizing it. Remember, I thought I was a “healthy” eater…
5. No More Dairy
This one is a bit controversial, but I’m no longer a fan of dairy; for many reasons. I don’t think it’s good for you like it’s mass-marketed to be, and I don’t really miss it either. I was a cheese LOVER, and I also LOVED my daily bowl of cereal and 2% milk. But there isn’t anything I was getting (from a health perspective) from dairy that I couldn’t get somewhere else. For me, dairy wasn’t helping me, so I cut it out.
6. Drink Only Water
With the exception of coffee, tea, celery juice, and healthy smoothies/juicing drinks, you should only drink water. 60 oz. is the daily minimum, but if you could drink 90 oz., that’s even better. It keeps your body hydrated, it’s good for your skin, and the more water you drink, the more full you will be throughout the day, and the less snacking you’ll involve yourself in.
7. Limit Your Cooking Oil to Coconut, High-Quality Olive Oil, or Avocado Oil
Technically speaking, a whole-food, plant-based diet DOESN’T include oil, but I do use oil in my cooking. I buy the highest quality I can find though, and still limit it. I love the flavor it brings to my food, and if you’re a newbie to the vegan world, any added flavors like quality oils and spices are really helpful when finding and creating new recipes.
8. Try Intermittent Fasting
This sounds scary, but it’s another simple one. Simply stop eating around 7 pm, then don’t eat again until the next morning (12-14 hours later). I do this without even realizing it. I don’t eat breakfast until the kids are all fed, so intermittent fasting is an easy one for me. It’s a good way to do a mini detox for your body.
9. Go to Bed at 10pm (at least!)
This one is hard for me. Although I like to go to bed early, I find myself staying up to watch TV, cleaning the house, or working at night. When your body gets a sufficient amount of rest, everything else will work as it should; including the way your body digests and processes your food and nutrients.
10. Limit (Or Completely Cut Out) Alcohol
This is a doozy for many people! I was actually forced to limit my alcohol (I rarely drink these days) because it “feeds” my Epstein Barr Virus (in other words, it makes it way worse), so this wasn’t really a choice for me, but if you are a wine lover, or margarita lover like I was, this WILL BE HARD. Alcohol not only has a TON of refined sugar, but alcohol itself is a toxin. Simply put, it’s not good for you. If you’re a wino, there are many “natural wines” out there that limit (or cut out) the added sugar that most wines contain.
Here Are Some of the Changes I Noticed Within 4 Months:
- I lost 10 pounds of water weight within the first week
- My mood was noticeably better/happier
- I had more energy than ever before — even before I had mono!
- My chronic bloating was gone
- I lost weight very quickly within the first 2 months, then more slowly after that
- I continue to follow these steps daily, and I have maintained all of the above!
- If I ever have a “cheat day (or two),” I notice it almost instantly. My mood goes back down, I’m more irritable, I’m tired again, I sometimes get bloated again etc.
What Are Your Thoughts?
So, after reading over all of this, what do you think? Is it manageable to make the change? Are you excited? Overwhelmed? Well, I was both excited AND overwhelmed when I made the choice to change my diet. I pretty much ripped the band-aid off fast, and changed (quite literally) overnight.
For me, my Epstein Barr Virus, Chronic Bloating and Chronic Fatigue were my motivators, but everyone has their own wake-up call. I’ve been so happy with the changes in my life, and I hope this article motivates you to make whatever changes YOU need to live your healthiest life.
For more health and wellness, you can read my articles HERE.
For more food & drink, you can read those articles HERE.
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