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Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Post - Andrea's Journey

Hi everyone! I'm Mike's wife, Andrea and I'd like to tell you about my "weight loss journey" over the last 20 months. I don't know why I am calling it that, it sounds sort of cheesy, but it is all I could come up with. Just to give you fair warning, this post is very wordy and I try to source just about every fun fact I present. I'm very passionate about this topic - I hope you enjoy my story!

It was the summer of 2009, August 15th to be exact, and I'd received an all too familiar Facebook notification that I had been tagged in a picture...

So I signed in to check it out. Now, most of the time people are choosy with the pictures they upload of themselves to Facebook, but you don't have much control of what other people put up there. If you don't like how you look in a picture someone else uploads, aside from asking them to take it down, the most you can do is 'untag' yourself and hope it gets buried somewhere amidst "so and so's" pictures of their homemade lasagna and their mirror self portraits. Needless to say, said picture wasn't one I would have uploaded myself because I did NOT like how I looked! Now for those who know me, you know I'm probably one of the least vain, most fashion backwards twenty-somethings they know. So for me to stress about what I look like, well, that's somethin'. That was my turning point so to speak. Mike and I had just gotten engaged and set a date for our wedding, and like all brides-to-be, I was thinking about what I was going to look like our wedding day. So from then on, I set out to lose some weight!  I actually just found the piece of paper in my night stand where I'd written my weight and the date: 8/15/09 - 147lbs, which is what prompted me to write this post. That doesn't SEEM like a lot of weight to some, but for my height (5'4) and body frame it looked and felt like A LOT more!  Around that same point in time, Mike was on this "crazy" bacon kick where he ate bacon at every meal. So you can imagine the two of us in the kitchen bickering: Andrea: "Honey, I'm trying to lose weight for our wedding and you keep cooking bacon! What the heck! Aren't you afraid you're going to DIE OF A HEART ATTACK and make me a widow??? Everyone knows saturated fat is BAD!"
Mike: "Well, bacon won't give me heart disease or make me fat, so shush and let me eat it!"
Andrea: "Oh Yeah? Well...wait, huh? Oh, whatever, you're so weird."

And this sort of thing went on, and on...Mike eating lots of fat and me telling him a heart attack is soon to come. Then one day something clicked. I can't even remember how I made the realization, but it definitely wasn't just because of Mike's bacon fascination. Accepting that fat DOES NOT make you fat or "Clog Your Arteries" isn't something that one can just hear and accept instantly when someone casually mentions it.  It's definitely something very deeply ingrained in our minds much like "the Earth is Flat" was, that you pretty much need to see and/or read about yourself, at your own pace and accept gradually. Long story short, with a little help from Mike's comments here and there, and my inquisitive mind, I realized that what "they" have been telling us for decades about saturated fat is inaccurate and not even backed by any sort of real science. After I accepted that I, along with the rest of the world had been being misled in terms of nutrition, I immersed myself in the subject to find the truth.  I eventually came to realize that anything ".gov" is to be avoided and started only watching videos/reading articles and books written by Gary Taubes, Mark Sisson, Tom Naughton, Vin Miller, Sally Fallon (and oh, there are others!)

Why did I become so obsessed? Well, the biggest reason is that I LOVE FAT! I love bacon, and I love cooking my eggs in bacon drippings. And I love bacon on my salad, a nice juicy steak, full fat cream in my coffee and smoked provolone melted all over my big fat burger. So when I discovered that fat, red meat, naughty dairy (I'm sorry Mike, I'm not giving up dairy!) and scary egg yolks don't really cause any of the problems that I, along with all of you, had been taught our whole lives, I was beside myself! Just ask my friends and family, I did not hold back in telling them about it. I was like a born again preachin' about baby jesus.  Eventually I simmered down and realized that people for the most part, need to figure this out on their own, just like I did. So I try to keep my preachin' at a minimum. The nice part is, Mike and I have each other to vent to, and that kind of keeps us sane.

Anyway, back to the 'journey' portion of the story.  If fat doesn't make us fat, then what does?? Check out this clip from Tom Naughton's Documentary Fathead, which sums it up pretty perfectly.  The "white stuff" is what causes weight gain. Sugar, flour, white bread, cereal, pasta, grains - processed/boxed/bagged carbohydrates.  Cut those things out of your diet and VOILA! The weight will literally melt off of you. Wait, what? All you have to do to lose weight is to replace boxed, processed food with natural food?? Yup! Try it, you may be surprised at the results (see this post on failed attempts to outsmart nature). The best part? You won't even feel like you're on a diet (which you aren't, you're just eating NORMAL food). Not only that, but you can eat all of the foods your body craves, foods that will keep you from feeling tired and dragging at 3pm.  I'm not even going to get into the science and hormonal part of it all, but the short of it is that carbohydrates spike insulin, and insulin tells the body to store fat. It's not always about how many calories you're eating, it's what exactly those calories are made up of and how the body reacts.  Everyone's body is different, obviously. That is why we all can think of someone who eats like crap, but is still stick thin.

When you have some extra time, start here- Big Fat Lies with Gary Taubes, 02/06/08 at Stevens Institute of Technology. It's a long video, but Gary explains the science behind it all. It's really enlightening and just may change your life, as it did mine.

So here are some of my own tips for losing weight: 
-The biggest thing like I mentioned, is cut out sugar, bread, grains and pasta. Those used to be STAPLES in my daily diet.  I'd probably eat 2-4 servings of pasta per day, a couple slices of bread, at least 1 bowl of cereal and whatever else in a box was on sale.  I didn't really eat too much low fat stuff, but I was definitely in the mindset that low fat was better for you (which we now know IS NOT!) Does that mean you have to completely swear off those foods forever?? NO! I just don't keep them in my house - The easiest way to not eat those foods with every meal is to keep them out of sight. That way you're challenged to eat more vegetables and healthy meat (minimally processed/grass fed) and not depend on the packaged stuff. It's tricky and weird at first, but burger is still a burger without the bun, and spaghetti squash twirls on a fork just as well as spaghetti does. Do I still eat pizza? Hell yeah! But just not every other day. (See this post on the 80/20 rule)

-Stop drinking juice and soda. Wait, what?? Yes! All juice is, is sugar + water. "Well what if it's freshly squeezed?" <---why don't you just eat an orange?? Juice is just sugar from the fruit, without the fiber. And consuming fiber is good for us. Without fiber our bodies will absorb the sugar quicker, which will cause the insulin response, which we now know will tell our body to store fat.  Cutting out flavored beverages can be hard, especially for people who heavily rely on them. But it will seriously make a big impact on your weight loss goals. Diet drinks aren't smart either.

-Try new recipes and think creatively.  Replace your favorite pasta dish with spaghetti squash or zucchini (I highly recommend this homemade alfredo sauce!), make pizza crust using almond meal, use coconut flour to bake with - the coconut pancakes are especially good! Learn to eat hamburger without the bun and that B.L.T. sandwich you're jonesin' for? Subtract the bread and it's a damn good salad!  There really is no need to rely on bread and pasta if you get a little creative.

-Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. Which means buy foods that WILL SPOIL! That's great if your canned meat could help you survive Y2K, but guess what! Y2K happened, the world didn't end and you don't need food that can sit on your shelf for a year+ and not spoil. Heck, anything that can last longer than a couple of weeks is probably processed, genetically modified and cancerous.

-When in doubt about whether something is good for you or not, just think "would my Grandmother have eaten this as a child??" or "can I go outside and pick/kill this?" If the answer is no, slowly put down that can of spaghetti O's and head to the perimeter of the store, STAT! Follow the One Ingredient Diet mentality. If you're about to buy something that has a long list of ingredients on the back, most likely it was processed and there is a healthier option out there.

-Make smart choices. As Tom Naughton points out in Fathead, it's not the fast food joint's fault you're fat. You ultimately choose what to put into your body. Make the best of what is around you if you have to. If you can't afford all organic, grass fed, then eat regular beef. It is still better than that whopper from Burger King or that "meat" from Taco Bell. If you cook your own food, you know what's in it.  Am I saying never to eat fast food again? Of course not. But don't make excuses that you can't afford to eat healthy if you're eating out at fast food joints for every meal, because by the pound that is definitely the more expensive option!

I'm down to about 132 lbs, which sounds a lot better than 147! So within the last 20 months or so, I've lost around 15 pounds without really trying. I mean, I'm conscious of what I eat, but I don't spend hours at the gym (or much time at all, sorry Mike!) I obviously do not eat low fat anything, I actually strive to eat as much fat as possible  - which leads to my biggest point, I never feel like I have to go hungry because the fat that I eat will keep me satisfied between meals. We crave fat because it is good for us. Go figure? I haven't been sick (aside from a cold here and there), and I don't feel like I'm dieting at all. I'm not super strict about anything, I just make smart choices and don't keep tempting foods in the house.  I've gone from a "diet" mindset to just a lifestyle. It works better that way, and you don't have to worry about going off of the diet if you were never on one in the first place. After all, the #1 reason why diets don't work is because people don't follow them (that and some of them are just plain whack!)

So if you've made it this far, I commend you! Apparently, I can be long winded. But I wanted to share my journey, and some tips and resources that I've collected, in hopes of helping others. Being healthy doesn't have to be hard, painful, boring or lonely! We can support and learn from each other along the way. That is what Mike's blog is all about. So if you've got a story, recipe or tip, please share it!

Below are some recommendations and a list of some of the blogs I've referred to in my post for your reference. Thanks for reading and good luck on your journey!

Recipes - A couple books that I recommend. Buy them on Amazon or find them free at your local library!
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats - by Sally Fallon 
The Primal Blueprint Cookbook: Primal, Low Carb, Paleo, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free - by Mark Sisson

Movies - These 2 movies will change your life:
Food, Inc.
Fathead (watch it FREE on

Visit and support these blogs. They are what opened my eyes to the truth and continue to inspire me every day!

Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple
Tom Naughton’s Fathead Blog
Dr. Mike Eades’ Blog
Dr. Briffa’s Blog
Whole Health Source
Free The Animal
Weston A. Price Foundation
Natural Bias
Livin’ La Vida Low Carb
Organic & Thrifty
Pay Now, Live Later

**UPDATE!** Mike and I are expecting our first child! He is due February 2013 and I am almost 34 weeks along. I've had a great pregnancy so far and have our healthy eating and exercising to thank! Not only am I having a great pregnancy with no morning sickness, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure major aches and pains or any other complications, but as soon as we decided we were ready for kids and it was time try to get pregnant, it happened right away! We've been writing here and there about my pregnancy, you can check the posts out [here].

**ANOTHER UPDATE!!** Our son was born February 1st 2013! I had no complications with my pregnancy until the day I gave birth when at the very last second before I started pushing they realized the baby was breach! I was immediately rushed into the OR for a C-Section! You can read my birth story [here].  Our son Chase is now 9 months old and flourishing! And I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight! Since Chase was born, I have had very little time to workout so my weight loss has been attributed to watching what I eat (whole foods - fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, full fat dairy, grassfed meats and only the occasional fried food, pasta or bread...what, ya gotta live it up occasionally!) I plan to post about our adventures in making our own baby food, so check back soon for those links!


Thanks so much for posting this. I recently watch Fathead on a whim. I must admit I was shocked and more than that felt betrayed by our our government. At any rate i will be looking into the blogs you've suggested. Oh I also made some dietary changes and the weight is starting go. Thanks again.

You're welcome! It's so great to hear from someone who feels the same! I felt so betrayed and so shocked after I made this realization as well. Fathead definitely opened my eyes. I describe the feeling as the same thing Christopher Columbus felt when he realized the world isn't flat. You feel like you have to tell everyone! Congrats on finding this path, I wish you the best in your journey - come back and update us on your progress! -Andrea

I really need to start doing this. I'm about to start Reishi mushroom to try to help reverse my fibromyalgia, and though I have been gluten-free, gmo-free, etc., I have not been sugar-free and have been using things like brown rice pasta so I can have familiar dishes. I just don't know what to cook, because I like doing one-pot meals. Congratulations to you, and thank you for the inspiration. P.S. From those I've seen, Reishi mushroom really ups the immune system. Those who use it don't get sick. Of course, that is from very high-quality Reishi.

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