Yes, I did it. I survived a month on an elimination diet . I managed to do this while starting a new workout schedule with a personal trainer. Besides surviving and losing some weight, what are the results of the diet and training? Here’s what I’ve learned:
*For a month, I avoided wheat, dairy, almonds and sugar. Now that the month is over I’m adding a new food group for just three days and then waiting two more days to see if I can note any reaction. So far, I added back in wheat. The only response I’ve noticed is a bit of gas. Not very ladylike perhaps, but not the worst reaction. Will I keep wheat in my diet? Maybe on occasion, but I didn’t particularly miss it. When I reintroduced wheat-laden foods, I realized most of them weren’t healthy or particularly enjoyable. I eat crackers mindlessly and that’s not good. I stopped eating toast with peanut butter as a snack and switched to apple slices and sunflower butter. As I test the foods I show a sensitivity to, I plan to be more mindful of how healthy that food is and if I really like it.
*Reading labels isn’t so bad. In the beginning of the diet, I was thoroughly annoyed that I had to read every food label for items like sugar and almonds. It made me realize, especially with sugar, that there are ingredients in foods that really aren’t necessary. Bacon without sugar is just as good, if not better than bacon made with sugar. I plan to keep buying sugar-free bacon as well as the vegan Caesar salad dressing I discovered. If I keep sugar as just a “sometime food” as opposed to an everyday food, I know I’ll continue to feel better.
*Making meals from scratch is getting easier. To eliminate sugar from my diet, I found it easy to make some foods instead of buying prepared foods. Yes, it takes more work to make meatloaf than to throw a preseasoned meat in a crock pot, but I got into the hang of it. My Pinterest food page has more recipes for me to draw from. I’m still searching for new recipes, but I’m more confident in my cooking skills.
*I feel a bit like a cavewoman with the meat I’m eating, but that’s a good thing. Since my iron was at 2 when the range is 10 to 232, I knew I needed to eat more iron in addition to taking supplements. While I didn’t follow through on my nutritionist’s suggestion of adding liver to my meatloaf, I did eat more red meat than in the past. I’m happy to share in a month my iron went up to an 8. While it’s improving I did have my first IV iron infusion this past weekend. It was really easy actually and I didn’t have any reaction. I’m going for a second one later this week and we’ll see what happens from there. My symptoms of itchy skin and fatigue are gone, so unless eating a certain food bothers me when I reintroduce it, I think my low iron levels were causing them.
*An elimination diet is more than just finding out which foods are causing issues, it helps reset your eating habits. For me, this past month was a good reminder that I need to eat mindfully. Making better choices like eating less processed foods and more whole foods is making me feel better, I’m sure. Also, even if I’m eating healthy foods, I need to watch the amount. Macadamia nuts are better than chips, but they still have calories, so you can’t eat them mindlessly. This month has been a bit of reset to my old ways of eating after I had gastric sleeve surgery and with my four-year anniversary two months away, it’s been a good reminder of how I need to eat to continue to be healthy.
*Along with the diet, I began working out with my trainer with the initial goal of improving my running. Yes, it’s improved my running! When I first started, H., had me run 1.5 miles for a baseline. I ran that same 1.5 miles last Friday and I’m excited to report I did it without walking. As I’ve mentioned in many blogs, I’ve been a runner/walker since I started my weight loss journey. And let me say that I think there is nothing wrong with doing intervals. If you’re moving, you’re doing great! For me, I wanted to improve my pace and see if I could improve my stamina. After a month of twice weekly workouts and a day or two of working out on my own, I’m excited to say I ran that same 1.5 miles without walking and beat my original time by 1:09 minutes. I will never forget when I started the Couch to 5K program, my pace was 18:30 minutes per mile. Four years later, my new pace is 12:07 per mile. My body can do more than I ever thought it could!
*This brings me to one of the best parts of increasing and improving my exercise routine: I believe I can do more. I know that it was my mental block that was part of the reason I couldn’t run without taking a break. While I’m working on my muscle memory (my body getting used to working out harder), I’m also retraining my brain to be more positive and open to changes. I’m learning to trust my body when I exercise. When my head and body work together, I can accomplish my exercising goals.
So after a month of “dieting” and a new exercise routine, I am excited with all the changes I’ve made. Sugar and wheat are mostly out, but in on occasion. Mindful eating is in, but mindless eating is out. Cooking is in, but prepackaged food is out as much as possible. Exercise and working with a trainer is most definitely in, but doubting my abilities is out. As crazy as this month as been, I’m glad I followed the elimination diet and new exercise routine. I feel healthy, empowered, and ready to keep going Down the Scale…