Once I fell pregnant it was like a free for all, I ate anything I felt like including big pots of mashed potato and pumpkin just for a snack! I thought that because they were vegetables, what did it matter? Add on bags of chips and any takeaway I could get my hands on and I was in food heaven, I still ate lots of salads, but they were dripping in processed salad dressings.
No one ever spoke to me about eating whole, clean, and nutritious foods to feed myself and my unborn child- I just ate. When my daughter came into the world and they weighed me on the scales I was 72kgs, which was a far cry from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I still didn’t realise what it would take to get back into shape. I was under the impression it would just go away and I’d be back into my old clothes- HOW WRONG I WAS.
This started my hunt for the best and quickest diet that I could find, something that would require little effort and work miracles. Enter the celebrity diets, the shakes, the diet pills, the paid programs like Gloria Marshall and an off fishy smelling powder called Chitosan that was supposed to absorb any dietary fat that I ate (because everyone knows you need to eat low fat to lose fat). I was exercising daily walking 5-10 kms up hills and stairs, then come home and work out on an elliptical walker for 30 mins just to maintain the little I had lost.
Then came the prescribed pills from my doctor like Adifax that I had to stop once my doctor was informed that they were shown to damage the vessels in the heart. Not to mention Duromine, that kept me awake for 3 days and caused my hands to shake uncontrollably, which in my profession as a Beauty Therapist didn’t instil confidence in my clients when they we are getting an eyebrow wax! And this insanity continued for 20 years!
By 2010 I decided I wanted to increase my education from my Diploma in Beauty Therapy to include an Advanced Diploma in Nutritional Medicine. I wanted to get to the bottom of not only weight loss and how to maintain it but how to increase my overall health. I was already helping my beauty clients with their skin from the outside now I wanted to get to the bottom of what was happening on the inside.
The education I received was all the usual information that follows the dietary guidelines laid out by our government, that is backed by science dating back some 50-60 years with the “Diet-Heart hypothesis”, which in a nutshell says fat gives you heart disease, and that eating everything in moderation is the key to a balanced, sustainable, and healthy life. They advocate low fat (from plant sources), lean meats, high amounts of healthy whole grains, and vegetables including high starch varieties like potatoes, corn, peas and carrots.
Essentially the message is eat less and move more for weight loss and health. The calories in, calories out model has been debunked numerous times and is a cause for debate among the scientific community and too big to address here.
Half way through my studies I had to complete 110 hours of placement with a Naturopath or Dietician. I chose a dietician because I thought that’s where I could learn the most about health and what to eat to achieve it. The first couple of weeks I sat and observed her consultations and realised it looked pretty simple and made sense- She was following the Dietary Food Guidelines laid out by our government and is science based so it must be right. So for the next 6 weeks I personally followed the advice to a “T”- you know the advice I’m talking about - the low fat, 6-11 serves of healthy whole grains and cereals, and lean meat. I even bought a plate that had a pretty diagram on it telling me my portion size and what should be on it - I was all set to lose my excess weight and be healthy.
In that 6 weeks I gained almost 10 kilos putting me back to square one, my skin was a complete mess I had cystic acne all over my chin to the point that opening my mouth to brush my teeth was so painful it almost wasn’t worth doing - I had been a Beauty Therapist for 16 years by this time and knew how to take care of my skin and nothing I was doing was helping rid me of these painful lumps. At the end of each day I would have to unbutton my pants because I was so bloated, my normally low blood pressure went even lower, and I saw stars every time I stood up, basically I was a mess and looked it. I couldn’t figure it out, what was I doing wrong, I asked for help and was told the same thing “just stick with the plan and it will work itself out”.
At about this time one of my close friends rang me distraught as she’d just been told she would need a liver biopsy because her liver enzymes had sky rocketed and she had a fatty liver. Even after she had lost almost 30 kilos, was eating a healthy diet following low fat advice from a well-known celebrity trainer with an online following - think Biggest Loser, quit smoking, and was exercising like a woman possessed. But her insides were saying something completely different.
I took her results to the dietician, so she could help me with advice on what I could do to help the situation and was told “we’ll look at her results after the biopsy”. But they didn't.
So here my research began into what the hell was going on with us, we were following all the guidelines laid out for health and were fast becoming unhealthy.
I was up late into the night and came across a Facebook page on LCHF or Low Carb, Moderate protein and high Healthy Fats and I was shocked at the thousands of comments and success stories. It involves removing wheat, grains, sugar, processed foods/oils, vegetables high in starch and high sugar fruits. I started to look at the science behind it and it was like a light bulb went off in my head IT MADE SO MUCH SENSE! The clincher was I saw a post from someone discussing their fatty liver and how she had reversed her previous diagnosis and I thought ok let’s give this a go, I mean what did either of us have to lose at this point. I called my friend the next day and so began our N=1 experiments, her for her fatty liver and me for everything else!
Fast forward 8 weeks for me and I lost the 10 kilos I had put on, my skin was clear, my blood pressure went back to “my normal” and I didn’t have to unbutton my pants at the end of every day.
At the 12-week mark for my friend she went back to her doctor and had her tests run again, all her levels had returned to normal IN 12 WEEKS. Her doctor was amazed but still against the idea of eating fat for health and when I spoke to the dietician all she said to me was “You are going to have a heart attack”. Now I know there were no clinical trials performed on us, but for me anecdotal evidence was doing far better for me then the so- called science behind the Dietary Guidelines ever did.
I finally graduated in 2014 and decided to help promote this way of eating for overall health.
I created my business Your Health Your Choice to help people regain control of their health with choices. I look outside the box at what is really going on with their health from stress, lack of sleep, deranged metabolism, and their mental challenges from yo-yo dieting and addiction to food.
Since changing the way I eat, so many things in my life have changed. Never again will I starve myself to stay under my total calories, being hungry all the time only to binge and have to start again. I will never feel that sense of guilt for having “fallen off the wagon” and just start inhaling all food that’s not nailed down. The way I eat now is nutrient dense and keeps me full for hours, so there isn’t the need to count anything!
I have reduced my internal inflammation caused by the “health whole grains” that resulted in a diagnosis of diverticulosis and a leaky gut and continue to increase my health daily as it’s a journey not a “quick fix”.
This is NOT A DIET, which people view as a short-term solution to their health problems and don’t change their relationships or behaviours surrounding their food choices. This is way of eating that is easy and most of all sustainable for long term permanent change.
At my highest non-pregnant weight (right hand photo) I was 75 kilos and this picture was taken at a dance performance I was in that was in front of a couple of hundred people and I felt like one of the whales that swims by every year here in Hervey Bay.
That number doesn’t sound like a lot to someone who is morbidly obese, but remember I was doing everything to keep my weight from increasing for YEARS. Every day was a mental challenge for me: what can I eat, when should I eat, how much can I eat. On a loop in my head every minute of every day. The struggle is real whether you need to lose 5kgs, 10kgs or like me 20kgs but now I eat when I’m hungry and don’t eat when I’m not.
The photo on the left was taken at my high 25yr high school reunion in 2016 and I was between 58-60kgs (I think as I hadn’t weighed myself for a while but go on how my clothes fit) and I felt great. Not super model great but great for a 40 something grandmother. At this point I still had underlying health issues like adenomyosis (a whole other discussion) and was still healing my diverticulosis. Since then my weight has fluctuated but my health has increased and all my bio-markers for internal health are all perfect-so I’ll take that!
The loop in my head now consists of just normal everyday things like family, work and what are we doing this weekend. I don’t count every calorie, I’m not deprived of foods that I enjoy and the constant obsession with my scale is completely gone. I’m using my body fat for energy when it’s needed. I don’t have the sugar crashes anymore because I eat a small amount of carbohydrates from good sources and that keeps my insulin levels low and allows me to run on my own fuel for hours if I need to. Obesity in all its forms is inflammation and a deranged hormonal system to put it simply and if you reduce the inflammation and balance the hormones your body will do the rest.
Health is a journey, there is no magic pill or quick fix. It takes time to heal the body, but with the right advice and changing our mindset we can and will get there.
Remember Your Health IS Your Choice.
"Health is a journey, there is no magic pill or quick fix"
- Megan Farthing