Today I am happy to share a guest post written by my sister Cassie, who blogs over at Far Above Rubies. Cassie and I share the same mentality when it comes to health; we believe preventing problems is far better than treating them. She is also passionate about ensuring her family eats wholesome foods and that she herself stays fit and strong. And it’s not just about her; it’s about setting an example for her children so that they too can enjoy a healthy life.
Read on to learn how making small changes made a BIG difference.
The horrible-no-good-always-dreaded topic. Whenever I hear these words, I shutter. In my mind I start comparing myself to all the tiny people (*cough* Becky *cough*) around me who never stray from eating “the right” foods and who spend endless hours a day at the gym.
Growing up I was never one to struggle with weight gain. I’ve always enjoyed a good exercise routine. I don’t typically have a sweet tooth – well, maybe I do enjoy a few pieces of Dark Chocolate Almond barkThins here and there… it’s genetic – but I have had a few babies now, and they did change things for me.
My skin stretched in ways that still surprises me, it became way more convenient to eat from a bag than to eat from the garden, and sleep became a higher priority than any form of exercise. I felt tired and unattractive. Even though my weight gain wasn’t extensive, it still bothered me. So, in January 2014, when my oldest daughter was 4 and my middle daughter was (almost) 3, I began to work towards a healthier lifestyle. Not just because I wanted to lose weight, but because I wanted to set a good example for my beautiful, and very impressionable, young daughters.
By May 2014, in just 4 short months, I had lost 15 pounds and 2 inches. I was back to my pre-pregnancy self (well, except for the skin and stretch marks) and had done it all naturally – without spending any money on gym memberships or supplements. I had an exercise routine of 30 min a day 4x a week and consumed, on average, 1300 calories each day. It was what worked for me; it was a plan I could commit to.
In January 2015 we added another baby, a handsome brown eyed boy, to our family – and with it came a stubborn 5 pounds. I wish I could say it’s pregnancy based but, the truth is, I was never pregnant with him. We got our son, who we are in the process of adopting, through the foster care system. With his sweet 10-day-old self came (once again) many sleepless nights, and a few bad habits were reborn. While finding time to exercise remained a priority, eating dry cereal by the handfuls became all too natural again.
Fast forward to 2016. It wasn’t weightloss that motivated me; it was the reality that I struggle terribly with acid reflux, a daily upset tummy, and irritating skin conditions that forced me take a good look at my food choices. And here is what I found…
Most whole foods don’t cause any of these things!
In fact, many whole foods help with reflux and stomach pain and skin issues. It made me research Whole30 and Plant-Based Diets with renewed interest. I began to talk things over with my husband and we discussed how to make some changes that would move our entire family down a better path. The problem in our home is that, between our three littles, we have many food allergies, some of which cause anaphylactic reactions. Following a specific “program” does not work for us because many of the “safe” foods are in fact deadly to our children.
However, what I did realize about all these eating plans was that highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar and oil are all a giant no-go. So, we started a slow process of cutting these things out of our meals.
We replaced white flour foods with whole grain foods. Coconut oil is now what we use in most cooking. Meat, eggs, fruits and veggies are the largest part of what we consume in a day. But, I was still bothered by sugar. I didn’t want to simply find a sugar substitute, I wanted to truly watch, and limit it, in my diet. This included ALL sugars. The sugar that’s found in starches. The natural sugar that’s found in fruit and honey. The added sugar that’s found in salad dressings and yogurt, in drinks and (of course) my Dark Chocolate Almond barkThins.
So, I allowed myself a generous 50g of sugar a day, which I began to discover was not so generous after all. There are 5g of sugar in my favorite (all natural) coffee creamer. There are 14g of sugar in a banana. There are 19g of sugar in an apple. There are 17g of sugar in 1tbsp of honey. It’s easy to rack up the grams if you’re not careful. This has made me extremely conscious and forces me to make choices about what I reeeeeeally want to eat, and what I may not “need” to have today.
For 90 days I tracked my sugar intake using MyFitnessPal. At the end of those 90 days I noticed two important things.
First, I have been feeling much better. While sugar alone does not cause reflux or skin conditions, sugar IS found in most of the processed foods that DO. By limiting sugar in my diet I was, by default, also removing the “trigger foods” that have caused much of my discomfort.
Second, I lost 7 lbs over 90 days. While weight loss wasn’t my goal, it is absolutely an encouraging side effect.
I wish I could say that limiting sugar has made my stretch marks disappear, my psoriasis vanish, and my acid reflux completely nonexistent, but that is not true. However, it has improved the quality of my life as a whole and reminds me, yet again, how very important both diet and exercise are if you want to enjoy the most this life has to offer.
Thanks for sharing with us, Cassie!
If you have a success story to share, let me know!