I've gotten a lot of requests to write this post.
Matt Stone's e-book, Diet Recovery really helped me, and I wanted to share my experience with you all.
Since last fall, I've been working to balance my metabolism. I've had hormonal issues — notably low thyroid and low adrenal function — since I gave birth to my first child in 2007.
What helped me the most on my journey of hormone rebalancing was an e-book by Matt Stone of 180 Degree Health: Diet Recovery.
After reading that book this past January, I drastically increased my intake of carbohydrates (can you say lots and lots of pancakes, potato chips and hash browns fried in coconut oil?), and focused on getting a lot more sleep. In this post, I'll share with you what happened, and how reading this book changed my life.
Pregnancy and Nursing are Hard on Your Hormones
I've always been thin. I could always eat whatever I wanted; never gained an ounce. Heavy cream, butter, bread, chocolate, pasta, French fries, pizza — it didn't matter what I ate. I always stayed right in the range of 125-135 pounds. Even with a very sedentary lifetstyle of being on the computer all day and rarely getting any exercise.
It was only after I gave birth to my first child that I noticed that no matter what I did, I could not seem to drop those extra 20 or 30 pounds.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. I can't keep track of all the women I know trying to lose that extra baby weight. That's because pregnancy and nursing wreak havoc on your hormones. That's becasue stress lowers thyroid and adrenal function.
Don't get me wrong, having a baby was, hands down, the best experience of my life.
I'm grateful every single day for my sweet precious child.
It's the stubborn post-pregnancy weight gain I'm not so crazy about.
That's a picture of me in the fall of 2008 (with Jerry Brunetti). I was about 15 pounds over my pre-baby weight then.
I had been eating pretty low carb at that point for about a year (ever since I learned about the Weston A. Price Foundation in the fall of 2007). Not super low carb, but much more low carb than I had ever eaten in my life.
I was fastidiously avoiding grains and sugar, and eating mostly meat, fish, good fats (coconut oil, butter) and vegetables.
All of this in an effort to eat more healthfully and to rid myself of the excess baby fat.
Did it work?
Low Carb Is Also Hard on the Hormones
Everyone claims that low carb is the way to lose weight. It did not work for me, and there are lots of folks over on Matt Stone's blog who concur.
I found that I had to eat less and less, and restrict my carbs more and more.
The less I ate and the more I restricted, the less I could eat and the more I had to restrict — otherwise I would gain weight.
Enter Matt Stone
Matt Stone has this crazy idea that EATING MORE and RESTING MORE helps you, in the long run, heal your hormones and lose weight.
He puts a special emphasis on highly palatable, high-carb foods such as ice cream, bread, pasta, and pizza. Oh, yeah, baby!
His bottom line: EAT THE FOOD. Eat what makes you feel good. Stop restricting, stop counting calories, carbs, fat grams. Just eat the food.
It's not a lose-weight-quick scheme. It's a long-term program to nourish yourself, rebalance your hormones, and, in time, naturally lose weight.
According to Matt Stone, the key to healing is nourishing your hormonal glands with nutrition. And plenty of rest.
It made sense to me. There are so many super-restrictive diets out there. Low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie. The next thing you know, you're eating low-everything.
I'd had enough of all the restricted diets. Because the more I restricted, the worse I felt. If I cheated even just a tiny bit on my diet, I gained weight. And felt even worse about myself.
I was ready for a big change. I was ready to give up dieting and finally get healthy.
So I gave Matt Stone's Diet Recovery a try in January of this year.
I started eating a lot more, drastically boosted my carbohydrate intake, and focused on sleeping as much as possible. For a while, I was clocking 10-12 hours per night (ahh those were the days).
Hint: The trick is to go to sleep when your kids go down. Don't stay up and do more work. Just go to bed when they do. I know, easier said than done. We have stuff to do late at night! 😉
Did I lose weight? No. I gained weight. Since January, I've put on about 20 pounds.
But here's the thing. My body temperature has soared. I'm up from the low 97s (classic sign of low thyroid function) to a steady 98.6.
I can't tell you how happy that makes me.
Why? Because I want to have another baby. I'm 44. I know, my days are numbered.
But I really think we can pull this off — and Kate can have a baby brother or sister. Sure, I would have liked to have my kids earlier in life, but those were not the cards I was dealt. I did not find my sweet husband until I was in my late 30s (after a bad first marriage).
Conceiving another child is a LOT more challenging when your hormones are not functioning properly. In my mind, getting my thyroid and adrenals up to speed is Job One.
So what? I'm carrying a few extra pounds. If that means I'm healthier (hello, 98.6!) and I can easily conceive another child (knock on wood), for me it's totally worth it.
Will the weight come off eventually? I think it will.
But even if it doesn't, there are far more important things to worry about in this lifetime than 20 or 30 extra pounds.
I'd rather be thinking about how to be the best mother I can be to my child, how I can be the best wife to my husband, how to grow a thriving business, planning our next trip to Europe, etc. Worrying about how to restrict my diet so that I can stay a few pounds lighter is not on my bucket list.
Orthorexia is Stressful and Unhealthy
I'm also grateful that I'm not orthorexic anymore. Prior to Matt Stone, I was convinced that grains were bad, potatoes were bad, fruit was bad. Bottom line, I was really difficult to live with. When food gets in the way of happy, healthy relationships, that's not a good thing. And it's stressful. (See above re: stress causing damage to the hormones.)
My husband and my daughter are so grateful now that I am much looser and easy about what we eat. Sure, I still try my best to ensure that we eat very nutritious meals as often as possible, but I don't freak out if we eat not-so-healthy things every once in a while.
We still eat plenty of good, healthy foods — grass-fed meat and dairy, raw milk, lots of seafood, sprouted and soaked whole grains, coconut oil, and yes, we still take our cod liver oil.
We do the best we can but we don't stress about it. If we go out to eat and have pizza with white flour or French fries cooked in soybean oil, it's not a big deal. Most of the time we eat really well, so we don't worry about when we don't. The 80/20 rule works for us.
Thanks, Matt Stone! Air kiss! I'm so grateful that you helped me find my way to 98.6!
Want to Read More on This Topic?
Click here to read Matt Stone's e-book, Diet Recovery.
You can also check out my recent blog posts on this topic:
Is It Wheat Belly or Cortisol Belly?
How Intermittent Fasting Caused My Insomnia and Belly Fat
Why I Ditched Low Carb
If You Hate Matt Stone, Don't Read This Post
Carbohydrates Don't Cause Insulin Resistance
A number of people have commented wanting to know what health benefits I have experienced since I did Matt Stone's Diet Recovery.
There are a number of other things that improved in addition to just bringing my body temperature up and keeping it steady. (Which by itself is huge. I have been trying to get my body temperature up above the 97s since 2007 after I had the baby.)
– My libido is much higher (when I was low-carb it was non-existent).
– I have tons of energy — I work 12-16 hours a day right now with no breaks and have energy left over.
– I am not orthorexic anymore. I am much more relaxed. My husband and other family members are so much happier. We still eat well but I don’t get crazy about it.
– I no longer obsess about food. I eat what I want when I want. I don’t feel the need to restrict and binge. Getting off that roller coaster is so liberating.
By the way I just weighed myself for the first time in a month or so. I have lost
5 pounds 7 pounds. (5 pounds was last week when I was having my period and had water weight.) UPDATE: It's a month later and I've now lost 10 pounds since I stopped RRARFing in June.
So now I’m about 10 pounds over what I was after I had the baby — and I was not overweight then. I am 25 pounds over my pre-baby weight. I was on the thin side before I had Kate.
So I’m not sure if I am officially overweight or not — but if I am it’s only 5 or 10 pounds. I think as I start exercising again (I have been very sedentary due to working long hours), the weight will come off in time.
UPDATE — 1 YEAR LATER
June 22, 2013: It's almost a year later (10 months) and I have now lost 20 pounds in 10 weeks, and gone from 42% body fat to 21%. I have just 13 more pounds to go to reach my pre-pregnancy weight.
Click here to read how I'm doing it:
I'm still eating whatever I want, just less. It varies, but according to my FitBit log, I eat around 35-50% carbs and 40-60% fat, the rest protein. I don't TRY to do that, though. I just eat what I want, but I stay under the amount I'm allowed to have according to the FitBit.
And I did what Matt said — I waited until I fantasized about exercise to start. Now I can't wait to get my exercise in every day — I wake up excited to jump on the treadmill desk!
We're kicking off the FitBit Challenge tomorrow (June 23).
And YES! My body temperature is still a steady 98.6.
What's Your Experience?
Do you struggle with your weight? Do you have symptoms of low thyroid or low adrenal function? What's working for you? Please share your comments below.
Photo credit: Get out of diet free by Bookwyrm.com, on Flickr