I don’t know who put that particular twist on a similar saying, but they were spot on!
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time over the past eleven years or so, you know what a struggle it’s been for me to stay gluten free. In fact, it’s been such a struggle that I’ve been eating gluten pretty freely for the past five or six years.
And I’ve suffered for it too. With little energy. With brain fog so ‘thick’ I could hardly think straight, much less make any headway with writing and editing. It’s hard to find the motivation to do anything when you’re always so tired you’re just thinking about the next nap, or bedtime. But no matter how much sleep you get, you never feel rested.
I’ve been trying to do better. I missed writing. I’ve always written, since I was eight or ten years old. I missed living my life too. So I’ve tried. I knew the Trim Healthy Mama (aka THM – affiliate link alert! Learn more about those by clicking here) plan was a way of life I could get totally on board with. Except I was never totally on board with it. I kept eating lavash bread and low carb tortillas – all with wheat in the ingredient lists … and wondering why I never felt any better. And why I always caved and bought the jelly donuts, fast food burgers (with buns), and my favorite pizza.
Well, in May, a friend asked me if I’d ever actually stayed on the plan for a full month. And I had to admit that I had not.
Wasn’t the whole point of sticking to a healthy diet for a week or ten days to reward yourself with a cheat meal? Or in my case, a cheat day. Or a cheat week, month, or a few months. And in between, I made sure I had plenty of keto/low carb breads and tortillas.
I guess there just comes a point in life where you feel so bad, where life seems so hard, that health has to become a priority. And when my friend asked that question, something finally clicked. I couldn’t keep complaining that nothing was working. That I never felt any better. I couldn’t keep doing that if I never gave THM a real chance.
So, I made up my mind I was going to give it a full thirty days. But if I was going to do it, I needed to do it right. I had to give up the gluten again. All those books I wrote between 2013 and mid-2016? I wrote them when I was gluten-free. Free of brain fog. And I wanted that again.
For the first time since ‘trying’ THM in 2018, I made it two weeks without a single cheat. And something changed in my mindset at that point. A ‘knowing’ that continued to get stronger with each passing day.
Before the end of May, much as I loved the weekly potlucks at my church, I knew I had to stop eating anything that wasn’t low carb. That meant I would need to start bringing my own low carb food, in addition to a dish to pass. And with that decision, the cheating through Friday stopped.
In the morning, I’ll be waking up to my sixty-eighth day of no sugar, no gluten, and no high glycemic carbs. I did try to have a cheat day this past Sunday. After church, I decided I deserved a reward, so I hit the gluten-free aisle at the store. I already knew which foods I loved, but every package I picked up? All I could see were the carbs, and they were so high, I cringed.
But it wasn’t just that reason that caused me to put each package back on the shelf. Yeah, it all sounded good. But I was also a little scared. A couple of weeks ago, I got glutened – with maybe an eighth of a teaspoon (probably half that!) of wheat flour in two tiny bites of food I wanted to taste. And while this stuff would have no wheat in it, it was all still full of sugar and high carb starches.
Apparently, the cleaner your diet, the worse these foods can hit you, if you’re sensitive to them. And I am. I felt so horrible – for two solid weeks – after the gluten, I was afraid something similar would happen with the sugar and other ingredients I’d cut out of my diet. I’d been making huge amounts of progress on Quinn’s book, and Weko 2 (more affiliate links). That all came to a screeching halt. I’m just now back to feeling good again, and hoping to make up for lost time.
Why tell you all of this? Because I wanted you to know that if you think you’ll never be able to give up foods you love for your health … if you give it thirty days, you might be surprised. Like me, you might find that your brain fog goes away. You might have more energy too. And the inflammation that makes every ache and pain you might have a million times worse? That improves too. By a lot.
Something else? With diet alone, I went from my doctor wanting me on a prescription for triglycerides and cholesterol (not horribly high, but inching their way up) – to everything on my blood test results being in the normal range. I had several flags. I had pre-diabetes. Now, it’s all normal.
Do I still want the jelly donut or pizza? Sometimes. But it’s not a strong craving. And there are so many things on THM that satisfy my cravings, I’m rarely tempted by them anymore.
And even if I was, just like on Sunday, I have to ask myself if it’s worth feeling awful again. And that answer is no. I think it always will be. Because once I took the time to get used to this new way of eating, I stopped feeling deprived. I started feeling empowered and confident.
Having energy again? Being able to think clearly again? Being able to spend time doing what I love – writing again? Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Nothing.
I was trying to think of a song that describes where I’m at right now. Of course, you know Fight Song came immediately to mind. But then another favorite did. And I think that’s actually more appropriate for this post. Sometimes, you have to hit bottom – or empty – before you’re motivated to make a change. I’m glad I hit that place, because there’s nowhere to go from here but up.
I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, Debbie, but thank you. And thank you, Tari. You both have helped me more than you’ll ever know.
Oh yeah! I thought it was time for yet another change, and did a little redecorating around here. Hope you like the ‘paint!’