Jun 25, 2011


I remember the first time I got pregnant, the doctor I saw (for a nanosecond) insisted I have blood work done as a baseline, a mark to measure things against as the pregnancy progressed. It seemed like a good idea then, and taking a series of measurements or baselines still seems like a good idea.

I've been thinking a bit about what made me desire change. What was it about my life that was making me unhappy and discontented? How would I know these changes were working for me? What baselines did I have with which to measure my progress?

On the day I told my husband, "Starting next week, I am no longer eating grains or sugars," I was a size 14, weighed 177 pounds and was around 32% body fat (according to my body fat monitor scale, which is perhaps not greatly accurate). Size, weight, body measurements - these are all good solid markers I can track with the tools at hand. But what about other, more subtle markers? How else was I feeling on that day?

I was sluggish. Everything seemed like such an effort! I would laze around all day, then rush to get the dishes done and dinner on the stove at the last minute. Or not, and ask my husband to get take out on the way home. If my son wanted to go out and play, I'd go out with him...and sit in a chair with a book, knitting, or iPod. Or all three. Pregnancy and a newborn were great excuses for a while, but even I was getting tired of hearing them.

I felt foggy. My mind was as sluggish as my body. I think I said, "Huh?" a dozen or more times a day. I would drift off in the middle of things; I think I preferred it, actually. I wasn't writing, I wasn't even reading much. I had no ideas for creative projects when my son wanted to craft. I wanted to do nothing more than sit and watch TV, or cruise FaceBook and play games on my iPod.

I had digestive issues. I've had IBS for 20+ years, thanks in part to a bout of amoebic dysentery when I was 18 or 19. I tried many things to cure it, and about a dozen years ago realized it came down to diet - increasing fiber while decreasing sugar made the "attacks" less frequent and less intense. But they'd never gone away entirely. I thought high-fructose corn syrup was the big culprit until I had ELISA testing 2 years ago, and discovered I reacted highly to cane sugar. So much for the "healthy" substitutes!

I sometimes got the shakes. This would happen a lot when I ate a "healthy" breakfast of steel-cuts oats with brown sugar, 1% milk, and walnuts. Ninety minutes to two hours later, I would start to feel hungry, then ravenous, then I would shake or feel nauseated. I felt that if I didn't eat, and eat NOW, I would surely faint. Or maybe throw-up. Especially during my last pregnancy, this all too often led me straight to the McDonald's drive-thru, and a repeat of the cycle two hours later.

I lied. I would tell people - and myself - that I ate a diet of healthy whole foods, eating only whole grain breads, lots of vegetables, leans meats, etc. In reality, I was eating fast food 3-5 times a week, some days ate no vegetables or only a few baby carrots, and sometimes ate a packet of ding-dongs while grocery shopping. Not that I would tell anyone that; I paid for them, and had the clerk throw away the package.

I didn't need blood work or a scale or even a mirror to tell me that I wasn't healthy. I could feel it each and every day, and I showed it each and every day with my actions and my inactions.

The numbers, day 1:
Weight: 177 pounds
Waist: 104 cm
Hips: 106 cm
W/H ratio: 0.98
BMI: 27.72
Bodyfat: ~32%