my journey to a healthier body, from the inside out: hitting the six-month mark

via @frametastic

Do you know what it’s like to regard the once object of your affection with utter repulsion? Yesterday I was in an elevator with a man who carried a bag of MELT grilled cheese sandwiches, and I seriously thought I was going to be sick. He carried the most glorious of cheeses, gruyere, and I could practically taste the butter staining the wax paper. I felt waves of nostalgia and sickness and I had to cover my face with my hat so I could stop smelling that goddamn cheese smell.

Welcome to a life six months free of gluten and dairy.

We can talk about the incredible changes–30 pounds lost (and counting), muscle mass gained, nights of fitful sleep achieved, a fitness challenge victoriously completed, a host of new foods and tastes discovered–but we should also consider the losses. While I’m now able to incorporate certain foods back into my diet (blueberries, sweet potatoes, turkey, cranberries etc), many of the foods for which I once longed have become terrifying strangers. Since my reaction to gluten was so severe, when I’m able to resume a diet of gluten and dairy, I’m only able to have either of those foods ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS, and I need to start with dairy, which is less perilous to my system. However, with the exception of cheese, halloumi and gruyere in particular, I don’t much care for dairy or miss it. And after yesterday’s bout of nausea, I wonder if I can enjoy the foods I once loved without feeling repulsed by them.

Did I tell you that when I have sugary desserts, the sugar tastes like acid? It actually burns. I’ve made several incredible desserts with the highest quality sugar I could find, but that first bite is brutal. Successive bites are less so, but it puts me to thinking about the first time I had Diet Coke after years of not consuming it and having to spit it out in the street. It was that unpleasant. And while I don’t think I’ll have that severe of a reaction to an almond croissant, I know something in me has changed.

I’m now that sort of woman who gets excited about seasoned chickpeas in a kale salad. Exhibit A, below. Try telling me that salad doesn’t look downright GLORIOUS.

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I’m the sort of person who marvels over the fact I sort of like nori. NORI? From a fervent fish-hater? Who knew? Over the past six months, I’ve discovered scores of tastes and flavors I’ve slowly come to love, and I feel as if the journey has only just begun. I’ve also been listening to my body, really listening, and I’ve noticed how sluggish it becomes when I binge on carbs (hello, gluten-free pasta with vegan cream sauce three days in a row, followed by cake) and how my performance during workouts suffer.

Speaking of which, since I’m forever a month early for everything, I spent some time before a recent Brooklyn BodyBurn class chatting up one of the instructors. This instructor has an enviable figure (it’s hard not to notice), and her classes have been one of the hardest I’ve taken, but I was surprised to hear that, up until two years ago, she barely thought of eating to nourish and exercising for strength. Food was an endless foe that had to be conquered, with exercise being one of the many weapons in her arsenal. She juice-cleansed, starved, binged, couched, and it wasn’t until she got into the rhythm of listening to her body and tuning in to what it needed, did she find herself in the best shape of her life.

We’ve heard these stories before, I read them every month in fitness magazines, but it’s good to be reminded that your body is a house worth preserving, not one worth burning to the ground.

I’ve got eight more pounds to lose (my nutritionist would say 13, but in this we disagree), the last stubborn reserves, and I’ve made some slight modifications to my diet (swapping my almond milk cappuccinos for almond milk cortados, eliminating nuts/nut butters for a month) to get rid of the pounds before I go back to maintenance eating, which is still heavily plant-based, but is freeing in the sense that I can increase the carbs and fat since I’m not trying to lose when I hit my goal. Truth be told, I’m taking this all in stride. I feel good and I’m not in a race with the scale. The weight will come off when it needs to and I just need to focus on being present at every meal. And look at the snap above? Does healthy eating look like torture? HARDLY.

Finally, I’ve achieved the unthinkable: I finished my 30-day, self-imposed Brooklyn BodyBurn challenge without dying. Remember how nervous I was when I started? I was sure that I would give up midway through the month, or fall and crack my head open when it snowed this week, but taking pictures of myself at BBB made me oddly accountable to myself. Before every workout, I’d say to myself that I’m going to do the best I can do, and the fact that I showed up matters. The rest, well, is golden.

I did show up for a month, and I got stronger. And while working out on the megaformer will never get easier, it feels good to show up. It feels good to do the thing you never thought you could do. It feels good to crave healthy foods. It feels good to love chickpeas.

It feels good to be golden.

19 thoughts on “my journey to a healthier body, from the inside out: hitting the six-month mark

  1. Wow I find it so interesting how your tastes have changed so dramatically. Do you think it is more your body and taste buds that has changed, or is it all in the mind? I wonder if training yourself to dislike and be repulsed by certain foods is more useful or damaging? I guess it depends on how you train.

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    1. I don’t think I’m training myself to dislike foods. I think when you take certain foods out of your diet and reintroduce them, the way you react to them could be different. I also thinking listening to your body reveals things it would have previously ignored. Since my diet is mostly comprised of whole foods, whenever I do have sugar or something that I wouldn’t normally have, my body just reacts. Hope that clarifies! ☺️

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  2. It’s been very inspiring reading about and watching your transformation these past few months. I eat mindlessly and for emotional comfort. As a result of a life I’m not at all present for, happy with and invested in at the moment I keep willfully damaging my body – with sugar especially – even when I’m left physically and mentally numb afterwards. The 60+ pounds I’ve managed to regain in the past YEAR unfortunately tell the tale.So in that regards it’s been especially inspiring to see someone who once loved certain foods so much, especially carbs, able to make such a turn-around and not feel a deep sense of loss or deprivation or worse for it. I’m happy for all of your success and hope before the year is out I’ll have my own similar success story to tell — and finally get it right this time. Like you said it’s about treating your body as a house worth preserving and I think that’s where I’ve gone wrong in the past the countless times I’ve attempted to eat healthier and exercise more: losing weight became the only goal and motivation behind those changes instead of doing it for my overall well being — my body, my mind, and my life. The biggest struggle remains in feeling that I’m worthy and deserving of this, so I believe that’s where the journey has to begin for me. Thanks, as always, for the gift of your beautiful writing and again for sharing your journey, warts (and hives!) and all : )

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    1. Courtney,

      First of all, thank you. thank you for your honesty and revealing an intimate part of yourself on this space. For much of my life, I’ve waged a war against my body and it was mostly unsuccessful because there are no victors, there are no spoils, there’s just you with your anger and sadness and for what? To look a certain way? I initially sought out a nutritionist because I wasn’t feeling good in my own skin, and I was confused about my high insulin levels and weight gain, which I’d avoided since I was a child. It was a shock and then a relief to know that the number on a scale is just information. It’s a number and nothing more.

      Both my doctor and nutritionist said that if I eat whole food, REAL FOOD, only good things would happen. If I ate to nourish, to fuel, I would end up feeling my best self.

      I wish this and so much more for you, and I KNOW you can do it. Can’t wait to see YOUR BLOOM.

      Warmest, Felicia

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, as always, for just putting your experience out there so simply without any of the preach and puff that it shows, as Courtney said, that it can be done.

    Your reaction to sugar brought back a memory from childhood. My Uncle Gary who is an amazing chiropractor and healer would do a “test” where I would stand in front of him with my arm outstreched to the side, he would push down on it and I could easily resist his pressure but when we redid the same test while I was holding a big bag of sugar with my other arm, I could not resist and my arm went straight down every time. Amazing but a true story. This was in the 70s and so he was way ahead of the “sugar is poison” bandwagon that I have read about it recent years.

    Felicia, I am sorry to bother you with such a basic question but what are some of the things that you eat for breakfast? That is always a challenging meal for me. Merci!

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    1. WOW. That test is fascinating. Did you know his thoughts on the science behind it?

      And you’re not bothering me at all! I have one of a few options for breakfast. I either have a protein smoothie (vegan protein powder, spinach or kale, almond milk, ice), eggs, gluten free granola with almond milk (sparingly), or I’ll make gluten-free pancakes. I have a buckwheat that I quite like and I usually have that with some fruit or syrup. I make sure I have protein at breakfast because carbs only make me hungry in 2 hours. Hope this helps 🙂

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      1. This does help and brought back yet another childhood memory of my Grandmother making delicious buckwheat pancakes. 😉 I live in a tiny, tiny village in Provence but we are lucky to have a vegetable seller and a mini-market here (I don’t drive). So I can adapt these ideas to what I can find (no kale in France outside of Paris!) or order online. Merci!

        I was pretty little when he did that test but what I remember is him saying that it was his way of proving that there are some things that the body rejects naturally. I saw him for the first time in many years at my Mom’s wedding in September and he was telling me about some new work that he has been doing (despite “retirement”) that I think is called “path of life”? It was hard to hear over the Motown playing at the reception! But that too sounds fascinating…about creating space within the body to be your better self, to unblock your fears and past wounds so that you can be and achieve more. If I find a better description of it I will send it to you!

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  4. Felicia, first off, congratulations on completing your challenge! It’s been inspiring to watch you charge through and sort of take us along with you. Your determination is contagious!

    I was thinking about how you and your nutritionist disagree about how much weight you need to lose. What did you draw on to go with your own numbers?

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    1. Thank you so much! It’s been quite an auspicious journey, one I’m glad to have taken.

      Hmm, re: #s. Dana would like me to be at 130 and I’d prefer 135. The decision came from a few factors, namely, I don’t care about being small (by saying that, I don’t think that’s Dana intention, at all), rather I care about being healthy and I would like a bit of fat on me. I also don’t want to be tethered to a number that delivers the notion of an ideal. If I’m within 5 pounds of my normal, that’s cool. I’m no longer freaking. All my numbers (BMI, % of fat to lean muscle, etc) are now in the normal ranges, so it’s really just about cosmetics. Do I care about being a certain size? Ten years ago, absolutely. Now, not so much. I rather care about eating healthy, but allowing for the flexibility to have baked goods and gluten, once I’m able to have that again.

      Hope that adds some clarity. Or did I just ramble? It’s Sunday 🙂

      On Sun, Jan 11, 2015 at 10:07 AM, love.life.eat wrote:

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  5. What a great and motivating read, very insightful. Well done on sticking to things. As for the acidic taste of things that are normally loved, I have experienced that recently with Coca Cola – due to anxiety I can no longer have it, and last time I gave into temptation I did not even enjoy the flavour. All the best with the rest of the target-reaching.

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