by Jess Lyman (pictured above)
As we sit on our veranda less than 25 feet from the Caribbean Sea, the constant calming sound of the sea as background music to our ears, we remember when we were no different from average baby boomers; content to stay home, cook great meals, visit with family and friends, and spend our requisite lounging time in front of the TV.
We left it all. On January 3, 2013, we boarded the Celebrity Century in San Diego on our way through the Panama Canal, to begin a five to ten year long journey we’ll continue until we don’t want to travel any more, until we tire of hauling our luggage, or until we feel a compelling desire to stay put.
Nineteen months ago, we began another journey of drastically changing our diet.We no longer eat wheat or other grain, processed gluten free foods, starch ( corn or corn based products, no beans) soy or soy based products, no sugar ( agave or other purported safe sugars all of which raise blood glucose levels), or fruit other than a few berries . We now eat grass fed meat, wild caught fish free range chicken and eggs, non-starchy vegetables, coconut, almond and hazelnut flour, raw nuts, hard cheeses, cream cheese, unsweetened coconut milk, real butter and coconut oil.
Here’s my story. From the time I was a teenager, my life revolved around limited portions, denying myself favorite foods and constantly being on a diet. With a family history of severe diabetes, morbid obesity, debilitating joint and spine disease, and rampant heart disease, I began my adult life on a mission to stay slim, frequently going up and down in weight, often as much as 50 pounds, to eventually lose it all on some radical “diet of the month.” I exercised rigorously most of my life. I tried it all. I was determined.
I was always hungry, always looking at other people’s plates wondering why I couldn’t eat that burger, those fries, that triple-decker sandwich on toasted white bread or that lofty piece of gooey chocolate cake topped with a large dollop of ice cream
Was I eating more “calories” than I needed, consuming recommended amounts of carb-laden foods? What I had perceived to be “healthy” foods packed on the weight; whole grain breads and pasta, lentils, brown rice, oatmeal, dried fruit, beans, whole wheat pitas and bagels, yogurt with fruit, corn on the cob, winter squash and sweet potatoes. Wasn’t I eating exactly what the medical profession described as a healthy diet?
Over the past 20 years, no manner how hard I tried to be healthy and escape the ravages of my “genes” I suffered with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, chronic debilitating pain and had already had one heart surgery. I was told a total spinal fusion, from C1 to L5, was the only way to reduce the pain. My life was going downhill fast. A wheelchair was imminent.
I refused the surgery instead going on a mission to save my life. I started with Dr. William Davis’s book, Wheat Belly, 19 months ago, beginning the radical changes in diet After three months on the diet, I awoke one morning, for the first time in over 20 years, pain free. I thought it was a fluke.
Then Jonathan Bailor’s book, The Smarter Science of Slim hit the market. I devoured every word from cover to cover in one day and sent the Amazon link to no less than 10 of my family members and friends.
Prior to reading the book, I worked out six times a week at a local health club, an hour and a half a day, comparable to a gerbil running on a wheel, running into oblivion, performing the same mundane protocol and seeing little results.
After reading Jonathan’s book we changed our diet to include more protein, from 60 grams a day to around 125 grams, upping our non-starchy vegetable consumption four fold. The day after reading the book, I couldn’t wait to go to the health club to try my new protocol, instructions on my smart phone in hand, learning high intensity interval training.
It was hard to believe that two ten- minute sessions a week plus an active lifestyle of about 10,000 steps per day would dramatically change my health, body composition, strength and endurance.
The eight pounds I was carrying around my mid-section literally fell away. I am full for the first time in my life! So satisfied that I forget to eat. So satisfied that I don’t go rummaging around the kitchen at night craving something sweet. So satisfied that my waistline has shrunk by 3 inches and I don’t have to lay on the bed to zip my otherwise well-fitting jeans.
The pain is gone, the sleepless nights are a thing of the past, my muscles have grown into noticeable definition, my strength has increased and I have more energy. .
Why, if calories do count, can I now consume 1800 calories a day, 400 more than in the past while desperately trying to maintain my weight? If calories do count, by now, I should have gained 66 pounds! Instead, I’ve lost 8!
But most of all, the pain is gone. Yes, gone. After the first year, my lipids are normal for the first time in my adult life! My blood sugar is normal.
My dear husband Tom has lost 45 pounds since we read Jonathan’s book, 45 pounds of pure and simple toxic belly fat. Also, months ago, he was able to quit taking seven prescription pills a day, no longer has irritable bowel disease, acid reflux and constant abdominal bloating and pain. Months ago, he quit smoking and hasn’t gained back a single pound!
Combined, we are a team to be reckoned with!
Twice a week, we walk to a resort next door that has a little health club where I spend 10 minutes, lifting weight, the HIIT way, surprised that I can do it, invigorated by the results and still in awe as to how little time it actually takes.
Currently, we’re living in Placenica Belize, departing soon after a 2 1/2 month stay in a villa on the Caribbean Sea. The cows here are skinny. Yes skinny. They eat grass and wild vegetation, not grain. They use no pesticides or chemicals here to grow their produce or livestock. Chicken, the main protein source, roam free in the farms. Their eggs are all organic, brown and $2 a dozen. This has been a heavenly experience.
Every few days early in the morning, we walk to the adjoining town to buy fresh organic at the outdoor vegetable stand. The cauliflower is not perfectly shaped, the broccoli is sparse in places, the carrots are uneven shapes and the cabbage, not as dense as I recall. Why? No chemicals. The produce grows unencumbered, a product of clean non chlorinated spring water, a soil free from “Round-Up Ready” modified seeds and merely subject to varying weather conditions and the loving hands of the local people who pick it.
Now as we travel to our next adventures– Dubai this spring; Tuscany, Italy this summer; Kenya in the fall; South Africa in the winter; Morocco the next spring and on and on, we’ll continue to seek out the simple foods we choose to eat, a safe place to walk, a little corner to exercise and we’re home free…albeit, we don’t have a home…but, in any case, we are free.
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Enjoy the new Smarter Science of Slim podcast on iTunes