Nearly Wheelchair Bound to Fit World Traveler

– by Jessica Lyman
Beginning at 11 years old, obese family members all around me, I realized weight was going to be an issue in my life.  Over the years, the relatives as young as in their 40’s, were dying off of heart disease, diabetes, auto immune diseases and debilitating spine and bone disorders. Not only had I inherited the propensity to obesity and its myriad associated diseases but the environment was wrought with carbohydrate laden taste tempting cakes, pies, and pastries, with sugar finding its way into otherwise savory main dishes.  I was hooked.

Tall and skinny as a kid, the robust family pushed sweets at me until I finally relented and started gaining weight.  Thus, at 11, I began dieting, exercising at 15 (uncommon for women at the time) and taking doctor prescribed diet pills in my 20’s, (had to stop after a short time due to high blood pressure, another disease of my genes) while nearly starving myself to stay slim. I fantasized about the latest diet that would put an end to my preoccupation with food and exercise.

My wardrobe ranged from size 2 to 14, my refrigerator was laden with foods of the current diet rage and the battle continued.  Perpetually striving to get to some magic number on the scale, I fantasized about the latest diet that would miraculously put an end to my preoccupation with food and exercise.

“Not only had I inherited the propensity to obesity and its myriad associated diseases but the environment was wrought with carbohydrate laden taste tempting cakes, pies, and pastries, with sugar finding its way into otherwise savory main dishes”


Then Came the Babies and the Starvation Dieting

After the birth of two children (now 43 and 45 years old), having gained 70 pounds during each pregnancy, the dilemma escalated.  Starving myself again at about 800 calories a day, I returned to my lowest weight each time. My metabolism eventually settled into a harsh reality that has followed me up until most recently…I could only consume 1200 to 1400 calories per day to avoid gaining weight.

Blindly, I followed the “government’s” recommendations to eat a low fat diet to maintain one’s health with plenty of “healthy whole grains,” fruits, vegetables, and small portions of protein.  Dining with family and friends, I felt deprived sneaking looks at their plates piled with tasty foods, while my plate invariably had a 4 oz portion of protein, unbuttered vegetable and a single small unbuttered whole grain roll with a salad with diet dressing.

Maybe I needed to “eat less and exercise more.”  How could I do more of either?  I was exhausted and hungry. I counted calories, carbs and points to no avail.

“My metabolism eventually settled into a harsh reality that has followed me up until most recently…I could only consume 1200 to 1400 calories per day to avoid gaining weight.”

It wasn’t fair. However, by the time I was 58 years old (now 64), I’d already had heart surgery, was on drugs for hypertension, thyroid disease and was pre-diabetic.  Most debilitating, was my disintegrating spine.  I was suffering with advanced degenerative disc disease.

After traditional medicine failed to guide me to health, I was barely able to walk, facing a wheel chair in a few years, I sought the advice and counsel of a respected local chiropractor.

Discovering How “Healthy” Isn’t Actually Healthy?

Within minutes of studying my 3 daunting MRI’s, my chiropractor asked me about my diet.  “Oh, I eat healthy,” I said, explaining my low fat, healthy whole grains lifestyle. He gasped in horror.  “This diet must change immediately if you are to improve. You must follow a low inflammation diet!”  He handed me 20 typed pages of instructions for following such a diet:  low carb, gluten free, all grain free, starch free, sugar free, chemical free with no packaged or processed foods of any type, even if gluten free.

Yikes!  How could I do this?  No sweet corn in the summer?  No butternut squash with dinner in the fall?  No more diced Honey Crisp apple in my yogurt in the morning (there are 9 teaspoons of sugar in one such apple). No more oven-roasted white potatoes?  No more brown rice, quinoa or tabouli?

Immediately, I went home and began to research, quickly discovering Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.  Within hours of reading, I made the commitment to follow this new eating regime.  I wanted to save my life, stop being hungry, stop counting calories and stop worrying about the next meal.

My dear husband followed along with me.  He since has lost 30 pounds, is never hungry having lost 8 inches from his waist.  I maintained my weight but I could finally eat and wasn’t hungry.  And months later I could walk, sleep at night and had a 50% reduction in pain.

“My husband lost 30lbs. and 8″ off his waist and I finally could eat till I was full without gaining weight by avoiding what Jonathan calls inSANE foods.”

I felt so much better.  My lipids improved.  I was no longer suffering with high triglycerides and high cholesterol.  MY HDL improved.  But my blood sugar remained high, diabetes looming. But something was still missing.

The Missing Piece

I was still going to the health club 5-6 times a week, doing 45 to 60 minutes of cardio, followed by lifting the weights I could handle.  I still felt weak and unfit after a lifetime of working out and now after changing my diet.

Back on the Internet, madly searching for answers, I stumbled across The Smarter Science of Slim by Jonathan Bailor, downloading it on my computer within minutes of reading the intro.  I was hooked.  Immediately, heading to the health club while repeatedly referring to the book on my smart phone, I meticulously followed the exercise protocol.

How is it possible to exercise for only 10 minutes twice a week and get fit?  How could I triple my protein intake from 50 grams a day to 150 grams and not gain weight?  Read on!

Everything changed.  Jonathan’s book provided me with manageable bite-sized pieces for an exciting easy read inspiring one to jump up and begin the amazing workout routine and accompanying food plan.


Amazing After Just Three Months of Eating More and Exercise Less–But Smarter

“I am stronger, more fit, breathing deeper and in better health than I can ever  recall.  My pants fit better, I sleep more soundly and now, impossible a year ago, my husband and I are going to be able to live a dream…travel the world over the next 5-10 years!”

The exercise protocol is referred to as HIIT, high intensity interval training.  I assure you it’s a “killer” 10 minutes, pumping your own under-used natural hormones to run through your body, producing not only a euphoric sensation but a powerful energy boost that surprisingly lasts for days, strengthening muscles, mood and cells in the process. But don’t get scared off…remember, in 64 and was almost in a wheel chair a few years ago!

After only 3 short months of 2, 10 minute workouts a week, I am more muscular, more fit, breathing deeper and in better health than I can ever  recall.  My pants fit better, I sleep more soundly and now, impossible a year ago, my husband and I are going to be able to live a dream…travel the world over the next 5-10 years!

A new person at 64 years old, I can finally enjoy foods I love.  Had I not already been at a good weight, I’d be losing weight.  Instead, I load up on larger portions and handfuls of healthy nuts (which I always avoided, fearful of fat!)


Eating Smarter Is Surprisingly Easy, and Filling!

The food portion of The Smarter Science of Slim is easy for me.  By adding healthy portions of cottage cheese and green veggies to my protein rich breakfast, I enjoy protein and veggie snacks throughout the day.  At the end of the day, after a filling dinner when a little taste for sweet grabs me (mostly from habit), I make a big bowl of SANE Fage Unsweetened Greek Yogurt, adding a little Stevia, chopped nuts and a handful of berries.  I’m in heaven. Never, do I forage around the kitchen at night, looking for something to fill the void in my gut.  It’s no longer there.

“Cravings are suddenly gone after 64 years!”

I had already cut out, what Jonathan refers to as “insane” foods a year ago.  But, most importantly, I discovered that a vital element was missing from our diet…not enough lean protein sources and non-starchy vegetables.

My Metabolism Has Changed

Consuming only 1200-1400 calories a day to maintain my weight in the past, a few days ago I calculated how many calories I actually now consume…1700!  As Jonathan states in his book and online, you can enjoy “more” nutrient rich foods.  My daily protein intake is now 160 grams, as opposed to a previous 50 grams.

“I’m eating more calories than I ever have and am slimmer and healthier than ever.”

Jonathan explains how we’ve been obsessed with calories and how “a calorie is not a calorie.”  This is not a quick fix diet or faddish program promising huge weight loss overnight, which ultimately proves to be lost muscle and water.  This is a simple science backed concept, allowing us to “eat more and exercise less” while experiencing short infrequent bursts of intense workouts and healthy portions of nutrient rich foods.

Thousands of years ago when humans roamed the earth foraging for sustenance; hunting, picking berries and nuts, digging up roots, harvesting vegetation fit for consumption, she/he sought that which his destiny inspired and his instincts dictated.  For example, dogs, by nature are destined to eat meat.  We have fed them cereals, grains and corn and they too, have become obese, sick and unfit.

Going SANE All Around The World

Now healthy, slim and fit, my husband and I are able to experience a dream;  to live in a little beach house on the ocean in Belize for 3 months, to live for 4 months in Kruger National Park in South Africa amongst the animals, to see the Great Migration in Kenya and on and on.

For more, please visit our blog at: to enjoy this life changing experience with us and to see how we will continue to eat SANE from around the world and always find a way to exercise for 10 minutes 2 times a week!

Thank you, Jonathan!  We are grateful, healthier and wiser and now, we are able to carry our over-stuffed bags!

– By Jessica Lyman

—–12/10/12 Update——
Hello Jonathan and Carrie! Can you believe I am back with more good news from eating sane? It just continues. My husband Tom and I changed our diets after following Dr. Davis’s book, Wheat Belly for many months. We gave up all wheat, all grains (no rice, no beans, no substitutes), all sugar including fruit (which raised by blood sugar to over 200), and all starches.

We were doing great after giving up all these foods and Tom slowly was losing weight. Then I stumbled across The Smarter Science of Slim, immediately changing my 6 day/week/90 minute workout to two days of HIIT, as recommended in the book. We added another layer to our way of eating, going “sane.”

In the begging I was having blood sugar issues and found that when we started going sane and I began eating more SF Greek yogurt and cottage cheese, my blood sugar spiked. Cutting out these two dairy items, finally put me into the normal blood sugar range around the clock. Tom’s weight loss escalated which had been extremely slow before “sane.” He’s now lost 50 pounds in 16 months and lost 10 inches in his waist!

As I mentioned in a prior post here, I had suffered for years with all over body pain for years due to the herniation of every disc in my spine (diagnosed by recent 2 MRIs) from C1 to L5. I was told I needed a total spinal fusion which I refused. Now, after the double approach of changing our diets, I am totally pain free for the first time in 20 years.

Then, a miracle happened. Husband Tom suffered with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), severe acid reflux which subsequently manifested into Barrett’s esophagus. Last week he had an endoscopy and colonoscopy and it was truly amazing to see the doctor after the procedures. Barrett’s, GONE! Polyps -NONE, IBS – GONE!!! His digestive tract was impeccable with no signs of disease which only 3 years ago was frightening indicting possible cancer in the future with all the inflammation he’d had. GONE!!! After going sane, he stopped taking 7 pills a day!

Now, only 16 months since the beginning of this process, we leave the US to travel the world for the next 5-10 years, having sold everything we own leaving us each with only 3 suitcases, a carry on and a computer bag. None of this would have been possible had it no been for the decisions we made to change or lives. I was ready for a wheel chair 18 months ago. Now I am lifting outrageously heavy weights following Jonathan’s HIIT protocol. Tom doesn’t work out but looks slim and fit. Go figure.

Thank you Jonathan, once again and now you, Carrie. I listen to every podcast when at the gym. We leave the US in 3 weeks. This lifestyle will continue as we document not only our travels but the sane food choices we make all over the world in our rapidly growing blog, where we posted the first 3 year’s itinerary yesterday.:

It will be no sacrifice when we turn away pasta and bread while in Tuscany all next summer. The small concession has saved our lives. We now look at toxic foods as poison and have no interest or desire in even taking a bite.

Thank you so much! Now both retired as of Halloween, we both feel we are… finally free.

Warmest regards,
Jess & Tom

2 replies
  1. Laurie
    Laurie says:

    Jessica, you look awesome. I have lost about 80 lbs (5′ 6″ female). It has taken me five years to lose it. I downloaded Smarter Science of Slim several months ago. I’m still struggling with exercising and eating right. Unlike you, I still have cravings for junk food. I actually think I may have a mild binge problem. I know I definately have trigger foods. Anyway, congrats on your improved health. I, too, was suprised to find out that all that “healthy whole wheat” and “healthy eating” was really a hinderance to good health. Best to you and your family and keep up the good work.

  2. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Laurie, thanks so much! Congrats on your stunning weight loss! That’s amazing! If you will follow Jonathan’s exercise routine for the two 10 minute workouts a week, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to follow through week after week. The motivation comes from within, as we gain strength, endurance and good health.

    As for the food, I too had relentless cravings, mostly for sweets, homemade bread, ice cream, pastries, doughnuts and an endless array of baked goods, since I love baking. Now, I look at those foods as if they are poisonous and subsequently, dangerous to my health. I truly believe, and science is proving, that it is an addiction. For me, I had to go “cold turkey” and not one item of the above has crossed my lips for exactly one year. I don’t miss one food.

    The cravings gradually fell away and now, for the first time in my adult life, I no longer graze, opening and closing the fridge and cupboards, looking for something to fill the emptiness which I blamed on some emotional deficiency. In fact, it was simply a nutritional deficiency, not emotional. Now that my hunger and nutritional needs are met, the grazing is totally gone. I still love food, enjoy cooking easy nutritious meals and feel so content to be without what I assumed was “food issues.”

    Read the book. Mark the pages. Learn the workout. Follow the food. In one year you will find yourself where you want to be… at peace with your body, your mind and your health. It works!

    Take care and be well.

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