My senses have been doing the happy dance on the whole food, plant-based diet. Every morsel is bursting with flavour… tangy lemons, sweet pears, pungent arugula, earthy beets, minty mint, zingy ginger, and so on. The colours are vibrant like a rainbow exploded in my kitchen. Oh, and the aroma… it smells like a warm summer’s day in my dad’s garden when I sit to enjoy a meal!
Sounds like a dieter’s paradise, doesn’t it?! It is, until I get on the scale. It’s not budging, which is a surprise given how much of the ‘inventory’ I move! Elimination has been effortless and plentiful on this plan… up to 3 times a day – whoohoo! You’d figure that would translate on the scale, but nada (meatless) enchilada 😦
So I took to my awesome coach, Michelle of Tit Happens, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, world renowned whole food, plant-based promoter, and author of The China Study, and my supportive naturopath, Dr. Emily Fitzgerald, to find out why.
Michelle reminded me that she is not a dietician or a nutritionist, so is unable to explain why the pounds are not melting away. For Michelle though, choosing to eat this way had nothing to do with managing her weight, rather she believed this was the best diet to make her body as healthy as possible to fight her metastatic breast cancer. A diet full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals is just one more weapon in her arsenal against cancer – and can be a weapon against many other diseases. While she is disappointed that my weight loss has been minimal, she is happy that I am giving it a try and in doing so, every cell in my body is being nourished to the max.
In The China Study, Dr. Campbell cites several studies in which obese patients achieved significant weight loss within the first month. One study claimed that, “overweight subjects were told to eat as much as they wanted of foods that were mostly low-fat, whole food and plant-based. In three weeks the people lost an average of seventeen pounds.” Humph! I’m not seeing those results. Why?!
Dr. Campbell explains, “Some people, of course, can be on a plant-based diet and still not lose weight. There are a few very good reasons for this. First and foremost, the diet includes too many refined carbohydrates. Sweets, pastries and pastas won’t do it. These foods are high in readily digested sugars and starches… these highly processed, unnatural foods are not part of a plant-based diet that works to reduce body weight and promote health.” Well, I’m not falling into that trap again Dr. Campbell! I did that when I went vegetarian before, when my only criteria was eating faceless foods. This time I’m only ingesting minimally (if any) refined whole foods, so this explanation doesn’t cut it for me!
He goes on to suggest, “the second reason weight loss may be elusive is if a person never engages in any physical activity.” Hmmm, does walking 10,000+ steps a day count, or is it time to kick it up a notch? Perhaps, after 6 months of testing diets, my body is plateauing and I have to incorporate a structured exercise routine to accompany plans going forward.
He goes on to offer one last explanation, “Thirdly, certain people have a family predisposition for overweight bodies, that may make their challenge more difficult. If you are one of these people, I can only say that you probably need to be especially rigorous in your diet and exercise.” This is where Dr. Emily comes in. She offers genomic testing which will determine “genetic inheritance” and how I can leverage this knowledge to support my journey.
As frustrating as this is, I need to remind myself that 12 in 12 is an experiment, and not a plan in and of itself. There will be months when I’ll lose weight, and others where I won’t. That doesn’t mean the plan is a failure – it means I’m learning what does and doesn’t work for MY body when it comes to weight loss. If this experiment was solely based on how I feel, then the whole food, plant-based diet would be getting high marks. I know that on a cellular level, by body loves this plan, however, as a plus-sized gal, my plus-sized cells need to trim down too.
To view my Week 24 food journal, click here.