A Year In Review

2015 was the year of Caitlyn Jenner, Pope Francis, the man bun, and for me, the life-changing experiment that was 12 in 12.  A few days from now, we will unveil 2016, a blank canvas waiting to be painted. I find this both exciting and distressing at the same time. On the one hand I feel the excitement and rush of new possibilities! On the other hand, the uncertainty of an unknown future fills me with dread. The only thing that quells the anxiety is to ring in the New Year with a resolution, which makes me feel like I have some sort of control.

According to Statistic Brain Research Institute, I am one of 45% of the population that make New Year’s resolutions, and guess which one tops the list… weight loss.  Not only does the diet industry know this, they count on it, and they cash in big as a result.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that Oprah not only bought shares in Weight Watchers just before resolution season, but has also become their celebrity spokesperson? And how about all those new diet claims lining the shelves in your favourite bookstore this time of year? With the sheer volume of plans, I could have kept my experiment going until I became a centenarian! And it doesn’t stop there. Not only is the next season of NBC’s The Biggest Loser set to air on January 4th (just a few days into your resolve), but ABC is launching their new reality weight loss show called, My Diet is Better than Yours, a few days later.

“There are thousands of diets promising to help people lose weight, but choosing the diet that will actually work is a different matter. Our new format sets out to narrow the choice by selecting six diverse and revolutionary diet plans and, for the first time ever, testing these methods on TV in a real life experiment.”  

– Chris Coelen, My Diet is Better Than Yours

SOUND FAMILIAR!!!!!  The show is Searching For My After’s 12 in 12 experiment, but with a honking budget and commercials! But I digress…

Where was I? Ah yes, New Year’s resolutions… perhaps you’re looking at adding weight loss to your resolution list. Maybe you too are looking with abject terror at the filled to bursting fitness section in your local bookstore. Maybe this is your first time on this website and you have no idea what I’m talking about. Well don’t worry… I’ve put together a summary of each of the plans I tested during 12 in 12, highlighting my stats, my likes and dislikes, and the lessons learned while I was on them to help you narrow down your search.

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Month 1: The Start Here Diet

Pounds lost: -9.4

% weight loss: -3.70

Liked: Excellent plan to ease back into dieting.

Disliked: Eliminating trigger foods cold turkey.

Lesson Learned: Even a small step is a step in the right direction!

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Month 2: Weight Watchers

Pounds lost: -6.8

% weight loss: -2.78

Liked: No food is off limits.

Disliked: Weighing, measuring, calculating, and tracking, every morsel was tedious.

Lesson Learned: Learned to recalibrate portion sizes.

 

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Month 3: Paleo

Pounds lost:-9.3

% weight loss: -3.91

Liked: Very simple to follow.

Disliked: Got a bit constipated eating protein at each meal. Missed whole grains.

Lesson Learned: Pre-historic (aka pre-processed) rules!

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Month 4: Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type

Pounds lost: -4.5

% weight loss: -1.97

Liked: The app listing your beneficial-neutral-avoid foods was handy when I went grocery shopping, or planned a meal.

Disliked: Still craved foods on my avoid list.

Lesson Learned: One size does not fit all.

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Month 5: The Mediterranean Diet

Pounds lost: -5.3

% weight loss: -2.37

Liked: Loved the social aspect of the plan, and looked forward to having dessert once a week.

Disliked: Pushed the boundaries and ate more cheese, bread, and olive oil than I should have.

Lesson Learned: Enjoying a meal with family and friends makes the food taste better : )

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Month 6: Whole Food, Plant-Based

Pounds lost: -4.5

% weight loss: -2.06

Liked: The most ethical and humane of all the plans, plus I pooped 3 times a day – whoohoo!!!

Disliked: Never felt full.

Lesson Learned: Mother Nature knows best and provides everything we need.

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Month 7: The Biggest Loser

Pounds lost: -5.4

% weight loss: -2.52

Liked: 1,500 calories a day is very doable.

Disliked: Dreaded exercise – didn’t enjoy the monotonous machines at the gym.

Lesson Learned: Progress, not perfection.

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Month 8: The 8-Hour Diet

Pounds lost: +2.8

% weight loss: +1.53

Liked: Fasting gave my body a chance to recharge.

Disliked: Only plan I gained weight on – you can’t tell a food addict they can eat whatever they want because they will!

Lesson Learned: Make time for rest.

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Month 9: The Hormone Diet

Pounds lost: -6.6

% weight loss: -3.12

Liked: My sleep improved tremendously – yay!

Disliked: Most expensive program at $700 for the month (naturopath visits and supplements).

Lesson Learned: We must make adjustments for different stages and phases in life.

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Month 10: Twelve-Step Program for Food Addicts

Pounds lost: -5.9

% weight loss: -2.88

Liked: After eliminating flour, wheat and sugar, my taste buds were alive and food tasted better, and I didn’t get one hot flash when I was off sugar!

Disliked: Restrictive – made eating in ‘real life’ situations (i.e. dining out, meetings, etc.) tough.

Lesson Learned: Live life one day at a time, and meals one bite at a time.

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Month 11: The Gabriel Method

Pounds lost: -2.2

% weight loss: -1.10

Liked: Meditation exercises and being in nature grounded me : )

Disliked: Guided visualization felt like hypnosis.

Lesson Learned: Question and challenge limiting beliefs.

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Month 12: A Course In Weight Loss

Pounds lost: -1.9

% weight loss: -0.96

Liked: With every lesson, I went deeper within myself and reconnected with God, and the real me : )

Disliked: Felt a bit new age.

Lesson Learned: Self-love conquers all – even a plate full of Oreos.

Don’t let the diet industry spoon feed you – test the plans out yourself!  You might find one suits you perfectly right off the rack, or you might have to tailor one by combining your favourite elements from a few of them like I did.

I hope it helps you narrow your choice, and you don’t have to be on a reality weight loss show to find out!

What A Difference A Year Makes

A year ago today, repulsed at my 253.8 lbs. self, I decided to give dieting one last try – I vowed to get to my goal weight once and for all, or resign myself to a life of stretchy pants.  Equipped with an album full of before photos and a library bursting with diet books all proclaiming to have the solution to my plus-sized problem, I set off on a quest for my after shot, which has eluded me in the last three decades of searching.

As with any expedition, I needed a guide to help me navigate along the way. In my case, I enlisted twelve such experts in the past year, each claiming they knew the route to the size 10 Shangri-La that my size 22 self, sought. Each guide took me through the scenic and diverse landscape of the diet and exercise world – some covering familiar territory, others foreign.


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Month 1 – Tosca Reno, creator of The Start Here Diet asked me to (1) dive inward and identify my emotional triggers for overeating, (2) uncover my hidden foods and eliminate them, and (3) ease into exercising by moving a little.


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Month 2 – I attended weekly Weight Watchers meetings and used their unique accounting system, which assigned a point value to food and exercise. Everything had to be weighed, measured, and tracked, before I could eat it.


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Month 3 – Paleo channelled my inner CaveMare and had me eating like my hairy knuckled, grunting forefathers did before me. Brontosaurs burgers – good. Grains, dairy, legumes – bad.


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Month 4 – In his plan Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type, Dr. Peter D’Adamo categorized the foods and exercises for each of the four blood types as either beneficial, neutral, or avoid. My ‘O’ blood type meant saying au revoir to crispy bacon and my morning cup of joe.


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Month 5 – The Mediterranean Diet had me returning to my cultural roots, enjoying unprocessed foods and beverages from Italy and the surrounding region, as well as incorporating simple daily activity, like walking, and social interaction to boost mental and emotional health.


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Month 6 – I joined forces with the beautiful and inspiring Michelle Riccio of Tit Happens, who coached me through the Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet. We ate ‘face-free’, unprocessed, unrefined, nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats.


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Month 7 – My friend and fitness trainer, Nikki Kamphuis, got me moving when I tested The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start program, which models the hit show’s format of eating a 1,500 calories a day, coupled with daily exercise.


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Month 8 – The creators of The 8-Hour Diet, had me watching the clock, stating I could eat whatever I wanted within an 8 hour period, so long as I ‘ate my eight’, and started my day with a minimum of 8 minutes of exercise.  Outside of these 8 hours, I had to fast.


marilina-chibi-hormone-paleo 001Month 9 – Toronto’s own Dr. Natasha Turner claimed I could optimize my fat burning potential with The Hormone Diet. I went to her clinic for one-on-one care and was given a customized a food and supplement plan which addressed my hormone imbalances, as well as my unbearable hot flashes.


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Month 10 – I attended weekly meeting at various Twelve Step Programs for Food Addicts, a fellowship that has members abstain from addictive foods containing flour, wheat, and sugar.


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Month 11 – Jon Gabriel, creator of The Gabriel Method guided me through visualization and meditation exercises claiming they would turn off my FAT Programs.


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Month 12 – In A Course In Weight Loss, I worked through Marianne Williamson’s 21 spiritual lessons designed to address compulsive overeating by replacing fear with love.


I want to thank all my guides for navigating me to today’s weigh-in. In the past year they’ve helped me cover more ground than any previous attempt, bringing me closer to taking my after photo, which up until now, seemed as plausible as taking a selfie with Sasquatch.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, my eager little fat cells cried, “Are we there yet?! Are we there yet?!”

“At 195.2 lbs. No. Not yet, but we are halfway to after”, I replied. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s great! The point of 12 in 12 was to test a variety of diet claims to see which worked best for my body and my lifestyle.

What A Difference A Year Makes!

In my next post, I will share just how my body responded to each plan, and which I will I continue with for the rest of this journey… and look at that, just in time for resolution season!

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A big thank you to the talented Jennifer Wood for taking my final before and halfway to after photos, the gifted Nathan C. Younger for his fabulous illustrations, and the compassionate Ann DeLuca, my life coach, who help me work through the last quarter of the experiment, which delved into the mental, emotional, and spiritual landscape of this journey.

If you enjoyed this post, or found my yearlong experiment interesting, please share!

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Results for A Course In Weight Loss (the final plan of 12 in 12), click here.

For my Week 52 Food Journal, click here.

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The Missing Ingredient

Like most young girls, I learned to cook at my mother’s side.  She’s a wonderful cook, so you would think that I would be too. Wrong. No matter how much I try, my dishes never turn out the same as hers. Mine taste rushed, but hers taste like comfort. I asked her what I’m doing wrong and she explained that I neglect to add the key ingredient… LOVE.

Really? Love?! And where, pray tell do you find ‘love’ in the grocery store? Is it in the spice aisle between the garlic salt and mustard powder? “How do you add ‘love’ to a dish?” I inquire. “Ah! Much to learn, the young generation has”, she replied, sounding much like Yoda’s Nonna.

As I pondered her comment, I began thinking of all the things I do love…. I love God. I love my daughters. I love my family and friends. I love traveling. I love laughing. I love writing. I love going for walks along the lake. I love my church. I love movies. I love seahorses. I love organizing. I love birds. I love sock monkeys. I love my city. I love disco. I love curling up with a good book on a rainy day. I love volunteering. I love the free samples at Costco. I love playing Yahtzee. I love jumping on my mini-trampoline. I love Curious George. I love to give big momma bear hugs. I simply love to love, so when I learned that compulsive overeating was an act of self-hate, it knocked the wind right out of me. All this time I thought I was comforting myself with food, but instead, I was abusing myself.

Wow! This revelation got me asking myself, do I love me? I meditated on that for a long while and came to the sad realization that I don’t.  The more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me… how can I have sooooooooooo much love to give, and not direct an ounce of it toward myself? Messed up, right?!

Addicts experience levels of self-loathing that cut to the very core of our beings, and we punish ourselves with our substance of choice.  We’ve come to believe the lies we tell ourselves… I’m worthless, I’m stupid, I’m not good enough, there’s something wrong with me, etc.

Where did these beliefs come from? For me, I’ve accumulated them throughout the years, ingesting them in the form of binge-foods, and I now carry the consequences, not only on my hips, thighs, and butt, but in my spirit as well.

In order to free my spirit of the weight it carries, the final plan in my yearlong experiment goes to Marianne Williamson’s, A Course In Weight Loss where she guides students through “21 spiritual lessons for surrendering your weight forever”. How’s that for a claim?  I’ve never been on a diet that addressed my spirit!  And get this, the key ingredient to her method is… LOVE!

This course is not about your relationship with food; it is about your relationships with love. For love is your true healer.

-Marianne Williamson, A Course In Weight Loss

Each plan I’ve tested throughout 12 in 12 requires a lot of pre-work, and this month’s plan was no different.  Sometimes, I must read and study a book or guidelines (The Start Here Diet; Eat Right For Your Blood Type; The Mediterranean Diet); attend meetings (Weight Watchers; 12-Step Program for Food Addicts); invest in equipment (The Biggest Loser), or supplements (The Hormone Diet), or purchase specific foods (The Caveman Diet; Whole-Food, Plant Based Diet); create visualization tools (The Gabriel Method); or keep my eye on the clock (The 8-Hour Diet).  A monumental shift in my spirit has already occurred as a result of my reading A Course In Weight Loss, and I haven’t even begun to do the assignments yet! What’s wonderful about the plan is that Marianne tells you exactly where to find the love and how to incorporate it into your life.

This course is not so much about your relationship to food as it is about your relationship to your Creator. In healing your relationship with Him, you heal your relationship to yourself; and in healing your relationship to yourself, you heal your relationship to everything.

– Marianne Williamson, A Course In Weight Loss

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To learn more about the plan I’ll be following for Month 12, click here.

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month when I tested The Gabriel Method, click here.

From Blood Type to Bloodline

It’s time to return to my roots and eat like my ancestors. I won’t be going as far back on the family tree to my caveman kinfolk – been there, done that in February. No, this time I’m going to eat the foods originating from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, and Italy, the country of my heritage, is taking a footbath smack-dab in the middle of it!

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I can hear both my Nonnas shouting “finalmente!” and high-fiving each other in heaven as I write this. My parents haven’t deviated much from their dietary origins, rather it was my generation that severed the spaghetti-umbilical cord and ventured out of the region to eat foreign delicacies like Twinkies and Twizzlers.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when I deviated from the Mediterranean diet, my weight started to pile on. From time-to-time my father says I was ‘normal’ when I lived under his roof. Perhaps I should call this plan, ‘The Prodigal’ as I am returning from whence I ate.

This doesn’t mean I will be eating pastas, pizza, cheese and biscotti all month – quite the opposite! The Mediterranean diet consists mainly of fruits and vegetables, seafood, olive oil and healthy grains. The diet also incorporates daily physical activity and social interaction. To learn more about the plan, click here.

I want to send out a big THANK YOU to Jane Twidle at Canadian Blood Services for her time and generosity, and to my daughter’s Telli and Nessa for snapping photos, editing videos, and for continuing to rescue me when it comes to technology!

The Result Are In

To find out how much I lost during Month 4, when I tested The Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type Diet, click here, and you’ll be directed to the Measure Up section.

Now I’m off to party diet Mediterranean style – OPA!

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Trading in the Unibrow for a Bloody Mare-y!

It’s time to shed my inner cavewoman and pass the Bam Bam baton to the next diet claim I’ll be testing, and what better way to do that than to get rid of this nasty unibrow! image
Thank you to Chi-Chi Laser Studios (http://www.chi-chi.ca/)  who painlessly zapped at least 5lbs of hair off of me and made me feel light, smooth and purrrdy!  I didn’t take any photos of my session (there’s no way you can take a selfie when you’re contorted like a Cirque du Soleil performer!), instead, here’s a picture of what I hope my AFTER photo will look like.

imageSince there’s no pill or zap-paratus to get me to look like this overnight, I must continue on my search for my after the hard way.

The next plan I’ll be testing hit the diet stage in 1996 and it’s one I’ve wanted to try since I first heard about it. However, it seemed complicated in a multi-member family household because it’s not a ‘one-size fits all’ plan, and would require making different meals to suit each ‘type’. But now that I’m on my own, it’s the perfect time to try it!

While most diets are ‘off-the-rack’, Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s, Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type is tailored to your specific blood type: O, A, B, AB.

He states:

If you’ve ever suspected that not everyone should eat the same thing or do the same exercise, you’re right. Your blood type reflects your internal chemistry. It actually determines the way you absorb nutrients. What foods you absorb well and how your body handles stress differ with each blood type. Eat Right 4 Your Type will help you design a total health program that’s right for your blood type.

Well, let’s put the good doctor’s claim to the test this month to see if his theory is medically sound, or if he’s selling us snake oil.

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To learn more about the Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type plan, go to the 12 in 12 tab at the top of the page, and then select 4. March 2015 from the dropdown menu.

For my final Paleo diet food journal, go to 3. February 2015

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost during Month 3, when I tested Paleo, please go to the Measuring Up tab at the top of the page. Now I’m off to test Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type, and you know what that means, don’t you?!

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