And The Winner Is…

I want to thank all of you for your words of encouragement and support throughout this experiment. Being accountable to you during 12 in 12 helped me stay the course, and for that I am truly grateful. The objective of the experiment was to find the right diet for me, and I believe I have done just that.

image

I doubt I would have come to my conclusion had I not tested a variety of plans. Each offered clues to what my body liked and disliked, and what practices I’d commit to given my lifestyle.  The experiment also helped me identify areas of imbalance, such as not getting sufficient rest, and ignoring the mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that led to me becoming obese in the first place.

Throughout the experiment, I was asked several questions, but two came up repeatedly – how do you stop cravings, and what diet works best? If I had the answer to the first question, I’d be rich! Personally, whenever I tested plans that had me eliminate sugar from my diet my cravings subsided dramatically.  As for which diet worked best, the answer varied depending if you meant which one gave me the best results on the scale (Answer: Paleo), or if you meant digestively (Answer: Whole Food, Plant-Based), or for my lifestyle (Answer: the ones that kept it simple). What I can say with certainty is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet because we are all different.

When I started this journey, I thought I would find the answer by simply connecting the dots.

Connecting the Polka DotsInstead, I found the answer where the dots interconnected based on the criteria I valued most.

Venn Diagram 2

Therefore, the winner of the experiment is not any one diet entirely, rather a combination of several plans that resonated with me. I call my personalized plan, THE BEST OF THE BEST, and this is what it will look like.

Meal Plan

My body responded best to Paleo on the scale, but my heart, conscience, and digestive system wants to be Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB).  As contrary as that sounds, I will be doing both, the term for which is FLEXITARIAN – go figure!

Therefore, I will:

  • Adhere to Paleo’s protocol of not consuming grains, dairy, or legumes when I eat animal proteins.
  • Aim to have a WFPB meal at dinner, allowing me to digest more efficiently before bedtime.
  • Snacks will primarily be fruits, nuts, and seeds.
  • Both Paleo and WFPB omit dairy and flour, which is doable for me, as I do not tolerate them well.
  • I won’t be weighing and measuring my food – it’s not always practical, and I hated doing it. I will however, gauge portion sizes using the hand technique.

Hand measuring

What about sugar?

When I tested plans that had me cut sugar (Twelve-Step Program for Food Addiction, Paleo, WFPB) I saw tremendous benefits. I stopped getting hot flashes, my cravings subsided, and I was able to taste the subtleties in foods again. However, diets anchored in ‘always’ or ‘never’ are my downfall, leading me on a self-destructive path of binges and regret – I feel like I failed, and ultimately fall off the diet bandwagon.

Therefore, when it comes to sugar I will:

  • Allow myself one teaspoon of sugar in my morning coffee.
  • Adopt the practice of enjoying one or two desserts a week, like in The Mediterranean Diet. This way I won’t feel deprived, and will be less likely to binge.

Rest

As someone who suffers from insomnia, I know firsthand that a tired body doesn’t burn calories as well as a rested body.

Therefore, I will:

  • Aim to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night by continuing with The Hormone Diet’s protocol of powering down devices 2 hours before bed.
  • Refrain from eating after 7 PM, not only to aid digestion, but to recharge my cells.

Supplements

Several plans recommended supplements, however, The Gabriel Method’s regimen worked best for me.

Therefore, I will take:

  • One probiotic daily
  • Two digestive enzymes with breakfast
  • Omega-3 once a day
  • One multi-vitamin (that includes vitamin E) and a multi-mineral.
  • In addition, I take Vitamin D during the winter months.

Exercise

If I were grading my efforts during 12 in 12, I’d flunk myself when it came to exercise. I only incorporated regular physical activity when I tested The Biggest Loser and The 8-Hour Diet; otherwise, it was hit or miss. I think it’s because I hate the monotony of the machines at the gym.

Therefore, I will:

  • Channel my inner child and start playing again. Along with getting my 10,000 steps in a day, I’m going to participate in fun activities like hula hooping, jumping on my mini-trampoline, belly dancing, and going for walks along the lake to keep me active.

image

I don’t want to dread exercise, I want to look forward to it. Hmmm, maybe the next phase of the journey will have me testing various exercise plans!

Feeding My Mind and Spirit

Lastly, the mental, emotional, and spiritual lessons I tackled in the last quarter of 12 in 12 had the biggest impact on me. That’s why my customized plan will devote the same amount of time for soul work as for physical activity. I must exercise both for optimal health!

Therefore, I will:

  • Delve deeper into Marianne Williamson’s A Course In Weight Loss. Taking my time to work through the 21 spiritual lessons.
  • Continue with the meditation and visualization exercises from The Gabriel Method. However, I will be recording my own morning and evening tapes, personalizing them for my needs.

image

 

And so my friends, this concludes 12 in 12. However, the journey continues! I invite you to join me in the new year here on Searching For My After, where I will continue with The Best Of The Best chronicling my next step towards a happier, healthier me. SIZE 10 HERE I COME!!!!

marilina-chibi-doorway-spartan 001

 

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.


marilina-chibi-start 001

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.


marilina-chibi-bloodtype-and-ww 001

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.


marilina-chibi-hormone-paleo 001

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.


marilina-chibi-bloodtype-and-ww 001

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.


marilina-chibi-mediteranian 001

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.


marilina-chibi-wholefood 001

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.


marilina-chibi-12step-biggestloser 001

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.


marilina-chibi-meditation-8hr 001

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.


marilina-chibi-12step-biggestloser 001

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.


marilina-chibi-meditation-8hr 001

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


marilina-chibi-spiritual 001

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!

Processed with MOLDIV

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!

**

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

For my Week 52 Food Journal, click here.

image31

 

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

image

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!

image

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!

 image

Splitting Hares

There I was, minding my own CaveMare business when Cupid shot his caramel filled arrow my way. I was 100% on track with my Paleo diet, resisting ricotta stuffed pasta shells, ice cream cake, coffee, sugar-laden throat lozenges, and a plethora of chocolatey treats that crossed my path since February 1st.

I’ve been quite proud of myself, and by sticking to Paleo for 2 weeks straight, I’ve noticed my sugar cravings have disappeared. I’m even finding that I eat less when I start my day with a large caveman breakfast – I’m fuller longer, and have yet to eat my daily caloric allotment since starting the plan… that was up until yesterday 😦

I spent Valentine’s Day with my parents, sister, and nieces. We had a hearty steak dinner (which my Dad barbeques in his fireplace during the winter months) and an abundance of veggie side dishes. So far, so good, and all Paleo-licious. Then my Dad surprised us with potatoes he bakes under the ashes – a family favourite, which he only makes once or twice a year. I allowed myself this indulgence, reasoning that our Caveman forefathers would eventually figure out how to make them since they, (1) had fire, and (2) would drop one in said fire sooner or later. I didn’t add butter, a Paleo no-no, and added a drop of olive oil instead.

Then we decided to watch a movie. Again, I was sticking to the plan, even when my Mom made popcorn. But when my nieces whipped out Valentine chocolate and started passing them around, I heard that old familiar voice – you know the one – small dude, about 3 inches high, sits on your shoulder, wears a red unitard, really should see a dermatologist about the horns sprouting from his head. Ya, that guy.

“Come on, just one,” he urged.

“No, I’m good. Had a baked potato – that’s enough cheating for me,” I replied.

“It’s not cheating if it’s for a special occasion. Besides, I don’t think your readers would begrudge you an occasional indulgence,” he reasoned.

Dude made a good point, so CaveMare took of the Cadbury cream-filled chocolatey jewel, ate of it, and saw that it was good. Fire and brimstone did not rain down on her, so she ate another, and yet another, and they too were good.

The next morning I woke up feeling ashamed of myself – like someone stole my fig-leaf bra and panties. I tried to put the whole ugly, chocolate-cheating scandal behind me. I went about my day, being extra diligent in whatever I did… I was more chipper than usual when I volunteered at church, I washed my lettuce for the upcoming week, I scrubbed some grout, and I even hopped on the elliptical for 30 minutes without giving myself lip. No matter how hard I tried to distract myself, I could not wash my chocolate stained sin off my hands, soul, and food journal.

And then I heard a voice again.

“Look in the pantry,” it whispered.

I checked my shoulder… it wasn’t red-faced dude. Who the heck is in my house?!

“Look in the pantry,” it beckoned again.

I inched toward the pantry, slowly reaching for the handle.

“Open my precious… open. Set us free,” they chanted in unison.

I opened the door and the 2 gold Lindt chocolate bunnies I bought for my nieces for Easter jumped into my mouth! We wrestled and ultimately, I was victorious – I destroyed those haunting-hares of milk chocolate doom by chewing them to death, until only this remained.

image

I’m soooo freaking weak! Those Valentine chocolates were my gateway drug into the next tempting chocolate holiday. Sorry Tash and J, you’re getting money at Easter – Love, Zia Coo Coo.

My scandalous food journal can be found under the 12 in 12 tab and selecting 3. February from the drop-down menu.

Best Super Bowl Ad Ever!

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and you know what that means, don’t you? Advertisers spent millions of dollars for 30 seconds of airtime to plug their products during the game.

Not to be outdone, I’ve created my own ad to reveal the plan I’ll be testing in Month 3 of my 12 in 12 trial, and it only cost me $1.98!!

 

A big thank you to my BFF, Brenda C for making the props and taking the pics, and my daughter Vanessa for creating another awesome video for her technically challenged mother.

To learn more about the Paleo Diet, go to the 12 in 12 tab at the top of the page and then select 3. February from the dropdown menu.

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost during Month 2, when I tested Weight Watchers, please go to the Measuring Up tab at the top of the page. Thank you once again to my dear friend Cindy, who took my progress shot. She’s convinced she sees a difference, but I don’t see or feel it yet.