Gaining weight isn’t a tragedy and in fact, I always saw it as a part of aging. Most of the adults I knew growing up had bigger waistlines in their 40’s and 50’s than the photographs of their younger years revealed. Totally normal, right? Well, not really.
When I began gaining weight last summer and fall, it was a symptom of something else happening internally. I knew something inside me had gone awry, but I hated that I’d lost my lean and toned body and couldn’t really put my finger on what I’d been doing wrong, aside from occasionally giving into some pretty insane cravings. (Side note: I thought my cravings were a sign of weakness and didn’t realize they were NOT normal, or OK).
Instead of trying to work out more and eat less like I wanted in order to combat my climbing weight, I did far opposite until December. Even if I’d wanted to workout more last year, I could barely muster the energy for workouts. If you followed along with my gut health journey last fall, you may know what I’m talking about: I had serious microbiome issues that were wreaking havoc on many aspects of my life.
Today I’m going to mention what parts of myself I “lost” and the steps I’ve taken to get my true self back on track and feeling good!
For starters, I was chronically fatigued, and my efforts to ignore this exhaustion involved chugging coffee. Around the time my weight began creeping up, my energy dwindled. I began buying jugs of iced coffee and drinking one a day. Every day around 2 p.m., regardless of how much coffee I’d had, my vision would blur, my brain would fog and I’d need a nap. Yet sometimes I’d feel too wired to nap, but too unfocused to do work. It was like being a prisoner.
Then came the yeast infections. I had chronic infections no drug could kick, and also cravings for sugar, (as mentioned above)— which was not helpful in killing the yeast. I’d crave bananas, peanut butter and honey, want honey in coffee and pretty much poured it on everything. And how insatiable it was! Each time I’d eat something sweet, I’d want to reach for more.
But I was aware of calories— I knew how much sugar I was having and talked myself into accepting this, with each spoonful knowing that I was consuming more than I needed. The worst of my cravings only last a month, and I’d guess that 4 or 5 times I was largely over the amount my body needed. It was a calorie surplus at times, but not often enough to put on the amount of weight that I carried. By November my weight had gone from 124 in the summertime to 132. That’s eight pounds of inflammation and fat gain.
Luckily for me, I worked with a gut health practitioner name Bridgitte from Boston Functional Nutrition, who helped me by running tests to decipher what was wrong internally.
After a stool test, I learned that my calprotectin was high (intestinal inflammation), I was struggling to absorb and break down my food, and the pathogen H Pylori was living inside me. My candida levels were just barely within the normal range during the time of the test, thanks to a serious antibiotic that my GI doctor had prescribed to kill a lot of the bad bacterias. (but clearly not all!)
After the test, I dove headfirst into eating an anti-inflammatory diet full of summertime pineapple, walnuts, salmon, all the berries, dark veggies and celery juice.
This began helping me feel better, in tandem with the following supplements:
(ALSO SEE video breaking down supplements I use and why HERE)
- Magnesium citrate – to keep me regular
- Medical food protein powder – as an anti-inflammatory
- Moltil Pro – a serotonin-inducing supplement to help with uptake and intestinal mobility
- HPA – a distressing agent for my adrenal glands with adaptogens like ashwagandha
- Vitamin b12 with folate – for energy
- Gi microbe X – to kill the bad guys
On the aforementioned plan, I was feeling better, but not totally. What I didn’t mention is that at the height of the bloating, fatigue, constipation and cravings, I began having anxiety. It sucked. I’d be walking somewhere, and begin wondering why, and if I was dreaming. My whole life would flash before me and I’d wonder how I got to where I was so quickly. It was scary to sometimes question reality, and experience anxiety for the first time in my life.
By December, Brigitte decided to run another test: organic acids urine test.
From this test, we learned that I was deficient in vitamin C and B6, and my inflammation was still really high. These were easy fixes. What’s interesting, is that the proportions of certain ingredients that exist in specific ratios in my neurotransmitters controlling brain activities were out of whack, or, had flipped. This proved to be the exact reason why I was having the dream-like state and questioning reality etc. It also revealed that another bad bacteria call Clostridium Difficile, was staking claim inside my gut, proving to be part of the reason why these ratios were out of whack.
The good news? I could fix this easily, with adding these new supplements into my routine: in a new probiotic called
- FloraMycyes – a probiotic
- Biocidin – an antimicrobial agent
- Vitamin C supplements
- B6 vitamin
- L carnitine
- 5 HTP – at night gave me more restful sleep so that my brain could destress and reset.
I began actually sleeping when my head hit the pillow and waking up feeling rested. Even better? I could eat food without feeling bloated— and these were the just basic quality of life improvements. Better was the increased brain power I felt, and the energy I felt to lift, run and play! All of the sudden I craved even more healthy fats, wanted celery juice daily and minimized carbs without realizing it. The functionality in my own body transformed from a run-down, beater car to an energy efficient four-wheel driving sports car — I’ve been feeling unstoppable.
But here’s the thing— it’s not always perfect, but each day the status quo feels even better, overall. I’ve been feeling like each day I walk one centimeter forward. When you walk a centimeter a day for several months, eventually you’ll have walked two and a half feet, which, is a noticeable difference, compared to feeling like you’ve only really moved one centimeter.
I cannot tell you how important it is to take care of yourself. Once you feel your baseline level of health improve, all the little steps which once felt like tedious task become easy habits because the reward is so great.
Obviously, in order for my health to improve I had to get answers first. Once I had them, I cut some things out. However, in order to feel like I was expanding and improving my life and not restricting it. I added a lot of new things in, too! Below is a list of 10 things I stopped doing, and then a list of 10 things I do currently to prioritize my health.
What I stopped:
- Eating fake sweeteners
- Drinking coffee: one week without it completely, then to decaf, then to half-caf and now I occasionally have full caf
- Using fake butters/spray butters, and avoiding butters and oils
- Drinking processed almond milk unless in a pinch
- Staying up late
- Skimping out on my bedtime routine
- Eating packaged protein bars, snacks etc
- Eating grains (hello Siete chips!)
- Using paraben makeup products and unnatural beauty products
- Kissing my boyfriend, after he had gluten (contamination is real!)
Below are a few other things I’ve made large habits to feel most optimal:
- Anti-inflammatory diet.
- Eating at least one fat ball a day (recipe here)
- Prepping broccoli and chicken each week so I can have broccoli once a day, minimum
- Buying organic fruits and veggies from the dirty dozen list (for me it’s berries, spinach)
- Drinking apple and celery juice daily
- Traveling with Aloe Vera Juice (when I don’t have my juicer)
- Drinking coconut creamer in coffees
- Using coconut amigos as my salad dressing
- Cooking with olive oil and ghee oil
- One egg and hemp seeds every day
- Minimizing alcohol and diet sodas and fizzy drinks
- Avoiding high fructose corn syrup and most dairy
- Regularly going to acupuncture
Okay, that was a lot of information and supplements. Let me wrap it up. While working to heal my gut, my life had to change a lot. Without realizing it, I was eating basically a ketogenic diet (50% or more fats, low carb, 20% protein). My yeast infections went away and never came back. My mental clarity augmented day by day. My return to exercise was a powerful one.
If your activity levels are largely unchanged, and you have consistent eating habits, yet you see your scale weight creeping up more then 3-5 pounds, there could be something else going wrong. Obviously, the scale is not everything, but for people who can use it unemotionally, and for those who have very consistent lifestyle routines, it can be a great tool for accountability.
And if you read through the list of changes I made and you hadn’t thought about these– pause to consider if you might benefit from some of these self-care steps! They will not only improve your overall health, but help you function as optimally as possible!
For example, if you’re unable to get through the day without coffee, or suffer through insane cravings – you may have dysbiosis in your gut. Do not ignore weight gain! (And, please do NOT blame yourself for weight-gain and self-loathe). There could be larger issues at hand, or your body could be reacting negatively to some of the things in the first list above. Try taking some of those things out if you. I am happy to answer your questions although I’m not a certified gut health specialist (yet!). Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The point of this article is not to say that I was fat and now I’m thin, because to the average person, I did not ever really look entirely different. However, I FEEL more like myself. I still get a large bloat and distention 1-2 times a month, but it’s a process, and two times a month is better than twice a day. The steps listed above have become so important to me.
You have to fight for your health, your mind, body and spirit every day. If you feel anxious, bloated, or uneasy in your own skin, know that you deserve better and you CAN heal! All you must do commit to giving it time, work to identify what’s wrong and guidance with a kickass self-care plan to heal!
Finally, I want to draw your attention to our FREE, self-guided program the “Gut Health Reset.” It’s for those of you reading this thinking, “Wow, I really need to make a lot of changes… where the heck do I start?” It is email based and you’ll get ONE challenge/task a day!!! We give you some of the fundamental blocks of restoring gut health, and with that, we hope your create habits to live your best, most healthy life! 🙂 Click here to start your FREE program!