Why is my diet not working!?!? How can I follow the rules, eat the right things, eat at the right intervals, and often still be hungry, but not lose any weight? Or worse, gradually gain the weight back in the same number of weeks or months it took to get the weight off in the first place. Does this sound similar to your own struggles with weight loss? Well, I’m here to share how I successfully made my through this frustration.
I found Trim Healthy Mama (THM) a few months after my second child was born, in 2014. At first all I did was cut out noodles, white bread, white potatoes, and extra sweets. In doing so I lost lost 14 lbs in the first month! My progress was much slower after that, as learning what my body tolerates was a long trial and error process. I had lost all that pregnancy weight plus some by the time I was pregnant with my third child, but I was still 40+ lbs overweight. Unexpectedly, during that third pregnancy I developed hypoglycemic symptoms. My eating habits were vastly different with that pregnancy because of THM. I had cut out all those white starches and drastically reduced my sugar intake, but I wasn’t adding in enough complex carbs to support my pregnant body. As a result I ended up gaining a lot more weight than planned because I would eat almost anything just to keep my energy up and head-fog and migraines at bay.
I had lost all that pregnancy weight by the baby’s first birthday, in 2017. But after that I was stuck. For an entire year afterwards I had lost no weight, in fact there was a short period of time where I was gradually gaining a few pounds again in early 2018. I was so mad. I was following the 3 hour rule, protein was the center of every meal or snack, I separated the fuels as best I could, I tried not to over eat, and my sugar intake was pretty small. Why wasn’t it working!?!? And, why was I still struggling with head-fog and migraines?
Finally, in May 2018, I made the decision to cut coffee and dairy. I know, I know, who’s crazy enough to cut coffee!?!? But guess what? The migraines and head-fog went away! The caffeine was the culprit that whole time. My caffeine limit is one cup of regular black tea, past that anything (including coffee) has to be decaf. I even have to be careful with chocolate quantities. [insert sad face] And without all the extra dairy, I wasn’t nearly as lethargic and low energy all the time. I still use butter and Greek yogurt in many baked goods, so I’m not 100% dairy free, but cutting out all other dairy has made a huge difference.
In 7 months I lost over 30 pounds. So, how did those changes work in my favor? Without the head-fog and low energy levels, I didn’t need to compensate with extra food to get me through the day. I cut out my afternoon snack. I looked carefully at my calorie intake for my usual meals, and found ways to make reductions. Things like no toast and butter with my eggs, taking smaller portions of food and a little less meat, and drinking water or Good Girl Moonshine (GGMS) before lunch and dinner to quiet the hunger cues which helped with taking smaller portions. Also, over much of the summer, hubby and I were doing P90X workouts together 3-5 nights a week at home, which helped jumpstart my weight loss, and we were full on our post workout drinks so we didn’t have evening snacks most of the time. (Moms, make sure you have healed your diastasis recti, or have a firm grasp on “tummy safe” alternatives for some of the more intense exercises. I’ll talk about this more in another post.) Even though we kinda fell off the exercise wagon, I still lost weight because I was still cutting 500-800 calories per day, allowing my body to burn fuel from all my “reserve”.
All in all, I love THM. It taught me so much about food, and how the body needs different fuels for different reasons. I could never go back to how I was cooking before, because I’ve fundamentally changed how I cook. We eat so many veggies, many that I had never liked or used before. I love that my kids love veggies. And fruit, of course. I love that I found tasty ways to use veggies as filler, rather than pasta or bread or rice. I don’t know that I would have ever found this knowledge and food freedom without THM. So while the THM plan worked as a stepping stone for me, for at least a couple years on my health journey, I was allowing myself too many freedoms, specifically with the 3 hour rule. If I had a large dinner, even if it was healthy, I often justified eating too much with the presumption that a small snack at the next 3 hour mark would theoretically burn off the extra. For some, that might work, but my metabolism wasn’t having it! I was simply eating too much and too often. But THM is all about finding what works for your own body; it’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. I just needed to adjust from my original interpretation of their plan structure. I would still highly recommend Trim Healthy Mama to anyone looking to overhaul their food life, because it is a sustainable approach to healthy food and healthy eating.
I encourage each of you to simply “experiment” to find out what works for your body. Try cutting out different foods that may be causing you to stall. The “rules” aren’t going to fit everyone the same. As I’ve learned with Trim Healthy Mama, a healthy lifestyle is not about a destination, it’s about the journey.