Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How I Lost 22 Pounds In 4 Months & Improved My Health

How I Lost 22 Pounds in 4 Months

I don’t believe that beauty depends on color, size, or shape.  Each of us is born with an inherited body type that ranges from skinny to medium build to curvy.  The sooner we reject modern propaganda about the perfect size, and embrace our own nature-given physique, the better.

This is not easy, I understand.  But only you can stop the self-hate and begin to love and accept your body as it is.  What better time than right now?

So I want to be clear I’m not writing this blog post to promote a specific body size or type as the “right” one.

I know for myself, however, that I don’t feel my best when I mindlessly let the pounds pile up from over eating sweets and carbs.  For me, eating the wrong foods in excess shows up as aches, pains, and fitful sleep.  My blood sugar markers increase, heading me straight toward pre-diabetes.  I feel like I have no will power or control.

But I was able to turn my weight gain around at the beginning of this year.  I lost 22 pounds in four months and have subsequently maintained the weight loss.  I know that there isn’t one “right” way to lose weight, but perhaps hearing my story will inspire you to begin and find the best way for you.

1.  Planting the Seed

I had inched up to 139 pounds eating too many sweets and carbs.  I felt stuck at that weight and wasn’t making a conscious effort to lose pounds.   When my sister came for a visit, I witnessed how she mindfully approached food, which greatly inspired me.  A seed of possibility was planted during my sister’s visit.

What could plant a seed of possibility for you?  What would motivate and encourage you?

2.  Finding the Right Diet

Although the seed had been planted, it didn’t germinate for a few months.  As synchronicity would have it, at the beginning of the year, I stumbled upon the Ayurvedic approach to diet once again.

This system assigns foods depending upon your native constitution and/or current imbalances.  I can’t follow the Ayurvedic prescription for my body type strictly as too many of the suggested foods trigger symptoms.  I need to listen to my body as the final determinant of what’s actually good for me.

But having this structure kickstarted my weight loss. I began to eat more of the foods that harmonize with my constitution (Vata-Pita) and reduce the foods that irritate it.

In February, I began to work with a medical intuitive, which helped me design a diet best suited to address my health challenges as well as my desire for weight loss.  The intuitive wasn’t 100% on target, but she moved me in a positive direction.  I call this diet “paleo lite.”  I eat an abundance of vegetables and fruits, small amounts of fish, a limited number of nuts, and healthy fats. I stay away from high histamine, fermented, or moldy foods, which produce inflammatory symptoms in my body.

I would prefer to be vegetarian, but that’s not possible since grains and beans induce pain and a variety of other symptoms in my body.  At the same time, I don’t do well with large amounts of animal protein, hence “paleo lite.”

These are some of the other resources that have helped me on my journey to finding the right diet for me.

Alison Vickery is a health coach who specializes in histamine intolerance, mast cell activation, and chronic fatigue.  I haven’t worked with Alison personally, but I’ve learned so much from reading her blog posts.  She offers an excellent and free histamine intolerance food list.  Her low histamine cookbooks are loaded with helpful information and delicious low-histamine recipes.  I love her low histamine Super Nutrient Smoothies e-book and Nourished, which contains 30 recipes for low histamine soups.

The Auto-Immune Protocol Diet is a highly restrictive elimination diet, which can clue you into foods that act as irritants to your system.  It’s a diet designed to counter inflammatory conditions.  There are many items on the Auto-Immune Protocol that don’t work for me like fermented foods, bone broth, coconut products, grass-fed collagen, and an excess of animal protein, but it can be a good starting point for some people with chronic conditions.

Finding the right diet requires a high degree of mindfulness.  There isn’t one diet that works for everyone.  Whatever anyone else prescribes, you need to gingerly test it out for yourself and adapt it according to how your body responds.

3.  Eliminate White Sugar

That’s obvious, isn’t it?

For most people, eating sugar leads to weight gain, and for some of us it can lead to diabetic conditions or insulin resistance.  I personally don’t use natural forms of sugar like honey or maple syrup or alternative sweeteners like xylitol, stevia, and mannitol, but I’m not opposed to them if they work for you.

I’m also mindful to eat low glycemic fruits, but I don’t carry this to an extreme and only eat berries as some diets recommend.  I haven’t come to a clear conclusion about the role of fruit in my personal diet as yet.

After eliminating sugar for a few months and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, I rarely crave sweets.  Cravings do arise sometimes and I occasionally indulge, but then return to my healthy diet without guilt or self-recrimination.

4. Eat More Vegetables

While diet programs vary radically, they generally agree on one principle:  eat more vegetables.  Vegetables are high in fiber and contain important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will help your body function more effectively and heal from disease.  I aim to eat 6-9 cups of vegetables a day.

One caveat here:  Some people are sensitive to the natural food chemicals in various vegetables like glutamates, salicylate, histamine and/or other amines, and oxalates, for example.  I need to avoid or keep to a minimum vegetables that are high in histamine like tomatoes, eggplant, and spinach and ones that are high in glutamates like mature, cured, and preserved foods, broccoli, and peas, among others.

Once again, don’t accept any recommendation as right for you even if it’s a “healthy” food like a vegetable without observing for yourself how your body responds to it.

5. Consider Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting can be done in several different ways from fasting for part of each day to fasting one day a week.   This is an approach that has been adopted by spiritual seekers from many different ancient wisdom traditions.

In my case, I skipped breakfast and only ate between 11:00 am to 7:00 pm each day.  In effect, I fasted for 16 hours each day.  I consumed two meals and one snack during that 8 hour period.  There are many positive health benefits attributed to intermittent fasting.

However, I don’t think it’s beneficial for everyone and it could be harmful for people with adrenal fatigue and certain other conditions as well.  In fact, my adrenals were weaker after a few months of intermittent fasting, but it’s impossible to know if this was due to the fasting method or the stress of the supplement protocol I followed, which triggered many symptoms for me.

If you would like to know about intermittent fasting, read this excellent article: The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting from James Clear, which you can also download.

6.  Explore the Deeper Issues

What keeps you tied to over-eating?

The Brazilian spiritual teacher, Sri Prem Baba, describes gluttony as any compulsion, which functions to fill a sense of emptiness, from over-eating to excessive shopping to drug addictions.  He says the act of gluttony – as unattractive as that sounds – serves to numb and protect you from facing repressed feelings that might seem terrifying, overwhelming, or too uncomfortable.  Like any habit, the repeated act of gluttony creates a specific neural network in your brain so you return to the same behavior again and again.

The solution is two-fold.

The first step is to look at the hurts and resentments that are holding you in this pattern of gluttony.  You can explore these inner dynamics through journaling, working with a counselor or co-counselor, or in a supportive group setting.

The second step is the use of willpower.  Since you’ve created a strong neural network in your brain, it’s difficult to overcome a compulsion with understanding alone.  This is where willpower comes into play.  To learn more about how to activate willpower and change bad habits, read these articles:

7.  Feel Satisfied

It’s much easier for me to exert willpower when I feel satisfied.  If your health permits, you can add reasonable amounts of healthy oils or fats to your meals, like clarified butter or coconut oil.  Also make sure you eat enough so you feel satisfied.

I rarely felt hungry following my program.  I intentionally made sure I felt satisfied but not over-stuffed after a meal.

My Daily Weight-Loss Meal Program

This was my daily meal program during my weight-loss period:

  • Breakfast:  None since I was on an intermittent fasting program.
  • Lunch at noon :  Local caught white fish, an abundance of vegetables, a dab of clarified butter.
  • Snack in the late afternoon:  Smoothie with protein powder.
  • Dinner around 7 pm:  An variety of steamed vegetables, including a purple or orange sweet potato or a white potato, clarified butter, and 20 almonds that had been soaked in water and Hawaiian sea salt to remove mold.

I’m not recommending this diet to anyone else as it’s relatively low in protein.  Of course, as with everything diet oriented, there’s a great debate about how much protein the human body actually needs.  I don’t have an objective answer to that question.

I know I personally do better on a diet that is lower in animal protein.  We sometimes forget that vegetables contain protein.  When you increase the amount of vegetables you eat, you increase your protein intake as well.  I would like to eliminate protein powder from my diet as I don’t consider it a whole food, and probably will when I’m able to tolerate other sources of protein.  I may also test non-gluten grains after soaking them in water with Hawaiian sea salt to eliminate the mold.

My Weight Loss Results

I went from 139 pounds to 117 pounds in 4 months, losing small amounts of weight on a regular basis.  I’ve seen a radical decrease in joint and muscle pain (except after exertion), fewer digestive issues, and less fatigue.

Interestingly, my blood sugar indicators have not decreased significantly.  This could be due to the histamine, mast cell activation, and blood sugar connection since I ate some irritating foods during this period.  Or I may need to reduce fruits and carbohydrates further.  Time will tell.

I’ve been able to sustain this weight loss moving forward by following the same basic principles for eating described here, but I no longer do the intermittent fasting and I have removed additional irritating foods.

Have I been able to sustain this diet perfectly?  For the most part, yes.  However, I occasionally cave in to an urge for a sweet or another counter-indicated food.  I do so without guilt or recrimination because I don’t find these self-critical states to help at all on the path of weight loss.  These indulgences, however, don’t bring the sense of satisfaction or pleasure they once did, so it’s become easier and easier to avoid them.

I hope this glimpse into my weight loss journey will inspire you if you wish to lose weight too.  Remember, there’s no one right way to approach weight loss.  So find the path that works for you, but don’t follow any program blindly.   Always check in with your body, intuition, and your own intelligence to see whether a particular food or program actually works for you.

What did I miss?  What other weight-loss tips have worked for you?

Thank you for your presence.  If you enjoyed this article, please share it with others; your support makes a big difference.  Thank you!  May you be well, happy, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra

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19 Comments

  1. I always know when my comment is too long because the computer eats it, as it did just now :). So I guess I will be brief and say congratulations! I am on a similar path with no fruit, at least for now, and no grains which really seem to have made my stomach very happy! As long as I am happy on this, and don’t lose too much weight (hahahaha! ) I will probably stay with what I have. I am eating SO many veggies and loving it. Without the grains and sugars I seem to digest things that I never could before. Thanks for the links above, Sandra. I have always wanted to see what the histamine diet was like. But for now, I am a happy camper and do not feel one bit deprived of anything—well, maybe salt, which I needed to cut out also. Love to you!

    • Oh no! So sorry you lost your comment. And SO happy you found a diet that relieves your digestive distress. How wonderful you are loving it. I feel the same way. I did test out a grain yesterday (soaked in water + sea salt) and it didn’t work at all. Glad we’re on the same path.

  2. How helpful this is Sandra, especially for those of us with low tolerance to an abundance of foods these days. I’m so happy you found something that works well for you and thank you for sharing your journey and your thoughts about it. 🙂

    • You’re so welcome, Elle! There’s so many high calorie junk foods even at the health food store. It’s not easy in these modern times to resist all the temptations. But I feel so much better and I hope something in this article will help others feel better too.

  3. Vicky White

    Congratulations Sandra – I’m inspired by your mindful and comprehensive approach to better health. Thank you for sharing your journey and resources with us. I’m in the process of exploring different options too having gained pounds and really not feeling comfortable in my body. Plus experiencing more joint pain. It’s a big job. I’m happy you’ve found something that works for you and you’ll keep adjusting and exploring. I’m sure your mind feels clearer too!

    • Thank you, Vicky! Yes, I feel much better all-around. I know what you mean by the joint pain. You’re right, it is a big job as there are so many different variables when it comes to food. I wish you the very best, I’m hoping you find the perfect diet for you.

  4. Congrats Sandra, that is a great loss. Reading this makes me feel very blessed that I don’t have food intolerences, although don’t use sugar, maybe too much fruit. I would miss my brocoli. I like the intermittent fasting, have been looking at the 5:2 diet so checking out the link you shared , thanks xx

    • Thank you, Suzie! I know you are really on top of your diet. I admire that so much and am amazed by how you have healed yourself by being so mindful. Food intolerances are definitely a drag. It can be so difficult to ascertain which foods are causing the problem. But I’m in a good place with food right now and am grateful for all that I am able to eat.

  5. This is so helpful, Sandra — thank you! I learned a lot from what you shared here. Thinking of going to an Aryuvedic practitioner here in Santa Fe to learn more about my dosha.

    • I’m so glad, Maia! I love Ayurveda in so many ways, but I don’t tolerate the herbs so well. I hope you connect with a good practitioner and learn more about good ways to balance your body.

  6. Sandra, yay you for losing the excess weight!
    And this article is SO helpful with all the links and details. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’ve been on a low carb, no sugar, vegetarian diet for a while now and I would never go back to the carbfull sugarfull ways. I can see how my body reacts with pain when i do occasionally indulge. So I quickly go back to my diet. You’re so right about the cravings, they dont seem to exist if we are satisfied.
    I do have my occasional bouts of cravings which I know are hormones related, so I indulge just a bit, but mentally I’m very aware that its happening because of the hormones.
    All in all the 80-20 rule works best for me.
    Thank you again for this…very very helpful.
    xoxo,
    Z~

    • You’ve had such a fantastic success switching your diet, Zeenat. Awareness is the key in all this, isn’t it? I understand about the indulgences, for sure! Great that we both have the stamina to go back to our healthy ways. I would love to know more about how you maintain a low carb vegetarian diet, what your protein sources are. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  7. Wow, Sandra. I am impressed with your in-depth knowledge of how your body reacts to different foods. I stick to a mostly vegetarian diet with lots of nuts, seeds, fruit, and some dairy. I don’t really notice much difference in my body when I alter drastically from my norm.

    Maybe once a year, I’ll order a burger when out with my sons. (Mostly to shock them!) Guess that’s good.

    Glad you’ve found what works for you.

    • I think I could have been a doctor or naturopath, Debbie! It’s the Virgo in me. I love to learn about health. And, I’ve had to learn about how this body works because at one point I was 84 pound and unable to tolerate almost anything. Pay attention helped me regain my health to a significant degree although I still have challenges.

      I also realize how unique each body and brain actually is. I’m sure you find the same learning about brain health. Our bodies and brains are so unique, mysterious, and complex.

      I’m glad you’ve found a good way to eat for you. I would prefer to be vegan if I could swing it.

  8. Amazing!! I love my sweets and it has been challenging to give the sugar up. I’m replacing one of my meals with protein shakes. I’ve also gotten back to exercise and hoping to lose my love handles.

    Thanks for sharing about what has helped you lose weight.

    • Thank you, Evelyn! I understand about the sugar. It’s been easier the longer I’m off it, but I cave occasionally. Our health food store has a delicious gluten free, flour free chocolate cake, which is one of the better cheats for me but it still has sugar, of course! Looks like you have a good plan. I wish you the best smoothing out the love handles.

  9. Thanks for sharing some of most valuable and informative posts . Also check my post.

  10. When you wrote that your are Vata-Pita, I perked up. Me too! I am vegetarian, don’t eat sugar, or gluten, eat only 2 fruits per day, but I am constantly bloated. Now I’m wondering if it’s from high Glutamate veggies?? What are your favorite veggies?

  11. Hi Sandra,

    Good stuff! I think weight gain creeps up on us as we age and it’s important to do something about it.

    Being a healthy weight makes us look and feel better. It stops us from being held back by loss of mobility or body shame.

    It’s a never-ending job to stay vigilant and stop the weight gain as we age but so worth it. I’ve bookmarked some of the links to read more later.

    Looking after ourselves in this way is the ultimate form of selfcare so glad you are looking after yourself so well.

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