I’ve hesitated to write this for a while but I’ve been getting so many questions about how I lost weight so here goes.
Yes, I’ve lost weight. But if I’m being honest, I struggle with that. Yes, of course it feels good to lose weight. Of course I feel much better in my skin. But I don’t do weight loss diets. I don’t coach them and I don’t do them. It’s not something that excites me. I think there’s WAY too much focus on weight and there’s way cooler markers of health to spend time on. My body before was beautiful, it’s beautiful now (so is yours). We put way too much focus on the “after” and not the “before” or the journey itself.
On that note – if you want to lose weight, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Trust me, I’ve wanted to lose weight in life more of my life than I haven’t. It’s not always easy but it’s also not that hard. I think we have a hard time sticking with things (*raises hand*). I think we also have a lot of societal pressure as women to look a certain way. Be real with yourself and figure out what it is that you really want. Losing weight doesn’t always cure bad body image or depression or really that many problems. Lose weight if that’s what you really want but also heal all that other shit because THAT’S WHERE THE MAGIC IS, GIRL. Literally every time I’ve picked something and stuck with it, I’ve lost weight even if that wasn’t the immediate goal. Keto, paleo, low-carb, low-fat, whatever it is – studies show that they all pretty much work if you stick with it.
Let’s start at the beginning. Yes, my weight loss started out because I was too heartbroken to eat. The Grief Diet: 10/10 Works, Would Not Recommend. There’s my big secret.
Just kidding. Sort of.
I started seeing Dr. Jake Walden, DC, the new chiropractor at Baranof Chiropractic. He did some tests on me where he had me follow his pen with my eyes and long story short, apparently I’ve hit my head one too many times. Who knew. I remember one concussion when I fell through a deck but apparently my eye patterning is only present in someone who has had multiple concussions. Oh wait, there was also that one time I got dropped and smacked my head on the concrete. Maybe he is right after all.
If you weren’t aware, our gut is our second brain. It’s where the majority of our neurotransmitters are made. Basically, unhealthy gut means unhealthy brain. And when you have a traumatic brain injury like a concussion, your body automatically does a few things to protect itself. There is a pathogenic wave that flows from the brain to the gut. Following a head injury, the brain becomes inflamed. Then the gut follows soon after. This increases intestinal permeability. The crazy part? This all happens within HOURS of a brain injury.
Leaky gut is a really horrible term. Whoever coined that should reconsider. It literally makes me picture shadoobie seeping out of my stomach and all over my abdomen. But really what it means is that the tight junctions in your small intestine have relaxed, allowing larger proteins and bacterial toxins to escape and circulate in your blood stream. This causes widespread, chronic inflammation. And untreated, this chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune disorder.
Now apparently, a young lady like me (thanks Dr. Jake) should not be experiencing such widespread pain. My joints hurt, I was having extreme brain fog, memory problems, anxiety, depression, diarrhea, you name it – if it was a symptom of leaky gut, I probably had it.
I’ve known for a long time that I have leaky gut because well… we pretty much all do. Between the shitty Standard American Diet we have all consumed at one point in our lives to stress to not being very mindful about eating, it’s pretty much inevitable. Oh and hitting your head doesn’t help, either. I have hesitated to do a gut-healing protocol because they are strict and take a while. But, I was at a point in my life where I was ready for some serious emotional and physical healing.
I’ve done Whole30 and other elimination-type diets in the past and have established in general what my food sensitivities are. And these diets are a great starting point. But what they fail to incorporate is the actual healing or Repair phase.
Any gut healing protocol is made up of the “4 R’s” in some capacity: Remove, Replace, Repair, Reinoculate. Here’s what I did, in short:
Remove: Remove offending, inflammatory foods. I removed all grains, all dairy, corn, soy, sugar, alcohol, nightshades, nuts, seeds, and mushrooms. The point of this phase (4-6 weeks) is to bring inflammation down in the body as much as possible. Reduce stress, get good sleep, drink lots of water, exercise… you get the picture.
Replace: This basically means you replace all of those foods you eliminate with better ones, like healthy meat and fats, lots of veggies, squash, bone broths, low-glycemic fruit, etc. Digestive enzymes can also be utilized during this phase to help break down food.
Repair: Here’s the point where I needed help. I know in general how to do a gut-healing protocol, but specific, targeted supplements is out of my knowledge base. Dr. Jake had me taking specific supplements for the removal phase (mostly antioxidants) and then specific supplements for this repair phase. I am not going to list them here because this is different for everyone based on your symptoms and goals, but if you are genuinely curious let me know, I’m happy to share with you personally!
Reinoculate: This means you reinoculate your gut with good, healthy bacteria through fermented foods, probiotics, and prebiotics.
After about 4-6 weeks of removal is when I started the repair-phase supplements. At this point, you can also start testing out foods that you removed to see if your body reacts to them. One thing that my body severely reacted to in the form of extreme joint pain was nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, etc). I was not expecting this!
It can take a while (6-12 months) for your gut to fully heal depending on the level of damage you have. Next week is the 3 month mark for me.
Honestly, I haven’t really added that many foods back in. I’ve been feeling great and haven’t really had the urge to do so. The longer you can keep the “big 5” out of your diet, the better: grains, dairy, soy, corn, and sugar/alcohol. I know that gluten is something I want to keep out indefinitely. I know my body doesn’t like grains, so I’ll keep those to special occasions. I am also lactose intolerant so there goes that fun. Corn and soy – who needs ‘em? Sugar…. Maybe. I miss chocolate. But I can have cacao and that’s good enough for me at this point. So far, I’ve tested nightshades (way not good), eggs (also, no good), wine (sadly, way not good), and white claws (a major food group).
I also have been walking as much as I can, attending GRIT at The Studio by Emily 3 days a week, and being really honest with myself about boundaries and what I need. I know I do better when I have some alone time, meditate, read, and most importantly – BREATHE.