Years ago you would often catch us, your favorite wives, sitting in our living room, in front of the tv in our Maryland townhouse eating a dinner of hamburger helper. Hamburger Helper? You ask-and the answer is a yes; as in our 20’s we were such culinary masters that we did indeed work all kinds of wonders with HH.
Ok so if you have been living under a rock for the past several decades and have never heard of that which I speak, HH is a box with two main components: some form of noodle and a packet of things that probably should NOT be ingested over long periods of time.
The idea is that the contents of this box are going to “help” your hamburger become a real meal, just like the Blue Fairy helped Pinocchio become a real boy.
We really did it up right too, buy choosing to purchase the greasiest meats that we could possibly find, therefore making our young bellies happy for days on end.
At that point I will tell you we were not worried about what was in our food, how our food was prepared, or about where it came from; we worried about convenience, comfort and basically to what we were accustomed.
The facts were this…at this point between the both of us we were carrying enough extra weight to make another whole adult human. This is no joke and I’m not talkIng about a malnourished adult human either.
(both of us fitting into Christa’s shirt)
When we got into our thirties we really began considering how this extra weight was holding us back. From the life we were living to the life we would be missing out on if we didn’t get to work. Looking back we were so green at this, so new to knowing what options that we had for our health. We didn’t know where to start, of course “they” (who “they” are I’m not so sure of) always stand on the pillars of diet and exercise, diet and exercise like little parakeets singing for a cracker. But what is the RIGHT diet and exercise? Who has the right info? Who is really getting it right, while we stand on the sidelines hoping to catch a flash of the “right one”as they speed by us. We had 5,935 million books, plans, workouts, challenges, supplements, pre- workouts, post-workouts, detoxes, cleanses and a partridge in a pear tree. We yo-yo’d ALOT in those days. In and out of diets. Never starving ourselves, but definitely depriving ourselves a lot of the time, hence the yo-yo affect. When you deprive yourself of food that actually tastes good, you tend to get a bit cranky, and then you tend to quit and go back to eating garbage.
And that is what we did.
In 2014, we got married and at that point we were the most fit that we had ever been. Yoga class 4-5 times per week. Eating pretty clean, but our super activity was truly why we were so fit. I will at this point disclose that we were on what we dubbed as the “Ice Cream Diet”. This well thought out plan (devised by us) included a strict regimen of eating a clean breakfast and lunch and then walking a mile to get ice cream at our local creamery for our dinner. What a plan, watch our Dr Atkins and Melissa Hartwig…we are out to steal all your clients with this one. Just because we were at our fittest, at that point, didn’t mean we did all the things right. But it did feel oh sooooo right!
In January of 2018, we were facing a catastrophe. Since the days of the ‘Ice Cream Diet”, we had experienced a lot. A lot that didn’t have to do with food, but surprisingly came right back to food. It is amazing how that happens. Here is the checklist of what brought us here:
1. Suzee’s brother died of cancer
2. Christa’s grandfather died (in her arms)
3. We put our precious chihuahua Dougey to sleep
4. Suzee flatlined twice and had emergency surgery to have a pacemaker installed.
5. Christa worked an overnight job she hated to provide for the family.
6. We started a new business
7. Christa’s nanny became sick and we began caring for her.
8. Christa’s nanny passed away from complications of cancer.
9. Christa loses her best friend to cancer.
So these are definitely blog posts to come, but for now they are things that led us to a point in 2018, when we decided to consult a holistic doctor.
10. Christa is a ticking time bomb, at any moment she could have a medical catastrophe….heart attack, stroke, diabetic coma, liver failure.
With this news we looked at each other, shocked but not. At this point, it was no longer about getting skinny or to look cute into the latest shirt from American Eagle, this one was life or death.
After that moment, complete and utter change! No going back. No moments to wrestle with the idea that we could cheat or that we would take off a few days; the lifestyle change wasn’t optional. And you know what, we actually survived. Surprisingly there is life here. Christa’s diet was hard core AIP, autoimmune protocol diet, which is (scientific version) a food based approach to eliminating unwanted inflammation in a persons body. It helps heal the immune system and gut, which is at the core of why so many of Christa’s organs were affected from our poor habits. It would take time to reverse. So let us have a quick overview of what that truly means as far as what we could eat. So bye-bye to our old friend gluten, dairy—its been great, oh and added sugars, um it’s not you it’s me. In the beginning we joked…..air, we can eat air! Well we ate meat and vegetables and not even all meat and all vegetables. No turkey, no peas, no corn, no green beans, no apples…just a few things that were on the suspect list to causing Christa inflammation outside of our AIP regime. And don’t get me started on nightshades (just to let you know they are in almost everything).
To be honest it is amazing how creative you get, how open you get to trying new ingredients, how much you enjoy cooking from home because you are in control of your food and how much you enjoy just feeling better. Feeling better because your food is working for you and not against you.
We did this strictly, no wavering, no cheating for 7 months and believe me when I say there were times towards the end when it got a little dicey; not because the food wasn’t good but because there is summer and there is a camper and there are s’mores and guys there is ice cream…..yep that sums it up.
After the 7 months, we went back to Christa’s doctor for more testing, to see how her body had healed. I think that we might have been more nervous at this appointment than at the very first one. The results were startling, her A1C went from a 10.1 to a 6.0, her triglycerides came in at a normal range, her sugar went from a 298 to 91, and liver and kidney function all normal.
In 7 months, we learned so much. In 7 months, Christa’s life was saved. In 7 months, Suzee’s life was saved.
Here is another eye opener to anyone who thinks that just because you weigh under 150 pounds —that you are skinny, always have been and always will be…the under 150 pound people be warned…many times how much you weigh is not a sure indicator that you are healthy. You don’t really know how bad you feel until you start feeling really good. There are so many things that we took out of our diets that we never even realized made us feel bad.
We learned to cook with alternatives to sugars, dairy, wheat flour and more AND we found some of our now favorite meals. And unlike in days past, we did not go running back into the seductive arms of the “Ice Cream Diet”. Coconut milk ice cream is life guys.
We are here one year later, still changing up old recipes with new ingredients, still learning new and better alternatives, finding new and better health supplements, still learning what our bodies like and what they don’t like. At this point, Christa is down 75 pounds, and she still has goals. We are still learning, because saving your own life doesn’t end at your goal weight, saving your life, your healthiest life, never ends.