Best Christmas Present Ever!

This has been the best Christmas present ever to myself!  It is my first personal update on my fight to regain my health.  As many of you know I have severe stage 4 Lipo-Lymphedema along with Celiac Disease, MCAS, POTS, IBS, osteoarthritis, and leaky gut.  I’ve had three recent kidney stone attacks and also believe I have undiagnosed thyroid issues never mind possible adrenal fatigue (I have a nodule on one side of my thyroid, which could be a thyroid or parathyroid problem.  Still need to complete an ultrasound scan.)

Daughter Graduation June 2017
My Daughter’s HS Graduation June 2017. I walk with 2 bariatric canes and a manual wheelchair when I do go out.

I can no longer work outside the home as I cannot walk more than a couple feet without severe pain and being out of breath.  My hips, thighs and knees scream extreme pain when I try to walk and the cortisone knee injections only moderately help. I have two bariatric canes that are necessary for me to move from room to room in my home and a manual wheelchair for when I venture outside, which is usually just to medical appointments.

I fell back in March of 2018, injuring my lower back, tailbone and legs.  While I did not break anything (thank God!) it has changed my ability to sit in the same position for any length of time, so I need to change location and position frequently.  I am nearly bed-bound and certainly house-bound and have been for several years.

Now that you know the quick back story, let me say that in 2018 I finally found the information and key to taking back my health and life!  I met Catherine Seo of the Lipedema Project and through her met Timothy Noakes, Jason Quinn, Leslyn Keith, Mende Staggs, Raeann Sparks and many other wonderful women who share or understand my plight!  These wonderful people made such a huge impact in my life that I took their information and formulated a plan that I prayed would work for me.

I tried many of the diets out there – Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Atkins, fad diets and diet pills, and NOTHING worked.  I have met so many times with health care nutritionists and measuring out calories did nothing but frustrate me.  When I participated in my last weight loss management class back in 2014 and only lost two pounds over eight weeks, when everyone else was easily in double digits, I knew something was wrong.  I realized I was not like other people and had extenuating issues that required further research and investigation.

Finding My Way

After attending MasterClass trainings hosted by Catherine Seo and listening to her guest speakers, I knew they were on to something that could very well work for those of us with Lipo-Lymphedema and Lipedema as well as those with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other health conditions.  It also made better nutritional sense than anything I had ever heard before. And since my health was declining rapidly I knew I needed to find the key to reversing the downward spiral of constant pain, inflammation, immobility and social isolation that was leading me to an early grave!

After much research and planning, I made the decision to start a Ketogenic way of eating in July of 2018.  It wasn’t easy at first and yes, I experienced the “keto flu”, but it soon passed.  I lost eight (8) pounds my first month and started feeling so much better.  My stomach was calmer, my outputs were more regular, had less bloating, my brain fog was lifting and my energy levels were stabilizing.

After being diagnosed in December of 2016 with Celiac Disease (CD) I made the decision to give up all gluten and grains right then and there.  The constant diarrhea, gut and intestinal spasms and pain, brain fog, skin irritation and hair loss soon subsided and I was feeling much better.  This ultimately helped me with my move to a Ketogenic plan as all grains had already been purged.  I now look back at the CD diagnosis as a positive change in my life!

Was changing my eating plan to Keto hard?  At times it was challenging. I was tempted to return to my old way of eating.  However, the thought of remaining in constant pain and inflammation and being bed-ridden was NOT what I wanted for my life.  I was so encouraged that I could lose eight pounds and move in a positive direction that I wanted to keep going.

The Train is in Motion

I had already learned to eat well on Keto, sometimes a “lazy” Keto (up to 50 grams of carbs per day), that I wanted to keep pushing myself to do better. For the most part my family eats my Keto friendly meals and I allow them to supplement with non-Keto or gluten foods since they don’t have the same medical and dietary needs as me.

To my delight, most of my family understands good nutrition and makes great choices for meals and snacks.  But be careful, you may have an enabler or two in your family that may or may not intentionally try to give you food that is not Keto friendly.  You need to be strong and hold your ground, politely educating your enabler on your special dietary needs and why eating correctly is so important to your ongoing health.

You may also have to be firm in sticking to your intermittent fasting (IF) schedule, which is important for your body to turn up the fat burning process and kick-start autophagy.  Your enabler(s) may try to offer you food or drinks outside your IF schedule.  My schedule right now is to eat between 10am and 8pm and fast between 8pm and 10am.  Your schedule may vary and work better with shorter eating windows.

My second month got easier with another eight pounds gone.  I added a 40 hour fast during November and lost five (5) pounds in a four day period!  (These results may not be typical and vary depending on each person’s metabolic process and health status.) Fasting is a great way to kick-start a stalled weight loss effort and make autophagy work for your loose skin reduction.

Holidays can be challenging with all the parties and sweet treats tempting you at every turn.  Give yourself permission to have a treat or two during this time.  What I have found is if you deny yourself a sweet treat every once in a while then you tend to overindulge or binge eat during stressful or holiday times.

There are lots of great satisfying Keto friendly treats, or “bombs”, available that can be made and store readily.  Make some of them and have them handy for these times!  The dark chocolate and peanut butter balls are my favorite. Google “keto fat bombs” and you will find some interesting and delicious treats to satisfy your sweet tooth needs and get your fat macros in each day.

My Six Month Reveal

It’s almost been six months since I started Keto and low carbohydrate eating.  In that time I have shed 50 pounds!  I can see a little bit of the loss, but since I have so much weight to lose it might not look as dramatic as when I will lose 100 or more pounds.

Here are my stats:

  • HW (heaviest weight): 545 pounds
  • SW (starting Keto weight): 520 pounds
  • CW (current weight): 469 pounds (down 51 pounds since Keto and 76 from heaviest)
  • GW (goal weight): 170 pounds

I lost 25 pounds from 2016 until July of 2018 from aggressively pumping and wrapping both my lower legs.  I lost about 60 inches around all parts of both my lower legs and was finally able to get a pair of custom leg compression garments that have worked miracles for me!

Since July I’ve lost over 12 inches from head to toe.  The most noticeable change for me has been from being solidly fat to being loose and jiggly.  The solid fat did not wiggle as much was was very meaty to the grasp.  Now both my upper arms are massive blobs of jiggly fat.  They just flop around when I shake my arm.  (I just can’t shake too much as the flopping does still hurt.)

Upper arm December 2018
Jiggly loose fat in upper left arm December 2018

My upper thighs are also looser and more jiggly too with noticeable indents where fat has disappeared.  I look more dimpled now. In fact, the side of my right leg is so indented my family thought there was something wrong with my leg.  I had to assure them it was just disproportionate weight loss.

My apron belly (or panis, panus, pannus, pendulous pannus as it is also known) has also gotten more squishy I can see the stretch marks folding back in on themselves.  I can also fold it in half, which is something I have never been able to do before.

My inflammation levels are significantly lower.  My pain levels are lower but will flare if I decide to walk more.  Exercise is still confined to my bed although I am trying to walk around my home more.  I believe as the weight continues to drop I will be able to walk more and my pain levels will continue to fall.  However, I will note that I do not use my opioid meds on any regular basis any more.  I now use food to help control inflammation and pain levels!

Future goals

Setting small attainable goals is key to success.  If you try to hit large marks that take too much time or effort it may lead to discouragement and quitting your new lifestyle.  I can’t lose 300+ pounds in any reasonable and safe amount of time, so I set smaller micro goals, which keep me on track and bolster my confidence when I achieve them.  If you have any sizable amount of weight or health condition to achieve this is the way you need to map out your success.

My next level of goals are:

  • lose 25 pounds by Easter 2019 (April 21st)
  • leave my house and celebrate Easter at my mom’s house (about 10 minutes away)
  • walk the length of my house twice a day
  • use one cane at times (ambitious!)

I have to acknowledge Catherine Seo and her fabulous circle of experts and friends for getting me started on my best journey so far!  I now have hope for my future and can see visible positive results from changing my eating plan and addressing my Lipo-Lymphedema needs.  I also find encouragement in sharing success stories and struggles in her Facebook group Lipedema and Keto Way of Eating.  I highly recommend this group as no one should undertake this journey alone!

This has been the best Christmas present ever!  Keto and low carb eating really works!

What has your experience been with ways of eating?  Does Keto, Paleo or low carb eating work for you?  Is your goal weight loss, creating a healthier version of you or both?

How are you are setting and achieving goals?  Have you found it difficult to stick to a plan or remain steadfast in your resolve for better health?  How do you set your goals and measure your success?  I use a spreadsheet to track monthly weight and inch measurement changes.  It’s amazing to see how far I have come in just six months when I couldn’t do this in four decades!

Drop me a line and let me know how you are doing and any tips you have for achieving health success!

To Your Improved Health…

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