Monday, June 10, 2013

Weight Loss and Health


May 2005. Weight: 230lbs (Height: 5'5")

For awhile now, I have been asked to write about my recent weight loss. I understand these requests, but I held off for a couple reasons. For one, I wasn't done. (I'm still not done.) For another, I was waiting to take some followup medical tests.

When one loses weight, people want to know how and why. Especially how. I understand that because it can be so hard to find the right approach and then to stick with it, even if one has a lot of initial motivation. It can seem like an impossible task, fraught with failure.

Been there, done that.

I get that when someone succeeds, people want to know the gritty details, but it's a little intimidating to put it all out there, because it seems to invite judgement. Merely explaining one's eating plan can cause some people to react as if they are being judged. Food and eating can be a "sticky" issue with people.

I am going to tell you why I lost the weight, what approach I used, and point you towards resources so you can find more information, if you are so inclined. I am not a weight loss guru and don't want this to become a weight loss, or even a health, blog. I'm sure you don't want that, either.

Table of contents:

History

I have had issues with weight my entire life, and was identified, by some of my peers, as "the fat kid" even when I really wasn't fat (but that's how it was in the "old days" if you weren't as thin as your friends). My first "diet" experience was when my mother encouraged me to go on Weight Watchers when I was 16 and was maybe 20 pounds overweight. (My mother maintained a trim figure all her life.)

This was back when Weight Watchers was just a book that espoused a rather strict eating plan. There were no "WW groups" or any organized WW activity until much later. I followed the eating plan religiously (I remember measuring out my small bowls of Special K with skim milk and weighing everything) and I lost weight - down to 125lbs. I maintained it for awhile. Then I entered college and started gaining weight. When I left college I was around 192lbs. I slimmed down after college, got married, had kids, and gained weight with each pregnancy. This is hardly an unusual story.

May 2001.
Not sure of my weight, but it was about 18 months after my divorce.
My kids were 5 and 7 when this was taken.

Even before my divorce, I was dealing with depression. (Depression has been a frequent visitor to my life.) I also had a slow thyroid (half of my thyroid and parathyroid were removed when I was in my early 20s due to a tumor, and the remaining half doesn't work well), and I gained a lot of weight. After my divorce, I continued to gain weight. In 2005, I reached my highest weight of 230lbs.

Poor Health

In early 2006, I went to the doctor due to some troubling peri-menopausal symptoms I was having. They ran all the routine tests that they like to run. The results came in and I had full blown type 2 diabetes (my A1c was over 9), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

I admit it, the doctor managed to instill me with considerable fear. She gave me a stack of prescriptions, and I filled the one for the blood glucose meter, lancets, and strips. Oh joy. The idea of testing my own blood made me want to vomit. I recollect fainting at one point, but was finally able to get past my aversion. (Now I don't even think about it.)

A work lunch, Dec 2005, before starting ETL

I immediately started following Eat to Live (ETL) by Dr Joel Fuhrman. This eating plan includes loads of exercise (particularly crucial for diabetics), and I chose to walk, sometimes for miles, and often uphill. (San Francisco has plenty of stairs and hills.)

Within a few months, I had reversed all of these conditions, without the aid of any prescription medications, and stunned the doctor. I had also lost quite a bit of weight, but that was secondary to the health improvements.

The first time I'd been following ETL.
Weight: 154 lbs, sometime in late 2006.

For a year or two, I was a poster child for ETL - I embraced the eating and exercise plan. At this point my weight had stabilized at 154lbs and my blood glucose numbers were in the normal range. I continued in this path for some time but, slowly, I slid off plan (during an extended period of extreme personal stress), re-introducing the foods that cause problems for me, and exercising less and less. While I only regained about 10lbs on the scale, I regained all of my ill health, and then some.

Fast forward through several years of what was tantamount to extreme self abuse, eating unhealthy foods, too much of them, and not exercising. Even though I had only regained about 10lbs, my health was very poor. I avoided going to the doctor because I am stubborn that way. (Some might even say pigheaded.) When I finally did go, things were quite grim indeed. I suffered from:

  • Raging Type 2 Diabetes (my A1c was over 12 - this time they wanted me on insulin)
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Moderate-to-severe GERD
  • Rosacea
  • Osteo arthritis in my left hand
  • Severe peripheral neuropathy in both feet
  • My kidneys were stressed
  • My vision was affected
  • My digestion was a mess

I was 53. People do die of Type 2 diabetes in their 50s and I was headed down that track. And I wasn't sure that I cared.

Nov 2010. Approx 165lbs
You can really see where I carry my weight in this pic.
June 2011
Aug 2011. Oh dear.

Even with the discomfort from poor health, I was having trouble getting back to healthy living. For maybe a year I tried, repeatedly, and I would succeed maybe for a few days, if that. Then I'd slide right back off. I wasn't making any real headway with weight loss or my health and was frustrated and depressed.

With my health issues, I needed some drastic intervention. A program that took a mild approach wasn't going to cut it for me and bring my blood glucose down from the rafters. The post, Peace with Food, on the Engine2Diet blog, sums up my own experience pretty well.

Finding the Motivation

Last fall, Oct 2012, I attended the Design Outside the Lines retreat with Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson in Taos, New Mexico. On the first day of the retreat, Marcy gave us an exercise called Cultivating Creative Courage. This exercise is structured around a daily ritual that includes warming up the body and meditating, or merely sitting quietly. I talked to my roommate, Gwen, about giving it a try when we returned home.

But I didn't.

A couple weeks after the retreat, I received an email from Gwen. She had been practicing the exercise and was finding it useful. She wanted to compare notes. I felt badly that I hadn't done it even once, so I resolved to try it. I performed the daily exercise for a week or so and something unexpected happened. I started finding the motivation to take care of myself - to eat right, to get exercise. Something had finally clicked after all those months of trying-but-failing over and over.

I already had the tools I needed at my disposal - I knew how to eat, what to eat, how to move. I even owned a high powered Vitamix blender and a useful (though unused) vegetable steamer, but I had lacked the motivation and follow through. So when I found that drive, I was able to fall into my healthy habits almost overnight. (This was not the case the first time I started ETL, when I was figuring it out as I went along, and saving up for that Vitamix.)

Gwen and I, Oct 2012, at DOL in Taos, New Mexico
With Marcy Tilton, also at DOL, Oct 2012.
Weight: 165 lbs.
Summer 2012, with Jillian

Return to Health

Since last fall, I have lost 36 pounds, but since 2005, I have lost over 100 pounds. (I was 230lbs in 2005 before I started ETL the first time and, as of today, I am 129lbs.) More importantly, I have reversed virtually all of the health conditions in my "poor health" list.

I repeated the blood tests last week and received the results today. My A1c is 5.8 (5.6 and under is considered normal). My cholesterol is 176 (normal). My blood pressure is normal. My kidneys are now functioning normally. The GERD/reflux is gone. My rosacea has cleared up, and the arthritis in my left hand is gone. Even my vision has improved.

The doctor said to me today, as she related the improved numbers, "Just keep doing what you're doing!"

The only prescription medication I take is Synthroid, so these improvements are due to eating and exercise - not from modern meds.

The one condition on my list that I have not fully reversed is the peripheral neuropathy in my feet, but even that has dramatically improved. No longer do I suffer from frequent, sharp shooting pains down my legs into my feet. No longer does the pain from the weight of the bedding against my feet keep me awake at night. No longer, if I step on a power cord, does the pain reverberate so badly that I have to freeze and wait for the waves to pass. No longer is it excruciatingly painful to have the skin on my big toes touched, even lightly. I still have some numbness and tingling in both feet that may never go away entirely, but I am hopeful.

May 2013. Weight: 134 lbs

Not Done Yet

I am not done losing weight. People often volunteer that I should stop losing weight, but this is about health. I still have a belly. That belly fuels the diabetes. Yes, I still have diabetes, even though my A1c is close to normal. I can see the effect that even the healthiest meal has on my blood glucose and my pancreas still struggles. In order to avoid the possibility of diabetes-related complications down the road, I need to lose the belly and reduce the load on my exhausted pancreas. But, at this point, I work hard to lose every pound. It is a very.slow.process and I just have to be patient and persistent.

And maybe whine a bit to my tolerant friends. ;)

What IS Eat to Live?

Eat to Live, developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, is a plant-based eating program. The primary concept is that you eat foods that are the most nutritionally dense in order to flood your body with nutrients. You avoid processed foods, oil, salt, and animal products. Dr Fuhrman has written several books (see the resources section), and has recorded two programs for PBS. He has a website, with an online forum (not free), but there are also blogs, Facebook groups, and yahoo groups that provide free information and support.

I found Eat to Live, many years ago, via a vegan food blog. I sat up and paid attention when the blogger said that, due to following this way of eating, she finally kicked her addiction to sugar. When it came to sugar, I felt completely helpless and out of control.

Dr Fuhrman has seen many patients turn their health around by following his program. He is no stranger to patients who have experienced dramatic improvements in their health. He has newsletters on his website that include protocols for those dealing with specific health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions like fibromyalgia or lupus.

What Do I Eat?

I eat 2 or 3 meals a day.

Usually one meal is a green smoothie, such as a kale or spinach smoothie, and includes water, juice of a Meyer lemon, flax seed, frozen fruit, and whatever else I want to throw in, such as zucchini, apple, bok choy, microgreens, avocado. (My smoothie is more of a formula than a recipe.) I pour it into a bowl, sprinkle with some nuts and seeds, and maybe some fresh berries, and eat it with a spoon. Yum.

One of my kale smoothies

My second meal is generally a large (mixing-bowl-sized) salad with some beans, or maybe a smaller salad with a steamed, water sauteed, or baked veggie. Or, instead of the veggie, maybe some homemade vegetable soup. This is what works for me, as I am not much into cooking and like to keep it simple.

If I am hungry and want a third meal, it is similar to the second meal. So, if one meal is a large salad with beans, the other meal will be (for example) a smaller salad along with a steamed vegetable.

The Secret to Success

The secret to my success is pretty simple. Once I passed through detox, and was eating plenty of greens, I lost my cravings for highly processed, nutritionally deficient, addictive foods. By that I mean, I do not sit around and think about food all of the time. I do not crave foods that I used to crave, like pizza, chocolate, or ice cream. (I used to call those my food groups. I remember my kids sometimes complaining, "Not pizza again, mom!!)

Now, this is not to say that I never slip up. I have slipped up plenty, especially if I was feeling weak and was presented with the foods in which I used to overindulge. But I always always get right back on plan. I have to. This has to be a permanent lifestyle for me if I want to keep using my eyeballs and my feet, and I am rather fond of both. I want to be wearing my Trippens for years to come. Having fallen off the plan several years ago has taught me that I really can't allow myself to go down that path again. I don't know that my pancreas could survive a third round of extended self abuse.

What About Exercise?

Exercise is also an important part of ETL. Particularly for diabetics, who are advised to exercise before each meal, 7 days a week. I definitely do not achieve this lofty goal, but when I do, my blood glucose numbers are better. I aim for daily exercise and am very happy if I can get in two sessions a day. This time around, I joined a local YMCA and I use both the cardio equipment and the weight training machines. Occasionally, I take classes such as yoga or pilates. I have an extensive playlist on my iPhone and I do enjoy working out to my tunes.

Walking one of the steepest hills in SF, rocking out to tunes

I will say that consistent exercise can be my biggest challenge.

Resources

If you want more information or support, here are some resources for you.

First up, I am listing some the books by Dr Fuhrman - there are others. (The pics are clickable.)

Dr Fuhrman has also recorded two specials for PBS. You might want to look out for these during pledge drives.

  • 3 Steps to Incredible Health
  • Immunity Solution

Dr Fuhrman has a website, which includes testimonials, newsletters, recipes, and a forum. You have to pay for some of these services, though you can get one free newsletter (of your choice) if you sign up for his email. I am also listing some groups that are free, though they are not hosted by Dr Fuhrman, but by followers/fans:

There are lots of blogs and recipe sites, but here are a couple of interest:

  • Fat Free Vegan is the best resource for recipes for this way of eating. Susan Voisin, founder of Fat Free Vegan, also manages the Eat to Live Yahoo group.
  • One of the blogs I follow is Fifty Not Frumpy. It was a surprise when I learned that she also lost weight, and regained her health, via Eat to Live! She has written a post about it, How I lost 40 lbs and healed my body.

There are also other doctors, and experts, with similar programs to Dr Fuhrman's. They vary in some details, but are also a good source for information and recipes. There are the Esselstyn's (father and son), Dr Dean Ornish, Dr Gabriel Cousens, Dr Neal Barnard, John Robbins, Dr McDougall, to name a few. I may come back later and add some more links, if that seems useful.

Other books that are helpful. (The pics are click-able.)

There are videos to watch:

There are other resources, but this list feels so long already, that I will stop here. If you want more information, and can't find it, let me know and I'll see what I can dig up.

Here's to health!

118 comments:

  1. Amazing journey my friend... Very inspiring and I know you will get to your final objectives. Go girl...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! good for you, and here's to great health. Interestingly it sounds a lot like an anti-cancer diet a couple of my extended family (with cancer) are following.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A lot to think about and learn here. Thanks, Shams!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing this. It's very easy to relate to. Congratulaions on the efforts you have made to regain health (and look awesome as a side effect). I really appreciate the honesty and effort you have put into writing this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh WOW. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your health journey is an incredible one. I carry my weight around my middle too, but my blood tests etc are all great at this stage (so I still indulge in foods that are probably not ideal). My husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes two years ago - but has managed to reverse it completely by doing high intensity training (generally known as HIT). It's all about health. You are a stunning example of how you can turn things around. Thanks again for telling us all about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HIT is an excellent way to burn fat and get fit! I use it, in a small way, on the elliptical but could do a lot more.

      Good for you husband!! Thanks, Thornberry!

      Delete
  6. Thanks for sharing Shams. You will get there for sure. So happy for you to have found your health back (and an awesome figure as a bonus!). I'm sure going to the gym tonight. Have been "bad" for a couple of weeks now and going only once a week. Must get back in the habit of doing more excercise. You've motivated me.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You have done amazing work, and I know you have the tenacity to achieve your final goal. Here's to your continuing, very good health...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you so much Shams for your honesty and thoroughness with this issue.

    I can relate to everything being 50lb down from my highest in November 2006 but 18lb up on my lowest in November 2010. I bought the Furhman book (twice as it was in a briefcase that was stolen!) but have yet to follow it. I would love to know where my high cholesterol and blood pressure would be at a better weight (28lb down). I have an extra problem as I love to cook and have a husband who loves to eat.

    Now I've said too much as I didn't want me comment to be "all about me" but you are an inspiration both in terms of approach to your weight and your wonderful eye for good design. Very well done and please think of an update when you have got where you want to be.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Congratulations Shams!

    Weight loss is hard, as we all know. Thanks for sharing. You look great and you're obviously feeling great.

    One small word of caution though: while Fuhrman's approach is clearly working very well for you and your weight loss goals, he greatly overstates the benefits of his diet. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?s=Fuhrman

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow, that is an amazing story. I am so glad you have found a plan that is working for you. Sometimes you just need something to make it fall into place. I follow mainly primal/paleo since about last November and I feel so much better. It would seem EFL and paleo have a few things in common - no processed food, no grains and everything from scratch. I have found the change in diet has also helped me with depression and if I do eat wheat I find myself really down for a few days following.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you so much for sharing. Your blog is always so positive that I am surprised that you had any health issues and difficulties (besides obvious weight issues). I am sure that you will achieve your goal of being belly-less. ♥

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for your generosity in writing this post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for sharing your story, you have done so well and you must feel delighted with the results. I have managed to lose around 16lbs and want to lose another 16, but its those last ones that are always the hardest, but you seem to be getting there. Needless to say you look terrific, but clearly its the health benefits that are keeping you going. Lots more smaller sewing for you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh my gosh, thank you for taking the time and the courage to share your story. It is the kick in the pants that I need this morning. My addiction that I would do anything to kick is sugar. You look great and even better is reading that it has helped with the diabetes symtoms. Wishing you a healthy road to travel as you continue to accomplish your goals ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for sharing your story. You have so much to be proud of - taking good care of you! Here's to continued success!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Appreciate hearing what has worked for you. Much success on your journey to good health!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Shams, this is an incredibly giving, personal, and insightful story. I appreciate all the thought and time you obviously put into the construction and content. Your willingness to share your journey, and your courage and success, are moving and inspirational. Way to go!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What an amazing well-written post (good grief I think I've been deleting too much spam off my own blog but it's a genuine compliment). I got off all meds except thyroid too by eliminating junk food but still struggle with my weight and I'm a meat eater. Thank you so much for sharing the resources; I'm going to check out ETL.

    I think it does relate to sewing. I sew primarily to get a great fit around my own uber bust. I've noticed how much better I look when my clothes fit. For me, the ultimate alteration is weight loss. Even 5 pounds makes a big difference in the way my clothes look and feel on my body.

    I hope you continue to post about ETL, fitness, etc. any time you have something helpful to share. You're a walking testimony and this whole post has been extremely encouraging to me.

    I wish you could write more about Marcy's exercise but I realize it may be proprietary information. Has she published it anywhere? Can you share more about it?

    Do you take supplements for B vitamins?

    Thanks again for taking so much time to write this and for putting yourself out there. I can't tell you much I got out of reading your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mary, and congrats on your own health journey!!

      Yes, I don't feel I can post Marcy's exercise. She actually got this exercise from a class she took and she obtained permission to use it at DOL. That is why I gave a very sketchy description of it. I also let Marcy know that I planned to give her some credit for my recent success. :)

      Delete
  19. Thank you, Shams...you have been so generous to share your journey...hard to do at times. I am grateful to have shared some of the ups and downs with you (and mine as well). You never know who will read this and find just that extra motivation that will help them on THEIR journey.

    This is a gift you have given all of us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margy, you have been an enormous source of support and inspiration to ME. Thank you, my friend!!

      Delete
  20. Awesome. It takes a lot of guts to post about weight...you are an inspiration.

    I too have changed my diet in the past six months..being 56 and having The Belly was not what I wanted to look forward to dealing with. I'm a fan of Fuhrman, but also purchased a Nutribullet. No. More. Belly. amazing what green smoothies can do for us.

    Continue on that great path you are on...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent, moo producer! Congrats on your health improvements! I looooove my green smoothies!! :)

      Delete
  21. you have done amazingly well and so glad to hear your health has improved so much! i've lost a lot of weight in the past 2 years and altho it wasn't affecting my health so badly i know how much better i feel. i also know i will always have to watch what i eat for fear of being back there again. congratulations on your story!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thank you for sharing. "Putting it out there" can be risky, and I appreciate your courage.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Shams, thank you so much for sharing the details about your health issues and journey to improvement. Wow! You must be so proud of your accomplishments! That A1c that change is nothing short of miraculous!

    Sharing how you achieved your success, in such a wonderful, well-written post, couldn't have been easy. And there will always be those who want to chime in with negative information. You have clearly stated that this was YOUR decision, and YOUR experience.

    Many of us who don't know you personally were interested in how you achieved your results, which were apparent in your photos. In a comment a couple of weeks ago, you mentioned ETL and I bought the book and started on ETL last weekend.

    Thanks for the inspiration and thanks for the wonderful post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Meredith! I was impressed by how quickly you jumped into this! You will see some great health improvements!

      Delete
  24. I admire you Shams. I was on this diet for a year (also for health reasons) and it was HARD. It didn't solve my health issues the way it has yours, so I'm on a slightly modified version now. I've always believed that food is the best medicine. Keep doing what you are doing, for you and for your loved ones.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This story took courage to write and publish, but the benefits will be far reaching. You have helped many people today, including perhaps yourself :-) I am inspired by your tenacity, your creativity in finding a solution, and your honesty. fondly, Mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very insightful, Mary, as always. I do think that writing this post helped me. It was easier to go to the gym this morning. :D

      Thanks!

      Delete
  26. Here's to YOU, Shams! Your accomplishments in losing weight and regaining your health are awesome in the truest sense of the word, not to mention inspiring.
    I've watched Dr. Fuhrman's PBS special and own on of his books. He should hire you for marketing and PR. I'm serious.
    You already look fantastic but I look forward to seeing more pics once you have reached your weight and fitness goal.
    Congratulations!

    PS..... you've inspired me to toss my 2nd cup of coffee loaded with sugar and milk :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. A-mazing! Runs in the family. You look so happy too. Rock steady.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Wonderful information, and very inspiring! Best wishes to you on your journey, Kate

    ReplyDelete
  29. Congratulations on a tough and inspirational journey! Keep up the great work!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hey Shams, I'm so glad you took the time, energy, thought, and courage to write this post. You continue to inspire me in my journey to health. I follow a combination of ETL, Dr. Esselstyn's approach, Dr. McDougall, and somebody else whose name escapes me at the moment. There are many pathways to health, and I see in reading this post that I need to step up my game a bit, especially in the areas of sugar/treats/eating out and exercise. I have maintained the weight loss of last year and still have a way to go. I would love to know more about the Cultivating Creative Courage exercise(s); maybe Marcy T. could share her source? It seems like your incorporating that exercise was a turning point for you. Not a magic bullet, of course, none of this is. Which makes your journey all the more impressive. Here's to your continued success and improved health! Thank you!!! P.S. I love my Vitamix, too, and have green smoothies (90% veggies, 10% fruit) for lunch almost every day. I am pondering having one for breakfast instead of my bowl of oat bran ~ ground flax seed ~ Bran Buds ~ cinnamon ~ salt-free cooked beans ~ almond milk that I have every morning. Hmmm. Food for thought <- couldn't resist. :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. This is so astonishing. I had no idea of your health issues. You are such a constant source of inspiration to me as well as others, Shams. Keep up the excellent work with creativity of living a healthful and artistic life!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Yay, Shams! Thank you for sharing your story, with the ups and downs. I know that it will help me figure out the process for myself. I'm so glad that you found a solution/program to beat your health problems. By the way, I'm amused because most fitness success stories suffer from a lack of pictures. Because of your extensive blogging you have great pictures to illustrate your transformation. :) Thank you again for sharing the process!

    Rose in SV

    ReplyDelete
  34. I am so happy that you've reversed your health issues by yourself, using your self! You look beautiful.

    Exercise is good medicine. I had high blood pressure in my 20's, and decided to try running before I agreed to a daily pill. Now I'm in my 50's and I walk instead of run, but my blood pressure hasn't hit a high note since.

    Yes, sometimes I lose my motivation -- but thanks to your post, I'm excited to get out the door this morning! I will even meditate later (meditation really helps my mental state...sometimes that's harder to stick with, but very effective. It's much better not to wait until I get to a dark-ish place...but I remind myself that it really does help me.)

    Thanks so much for sharing this honest and inspirational journey, Shams!

    ReplyDelete
  35. What a wonderful story. Congratulations on the weight loss and the health gain.

    ReplyDelete
  36. WOW. Just - wow. THANKS! - Heather

    ReplyDelete
  37. I think it is so brave and generous of you to share this process. Congratulations on your success.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Congratulations! most important is the health, but of course we feel very happy to look thin! Thanks for sharing . It's not easy to be constant doing it.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Having only just met you at our SF meetup, until I heard you tell part of your story, I never would have guessed the struggles you have gone through to be where you are now. So I guess that's my way of saying congratulations! You make it look easy and to make anything so hard look so easy means you're doing a very very good job of it.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Congratulations, Shams!

    You're an inspiration to all who are in the same boat, including me.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I very recently gave up a very bad habit but now the pounds are piling on. With the good weather last week I got the old push bike out and have been slowly cycling to work and back each day. I feel great achieving this little bit of exercise and it makes me wonder - if I feel this good doing it why don;t I do it all the time? I understand the constant effort required Shams. Truly an inspiration - thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thank you for sharing. I used to do diabetic rat research and decided I wanted to die some other way. Trying hard to keep up the daily walks to keep the belly in check.

    ReplyDelete
  43. As you know, you were, and are my inspiration to start ETL - especially after seeing myself in the wedding photos - ARGH! So 1 week and 2 days have passed. I gave myself permission to weigh-in every Sunday morning and after the first week I had lost 5.8 lbs. Lots more to go but after a life of being a serious carnivore, lover of anything salty and compulsive snacker, I really haven't felt hungry at all. So thank you dear friend for steering me, and a whole lot of others, in the right direction.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I wish you continued success on your journey to better health. I admire your honesty as well. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I am so happy for your recent success and I wish you many years of vibrant health.

    Two things struck me in reading about your process: first, even though we sometimes know that we need to make changes, and perhaps we know the changes that we need to make, it can be difficult to make the step from knowing to doing. Second, even though your eating plan is very different from the one I follow, I am so glad that you feel happy and comfortable with it.

    I too had a weight problem as a teenager and topped out at around 170 lbs. For the past twenty years I've maintained a weight 40 to 50 pounds below that high point. I can never take it for granted, but I am very grateful to have been able to find a way to be healthier than I was growing up.

    ReplyDelete
  46. You wrote a beautiful, moving post. One that I can relate to. My blood sugar started climbing, not anywhere near yours, more in the low pre diabetic range in the last year. My cholesterol was up and and even with medication started climbing again, my blood pressure had climbed to the high normal. My family history is riddled with type 2 diabetics including my mother. She didn't take her health seriously until it had caused loss of sight, heart disease and other issues. I didn't wait and went to an endocrinologist. He advised exercise 7 days a week, which I do. I made an appointment with the dietitian to better understand how I need to eat,. I have finally started losing weight, for me with Weight Watchers and increasing my activity levels during the whole day. It's working. My last blood work showed all of my numbers falling, though not yet where they need to be. However you do it, living long and healthy is the best reason. You look amazing and I don't know about you, but being in control is powerful. I was floating when I got my last blood work and it really spurred me to keep it up. Your story is inspiring, so much that I am going to go do more exercise.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Wow! The changes you're making are so hard--Good for you for doing the hard work to maintain your health! Congratulations--you look great.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I so admire your courage, honesty, and self-discipline. What a beautiful success story! Your blog always inspires my sewing, and now you have inspired me to try again to regain a healthy body. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Awesome courageous work Shams!

    I admire you and your blog. Your creations are so artistic nad beautifully sewn.

    I work with diabetics and wondered if you could use this information: that benfotiamine has been used for successful treatment of diabetic neuropathy. Google for more info if you wish.

    I do wish you all the best with with your health in the future!

    Carla

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thank you, Shams. I know I'm one of the many who've already asked you "how" and "why", but I'm still thankful to see the story here as one post and to hear you've had yet another good heath report. I think you have a great goal and a great plan. I'm excited you're committed to it, and I have to admit that smoothie looks good! I try to eat well (it turns out I just don't like a lot of the things I shouldn't like already), but I know after hearing a bit of your story at our meet up, I started actually making myself real salads almost daily! I can't seem to talk my husband into a Vitamix. He thinks our cheapo blender is just fine! Until it breaks or I have definitive proof that we can't get by without a Vitamix, I think I'll just have to keep on keeping on without one. I look forward to watching your health continue to improve, and I can't wait to see more of those wiggle dresses and date-night jeans!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe ask for a no-questions asked gift of $xxx for Christmas or your birthday???

      Or maybe letting the blender slip and break an option for you???

      I have had my vitamix for 8 years now and can't thank it enough. Go for it!

      Delete
    2. LOL, Kayotic.

      Amy, that blender will break eventually. Maybe sooner than later. ;) There is no comparison between a good blender and a cheap blender. It's no different than the difference between a good sewing machine and a cheap sewing machine. Or any tool. :)

      In addition to smoothies, I use my Vitamix for blended soup, hummous, dressings. You can even use it to make hot soup. Or flour. I don't use flour much anymore, but if I need just a bit of barley flour, for example, I throw some barley into the Vitamix and it makes flour. Or oats into oat flour. And so on. :)

      Delete
  51. So inspiring. I've got a smile on my face from reading this and I'm admiring your courage, even if it sprouted from necessity. You remind me I need to treat my body better, too. Thankyou and all the best for your journey forward :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thank you for being so brave and inspiring, Shams. Virtual hug to you.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I, too, have a slow thyroid. I have been trying to change this through diet and exercise. I am having such trouble with finding motivation. I have all of the tools- I know what to eat, what herbs to take, have a Vitamix and dehydrator. Maybe if I start daily mediation it will make a difference. I am going to try it! Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. I hope as you continue on it your feet will continue to improve.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I am so glad and want to thank you so much for sharing your story. You may even be helping to save my life as I feel such an incredible connection to your story. I have not read anyone elses response yet...I felt compelled to respond right away for myself. You have just wrote the story of my life except I have no thyroid at all (complete thyroidectomy in 2002) and I have not tried ETL until real recently and am very much so struggling. But I keep telling myself it is for me and me alone if I want to live beyond my 50's. My hubby is a horribly bad eater and sometimes it is so much easier to follow his lead and grab a bag of chips and plop down in front of the TV. He is thin and actually healthy. I don't get it???? Anyway, I start everyday telling myself this is the day I will make it all the way through without giving in. One of these days I will make it....maybe I will reread your blog everyday for awhile. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Congrats on your success. Shams. I really admire you for your determination and devotion to good health.I just watched Dr. Fuhrman'sPBS special and have been really taking it to heart. Something strange happened yesterday. After a few days of eating the way the doctor suggests, i gave in to one of my biggest weaknesses..ice cream. Aftrer eating this quite large cone of ice cream, for the rest of the day,I felt horrible,you know exhausted,out of sorts,heavy stomach,etc. Today,I don't think I'll ever want to eat the stuff again.I feel so good eating in such a healthy way. Just thought I'd share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Diana! Yes, one of the "risks" of eating this way is that, if and when you step off, it can make you sick. It's good to remember that *before* stepping off. ;)

      Delete
  56. Wow!!! Shams -- what an interesting story! You took charge of your health and your life and that is really inspiring. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to you for slimming down and getting healthy. And you look fabulous in that dress you recently made.

    ReplyDelete
  57. You're doing great! At 5'2", I think 134 would be a good weight for me, so I have 20+ to go.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Shams, thank you for posting this. It is very brave and inspiring. You are looking great!
    You have inspired me to get back onto a regime that works for me, the Live Right for your Type Diet. The main thing is that we are all individual and what works for one may be very different to what works for another.
    Having said that more veggies, fruit and less sugar and fat laden gunk is good for all. Once again, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Shams - thanks for sharing. I have the type 2 diabetes, high cholesteral, GERD plus sleep apnea. I have not been good about managing my eating but your post has inspired me to try again and keep trying until I've lost the weight and gotten my blood sugar under control....

    ReplyDelete
  60. Having seen you in person over the last 2 years I can attest that you look fantastic but more importantly I can know that YOU feel great. That is the important thing, getting to a good healthly place. Congrats and all your efforts have certainly paid off, wonderful to get those test results. I know so many people who I wish could do what you have done. Inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Oh Shams I am so glad you have achieved this . I am sitting in my office and its lunch time . I am about to see a client who is morbidly obese, has chronic pain and has confined herself to an electric wheelchair becasue she feels that she is so sick . The worst thing is that she is only 21 !! I wish I could buy a bottle of your attitude and give it to her . Its that vital spark that turn knowing to acting and you have done it . All power to you .You are my inspiration

    ReplyDelete
  62. Lady can I just say-AwesomeAwesomeAwesome! I really wish I was there to give you multiple hugs right now. I am so proud of your resolve and your extended long term investment into getting your health back on track. You look great-that sectioned stripey dress? Total kickass! Do not stop, we're all rooting for you-thanks for being such an awesome role model. Keep rockin'.

    ReplyDelete
  63. shams, you are such a special person - thank you so much for your intelligence and honesty and creativity. I am heartened by your triumph over the challenges of life that some of us face in one way or another. Thanks for writing this incredible post.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Congratulations on a wonderful post. Your persistence with your weight loss program is truly inspiring. I went to the library and got Joel Fuhrman's books 'Eat for Health' and I'm poring over them now. A diet big on the green stuff really works.
    Kathryn

    ReplyDelete
  65. Shams, I'm so very happy for you that you are enjoying much better health. Thank you for sharing your story, it takes courage to put it out there. Your story will motivate countless others to improve their health. You are a living testament to the fact that medicine is a tool to keep sick people functioning, but lifestyle and what we put in our bodies is what will make us well or make us sick.
    I've been toying with the idea of getting a vitamix blender. My blender, although good, struggles with what I put it through. I take it you love your vitamix?

    ReplyDelete
  66. p.s. You should email this post to Dr. Fuhrman!

    ReplyDelete
  67. A wonderful achievement Shams, congrats on the well deserved success. Your beautifully written, personal and informative post sharing your journey was typically generous, so I'm pleased it was helpful for you too and your smile in that last photo says it all!

    ReplyDelete
  68. I am really moved by this post. Like you I've recently decided that I needed to get into shape. While I was not fat until my early 30s, my family history had all the same alarm bells - a morbidly obses mother and siblings, both parents with type 2 diabetes and a grandfather who died from the same. I've found weight loss harder post menopause than when I was younger but have lost 10 kilos. I am still 5 kilos over the top of the heavy weight range for my height 5'2". It is a journey and I've been inspired by your efforts. For me the solution was simple - eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, eat less junk, move more (a lot more actually) and most of all stop obsessing about food. Eat to,live don't live to eat.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Thankyou so much for sharing your story Shams. It is very inspirational to see your progress - I know from my own experience that it can be super hard to get that spark of motivation. xxx Claire

    ReplyDelete
  70. This is so great. Do you find that with your ability to make really cute clothes that you find motivation in fun clothing you can make and wear. I am in the same losing game and I sometimes make something really cute just a bit small. When that ice cream craving comes calling, I think about the sewing project I have just made and want to wear. It really curbs the cravings.

    ReplyDelete
  71. I am continually amazed by the generosity and grace exhibited by "ordinary" people on the internet who share their stories and their expertise. This post took a LOT of time, effort, and courage to write, so congratulations to you on a wonderful and inspiring journey.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your story, Shams. It is an inspiring story, and a testament to the fact that a commitment to lifestyle changes can really make a positive difference in life. It is so great to read that your health has drastically improved -- what an accomplishment.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I am inspired as well! I am also Type 2 and can't seem to keep pounds off even when I DO exercise. I've had this book recommended before. Ok, I'm ON it!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Thank you Shams for generously and courageously sharing your story and progress with us. You are amazing!!

    You have given me immense inspiration and motivation to get started on my own health journey again.. I have fallen off my wagon and have found it really difficult to get back on track again... I think I can create my own 'Marcy's exercise' to look inward and discover the will to make that change.

    Thanks again !!! Much love and hugs and high fives!!!

    ReplyDelete
  75. Thank-you for sharing your journey so candidly and in depth. You are an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  76. Congratulations! What a journey. How has this affected the depression?

    ReplyDelete
  77. I'm happy for you that you're healthy and plan to stay that way! It seems to me that the weight loss is a by product of living a healthy lifestyle, so good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  78. Thank you for sharing your story! Very inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  79. Thank you so much for sharing your personal journey with us! I was so interested in how your eating plan changed the amount of inflammation in your body. You look fabulous, and I'm so glad you are feeling better. P.S...............your Hot Date pants are wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  80. What an inspiration! I've been following your blog for a while, as well as your posts on patternreview.com. It takes a lot of guts and self awareness to blog about such a difficult situation. Thanks for your candor!
    I can't wait to see your creations on your ultra healthy bod! Are you planning on doing a lot of altering, or starting fresh with your wardrobe?
    Best wishes!

    ReplyDelete
  81. You are a testament to strong women. Women who take care of themselves, share the information and turn a kind eye to the people who are judgemental. I wish you all success in your healthy lifestyle and finding what works for you. Phenomenal job and great health, also looking hot!

    ReplyDelete
  82. You are an inspiration! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  83. Thank you for sharing your story Shams. There is no better reason to lose weight/get fit than a desire to continue an active, enjoyable life as long as possible.
    I hope your Trippens see action for decades to come!

    ReplyDelete
  84. I rarely use words such as "amazing," "awesome," or (HEAVEN FORBID), the phrase "keep you safe." They're BEYOND overused and now border on making me nauseous. :o)) But you, Sharon, are TRULY awesome. I admire you so much. You'll just never know. I'm so PROUD of you, and I thank you for imparting your wisdom so thoroughly and succinctly to the rest of us. :o) Mucho love-issimo, Annette.

    ReplyDelete
  85. P.S. Knock it off. You're making the rest of us look bad. Heh-heh-heh. (Guess who?)

    ReplyDelete
  86. Congrats on your renewed health and thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Shams, you are amazing! It is amazing what a person can do when motivated.

    Debby

    ReplyDelete
  88. It is very inspiring to read how you took charge of your own health. It is so much easier and more common for people to see themselves as a powerless victim in the face of poor health and difficult circumstances. I am sure this has taken a lot of effort, persistance and courage. Thank you for your terrific, well documented post that I am sure will be helpful to many people. Best wishes for your continued good health.

    ReplyDelete
  89. What a truly inspiring post! I am certain there will be many people who will make life changing decisions as a result of your willingness to share and testimony to how powerful diet and exercise are. Amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  90. Thanks for sharing this. Stunning. I'm going to have to think about this a while.

    ReplyDelete
  91. Thanks so much for sharing this, Shams! What you said about addictive foods hit home - I've been working on eliminating processed foods from our diets here at home, and must confess there are many times certain favorite old junk foods will literally be calling my name! Amazing! Caught myself thinking about it and planning how to get it. Good grief! Currently in the middle of a move - to a neighborhood with walking trails! Can't wait. Thanks for your inspiration, and congrats on turning over that new leaf - for good!

    ReplyDelete
  92. I just found your blog from another blog - I am so inspired by you!! Thank you so much for sharing ~ I know that's hard. I am going to buy the Eat to Live book and start changing my life.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Thank you Shams for having the courage to tell your story. It is such an inspiration. I have watched you shrink before my eyes on sewing boards, and to see you so happy is wonderful. I have gone through some major changes in the past five or six years and my weight/ health has suffered for it. Hopefully, your inspiration will help me start taking the right path.

    ReplyDelete
  94. Very brave to tell your story, and very awesome. As most other commenters stated, so inspiring as well. Thank you. I shall move forward from your inspiration. Of course, your creativity knows no bounds, I love reading about your sewing and thinking out processes!

    ReplyDelete
  95. Wow you look amazing. Congratulations...keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  96. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  97. Wow! This was a most interesting post to read. You do look great and it sounds like you are also feeling and doing much better health wise. I am glad you got motivated to do this. I need to work on my eating and health as well. I have favorited this blog post for my reading again to help me improve on what I know I can do about my eating habits and health. You are inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
  98. What a strong woman you are! Congratulations, I am totally in awe of what you have achieved and still doing. Like many other commenters, you have inspired me to look closer at what I am doing to my own health and what I can do to achieve a better life. Thank you so much for digging deep and sharing your life story with the rest of us. It couldn't have been easy. I have great admiration for you.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Thank you for sharing your lifestyle with everyone. It is a lifestyle change and you've been really brave to share every part of your journey.
    Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Thank you, Shams. I now can look forward to exploring some new avenues. I hope you find relief for thr P.N. which I also have and find that it compounds my depression.
    tina in san diego ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear that, Tina. P.N. is no fun and, unless one has lived with it, one has no idea. I hope you find some relief!

      Delete
  101. Shams, I am humbled by your journey. Thank-you so much for sharing. You are very brave. Its sometimes hard to make good choices even when our health is suffering. You have given yourself and your children the wonderful gift of your life. I am certainly in a similar boat today and you have very much inspired me! I am facing some pressing health issues at the moment: 30+ lbs overweight with arthritis, asthma and very high cholesteral. Yikes:(
    Thank you again for sharing and inspiring me.

    ReplyDelete
  102. Thanks for sharing your experience. You are so brave. Congratulations.

    ReplyDelete
  103. Thanks so much for sharing. I am inspired to get off of my butt and JUST TO THIS this year after reading your story.

    ReplyDelete
  104. I don't dare say, "Thinness is next to healthiness" except to someone who has been through what you described. More power to you for taking your health seriously!

    (I read this eating my ETL inspired breakfast of half rolled oats, half pink lentils and a boat load of fresh fruit - a concoction I came up with after reading Susan at "Fifty not Frumpy's" breakfast post - that keeps the hypoglycemia at bay extremely well.)

    ReplyDelete
  105. Wow, you are an incredibly courageous and giving person! Your journey is so inspiring, I truly appreciate that you would share it with us. Thank you

    ReplyDelete