by Lindsay Reed
Nearly a year ago, I began a journey that has resulted in a happier, healthier me. In addition to improving my mood, confidence and overall well-being, I have released ninety-two pounds of extra weight.
My journey actually began when I was led to Nar-Anon, a group that provides support for individuals with loved ones battling addiction. The Nar-Anon twelve-step program forced me to re-evaluate my own life and although I wasn’t abusing drugs, I realized I was abusing food.
I had been abusing food my entire life. What an eye opener. I started to think about all the times I rewarded myself for a bad day or a job well done with a sugary treat. Could it be that I was addicted to food? Was there even such a thing?
Those questions led me to a national organization called Food Addicts Anonymous [FAA]. As I researched FAA, I learned that many who join the group practice abstinence from addictive foods such as sugar, flour and wheat. At first, this sounded extreme but if I wanted my loved one to abstain from the addictive substances in his life, shouldn’t I be willing to do the same to make myself healthier?
I printed copies of the FAA food plan, and I told myself I was just going to try. I didn’t know if I could be perfect or stay on the plan as prescribed but I would do my best. I also decided to confess my issue to my family at the very beginning of this journey. My mom was supportive but I wonder if she thought I would actually be successful. My husband was also skeptical, but when I started describing my food obsession to him, he jumped on board with his full support.
The food plan forced me to drastically change my diet. I found that foods I formerly would have turned my nose up to were the only ones allowed on my new food plan, but as I detoxed from sugar, flour, wheat and processed foods I also found my tastes changing. In the past, I would have never eaten oatmeal each day for breakfast but oatmeal is now a staple in my life. I also held my nose each time I ate a green bean, but they are now one of my favorite vegetables.
After cutting ninety-nine percent of the sugar, flour and wheat from my diet, strange and wonderful things began to happen in my life.
I had more energy. I slept better. I could feel my body functioning better. Prior to changing my diet, I had also suffered from headaches most of my life. Headaches that went on for days and weeks. Headaches that caused nausea and vomiting. Debilitating headaches. Amazingly, I changed my diet and the headaches were virtually eliminated. I rarely have a headache now and if I do, it is so mild that I would never complain.
Those wonderful changes happened within the first month that I followed the FAA food plan. I also released over twenty pounds during that first thirty days. The weight loss was just a side effect of my success though. I was already feeling so much different than I had ever felt before. No diet had made such an impact on my life.
With all my new found energy, I decided to take the next step by adding exercise to my new lifestyle. I began with Leslie Sansone’s one-mile Walk Away the Pounds workout.
Leslie’s workouts are low-impact and fun. I committed to doing the one-mile indoor walk every day. I only needed to set aside about twenty minutes a day. When the one-mile seemed easy, I moved to the two-mile walk. Soon I was doing the three- and four-mile walks and ready to add strength training. I ordered a beginning strength training video and added that to my exercise program. By this time, I had a new, healthier addiction.
In May, I decided I wasn’t feeling challenged enough using Leslie’s indoor walks as my only form of cardio exercise. For the first time in my life I wanted to try running. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app and set out to learn how to run.
Although I completed the program, I learned that running alone was not making me happy. With more research I found Olympian Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method and implemented it into my outdoor workouts. Through this method, I improved my time per mile and was able to go longer distances. Now, I do a long run of eight to ten miles every weekend and clock a minimum of twenty miles a week, even in the cold weather.
During my journey, I also joined the Facebook group Food Addiction Recovery. The men and women in this group have helped me learn that food is just food. I always laughed when people said this before, but it’s true. Food is not entertainment. Food is not a reward. Food is fuel. Now, I fuel my body for the output I want. I know that I must increase my calories slightly to perform well on my long run, but I do so with healthy foods. I’m not saying I haven’t had a bite or two of sugar over the last eleven months, because I have, but I do not justify a workout with treats and I do not over-stress my body trying to work off a bad food choice.
Since beginning this journey, I have gone from size twenty jeans to size six jeans. In order to reach a healthy weight for my height, I want to release about thirty more pounds. I have no doubt I will get there.
I’ve always heard that losing weight is simple. You eat less and move more. This is basically true, but I think the process is more complicated for many of us.
The Food Addiction Recovery group has taught me that self-love and making myself a priority in my life is the most important thing I can do for myself. Today, I love myself more than I ever have in the past. My success has been made possible through a shift in focus. I now know it’s okay to put myself first at times. My workouts are important, fueling my body with healthy foods is a priority and loving myself is mandatory in my new, healthy life.
Lindsay Reed served as editor of the Cassville Democrat newspaper for several years before electing to become a stay-at-home mom. A new fitness enthusiast, she spends her time homeschooling her five-year-old daughter Sophie, Galloway running, strength training and reading. She has been married to her husband, James, for almost 16 years. Lindsay can be reached at healthiermom2015(at)yahoo.com.