Friday, March 7, 2014

My Health Benefits in Long Term Weight Maintenance- No Grains No Gains March 2014

Our Mission Statement : A group a of Primal/Paleo/Grain free women who blog about their experiences/life/benefits without grains. It’s a great way for others (who may be wanting to lose weight, reverse an acute/chronic health trend, and/or transition from commercial weight loss programs) to read about real life women who are living the life and succeeding!
March 2014- Health Benefits in Long Term Weight Maintenance, from the No Grains, No Gains group.

My health has done a complete turn around. Even more than weight loss, when I went grain free (and processed sugar free,) I got my health back! All I wanted was a stable weight. I got a lot more.

NOTE: Pay close attention to how long it took. Being grain free and realizing the benefits (except joint pain) is not an overnight or even a 30 day process. It's not one stop shopping for health. It's a constant work in progress.
Feb 2012 and Feb 2014 Longest time at a normal weight!

Here's a list of the benefits I've seen:

1. Stable weight post a 68+ pound weight loss. Weight loss maintained for 2+ years.
    Time that it took to feel comfortable in weight maintenance: 1.5 years or so.
    The take away: Life is easier for me from a movement, pain, and self-esteem point of view.
    The BONUS: same pants fit year in, year out. Yeah!

 I now eat about 95% Paleo. I'm a short, smallish boned person, so in my case, BMI is okay for a starting place for health for me, for now. I have more muscle strength now in 2014 than I did the other years.

2010 my BMI = 34.0
2011 my BMI = 25.9
2012 my BMI = 22.7
2013 my BMI = 21.9
2014 my BMI = 22.4

2.  Better blood work (hs-CRP,  Lipids, HA1c, )
     Time that it took: 1 year on Paleo for my hs-CRP to drop <1.0
                                    2 years tinkering with my food template to have lower inflammation
     The Take Away: Food effects my blood work the most (removing gluten, dairy, and nuts)
      Bonus:  I get discounts on my insurance for my BMI and waist ratio. $40 a month!

Click here to see my last 4 years of blood work. 4 years of blood work
 2012 = mostly Paleoish,
2013 =  Very Paleoish

 3. Better Sleep:  I sleep 7 to 7.5 hours a night
    Time that it took: 1 to 1.5 years.
     The take away: keeping my carbs around 50-90 grams/day and walking outside daily.
     Bonus: I have more energy and I feel I have more brain clarity.

The sleep benefit is just amazing. After my Whole30 in Jan 2013 I knew I slept better, like a baby. Then when I did a low carb challenge in May 2013 and I repeated my sleep success, I knew that I wanted to put time into sleeping so the rest of my day could be better.

 4. Smoother transition through menopause: 
    Time that it took: 4 years  to transition
    The take away: Eating nutrient dense food seems to minimize hot flashes
    Bonus:  I feel much more comfortable, most of the day, when I'm eating well. If get an unintentional gluten exposure, I have major hot flashes and feel terrible.

What can I say? Who knew that I'd go through menopause the first 1-2 years of weight maintenance?

5. Migraine Headaches are gone!
  Time that it took: 3 years, with a steady decrease over time
  The take away: Food (s) combined with the better sleep help.
  Bonus: More time vacation and having fun compared to being sidelined in a dark room

Going low inflammatory by the grain elimination, removing the sugar spikes, then getting diary out and finally removing nuts from my diet seemed to end my headaches. Of course, having the hormonal effects of menopause may have also helped in stopping my headaches, too.

I used to buy the large bottles of 500 Ibuprofen at the large box stores, and use about 200 tablets. I now buy the small 24 tablet bottles. I might use 2-4 tablets before the bottle expires and I toss the rest.

6. Fewer emotional urges to eat 
    Time that it took: 40 years, with additional support
    The take away: Real, whole foods that are grain free and processed sugar free fill me up and helped to decrease the urges so that I could deal with them.
    Bonus: Life is easier when I can put time in to living and not cycling with food

 Grain free living is not 100%, but it helped get me started to dealing with something that I could not turn off from age 5-6. 

7. Fewer colds and no sinus infections
    Time it took: 1.5 years  (eliminating dairy helped)
     The take away: Getting dairy out helped my sinuses heal
      Bonus: I recover faster and get more vacation days.
I still get sick, but for shorter duration and less often. Maybe 1 cold every 1.5 years. Maybe. And fewer days being sick.

8. Joint pain gone
    Time it took: 10 days gluten free
     The take away: grain, for me, is inflammatory
     Bonus: Feeling and moving like I'm 27 and not 47.

The overall take awayBeing grain free has improved my health more than just weight maintenance

What didn't work in the past:
1. Yo-yo dieting. Counting points and fueling with 100 calorie packs turned out to be a diet fad for me. (If it works for you, great!). For me, grain free was the first major step in getting well again. I used to blame myself that Kellog's Special K cereal, snack bars and other food products did not help me lose weight. Now I understand that grain is used to fatten up animals, I no longer blame myself for buying into commercial hype. I see clearly now the commercial messaging as a fad, for me. No bowl of cereal is going to end obesity! Crazy talk in my opinion. Walk away from that. :)

2. Not addressing the root cause of the inflammation  sooner (hs-CRP ) . Glad I lived to tell on this one.

3. Not considering the sleep/ diet connection.

4. Not considering the hormonal signaling (store fat!) with the high carb foods. Not considering that my body needs the right fat, without the grain inflammation to live, menopause or not.

5. Not doing an elimination diet for my migraines. I thought I had done a decent job, not so.

6. Not connecting the dots on grain filled foods and emotional eating.

7. Just giving up and saying "Well I get sinus infections" and accepting it.

8. Thinking that having joint pain in my early 40's was "Just part of aging"

The overall take away: The benefits can happen soon with grain free living, but plan on taking a few years   the rest of your life optimizing your health.

Be sure to add these blogs to your reading lists. Great learning from great ladies!

Gwen S
Jeannette C
Leigh C
Lynda S


  1. Well said Karen, looking at how far you have come makes me realise I have further to go... my BMI is still to end of normal, yours is way lower!! You've come so far - you should be very proud!

    1. Hi Lynda.. I don't worry so much about BMI, but it's interesting to look back. I "picked" the lower BMI because my small bone structure and decreasing the visceral fat so I would have the best chance of avoiding type two diabetes.

      And the other reason was an emotional thing. Both of my 2 times at "goal weight" at Weight Watchers were right at my 24 BMI cut off. Bad memories of trying to "make weight" so I wouldn't have to pay. Doctors tsk, tsking me. My health insurance would go up by $40 a month!!!

      Now I would be okay being higher BMI as long as I wasn't binge eating, or moderate eating junk food. And I could still get my insurance discount.

      Good luck whatever you decide. I do feel better mid-range with my BMI than I did right at the cut off. I 'll bet you can find your happy space.

  2. Great job, Karen! You are certainly a poster child for all that is right with a paleo template! (next month, please update my url link.) ;) (thanks.)

    1. Gwen, thanks! And , done! I updated your links already. Sorry about that. I thought that I had them all changed up... :)

    2. Ughh.. I fixed your link again on my site. I'll tell you.. I should not mess with my blog before I've had 1 whole cup of coffee... :)

  3. I've read that eliminating grains makes menopause less symptomatic, so I hope that's true. At 50 I have not yet begun that transition (mom said she did at 55) but I would love to avoid the worst of it. Good to know your experience.

    1. Anna, I've had so many women tell me that they've had fewer symptoms eating less processed food. I'm just really pleased that the timing of the two worked out so well and in parallel.

      Good luck and eating well is a great thing. :)

  4. I thought I was in menopause for several years in my 40's as I had night sweats, sleep trouble, hot flashes, etc. All of that was caused by processed foods. I am now 52 (turning 53 in a couple weeks) and still having a cycle with NONE of those symptoms. It was all food related.

    I used to have constant migraines. They were also food related. I very rarely have one now (a few times a year and usually weird weather related). I could eat in such a way that I would have a migraine every day. And honestly when I read MigraineBlogger posts, I always have the same thought - they are very sure what they eat does not cause their constant migraines, but if I ate what they eat, I would have a migraine every day. My opinion is they do not get their food clean enough and do not give it long enough to work. As you said, it takes time and thoroughness.

    1. Vickie, thank you for sharing your story. I think it's so helpful for people like me so I know that if I'm still having migraines to keep searching for a food connection. Deep down, I saw the migraines decrease, so I could really see that getting down to the last few foods would be key.

      It could be a also combo thing- both hormonal (fewer big estrogen drops) and foods. Glad I can control it with food. So much better than taking Motrin Migraine. Too many days lost with headaches. Glad to put a lid on those 30 years.

      Thanks again, Vickie! :)

  5. Well Done Karen - always good to read your posts

    All the best Jan