On Monday, we brought you the first in a three part story about one woman’s incredible life journey. We left Cindy having just quit her long term career in I.T. At the time she felt exhilarated, but was apprehensive about what would come next. Read part 2, here on Life Retreat…
Welcome back. Last time, I’d just resigned after 15 years and was needing to take hold of my life and take it in a new direction. Fortuitously, I’d met an old friend, Anita Hamilton-Williams, who is a trained life coach specializing in weight loss, and decided to enroll on her 9 week wellness program as a stepping stone to a better lifestyle. What attracted me to her program was the intellectual process of re-programming your brain and your body to a new way of eating. I’d never had a weight problem, and subsequently never followed any diet programs before. Anita started her program with a discussion around how the brain perceives food. And how we need to learn what foods are good for our particular bodies, and which we should avoid.
She explained the way we eat is often hurried, not allowing the body messages of ‘fullness’ to reach the brain and therefore stop the eating process. The most interesting message was the habit-forming nature of sugars and carbohydrates that make you keep going back for more. Definitely my weakness!
In the first 3 weeks, our eating regime was quite limited. But for the first time in years, I started cooking and experimenting with the use of fresh herbs and spices to make the meals more interesting. Instead of shopping monthly and always having to throw away food that had gone rotten in the bottom of the fridge, I started shopping every day enjoying the fun of choosing fresh and interesting produce.
By the time I’d worked in my notice period at work, I’d lost 5.5 kilograms and no longer suffered any of the stress-related ailments of before. A sure sign that I’d made the right decision to resign.
My husband, an avid and very capable cook, started looking at my meals with envy and then started having the same as I was having for most meals. At the end of the first 3 weeks, he had lost 5kg and was totally motivated to move to a natural lifestyle too.
Almost immediately after starting the wellness program, I started sleeping better. I felt more positive, and experienced a radical increase in energy. With summer on its way, the sun peeped in our bedroom waking us bright and early every morning. We jumped up and headed for the beach, walking a brisk 4 to 6 kilometres everyday at a blistering pace.
The second phase of the program sees an increase in quantity of protein, and the introduction of nuts, a greater variety of fruit and even a glass of wine! By now, we had rid our bodies of all cravings for sugary foods, and our bodies got used to using the inherent fat supplies to get energy rather than having to eat large amounts of carbohydrates. The effect was staggering. Body-sculpting has nothing on this! From having no waist and a well-rounded tummy to a relatively flat stomach in several weeks, still has me double-checking my reflection in every window I pass.
Having breezed through the second phase, it was with much trepidation that we approached the third and final 3–week phase. This stage sees the introduction of carbohydrates that have been denied in the first two phases over the course of the previous 6 weeks. Every alternate day, we looked forward to choosing a favourite food to try, and then monitor the effect on the body. Looking forward to introducing vegetable carbohydrates, I thought my first choice would be butternut, one of my all time favourite vegetables. But when the time came to choose my first ‘new’ food, I decided on potato chips instead. I felt bloated, lethargic and uncomfortable after eating only a small amount.
I introduced most vegetables with no adverse effects. Introducing rice and bread however was a different story, disappointingly resulting in weight gain and digestive discomfort after eating a child’s portion. With shop-bought bread being a real problem, I decided to make homemade brown bread using only natural brown flour with no additives. It was amazingly easy and delicious to eat, setting a standard for future bread in our household. In place of rice, I bought buckwheat which I soak overnight and then cook to eat like a rice dish. It is also easily made into an healthy muesli mixed with coconut oil, nuts, fresh diced apple and double cream Greek yoghurt. It’s so decadent and delicious – it doesn’t seem possible that it’s also healthy! Although this is a stabilizing phase, I continued to lose a further 2 kilograms to my new healthy weight level.
The last part of this phase is the most daunting for me. It’s the introduction of sweet things like jams and ice-cream, and my total downfall. Throughout the program, I have not had sugar or sweets. (No, not even a tiny piece of chocolate!). Instead of sugar in coffee, I have half a stevia which is a natural herbal sweetener with little or no calorific value.
Throughout the program, our coach Anita provided email and personal support which helps encourage discipline and an understanding of the process, building sustainability into one’s eating habits.
Let’s not pull any punches – it hasn’t been easy!
But for me, it was perfect! And it came at a perfect time. Mentally and physically challenging, it required diligence, discipline and a duty to oneself. Combining a belief in using fresh natural ingredients and food stuffs, and regular vigorous exercise, I’ve now lost 8.2 kilograms and dropped 2 sizes to fit into my old ‘thin’ clothes during the 9 week program. Invigorated, energetic and happy to be exploring what food works for me, it’s been a journey of discovery in many ways.
For more information on this Wellness Program, contact Anita Hamilton-Williams on firstname.lastname@example.org or have a look at the Cura Romana website http://curaromana.com/ on which this program is based.
Next time, join us here on Life Retreat to discover the next stage of Cindy’s road ahead in My Journey to a Natural Lifestyle – Part 3.
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