Screen shot 2017-01-30 at 2.29.10 PMLast week’s featured reader celebrated a one hundred pound weight loss, so this week, we again wanted to celebrate some Non-Scale Victories (NSVs). Meet Malvina! She has been following the AH plan for a year now and has completely revamped her relationship with food.

Read on to learn more about her victory over hunger and cravings!

“This message is for the lurkers. You know who you are. You bought the book and read some or all of it, but you haven’t started yet. Maybe you’ve read the messages, and you’ve heard about the NSV’s, the reduced inflammation, the improvements in blood sugar and lipids, the slow but steady weight loss. But you can’t believe that it could ever work for you, since nothing else ever has.

You’ve been on Weight Watchers, Atkins, keto, South Beach, cabbage soup, etc. etc., but you couldn’t stay with it because you were always hungry. Whatever weight you lost came back on. You are afraid to start, because if you start and fail, it will be the last straw, the final failure, the recognition that it’s time to throw in the towel and just feel crummy about yourself forever. If you don’t start, you can’t fail, so you keep telling yourself that it’s too complicated, you don’t have time, you can’t figure out how to do it right, and if you can’t do it perfectly, then what’s the point, right?

11 months ago, I was right where you are now.

After a lifetime of letting food rule my life, I was ready to just give up and keep buying larger clothes every six months for the rest of my life. For me, AH was the last gasp. I remember sobbing in a nutritionist’s office years ago, telling her that I just couldn’t stop eating junk, no matter how hard I tried. She told me to eat lower fat and exercise more. But nothing worked, and I was always hungry.

I decided I had to take the plunge with AH. The first two weeks of Phase 1 were a struggle, trying to find room for everything in my fridge, spending all my free time in the kitchen, trying things I had never eaten before. I let go of my perfectionism and let myself be less than perfect. When I looked up after two weeks, I was like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. I realized that I just didn’t want junk food anymore.

Instead of thinking fondly about donuts and Cheetos, I was completely indifferent to them.

I had a good understanding of how to put together meals using my own favorite foods (along with some new ones I had been introduced to). My refrigerator slimmed down, I got more efficient with my food prep, and everything got much easier. The big thing is that instead of food controlling me, I was now in control, and it changed my whole relationship with eating.

I am still not perfect, and I know I never will be. Sometimes I forget to ask myself if I’m really hungry before eating something. I eat too many nuts. I take a little field trip from time to time (ok, yeah, Christmas). But I get back on, because it’s become a part of my life now. I can’t imagine ever going back to my old way of eating.

So if you’re ready but afraid to start, if you think it can’t work for you, just take the plunge. Don’t worry about being perfect, just do the best you can, your best is good enough. Power through Phase 1. I predict that after two weeks, you will be a butterfly too.

My Progress So Far on AH:

I found the book right after it came out, and started the program even though I thought it would just be another diet that I would “fail” on.  I was at a low point. My only sibling had died suddenly of pancreatic cancer, and I was stress-eating.  I felt hopeless and out of control.  Since entering my 60’s, I had started adding weight every year, and there was no end in sight.  I was never able to stick to a diet for more than four months, so when I found AH I was desperate.

To my complete amazement, my cravings for sweets and salty snacks were gone by Day 4.

I used to joke that I could never pass a pastry shop without turning in, but now I can admire the pastry display in the window and have absolutely no desire to put one of those sweet things in my mouth.  This is a huge change for me.

My weight loss has not been spectacular. I lost a couple of pounds right away, and then nothing more for three months.  My total weight loss for the year is only 12 pounds, but in the fall I was put on a medication that, for many people, causes a weight gain of 20 to 25 pounds, and I am pleased that I am holding steady.  But the thing that IS spectacular is the non-scale victories.  My body has completely changed.  I am still overweight, but I am not so “dumpy” anymore.  My clothes fit better.  I have dropped the medication I was taking for high triglycerides, and in my latest blood test my triglycerides were perfect.  I have more energy, my sporadic IBS has all but disappeared, and since I don’t think about food all the time, my mind is clear for other, more important things.

Involvement in The AH Community:

I felt very honored when Dawn asked me to be a moderator for the Facebook group.  The “feel” of this group is completely different from other groups I am a member of. We try to pass on Dawn’s kindness and compassion in our postings and responses.  We have tried to make the group a safe place for people to share their experiences and feelings without ridicule or judging.  We are all on the same journey, and we need to support each other. I particularly like to watch out for the newbies, because I remember how I felt when I started: desperate, confused, wanting to hope.  I love that our members have picked up on this and are supportive and encouraging to the new members, even though they may be asking a question that has been answered many times before.

Several months ago, I started a small support group at my church.  We meet weekly and share ideas and recipes.  It’s a small group, but hopefully in time it will grow.  It has been fun watching the progress of the members of our group as they go through the same things I went through — testing your limits with a field trip (and usually suffering for it afterward), negotiating holiday parties, and learning to make AH a way of life.

Advice for newbies:

My advice for newbies is to just start.  Don’t try to be perfect.  If you think you might have messed up on a meal, just shake it off and move on.  Be sure to try new things. I used to hate garbanzo beans, but now I love to add them to my salads.  If you truly can’t stomach something, just substitute something else. Life is too short to eat things you don’t like.

Know that the two weeks of Phase 1 are the most challenging, but they are necessary in order to reset your metabolism and show your body that you respect it again.  Don’t expect a quick weight loss. You might even gain a pound or two on Phase 1. But if you stick with it you will see the benefits.  Focus on the NSV’s instead of the scale.  If you go off-plan, forgive yourself and step back on.  As one of our wise members said, “getting back on plan is only one meal away.”

Challenges:

The first two weeks were definitely challenging.  I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, my refrigerator was overflowing, and I didn’t really believe that this could work.  I think I spent 90% of my at-home time in the kitchen chopping, prepping and cooking.  This was probably easier for me than some, because I do like to cook. My heart always goes out to people who are starting but have never really cooked before.  But after the first two weeks, you start to coast on the non-scale victories and putting meals together comes much more easily.  I am fortunate that when I go off-plan, my body gives me a strong message that it wasn’t a good idea. This really reinforces staying with the program.

Emotional eating and the big jar of cashews in my pantry still challenges me. I still have another 10 or 15 pounds to lose, but I know it will come off slowly. And because I feel so good, I can be patient.  I know that I will eat this way from now on, with the knowledge of what my body wants and doesn’t want, and I am perfectly comfortable with that.

My Favorite Part of AH:

I have two favorite parts. The first is how my taste buds have changed.  Strawberries taste so sweet to me now, it’s hard to believe I used to eat them with sugar sprinkled on top.  I tasted a bite of someone’s creme brulee, and it was so cloyingly sweet I didn’t want any more.  Cherry tomatoes now taste like candy. I also feel that in general, foods taste better, so I can savor each bite.

My other favorite part is about control.  Food used to control me.  I felt powerless against my cravings.  I used to think about food all day every day. When is my next meal? What snacks are available in the candy machine? Did someone leave donuts in the break room?  Now my meals fill me up, and I am not hungry for hours.  I don’t feel like I’m being deprived of anything.  Occasionally, I do have cravings for things like my homemade sourdough bread, but it’s so easy now to recognize this as mouth hunger, not something my body truly wants. I am able to gently push that feeling away.  At birthday parties, I can have a bite of cake and not feel like I have to eat the whole piece.  I am in control, and I love it.

AH has given me a better quality of life and saved my sanity.  Instead of being filled with despair and self-hatred, I feel comfortable in my skin and I have confidence and hope for the future.  I will be forever grateful to the Ludwigs and the AH program for changing my life and my relationship with food.”

  • kbroihier

    Congratulations to you! You look amazing and more importantly, you feel better and are more healthy!

  • Zehra Abedi

    I liked the AH diet when I started it but the only reason I gave up on AH is the fact that my LDL jumped 40 points YoY which came in as a huge surprise for me. Then the nutritionist told me that its because of the high fat diet I had put myself on, I am struggling to figure out what is good for me, low fat with equal combination of carbs and proteins or high fat and low carbs, any help will be much appreciated

    • Charlotte Wood

      This is tricky. There’s still a lot of questions about high cholesterol foods directly correlating to high blood cholesterol, and more about high blood cholesterol being a direct cause of heart attack and stroke. The book is a good place to start, but continue your research and conversations.

      Just to guess, most of your fats are coming from animal sources? Dairy and higher fat cuts of meat? You can still get high fat from vegan or vegetarian sources. Try different types of oils (sesame, coconut, avocado, olive) and be sure to use the right oil for the right process so your body can use it ie: don’t use extra virgin olive oil to cook.

      Continue with nuts, avocado, and fatty fish. Try a fish oil supplement. For some, the higher fat lower carb feels fantastic, and contributes to weight loss, and a whole bunch of NSV, but their blood numbers don’t look great. Dairy is easy fat, but some don’t process it well, and there are a whole bunch of positive aspects to eating more non-animal foods and fats. Hope that helps!

  • Kathy Green Dodds

    Thanks for sharing your story Malvina. Also, thanks for being my coach.

  • Zazu22

    Again, if someone needs to lose weight, this is a depressing article. I’m not sure it’s worth it until I’ve lost the weight.