julie-cTell us a little about your progress following the AH program.

Tell us a little about your progress following the AH program.

I first became aware of Always Hungry in March 2016. I purchased both the book and the kindle version after consulting with others in the lively Facebook Community.

My change motivation was curiosity: to see if I could reset my post-menopausal metabolism. Weight loss would be an added bonus – but I was more interested in why I had a new set point that had my body holding onto fat.

If you are familiar with this style of eating, you know there are phases – P1, P2, P3 etc. I considered myself #zeropointfive for the first several months because I am not a dieter and I wasn’t interested in a “get rich quick” scheme of change – I was interested in shifting my metabolism – and I knew it would need to be slow and steady if I wanted lasting change. And it had to be easy.

I was already a healthy eater (lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, very few processed foods, eating local and eating well) but I was also stubbornly about 20-30 pounds over my pre-menopause weight. The good news was that my weight wasn’t increasing incrementally each year, the bad news was that it was a set point that showed no signs of shifting.

I wasn’t about to diet. I don’t go to a gym, never have, never will…

And I’ve never been overweight until about 10 years ago. Lurking in the back of my mind was shame about being a glutton and being FAT. And Always Hungry gave me ample science to support that being overweight was making me hold onto fat. Did you hear that? Being overweight was making me hold onto fat! Then, I had some annual blood work done and found out that my fasting blood sugar level was high enough to get my attention.

I bought a simple blood glucose meter and was shocked to find out that Phase 2 and Phase 3 foods caused my blood sugar to rapidly rise and stay high. I didn’t even want to contemplate what eating “regular” food did to my blood sugar. In response to that knowledge, I researched the Low Carb High Fat diets – but they didn’t resonate with me. Many of the recipes called for strange fake sugars and lots of coconut flour and other odd foods. But I did learn that I might need more fat in my diet than Phase 1 ratios.

I already was solidly in #zeropointfive and enjoying the recipes that Chef Dawn Ludwig had created, so I made a commitment to settle into P1 and stay there as long as I needed to until my blood sugar response normalized. Even on P1, my blood sugar wasn’t always under 140, ninety minutes after a meal, so I began tweaking the ratios of the macronutrients until I was able to reliably eat whatever I wanted (from P1 and some P2) and never have a blood sugar spike.

This was revolutionary for me. Until Always Hungry, I had no idea that my insulin resistance was probably the reason why I gained weight. I just assumed it was menopause.

Now I had information, a plan, and hope!

Somewhere in this experimentation, my appetite radically changed, and I just wasn’t hungry for a few weeks. In a short period of time, I lost 10 pounds, which got my attention, because I never dieted or deprived myself, I just followed my adapted P1 which was no flour, no sugar, no rice, no potatoes. Lots of healthy fat, lots of healthy protein, more greens, more above ground vegetables, fewer below ground vegetables.

But the real payoff is that it wasn’t just 10 pounds – it was a noticeable reduction in belly fat. So much fat melted away – effortlessly without “dieting” that my jeans from 10 years ago now fit and are loose in the thighs. And I seem to be at a new set point and sailed through Thanksgiving without worrying too much about what I ate, and then returned to my modified P1 and I am already back at the new set point. That is what we call a #NSV – non scale victory. No dieting, no suffering, no cravings, no deprivation, just a return to the plan.

What advice would you give to others just starting out?

Advice for starting out – dive in, go all in, put your toe in, wade in – but give it a try. There isn’t just one way to follow the Always Hungry plan. You can follow it to the letter, or loosely hang out in #zeropointfive. Set your own goals and stay true to YOUR body and how YOU feel. Don’t worry about the scale. I didn’t do the body measurements before I started – I wish I had. But! My jeans don’t lie!

If you are in the Facebook group – you will hear stories that make it sound like it was easy for some people to miraculously drop weight. Maybe it was – maybe it wasn’t. Don’t focus on that. Follow your own true North and learn from your own body. Find your WHY and return to it. Ask for help. Ignore advice that isn’t helpful or doesn’t resonate with you. Give it a solid trial then decide.

Note: If you crave pasta, sweets, potatoes and rice – Phase 1 will eliminate those cravings – but it might take a few days. Once the PHYSICAL cravings are gone, you don’t need to rely on will power, you just follow the plan. Any cravings are now emotional cravings, not physical cravings and I found it pretty easy to say no to pasta – and I LOVE pasta – but not for me right now. Maybe someday.

What Challenges Have You Faced Along The Way?

It is interesting that — like childbirth — I don’t remember the challenges!

I mentioned this to a friend the other day, and she said: “Seriously? You don’t remember complaining about being tired of eating the same foods? You don’t remember saying you were sick of cheese, yogurt, eggs, tofu etc.?”

And I guess I do remember complaining about that, but I moved through that and found new recipes and new favorite foods. My tastes have shifted and it’s all easier now. I just had to allow my body to adjust. I still miss pasta and my homemade sourdough bread. I am hopeful that one day they will return to my plate in moderation, but my body isn’t ready yet and that’s okay.

What’s your favorite part of the program?

The recipes challenged me to try foods that I don’t usually eat. I like that I have no cravings for foods that I enjoy but are off limits for me right now – maybe off limits forever – hopefully not. I like that I don’t have to say to people at parties or restaurants or social gatherings “I can’t eat this that or the other.” Or “I have to have this that or the other.” I just make the best choices I can from what is offered, enjoy the social companionship of eating with others and then return to my modified P1 with no ill effects.

I’ve enjoyed the recipe sharing in the lively Facebook group and also enjoyed seeing the support of Dr. Ludwig and Chef Dawn Ludwig for the community.