“So as you can see this is not the abridged version of my AH journey but there is no other way for me to convey how important this life changing diet has been to me other then to throw it all out there. This really starts in 2009 when I started to experience a bunch of odd health issues. The first big one was hair loss, enough so that even my hairdresser decided for me that it was time for me to see a doctor. I also was experiencing heart palpitations so severe that they often brought me to my knees, headaches, debilitating migraines and fatigue. I saw more then one doctor, gratefully received a very reliable migraine med but other then that was subjected to being ignored, eye-rolls and the worst . . . a dermatologist (for the hair loss) who told me to meditate (you know, the euphemism for “there’s a crazy lady in my exam room”).
Fast forward a few years and I was now experiencing almost daily morning headaches accompanied by occasional vertigo and brain fog and talk about low energy, it was like the life had been sucked out of me. The heart palpitations came and went but I had no energy for anymore attempts to find out what this was, after six different doctors over the years I had kind of given up. Oh and then my weight started to creep up and up and up. In early December 2015 I took my wedding rings off to go to bed and the next morning they didn’t fit. I was never able to get them back on . . . it was like I had turned into that girl in Willie Wonka that turns into a blueberry, I just kept expanding.
After the first of the year I did what I thought would help set me on the right track, I joined a gym. Nothing crazy just some light weight training and walking on the tread mill. After my first week I had officially gained another pound. Then I heard Dr. Ludwig’s interview on NPR. Silly me, my first thought was that this would be a great diet . . . for my husband. He is a stress eater and his self-care was nonexistent. His weight was certainly a concern but his health was on the verge of being yanked out from under him if he didn’t do something. I bought the book, read it in a couple of days, briefly fed the highlights to my husband during cocktail hour and TOLD him we were doing this sooner rather then later. What I loved most about the program was that I could continue to be a vegetarian and he an omnivore and with a little tweaking we could both eat better. I actually had little hope for myself but I set a goal of ten pounds, I wanted to be able to wear my wedding rings again.
We started the program by spending a week eating kind of in the spirit of AH while we used up and threw out off-plan foods. The plan was to spend two weeks on phase one and then move to phase two. However, less then a week into the program I got pretty sick and my pulmonary doc put me on a twelve day course of steroids because he was concerned that I was on the verge of pneumonia and my asthma had flared. Somewhere during that first week of phase one I woke up in the morning and realized I didn’t have a headache . . . and I didn’t remember having one the day before either. We still don’t know what took away the headaches, but there is no doubt in my mind what has kept them away. Honestly, right now take a survey of your friends and family and ask them how they felt, sick with the start of pneumonia on steroids . . . I bet no one tells you they felt the best they had in their adult life. But I did! I felt great. Headaches gone! Brain fog gone! Fatigue, lethargy, vertigo, gone, gone, gone! And I was loosing not only weight but inches and I wasn’t hungry . . . on a steroid? Who does that?
I held my breath and waited to see if it would all start rushing back when the meds were finished . . . and it didn’t. When I saw my GP for a yearly check in I told her about AH, showed her the book and told her what had happened. She feels that the steroids had stopped some kind of inflammation in my body and the diet was supporting it but truthfully I had been on steroids before and had not experienced anything like this.
By the time we finished our two weeks of phase one my rings fit and I had a discernible waist again, the muffin top had receded noticeably. Phase two was easy peasy. I went back to cooking my own meals using the AH principles to prepare a meal. I hit a plateau after a few weeks of phase two that lasted about six weeks but I continued to feel great. I did also realize that as a vegetarian I was protein-lazy. Once I began focusing on my meal-by-meal protein intake my plateau ended and I began loosing weight again, a nice steady half pound or so a week.
I was exercising and feeling terrific but here’s the big BUT the heart palpitations were still a problem and I felt too good to just except them as I had for so many years. So with as good of an attitude as I was able to muster I dived back into the abyss of finding a doctor who would take me seriously. It’s damn lucky that I did. A big shout out here to Bonnie, the nurse navigator for the Ripa Center for Women’s Health at Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ. She got me an appointment with a Cardiologist who believed that I was more then just the crazy lady in the exam room. Turns out I have persistent A-Fib (Atrial Fibrillation) and if left untreated would have made me vulnerable to heart attack and/or stroke.
If it wasn’t for AH I doubt very much that I would have been able to tackle this, more likely I would have found myself in a hospital emergency room scratching my head and wondering what’s next. I have a 10 year old that I love dearly, a husband who I cherish, a family and life that I value but it was hard to be a part of any of that when I felt so horrible all the time. AH gave me my life back and very possibly saved it.
So that is my Always Hungry (not anymore) story.”