The Detox Delivers - by Guest Blogger Steven Alloy
For most of my 49 years, I have not had healthy eating habits. My favorite food group was pizza, I had a hard time passing up a side order of French fries, and I rarely ordered salads or ate green vegetables. Also, I always at big portions. If my son and I wanted pizza delivered, we would have to order 2 larges, because we would each put down nearly a whole pie. Some people think that a Chipolte burrito is a lot of food. For me, I would leave Chipolte hungry, as one burrito was not really enough for me.
Despite the significant portions I regularly ate, since I had a strong metabolism and I exercised compulsively, I never really got heavy. As long as I got in my 4 – 5 workouts per week, everything was OK. However, as I entered my mid-40s, every year I found myself gaining 3 to 5 pounds. I crossed 200 pounds, then 205. When I got to 210 I upsized from 36 waist pants to 37’s. Then I hit 215 and needed 38’s. No matter how much I exercised, it seemed like the pounds kept creeping up, and at the end of 2013 I hit 218. My next step was to buy waist 40 pants, which was my “red line”, so I dieted to get to 215, where I hung out through the winter of 2014 and stayed in my 38 pants.
On Friday April 25th, Marjie told me she was starting a “detox” on Monday with 20 women through Way To Go Healthy. I did not know what that was, so she showed me various menus, lists of appropriate foods vs. less appropriate foods, and more. I decided to join her, but not wanting to wait, I started on my own on Saturday morning 4/26/2014.
That Saturday morning, I woke up and chugged my hot water with lemon. I made an organic egg white omelet with peppers and onions (no cheese). Marjie started serving various vegetable soups, and quinoa instead of rice. I started drinking various green juices every day, and for a guy who did not really eat green vegetables, I am pretty proud of myself for downing a glass of spinach, cucumber, kale, and whatever other special ingredients Marjie would blend in.
When the group of 20 women started that Monday, I had already lost 3 pounds in the two days. Later in May, I had dropped from 215 to 205. My goal was actually 205, which I remembered being the size that enabled me to go back to my 36 jeans. And then I made a big decision – I decided to stay with the new eating program and make it a set of new eating habits. And I set a new goal of getting below 200 pounds. I had never imagined I would ever see 199 again, but since getting to 205 happened so easily, I thought I could do it. Why not try something I had considered impossible?
So I continued the same eating habits after my 21 days of official detox had technically ended. I stopped the hot lemon water morning cleanse, but kept with everything else. As I lost weight, people would ask what kind of diet I was on. My explanation was always the same –
1. Eat fresh food rather than processed food, also translated as “eat out of the refrigerator rather than the pantry or the freezer”.
2. No more gluten and no white rice
3. Dramatically reduce cheese and similar dairy products (yes, that meant no more partaking of my favorite food group of pizza)
4. No white sugar (this part was easy, because I have never really been a sweets or dessert guy)
Often, the follow up comment would be “oh, so it’s like the Atkins Diet”. And my answer was “No”. I had tried Atkins when it came out, and actually dropped some weight doing it (and then gained it back). But when I did Atkins, I would eat a lot of cheese and a lot of beef, and very little fruit (because of all the fruit sugar). My Way to Go Healthy routine cut out the cheese and reduced the beef, but was fine with fruit. I actually eat a lot more fruits and vegetables now than I ever have in my life. I don’t mind the complex carbs in fruit, even though the fructose means a lot of sugar. The reason it works is because it is natural rather than processed. With natural foods I feel better and I don’t gain weight.
By the middle of June I had hit 200 pounds, and then one morning the scale read “199.6”. I don’t think “happy” describes it, nor does “ecstatic”. It was actually more “surprised”, with a little “stunned” mixed in. I had a paradigm in my head that I would never be below 200 pounds again, and the scale read 199.6.
I had wanted to break 200 before I went on a 9-day vacation on July 4th, and I was 197 the morning I departed. Awesome! Except it created a problem – my 36 jeans were actually too baggy. I had never thought to get new pants. I wasn’t worried because I knew I would gain weight on the trip – one of my rules is to never diet on a vacation, and I was looking forward to French fries, burgers, pizza, and pasta. In reality, however, I had broken my old habits, and I did not really want those foods any more. I ate whatever I wanted, but my choices were somewhat healthier than they had been in the past. Add some 4 to 8 hour hikes in the Tahoe and Yosemite mountains, and I returned home at 196.
I then did my second unimaginable thing – I bought waist 34 jeans. I cannot actually remember how long it has been since 34 jeans, or how many years ago I donated the pairs I would never be able to fit in again. But it made sense, because my work clothes were so big and baggy they only stayed up due to my belt, which I moved 4 notches (4 inches!) since April 26th.
As far as I knew, I was no longer dieting. I was simply eating per my better eating habits. By late July I was in the low 190’s. Then on August 2nd I left for a week with the family on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. This was where pizza was invented, and my plan was pizza for lunch and pasta for dinner, every single day. But while this added some gluten and some dairy during my week in Italy, the beauty of Europe is that all the food is fresh – there is very little processed food. After a week of incredibly delicious fresh food (and wine), I returned home at 193.
Then Marjie noticed something about my health. I always used to cough – my kids would mock how I was always clearing my throat or coughing every 30 seconds. That was because I always had a post-nasal drip, or a sinus issue, or some kind of chest cold. Yet sometime after starting the new eating habits, my “normal” condition had dissipated. No more sinus stuff, no more coughing, no more clearing my throat – it’s disappeared. My view is that my body is either sensitive to gluten or it is sensitive to the preservatives in processed foods. By eating fresh food, my overall health really improved.
Additionally, I always had what my doctor described as “exercise induced asthma”. Despite being a hard core tennis player on the courts three or four days a week, my lungs would always scream for more oxygen. Perhaps due to my new weight, but also perhaps because of no gluten or processed food, I no longer had breathing issues during exercise. I haven’t used my inhaler since May. I now play hard singles for 90 minutes or 2 hours, and instead of struggling for air, I am not very winded.
Changing to a healthier lifestyle also costs some money. I needed new jeans and new shorts, to alter 7 pairs of slacks and 5 suits, and more. I even recently ordered “slim fit” shirts from Brooks Brothers recently. “Slim fit” was not actually part of my self-image. And my 34 jeans are actually a little loose now, but I can’t imagine . . .
Although I wasn’t dieting, I had another great morning on September 2nd when the scale read “189.8”. I was less surprised and stunned, and now just kind of content and proud. That’s a long way from 218, and only 10 pounds above my college weight (27 years ago). I don’t feel like I am actually doing anything special anymore as this is just how I choose to eat. And the important part is that I feel really good. In fact, I feel wonderful, and clean, and energetic.
I can look back at a number of moments where something in my life changed in a significant way. I think jumping into the Way To Go Healthy program is now a part of that list. Thanks so much for instigating the change I experienced!
Steve B. Alloy