Guest author – Jodie Nelson

I lost 14 pounds in the past two months . . . and it all started 10 years ago.

That sounds like a contradictory statement, doesn’t it? But the truth is I’ve been on a search for “The Magic Bullet” – the perfect exercise routine, the perfect eating plan, the perfect stress management – for about a decade now. What I’ve discovered is that a commitment to a direction matters more than a commitment to a goal or a short term fix.

So how did it all happen. Don’t’ worry. Not going to bore you with the encyclopedic length of the last 9 years of inner dialogue. But rather what I can give you is an explanation of the routes I’ve taken within this time period. “Who cares?” you may say. Well, of course, I do. =) But also, you may gain some ideas from my journey to incorporate into your own. But most of all – and as cliché as it sounds – I want you to believe in your heart that health is a journey. . . .journey shmirney. No really . . . I wanted to take shortcuts, but truthfully I signed up for the whole marathon.

Preexisting conditions: Wow this ended up being a long one that had nothing to do with being diagnosed by a doctor. So here’s the list. . Scoliosis (curvature of the spine from one leg growing faster than the other), 2 car accidents creating back trouble, wearing heels from the time I was 13 (hey, I’m short!), energy level up and down and hard to predict, brain fog, hormonal fluctuations (beyond the normal range). So thar ya go. Nice little list of fun things I’ve faced in the last decade. The one that bothered me the most was the fact that I could never predict my energy levels which in turn frustrated everything I tried to accomplish.

So what changed?
In 2006, I met a tall blonde hunk of man. Not only did I fall head over heels for him, he also helped me to start making sense of some of the physical ailments that seemed to plague me. When we fell in love, I was 30 pounds heavier. Not bad to find the love of your life at your fattest point. I had just been through a horrible break up of an engagement a year and a half before I met the true love of my life. Six months after that breakup, I was in school headed for a second degree then a masters degree. So when Mike and I met, I was busy with a full-time job and full-time school.

Mike introduced me to kettlebells, helped me with foot exercises, helped me pick out flexible shoes that wouldn’t pinch my feet. My feet were in such bad shape that my baby toes were stuck underneath their neighboring sister toes. When he asked me to wiggle my toes standing flat-footed, I couldn’t. He said, “You can try now.” I said, “I am.” It took months for my achilles tendon to lengthen to normal range. Mike also was a great example of working out every day. I told him once that I didn’t want to become “the first ever disciple of Mike,” but secretly I was glad he was in my life and helping me.

That brings us to 2009. I was still finishing a masters thesis and was (unknowingly) a few months from being engaged. An aunt of mine a few years before had given me information on celiac disease which I ignored. I started noticing that gluten did not agree with me. Every time I ate it, it felt like I had little shovels digging around in my stomach, and I would get cranky. After doing a few experiments, I decided to go gluten free. Since it was in my family history, I thought eliminating it would be beneficial. Elliminating gluten had a the awesome effect of helping me drop 20 pounds of the 30 I’d gained. And 15 of those pounds stayed away.

So I was making progress. I was exercising more regularly, eating better. But still, the same problems with energy level, moodiness, stress, back pain and other maladies hung on in varying degrees as I continued to map my way through the journey.

The next thing I eliminated was the birth control pill in 2010. Since I’d always been considered a sensitive person, I didn’t need another assault on my hormones. For me, it gave me menopausal symptoms. I’d be sweating at some points and often up multiple times a night to pee.

In 2011, a wonderful girlfriend took me on as a personal training client. She knew the importance of a wholistic approach to training and would warn me if I was doing too much in a stressed-out state. She challenged me to take care of my spirit in addition to caring for my body. My goal at the time was to work out 3x per week for at least half an hour. Sometimes I did less, sometimes I did more. I got derailed a few times, but realized that one of the things my body needs more than anything is more movement.

2012-2014 contained some mentionable actions and notes. These two years were peppered by many job changes with accompanying stress for Mike and I. More discoveries of healthy changes – I decided that my mental state was holding me back and decided to enroll in a course called “Change the Story Method.” Getting unstuck isn’t 1 or 2 dimensional. Getting unstuck takes discipline of the mind and body. So I began to change the stories in my head that said that I’m a failure and would be destined to fail.

I made working out an even bigger habit. Gave up lactose (including a love of my tastebuds – ice cream). Also, by the end of 2014, my habit was to get 8+ hours of sleep. Yes, it has to be a priority to the point of being another hobby. Our busy-worshipping society prides themselves on getting as little sleep as possible. My discovery was that the more sleep I allowed myself, the better I could predict a sharp increase in productivity. Don’t’ be embarrassed to sleep. Be a good example to your kids . . . .Okay, that’s a whole new article.

And that brings me to May 2015. In the previous year and a half, I’ve had three episodes of being bent over in pain because my stomach was so angry and bloated. These episodes happened when I’d have certain carbohydrates and lactose in varying forms. . . All of them, gluten free. But wait a minute! These were all gluten-free foods. What!!??? The most recent episode happened a week before Easter. I had to miss a day of work and rearrange my schedule because I couldn’t stand up straight.

Two little side-lessons here. I learned that I eat as a form of self soothing. I eat when I’m stressed, bored, happy, tired. And the more pronounced the feeling is, the more I seem to eat. Food has been a very hard thing for me to reconsider. I was eating healthy stuff, right! I gave up my nutrition porn like, donuts, pizza, bread. Then why in the world was I not losing weight? I don’t eat Cheetos, doritoes and other low-nutrition foods. So like an angry little dog, I would bark and growl at anyone who suggested any sort of further restriction. First step was to admit and recognize the overeating which would usually only happen on a tired Saturday. Binge eating on healthy carbs.

Second lesson is that if you haven’t found the answer FOR YOU, than you haven’t found the answer. Evidently, further discoveries and experiments needed to be made. I consulted my gurus of nutrition, Dr. Mike T Nelson (the hubs) and my trainer girlfriend. Both recommended the same protocol and similar diet. (In fact, they’d been recommending it for a couple years). Eliminating the usual allergenic foods completely for a few months and then reintroducing them once the gut healed to see what the true culprits might be. This would starve out the bad flora and promote growth of the good flora.

I finally changed my diet. I learned what it felt like to feel full and not bloated. The sensory perception in my stomach was very confused. I couldn’t differentiate between the two feelings.. When I changed my diet, I lost 14 pounds in 2 months. Side benefits, aside from losing my sides? Brain fog decreased, higher productivity, smiling for no reason, better digestion, flatter stomach happier in general, better sex drive, better sleep which = a repeat and betterment of all of the aforementioned.

So looking back at the history of my health journey, there were unsticking points all along the way. It’s not just one thing; it’s changes over a lifetime. Find your first unsticking point. And if you want to take the short route, listen to smart people like Dr. Mike T Nelson who have made it their business to help people get healthy.