Amy After

Tips, motivation & advice for a gluten-free lifestyle

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Diet plan overloads and how to go back to the basics.

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Holy Invisibility, Batman! or What It’s Like to Be Completely Invisible

I lived for many years as a super-sized member of society. I do use the term “member” loosely. I functioned just as all the people around me; I worked, I traveled, I shopped, I parented and yet I lived always on the fringe. Where ever I went I felt as though I was wearing my invisibility cloak. In stores or at events everyone avoided eye contact. Their motivation may have been so as not to stare, they would politely look away. From my perspective – being politely looked away from for more than a decade begins to take a toll. Up until my very early twenties I had been a normal size so it was painfully obvious that the new role I was given among society was not normal and felt very foreign and painful.  It is like when a thin attractive person puts on a fat suit and films others’ reactions with and without the suit.  We’re clearly not dealing with a level playing field here. I lived inside my own Gotham City which was cold and dark. I do have to admit that my invisibility was both a curse and a blessing. It made maneuvering through life very lonely but it also served as a form of protection. Living behind the cloak became my safe place. If no one was seeing or acknowledging me then they couldn’t be judging me either, right?

I did have some family members, coworkers and friends who never treated me differently and they will always be near and dear to me for that. But for every one of them there were a dozen others who were embarrassed to be seen with me or stopped associating with me as if my heft was contagious. The cruelty we humans are capable of directing toward those who are different is astonishing.

As the majority of my extra weight came off, I began to notice a marked change in the behavior of almost everyone around me. I was stunned when men began holding doors open for me. I was accustomed to them letting the door shut in my face. I still am surprised when a cashier or waiter actually makes eye contact. While walking down grocery isles, other women will smile at me and nod as they pass by. My first instinct is to assume they are looking at someone behind me but then I realize that my cloak is gone.

I am now visible and treated as part of the group I haven’t been welcomed into for so long. With a flip of a switch my Gotham City has turned into Pleasantville. The flowers are blooming, the faces are smiling and helpful hands are reaching out to me from all directions. It’s warm here and feels nice.

I want this observation to serve as a source of hope to those who are still on the outside looking in. When you overcome the obstacles standing in your way the world will open up to you. It is also my wish that we all look beyond our social prejudices and try to see the very real person hiding behind their cloak.

Public Enemy #1

Pretend that I’ve just handed you a box which contains a frozen dinner and asked you to tell me if you thought that it would be a healthy thing to eat. How would you determine the answer to that question? Which information on the box would be most helpful to you?

The calorie count?

The fat content?

The number of carbs?

If you answered yes to any of those then you are a victim of America’s public enemy #1 – processed food. You were hoping for something more sinister? I know,  “processed food” sounds so harmless. Nothing is scarier than a carb, right? I’ll tell you what sinister really is; let me direct you to the ingredient list. The sooner those of us living in our developed western culture learn to read the actual ingredient list the better off we’ll all be.

Have you ever wondered what those words you can’t pronounce on the packages of the food you eat really mean? This is a topic that we can explore in great depth as there are many layers but lets keep it simple for now. If you can’t recognize or pronounce an ingredient in your food, you shouldn’t be eating it. If a substance is created in a laboratory then your body will not recognize it and can’t process it as a source of nutrition. These chemicals and “nutrients” created and manipulated in laboratories are seen by your body as foreign bodies. The toxins are stored in your organs and fat cells. The body tries to deal with these unknown substances by compartmentalizing them but after so many years it can no longer protect you from the effects. You’ll develop symptoms normally believed to be linked with aging and normal deterioration.  Stiff joints, aches, allergies, memory problems, Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, and cancer can be evidence of filling our bodies with these foreign substances.

Additives and preservatives are in processed foods in order to keep them on the shelves for years. Food that never goes bad equals maximum profits for the manufacturers. Foods are “enriched” because they were stripped of all original nutrients to begin with so cheap fake ones are added to the finished product to make the nutrient values seem acceptable. None of this is done with our well being in mind. We absolutely can’t keep letting it be the corporations’ job to make sure our family’s health and vitality is safe guarded. That is our responsibility. I invite you to start learning what you are really putting in your body.

Pay extra close attention to the foods manufactured for children. Your kids are dazzled by the commercials, bright packaging and characters on the boxes but I am begging parents to look past all of that and investigate the actual contents of this stuff your child wants so badly. I can’t tell you how many battles my son and I had in the grocery isles over this. I know how hard it is to stay strong through the tantrums  but know that you are acting in their best interest.

If you’d like to learn more – I have a book that is a must read. This is one of the first books I read when I began my studies in nutrition. If I had to name one source that has had the most impact on me this one is it.

Excitotoxins – The Taste That Kills by Russel Blaylock

da Vinci Knows Best

“Gluttony, sleep and idleness in bed have banished every virtue from the world. So that our bewildered nature is almost overcome by debauchery. Henceforth, it would be well to rouse yourself from sleep, the Master said, because lying down will not bring thee to Fame; nor staying beneath the covers. He who, without Fame, burns his life to waste, leaves no more vestige of himself on earth than wind-blown smoke or the foam upon the sea.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Isn’t it funny that da Vinci was complaining about how lazy people were in his day? And that was 500 years ago! I guess it is just our nature to veg out. There is no escaping it. It is just fun to flop into bed or onto the couch and space out watching T.V.

We all have goals and dreams that we want to achieve.  If only there was more time, if we had more energy, or less demands being placed on us.              Sigh…

What do you want the most, right now? At this time in my life the thing I want most is to get my formerly neglected body into the best shape possible. As shedding 170lbs is quite an undertaking, I’ll just have to let becoming fluent in French and making my first million slide for a little while longer.

If you haven’t already – just observe the people in your life. This includes the people you come into contact with personally and those you feel you know because you follow them so closely through various media (not judging, just saying). Compare the behavior of the Haves and the Have-nots. What do the people do who have what you want? Do they work consistently every single day, even when it’s hard? Do they sacrifice? Even though we like to believe that the wealthy, powerful, beautiful people have everything handed to them on a silver platter – I have yet to find one single example of that really being true.

In the morning while I’m still sleeping, Gwyneth Paltrow is putting in the first of her two daily workouts. In the evening while I’m draped across the bed in an altered state of consciousness, Tamara Mellon (founder of Jimmy Choo shoe empire) is still at the office burning the midnight oil (saw that on Oprah). I see pictures of these women at the parties hobnobbing with other rich beautiful celebrities and I want what they have.

So, I guess that is the puzzle each of us has to figure out on our own. What do we yearn for enough to be willing to challenge our human nature hard enough to get? Once you figure that out, find the people who are making it happen and do what they are doing. We all have to answer this question for ourselves, but we don’t have to do this alone. Another part of human nature is the desire to support and help our fellow man in our common journey.

A Cow Says…

 

 

 

Do you want strong bones? Do you want health, happiness and vitality? Then you’d better be getting your dairy! If you think you’re getting enough then think again. It’s never enough – if you believe the numerous celebrity filled ads and commercials. Why does the dairy industry care so much about our health? The broccoli industry sure doesn’t seem to. And I feel totally ignored by the artichoke people.

The Dairy Industry is ju
st that – an industry. Why does any industry exist? To make money – period.  Don’t misunderstand; being in business to make money is fine with me. But if your business means brainwashing and misleading the population at the expense of their health then I have a huge problem with that. This issue is now where the tobacco industry used to be when cigarette ads were done by doctors declaring smoking to be healthy. (Find some of those commercials on the internet, they’re wild!)  Nowadays if someone chooses to smoke then that is their decision to make. They are well aware of the consequences and voluntarily choose to take the associated risks.  Do you know the risks of consuming dairy? There are huge side effects and warnings should be printed on the side of every jug and carton.

Few people have seen or heard anything other than what The National Dairy Counsel has paid hundreds of millions for them to hear. But let’s block out their message, from which they make astounding profits and use our common sense for a minute. Which other being in existence drinks milk past the age of weaning or drinks the milk of a completely different species?  Humans have no resemblance to cows whatsoever. They have four stomachs! We don’t possess the enzymes to break down the proteins in cow’s milk. But since we begin our children on cow’s milk from infancy then a tolerance is built to try to handle this substance. Some handle it better than others but it is just not something our system should have to deal with. The main problem with dairy is it is mucus forming. Walk into an ear nose and throat office and count the number of children in the waiting room because of chronic sinus problems, allergies and clogged ears (chronic ear infections).  If dairy was removed from the equation then there would hardly be a need for the allergy medicines and tubes for the ears. Calcium – we don’t absorb all the calcium from dairy. If cows make all this calcium filled milk, where are they getting their calcium? Are they drinking orangutan milk? They are eating grass! We absorb more calcium from eating greens and other vegetables than we ever could from drinking cow’s milk. That is what humans were designed to do. Many people are able to digest yogurt who have problems with other forms of dairy. The only way to know if you are one of them is through experimentation.

Growing up I had ear infection after ear infection. My sinuses were a mess. At one point a doctor recommended that I have my tonsils taken out.  As a young adult I ate decongestants like candy to relieve the pressure in my ears. Then I began hearing this information and, always willing to experiment on myself, I gave up dairy. I mourned for the loss of my ice cream. I tried to substitute with a rice milk version – blech! I made my own pizza with non-dairy cheese which was actually amazingly good. I got used to living without dairy for eight months and did not really miss it. Then one night I was making pizza for my son and his friends when I convinced myself that eating one piece was no big deal and it was just a few bites of cheese, for crying out loud! So I ate the slice and it was GOOD!!!  I then spent several hours that night in the bathroom while my body did a perfect stomach flu impression.  My body had not had to tolerate the offending cow sludge for eight glorious months and let me know loud and clear that it wasn’t going to stand for it again.  I haven’t had a sinus infection or earache in over a decade. I’ve read about too many other people with the same results to count. Since I haven’t consumed cheese regularly for many years now I can and do allow myself to have some occasionally.

I know that this is a touchy subject. People feel very strongly about their dairy. Won’t their bones break without it? Won’t their children fail to thrive and grow? All I am asking is to have an open mind about the possibility that those are lessons given to us by people who are filthy rich because of our willingness to believe them. Entertain the idea of letting go of the dairy for a month or two and just see what happens. Then reintroduce it and see how you feel.  You might be surprised.

How I’ve Lost 150lbs

I’m Amy and I’m half the person I was one year ago. After steadily gaining a lot of weight over the past twenty years, I’d finally had enough. Even though I was a Certified Nutritional Consultant I couldn’t seem to apply my knowledge to my own behavior.  During a Dr. visit near the end of 2008 I was told that it was time to begin taking medications to reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The prospect of this horrified me and I begged for a reprieve. My doctor told me I had three months to turn things around and then I’d have to come back to get my prescriptions if there weren’t drastic improvements.

As fortune would have it, a friend told me about another doctor in town who was offering a weight loss program. I ignored all of my immediate objections (too expensive, not enough time, assured failure) and committed to doing whatever it took to shed the weight once and for all. I showed up for weigh-in each week which turned out to be a crucial part of my success. Accountability is so very important. Portion control and low carb was a focus of the meal plan but for several reasons I had to create my own menu. I had become a pescatarian (abstains from eating all animal flesh except fish) a year earlier and my education was in holistic nutrition which meant that “diet” and artificial foods and ingredients were not something I wanted any part of. I also discovered that I was gluten intolerant and had to eliminate all gluten to see astounding improvements in my health.

Through eating simple, pure and wholesome foods, or eating cleanly, I lost 130lbs in one year. I’ve lost 150lbs so far and want to shed 20lbs more. Now my blood pressure is great and there is no more mention of needing any medications. I feel wonderful and all of the physical ailments that I’d developed have completely vanished.  Most of the aches, pains, allergies, etc. many of us have come to accept as a natural part of life can be a distant memory if you are given the right information.

I get incredibly frustrated with the messages about nutrition we are given by medical professionals and food corporations through the media.  Following the mainstream dietary recommendations makes us tired, sick and overweight. I want to teach you how to give your body what it needs to become the youthful, energetic creation it is meant to be.  Even though having the correct knowledge is paramount and the crucial first step, it is only half the solution. If the proper nutritional education was the complete answer then I would’ve been slim and healthy fifteen years ago. I couldn’t seem to effectively apply this knowledge because of emotional barriers.  I also want to help guide you through common mental and emotional obstacles you might run into during the healthy transformation of your body.

So, it isn’t just about getting rid of  extra weight, it  is about giving your body and mind everything it needs to become younger, more vibrant and brimming with health!

To Supplement or Not to Supplement?

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That is not the only question. Back before the world’s population explosion and industrialized farming became the norm, people were able to get all the necessary nutrients from their food. Crops were rotated,  pesticides were blissfully absent and the soil was allowed to rest and rejuvenate between growing seasons. Now that our farming practices have moved in ways that go against nature rather than with it, the soil is bereft of vital nutrients and our food can no longer meet our daily requirements of vital nutrients.

Since we know that we must supplement, many questions remain as to which ones are best. Is a multivitamin enough? Are they all equal? Is spending a lot on the expensive ones a waste of money? One of the first things I learned in my studies is that buying your supplements from the drugstore or grocery store is indeed usually a waste of money. Many of the common brands we’ve all heard of are so coated that they pass through your body unabsorbed. These products are mass produced with profit margin as the primary (if not only) goal. Most of the well known health food store brands are more expensive but will actually serve their purpose. Everyone needs a great multi-vitamin as well as an oil supplement, such as an Omega-3 fish oil supplement. A knowledgeable store owner or person on staff at your local health food store should be able to help you decide which choice is right for you.

There are hundreds of supplement choices that can help transform your life, but don’t start thinking that the more you take, the better. Nutritional supplements are very powerful and there can be drug interactions with some and dangerous levels reached with others that are fat soluble as opposed to water soluble. Do your research and get advice from someone trained in natural medicine, if possible.