5 year health-iversary for managing familial hypercholesterolemia without drugs

I just realized that this August 2016 marks my five year anniversary of managing Familial Hypercholesterolemia without drugs. Woot! Yahoo!  Yippee!  I thought I’d jot down a quick: happy-5-year-health-iversary-to-me post to mark the occasion and celebrate something that once seemed impossible to achieve.

I haven’t done any of the typical Transformation Tuesday type posts before. In case this is new to you – these #transformationtuesday hashtag posts are usually motivating posts on blogs or social media by people on a health journey. They document the before and after pictures of someone who has had some kind of transformation. Today I started to wonder why I’ve never done this. Then I realized that I hadn’t acknowledged how far I’ve come – physically, mentally and emotionally. It kind of sneaks up on you. After about 3 to 6 months of making healthy changes, you forget you were ever any different or that healthy wasn’t just the new normal.

I bought this dress in the picture above years ago. At the time I couldn’t come even close to being able to do up the zipper. This is because in 2011, the year I was diagnosed and started managing Familial Hypercholesterolemia, I was 25 pounds heavier. I really had trouble shifting the extra weight. I tried a bunch of things including low fat, low carb, and low fruit diets as well as diet pills and diet energy bars to try and lose weight.

When I was not at my desired weight, losing weight was consistently on my mind. I was constantly annoyed, or thinking about, the extra pounds. “How can I lose this weight? What should I be eating? What should I be avoiding? Why is it taking me so long to reach my goal weight? What’s wrong with me?”  You know the drill. These thoughts are directly lifted from the usual stream of consciousness that plagues modern women.

But I made a decision. I made up my mind to focus on the feeling of confidence in my food choices. I researched foods that were proven to increase health. I became confident that the majority of things I put in my mouth were significant contributors to my long term health. In short, I embraced the idea of feeling confident about my food choices. The worry, the stress, the anxiety – all were obliterated by this new approach. I discovered that managing Familial Hypercholesterolemia did not have to include psychological distress as well as biological distress.

Once I made up my mind to focus on just being confident that everything I put in my mouth was healthy, I didn’t have to think those typical distracting thoughts about weight loss anymore.  I became convinced that my body had what it needed. I felt full and satisfied with all the great new eats I was exploring and blogging about here on The Confidence Kitchen. And of course what eventually happened, as so many people experience,  was the weight just magically shifted without even trying. And most of this occurred in the first year when I had not even amped up my exercise routine yet. Just by strategically changing the foods I ate, I saw slow yet consistent gains. This visible and feel-good impact motivated me month on month.

So what is one of the most important things I have learned in these five years?

It took a key shift in thinking – from “how do I lose weight” – to “how do I make my body healthy?” These focusses are very different, and they signifigantly change how you approach eating. By focussing more on the foods to add as opposed to the foods to subtract, you see changes quickly.

This is what I noted as the fatal flaw in almost every diet out there. Because this questions of “does it make me healthy on the inside” changes what you eat, it reduces stress, and ultimately it changes how you look regarding weight, heart health, skin clarity and overall radiance. When you eat healthy stuff, your skin literally glows. And vanity is one of the most useful tools for health because when your skin glows, it means the nutrients have reached everywhere else in your body too.

I love this picture above because this is a dress I used to think I’d never fit! And, it’s so incredibly freeing not having to waste all that time and mental energy on perpetually thinking about “how will I lose weight!” Some of the best gains from this five-year journey of managing Familial Hypercholesterolemia have come from the increase in mental peace. Calming the weight loss drill sergeant in your head is a big deal. The day you feel deep down that your health is truly in hand, and you can say “I got this,” is a day of true liberation.