“…in a way I haven’t felt in years.”
I said as I rubbed my belly. It felt so good. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that way. There was a memory lurking. I think I was a teenager, or at the very least early twenties. That feeling in my tummy of being alive. And I don’t mean horney. Not that there’s anything wrong with feeling horney. Rather that I really want to distinguish this feeling in my gut from that feeling because they are two very different things.
When I said those words: “I feel skinny inside” – it was the first day after my first 2-day cleansing fast. I call it a cleansing fast. The people who sold me the product tell me: “We don’t use the word ‘fast’ we call it a ‘cleanse’.” But I call it a fast anyway, because I’m not eating anything on those days. It’s not a real fast, because I do get to drink an amazing beverage and I do get to eat chocolates.
“Whaaat!?Chocolates?! How can that possibly be fasting if you’re eating chocolates?” I hear you. You aren’t standing next to me, you aren’t on the other end of my telephone, nope, but I can hear you just the same. No one eats chocolates when they’re fasting…err, I mean cleansing.
The recent diet, weight-loss, weight-management trend is intermittent starving, or fasting. There’s the Fast Diet which one friend of mine used to lose over 50 pounds ( I think that’s how much he lost). It took him a year, and every week he had 2 days when he kept his caloric intake to 500. The other 5 days of the week he could pretty much eat what he wanted. Research has proven that intermittent fasting is good for the body, and mind. But I couldn’t do it. I tried. I didn’t have the resolve. Or something. Or maybe I just like my food way too much. Or…
Over the years, I’ve been solicited by many weight-loss schemes. I’ve been a hard anti-fad dieter, anti-weight-loss fads, schemes, supplements – whatever you want to call it, I’ve been anti. My idea has been to eat healthy, stay active and all will be well. As a former triathlete, I had a resting heart-rate well below others in my age group, and a stamina that out-walked, ran, swam, cycled most women – and men – around me, so I figured I was good to go, even though I was toting around an extra 20, 30, 40 – then 50 pounds. Then the problems started.
The first was rosacea. You know, the red face problem. That started at about 25 pounds overweight. What had happened to my beautiful peaches and cream complexion? And my hair? It was dull.
Then I got splitting callouses on my heels. Whaaat?! From being overweight? Well, I’ve had dry heels my whole life, pumice pumice pumice, scrub soak scrub, moisturize. I tried most popular brands, and others, then started using Shea butter and that worked, but I had permanently slippery feet and had to moisturize with Shea butter every single day to avoid cracking heels. The only thing I could really attribute this radical change in my heel health to was my body weight. At 5’4″, 205 pounds is a lot of weight to lug around.
Then the dribbling started. Yes. Leaky bladder. That was my mother’s problem, not mine. When I told her about it, she said: “I have some adult diapers you can try.” “NOOOOOOOOooooooooo” I screamed. “No way. I am not going there. I am way too young for that.” I’d always had a small bladder, and had to relieve myself more frequently than most. So small in fact, I’d been tested at the tender age of 19. I’d had to pee in a bottle for a whole day and mark on the bottle every time I peed. When I took my jug in they told me I was passing a normal amount of urine, but going WAAAAAY more often than most people. So then they put me under anaesthetic and sent a small camera up my urethra to check out my bladder and the conclusion was that I had an unusually small bladder and if I ever got pregnant I’d spend all my time on the toilet. So here I was, not pregnant, but carrying as much extra weight as if I were, and so I was cursed with frequent trips to the loo. I quit drinking anything at all before I left the house, and while out. It was a problem.
Then the intestinal problems started. I’d had an intermittent pain around my gall bladder for years. Everyone in my family had had theirs taken out, somehow I’d kept mine. I went to the doctor: “I have a pain here.” I said, rubbing that spot just to the right of my tummy, along the ribcage. They sent me for ultrasound, couldn’t find anything. Four years later, a lump in my lower abdomen that I feel in yoga when I do certain postures. Another ultrasound, this time in the pelvic region. Nada. I kept going to yoga, I kept swimming, riding my bike, all of it – and I kept getting fatter fatter and fatter. All of it on my belly.
Then the digestive problems got really nasty. The worst started after a particularly bad bout of 24-hour stomach flu. Nothing was right down there. I was passing undigested food. Off to the doctor again. Another ultrasound. I lay on the bed in the clinic while the technician ran the machine over my belly, my liver, my abdomen, trying to find my gallbladder. “Where’s the pain?” She asked. I showed her, running my hand all along my ribcage. She traced it with the machine. Silent. The exam was over. I waited for the results.
“Fatty liver” said the doctor. “I want you to go and see this specialist on Salt Spring Island.” So off I went to salt Spring for the day, paid for by VIHA. Nice day out that was. The gastrointestinal specialist gave me the facts: “You have fatty liver Alison, the good news is, as you lose weight the fat will leave your liver and everything will return to normal.”
“Whaaaat? Fatty liver? How can that be? I hardly touch alcohol.”
“Well, you can get fatty liver from excess sugar and refined carbohydrates.”
“Ahhhh…those oatmeal raisin cookie binges. The cinnamon rolls. The scones. The pasta. …and from years ago, the chocolate frogs we used to call them. Sugar and butter and cocoa and a teeny bit of milk, all melted together and mixed with oats and consumed in one sitting. 2 cups of sugar. 1/2 a cup of butter. Eaten. In. One. Sitting. My favorite sugar binge from years and years ago. The sugar and butter had taken up residence, all the homemade baking I prided myself on for being *healthy* because I made them with *healthy* ingredients had taken up residence around my internal organs, favouring the liver, and they were slowly killing me.
…or at the very least making life very unpleasant. I couldn’t leave the house in the morning for fear I’d have to *go*.
Then I got acid reflux…
Then I did a herbal cleanse and everything sort of cleared up for a while, but I still had the dribbling problem and the bowel problem wasn’t totally resolved. So I went on psycillium – recommended by the Salt Spring gastroenterologist. That helped. But I still had a problem…I started exercising more and lost a few pounds…
Then I broke my arms – yes both of them; then my mother died, then I went back up to 205. Then I started the shakes. Errrr….the nutritional cleanse program. I lost 5 pounds, then down 10 pounds; 5 inches off my waistline; then I did a 2-day back-to-back cleanse, lost another inch and three quarters off my belly fat and got that skinny inside feeling.
Then I noticed my skin clearing up, the acid reflux stopped, my bowels started moving normally – and I STOPPED DRIBBLING!!!! Not only did I stop dribbling, but suddenly I was waking up – after a full night’s sleep – with a full bladder. This after – how many years of waking up 2, 3, sometimes 4 times a night to pee.
Then I was a convert. Now I’m telling you about it.
What am I using? This programme right here. Is this the new food for the new millennium?
To be continued.