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Part of me isn’t sure that I’m qualified to write this blog post. After all, I’m about the furthest thing from a perfect THM poster child you could find (just read about my latest transgression in this Vanilla Frappe post). However, I have survived four years of this business, and despite my occasional transgressions, I’m in better health than I was four years ago and I intend to continue eating this way for the foreseeable future. Why? Keep reading and you’ll find out. 😉
I apologize in advance for how much of a let-down this may be for some of you, but my story is nothing earthshattering. I came from a Mennonite family who ate normal food. We ate home-cooked meals, planted a garden, and used white flour and sugar in moderate quantities. I wasn’t skinny (and probably never will be), but I wasn’t much overweight either. Fast forward to the summer of 2013, when I worked for my grandparents out of state for a few weeks right after I graduated (age 17). I ate more junk food than usual, thinking I was burning it off by carting half-bushel boxes of peaches around all day long, but lo and behold, I started growing out of my clothes. It was either lose weight or sew a new wardrobe. When I got home I found out that my mom had gotten started with a new fad going around called “Trim Healthy Mama.” (All that was available back then was the huge original book, not the trim plan book we have today. That monster was a classic and I highly recommend it.) I was highly skeptical of it, but out of necessity (and a good deal of curiosity, I admit), I joined my mom on this new diet plan. What did I have to lose? (Pardon the pun.) To my surprise, it worked, and I lost the ten-or-so pounds that had filled out my dresses.
I actually lost about twenty pounds at the beginning and was about two pounds from goal weight, but then I attended a youth Bible school for seven weeks and put ten of those pounds back on. I’ve never lost them again – and here I am three years later, only a few pounds below where I originally started. Does that surprise you? I told you I’m no poster child. 😛 Truth is, I have traveled so much during the past four years that it seems like I’m either in damage-control mode while traveling or trying to lose new weight after traveling. Also, I was working on my cookbook for a year and a half, and the combination of the long hours at a desk, lack of sleep, and large quantity of food I was testing (and felt obligated to eat) did not help my physique. Only now, seven months after the book’s release, do I feel like I’m finally making downward progress again. Part of that progress is due to some things I’ve learned recently, which I’ll share below.
2013 – 17 years old – right before graduation:
(This was in May. I started Trim Healthy Mama in July, then started blogging in November.)
So Have I Actually Made Any Progress?
Yes. Absolutely yes.
- I have a much higher concentration of muscle than I did before. Trim Healthy Mama centers around protein, and this definitely promotes a leaner, “denser” body.
- My skin is healthier. Less acne, and just more “glow” in general.
- I feel clean inside. Oh, not when I eat the occasional sugary treat, trust me. I usually regret going off plan because my body just can’t handle sugar and a bunch of flour anymore. This feeling is enough to keep me from binging most of the time.
- I’m healthier because of what I feed myself on a regular basis. When I travel, eating healthy can be hard and sometimes I just have to eat what’s served in the interest of maintaining relationships and not causing a fuss. However, I have learned how to eat smart and not sweat the small stuff. Go for the meat and veggies, skip the carby fillers and desserts, and don’t worry too much about whether or not there’s some sugar in the already-dressed salad. Is it ideal? No. But when you go home you can eat on plan, and for now, you do the best you can. I have navigated many choir tours like this in the last three years (including three weeks in South Africa in February), and I have learned that if I’m careful while I’m gone, whatever weight I do gain comes off fairly easily when I get home. I’ve traveled enough that I haven’t been able to make significant downward progress, but I am below where I started.
(Please note: you can travel and stick to the THM plan more diligently than I do if you do more prep work ahead of time. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants…er…dress, and I adore minimalism, so I generally just do the best I can by winging it. But this doesn’t have to be your strategy, and if it’s not, you’ll probably lose more weight than I do.)
2017 – 21 years old:
Where I Hope to Go
I hope to gain more lean muscle and lose some more weight, but I’ve come to realize that with the amount of traveling I do and the fact that my body doesn’t release weight as easily as some, my progress will be slow. (I’m what we call an “easy keeper” in the horse world. It’s a term used to describe those horses that can gain weight on tree bark.) Any small step in the right direction is progress, and with some recent breakthroughs I’ve made, I’ve been seeing more and more baby steps! That’s exciting, and I look forward to what I’ll be able to share next year if I do a progress report.
Recent Personal Breakthroughs
- Be more calorie-conscious. | Let me start out by saying that Trim Healthy Mama is not about counting calories! You can eat plenty of food and still lose weight! However, some of us have to be more mindful of our calorie intakes than others, and I am one of those people. Constant S meals and lots of peanut butter stall my weight loss big time, so I’ve recently started incorporating a lot more E and FP meals into my rotation. Sometimes I’ll go a few days in a row eating only one S meal a day instead of only one E or FP meal a day as had been my norm. Fats are much more calorie-dense than carbs and protein, so it only makes sense to switch up S, E, and FP to balance your calorie intake, eh? Took me awhile to figure this out (even though Pearl and Serene mention it a lot in their books and podcasts!). When I do have S meals, I’ve been focusing more on veggies and meat with foundational fat sources like butter, coconut oil, and eggs, and going easier on things like cheese, Ranch dressing, and peanut butter. Sometimes I omit cheese entirely and sometimes I use just a sprinkling, and I always thin down my Ranch dressing with some water to stretch it further with fewer calories. (It actually coats the lettuce better this way.) Side note: the longer I go on plan, the more E meals fill me up. My body doesn’t burn through them as fast as it used to. (A lot of people complain about being hungry after an E meal. Make sure you center it around plenty of lean protein, add veggies to fill you up, and don’t be afraid to top off the meal with a FP glucomannan shake or pudding to fill in the cracks.)
- Easy on the desserts | I’ve discovered that I probably shouldn’t eat dessert at every meal. Desserts often include very calorie-dense things like cream cheese, heavy cream, and peanut butter, and tacking a heavy dessert onto a heavy meal twice a day (like I have been known to do) is not a recipe for success! Now I’m a foodie and I blog for a living. It’s really tempting to constantly post heavy, decadent recipes because those get the most traffic! But this isn’t good for me, and it’s not good for you, so I’ve been trying to take a more balanced approach to the recipes I post. I want to feed y’all what I feed myself! Tip: skip dessert after a meal and use it as your snack three hours later instead. I had a habit of eating a big meal plus a heavy dessert, then adding a snack on top of that! I didn’t really need all that, and I wasn’t really hungry. I just wanted dessert. Self control is good for the soul.
- Chew slowly. | I know you’ve heard it before. Just try to remember to do it. It really does work. You will eat less.
- Eat more veggies! | This goes hand-in-hand with the more calorie-conscious approach. Veggies will fill you up with few calories, plus they’re full of all the fiber and vitamins you need to function properly!
- Exercise | This has been huge for me. With as much catch-up work as I find myself doing because of all my traveling, I knew I needed an extra boost to make headway on losing weight. Enter running. Now I’m no exercise freak, but to my utter surprise, once I forced myself to run consistently, I grew to enjoy it and now I don’t feel right if I don’t do it. I don’t do anything spectacular – just two miles four or five times a week, but it’s the added edge I needed and it’s shaping my muscles and speeding up my metabolism.
- Don’t eat heavy stuff late at night. | Since I’m usually running in the evenings, I like to have some sweetened, flavored Greek yogurt as a post-workout snack. It’s light and protein-centered, and it works well for me. Sometimes I’ll do something a little heavier (like that dessert I didn’t eat at supper), but in general, I do better with less in the evening.
Can You Identify?
Where are you at in your journey? Can you identify with anything I said here? I definitely intend to continue eating like this for life and I find it to be very sustainable, but as you’ve seen in this post, we all need to find out own personal success strategies because our bodies are all different! If you’ve found something that really works for you, please share in the comments below!
Some Resources You Might Find to Be Helpful:
- My recipe index (it’s organized by pictures!)
- My recipes indexed by fuel type, allergy info, and theme
- Sample menus
- Starting THM – answers to FAQs and lists of ingredients I use and where to find them
- When You’re Overwhelmed on THM
- Dos and Don’ts from a THM Veteran
- Food Freedom vs. Gluttony
The new little man has a name!
Halal’s Flame Prince
“Flame Prince” is a great Southern peach variety that fits his color and also references some local forest fires we experienced while Peaches was in foal.
Thank you all so much for your name suggestions! Click here to see the foal pictures if you missed them.
The giveaway has ended and the winner has been notified. Thank you to all who participated! The giveaway included:
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