What EXACTLY Did You Do?!

Well, among other things, I had another birthday. In January. I like to think I’m ATOP the hill, looking down the other side, deciding how long I’ll hang out up here before I head over it. Makes perfect sense to me.

Anyway, my new age is NOT the focus of this post. This is actually about how I got healthy, on my own terms, flying by the seat of my pants. Since so many people have asked me “What exactly did you do?” I thought it best to simply tell the world. Not for vanity’s sake, not to flaunt success or a new and improved look, but to help people who may have been/or are suffering from the same issues as I. However, before I tell my story, please make note:


So here is how it all began…

Several of the women in my family suffer from chronic diverticulitis (me, two of my older sisters and a paternal aunt before she passed). If you don’t know what that is, please Google it for a proper explanation. The best I can give you is that it’s a condition that causes your colon to become really angry to the point of trying to evict you from your own body. I had four horrendous, extremely painful attacks. Three of them required hospital stays of anywhere from 5 to 8 days. So. Not. Fun. Although, the first time I was in the hospital (May 2013), I did manage to find a bit of humor in it and write a couple of posts. You can read them here and here. By the third time, it was no longer funny. After my last hospitalization, I was told my only option was to have surgery to remove the diseased section of my colon causing so much havoc. Despite knowing the doctor was a straight-shooter–one of my sisters required the same procedure years ago to cure hers—I was still reluctant. Why? I am not your average patient. My body doesn’t like medications. Particularly, antibiotics and painkillers. To date, I am allergic to FIVE of the most commonly prescribed pain meds, and SEVEN “go-to” antibiotics. And when I say allergic, I mean rash all over, throat closing, anaphylaxis inducing. Yes, all of them can kill me, just like a bee sting or severe peanut allergy can do to others. So when I am in the hospital, I have to be in a special unit, monitored 24/7, because, to date…there is only one pain killer that actually controls the pain and one antibiotic the docs are certain won’t cause a reaction. OH…and my veins are not very friendly to IV’s either; they enjoy causing them to infiltrate. You can look that one up too, because I can’t even explain it. All I know is, it’s extremely painful….especially when you are going into anaphylactic shock simultaneously. Having survived all that, I, albeit reluctantly, decided to go through with the surgery and have 10 inches of my colon resected in July 2015.  I was ‘cured’ right? Umm….no, not quite.

And so it goes.

After the healing/recovery process, which took about 2 months….it seemed as though my digestive issues were a thing of the past. Not so fast, though. Around February 2016, I began to feel pretty bad again, noticed I was carrying extra weight and was no longer comfortable in my clothes. I do not own a scale, so I wasn’t sure how much I weighed exactly. However, by the end of April, I visited the doctor for a checkup and discovered I was the heaviest I have ever been, at 128 pounds. Doesn’t sound like a lot, unless you take into consideration I am only five foot one. In addition, I was tired all the time, experiencing abdominal aches followed by extended periods in the potty (sorry, TMI) almost immediately after every meal, and general heaviness in my stomach regardless of what I ate. ALL.THE.TIME. And mind you, I was only consuming soups, salads, and in general, following a pretty healthy diet. Of course, I am thinking… “WTF?!”. By the end of May, I was pretty fed up with the way I felt, because that directly impacted my ability to exercise, which would have, no doubt helped me lose the extra pounds. Unbeknownst to anyone, I looked to the all knowing Google gods for help. Little did I know, typing in the simple phrase “foods that cause problems for people with digestive issues” would change my body, spirit and ultimately, my lifestyle in the most positive of ways.

A little backstory on me…. I was a vegan for a few years in college. Being an animal lover, my reasons were understandable. Unfortunately, that was in the 90’s, when the benefits of such a diet were largely unknown, and maintaining it on the budget of a poor college student, proved to be completely impossible for me. Lack of education for the proper way to go about getting the needed nutrients led to severe anemia, and I became quite sick.  Out of desperation, I reverted back to a more traditional way of eating, reincorporating red meat, poultry, dairy, etc.. as it seemed to be what my body craved in order to heal. If only I’d known then, what I know now. Hindsight, right?

Back to present day. After a bit of research, I decided to eliminate dairy from diet completely, as it seemed to be at the top of every list of “problematic” foods. Within 10 days, I felt a huge difference. My body began to change, inside and out. My belly was no longer bloated, I had more energy, and the chronic stomach cramps after meals were subsiding. But I wasn’t done. As the result of my research, I had learned more and more about the positive benefits of a vegan diet, and opted to give that a try again, in my own modified way, ditching all meats, with the exception of fish/shrimp. And for good measure, I also traded white carbs for whole grains, and stopped consuming alcohol. Being a bit more salty, both in personality and in palate preference, sweets have never been a problem for me, so sugar was the easiest to kick to the curb. That was mid-June 2016. Now keep in mind, I haven’t mentioned incorporating exercise…yet. Because I didn’t do that on a regular basis until September 2016. So the “before and after” photos below, are the product of dietary changes exclusively. The ones on the left were shot in April 2016 and the ones on the right in August 2016 by Jamie Fisher at FishyFoto, although the body transformation only took a total of TWO MONTHS…mid-June to mid August.


Needless to say, I am now a very firm believer that positive health and body changes start with a commitment to eating a cleaner, more simplified diet. As for exercise, once I got my energy back…. I began doing Reformer Pilates a minimum of once a week, at Clara’s Room, which has done wonders for the lengthening and strengthening of my muscles. Especially the core ones in my lower abdomen, I presumed lost forever when the doc sliced through them to rid me of the angry section of colon! So I guess my point is… I am 10 months in, 24 pounds lighter, stronger than I’ve ever been and feeling better physically than I did when I was in my 20’s… and I am 45 years old. And I can say with complete honesty, that my intention really was to find foods that agreed with my body, rather than to lose pounds, which is probably why I have been able to stick with this way of eating. It rectified my abdominal discomfort, restored my energy and allowed me to pursue an exercise regimen that works for me. All of that combined, makes me feel good, which goes back to my original goal. Mission accomplished. The weight loss was just a side effect 🙂


  1. Transformation Thursday! Get em girl!

Give it to me straight. I can take it :-)

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