I grew up in the late ’70s eating McDonald’s, Froot Loops, cookies, meats, hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, Cheez Whiz, and a lot of other processed foods. They weren’t genetically modified back then, but still, it is no surprise that I was a chub-chub. My Egyptian genes didn’t help.
I have memories of being six and called “tub-of-lard” in the girl’s bathroom. My puppy love, Peter, told me once in front a group of kids during recess that “I was so fat, I could roll around the world.” There were two Armenian girls who I later befriended who would prank call me on a regular basis after dinner. They would hang up when I said “hello” but not before calling me “fatso.”
At 13, on the dawn of my first period and Judy Blume novels I lost a little bit of weight, and was the highlight at a classmate’s party during Spin The Bottle. I was wearing a polka dot dress with my hair in curls and now suddenly the boys wanted to kiss the nerd and former fat girl with the pouffy lips.
As a teen, my weight went up and down. I tried diets like FitforLife that encouraged the consumption of raw fruits and vegetables, and the Scarsdale Medical Diet, which advocated low-fat, low-calorie foods for weight loss.
I lived on carrot sticks, fruit salads, and cottage cheese. I became anorexic. And then I became bulimic. This paved the way to a very warped self-image.
I started going out with a smart and cute boy who played football and discovered exercise. I saw him comment on women’s bodies and became even more conscious about mine. I discovered step classes, the treadmill, and weights. It took me a while to see results because the bulimia had messed up my metabolism.
I went vegetarian for seven years, lifted weights, took diet pills, and drank disgusting fuel-burning concoctions.
My weight bounced from 138 to 128. I am 5’4”. Inside I felt petite but you could not tell.
Eventually my weight stabilized at 128. I ate in moderation, returned to meat, and stayed away from sweets. I thought I ate well.
I was 29 when I was hit by a hulking piece of metal at 45 miles an hour. I was a pedestrian, dragged 50 feet before the driver realized he had hit a human. I broke several bones and underwent severe shock.
I was outfitted with a metal rod inside my broken left femur. When I awoke from surgery, I managed to ask them to take me off the morphine, which sent me to a hazy Hades. I found the drug disgusting and depressing. From there on out, I did not take any pain meds.
When the drugs wore off, I realized I’d developed what I dubbed “super nasal powers.” Seriously, I could smell the orderly down the hall. I could break him down with my olfactory senses. He was a mixture of cigarette smoke and Tide detergent.
After a mere week at Cedar’s Sinai, I was released and told I did not need physio therapy.
A special hospital van took me back home and during that ride, it was like I was existing in the world for the first time. The cityscape beyond the window pane seemed especially crisp and alive.
I soon realized that all my senses were heightened. In addition to super nasal powers I became sensitive to lights; I was no longer able to sleep without an eye mask. I could no longer stand harsh chemicals like Windex or even Comet. When I finally was able to leave the house three months later, I noticed that street lights went off in my presence when I hobbled by.
For three years I lived with a constant pain in my left leg. There were days when I wanted to cut into my leg myself and remove it. Then finally I underwent surgery and got rid of the metal inside my body. My pain vanished over night.
But I was never the same. I had one rib that wouldn’t heal. Over the year, I caught pneumonia on a job and had to be hospitalized. I found out I had developed an orange size cyst on my ovary. During a day like all the others, my stomach became swollen. And stayed swollen. I looked like I was two months pregnant. I felt huge. I felt terrible.
Meanwhile, a strange pulsing electrical pain had started orbiting around my belly.
What the hell was wrong with me? Had I not suffered enough? It had been one thing after the next since my accident. I joked to myself that I should write a book called Mimi’s Medical Mishaps.
I never suspected the foods I was eating could help me heal or make me hurt.
By now I ate fish and salads and bagels with tuna. My morning breakfast consisted of a bowl of oatmeal, topped with a banana and berries. And even though I also had developed insomnia, I still drank black coffee. I thought I ate well.
Since the age of 10, I’ve fantasized about having a flat stomach. And now it was even more huge and I felt like crap.
I became obsessed with trying to figure out what was wrong. I was bloated and in discomfort for about six months.
During that time, I visited a gastroenterologist who performed a double whammy endoscopy and colonoscopy. I had cameras inserted into both ends of me. They found a few polyps which they removed. But the tests were negative. I was no closer to knowing what the hell was happening to my body.
I bought two large encyclopedias on alternative medicine and began looking up my symptoms. I read about the protein “gluten” found in wheat and learned about candidiasis, an overgrowth of yeast. I suspected that the accident had caused my hormones to go out of whack and had fatigued my adrenals. The antibiotics I had to take during my bout with a lung infection had ruined my gut flora. Maybe it was all related—holistic health rather than all compartmentalized?
Fortunately I found an amazing Naturopath (ND) named Dr. Lisa Fillis, and together we embarked on my journey back to health. She ordered tests and indeed concluded that I was allergic to gluten, along with a host of other things like egg whites, walnuts, dairy, sugar cane, and more.
I was gluten sensitive. And I also had a leaky gut, which meant my intestinal lining had become porous. As a result larger, undigested food molecules and other “bad stuff” like yeast, toxins, and all other forms of waste were flowing freely into my bloodstream.
I went on a strict candida diet—in addition to the wheat, sugar cane, and dairy I had already eliminated from my diet, I stayed away from fruits, starchy vegetables, and grains like rice. I experienced colonics.
That summer, I got a manual wheat grass machine and pressed juice every day. To this day, I can’t think of wheat grass without gagging. I took E3 Live which helped reduce inflammation and helped turn fog into focus.
I started taking marshmallow root and glutamine to restore the lining in intestines, natural progesterone to balance my hormones, tryptophan for sleep, adrenal supplements, and probiotics. For breakfast I eventually developed HoneyColony’s Organic Weight Loss Smoothie. And began taking what is today my five must have supplements pack.
I became fascinated with nutrition and health, and read several books. I found myself helping folks in the supplement aisle at the health food store.
Today, I am gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free. I weigh 109 pounds and have so for years. I start my day with the superfood smoothie, and eat lots of raw foods and lean organic fish. I occasionally eat grass-fed bison meat and I stay away from grains except brown rice, which doesn’t seem to bother me. I indulge in raw cacao bars and raw deserts. I eat plenty of organic coconut oil and don’t believe that avocados, olive oil, or nuts will make me fat. I eat plenty of superfoods.
I exercise at least five times a week. As a devoted yogi, I practice Modo, which is a hot yoga that hails from Canada, as well as spin and hike.
I am more fit today at 41 then at 21. I believe you will not get fat if you exercise and eat clean whole foods free of processed ingredients and chemicals. I am an advocate for a toxic-free, clean food supply, and believe that each person can take health into his or her own hands through clean food and diet. Peter, eat your heart out.