I have been following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating for about nine months now. Like learning any new way of doing anything, it has taken time and effort to figure out how to make it work for me. I wanted to share some of the secrets to success I have learned along the way in my journey so far. Lest you think this implies that I have it all down, rest assured that I do NOT. I am still learning something new every week. I have lost 72 pounds, though, and my clothing is a LOT smaller than it was a year ago. My energy is increased, my body no longer hurts every single day, and I am finding myself doing things I never dreamed I could do again…simple things like walking across uneven ground, squatting to get a pan out of the back of the cabinet and getting back up again, or even enjoying the theater. I have many more pounds and sizes to lose, but this path of food freedom has been so incredibly liberating!
The first secret is BUY THE BOOK. Of course, I am the kind of girl who likes to know why something works. I had read so many books about nutrition, so many articles about fats, about carbohydrates, about eating this way or that way. Trim Healthy Mama was the first book to explain how it all works together and why certain diets work for a while. It was also the only book I have ever read that explained why those diets stop working. I learned about tandem fueling and how the body uses fat and carbohydrates for energy. It was so in line with so many other books and articles I read that I felt like I was reading a compilation of everything else. The difference was THM showed me HOW to implement the WHY. So, if you want to be confused and want to completely wing it…then don’t buy the book. If you are interested in success, bite the bullet and buy the book. It is completely worth the price tag!
Second, don’t try to be perfect. Coming out of legalism and perfectionism has meant that I have had to learn how to give myself grace. This includes when I make a bad food choice, or when I decide to go off plan for a specific meal, or when I eat my fuels too close together. Sometimes it happens. In the past, I would have given up for the rest of the day, week, month or year. Now, I just start over in three hours. If I blow a day, then the next day I start with something deep S, like eggs fried in coconut oil. These grace moments often include special circumstances: last night a friend brought a homemade pound cake and raspberry sauce from her own raspberry bushes to help celebrate the 70th birthday of another friend in our Bible study small group. Of course I had a piece. This morning I was back on plan. Grace is ENOUGH even in how I eat.
Third, get the basics before you go fancy. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is amazing to see how many folks try to assemble all these specialty ingredients before beginning THM. Now, to be fair, I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand because we had been moving in a more healthy direction for quite a while. Almond flour, old fashioned oats, greek yogurt, nuts, stevia….I already used them all to some extent. I concentrated on using recipes from the book and making the meals I already made for my family THM friendly. Admittedly, I love to cook, although I am more a “feed-the-masses” than a “gourmet” kind of cook. To my delight, several of my recipes were already THM friendly…I simply changed the way we ate them. I adapted meals for myself that I did not adapt for my children who need the calories from fat AND carbohydrates. I learned that the main concern was keeping my blood sugar as level as possible and avoiding foods that cause sugar and insulin spikes. I concentrated on learning what made an S, E and FP meal.
S stands for Satisfying. It is made of a protein source, low carbs (no more than 10 net carbs, not counting your non-starchy veggies), and higher fat content. I do not count carbs in my S meals unless I am using something like a Joseph’s pita or lavash bread. I simply keep my carbs low. Breakfast may be two eggs fried in coconut oil. If I am really hungry, I will eat that with a shake made of almond milk, protein powder, plan approved sweetener and a few frozen strawberries or blueberries and some fresh spinach leaves. An S lunch may be a can of tuna made with real mayo and some dill pickles on a Joseph’s pita, or maybe I will whip up some egg salad or even just eat some leftover cheeseburger pie. An S dinner might be chicken thighs coated in almond flour and fried in coconut oil with a side of mashed cauliflower and baked green beans. YUM! Or maybe I am going the pasta route; in that case, I will use spaghetti squash or make lasagna noodles out of eggplant or squash.
E stands for energizing. This meal will have less than 5g of added fat in addition to a very lean protein source and 25-45 net carbs. An E breakfast might be a bowl of steel cut oats topped with fruit, greek yogurt and some sweetener. Or perhaps I will toast two pieces of my fermented wheat bread and eat that with cottage cheese and a piece of fruit. (We are not supposed to eat unfermented or unsprouted wheat products as they can cause a blood sugar spike.) I make a white bean chili that is a perfect E meal. Tonight we had lentil soup, and I ate it with a large salad (with fat free dressing) and a piece of my special toast. Those are just two examples of E dinners. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts lend themselves well to E meals. I eat most of my fruit with my E meals, although I do have some berries in my S meals.
FP stands for Fuel Pull. This is a meal or snack that has a protein source but no significant source of calories from fat or carbs. A FP breakfast could be a large protein shake made with almond milk and some berries and spinach leaves. I love the Chia Tapioca Pudding in the book (on page 234) for a FP breakfast. Cookie Bowl Oatmeal on page 232 is another favorite. FP dinners cause me to get more creative. I love the fuel pull meatloaf in the book…the Handy Man took some to work for his lunch hour the last two days, and both days his co-workers were all groaning with hunger pangs and lamenting his cruelty in having such a delectable-smelling lunch. (And I have to admit it makes me feel good that his co-workers think his wife can really cook!)
The other element of the THM way of eating that was (and still is) challenging for me is making sure I eat every 3-4 hours. I was accustomed to skipping breakfast, often skipping lunch, snacking all afternoon, eating a huge dinner and then snacking all evening. Even if I was eating healthy stuff, I was eating it in the wrong combinations and in the wrong times. This was not friendly to my waistline! I sometimes still find myself not eating breakfast until later…I am a work in progress here.
It seems a lot of ladies complain about the sweeteners on THM. I do not use artificial, lab-created sweeteners like sucrolose and aspartame. I do use stevia, erythritol, and xylitol. I love them…but I did have a major sugar detox before I could enjoy them. My tastes had to change, but once I gave my taste buds time to adjust, it is amazing how much I can enjoy! I had to learn that for me, stevia and chocolate do not pair well. I like my chocolate with xylitol. I have to be careful, though, because xylitol is not at all safe for dogs. Mischief and Snickers can NEVER have any of my xylitol treats. It can cause their blood sugar to drop very quickly and for their organs to go into failure. Humans metabolize xylitol differently, though, and it is safe for us. 🙂
And while we are talking about sugar, let me just warn you now: if you, like I was, are a sugar addict, you WILL have to detox. It lasted about a week for me…and boy did I feel bad in that time frame! Nausea, headache, body aches…I felt like I was getting the flu! Once I got through that, though, I felt so much better. If I overdo it with an off plan cheat, I sometimes can feel it again. It is a great motivation to stay on plan and to show self-control and restraint for those grace moments when I do not stay on plan. I like feeling good!
THM has a list of side effects, as well. You may find that your undergarments begin to fall off you at inopportune times. Some ladies have literally lost their pants! You may find yourself spending money on new clothing because the old things are just too big to take in. You may rediscover (or discover for the first time) the joy of thrift shopping! Your shoes may suddenly become too big. Your wedding ring may need to resized. Your husband may find that you have much more energy…you know…in private. You may find yourself enjoying activities you never thought you would enjoy. Your doctor may scratch her head at how your lab numbers have improved. You may find that you have reversed the steady progression to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. You may even find that you no longer shun the camera. I may or may not have experienced one or more of these side effects.
One of the most special things THM has brought to me are the NSVs…the Non Scale Victories. A non-scale victory is anything that causes you to celebrate, regardless of what the scale says. My scale has not moved in a few weeks. I was starting to feel discouraged. And yet, my pants keep getting looser. I put on a pair of my 26’s the other day…and I realized they were as loose on my as my 32’s were when I finally broke down and bought the 26’s. Today I am comfortably in a size 24 pants. That is four pants sizes lost. I want to lose four more pants sizes…but I am content to wait patiently for my body to continue healing and the weight to come off as I get healthier. This evening, Gladys Mae brought a purple coat out of her room and told me I should try it on. I bought it for her a few years ago–it was a little big on her then, but she can swim in it now. It is marked a Woman Within Large. I skeptically told her there was no way it would fit me. Well, I was wrong. It fits. I was amazed. I will wear it proudly….it is the smallest coat I have owned in a really, really long time.
Pictures from tonight in my daughter’s size Large (Woman Within) Coat:
And just for comparison…a little over a year ago, wearing a Woman Within 4x sweater:
This Trim Healthy Mama thing works. I am so grateful to the two ladies who took time out of their busy lives to write this book. If you made a new year’s resolution to lose weight, come along and see what all the hoopla is about! This really is food freedom…no calorie counting, no worries about limiting fat intake, no worries about going hungry. Results are typical…just go to the Facebook page and check it out yourself! I personally know several women who have lost weight and are maintaining healthy lifestyles because of THM. If I can do this, ANYONE can do it!