"Kusina" = Kitchen; "Manang" = older sister

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Lost Weight and Gained Back My Health!

This is #1 post on this topic.

Back in May of 2011, I weighed 137 lbs.  I would be lying if I say I felt great and that I thought I looked great at my age (I am now 43).  On the contrary, during that time, I was starting to get depressed, because not only did I feel awful, I also knew I looked awful -- my face was getting rounder, my belly was not only fat but also bloated,  and my ankles were swollen (not just fat, but EDEMATOUS - the kind that gets dented when pressed with finger then slowly would spring back up).  My feeling awful was not only emotional, but also physical --- I was having IBS symptoms, gassiness/flatulence (kinda embarrassing when I was at work if I could not control it!), joint aches (especially my right shoulder, knees and lower back), migraine attacks that were getting more frequent (up to once every two weeks I was starting to get paranoid that I might have brain tumor), tenderness on my scalp that I would notice every time I would shampoo my hair, easily getting tired...and I was thinking..."So this is how it is to grow older..."

I attributed all those symptoms to aging.  Well, with the exception of the IBS symptoms which I attributed to my recent uses of strong antibiotics for some infections I had the past year...

But I also was thinking, I wanted to lose weight...at least that would make me look better and somehow lift up my self-esteem.

However, I hate counting calories. I have always believed that eating should not have to be that complicated. I also tried exercising before...I just am more interested in other things than exercise for half an hour on the treadmill or the elliptical.

Somehow, in my browsing of books on amazon, I encountered "The Harcombe Diet: Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight " by Zoe Harcombe and read the reviews...I was intrigued.  There was THD that was men, which was written in the simplest direct-to-the-point way, because the author knew how men are...(insightful author!).  I got the THD for Men because it was cheaper and shorter, and I wanted to see the gist of the rationale, and the plan if it was something doable for me. When I was convinced, I got the THD meant for women. I was quite skeptical about the rationale, but I knew I could do at least Phase 1: 5 days only of no carbs/sugar/bread or caffeine or vinegary pickles or legumes or dairy.  Think about the typical Pinoy meal without the rice. And no merienda either (which usually meant breads or kakanin).

There was a warning by the author of possible withdrawal symptoms, so she suggested to start Phase 1 on the weekend, so that the remaining days of Phase 1 will only touch 2 days of the work week.

Two days before my full plunge, I eliminated the soda, and had a slice of bread then some rice the next day, but no other carbs, no coffee, no milk. I already lost two pounds on those days. That got me excited! I really wanted to lose weight, at least 10 pounds, hopefully 20.

So when I took the full plunge into phase 1 (which I timed to coincide with a long time off work), I experienced the withdrawal symptoms on the first 2 days: severe headaches (probably due to caffeine withdrawal) that lasted a full day despite taking analgesics, and a very upset stomach, which made me stick to liquid diet (broths) on my second day, which I had three times since the plan included three meals without snacks. I made sure my broths had some meat and fats/oils to count as a full meal. Those withdrawal symptoms alone would have been enough to stop me (I was basically bedridden on those two days, except when I had to eat), but I was losing 1 pound daily, and I was excited to continue at least to complete phase 1!

I had no more withdrawal symptoms on the 3rd day.

However, while the author said that sleep would become better in quality, my sleep during those days were not enough---I was too excited feeling with my hands the shrinking of my belly fat while lying in bed, and too excited to get up in the morning and weigh myself...My self-esteem was quickly being restored!

By the end of Phase 1, I had lost more than 10 pounds total (counting the two days prior to my full plunge).

So I continued on Phase 2, but it was harder to follow (can't have carbs with fat meals), and I found it easier to do Phase 1 with occasional cheating.  So it is, in reality, a jump to Phase 3.

Did I say I only wanted to lose weight (and the associated swelling)?

I also noted better bowel patterns. No more bloatedness.  No more gassiness (which I had always thought was something I got in my genes from my father! In restrospect, it was more like part of  how wheat affects me. More on that later.) My joint aches were gone as well.  The swelling on my ankles and the tenderness on my scalp were also gone.  My cravings for sweets were gone. My sugar swings were also gone (I used to have shaky hands mid-morning as a sign of hypoglycemia, for which I would reach for something like a muffin and a soda as a bridge to lunch). I also noted improvement in my skin. I was physically and emotionally feeling better...and I looked better!  Even my husband noticed it, and was tickled at my weight loss.

The best part was, I ate a lot, did not count calories, and did not exercise!

I wish I had taken a before and after pic. But I am usually the photographer, and I hate taking pictures of myself. I only have these photos for comparison, but the 2009, although I was fat then, I don't know really how much I weighed, and I know that my weight of 137+ lbs in May 2011 prior to the THD was worse than depicted in my 2009 photo, and I felt horrible. (Looking back now, after I read several other books, I realize now that my body was inflamed almost everywhere! More on that later.) The 2011 photo above was me at 127 lbs (the lowest I reached since being on the diet was 120, but right now I hover in the 125s, because of the sweet treats I have been having since the Holidays.)

AS a side note, I have friends on fb who tried this THD and lost weight as well, as much as 30 lbs, and have kept the weight off!

The weight loss and improvement in my overall health made me look again at the author's rationale as to why we have cravings (and consequently gain weight), and her plan of attacking the problem (which starts with Candida die-off, which I helped not only by starving the Candida but also eating more probiotics like fermented veggies and Kefir milk instead of the yogurt the author was recommending).  Stepping back to look at what I actually was eating when I started THD, it all boiled down to REAL FOOD, and LOW-CARB, HIGH-FAT diet coupled with probiotics.  The inclusion of raw milk (probiotic) and kefir milk or full-fat yogurt (also probiotic) in my diet was something I deduced would be okay to keep winning the fight against Candida after I lost most of the weight I wanted to lose. For the initial phase, my probiotic source was sauerkraut and low-fat yogurt.

After losing symptoms I wrongly attributed to aging, and now feeling 20 years younger (and even better than I did then!), I sought more explanations as to what was going on.  What were in those "foods" I eliminated in my diet that gave me those symptoms? What were they doing to my body?

I began to investigate other views by other authors, this time, including those in the medical/science fields. And these books will be the focus of my next post on this topic.

(will continue...)


  1. thanks for the post.i think that There are many weight loss diets that promise to give you a slimmer figure in no time, but very few of these diets allow you to drink your way to becoming thinner. A Liquid Diet restricts what you consume to mostly liquids or all liquids. These diets are commonplace in the medical field, as they allow patients to prepare for surgical procedures that call for little to no food in the intestines and recover from surgery until they can digest food normally. For those looking to loose weight, a liquid diet can help you control the amount of calories you take in each day.

  2. Congratulations on your weight loss Manang Doc! You look great! I am going for the lean meat, fruit & veggies and whole grains diet. I haven't been a milk drinker and yoghourt eater but I realized that calcium is better taken from natural food than in pill form.

    1. KK, Thanks! Fats are important,especially when consuming salads (to help in absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K) but get the good fats (avoid highly processed ones and those that use GMOs like soybean and canola oils). Go for grass-fed meat (see these scientific publications http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20807460 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20219103); same goes for milk from grass-fed cows (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7905466 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18922179). DO NOT GO LOW FAT! That has been the mistake of the US food pyramid. Whole grains also has their pitfalls, which you can avoid by pre-soaking them before consumption; otherwise, they bother your thyroid hormones, and wreak havoc to your intestinal walls in time (that's what happened to me) and cause the leaky gut syndrome, which can lead to autoimmune issues later on. I get raw milk and yogurt mainly for the probiotics (search pubmed on research/studies on probiotics and you will find a lot of them many dating as recent as 2013, all good!). I do get the whole milk due to the benefits of the fats (especially when raw and from grass-fed cows). I can easily get calcium from bone broth, but vit D is something needed for calcium metabolism, and it is absorbed if dissolved in fats.

    2. Also, metabolic syndrome has its very root from glucose metabolism gone haywire due to too much carb load in our body, since the US food pyramid sanctions high carb low fat. I was pre-diabetic before. I avoided that by increasing fat (as energy source) and decreasing carbs (get them mainly from veggies, and if I do get them from high-GI sources, I minimize my consumption).

  3. Manang,

    Pwede bang pa share ng contents ng book? kahit yung info and instructions lang every phase. I searched online and found phase 1 sa women's harcombe diet. if you can scan pages and post the photo dito sa blog mo. I could not find an e-book I can download for free.Pwede din yung sa men's as I want my husband to try it too. I would really appreciate and be grateful for it when you get the chance and if not, okay lang din and no worries. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Thanks.


    1. Olivia, are you on fb? Send me a friend request if you can. By law, I cannot scan and post pages of the book without permission from the author, or else I would go to jail.

    2. Pwede rin po bang mkhingi ng kopya? Tumaba po ako ng halos 40lbs :( maraming salmat po.


    3. Sandy, look for me on fb and send me a friend request. I will PM you a condensed version of the phases list of foods.

  4. manang, ngayon ko lang nabasa ito~ i mean i know everything about your THD journey but reading it in this manner is much better...the comparisons...the aches and everything. my grandma is only 70+ but couldnt walk without getting hurt.. sabi nga nya, dala ng katandaan! namana sa nanay nya! wtf. i dont believe it. it angers her when doctors ask her to lose a bit of weight and she'd go fasting for 3 days. then eat junk again when her anger subsides. she's not really heay, but has a bit of weight she could lose. if only doctors explained to her in detail that technically it's the food choices, she may have taken the advice better. she pops so many pills for her heart. if only it was easier to explain. hay.

  5. Honestly, you look very hot at both pictures of you then and now. You don't have to worry a thing. Very hot and beautiful!!!

    1. Thanks, Anonymous! What a boost to my self-esteem! Haha!

  6. Hi Manang,

    I am amazed by you. I am overweight and struggling to loose weight I had gained a lot after giving birth to triplets... I want to start my diet it will be nice if you can share the pahse 1. Thanks Ley

  7. How did you you got ibs? Cause i think i have ibs too.. All of my lab and blood test were negative, i did endoscopy, ct scan, mri and xray and came back normal

    1. I think it was from the imbalance of good vs bad gut microbes. More of the bad thrived in my gut at the time (due to poor food choices -- too much carbs fed them bad bugs), which weakened my gut lining and led to inflammatory changes in my gut that gave me IBS symptoms. Not diagnosed; I was just basing on my symptoms. If you think you have IBS, but no positive diagnostic results, just try to change your diet. Low carb high fat lots of veggies with probiotics works best for me. Good luck!


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