All gain, no pain – diary of a mid-life Celiac diagnosis

I never saw it coming – the significant weight gain in the months after I stopped eating gluten (products with wheat, barley and rye ingredients or contamination). So while the pain and life-changing symptoms of Celiac disease subsided, my relief was marred by a swift transition out of my jeans and into sweat pants!

The dietician I consulted following my Celiac diagnosis said that weight gain is common after Celiacs ditch gluten.  Primarily because once the small intestine recovers from the damage caused by gluten, it starts absorbing the food instead of . . . well, you can imagine “instead of!”

In other words, I had become accustomed to eating larger quantities than a healthy body should need in order to maintain or lose weight, as I had been. The “significant” part of the gain was active denial. I was eating healthy foods! I had given up bread, pasta, most desserts and my favorite German comfort foods! I had recently started working out regularly! I couldn’t be gaining weight – it’s not fair! Maybe my personal and family history of thyroid issues caused it!

So it went for 21 months, 30 pounds and a few half-hearted attempts to get the situation under control.

About six weeks ago, I finally tackled head-on the current reality of how my body is wired. I chose to make my wellness a priority to ensure my physical condition can keep up with the active lifestyle I enjoy so much. I intend to be an active, adventurous 100-year-old tomboy! That will only be possible if I am an active, adventurous and healthy 53-year-old.

It’s not rocket science. My renewed commitment to wellness includes an app, food, exercise and support:

MyFitnessPal.com – a free but priceless online and mobile app that tracks calories, exercise and nutritional information. In my opinion, its features and usability are better than a well-know membership program I subscribed to for several months.

Nutrition – in addition to strictly eliminating gluten, I eat very little processed food, choose organic whenever possible and maintain a balance of veggies, protein, fruit and carbs, in about that order of quantities (also tracked by MyFitnessPal). I also consult with Dr. Tom at Spicer Wellness on a regimen of natural supplements that has helped rebalance my body’s systems and give my metabolism a good swift kick-start. And I cook and bake more of my meals myself, so I know exactly what I’m eating and can enjoy the occasional treat.

Exercise – I’ve committed to working out at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Some days it’s a half hour walk or dancing in my living room. At least once a week it’s 30 minutes of Krank Cycle and 60 minutes of Reformer Pilates at Revolution Cycle and Fitness. I work out because it supports my lifestyle, not because I love working out. However, I do like how it makes me feel – strong, in control of my body, sexy and proud that I am in the best physical condition of my adult life.

Support – several of my family members share our wellness successes and challenges and cheer each other on through an email chain. MyFitnessPal also has a social media feature that allows me to add friends, get updates on their progress and comment on them. And my sweetheart consistently supports and participates in my menu and workout choices.

Gaining perspective, not pounds

When I approached my fitness program from the perspective of what I want to GAIN (active lifestyle and feeling good) instead of what I want to LOSE  (extra pounds, tight clothing, etc.) I became much more positive and started thinking about what I could do, instead of what I could not. Seems like such a simple shift in mindset wouldn’t matter much, but the jeans I wore yesterday tell a different story!  I’ll soon be saying “Good-bye sweat pants!”

  • What activities or lifestyle benefits have you gained (or do you want to gain) from wellness priorities?
  • What tips and tools can you share for supporting your wellness program?

I’ve got some tomboy fun to plan and a suitcase to pack – catch you later!

Love, Tomboy Tam

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