When I started my weight loss journey with Plexus, I lost 14.5 pounds in the first two weeks. I was thrilled, needless to say. I had never seen such amazing results. I was actually happy to have any results at all. I knew I couldn’t (and shouldn’t and wouldn’t) sustain that rate of weight loss for long, but I hoped for at least at 1-2 pounds a week. It did for a little while, then it pretty much stopped. If I hadn’t been feeling so much better in other areas—such as joint, back and neck pain; improved moods; more energy; and just a generally fantastic sense of well-being—I probably would have decided that the product didn’t work for me, and I would have quit. But besides those reasons for hanging on, I really did believe in the product. I had seen far too many other people getting the results I wanted, I had friends and loved ones taking the product and I didn’t want them to quit because of me, but that scale just wouldn’t budge. Not long after I got stuck, I learned about ProBio 5 and BioCleanse, and I had heard that many people would find themselves stuck until they got their gut health back in order. So I added those products, too, and I waited. Some more weight came off, and then I got stuck again. Why didn’t I quit then? Because the BioCleanse was nothing short of a miracle for me. I had tried so many over-the-counter cleanses, laxatives, and even prescription medications, but my colon was sluggish, and the BioCleanse was working. No way was I going to part with it! But I still really wanted, and needed to lose weight!
So I started researching, and no matter which angle I took in my searching, “food allergies” kept coming up. Specifically, gluten. Well, that’s just great. Cheeseburgers were my favorite food, and cheeseburger buns are bread, therefore, they have gluten. How in the world will I LIVE without gluten? It’s in everything! Well, that’s another blog, and I’ll get to that soon enough. Today, I want to tell you how I figured out which foods were making me sick and overweight. Armed with just a couple months’ research at the time, a limited budget, and an extremely busy life, I set out on my own amateur elimination diet. I didn’t know the words “elimination diet,” I just knew that I needed to figure this out. So I improvised, and I cut my food intake down to salads, watermelon (it was summer, after all), and grapes. And water, water, water with lemon and lime. My thought was to get my food list down to the bare minimum, then start adding foods back in one at a time to see what each one was doing to me.
The first thing I noticed is that my belly deflated like a balloon. I had been distended for so long, I didn’t think it would ever go back, really. So that was a huge deal to me because it represented another piece of me getting back to normal. Then I noticed my abdominal pain stopped. It didn’t just get better—it stopped. Putting two and two together, I figured out real quick that food was causing my bloat and my pain. Now, to find out which foods.
After some time, I reintroduced gluten. It was obvious. My belly bloated and the pain returned … that old, familiar pain I used to get every time I ate. It took some work to eliminate gluten completely. I did lots of label reading and learned to make substitutions, but I am now 100% gluten-free. And I know that even a flake off a crumb of a crouton can cause me to bloat right back up and have that pain again. Just to be sure, I tested this thoroughly on Thanksgiving by enjoying all the rolls I wanted. My pain level on a scale of 1-10? About a 7. That used to be my normal. I’m happy to say that it is no more.
After a while, I started tracking my calories again and realized I was way under my calorie goal, so I’d struggle to the finish line every night and try to fill up on anything but gluten to hit my calorie goal. By doing this and gradually reintroducing foods in the process, I found other foods were causing me similar problems. Certain beans do not agree with me. Certain types and quantities of cheese do not agree with me. Same thing with meats—it depends on the type and the quantity. So I made adjustments accordingly and researched some more. I learned that when one is gluten sensitive, the body may transpose and react to other foods as if they were gluten. In other words, the brain can trigger that same response to foods that contain no gluten whatsoever. This isn’t true for everyone who is sensitive to gluten, but it is for some. (It’s also a pretty fair indicator that you could be dealing with leaky gut, which is, in the most simple of terms, a damaged digestive tract that allows undigested foods, bacteria, and other waste to enter into the bloodstream and launch an autoimmune response.) Casein (a protein in milk) is a common offender, as are whey and chocolate, which brings me to my “death by chocolate” story.
An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse
One night in January, I asked my husband to go to the store and get me some chocolate. I was in the mood for chocolate and saw no reason not to treat myself. So I had two candy bars, and on came the chest pain within 15 minutes. This chest pain, mind you, has sent me to the hospital more than once. I’ve had angiograms more than once. Stress tests, cardiac enzymes checked … they could only tell me that nothing was wrong with my heart. And I really didn’t believe them because when you have crushing chest pain and it’s just like the textbooks describe and you like Marlon Brando clutching his test right before he died in the tomato plants at the end of The Godfather, it’s hard to believe you’re not having a heart attack. But there it was … brought on by a chocolate bar. Okay, two chocolate bars, but that’s neither here nor there. It hurt! And as I was waiting for the pain to go away, I realized how similar the pain was to how I usually felt after I ate. And it all started to click: I have a really sick gut! Weight loss or no weight loss, I’ve got to figure out how to heal this!
So I kept researching, and I learned about leaky gut. I learned that leaky gut is caused by years of intestinal damage brought on by poor gut health, and that it causes the body to attack itself. Aha! That’s what was causing my elevated SED rate, chronic inflammation, and the undiagnosed autoimmune disease I’d been battling for the last five years (not for nothing, I realized I’d been battling the extra weight for the same length of time). More pieces came together.
Probably too late to say “long story short,” but here’s what I hope your takeaway from all this is: I was an amateur armed only with Google search, a little basic info, and my symptoms to go on. Out of that, I came up with a facsimile of an elimination diet, which I now see was fully flawed in the foods that I chose, but nonetheless, I was able to pinpoint what certain foods do to my body. And like putting your hand on a hot stove, eventually you learn what you don’t want to do anymore. To me, that was far more convicting than any diet plan or Cosmo article. Now where does Plexus fit into all of this? Plain and simple: Plexus Slim gave me the energy, the mental clarity, the blood glucose management, and the appetite control needed to be able to pull that off. Being a sugar-rollercoaster-rider for years, there was no way I could have done it without that tool to help me manage my hunger and my cravings. The ProBio 5 and the BioCleanse were like little scrubbing bubbles “doing the work so I didn’t have to” before I even formulated my plan. In my case, there was enough wrong with my insides that there was work that only I could do. Plexus had done all it could without my help, and I was happy to have it along for the ride so I could do the rest.
Come On—Do I Have To?
Considering all the other dangers and toxins we hear about that are looming in our food supply, I think it’s smart for anyone and everyone to do an elimination diet at least once, especially if you feel like your body is doing some alien thing that you can’t figure out. Though that may sound extreme, ask yourself this question: If you could do something for just 23 days, and then learn what you need to know to infuse the rest of your life with energy, health, and freedom from obesity and pain (and other very real health issues, such as diabetes), wouldn’t that 23-day experiment be worth it? Think about it: 23 sort of difficult days in exchange for a lifetime of feeling better than you’ve felt in years, or maybe ever?
If you have fungal infections (athlete’s foot, nail fungus), chronic fatigue, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, autoimmune disease, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, skin issues, mood changes, allergies, more severe allergies, joint pain, strong cravings for sugars and refined carbs, along with extra weight that you cannot get under control with the usual methods, or the methods that used to work for you, then you’ve got to consider the possibility that you have food sensitivities, candida yeast overgrowth, or leaky gut—or all of those things. There are tests that your doctor can perform, but the tests won’t tell you how each food makes you feel or how your body responds. Only you and your body can do that. So if you’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, I really should do this, but I just don’t see myself pulling it off,” let me tell you … If I could do it, anyone can do it. I’ll say it again … I couldn’t do it without my Plexus Slim, so if you’re already using Plexus, great! Your secret weapon is already locked and loaded. If you’re not, consider getting a 30-day supply to get you through the 23 days. It will certainly make things easier.
So where do you start with an elimination diet? First, you put on your ninja suit … just kidding. I’ll make this as simple as possible because, if you’re going to give up most of the foods you’re used to for 23 days, then we can at least make it simple, right? So here goes …
Make a List of Your Symptoms
Write it all down. Everything. Every physical and mental symptom you can think of. Gas, bloating, allergies, skin problems, joint pain, swelling, fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression … Start at the top of your body and work your way down, one organ and process at a time, making sure you write down every single thing. And start with a brand-new notebook or Word document so you can journal throughout the 23 days and beyond as you notice any change in symptoms.
Read Labels for a Few Days Before You Kick Things Off
Get to know the ingredients in the foods that you’re eating. Imagine my shock when we were low on groceries one day, and I started to have a can of tomato soup thinking there was no way gluten would be in there. Well, it was. So start reading labels so that you can eliminate anything that contains wheat, barley, rye, and oats and anything derived from wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Search Google for whole foods that are gluten-free that you like and will actually eat and make your own food list. Google for recipes using those foods that you like. You’re looking to eliminate gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and oats), dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, and alcohol. Really? Alcohol, too? Yep. Sorry, but we have to be thorough or what’s the point? Some alcohol has gluten in it and some does not, but you will still need to take a break from it because the sugar in alcohol makes a cozy little haven for the gnarly bacteria in your gut to thrive on and do all kinds of crazy stuff.
Learn What You CAN Eat
The majority of your food while you’re on the elimination diet will consist of vegetables—aim for 70%. The other 30% should be protein. Your grocery list should look something like this: wild fish, shellfish, lean beef and chicken (preferably organic, grass-fed), avocados, white beans, black beans, brown beans, green beans, yellow beans, red beans (I’m trying to say all beans), nuts, seeds, seaweeds, and it’s also a really great time to learn to love quinoa, the gluten-free grain. Use olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil for food preparation, and enjoy fresh greens to your heart’s content. (Caveat: Mix up your greens and choose dark ones as much as possible; too much iceberg lettuce is known to make you gassy, which is no fun to discover at the office after an all-you-can-eat salad bar extravaganza for lunch). During this 23 days, avoid processed foods like the plague. What do I mean by processed foods? If it didn’t sprout up out of the ground, and it’s not beef, chicken, or fish, try to leave it alone. A word about “gluten-free” packaged foods: gluten-free cereals, breads, and chips still contain refined carbs and calories, so take it easy and skip them as much as possible. And, of course, oatmeal is out. Sorry about that. I was bummed about that, too.
When Your 23 Days is Up
Fast-forward through the weirdest, but hopefully some of the most interesting, 23 days of your life, and you’re done! Now what? Well, the really great news is that you will have spent 21 days teaching yourself new eating, shopping, and cooking habits (Yay YOU!!), but the point of the 23 days is that the antibodies in your immune system will have had time to recover from any of the foods that were assaulting it before you started the elimination diet. Now, you’ll introduce foods one at a time. Start with gluten. Or dairy. Or whatever you want. Just choose one, though, and try it out. Give yourself up to 48 hours to see how that goes (although in my case, it never took me more than 30 minutes to say, “Yep, you’re outta here!” or “Safe!”) But 48 hours is a commonly suggested time frame for deciding how your body is going to react before you choose the next food to reintroduce. And each time you reintroduce a food, refer to that list of symptoms you made before you started, and compare how many symptoms went away during the elimination diet, and see how many, if any, reappear as you reintroduce each food.
Congratulations! What Have You Learned?
Is your belly flatter? Does your skin and hair look crazy healthy? Have you been in a better mood? How’s your sleep? Your energy? Your body functions? How’s your mojo? Pain—what pain? You now have a guest list in your hand, and you are your body’s personal bouncer. Who’s welcome to the party, and who isn’t? It’s that simple! Now, go out and enjoy your life as a healthier, slimmer, more vibrant you!
Oh, and p.s.: This really does work. It’s how I got my weight loss really going again. As of today, I have passed the 40-pound mark, I’m closing in on 50 pounds, and I will make the full 80. Yes! I’ll be wearing shorts this summer. No more sweats in July. Just me, my pink drink, my flip flops, and some really cute summer clothes. Maybe even on a beach in Maui! Aloha!