I’m pleased to introduce to you my little brother, Mark Randall Shields, MEd, LPC, CRAADC, ATR Project Director, Division of Behavioral Health, Missouri Department of Mental Health. We come from the same metabolic makeup that makes weight gain when one eats sugar and bread really easy. He has lost over 100 pounds and looks awesome.
He and I stumbled upon similar diets in that we don’t eat sugar. He attacks it somewhat differently but we both arrived at the same place of knowing how to be free from the pull of sugar. He understood he was a sugar addict when he decided to eat one piece of bread pudding with rum sauce at Christmas and couldn’t stay away until it was all gone. Here’s his story.
I’m a person in recovery from an eating disorder. Because I’m in recovery I’ve lost over 100 pounds in the last six years. I am at the lowest weight I have been in at least 30 years. I now run three miles every other day for exercise and run 5K races with family and friends for fun (28:28 pr). I can run and play with my seven grandchildren. I have enough energy to tackle home improvement projects on the weekends and evenings.
I have been following a low glycemic index diet plan for the past year and a half and have been completely sugar-free for the past six months. I finally have a healthy stable relationship with food. I am more in control of what I eat and how much I eat. I still have cravings, but less frequent and I don’t give in. Advertising companies receive billions of dollars to try and make me crave their foods.
I’m in recovery from a food addiction. Just like other addictions, I’m better off if I completely avoid the foods I am addicted to. Lucky for me some smart people came up with a simple diet plan that helped me classify which foods I should probably leave alone. The Duke Lipid Clinic Low Glycemic Index diet plan is a one page document with three columns of food: low, moderate and high glycemic index foods.
The instructions I was given a year and a half ago were simple. Try to eat mostly food in the low column, occasionally you can eat from the moderate column and mostly avoid the foods in the high column. Eventually I fine-tuned my list of foods to avoid.
For the most part the foods to avoid are high carb items that I know will trigger intense cravings that I will have difficulty controlling. Cookies, candy, cakes, pies, doughnuts, potatoes, French fries, pasta, most bread.
I have added a few items that are supposed to be low glycemic index food, but from experience I know I do not eat them in moderation. Peanuts and natural no-sugar added peanut butter are foods I’m better off avoiding. Click HERE for a link to the list similar to the one I was given.
Six years ago when I was close to 300 pounds I desperately wanted to lose weight and get fit. I had been trying every diet that came along. Nothing seemed like a permanent solution. I remember thinking I’ll lose X amount of weight and then I can stop dieting. Needless to say with that thinking error I always put the weight back on and usually I gained even more.
I remember nine years ago thinking to myself maybe I will never be able to lose weight maybe I will just die early of a weight induced heart attack. I knew my body could not sustain this amount of weight. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and gout. Now that I am 100 pounds lighter I realize the colds and coughs I couldn’t get rid of and other health problems were weight-induced.
Eventually, a grandchild came into my life and I was granted an abundance of time. As my relationship with this new life grew, so did my desire to be healthy. At about two years of age Drevyn bluntly told me I needed to lose my “fat belly”.
I started thinking about all the milestones in his life I would miss if I didn’t get myself healthy. Watching him grow up, graduate high school, become an adult, having a family of his own. Mostly, I didn’t want to put him through the death of a grandparent at an early age.
It’s odd where you find the motivation. I mean I have a great loving relationship with my wife. I have kids and a career, but the first grandchild coming along focused my motivation. I now have seven times the motivation with seven grandchildren. In recovery life looks much brighter. There is much more to live for than just grandchildren.
My wife, who is also my best friend, has more to do with my recovery and weight loss than any other person except me. When we first started dating about 12 years ago I had been biking and lifting weights and was somewhat physically fit at about 245 pounds.
Susan is a great cook. She does not share my food addiction and has always maintained a healthy weight. As I slowly gained 50 pounds she continued to love me and never really complained about my weight. The closest she came to complaining was just verbalizing her concern that I might die of a heart attack.
Every time I wanted to start a new diet she was right there with me, cooking and following the new diet with me. She would lose weight on whatever new diet I tried. I would lose and then gain it back.
When I brought the low glycemic Index diet back from a doctor visit she was immediately on board and started preparing meals following this plan. I remember being a little frustrated. She had much less to lose, but lost more than I did in the first month or two. The difference is she does not have a food addiction and the Low Glycemic Index diet plan’s high focus on vegetables and non-processed foods was closer to the way she always ate.
Susan has always been much more adventurous than I when it comes to food. She would love to try a new food every day and try a new restaurant every week. I looked to food for comfort not adventure; therefore I was comfortable in my meat/potatoes/bread/ dessert rut.
When Susan is away from home for work for a week, I realize I don’t eat as healthy as when she is here. Even though she always loved me as I was, being with her makes me want to be a better person. She is my weight loss and fitness cheerleader.
I have challenged myself to try new vegetables and surprisingly some foods I have avoided all my life I discovered I really like. To break out of the old comfort food rut you have to develop new attitudes and relationships with food. The universe rewards action, therefore sometimes the first step is just trying a new vegetable.
Then you can set a goal of trying a new low glycemic food each week. In a year or year and a half I have transitioned to a new way of eating and a new way of thinking about food.
Just think if I hadn’t gone on this diet, I might never have met Titus Randall Shields who has pretty much mine and my son’s same name. Life is way better being able to not just watch, but participate in his and all my other grandchildren’s lives as well as enjoy my own. Way better.
Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.