How I Gained Weight, How I Lost it, and How I Keep It Off.

My unwanted weight gain started with two conditions, one genetic, and the other environmental.

Condition Number One: Dopamine Resistance.

I was born with a mutation of the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor. This mutation can be found in hunter gatherer populations, and in the descendants of groups of people who experienced severe prolonged famine. This causes dopamine resistance which shows up as Reward Deficiency Syndrome. I hope you’ll read the article linked above, as it gives incredible insight into a possible causes of so many of the challenges we face as modern humans including, overeating, addiction, attention deficits, and even procrastination.

Condition Numer Two: Insulin Resistance.

Some of my earliest memories are of eczema, regular stomach pain, and nausea. Researchers have known about the connection between glucose intolerance and eczema since the 1920’s. The eczema was bad enough, but when my mother’s doctor told her to put her family on a low cholesterol, low fat diet my symptoms got worse. Instead of just pain and itching, I now had an appetite that was out of control. Worst of all, by age seven I was steadily gaining weight over what would be expected for normal growth.

Fast forward to pregnancy, severe glucose intolerance, and obesity.

When I was pregnant, I failed my glucose tolerance test, and I developed P.I.H.: Pregnancy Induced Hypertension. This resulted in high blood pressure, swelling from water retention, and rapid fat gain. Before I became pregnant, I had been able to maintain a normal weight with cigarettes and diet pils, but I had given those up in order to get ready for a healthy pregnancy. Happily, I had a healthy baby. My son Colin is a wonderful young man age 21. Unfortunately, I remained insulin resistant, glucose intolerant, and I began to experience carbohydrate triggered binge eating.

How I Lost Seventy Pounds.

It took seven years to find the solution to my overeating and overweight conditions, but I was able to do it by learning to manage my Reward Deficiency Syndrome and my insulin resistance/hyper-insulinemia.

Eating and Training.

The first step was to eliminate anything in a bag or box from my eating plan. I call these processed and packaged foods Corporate Carbohydrates. Corporate Carbohydrates are any plant foods that have been modified for profit. These profit modifications usually make them shelf stable, and hard to resist. Modification number one is the addition of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. By eliminating sugar and grains from my diet, and adding a sensible program of resistance and interval training, I was able to stabilize at a healthy weight of 125.

Weight Loss/Maintenance after Menopause.

After age 55, I eliminated more carbohydrates from my nutrition plan. By keeping carbs very low, I am able to keep my weight stable, and my motivation high. I have enormous amounts of energy, I am free of aches, pains, injury, and weakness. If I get down or depressed, I revitalize my faith, spend more time in nature, get more sun and use my light box, and make sure I am nurturing my relationships.

By acting, singing, dancing, drawing, gardening, raising chickens, making music, and volunteering I am able to get happiness from the things I do, instead of blocking sadness with the things I consume.

My complete diet can be found here: Three Day Sugar Detox.

I hope that you will discover the foods that nourish and satisfy you, and the activities that make you happy.

Catherine Gordon

How To Feel Good Again

Good Food and Training Can Help You Enjoy The Simple Things Once More.

When I was a little girl, I rarely wanted to stop playing in order to eat. I would rather play outside in the sandbox or on the swings. On rainy days I didn’t want to leave my dolls or drawing in order to have lunch or dinner. Most of the time, eating was just something I did before learning, living, and playing.

I was a healthy and energetic child, but I do remember having terrible eczema in the Winter, and frequent stomach aches. At some point in my early childhood, my Mother’s doctor had convinced her to stop serving the family so many eggs, and replace them with cold cereal and a children’s vitamin.

I remember how hard it was to get full and satisfied on the new breakfast cereals like Quisp, Trix, and Capn’ Crunch. I used to want two or three bowls, and the Capn’ Crunch would scrape up the roof of my mouth, but I’d keep eating it.

By the time I was eight years old, I was getting more than chubby. In later years I started to have early dental issues, and I was regularly overeating. I just couldn’t seem to get satisfied the way other people could.

About a year ago, I came across an article from the late 1990’s that offered a possible explanation for what was driving my overeating. That article introduced me to Reward Deficiency Syndrome, its causes, and consequences.

This recent article has an excellent description of Reward Deficiency Syndrome:

RDS is the consequence of a difference in the D2 Dopamine receptor. Dopamine controls our feelings of pleasure and reward, and when reward deficiency syndrome is present, the individual doesn’t respond to dopamine as readily. This means that the low does of dopamine that some from completing a simple task or eating a simple healthy meal might not register strongly enough in the brain to make those activities feel worthwhile.

The RDS brain needs a bigger stimulus to get motivated, and sugary starchy foods are especially problematic for people like me who have RDS. The sugar is tempting enough that I’m motivated to seek it out, and the rush I get from eating it makes it incredibly hard to stop. On top of that, the over stimulus of sugar and starchy carbs can de-sensitize the dopamine receptors. There is evidence that dopamine receptors can be harmed by just a two week period of indulgence in highly processed snacks and sweets.

Here is a link to an article for a closer look at sugar’s impact on brain chemistry.

So how can you feel good without sugar or other stimulants like alcohol and nicotine? A simple, whole food, sugar free diet can bring relief from cravings, and a re-connection to non-food activities. A program of resistance training can help manage blood glucose, and reduce the insulin resistance that can also make it harder to respond to dopamine. As dopamine receptors recover, and insulin sensitivity improves, better physical and emotional well being starts a positive feedback cycle. Eating, exercise, and fun combine to create a win, win, win, situation.

You can use the Sugar Freedom Diet on this blog, or simply start to choose Whole Foods from the outside aisles of your grocery store. In addition, 20 minutes of resistance training three times a week, plus time for fun and hobbies like gardening, music, sports, art, or dance can expose you to regular doses of dopamine, and happiness.

Natasha earned her Rally Title. Obedience training is a fun activity for me and my dog.

Our world is full of expensive, time consuming distractions. I encourage you to think about activities that could make you feel like a kid again, and make a little time for them.

Be well, and eat for yourself,