My Macrobiotic Weight Loss And Health Journey With Photos From 2011 - 2023

 My Health And Weight Loss Journey - A Brief History

My macrobiotic weight loss and health journey has definitely been a roller coaster ride, with several ups and downs.  After years of trial and error, I am finally realizing my more ideal body weight composition, and restoring the level of health I believe I should have been experiencing all along.  

I believe we ALL ~ with perhaps relatively few exceptions  ~ should be experiencing more vibrant health. Our bodies are designed to thrive given the right conditions.  We just need the right MAP and compass.

My Macrobiotic Weight Loss and Brief Health History

While I still have some deeper healing to do which will take time, I am very encouraged by my current macrobiotic weight loss progress.  My weight as of September 6, 2023 was 96.2 pounds!  (As of September 10, it dipped below 96 pounds, to 95.9.  I'll take it!)

My waist is back to under 25.5 inches; my thighs at the widest part has dropped from 19-19.5 inches at my heaviest to 18 inches.  These changes signify fat loss versus loss of lean body mass, visible in the pictures below.

According to Dr. McDougall's height and weight chart,  the ideal body weight for a 4 foot, eleven inch tall female is 91 pounds.  I can't believe I'm so close!  

In addition to reaching the lightest weight I have been in several years, my macrobiotic weight loss journey has had several additional benefits which I'll outline in the next post.  For the remainder of this post, I share a brief summary of some of my earlier life health issues, and a few photos taken between 2010, which I believe was my lifetime heaviest, through August, 2023.

My macrobiotic weight loss journey is just the beginning.  Much more healing to come!

End of August, 2023

Early Life Health Issues

Although many friends and acquaintances have always regarded me as 'healthy,' I've actually spent a good part of my life focused on healing myself, naturally, without the aid of pharmaceuticals.  I have had many health issues throughout my life, beginning at age 4 with really bad seasonal allergies.  Since then, I've always had sinus issues ~ congestion and/or chronic runny nose.  Additionally, I experienced a myriad of other health issues, including anemia, persistent skin break outs around my chin, digestive disorders, such as bloating, bouts of abdominal pain, and irregular elimination with constipation, to name a few.

At one point in my life, I took several trips to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.  Almost every time, I got really sick with diarrhea, and after one particular trip, some bad shrimp caused me to be sicker than I had ever been.  I got Hepatitis A (food born) and was unable to keep any food down for several days.  I was horribly dehydrated, nauseated, and jaundiced, which didn't immediately show up on my tan skin.  I only noticed that when I got a cut on my arm, the scrape appeared yellow, as opposed to the normal red color of blood.  The whites of my eyes turned yellow too.  Naturally, I lost a lot of weight at this time, whether I needed to, or not.

When I first moved to Aspen, Colorado, I got sick with a high fever, four times during my first year.  I worked in restaurants and catering, in a ski town, with people visiting from around the world.  Bugs traveled fast, and I was especially vulnerable.  I had moved to Aspen shortly after recovering from Hepatitis.  During one of those times that I had a high fever, I was told by the doctor I went to see that had I waited any longer, I would have had a major kidney infection.

I reached a point where I was sick and tired of getting sick.  The Hep A virus took a toll on my liver, and I became much more sensitive to everything I ate and drank.  I read books, and tried different elimination diets and cleanses, including  The Master Cleanse, The Body Ecology Diet, and the 7-Day Diet through the Aspen Wellness Group, organized by Gary Smith, and his wife, Nancy.   I eventually found my way to the local acupuncturist.  

All of these things helped, but I still had lingering issues, which led to my continuing dietary adventures when I met Don in 2010, where my current macrobiotic weight loss and health journey begin.

Paleo Diet - Early 2010 - Fall 2011

When Don and I first met in 2010, he had been following a 'Paleo Diet'.  One of the books I stumbled upon  prior to our meeting, was The Paleo Diet, by Loren Cordain, PhD.  I read through the book while sitting at the book store.  His book was not the first I had read suggesting that carbohydrates, specifically grains and beans, which contain 'anti-nutrients' may be contributing to many common ailments.  

Although I really liked whole grains, and had been vegan / vegetarian at different times in my life, I considered it plausible enough to give it a try, especially as other holistic practitioners had suggested I consume more protein to deal with my reactive hypoglycemic symptoms, and cravings for sweets experienced when waiting too long between meals.   So, when I met Don, I joined him in eating a diet devoid of grains, beans, and legumes, and a few other foods.

While following the Paleo Diet, I inadvertently took in too many calories ~ easy to do when consuming more calorie-dense animal and plant foods.  Despite eating grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, poultry, eggs, and an assortment of greens, veggies, fruits and some nuts, I gained weight.  Actually, I had gotten pretty chunky, weighing in at around 120 pounds, which for my 4 foot, 11 inch frame was quite a lot.  The most I ever weighed.   In fact, that's about 25 pounds ~ or 25 percent more than I currently weigh at 96 pounds!  

My focus on making sure I consumed the 'right foods' blinded me from paying attention to where those foods were showing up on my body.  You would think it was the first time I looked in a mirror when looking at the photos Don had taken of me in a bathing suit (top two photos, below.)   This was my first real wake-up call, especially as our wedding was fast approaching.

The photo on the right shows my lovely 'lower belly kangaroo pouch' as I called it, which stuck out further than my breasts, something I always tried to mask with clothing.  Pretty chunky for my 'petite' frame.

Whole-Foods, Plant-Based / Macrobiotic Diet

Don and I began eating a whole-foods, plant-based macrobiotic diet around August, 2011, after my second and more serious wake-up call, a potential breast cancer scare.  I had excruciatingly tender, lumpy, fatty breasts that were uneven sized.  Don was having prostate issues.  His first wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which put the fear in me.  

We were both familiar with the work of Dr. McDougall, T.Colin Campbell's The China Study, and the success of plant-based, macrobiotic diets with helping people reverse tumors, so we immediately began to reincorporate whole grains, beans and lentils, soy foods, and flax seeds back into our diet.  These were foods we avoided on a paleo diet, but had both consumed at different intervals, prior to our meeting in February, 2010.  By 2010, a lot of misinformation about whole grains and beans and legumes, especially soy foods had taken root in mainstream culture.

Within a few months, my breast condition was completely resolved.  No longer enlarged, fatty, uneven sized, nor lumpy or tender.   Don's prostate issues resolved as well.

Rice Balls with Umeboshi Plum in the center, Tempeh Cutlets & Kale

High Raw, Fruit & Vegetable Diet

About one year later, in October of 2012, I joined a month long, online fruitarian / raw challenge.  Don joined me, and together, we maintained a high-raw, mostly fruit and vegetable diet (free of whole grains and beans) for about 10 - 12 months.  

During this time, I experienced a lot of postural hypertension dizzy spells,  I also had a return of fibrocystic breast tenderness and lumpiness, albeit much milder.  After that, we restored our macrobiotic diet.

Again, within no time, my breast condition resolved.  

While living in Scottsdale, AZ, we had pretty bad allergies every year beginning around February.  

Just prior to my fiftieth birthday, while barely recovered from spring allergy season, I had a chicken pox like outbreak.  My entire torso was covered with red welts, which itched like mad.  I had intense chills and fever as well.  We were still on our high raw diet at the time.

In hindsight, our high raw diet may have triggered an intense discharge, which I'll discuss more in an upcoming post.

Once again, I experienced the bright side of a bad sickness ~ weight loss.

At some point during our five and a half or so years vegan, while reading Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD, we began to emphasize a higher protein whole-foods, plant-based diet, consuming a lot of beans and legumes, tofu, and other plant 'meats' with smaller quantities of whole grains.  

No surprise, we ended up with major gut distress from our high consumption of beans.

Ending Vegan Diet / Beginning of Low-Carb / Keto Diet

Gas, bloating and other digestive issues, and Don's psoriasis have been among the chief complaints we had over the years, which led to our dietary experiments in our continuing quest to restore optimal health, through diet and other natural remedies.  After extended periods of discomfort, we ultimately made the  decision to end our vegan diet in 2017.  

We initially began adding small amounts of lean beef, chicken, fish, and only a few eggs, in lieu of, you guessed it, those 'pesky grains and beans.'  

Soon after we found ourselves experimenting with a very low carbohydrate / ketogenic diet, omitting even more of those (allegedly toxic) oxalate-rich plant foods. 

Initially, I lost several pounds (most people do as water weight from depleted glycogen reserves),  and Don's psoriasis seemed to have improved.  Plus, we had less gas and bloating.   However, it didn't take long before symptoms crept in.  Increased sweets cravings, poor sleep, constipation, increased irritability, and poor mental focus.  And, weight gain.

Don was having bouts of extreme abdominal pain and bloating ~ something he experienced intermittently since young.  He would abstain from food for a couple days until he felt better.  

I developed trigger thumb, where the distal thumb joint would lock up in a flexed position, requiring the use of my other hand to unlock it.  The tendon at the palm was also inflamed.  This lingered for the entire time we were following a low-carb diet.  I definitely knew I did not want to fix it surgically, but wasn't sure what to do, as it was limiting what I could do without being able to fully use my right hand.

Meats & Sweets

Upon reading some articles by the late researcher, Ray Peat, we decided to add fruit and honey back into our diet.  Within weeks, my thumb healed.  It seemed like a miracle.  We began to eat what we dubbed a 'Meats and Sweets' diet, and co-wrote a book by that title.

In retrospect, that was the beginning of our transition back into a whole-foods, plant-based diet.  

By this point, we had experimented with animal-free diets to nearly plant-free ~ with more or less protein, fat and carbs, and diets with, and without whole grains and beans and legumes.  Despite how crazy it may have seemed to outsiders, we were discovering first hand the short and longer-term effects of all these foods on our health, and our ability to achieve and maintain our ideal body composition.

After much self-reflection, we became more aware of several other influences that led to our abandoning our ways as vegans, which I've discussed in part on my YouTube channel, and in my first blog post, Returning Home to Our Hearts.  Don has also shared some of his experiences, here, and on his YouTube channel, and wrote an article, Why People Quit Being Vegan based on a recent study.  Here is an update on his psoriasis since restoring a vegan macrobiotic diet, and his Why I Quit Carnivory video, below.

Restoring a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Vegan Diet

During our initial transition back to a whole-foods, plant-based, vegan diet in 2022, we again began eating more beans and legumes.  We enjoy them.  After years of eating a lower fiber diet, the added fiber seemed to improve my elimination.  Dr. Greger reports that beans and legumes may be the single most important dietary predictor for a long lifespan, and this Harvard Health News Briefs review of recent studies indicates that even an incremental increase in plant protein by 3% can lower risk for premature death by at least 5%.  

Plus, we were still believing that getting around .8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight was the ideal.  That was around 80g of protein daily for myself.   The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is .8g per kg of body weight, which is .36 grams per pound.  According to this online calculator, at my current weight, my body mass index (BMI) is 19.4, and at a low activity level, I only require 1614 calories per day, with only 35 total grams of protein!  Less than half what I had been consuming!

Just to compare, if I plug in my age and weight in 2010 of 47 years, and 120 pounds, my BMI was 24.2, my total caloric requirement was 1818, and total protein requirement was 44 grams.  Per day.  That's all I need, and it is very easy to get much more, even on plant-based diets.  

According to the CDC guidelines, a BMI  between 18.5 - 24.9 is considered a healthy weight.  A BMI of 25 -29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 and above is considered obese.  Under 18.5 is underweight.  I went from being on the upper end to the lower end of what is considered a healthy weight.  

You can read about how excess protein worsened his psoriasis, here.

We were consuming at least one cup per day, and often more of beans and legumes, which includes soy foods.   Not surprisingly, we had resurgence of gas and bloating.  This time, rather than abandon a plant-based diet, we adopted several suggestions discussed in Ayurvedic medicine for reducing, or pacifying our predominantly Vata constitution, namely, less beans, cruciferous vegetables, and cooking with more spices that aid digestion.  (Those with a Vata constitution tend to have constipation or gas, bloating, and other digestive issues more than the other doshas.)  You can see my video about this, below, showing our more 'Vata pacifying' meals ~ that is to say, how we were eating to reduce the 'wind'  and heal our gut rather than once again abandon a vegan diet.

Returning Home to Macrobiotics

In A Macrobiotics Unexpected Gift and Answered Prayer, and Returning Home to My Heart, I share the story about our transition back to a plant-based / vegan diet, then back to a macrobiotic diet, and in My Amazing Macrobiotic Diet Weight Loss, I discuss the main changes I made to my diet which has helped me lose these last 10 stubborn pounds.  

Click here for all Macrobiotics related topics.

Going With The Grain

While Paleo, low-carb, keto, and even at times while vegan, we abstained from, or greatly minimized our consumption of whole grains, and beans, believing the ill-informed notion that anti-nutrients like lectins, phytates, phytoestrogens, gluten and oxalates found in whole grains, beans, nuts, and other plant foods were the source of many of our health issues.  

Even if a small percentage of the population with celiac disease needs to avoid all gluten containing foods, it doesn't mean that gluten, or the wheat varieties grown in the United States is other wise harmful to health.  There are many other confounding factors that may be contributing to the seeming rise in digestive issues and food sensitivities.  Blaming it all on gluten, or how the wheat is hybridized or harvested is short sighted.  For many years, I avoided whole wheat, rice, breads, and grains in general, and ultimately found that healing my digestive problems required a multi-pronged approach, including abstention from all animal foods.  

It turned out that all the grain-based foods I once believed to be the culprit of my digestive problems, and even skin break outs on my chin mentioned earlier, were not.

We keep returning 'home' with a macrobiotic diet, consuming the very foods that many now love to hate.  Each time we add them back, we experience improved energy, better moods, and better sleep. Eating these foods, while abstaining from all animal foods also helped us both recover from ours potentially pre-cancerous health scares, discussed above.

You may enjoy this video of Don and I during a walk at a local park, discussing the fears now circulating around eating some of our native grown products, including whole wheat, which is a super nutritious, and delicious grain.  And why eating more quinoa, and other imported 'super foods' comes at a cost.

More Pictures of My Macrobiotic Weight Loss 

Here are a few more representative photos of my macrobiotic weight loss journey.

In the photos below, pictures on the LEFT were taken early in 2020, prior to relocating back to the Midwest, while still consuming our 'Meats & Sweets' diet of primarily meats, fruit, homemade yogurt, vegetables, and some winter squash.  We were not consuming grains, beans, or legumes at that point.  This was not my heaviest, but it does clearly show a lot more body fat, in my back, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen.

The photos on the RIGHT are from August, 2023, after several months of our more dedicated, healing macrobiotic diet, and around one year whole-foods, plant-based vegan.  

Just 10 pounds of less body fat, which is 10% of my total body weight, makes a huge difference!

2020 (L)  2023 (R)

In the pictures, above, you can see that it appears as though my legs are further apart, with much heavier thighs compared to the photos on the RIGHT, taken at the end of August, 2023.  Below, there is clearly more muscular definition in my abdomen seen in the photo on the right.

There are several underlying imbalances and levels of decline that I am working on, not simply weight loss.  The weight loss is actually indicative of deeper healing happening as the toxic accumulations discharge.   

My approach to healing also involves more than diet.  For example, I have a pelvic tilt and slight curve to my spine, which I address through a daily Macrobiotic Do-In and yoga practice, and our weekly strength training.  These issues are visible in the photos when you know where to look, such as how my arms and shoulders hang when standing, and my right side waist being straighter, the left side having a more natural curve.

I also have a history of liver congestion ~ from too much alcohol when younger; and from the Hepatitis A mentioned above.  

The condition of the liver can be seen in the vertical lines between the eyebrows, in the eyes, and other areas of tenderness on the body.  The tension between my eyes can be quite bothersome.  It has also been a source of self-consciousness as I have often been told how angry I look, or how I should 'fix' that with injections.  (The face never lies!)

Other issues pertaining to the health of my kidneys, circulation, eye health, and elimination are all areas that I continue to work on, and will discuss in greater detail in a separate post analyzing my internal condition through a Chinese medicine / macrobiotic face reading.

The ABOVE photo was taken September / October 2012, around the beginning of our high raw vegan diet 'challenge.'

Below are two photos taken between 2012-2013.  We were in our happy plant-based place. The red mark (which almost seemed like a permanent birth mark) on Don's left side upper nose bridge went away after several months on a fruit heavy, antioxidant-rich, high-raw, vegan diet.


The next several photos were during our earlier days post transitioning to a lower carb diet.  Low-carb diets can be very successful for weight loss in the short-term, however, they have health risks if continued long-term.  

I didn't find a low-carb diet sustainable.  I began to experience cravings for sweets, constipation, less restful sleep, increasing fatigue, diminished memory and recall, and poor recovery post training.  These photos were at my best while low-carb / keto.

The below photo was taken around 2012.  I actually loved that tee-shirt, and sadly gave it away.  I was too insecure to wear it out much, given the 'anti-vegan' rhetoric circulating, which is even more pronounced today relative to 2012.  Plus, it was a fitted black tee.  I lived in a desert.  Not necessarily the best choice when hot outside!

A Few More Photos of My Macrobiotic Weight Loss Journey

The top two photos below were from earlier in 2023, or thereabouts.

The BOTTOM lovely photo of my very  bloated abdomen was taken around 2019, when first adding fruit back after being on a very low-carb / ketogenic diet.  That was fun.  

Sometimes we have to ride out these discomforts in order to achieve better overall health.

Hopefully these photos make it clear enough that I've had fluctuating weight, but more, my fluctuating weight reflected inner imbalances due to diet and lifestyle choices.  The weight is but one sign of the imbalances.  And despite being 'small' or petite, or even having an appearance of being 'little' (all words often used by others to describe me), looks can be deceiving.  Health is the goal, the superficial appearance and all our symptoms are just the signposts as to our level of vitality versus disease.

The health of my mind and body is a top priority.  Having poor health, or chronic disease costs money, takes up a lot of our focus, and limits our freedom of movement, and quality of life.   It puts a strain on personal and shared resources, and family members if and when conditions go south.  

Without having good health, our ability to realize our dreams and Divine purpose may be thwarted, at best, something that pains me even to think about.  For too long, some of my visions or dreams seemed out of reach.  My focus was consumed with managing my day to day affairs with a growing weariness and deep level of fatigue.

I certainly hope my 'exposé' is educational, if not inspiring for others dealing with the challenges of declining energy and health, and stubborn weight gain.

To learn more about the evidence behind the amazing benefits of plant-based diets, grab a FREE copy of Don's highly referenced Powered by Plants E-Book while he works at revising a follow-up edition.

In my next posts, I discuss macrobiotic signs of healing and discharge, including other health improvements I have already enjoyed since restoring a macrobiotic diet, followed by examples of my macrobiotic diet weight loss meals.  Soon after, I plan to write a post discussing George Ohsawa's Seven Levels of Judgement, and more details about the principles of macrobiotics.  Stay tuned for more!

Here are a couple books I recommend referenced above.


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