‘I LOST 32KG AND RAN A HALF MARATHON’
LIVING (AND LOVING) LCHF, SHARON VAN WYK IS HEALTHIER THAN EVER.
How living LCHF changed Sharon van Wyk’s life
‘ Istruggled with infertility and recurring miscarriages from the age of 30 until 2009 we adpoted our daughter. I was 37. The years of infertility treatment and depression had taken their toll on my weight and my health – I tipped the scales at 118kg.
In the previous 10 years, I had tried every diet known to mankind. I’d spent a fortune on schedule 5 diet pills, diet shakes, dieticians and every crazy fad diet imaginable. Nothing worked. I’d lose a couple of kilos, but be hungry and miserable the entire time – and then fall off the wagon spectacularly, gaining the precious few kilos lost... and more. I saw a registered dietician for about a year and lost 8kg by eating low fat. But I was completely miserable and it wasn’t sustainable so I put it all back on. I craved the foods I knew I wasn’t allowed. In addition, during the course of our infertility journey, I had routine blood tests that showed that I was insulin resistant.
I’m an older mom – we adopted our second daughter just before I turned 41 – so I was very concerned about my ballooning weight and its effect on my health. I want to see my girls grow up. Aside from insulin resistance, I’ve also had issues with high blood pressure and cholesterol,
and my HDL levels have always been dangerously low; presumably the effect of years of a low-fat/ fat-free diet.
Then my best friend lost 22kg by banting. Her sister needed a kidney and, even though she had lost weight on a low-fat diet, she was rejected as a donor because there was still a lot of fat around her liver. But when she started banting, the fat around her organs vanished. That’s what really convinced me. I did worry initially about the link between cholesterol and fat in the diet, but my fear was unfounded: my cholesterol is completely normal.
My husband and I officially started LCHF in January last year. I won’t lie; it was difficult to get my head around the concept in the beginning. I was terrified of doing further damage to my health, but so excited by the results. In the first month, I lost 8.8kg and almost immediately started to notice differences in my health
and wellbeing. My IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) vanished almost overnight, my knees and feet were pain-free for the first time in years, I didn’t feel sleepy or lethargic all day and had no mid-afternoon slumps. And I started sleeping better, having been a terrible sleeper almost all my life. Almost 11 months into banting, I’d reached 86kg, having lost a total of 32kg. I’m tall, so my goal is to get to between 75 and 77kg. At 176cm, that would put my BMI (flawed as that may be) at around 24.
My husband has also lost in excess of 30kg. His starting weight was 127kg and he now weighs around 94kg. He’s also seen drastic improvements in his overall health; most notably, the debilitating headaches that he suffered from almost his entire adult life are gone!
With banting, even after a small plate of food, I feel as if I’ve eaten something substantial; I feel satisfied. We eat simple foods; lots of vegetables, salads, eggs and a small portion of meat at most meals.
The first few weeks are really tough because you have to break that sugar addiction. I didn’t realise that I was completely addicted to sugar until I started banting. At first I also struggled with dizziness and cramps, but I stuck with it and I feel healthier than ever before. For the first month we didn’t cheat once; we went completely cold turkey. When we’d been into it for 30 days, we went to a concert where the choice of foods was really limited. So we landed up eating burgers and chips and chocolates and I can honestly say none of it tasted as nice as I remembered it tasting. Even while I was eating the chocolate, I thought, ‘I don’t know why I’m eating this. It’s not nice.’ The next day my IBS flared up. My cravings have now virtually disappeared. If I feel like something sweet, I have a teaspoon of macadamia nut butter – but that rarely happens now.
Aside from my drastically decreased waistline, I started running in April because my energy levels had improved and the pain in my body had vanished. Thanks to banting, I completed my first half marathon – the Soweto marathon. I’ve seen a huge number of changes in my body and general health since I started eating LCHF, a lot of them I never expected: • My insulin resistance is stable
• My blood pressure is down to 120/75
• Improved PMS and menstrual cycles
• Improved skin; the acid bumps that covered my arms are gone, and my cracked heels and feet have healed
• No more excess bile production
• No more IBS
• No more insomnia
• No more body pain
• It’s very odd, but I don’t have cellulite anymore!
• No more colds and flu – I’ve not been sick all winter
• No stomach cramps
To others out there who are considering banting, ignore everything you’ve ever learnt about diet and nutrition! Just go for it; you will be amazed. Get the books, join all the online forums and support groups – these are great. It’s life changing. I will never look back.