‘THE TRUTH HIT HOME: I WAS BE­YOND MOR­BIDLY OBESE, AND SLOWLY KILLING MY­SELF.’

When Es­ther Möller re­alised how fast her health was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, she made a dras­tic change. Now she’s an LCHF lifestyle ad­vo­cate and am­bas­sador.

LOSE IT! - - Contents -

The hard­hit­ting re­al­i­sa­tion that changed Es­ther Möller’s life

‘As a lit­tle girl grow­ing up on a farm in the Over­berg I was very ac­tive. I didn’t re­ally ex­pe­ri­ence any health prob­lems ex­cept for very sen­si­tive skin. It was at board­ing school in my teens that I re­alised I tend to pick up weight faster than oth­ers. My fam­ily mem­bers al­ways point out that I take af­ter my grand­mother, who was over­weight most of her life. This made me self-con­scious about my weight.

Dur­ing my var­sity years my weight in­creased even more and I started to bat­tle with my self­im­age. I tried all sorts of weight­loss meth­ods. I joined clubs and gyms, los­ing a few ki­los then pick­ing up the weight – and more – again. In my late thir­ties I de­cided to make peace with my body – I even started to love the skin I was in – and my weight in­creased steadily.

My “Da­m­as­cus mo­ment” came in Novem­ber 2014. I al­most landed up in hospi­tal, com­pletely burnt out, af­ter an event I’d or­gan­ised. I saw pho­tos of my­self at the event… I looked so bloated and washed out. The truth hit home: I was be­yond mor­bidly obese, and slowly killing my­self. I was fool­ing my­self by not tak­ing note of what was hap­pen­ing. I didn’t even own a scale but my health was go­ing down­hill so fast I came to the scary re­al­i­sa­tion that I might never reach old age. There and then I de­cided I had to do some­thing.

I’d al­ways seen my­self as quite healthy as I don’t visit the doc­tor much but, with hind­sight, I re­alise how metabol­i­cally chal­lenged I re­ally was. I de­vel­oped hy­per­ten­sion about 15 years ago, fol­lowed by chronic wa­ter re­ten­tion, with swollen feet and an­kles. I also suf­fered ter­ri­bly from acid reflux and gout, and de­vel­oped se­vere eczema on my neck and face, and arthri­tis in my joints. Even­tu­ally I was pre­scribed a hand­ful of chronic med­i­ca­tions, which I had to take ev­ery day. The eczema got so bad, I needed pow­er­ful an­tibi­otics.

Then one of my friends men­tioned on Facebook that she was los­ing weight de­spite en­joy­ing creamy cap­puc­ci­nos. I thought: “How is that even re­motely pos­si­ble?” She said Bant­ing was

‘I feel at least 10 to 15 years younger. I now weigh what I weighed in high school!’

chang­ing her life, which made me sit up and take note. I knew noth­ing about Bant­ing or Pro­fes­sor Noakes. I had only heard that it was con­tro­ver­sial. So I read as much as I could on the topic, and slowly the penny dropped.

I started to ap­ply the LCHF prin­ci­ples and soon re­alised that I could make this a way of life. I love keep­ing life sim­ple – I’m not into weigh­ing food and cal­cu­lat­ing carbs or calo­ries – so this suited me. I used a carb calculator app on my phone for about a week to get the hang of it, and af­ter that I just fol­lowed the ba­sics. It worked!

We’ve been led to be­lieve that we can’t ex­ist with­out six to eight por­tions of carbs a day. I bought into that and ended up sick and mor­bidly obese. Yes, I en­joyed the white starches but I al­ways be­lieved that eat­ing whole­wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, and legumes was the healthy thing to do. As a mother I chose the “health­ier” op­tions for my fam­ily. If only I’d known! The mo­ment you re­alise that carbs are not an es­sen­tial macronu­tri­ent, life gets so much eas­ier.

I didn’t go cold turkey on carbs at first as I didn’t yet fully un­der­stand the LCHF lifestyle. By about two to three months in I’d cut the sugar in my cof­fee to only half a tea­spoon, and I thought: “Who the heck are you fool­ing?” Since then, I haven’t been able to stand its overly sweet taste. Starches and grains have also lost their ap­peal. I re­duced my bread in­take dra­mat­i­cally, and when I did eat it I suf­fered from lower ab­dom­i­nal pains and re­mained bloated for a cou­ple of days. Cut­ting grains and legumes was just more sooth­ing to my gut. I didn’t even miss them; I en­joyed my fatty bil­tong, streaky ba­con, ma­cadamia nuts, pork crack­ling and creamy cof­fees way more and didn’t suf­fer any con­se­quences

from eat­ing them – apart from the weight melt­ing off.

You have a harder time cop­ing with the peo­ple who in­sist you have the cake they feel un­com­fort­able eat­ing in front of you. The power lies in the space be­tween your ears. The mo­ment you un­der­stand the laws of nu­tri­tion as ex­plained in LCHF terms, you’ll be hooked. Most peo­ple start the LCHF lifestyle in a quest to lose weight, but you even­tu­ally re­alise how ben­e­fi­cial it is all round.

Within four to six months I was liv­ing LCHF with­out giv­ing it any con­scious thought. It came as nat­u­rally as my high-carb lifestyle of the past 45-odd years. The se­cret, though, is to con­trol your en­vi­ron­ment. Never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of carb ad­dic­tion.

At a con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mate I’ve lost at least 44kg. I re­fused to weigh my­self be­fore, so it’s hard to pin­point it ex­actly. I wore a tight size 48/24 be­fore start­ing, and am cur­rently be­tween sizes 38 and 40/14 and 16. Af­ter about two months my clothes felt looser but it was only af­ter about four months that other peo­ple started notic­ing a dif­fer­ence.

I feel at least 10 to 15 years younger! I now weigh what I weighed in high school. I have much more energy, I got rid of the most ter­ri­ble brain fog – my fo­cus is clear – and I have much more stamina and en­durance. I dropped all my chronic medicines less than a year af­ter start­ing LCHF.

Re­cently I rein­tro­duced some carbs, and my hy­per­ten­sion, ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, eczema and arthri­tis flared up again. I also picked up 4kg but soon af­ter re­turn­ing to the ba­sic LCHF prin­ci­ples I lost 2kg. I now know I will never be able to en­joy carbs safely and I’m not will­ing to com­pro­mise my health any fur­ther.

My fam­ily didn’t have much of a choice but my cook­ing hasn’t changed. I just don’t in­clude starches, thick­en­ers, sauces and the pro­cessed stuff. We love stews, grilled chicken and meat, lasagna and piz­zas. The break­fasts are the best! I have found al­ter­na­tives for some favourites and I bake only on spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

It’s not an ex­pen­sive lifestyle. We save money as we usu­ally buy fat­tier cuts of meat. We don’t do pro­cessed food at all and tend to eat only two meals a day. This way of eat­ing keeps you full for longer. Our spe­cial treats are choco­late mousse or a straw­berry smoothie made from dou­ble cream yo­ghurt. We use xyl­i­tol as a sweet­ener and 500g lasts at least six weeks!

My fam­ily mem­bers were a bit scep­ti­cal at first but when they saw the re­sults they re­alised that this was not a fad. To­gether, my hus­band, my eldest daugh­ter and I have lost close to 90kg so far. My par­ents and both sis­ters have also changed their life­styles. Our suc­cess has in­spired col­leagues, friends and even strangers through so­cial me­dia. Liv­ing in a small town, it doesn’t pass un­no­ticed. We’re used to peo­ple in the su­per­mar­ket aisles voic­ing their amaze­ment at our weight loss.

My daugh­ter Mariska had been mor­bidly obese since child­hood. I was wor­ried about her health and felt com­pletely helpless. She’s al­ways been bul­lied and ridiculed for her ap­pear­ance and that broke our hearts, but she was in­spired by my trans­for­ma­tion. Slowly the weight be­gan melt­ing off her. It was amaz­ing to see my first­born trans­form­ing into a beau­ti­ful, con­fi­dent young wo­man. We now know that her health was im­pacted to a greater ex­tent than mine by eat­ing carbs. She is com­pletely carb in­tol­er­ant and ex­pe­ri­ences se­vere symp­toms when she rein­tro­duces sugar, starches and grains. I now know why we’ve al­ways strug­gled with her health.

I’m a re­cov­er­ing “car­bo­holic”. In my opin­ion, sugar ad­dic­tion is very real. I know the ef­fect it has on my mind. Af­ter fail­ing sev­eral times I also know how strong crav­ings can get af­ter in­dulging in a “cheat” treat. It’s sim­i­lar to the ex­pe­ri­ence of a re­ha­bil­i­tated al­co­holic – one sip and every­thing goes down­hill. I be­lieve that carb ad­dic­tion also needs the ac­knowl­edge­ment we’ve given to al­co­hol and drug ad­dic­tion. We need of­fi­cial pro­grammes to as­sist suf­fer­ers. Our so­ci­ety is be­com­ing crip­pled by di­a­betes and meta­bolic syn­drome and it all starts with in­sulin re­sis­tance. We’re set­ting up our loved ones from con­cep­tion. Sugar and carbs need to be stig­ma­tised as ad­dic­tive sub­stances in the same way al­co­hol, drugs and nico­tine are. Peo­ple need to be con­fronted by warn­ings on food pack­ag­ing. Cur­rently we’re en­cour­ag­ing them to en­joy their ad­dic­tion through our of­fi­cial di­etary guide­lines and the way food is mar­keted. We lov­ingly feed our fam­i­lies drugs on a plate!’

I now weigh what I weighed in high school. I have much more energy, I got rid of the most ter­ri­ble brain fog – my fo­cus is clear – and I have much more stamina and en­durance.

ES­THER BE­FORE

FAR LEFT: ES­THER USED TO BE A ‘TIGHT’ SIZE 48. NOW SHE WEARS SIZE 38–40. LEFT: WITH HER HUS­BAND RAS, BE­FORE THEIR LCHF JOUR­NEY.

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