The first time that I lost the baby weight was in 2012. I had just finished having two little boys in 2 years. I was ready to feel like myself again. After beginning to read about exercise, diet and nutrition in a few places I came across Mark Hyman’s book, Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss. I had heard that our bodies naturally want to hold onto weight and body fat as a survival mechanism but I also knew that women were supposed to lose the baby weight that we gain during pregnancy.
His book promised to explain how to work with our bodies, give them the right food to manage food allergies, to detox your system, and to lose weight. I waded through all of the science and technical chapters, and started researching and buying some of the clean foods he recommended for the diet, such as this Brown Rice Protein Powder and this Flax and Borage Oil. When I’ve revisited the diet, those were the only special ingredients I bought – for the smoothie. Otherwise you just buy more/different produce, meat and grains. Exercise is not a significant part of the diet but he does recommend walking a few times a week. However you can follow this diet and lose the baby weight without exercising. (The second time I lost the baby weight I did learn about a lot about exercise, including how to set up your own home gym.)
The UltraSimple Diet
Then I also discovered that he had written a simpler book, focusing on the details of the diet, called The UltraSimple Diet. I got a copy of this book to keep long term and gave Ultrametabolism to my dad. In the UltraSimple Diet you do a really strict whole-foods diet for 7 days, and then begin to add back in healthy foods one kind at a time.
My favorite thing about this diet is that you basically eat the same thing every day. I’ve seen so many promising-sounding diets that I started to learn about and I was honestly just turned off by the ones where you have to try so many different new recipes. It’s just too much to add to my life at once. I know they are trying to keep it interesting, but for me, if I can figure out 2-3 new recipes and get a 7 day diet out of that learning curve, and it works – that is what makes me happy, and why this is the diet I come back to when I’m trying to lose weight again – in this case, the baby weight from my fourth and final boy.
Back to the diet: you eat fresh vegetables, fish, chicken, legumes, brown rice, nuts, noncitrus fruits, fresh vegetable broth. This diet is unique in that it cuts out typically healthy food that cause some people problems, so you eliminate common allergenic foods in addition to sugary and processed foods. You don’t eat sugar, artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits or juices, yeast, dairy products, eggs, gluten, corn, beef, pork, lamb
Over Memorial Day weekend that year I went on a camping trip with my husband, our two little boys and some good friends. (Total side note: never go camping on that weekend, our target campsite filled up and we had to go to a private one that was full of obnoxious noisy (read: drunk) campers. First and last time staying at a private campground.)
But we really did have a great time in the Outer Banks. And then I got home and looked at our photos from the trip and suddenly all I could see was how much heavier I was. I had sort of been trying to lose weight for a few months, with really slow progress. All I could think was “this isn’t me” and “I’m not that person”, “I’m not going to live life like this”. I finished gathering the ingredients I needed, I prepped some vegetables and bought others to make the homemade broth. The day after the last item came in the mail from vitacost, I started.
A Day on the Diet
Wake up and journal (he has a few questions you answer every morning, to help you reflect on the process, and to learn to listen to your body)
Lemon juice and hot water; green tea; smoothie (he calls it an UltraShake)
Vegetable broth for morning snack
Sauteed vegetables with brown rice; some berries; UltraShake if you’re still hungry
Rest for 30 min or take a walk
Sauteed vegetables with brown rice; fish or chicken or tofu or beans
Journal; take a bath (this actually important, see below)
Hardest. Thing. Ever.
In the book he says to take a week before the diet to eliminate sugar, processed food, caffeine, and alcohol from your diet. I mostly did that. The hardest one for me was sugar (and chocolate). But I was desperate for a change, so I did it.
I drank the homemade vegetable broth. Most of it. To make it I had bought funny looking and sounding vegetables that I had never noticed in the grocery store before, much less purchased and brought home to cut up and bowl in a big pot. I bought turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, kale, chard, daikon and winter squash. You basically boil them with other more familiar ingredients such as onion, carrots, cabbage, seaweed, garlic, and mushrooms. Boil them for an hour, strain the vegetables out, store the broth in a glass container in the fridge and drink 3-4 cups a day.
I drank it for a few days. Then I gave the rest to my mother-in-law to try. Then I tried some organic boxed vegetable broth which he says in the book is much inferior but better than nothing, and then the last day I gave up on the broth and ate the other snack alternatives – carrots and hummus, leftovers, nuts and seeds.
Why It Worked
This is where I can testify to the diet strategy of investing time and money and picking a date to start and end, and telling people. Okay, maybe that is 3 strategies. I had invested time reading the book and prepping ingredients, and a little extra money from our food budget on some special ingredients, so I figure I’d better see it through for at least 7 days.
I also think the novelty of the ingredients and the process was helpful. While I got tired of the taste of the broth and fairly unhappy about it, I think mostly I was just going through sugar withdrawal, and following the details of the diet actually gave me something to think about, to occupy myself. By the time I had figured out the diet and was forming an opinion about it, I had almost made it through the week.
The funniest thing to me looking back is that I started a little list of what food I really missed, and it was mostly healthy: things like honey, dark chocolate, oatmeal, oranges. So after the week was up I added back in those first. You’re supposed to add gluten and dairy back in first, each a couple of days at a time, so you can identify anything that is bothering you, but I could already tell I didn’t have any food allergies or sensitivities. I think my main ailment was my sweet tooth.
Over the years I have become less and less addicted to sugar, but I still find myself having seasons where I know I am eating for emotional reasons, or eating sugar for the sugar high, and usually only when I’m lonely or stressed.
So the diet worked, and I was elated. I lost a few pounds the first week and then 1 pound a week for several weeks afterward. Then my weight loss started to plateau and I had to mix it up a bit in a few ways, but Dr. Hyman’s book was the primary influence in my weight loss that summer.
I refrained from processed and sugary foods and added back in most of the whole foods, watching my portion size. From June through November I lost 20 lbs, getting back to within a few pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight from before my first son. Whenever I needed a boost I would go back to a less strict version of the diet for a few days, but I never made the UltraBroth again. (But I might try it again in the fall of 2017, stay tuned! lol)
The Best Part
Okay, so I almost forgot to mention the third part of the diet. You’re supposed to take a bath. Yes, you heard me. Go on this diet and you can take a bath every other night and tell your husband it’s an important part of the new diet you’re trying for the week.
But seriously, he describes the “UltraBath” as a “key component” of the program. You add Epsom salt, baking soda and lavender essential oil to hot water, and soak for 20 minutes. This relaxes your nervous system, lowers the cortisol (stress hormone) in your system, helps you detox, and enhances your sleep afterward. He says the increased circulation and heart rate even serve as a passive form of exercise.
Looking back on this now, after years of attempting to lose weight with varying degrees of success in certain seasons, I think I can say that stress is a definite factor that can interfere with your efforts. Whenever you are making a serious weight loss push, you should think in terms of managing three aspects of your life, not just two: nutrition, diet and stress.
Back in the here and now – 2017
I’m doing all right losing the baby weight this year. I’m incorporating a lot more exercise than the last time I followed this diet specifically and strictly. But I feel like I need a boost, and I don’t like how much processed food I end up eating and I need some structure that will reset my palate and keep me away from sugar.
I think I’m going to try The UltraSimple Diet again when the boys go back to school in the fall. It’s too hard to do it with them home. Anyone want to join me?
If you want to learn more, I highly recommend the book:,The UltraSimple Diet by Mark Hyman.
Once you are ready to incorporate exercise, here is how to set up your own home gym on a budget.
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