Jen Jeffrey Billington: Transforming Our Body Begins In The Mind

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - by Jen Jeffrey Billington
Jen after 30 days
Jen after 30 days

As with any diet I have attempted, there was success with the 30 Day program my husband and I did. But this time, there is a difference. This wasn’t a ‘diet’ that would be temporary. We set our mind to the fact that this was not a plan to get off the normal 20 pounds, feel better, and then let it creep back on over the winter. This plan was a guide to help us change our lifestyle – for good.

Thinking about the words ‘for good’ almost has a negative connotation if you are on the other side. The ‘before you begin’ side. The side in which we are controlled by our cravings. When I first heard my niece tell me she was giving up dairy, I thought, “This plan isn’t for me because I could never give up cheese. I felt that I only used cheese lightly, but I used it on many dishes! I liked snacking on a mozzarella stick, I liked covering certain dishes in cheese – how could I (or why would I want to) give it up?

Still holding onto this plan as an option for my desperate situation (feeling awful) I did some research about dairy. I realized that the way God intended our foods, has changed over the last 50 or more years. Chemicals are added and processing is unnatural. Anything we put in our bodies that is unnatural is going to cause our bodies to resist, therefore storing toxins in our fat cells, causing inflammation.

When I thought about the way God intended food to be, I think of food without chemicals. Clean, pure, delicious. We have moved so far away from that as we eat in restaurants and buy groceries. What seems ‘normal’ to us, is actually ‘fake food’.

Y’all are blessed in Chattanooga to have several restaurants serve organic, clean foods. And most of the farmers in Chattanooga practice organic. I loved all that I learned while living there and talking to over 30 farmers in the region who taught me about ‘clean eating’.

We got it wrong when we followed what we deemed as ‘healthy eating’ by choosing salads, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat. It sounds healthy, doesn’t it? But now, we must add the word ‘clean’ and it makes a big difference. Eating healthy, isn’t really healthy if you are eating food with chemicals or food that was raised eating GMO grain. And processed food? That isn’t even food. If it is made in a laboratory – it is fake food, or food-like substance.

I have written about this before when I lived in Chattanooga and learned this from Farmer friends, and from attending a lecture at the Tivoli Theater, given by New York Times Best-Selling Author, Michael Pollan. And even though I practiced eating clean while I was single, once I began writing food reviews and going to various restaurants each week, I moved away from my absolute way of eating and gave into what seemed easier. Then marrying a man who loved his bread and carbohydrates, I didn’t want to ‘try to change him’ because I loved him just the way he was.

But as my love grew, I saw the pain he was in. I experienced pain too. I knew since I truly loved him, I would help him – help us, eat better.

I thought about how desperately we both wanted to not only lose the weight we had put on these last few years, but we wanted to feel our age and not be in pain. We were exhausted all the time, we had joint pain, and we just succumbed to it as if it were normal, at 50.

We were old before our time.

So, the 30 day plan my niece (a Registered Dietitian) had told me about sounded like the way to go. Everything she described about eating ‘clean’ was everything I had already learned and I just had to make the decision of how I wanted to live and what I was willing to do to get there.

This is a follow up on my last article of our progress during the 30 day plan.

The first couple of days as our bodies were detoxing, we did experience a few symptoms. Headache and brief light-headedness was all I experienced and it was only the first few days. My husband had a bit of acne pop up in a few places, and I think he had a headache the first day without coffee, but that was it. We aren’t big babies about it, so this was still tolerable. But mostly because of our attitude.

Even as we were ‘detoxing’, with this 30 day plan, we were filling our bodies with so many healthy nutrients, that the ‘feeling good’ part of this, outweighed any symptoms we experienced the first few days. We still felt good even on day one and we knew we were doing good things for our bodies.

But by day three, we were feeling like Hercules! Compared to the achy, tired bodies we had, we now had energy we couldn’t believe! Just by omitting GMO, Soy, Gluten, Dairy and Refined Sugars. We decided right then that eating organic was eating the way God intended before chemicals were put into the foods He created. This was how we wanted to feel the rest of our lives. Sure, we will get older, but what a difference in feeling this energetic at 50 than feeling like we were already 80.

During the first two weeks, we lost a lot of the inflammation surrounding our organs and tissues and fat cells. I believe we both lost around 12 pounds and then from there we have averaged around 2 pounds a week. On the third week, as our levels changed, we were to add a lemon drink that was an extra detox to rid the metals our bodies don’t recognize or need. Jason loved the drink because it tasted like lemonade. I believe it was a ‘colon cleanse’ maybe, but we didn’t feel ‘emptied out’ or sick, or going to the bathroom a lot, so it was very mild.

By the fourth week, we had already mastered the habit of our new lifestyle, and I had begun switching out household chemical products for organic or plant based ones. From Shampoo, to deodorant and toothpaste, to laundry detergents. I found several products just by searching online and then either finding them in my grocery store or getting them online. And I recently found a plant based hair color/highlighting company to get me totally away from using harmful chemicals on my body (I may look for nail-polish later, but I don’t really wear it).

By the end of our 30 day, we were living completely free of toxic chemicals and eating clean. We lost 14 and 16 pounds. We decided to do another round – maybe even four. Actually, I could do this for the rest of my life. Even if I drop the detox tea or fix drinks, I love the protein shakes and eating clean meals. I just cannot see myself adding back dairy, soy, gluten or refined sugar.

This plan was so easy because it took out all the guess work. Yes, getting prepared to start, I had a lot of list making, label reading and getting to know where and what to buy and what we could eat and not eat, but after that initial prep work, and ridding my pantry and fridge of all the toxic food, it was so easy!

Because we live in a small town that doesn’t host a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, Jason and I have had it harder than most, so if we can do it, anyone can do it. We also are in “Big Ag” country where our farmer’s livelihood depends on their huge crops – using GMO/chemicals. I love our farmers, but they are not yet where Chattanooga farmers are in how they grow. I believe I have learned of two farms so far that are organic in this area, so maybe as I keep searching, I will find more.

We are very flat out in western Kentucky with huge crops of corn, soy, and tobacco - our biggest commodities. It would take more consumers demanding better resources, for it to make it worth the change for these farmers, or education on what the toxins are doing to our body. I cannot fathom any farmer continuing to put poison on or in our food if they knew what it was doing to our health (unless for some, it is about greed over health). It took many years for society to get smart about smoking and I think we are finally catching on – hopefully we will eventually catch on about harmful chemicals.

Luckily in this area, we have Kroger who is ‘going green’ and they offer many new organic products that really help. Walmart also has organic foods, but I have to be careful to really read the labels because some products contain ingredients not allowed on the 30 day, such as gluten or soy.

The idea of this plan is not to restrict pleasure of eating, but the reason we eliminate what we do is because much of these ingredients cause allergies or inflammation. So the idea is to rid our bodies for 30 days of every allergen, and the refined sugars and processed foods. Once you have a totally ‘clean’ system, you can add back dairy or soy or whatever you might miss, to see how it affects your body, but my husband and I do not miss any of it. At all.

Feeling good is worth giving up those pleasure foods, which we do not crave anymore. We are on our second week of another 30 days, and we just love the way we feel and seeing our results. I have lost 18 pounds and 18 inches so far. Jason and I are already talking about clothes we will love wearing again and things we want to do again, because we know we are going to go beyond the usual twenty-pound-loss and giving up on a temporary diet plan.

It’s almost like your mind knows you will go off a diet and return to the ‘treats’ and ‘rewards’ of all the bad foods we loved. And that is why ‘dieting’ is self-defeating. But once we set our minds to knowing those cheats were really cheating our health, we see it all differently now.

Our mind was transformed.

We no longer want refined sugar in our body. My husband was not a ‘sweet-eater” like I was, so he didn’t think sugar was a problem for him. But as we were on this plan, we watched a few Netflix documentaries of clean eating and we have educated ourselves. One of the documentaries showed how the processed foods of breads, crackers, chips, rice, and pastas… all have refined sugar. This was eye-opening for my husband.

Organic cane sugar is not bad for us if limited and you watch your grams, staying below 1 or 2 grams per serving. But in the foods we used to eat, there would be 18 grams or more of sugar in one serving and it was the bad sugars, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, etc. Those send our glycemic index through the roof. So even if Jason wasn’t eating ‘sweets’ he was still addicted to those sugars. And I don’t even want to think about my addiction to them. All the ooey-gooey syrupy desserts I loved.

Now? I cannot imagine even putting that in my body again. Not even once. Not even for a ‘treat’. It only causes addiction, inflammation, and bad habits that keep us unhealthy and feeling our worst. It isn’t worth it to me. That is a life I have thankfully left behind.

If I had chosen to only add some organic food, but still let myself have a few things I wanted, my body would never have achieved what this plan was designed to do. I would never have known how my body feels now and I would probably still crave those bad-for-me things. But my husband and I made a commitment to do it 100% and not half-way. That helped us to stop the cravings and it changed our bodies inside and out. Our taste buds even changed to desire the good, wholesome foods we are eating and enjoying. And now it is easy.

But the proof is in the non-dairy pudding, so I keep a Facebook page called “A Good Work” to record my process. If you would like to know more about the plan, or even just about eating clean or learning to find plant-based products, you can follow me there and ask any questions or send me an email. I love helping others be their best and to bring them out of their fatigue and pain.


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