Updated January 25, 2018
My name is Fran Myers. I am 54 years old. For most of my life I have been at least overweight and Severely Morbidly Obese three times. I have tortured myself with hunger. I have done all liquid, prepackaged meals, pills, exercise, hypnosis, juicing, etc. At times, I lost significant weight but could never maintain the loss. I felt like I was starving to death while gaining weight. In 2001, at the time of my Bariatric Surgery – I weighed 465 pounds.
2014 started a particularly dark time in my life. At best self-esteem was extremely low. I couldn’t do basic self-care easily. I was angry at life. Every day was filled with pain, shame, and things I couldn’t do. I started attending an eating disorder program.
In Feb 2017, my Doctor referred me to a new weight-loss program. Turns out it was the same place I had my Bariatric Surgery 16 years before. The appointment started great. The Doctor was attentive, had read my 30-page questionnaire before I got there, and I really felt she was on my side. At the 40-minute point she got up and left. When she came back she apologized for the sudden departure and asked if I would consider another surgery. I felt kind of silly asking for another surgery but I would do anything. Good she said.
The next hour was spent explaining how the Vertical Banded Gastroplasty (VBG) procedure I had was discontinued shortly after my surgery because of the side effects. The doctor explained that patients who received VBG surgery went one of two ways – either terribly underweight or like myself, gain everything back. Then I heard Gall Bladder death, Kidney Stones, Hemorrhoids, and a few other things go directly back to the VBG. I was both shocked and happy. Happy because the weight gain wasn’t totally my fault.
My emotions swung to rage the next day when I started watching the required bariatric surgery educational video. It went through the different procedures, after care, follow up program, and all the things that shouldn’t happen after bariatric surgery. I nearly went crazy because most of those side effects were happening to me daily. My RAGE would have gotten completely out of control except 5 days later, after going to the Urgent Care for another round of kidney stones – I was told about a 15cm kidney tumor. Funny how rage can disappear…
Things happened very fast. At one point, I thought I was walking dead. Then within 3 weeks my kidney was gone and I was cancer free. Despite emerging from the kidney slightly, the tumor hadn’t spread outside the fat envelope surrounding the organ. Having cancer is a rollercoaster of emotions. I guess this is one time being obese worked in my favor.
In April 2017, my pre-weight-loss surgery appointments began. It seems silly, but because I already had a surgery and was suffering, I thought I wouldn’t have to go through all the requirements again. Nope. I had to prove myself worthy for surgery and get in line. The new challenges were my insurance didn’t want to pay and the hospital didn’t take cash…not only did I have to complete every step but I had extra tests. Seeds of anger sprouted when the Sleep Apnea Specialist prescribed a CPAP machine because he wouldn’t believe a negative test on someone my size. Then the Psychologist said I had to be on anti-depressants before she’d approve surgery. I didn’t think I was depressed.
Despite being desperate to lose weight, I didn’t know what to do. Having dieted so many times and failing…I decided that I was going to do anything to lose weight. However, I decided not to be a leaf on the wind and follow blindly. I would actively participate in decisions. I would be the Captain of my care.
Rage billowed off me like steam in mid-August 2017. After two weeks on anti-depressants I wasn’t sleeping much. My memory and attention span were affected. I did not like the idea of feeling depressed while on anti-depressants. What finally broke me was the memory of a question the surgeon didn’t answer. The question was “What happens if the Insurance won’t pay?” All I got was silence for an answer. I decided I needed to find my own answer.
So I was awake at 3:30am watching YouTube when I found Penn Jillette’s talk about his weight-loss journey. I started thinking about eating nothing but potatoes for two weeks. During that time, I would figure out the next step. All I knew was corn on the cob on day 14. So, on Sept 1, 2017 after not eating anything all day I ate my first two boiled potatoes with nothing on them. I just wanted to see if I could do it. I went to bed thinking I could. When I woke up, I asked – “can I do this for the whole day?” So, I stopped ingesting soda, meat, dairy, eggs, and oil. One of the things I got from Penn was that moderation doesn’t work. That fits me very well.
I can’t lie. It wasn’t easy. I had withdrawal from so many things at once it is hard to describe. I slept a lot and got very grumpy. It was great that my wife was out of town during this time. Even now I don’t know what got me through the first week. I grew to hate potatoes.
On the 4th day of my Potato Adventure, at the height of my withdrawal – my pain went away. Since before 2014 my life was filled with pain. Cancer, abscessed incisions, and incredibly painful ankles, knees, and back. What I noticed first was that I was going up and down the stairs. Normally I dragged myself up the stairs once. If I needed something and I didn’t have it upstairs – I didn’t need it. But here I was going up and down the steps multiple times in a short period of time. No pain.
On the 7th day I was ready to eat roadkill. I was on my way to McDonalds when I thought that I couldn’t quit. So, I went to the grocery store and bought microwave white rice and broccoli. By this time I had discovered ‘The Starch Solution’ and had seen Dr. McDougall talk about the Rice Diet and using salt, soy sauce, and other things to help eat the food. This worked great for me and things got much better.
On day 14, I went to my Doctor. I stepped on the scale and weighed 20 pounds less (exactly 2 weeks before the same scale showed 400 pounds). When I told her what I was doing she said, “Now I have to worry about you becoming diabetic”. I begged her to take blood. I wanted to prove my diet was having positive effects. However, the tests showed LDL spiked, HDL fell, Triglycerides spiked up, and my kidney function spiked in a bad direction. My Doctor said I needed to add oil to my diet to get the triglycerides down. The kidney function test concerned me.
By now I had watched a LOT of Dr. McDougall’s videos. One of the videos said sometimes there are short-term spikes in numbers. I could wait it out, take oil, or exercise. I decided not to add oil to my diet. However, exercise was an issue. I needed something low impact. More movement and breathing. Swimming? Walking? I could do it. I already felt better than I had in years. I could walk more. Heck the Fitbit was already saying I walked twice as much as before and I wasn’t trying. Then I saw a flyer for Tai Chi Chuan.
I have a background in Martial Arts. I hadn’t practiced in 27 years. As it turns out, I missed it like a drowning man misses air. I went from nearly sedentary to going at least 3 times a week. I started Oct 7. Realize…two weeks before my first class I couldn’t get up the stairs in my house without extreme effort and pain. Now I am climbing 2 flights of stairs to work out for 90 minutes.
By the 44th day of the Starch Solution, I had lost 42 pounds. That was Oct 13th. About October 15th I got dizzy and stopped taking my blood pressure pills and called the doctor. My BP was 134/80 and I had not had pills for 2 weeks. She said she wouldn’t prescribe pills with that BP and I have been taken off them. I can’t stop smiling.
I am down approximately 71 pounds on Jan 2, 2018. While still over 300 pounds, I feel better than I have in a long time. Two months after beginning Tai Chi and I started adding other classes. 2 days a week I exercise 3+ hours. There are more classes. As I get stronger and lighter I intend to add them as well.
It is amazing what has happened since starting the WFPB diet. My skin cleared up, my asthma improved, I sleep better, my BO changed. With very regular diarrhea I didn’t think I was constipated but those changes are impressive too. And most shocking thing of all – I have still not had any pain medications since September 1. Even with working out 15 hours a week. I get sore and then I recover before the next day. I haven’t had a recovery time like this in decades.
I can’t call the Starch Solution a diet. I love the food. I am not suffering at all. I eat when I want, as much as I want. Big bowls of mashed potatoes, rice and beans, and oatmeal. I am rarely hungry. Before going WFPB, I measured food by the double cheeseburger. If I didn’t eat every 90-120 minutes I’d get shaky. Now with the starch based diet I can go over 17 hours between meals and not be hungry. All without the weight-loss surgery side effects.
Lastly, I satisfied all the requirements for weight-loss surgery in January 2018. The surgeon wrote a letter to the insurance company. Even with the large weight-loss, they approved. My surgery is Feb 12, 2018. You would think that I wouldn’t need another surgery. The problem is that I am severely limited with the food I eat. So I have made different decisions. Before ‘the Starch Solution’, I had planned on a different weight-loss surgery but now I am going to get my VBG removed so I can be as close to normal as possible.
The rage that started my Starch Solution journey is still there but curiosity is taking its place. I ask questions like: How much weight can I lose? What adventures will I get to complete when I get my size down? I haven’t been this happy or optimistic in a long time.
Thank You Dr. McDougall.