After I completed my Master’s degree, I went to Texas A&M to work on a PhD in neurotoxicology. It was then that I made a decision to get some weight off. I had two baby nephews that I wanted to run and play with, and I wanted to be the “cool” aunt. That just wasn’t going to happen while weighing 300 pounds, and so, I started “dieting”. The diets I tried over the next eight years were: Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach, low-fat, low-calorie (500 – 1000 calories), Dallas Diet, Richard Simmons Deal-a-Meal, Susan Powter’s Stop the Insanity, Jenny Craig, The Zone, Nutrisystem, Beverly Hills, grapefruit, Slim-Fast. I also hired personal trainers and worked out with them three days a week for the entire eight years, as well as doing a yoga class, a Pilates class, a Zumba class, and a kick-boxing class weekly. At the end of that eight year PhD program, I was on the “right track”, and I had lost a WHOPPING 40 POUNDS!!!! Wait, what?!? After all of that, I was only down to 260 pounds. REALLY???? How could I work out that hard and eat that “healthy” for 8 YEARS and only lose 40 pounds?? WHAT WAS GOING ON??!!
At this point, I was beginning a career as a toxicological scientist. Up until now, it had never occurred to me that the “experts” and the “peer-reviewed research” and the “recommendations” of the FDA, EPA, USDA, and other “leaders” in the health and fitness industry – just might be WRONG. As a human health risk assessment consultant who worked as an expert witness in litigation, I was able to see first-hand that two highly educated and qualified scientists could read the exact same research studies and come to completely different conclusions. Not only did they reach different conclusions, they believed their own conclusion so deeply that they were willing to get on the stand and swear an oath to God and country that their “evidenced-based opinion” was truth!!! Ding, ding, ding!!! I realized that everything, or at least a good portion of what I currently “knew” about health, fat loss, and exercise could be WRONG! That is when I said to myself, “Girl, you ARE the expert. You don’t have four science degrees and a PhD for nothing. Get out there, do some research, use yourself as a lab rat, and figure out what the heck is going on.”