Anne Lotte Molenaar (32) was born with Spina Bifida, and leads a predominantly wheelchair-bound, sedentary, existence ever since with all the health hazards that come with it. She gained a lot of weight, was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), had (like so many wheelchair users) IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and chronic bowel problems. And she was very retreated into her shell. Since she made the transition to the low fat, whole foods plant based eating plan for wheelchair users (The Sit Smart Diet & eating Plan), it’s all different now.
I had both severe constipation and diarrhea , just at different times.
Anne Lotte participated in the Sit Smart Eating Challenge because she was very well aware of the fact that she was obese. “I really thought: shit, I’m at high risk for developing diabetes and heart disease; I need to make a change. But I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own. Thanks to the support of Annemarie’s AM Lifestyle Medicine Center team and the other participants it was easier. It was a unique opportunity for me to get a healthier lifestyle and a higher quality of life.”
Losing weight without exercising
Anne Lotte can’t grasp the fact that, in all those years, there had never been a rehabilitation doctor who warned her of obesity and other common secondary complications of a wheelchair-bound life – or a dietitian who was able to to give her information about healthy dietary choices for wheelchair users. “During the Sit Smart Challenge I learned all sorts of things that I did not know and wish I had learned earlier in life. Like that it wás actually possible for me to lose weight – even without exercising”.
Understanding my body better
What Anne Lotte particularly likes about The Sit Smart Diet is that it not only provides knowledge about nutrition, but also insight into how fundamentally different her body works as a wheelchair user. “I got knowledge about my body and learned what the health risks are of a wheelchair-bound life. What happens at the metabolic level. What the influence of a wheelchair life is on your hormone balance. Which foods you should eat – or better minimze or avoid.”
Connecting the dots
Because Anne Lotte learned how her body works, and what the influence of certain foods are, she was more motivated to change her lifestyle than ever. “I now connected the dots. I now understood the direct connections between what I ate and how I felt (and how I looked). Like for instance, my bowel problems and what I ate. I suffered from constipation, or diarrhea (something that many wheelchair users will identify themselves with), sharp abdominal pain and severe cramps in my stomach. That is all a thing of the past now “.
I now have knowledge about my body, and what the health risks are of a wheelchair-bound life and how to combat them with healthy food.
Anne Lotte wouldn’t call herself a super disciplined person. “Discipline has always been one of my main weaknesses. That’s why I have an agreement with my husband now. If he wants “non-Sit Smart treats”, he takes it upstairs. Because when it is on the table, I am the first to eat it. I do not have that self-control yet. For me it is therefore better to follow the Sit Smart Diet & Eating Plan as “autistic” as possible”.
Support from the Sit Smart Diet Face Book Group
Fortunately, there is a lot of support from the other participants at the Sit Smart Diet group on Facebook, where experiences can be exchanged. “If you’re having a hard time, are feeling discouraged and could use a little push in the back and some new motivation, you let the other group-members know so they can help you. Everyone’s story in the group is unique, but our struggle is not. That’s comforting and extremely encouraging”.
A healthy pregnancy
Anne Lotte also has an extra ‘gigantic’ motivation: she desperately wants to become a mom. “My husband and I want a family. Up ’til now that was not possible, because the obesity literally got in the way and I developed PCOS. And of course you want to get through the pregnancy in a healthy way and also give birth to a healthy child. That is my biggest motivation right now, a healthy pregnancy”.
I’m feeling so much more comfortable in my own skin.
More comfortable in her own skin
But not for the moment. First Anne Lotte wants to become even healthier. “I feel so much better and alive since I adapted the Sit Smart lifestyle, I’m feeling so much more comfortable in my own skin. I’m finally able to get actually rid of the excess pounds with this low glycemic, whole foods plant based eating plan. It also means that I feel more confident about going out. Because since I sarted eating healthier, I have much more control over my bowels and suffer less from accidental bowelleakage, constipation and stomach pain.”
Healthy and happy aging
In the beginning she found it quite difficult to really make the transition to Sit Smart eating. “But, on the other hand, I immediately felt the change in my energy and my belly. am someone who usually quickly falls back into old routines and bad eating habits. But this lifestyle is so amazing, and makes so much sense, that I always pick it up again. I hope this lifestyle will enable me to see my family grow up, and age healthy and happily”.