Why I’m here and why I’ll never go back! (aka My Health Journey)

Dana 9/2011How the heck did this middle-aged Southern girl get here anyway?  I grew up with parents who had both been raised on farms, but I grew up in suburban Charlotte.  I was a typical kid of the 70s and 80s with a (mostly) working mom, and plenty of Fruit Loops, Little Debbies, and Stouffers. But I had these grandparents who loaded us up with fresh vegetables from their gardens all summer long, and canned veggies in the winter months. That probably sparked something in my little heart. I grew up loving fresh vegetables, but never really appreciated their full value & importance until my own children were born. Like so many moms, when that first baby came along, I was all over my books and the internet (although it wasn’t quite the same internet in 1999), looking for information on feeding my baby. That’s when the organic passion started for me, but the passion waned into mere interest as #2 came along and there just wasn’t as much reading time any more. I know many of you can relate. For about 7 years, organic & natural living was a reading interest; enjoyed, but not fully capturing my heart to a level of full implementation. I read and studied, but I knew way more than I applied. The busyness of life with kids, moving, home schooling for 3 years, and ministry life, must have over shadowed my reading I suppose. It’s somewhat of a blur to me, so I can’t say for sure (let’s blame it on the sugar & gluten brain fog). I’m just glad I am more intentional NOW.

In 2010, I had a lot of hip pain (sciatica) and plantar fasciitis. I started seeing a chiropractor, Dr. Tony Hyser, at Providence Health Center. I immediately knew I was “home”. He had a “let’s try natural first” approach to healing, and his incorporation of food & exercise for total health made sense to me. His healthy living classes/seminars were captivating, and I was taking it all in, stirring up all those organic interests I had years before! My little organic light was beginning to shine again.  My hip and foot were feeling so much better (pain is completely gone now) and I was renewing all my old healthy interests. It felt great, there were changes happening, but I was not making huge changes with my food (remember …. j o u r n e y ...) Then it happened.

The event was a contest in spring of 2011. (Yes, a freaking fitness contest! NO, I had never entered a fitness contest before in my entire life!) My husband’s boss at that time created a fitness contest at work (called Best Bod Now) and invited the spouses to participate.  Staff were required to enter,  spouses were voluntary. The incentive was a trip to Aruba and that was enough motivation for me! I went after it full force! We could choose our own diet and our own exercise plan, but we were supposed to log our food and activities into a website journal every day.  I had discussions with my doctor about the “healing diet”, which was essentially a grain and sugar-free diet. I had seen others in his practice achieve great results. He also suggested a raw vegan plan for the first three weeks of the diet, just to drop noticeable weight very quickly (remember, it was a contest!),  so that’s what we did.  Three weeks of raw vegan cleanse, which was literally raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds ONLY, for three weeks.  After the three-weeks, we switched to the Maximized Living Advanced Eating Plan/Healing Diet: sugar and grain free diet, which also limits root/starchy vegetables,  high sugar fruit, and beans.  It encourages organic veg and grass-fed meats. We continued with that diet for the last nine weeks of the contest. During the process, I realized the importance of food journaling. I can’t explain how, but it motivates healthier choices.  I also started the MaxT3 burst training exercise DVD, 6 times per week. We lost about 20 pounds of fat (we gained muscle) each, and although we did not win the contest, we won a whole new life!

After the 12 weeks were over, we just kept going and haven’t stopped since, with a few adjustments for our family. I became so passionate about what we were doing, I wasn’t about to stop! I had NEVER ever been on a “diet” before, and considered this to be a LIFESTYLE change, not a diet. I knew I could keep doing this. We could keep doing this. We had gotten through the (seriously) hardest part, the “hump” of detoxing. And once you get through THAT, it’s so much better on the other side.  I hated cooking before, like literally hated to cook. I could do it, but never enjoyed it. Again, I cannot fully explain why, but once I started learning how to cook truly healthy foods that my family loved, it made me start to love the whole cooking idea! This grain and sugar-free world was brand new to me. No one in our family had food allergies or any health crisis. We were just “coasting along”, gaining the “normal” 40-year-old weight, feeling the “normal” aches and pains of aging. Slowly killing ourselves without even realizing it! Not long after implementing some changes, the way I started feeling and the “things” that were happening to my body were noticeable and exciting!  I started a list of improvements, things I didn’t even know were “wrong” with me before. I thought those (old) things were normal! OH, how wrong I was! My eyes were opening to this new world. It was so thrilling, and I had to share what I was experiencing! I was so encouraged with the results I was getting, by cutting sugar & grains and enjoying exercising for the first time ever. I started to tweet about it as @organiceater. Shortly after that I created the Organic Eater Facebook page, and then the blog.

And here I am today. Applying and implementing the knowledge. Creating the life I know is right for me & my family,  and encouraging you towards health too. I know if I can do this, so can you. Remember, I hated to cook and grew up eating fast food like everyone else.

But this process has changed me, it is changing me. And the “improvements” in my life make it easy to keep doing this. I WANT to do this, and the “sacrifices” are well worth it. The benefits far outweigh those sacrifices.  I think all the elements (food, exercise, sleep, chiropractic, spiritual, environmental) all work in synergy and are ALL important, and ALL contribute in some way to the following list.  Although, I do believe food is probably the main key to these changes.  Here are some of the reasons I’ll never go back to my old ways:

1. weight loss – loss of over 20 pounds, a slow healthy weight loss

2. clean teeth – shocked by this one! I’m past due for a 6 mo checkup as I write, but my teeth are as smooth as the first week after a cleaning.

3. clearer mind, less fog, more energy and feel more positive

4. moods of the entire household are improved

5. hardly ever have a stomach ache anymore, and if I do, I have had some kind of junk food that day

6. clearer sinuses, big time (husband snores a lot less too) Seriously, I can breathe like never before. I had no idea how poorly I was breathing through my nose before this.

7. less (almost never) aches in elbows and joints

8. better *** (since this is a rated G site, I’m leaving that one right there). Just TRUST me. And along with that, female issues resolved. (females, only,  may msg me for details)

9. better self-image, more confidence

10. brown spots on hands and face fading

11. no more “tonsilitis” white stuff that used to come out of my tonsils (I know it’s gross, but it has completely STOPPED now!)

12. my sweat is not as stinky (I know, but it’s true)

13. no colds, improved immunity. Can’t remember the last cold I had.

14. softer clearer skin, even on the backs of my arms where so many have those “little white bumps”

15. more muscle strength in general, not out of breath when going up stairs, more active/fit and feel better, no aches when I get up after sitting for a while, no aches after driving for over an hour for carpool. I can sit on the floor for long periods of time again (anyone under 40 may not have any idea what I’m talkin’ bout here). I can jump out of bed like a normal person and walk across the room as soon as I wake up. It’s the little things….

16. stronger and longer eyelashes and hair. I didn’t realize before how often/much they were falling out, but today it dawned on me that my eyelashes never fall out anymore, and they seem longer and stronger. And there’s not nearly as much hair on the bathroom floor after brushing,  either!

17. updated 4-28-12: just realized this week, I don’t get those tiny little blisters on the edge of my eyelids anymore.

Wow.

18. updated 5-25-12: my skin is tanning differently, more brown (instead of red) and more even overall (less freckles) and I did not burn when I accidentally sat in the sun with no protection for over an hour.

19. updated 8-1-13: no more holes in my tonsils and they aren’t large/swollen like they used to be (goes along with number 11). I just discovered it this week, when I looked at my tonsils and realized they are completely changed. This could have happened a year or more ago,  since I never look at my tonsils anymore (used to a lot when they caused problems). So glad I realized this!

20. Updated 8-1-13: Also realized this week that I do not get those pre-period “rages” where I want to strangle everyone in my family anymore! Oh, they can get on my nerves those few days before, but it’s nothing like what I used to feel! YAY for happy hormones!! Most months I don’t even know I’m getting ready to start my period and the pain is minimal now. Wow, that’s big news.

21. Updated 12-23-13: I realized this week I do not have swollen/enlarged glands on my neck (under my jaw) that I used to always have. Did not realize back then that they were enlarged, but just this week realized they are small now! I can barely find them on my neck now.

So, WHY WOULD I EVER WANT TO GO BACK TO MY TIRED, STINKY, HOBBLING, FOGGY, WEAK, PMSy, STUFFY NOSED, BUMPY, SORE THROAT CONSTANTLY, FUZZY TEETHED, BROWN SPOTTED, HORMONE RAGING, FAT FEELING SELF? I would not. Nope. Not gonna go back to any of that. I’ve got a purpose to fulfill, and this new life is helping me get there! You have one too. How you gonna get there?

Encouraging Health,

Organic Eater

PS: I know everybody LOVES to see before and after pictures. I realized today, when I started looking for a “before”, that I wasn’t taking too many pictures of myself  back then, as I had snuck up into a size 14 pants….. I cannot believe I am publicly posting a picture like this.  Not because size 14 is so terrible, for some that would be amazing, but for me, it represents a discouraging weight gain and all the negative associations listed above. I am thankful this picture was taken (gulp), so I have a reminder of what I do not want to go back to. Ever.

Spring 2011 “before”

Dana "in process" picin process

 

I had no business taking off the jacket I was wearing that day(haha!), but I’m glad I did now, so you can see what was really there! The pic is that same shirt in an updated picture, so you can see what this lifestyle has done for me! The pants have been thrown out:) I will NOT consider that my “after” picture because I’m still in process, and have a way to go! I intend to be able to post an “after” later in 2012.

Christmas 2011, making progress. Size 8 shirt.

see my page My Sugar and Grain Free LIfe for more explanation on the details of what I eat and why, specifically the links to explain my mostly-grain-free-life choices.

12 thoughts on “Why I’m here and why I’ll never go back! (aka My Health Journey)

  1. i’m so excited to have found your blog. i came across your instagram by something funny you said about disneyland food (don’t even know what it was….haha) after looking through a few of your pictures and reading your inspiring little tidbits i followed you since your positive voice really resonated with me. now i’ve been lead to your blog and am even more excited! i relate to so much of what you say. i try very hard to feed my family ‘whole’ foods…….but often fail and feel kinda bad about it. your blog and instagram feel like a coach cheering me on a gentling reminding me of what’s important….. all in a unpretentious and positive way! yay! good find!
    i’m in my early 30’s and i hope to look bright and healthy in my 40’s like you! 🙂

  2. Wow. I really enjoyed reading about your journey. I am attempting to go grain/sugar free (I’ve tried a few times and crash around day 13…). We are already gluten, dairy, refined sugar free. If I eat a bite of a gluten free “healthy” baked good, it’s all over–I’ll eat the whole pan of whatever it is. Your blog is good motivation for me to keep it up! Thanks!

    • thanks so much Jennifer! I would encourage you to take about 3 weeks to be able to break that sugar/grain addiction and once you’re “over the hump” it’s so much better! Just make sure to plan it when there are no special events or holidays that make it even harder for you:) Your encouraging comments are MY motivation to keep this blog going, so thank YOU! Keep me posted on your progress and let me know when you get through sugar detox so we can celebrate!:) Then you will need to figure out how much/often you can “tolerate” an occasional treat without falling off the wagon completely. It’s a journey, and I’m stil on it too! Nice to have you along! I am on Instagram almost daily with many more pictures than I could ever post here. If you need some daily inspiration, you may want to connect there as well. Thanks again for your kind and encouraging words!! -Dana

  3. Thanks for sharing your story! I am experiencing a very similar change to you as I head to the fabulous forties and I too would never look back. I really appreciate you sharing your journey and look forward to following you along the way :0)

  4. Pingback: Easy Tips to Avoid Obesity from Dr. Mercola | Organic Eater

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