Year One of “The Good Life”

This week marks the one year anniversary of life change for me and my family. I have been “into” organic for many years, but April 29 is the day the contest started that changed my life (I believe) forever! I am so grateful to God for all the ways He is giving me the tools and blessings to do “the natural”, while He takes care of the “supernatural”. And note that I said “do”, knowing I have a part in this. This lifestyle requires choices and discipline and some sacrifice. God blesses me with untold blessings, that far outweigh any sacrifice I am making, but the two work in synergy to create change. Every breath I take comes from Him, so I want to take this time to be grateful for my good life. Very good life. If you want to read a long list of specific ways my physical body has positively responded to removing grains and sugars and only eating “real food”, here is the link. But I want this post to be more about how I’ve changed on the inside, and how my family has changed. The good stuff.

This was taken after our first 5k! What a special memory and huge accomplishment for us! Thank you, Susan (behind hubs), for all your training!

There seems to be a new girl in here who is quite happy to cook up these amazingly healthful meals, from scratch, almost every day of the week. I am blessed to live in a house with a functioning kitchen, and be able to buy the food we eat. I don’t take any of it for granted. Amazingly, we rarely want to go out to eat anymore.  And I’m not a great cook, people. This is new (and still learning) territory for me! I’m embarrassed to tell you I’ve had to watch a You Tube video this past year on how to boil an egg properly. For real. And that’s part of what I mean by God giving me “tools” like YouTube and other foodie’s blogs, some caring people, my iPhone, computer and internet! I have had to learn so much! And there have been sacrifices: cable tv and home phone to name only a couple.   But I look back with great joy over how I’ve changed and how these changes have affected my family.

We didn’t have sickness this past year. Maybe a sniffle or cough during flu season, for a day or two. The hubs made it through his company’s “busy season” in November and December without missing a day, when everyone (in close contact) around him was getting sick. My kids are trying new foods they’ve never eaten before, and I am shocked at what I’m learning about them. For example, I never knew they love asparagus! My kids (and hubs) are proud of their “weird” lunches at school (and work), and they’re very aware of how differently our family eats. My kids probably know more about grass-fed beef and hormone filled milk than most adults do. They’ve “bought in” to this lifestyle and really do believe me when I say “it’s good for you”. They’re seeing results like feeling great, no more belly aches, clear skin, etc., just like their mom. We’re all much more conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies and how it makes us feel. It’s been an “awakening” of sorts. I’m shocked we didn’t make the connection before. The kids have responded well to the change. The challenge has been on the other end: teaching them how to show grace, and when to “backoff”, so as not to sound judgemental about other’s choices. (I may want to re-think telling them, “we don’t eat crap like that anymore”. They tend to repeat it.) And of course that fine balancing act of knowing how to handle all of this with extended family who may see things differently. That’s always a fun one.

The hubs is thrilled with his cooking-like-a-maniac wife, of course. Being the Eater he is, this new life suits him just fine. He has seen results similar to mine, so the “sacrifice” is worth it for him too. He’s behind me 100% in this, so that makes it much easier for me to keep going, and it’s another thing I’m thankful for! Our only real challenge in doing this now is the budget, because I want more appliances, gadgets, and expensive specialty food items! In fact, I’d like a whole new kitchen, thank you! I’m still learning contentment (remember that whole “journey” thing I wrote about?). This last year has brought tremendous change for us. More than I ever thought could happen, actually. And we weren’t obese, nor did we have major health problems or food allergies before we started. We were just a “normal” American family. And that’s the part that’s strange to me. I thought we were doing pretty well. I had no idea all those things were symptoms that something was wrong with me, us,  and could be changed with our diet (and a few adjustments). I had no idea how much better things could be.

These last couple months seem to have plateaued for my weight loss, so I need to decide if I want to turn it up a notch to lose more, or keep happily doing this and maintaining where I’m at just fine. We shall see. I like where we’re going. I see all areas of my life improving along with my physical self. I am happy to know I can still do a lot of changing at 44. I am encouraged that my “best days are ahead”. I know they are. I am filled with more purpose than ever before, ready to tackle what God has next for me. I can feel Him preparing me for what He has prepared for me. All of this physical, mental, and spiritual change has been supported by some very special people who I want to thank here. My Pastor, Steven Furtick, for creating the contest and more importantly for teaching us every week how to implement change in every area of our lives; Buck Buhler for implementing the contest; Dr. Tony Hyser for taking good care of me and my family and showing us the way to true health, and Susan Black for training me in how to run (which gave me the confidence to even enter the contest). God’s been good to me, and I’ve made changes to improve my health, so I’m thankful for my “good, good life”.

I encourage you to just take that first step, whatever it is for you. Let me know what you’re doing to change, or what’s holding you back from doing it. Writing it out may be the first step towards your good life.

Encouraging Health,

Dana, the Organic Eater

I promised in an earlier post that I would show you an “in process” picture. Here’s One Year ago, and April 2012 (I’m still not ready to call it the “after” picture)

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.


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.