From Junk Food Junkie to Health Nut...
When I was growing up, my mother fed me fairly healthy, at least for the 80's. Unfortunately, though, the 1980's had a lot of misinformation (in my opinion) about what was "healthy". So margarine, shortening, vegetable oils, non-organic foods, low-fat milk, white refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, white bread and other chemicals were all a part of my diet. But on the other hand, my mother did cook from scratch a lot and provide fruits and vegetables for my consumption. Unfortunately, most people just did not see the harm with all of the processed food back then. I applaud my mother for continuing to cook from scratch when many others were turning to tv dinners and fast food. So in that way, I did have a pretty healthy diet for the time. In junior high school, we got to choose what to eat at lunch including access to a snack bar. Really bad for a junk food junkie of the tender age of 13!!!! Let's just say, I didn't make wise choices. Snack cakes and milkshakes became a staple of my lunch diet. I would sometimes eat a salad along with them for a bit of healthy eating. lol!!! My breakfast was usually a sugary cereal which was all I would eat. So my mom had just one meal a day to try to get me to eat something healthy.
As I went into high school, I ate more fast food. Pizza rolls were a favorite meal. At 16, I was still underweight. (yeah, I know, hard to believe with that diet!!!) So I started going to Burger King every day to get a Whopper and fries. I finally put on the 10 pounds I wanted to gain. I was able to maintain that weight through high school and my early 20's. At 18, I moved away from home for a while and my diet got even worse. I ate a lot of snack cakes and would sometimes eat the whole box at a time. (Yeah, still a nice size of about 110 pounds. Geesh!) In my early 20's, I started thinking about my health and drink diet shakes thinking they were good for me. Ugh!!! My health was starting to decline. I had had horrible seasonal allergies and occasional eczema while growing up. At 16, I was diagnosed with asthma. I had no idea these were warning signs of future health problems.
At 21, I got really sick. I could barely get out of bed. I was back at my parents’ home at this time. I got tested for food allergies and they said I had allergies to sugar, eggs, and milk. So most bread products and sweets were eliminated from my diet for at least a while and I did feel a bit better. I was at least able to get out of bed. I had also lost a lot of weight during that time, I was down to 102 pounds, which I had to gain back. But I continued to feel tired all the time. Chronic fatigue was just starting to get noticed, but most doctors were still denying its existence at the time, so I was never officially diagnosed. But this started a pattern of over 20 years of low energy and feeling crappy. In 1996, I had my first child. He didn't sleep at all. My weight also shot up and I have struggled with it ever since. I continued to drag my way through life.
My second child was born in 2002. He didn't sleep either. During his pregnancy, I was borderline gestational diabetic. The warning bells should have been clanging loudly at this point, but I didn't hear them. My diet was almost completely processed food by this time and had been for years. Cheese nachos were my go to comfort food. As I continued to lose sleep and trying to sustain myself with processed food and no exercise, I was ready to crash and I crashed big time. I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia which I had had for years. And then I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inflammatory bowel disease. After several rounds of Prednisone, losing about 20 pounds (which now, I needed to lose, just not from being sick!) and coming very close to being hospitalized, I knew I had to change. It was slow going at first, but over time I learned to read labels and get the worst of the processed food out of my diet. I cheated at times, but I continued to get better.
Now, I eat a real food diet. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but considering how far I have come, I feel I am doing really well. And I have been able to maintain it. I went mostly paleo about three years ago. I haven't eaten any gluten since that time. It was around May of 2015. I had another round of illness, that had started with the flu and because my body was so immune compromised, I struggled to get well. I had to go through another round of Prednisone in early 2015. Then I went gluten free and have been getting slowly better. I have a lot more energy than I had 5 years ago and definitely more than 10 years ago, when I laid around on the couch all day because I was so sick. My blood sugar is better than it was, I am now off of medication for my diabetes. In fact, I am off of ALL prescription medications. I am hopeful I will continue to improve. My last numbers showed that my A1Cs (blood sugar) were doing pretty good, my cholesterol was excellent, my blood pressure was great. Unfortunately, though, I am anemic and I still had widespread inflammation (though, it was better than the last time I was tested). So I know the areas I need to work on. There are other health issues that continue to plague me, but I am willing to continue to work on my health and continue to improve.
I now spend much of my free time studying about health, I live, sleep and breathe it... I want to use this blog to show my struggles, my improvements and to share what I learn. I am not a doctor or nutritionist. You will need to talk to your doctor about what is right for you. I am currently studying to be a health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the largest health coaching school and will graduate in a few months. I am looking forward to helping others work on their health and to help them through the journey. I feel if I had had more support and had a health coach (didn’t know they existed back then!), then I would have gotten healthier much quicker. I really want to help others become healthy. We have an epidemic in the United States (and around the world) of growing health problems. I can use my experiences and what I have learned to help others.
Besides being a health coach, I am a wife and mother, a Christian and a homeschool school teacher. My oldest son is grown, he is 21 years old, and living away from home. My youngest still lives with us and I am still homeschooling him. I love to read, I am a planner and I love to play with graphics.