In case you missed my previous post about my struggle with food, you may want to read this little story first. Part 1:: A Slave To Food– A Journey To Freedom
So, now that I got all that really hard stuff out, I can now begin to share with you how, in practical ways, God gave me the direction and understanding that I needed to put me on the path to healthy living.
As I received freedom from my food issues I begin praying for God to help me know what to do next. I immediately started becoming aware of when I was tempted to eat– most of the times it did not come from hunger, but something else. Next I started becoming aware of what I ate– most of the time it was something that common sense told me wasn’t very healthy. So I started making some changes: 1) I worked on eating only when I was really hungry and 2) I tried to make good choices of food.
I mentioned in my previous post that this all started to occur during the summertime. It was June. And it was hot. One day I was heading to the pool and normally I’m joined my sister and her kids, and my sister-in-law and her kids. But on this day, for reasons I can’t remember, they were not going to be there. So I decided I would take a book with me to read as I chilled poolside. I stood in front of my bookshelves looking for a book that I felt in the mood to read. There was one book that stood out– Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman.
This was no coincidence. This was answer to my prayer. I was given this book, ummmmm, probably at least three years ago. I had read the first couple of pages of the introduction and then nicely shoved it back on the bookshelf. Ha ha! But now, here I was ready to read it. In fact that day at the pool, I couldn’t read it fast enough!
As I read, I found myself blown away by effects that food has on the body, both the negative effects and the positive effects. I became aware of how ignorant I was about food, health and nutrition. It was so clear to me that afternoon that this book was part two of the formula for my road to recovery. (Part one being the spiritual condition I previously wrote about.)
That day I only read the first two chapters of Eat to Live, but in those first two chapters I got my direction loud and clear. Chapter one is titled “Digging Our Graves with Forks and Knives: The Effects of the American Diet, Part 1”. And chapter two follows with “Overfed, Yet Malnourished: The Effects of the American Diet, Part 2”. EYE OPENING! People, read this book. It’s not just for overweight people. There are many light weight unhealthy people walking around.
“The main principle of this book is that for both optimal health and weight loss, you must consume a diet with a high nutrient-per-calorie ratio.”
I’ve tried many diets and health fads in the past only to find them short lived. Dr. Fuhrman addresses this issue in the introduction and I love his way of encouraging his readers to STICK WITH IT! He writes, “…accept no excuse to fall off the wagon…do not say you will give it a try. Do not try; instead, made a commitment to do it right.” Then he compares it to marriage. “When you get married, does the religious figure or justice of the peace ask, “Do you swear to give this person a try?” “When people tell me they will give it a try, I say don’t bother, you have already decided to fail. It takes more than a try to quit addictions; it takes commitment. A commitment is a promise that you stick with, not matter what. Without commitment, you are doomed to fail.” This stuck in my head so much especially the first six weeks and helped me push through when times were tough.
The more I read the book my focus adjusted. At the beginning my main aim was to loose weight, but as I continued to read my aim became more about HEALTH and not IMAGE. Dr. Fuhrman talks a lot about reversing diseases and preventing diseases. For eight years now I have lived with PCOS and been dependent on several medications to make certain things in my body to function “properly”. I felt bad often. I felt bad if I did not take medication and then I felt worse from the side effects of the medication. I was SO READY for a change. And through Eat To Live, I found my road map to change.
Within the first six weeks I had lost over 30 pounds and there were drastic changes in the way I felt. I quickly became free from all medications! And as extreme and crazy as it sounds I felt like a NEW PERSON! The best thing is I wasn’t doing some crazy fad diet that had me eating in a way that was unreasonable to live off of. Instead I was eating whole, natural foods rich in nutrients. I was no longer addicted to caffeine, sugar, fats, salt and processed foods. Here are some of the basic guidelines I strictly followed the first two months:
1. Make a salad the main dish for lunch and dinner.
2. Eat at least four fresh fruits daily.
3. Eliminate animal and dairy products. (I did eat a very small amount of fish during this time, but it was only on a couple occasions)
4. Eliminate all processed foods and refined sugars.
5. Eat a lot of beans!
I still follow these guidelines for the most part. Although I’m not as strict to make sure I eat 2 large salads daily and I eat a very limited amount of animal products; an egg every now and then, a little bit of fish or chicken here and there. The main thing I do now is I’m careful to not develop any bad habits and I still stay away from the processed foods, refined sugars and high fat low nutrient foods. Here’s the food pyramid that I base my eating off of:
So I’ve been living this lifestyle for about five months and I’m now down 76 pounds, completely free from all medications and feeling better than I have ever felt before in my life. I have more energy, I sleep better, I don’t suffer from indigestion or heartburn anymore. My immune system is stronger, my seasonal allergies have lessened tremendously and I have a pep in my step! Every day I’m getting healthier.
I don’t write these things to lift myself up. I know that the only reason this change has taken place in me is because God has given me His strength to walk this path. If you look back on the last eight years of my life you can clearly see where I got on my own strength– no where, just wallowing in a pit of destruction. I give all thanks and glory and praise to God for making me new. He did not give up on me. He heard my cry and answered me according to His lovingkindness.
So, part of why I am sharing this with the world is because I urge you to educate yourself on food and the effects it has on your body. The saying really is true, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. For several years I lived thinking “well this is just how it has to be for me” regarding my weight, feeling bad and being dependent on medications. For many that is not true! Get educated! Here are some helpful resources:
I hope this inspires you to embark on a healthier lifestyle. And because I know people some times need a visual to back up someone’s words here are two snapshots taken from my Instagram account. : ) Happy day to you and happy eating!
BEFORE: Taken May 2012
After: Taken October 2012
Sources: Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book, Eat To Live and website, Dr. Fuhrman.com