Sunday, December 11, 2011

Getting Started On The Road To Wellness

I never imagined that I would start a food blog. I am not a chef, or even someone who thought much about food and cooking. In recent years drastic changes and life circumstances created a situation where I needed to fight and reclaim my health. That meant to understand that "I am what I eat."  My body was sensitive to all the pesticides, chemicals, additives, low nutrients, GMO's (Genetically Modified Foods), sugar and carbs that are a big part of the processed food industry. For someone who was raised on the Standard American Diet (SAD) the thought of learning a whole new way of eating and creating food for myself and my husband was overwhelming. We decided we would do this together and give ourselves the time to learn about our new choices. We made a plan to start out slowly as I was still very ill when I started down this road. It has been six months and we are still "happy learners."  The best part is that the effects of eating these whole foods, that are mostly plant based, sugar-free, and gluten free is a positive effect on so many areas of my body and mind. Ultimately this is very exciting, because you get so much satisfaction when something really works! So I recommend that you have fun with this new way of being!

So what was wrong with me? As someone once said to me, "it's as if all your systems are shutting down." I won't go into details here, but I will give a quick overview of the challenges my body was given. I am not exaggerating when I say I went to a doctors appointment or lab test every single week for two years. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism, an auto-immune disease, a few months before I was to be married. This explained why I was constantly gaining weight even whenever I would try the old Atkins diet that had worked so well for me in the past. Nothing affected the weight gain. The thyroid controls your metabolism and I had none. I was then over-dosed with thyroid medication that year that led to my nearly having a heart attack. My body was vibrating like an old lawn mower. I got rid of that doctor. The new team of doctors also found that I had high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, extremely low vitamin D levels, RLS symptoms in my legs, pre-cancerous cells on my uterus, IBS symptoms, diverticulitis, and severe menopause. Because all these problems combined with the menopause I had not slept in three years. This was a cocktail for disaster and my body was shutting down to the point I could only sit on the sofa for months at a time and breathe. Well thank goodness for breathing! This was not the life a new bride has in mind, and at times I was very frustrated. I wanted to live a full vibrant life with my wonderful husband, who was now doing everything for me. I felt ninety, unable to even walk down our steps to go to the doctor visits, and I was needing to rest after walking across a room. I was watching the world go by from behind my eyes. As life would have it, sometimes what seems bad actually changes your life for the good. It was getting the diabetes diagnosis that moved me to actively make changes with food, and investigate what "I" could do about these problems on my own. 

I watched documentaries, read books, and researched on the internet. My new doctors after some time had gotten my medications correct for all my issues except the diabetes. I did not respond well to my medication. So I asked to be given the chance to change my blood sugar on my own, with diet and exercise. My new endocrinologist agreed to give me three months.

I decided to go to an organic and plant based diet so that I could give my body the chance to do what it does best. Heal itself. If your body is constantly fighting toxins then there is no room to heal. My body needs the micro-nutrients found in raw foods. If I actually lost weight from this new way of eating, then that would be a bonus from becoming healthy. In just the first 3 months I lost 15 pounds. The weight comes off very slowly but steady. I will take it! I also kept track of my blood sugar levels daily and what foods I was eating. Just cannot imagine what my blood sugar levels were in the past when breakfast meant bagel sandwiches, then some pasta for dinner and brownies for a midnight snack. After 6 months I have started to get some daily blood sugar numbers in the double digits and my 3 month A1C blood sugar test has come down to the top end of normal. I have lost 25 pounds and I am feeling full of new energy. I still have yet to exercise and all this improvement has been to a new way of eating. The lighter I get the more I feel like I will soon be exercising and working out. Perhaps I will start with some yoga, walking and a moderate routine.

The more weight I lose, the lower my blood pressure medications will be in the future. 
I had many doctors tell me I would never lose the weight because of my Thyroid condition! Well I am proving them wrong with eating whole foods, juicing vegetables daily, and looking out for all the ways corporations have lied to us about materials and foods that contain dangerous chemicals for the thyroid, endocrine and hormonal systems. My goal is to lose 60 pounds. We shall see how it goes. I also take a good multi-vitamin, a high dose Vitamin D prescription every two weeks, and sub-lingual B-12 supplement daily. The daily vitamins pushed my RLS symptoms down to a level where I only notice a sensation occasionally. I can live with that! The B12 helped to dissipate some strange sensations I was getting in my nerve endings. The Vitamin D helped me to walk down steps and have more energy. Also happily my first pap test since my Leep Procedure operation for pre-cancer cells has come back clear. Those are all good things! Vitamins are an inexpensive way to get things under control. Much better than dangerous and expensive pharmaceuticals. Removing the toxins from my diet; by not eating processed, pesticide covered, hormone injected, antibiotic filled, and freaky GMO foods gives my body the head start on using all the new micro-nutrients that juicing vegetables and plants provide naturally.

The good news for me is all of this is working! I have two diseases, plus menopause, that all make you gain weight as a result of having them. If I can feel better and lose weight with these conditions so can others! Supposedly they also cause depression, but I have not experienced that symptom. For the past couple of years I had no energy and would fall asleep every couple of hours, constantly napping. Now with proper thyroid medication, estrogen (hopefully short term), blood pressure medicine (decreasing soon as I just got a lower prescription), juicing and whole foods, I am back to doing normal activities and enjoying playing with my grandchildren. In the past I could not even go outside to take my granddaughter for a walk. Food may not cure my thyroid, but my body will be more able to heal itself and grow stronger in many other areas. Who knows, even my thyroid probably benefits from that. Changing my food certainly did get my blood sugar under control and give me mental clarity.

I am not a doctor and I am no substitute for your doctors medical advice. So talk to your physician, do the research, and ask questions of your medical professionals. Be your own advocate for your health and well being! You can start with what you put into your body right now.

I started this blog with the idea to help others who may find themselves at the beginning of wanting to make a change to whole foods. This is an ongoing process of learning and eating yummy food that has turned out to be fun! Plus you may just help our planet by buying from local organic farmers! Helping yourself, your family, and the world. Now that is social change we can do! I will hopefully in the near future link to a post about the symptoms I was experiencing when my body started to fail in order to help those who may have the same problems get earlier treatment. At first I was blaming everything on having menopause...well that wasn't the whole story. I was not going to talk about those things unless I had something positive to talk I do!!!

UPDATE: (February 2012) I did not begin this new way of eating specifically to lose weight, but after eight months I have lost nearly 40 pounds. It is winter and I am busy with the grandchildren 11 hours a day, so still no exercise routine. Spring is coming and one day we will be able to get outside again and start walking. Unfortunately the estrogen therapy used to help me sleep, may have caused a problem in my breast tissue. I have three areas of pre-cancerous cells in one breast, so I stopped the estrogen treatment and my constant hot flashes that interrupt my sleep are back, they are bad, but only occasionally are debilitating to my sleep. 

UPDATE: (June 2012) I just found out the second core biopsy on my breast is positive for cancer. So that medical trip will be another journey to conquer. Still it is too soon to talk about here. I will be watching the documentary "Crazy Sexy Cancer" again. I imagine I will start a cancer info page at the top of this blog, as I now research that topic, and how I can approach this new diagnosis. I am very glad that I am stronger now, due to my changes to eating organic healthy foods and juicing. So I got that going for me!

UPDATE: (March 2013) I had a double lumpectomy and all margins were clean. My oncologist was amazed at how well my scar healed. My body is awesome at repairing itself now. I also have not gotten a cold or the flu since I started eating healthy organic whole foods, juicing, and making green smoothies. Weight loss so far 70 pounds. Hot flashes still suck.

Here is the link to the in-depth story of my dealing with constant chronic illness, and getting strong and healthy, through eating and juicing organic plants! Juice on rock stars!


  1. Right on, honey! Happy to be on the journey with you.

  2. I will be following your blog! I, too, have been going through similar health issues. I went through menopause early but I was dragging butt. I thought my depression was homesickness when I came back from a Family Reunion in New Zealand at the beginning of 2010. I was whopping on the weight and couldn't face the gym. Little did I know that my thyroid was raging out of control and I was having Epstein Barr-like symptoms. A friend told me about the 'Green Smoothie Revolution' and after reading the book I got myself a Vitamix. Yes the cost was a bit embarrassing but my health was worth it. My husband usually rides 30-40 miles most days on his bike. After being put on medication for Afib he took to the couch. He lost so much weight and unfortunately what he lost, I found! We had moved States and I had not met the right Doctor yet. But once I did and learned my condition was thyroid related I woke up and started on the road to wellness. Good luck and know you are not alone. Robyn

  3. Hi Crystal,

    I was directed to this blog by your husband, Ben, on a mutual friend's facebook post.

    Recently, I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease as well. I didn't want to take the medication route because that would totally mess up my blood sugar level. And I do have Type II diabetes (but well controlled with diet and exercise). So, Dr. Fishburn suggested that I get my blood tested for what food to avoid as she described that my condition could be linked to the leaky gut syndrome. So, eliminate certain food from the diet and then see if my thyroid levels would go up!

    If I had to pinpoint a day that this started for me, it would have to be about a year and half ago. I would feel fatigue all the time. I attributed this to being a single parent, holding two jobs that required me to be on my feet a lot and just running to and fro for my son's activities. Little did I know I had something else creeping up on me. That also explained the constant sinusitis I was having! Plus, the fact that I put on about 10 lbs in 1 year (despite exercising)!

    I am presently waiting for the blood work results to come back but in the mean time, I am doing my own elimination diet as well..and first thing on my list is to get rid of all soy products in my house! Really sad about this...because growing up in Singapore, soy products was considered healthy! :(

  4. Robyn and Loretta,
    I am so happy that people who need this information have found my very new blog! This is exactly why I am talking about what the past few years had wrought on my body, and how much changing my diet helped my situation. Please feel free to leave any comments or ideas! Share anything that is working for you or info you have found. We are all different bodies, but some things we find may work to help us all live a fuller vibrant life!

    I am still adding info, links and images to the pages at the top of the blog. So check into them from time to time!