My Wholehearted Health Journey - Part 1

My childhood was filled with plenty of play and bike riding.   I did gymnastics and synchronized swimming.  I enjoyed these things, but did not consider myself a hard core athlete. From an early age I had a sensitive tummy, which was attributed to my sensitive soul.   Because of this, I stressed about many things.  In high school, the tummy trouble increased significantly with my parents' divorce. I went through celiac testing and other gastrointestinal tests only to determine Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  I would focus on removing dairy for awhile, but would still get sick with diarrhea.  I was no longer interested in sports. I couldn't trust my tummy and how it would react. I moved on and  figured I was more of an artistic type. I didn't like how this was controlling my life, but I didn't know there was anything I could do about it.

Throughout all of this I was on a parallel journey regarding my menstrual cycle.  My doctors couldn’t get my period balanced.  Being on birth control helped, but it masked the underlying issues.

In my early 20's I was diagnosed with endometriosis.  I continued to deal with IBS.  The drug treatment for endometriosis caused 30 lbs of weight gain.  Thus began my perfect storm for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome which I would be diagnosed with after years of infertility, miscarriage, and more weight gain. Needless to say, I was not healthy.  It wasn't for lack of trying either.  After the PCOS diagnosis, I began to learn about the glycemic index and I became more aware of blood sugar issues.  Having PCOS predisposed me to Type 2 diabetes and I was scared.  My husband and I were successful in having a beautiful son, but only after I was put on a diabetic drug called Metformin.  This led me to do the low-fat, whole grain, brown rice, low glycemic approach to diet. I saw some improvement.  I discovered weight training and fell in love with that.  It took three years, but I did get down to an ideal weight and promptly got pregnant again.

After my second son, I really struggled to get the weight off.  I was doing what I had done before, but was just spinning my wheels.  I got my cholesterol tested and it showed high triglycerides and low HDL. This combination is a proven indicator for heart disease, which I am also predisposed to by having PCOS.  

I was at my wit's end.  

According to conventional wisdom, I was doing everything right.  During my third pregnancy, we came across a video by Chris Kresser about high cholesterol. In it, he showed the science of how sugar and high insulin are the main culprit behind heart disease.  I messaged Chris Kresser and he pointed me to a relatively new website in 2010: Mark's Daily Apple.

To be honest, it seemed a little absurd.  I was seeing recommendations for higher fat, protein and low carb...and no whole grains? What? I had experience with somewhat higher protein for weight training, but higher fat and no grains? Conventional wisdom had failed me miserably.  Was this approach enough to make a difference? Mark’s articles contained compelling scientific information on how insulin is the master hormone rather than making fat the villain.   In June 2010, after the birth of our 3rd son, my husband and I dove in.

We did feel a bit foolish and I was nervous to be doing something so different from what I had believed for so long. The weight started to come off.  Slowly, but it was moving!  Then, the most surprising and lovely  thing;  getting out of bed and simply walking down the stairs.  You see, it had become normal for me to be hurting in general.  I had developed arthritis in my knees, feet, and hands.  I knew I was young, but with a broken body.  I just accepted it as yet another thing broken.  But two weeks into eating according to the Primal Blueprint, my hands and feet weren't hurting first thing in the morning!  What?  Why?  My stomach was also not getting sick as often.  Could it have been the grains?  As I read and learned more, I began to see the connection between grains tearing up my gut and leading my body to attack itself with arthritis.  The energy that came with this new diet was amazing!  I began to crave movement.  My husband and I started hiking with the kids on the weekend.  I was beginning to believe this was my miracle.

Three months into my primal journey, I got my blood retested.  My blood sugar and cholesterol markers had completely turned around!  The weight continued to come off.  I was sold!  More energy, less pain, less excess weight?  Yes, this was worth it.  Plus, I got to enjoy peaches and cream!

That was 6 years ago.  It continues to be a journey with ups and downs.  Mostly ups.  It took a few years to heal my tummy.  I lose weight more slowly than most due to PCOS and an obesity gene, but I am healthy!   I am now on half the dose of Metformin.  I was just screened for life insurance and I received the very best rate!  I am also stronger than I ever imagined.  I am having fun with mud runs and obstacle courses and we continue to hike whenever we can.  When I give my body the optimal foods, I experience energy, strength, balanced insulin, and a healthy weight.  This is not the life I imagined.  It is so much more!

Part 2 will be my wholehearted journey.  Stay tuned!