In 2016, I began experimenting with sourdough baking. My Daddy had baked a lot when I was growing up, and I really wanted to commit to doing the same for my family. Interestingly, it was that one keystone habit that led me on a journey of learning all about the healthful benefits of fermented foods, which ultimately led to adopting a wholistic lifestyle.
Sourdough bread led me to brewing kombucha, which led me to fermenting yogurt, which led me to slowly changing the sources of our food to mostly organic and non-GMO options, as well as local whenever possible. There were other changes that took place over the next year, but none of them truly transformed my personal health. I was still overweight, tired, and simply not the healthiest. But I was set on a path that would eventually transform my life.
In December 2017, I experienced a serious wake up call when a local adoptive mama, who was friends with many of the families at my church, passed away suddenly. She was in her thirties and otherwise healthy, but she had a heart attack in her sleep and never woke up. It was determined that the heart attack had been caused by undiagnosed Type II Diabetes. Like me, she was so busy taking care of her family that I’m assuming she didn’t make it a priority to take care of her health. Especially as someone who had Gestational Diabetes, I was rattled by this sweet mama’s sudden passing. We never knew each other, but she had a significant impact on my life.
Shortly after that devastating news, I bought a new blood sugar test kit on Amazon and began testing my sugars. Though my fasting sugars were in the realm of normal, my sugars after eating meals were higher than they should be. I especially noticed that my sugar level didn’t respond well when I ate processed carbohydrates or sugar. When I saw some readings in the 170s and 180s, I was very concerned.
As the first few months of the new year passed, I knew that my unhealthy lifestyle was simply not sustainable. Especially with a significant family history of Type II Diabetes, I was headed down a dangerous path and I needed to make some serious changes. I committed myself to doing what was necessary with natural lifestyle interventions. I was hoping to avoid taking pharmaceutical medications because they have so many serious side effects and often lead to more prescriptions and complications.
A search on google revealed that people can sometimes bring their blood sugar level down naturally by drinking lots of water and exercising. So I started drinking more water and running the steps when I saw those higher sugar levels. Sure enough, it worked.
It worked really well, actually.
Months of trial and error helped me discover what foods triggered my sugar levels to increase. I also learned that if I ate something that caused my blood sugar to go up, I could re-balance the level by getting my heart rate up for a few minutes about 45-60 minutes after eating. Simply getting more active had an incredible impact on my blood sugar levels. I’ve never been much of an exerciser, but running the steps or taking a brisk walk for about 10 minutes was enough to re-regulate my sugar level.
Along the way, I committed to fueling my body properly. I slowly replaced most processed foods, white flour, and sugar with clean, whole foods. My diet centered on fresh organic vegetables and salads, local pastured meats and eggs, traditional fats, organic grass-fed dairy, some whole grains like brown rice, and a few starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes. I also enjoyed a daily piece of sourdough einkorn bread with breakfast as a treat. I allowed myself an indulgence here and there as well, but that meant one bite of ice cream, not a whole bowl.
The crazy part was that I didn’t even miss my old lifestyle. I knew how badly my body reacted to certain foods, so I was easily able to eliminate them. I learned to love vegetables, and I found new ways of cooking them that were delicious and satisfying. In fact, vegetables are often my favorite part of meals now. I enjoy them so much that my backyard garden has expanded – I even grow fresh asparagus! And even though I eat mostly home cooked meals, I have also found ways to eat at restaurants and social gatherings in ways that really works for me.
All of the lifestyle changes have had an incredibly positive impact. I sleep better, I have way more energy, my blood pressure has come down, and I’ve lost weight. A lot of weight. 35 pounds, actually. It melted off with relatively little effort. I can practically feel my body thanking me for fueling it the way it needs to work optimally. For the first time in my life, I spend time to truly take care of myself and honor my body. I have embraced the concept that a temporary diet is not going to work and I need to make sustainable lifestyle changes.
Today is my birthday. I’m 39. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. This is the first birthday since my Daddy’s sudden passing that I haven’t wanted to pull the covers up over my head and try to forget about the day. You see, my Daddy and I share a birthday and it’s just been a sad, awkward day without him here these last four years.
But today? Today, I don’t want to hide. I’m actually glad it’s my birthday and I feel confident that it’s due to the lifestyle changes I’ve made. I think I owe that partly to my Daddy. He struggled with Type II Diabetes and a bunch of other health issues. I don’t want that for myself. After sustaining a healthier lifestyle, I simply feel vibrant. I have a more positive outlook on life. I miss my Daddy terribly, but today finally feels redeemed.
I know that my health isn’t perfect and the journey is a lifelong process, but I am committed to wholistic wellness and natural living. By eating whole foods, adopting daily wellness and self-care practices, and working toward chemical-free living, I am truly transforming my health. I have experienced such positive impacts and I am passionate about helping others feel that very same freedom and abundance.
Happy birthday to me. And to my Daddy. He would have been 66 today.