Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Making Healthy Changes

I am sure that if you have seen any of the pictures of me on my blog, you know that I am morbidly obese. A lot of people think that if you are that overweight you must be sitting down stuffing your face 24/7. That's not really true. Yes, I have obviously eaten too much at times, otherwise I wouldn't be so big. My weight has ballooned since living in California because I am not as active outdoors secondary to increased asthma from the smog and allergens. And my body has changed shape drastically after having twins. It really is embarrassing. I have managed to take off 22# over the last year or so, but it does not even show. That is discouraging.

My weight problem began as a child and so did my dieting. Through the years the dieting has only made me larger and caused me more emotional distress than I care to explain here. But, as always, God is bigger than any problem I face and He has healed my heart of many sorrows and pain. Still, now I am left with this distorted body and a need to improve my health in all ways.

Instead of dieting, I began by eating only when I was hungry...seems obvious, I know. But years of over eating leads to unhealthy choices and sometimes I have been guilty of eating because it tastes so good and sometimes because the food makes me feel good. I do not want to pass bad habits on to my children. It's better to prevent problems than to have to fix them afterwards.

The second step in this journey was to start eliminating processed foods. The first we eliminated was high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. Next MSG. MSG is in almost everything and it comes under sneaky names.

The third step has been to begin replacing normal foods with organic alternatives. We are buying organic/hormone free milk and meat whenever possible. And we have begun buying organic fruits and vegetables. Some things taste the same but others taste remarkably better!

Recently I have come across two different articles on buying organic produce, one was in the June 2007 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Both articles had a list of the same 12 items which are considered "worth" buying organic. The BHG article shared something that was shocking - you can wash non-organic strawberries 10-11 times and still find traces of chemical pesticides on them! Having worked in the health care profession between 1988-2000 I saw a lot of changes, particularly in children. And I am convinced that much of this is caused by all the chemicals that we eat in our so-called food. A lot of people "poo-poo" this idea. But I challenge to pick up some cans and boxes and seasoning mixes that you regularly eating and see if you can even identify or pronounce the ingredients therein!

At this point in time we are unable to have a garden. We don't even really have a yard, just concrete, rocks and some container gardens. Food can be container gardened but not well in the extreme heat we get here, coupled with the increased heat of being surrounded by asphalt, concrete and metal in a trailer park. I gardened as a girl with Grandma Hopkins and some as a young adult and I miss it. For now I am working on being content where God has placed me. It is our dream though to move and have a real garden.

You might think it is too expensive to buy organic foods. Yes, some things are expensive. But we are re-learning how we use meat, poultry and dairy products. And when you eliminate a lot of processed foods, you will have more money in your budget. Processed foods are not always cheap. I encourage you to look into it. Recently my friend and I were shopping at Safeway and the price for organic strawberries and tomatoes was the same as for the regular. And the organic strawberries tasted so good, like they came right out of your own garden. So there may be options. But here is the list of 12 foods that are important to eat organic because of how the pesticides are retained. It was also recommended that if you eat a lot of skin or leaves of fruits and vegetables, you should buy organic as well. The list of foods are:

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Sweet Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Imported Grapes
10. Spinach
11. Lettuce
12. Potatoes

All of those foods are pretty much staples in our household. So we will be making some more adjustments. We are very fortunate to have a lot of options here - Trader Joe's (often times their prices on organics are much less than other places), a food co-op, Whole Foods Market and several local grocery stores which carry health and nutrition items. Costco now carries organic, grass-fed, no hormone ground beef, which helps us too. The changes have not come overnight.

During this phase of change I have been experimenting with cooking more. One surprise is that by using organic spices and herbs in my cooking, I have been able to eliminate a LOT of salt! My husband, is what I consider a "salt-a-holic". I asked him tonight if he had noticed that I'm not using salt anymore in my cooking and he was surprised! Since we don't use seasonings packets I have been experimenting on flavors. For instance, we eat a lot of Mexican style foods. I use garlic, onions, peppers and Cumin for flavoring. I was noticing something missing but wasn't sure, so I looked at some true Mexican food recipes (as opposed to Tex-Mex or American restaurant Mexican food). I was surprised to discover that many of them used Oregano! I have begun adding Oregano and that has really seemed to make the taste complete.

This post is already growing long. One of these days, maybe I will do a post on some of the the foods I make now from scratch and my time-saving hints that are helpful for busy cooks.

I did want to end by saying that I am ready to get to the next step in becoming healthier. My husband and I are considering doing a cleansing fast in August. Naturally I hope to lose weight, but that is really not the purpose. He underwent radiation treatment last fall and I have "tummy troubles". We have heard some great anectdotal accounts from friends over the last several months. When it comes at you from several directions, you begin to think that someone is trying to tell you something! :o) After the fasting we hope to start back smaller and healthier in the food department and add exercise of some kind. We are older than most parents of young children and we hope that God allows us the privilege to see them grow up. However, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of what God has given us and thus we are making these changes.

Well, I don't imagine many people read this whole post and that is okay. Mostly I want to document for myself this new phase in our journey of health and wholeness.


Cary said...

I did, I did all the way through, I mean ;)

I want to applaude you and encourage you, dear Sister - you are in my prayers! I am excited for you!!!

By the way, love the new blog and have just been enjoying all of the photos

Cary said...

Oops, wanted to say, too, that morbid is never a word that would come to my mind when I think of you! Hugs, Cary

Prayerful Knitter - Shelly said...

Theresa, I'm trying to make many of the same changes. Regular exercise seems to be the most difficult for me.

I'll be praying that you get to move to where you can have a garden ... and less problems with asthma.

Marguerite said...

I read the whole thing and am excited for you. How wonderful that you have a supportive husband who works along side you toward better health.

I always love the comments you leave on my blog, but your server rejects my reply email because of " content such as obscene language, graphics, or spam-like characteristics (or) other reputation problems."

I feel so . . . puzzled. LOL

I can assure you my emails are totally family friendly. Any thoughts on why this is happening to us?

Holly said...

Theresa, it's easy to see how you have lost weight! Those are some fantastic changes you have made. May I throw in a word of caution that you probably already know about? ;~) Before beginning a cleansing fast-please make sure your bowel is working WELL. Fasting releases so many toxins-if they can't find a quick way out, you will feel horribly ill. I have had great results with Richard Schulze's bowel formulae.

Heather said...

I read it all the way through! Good for you guys! I hope to go all organic one day...

Nancy said...

I did read it all the way through! I have enjoyed your blog for a while now and really like the new look.
Best of luck on your new "journey". I could do the same if I only would, well maybe soon.

Paula said...

I love your blog and read the post all the way too.
I have the same issue too.
I am very active and busy and have too follow a strict diet for my diabetes but the weight doesn't come off that easy and I found out it has to do with the medication I am on.
It is so frustrating some days but I started warm pool exercises last year because I have RA and it keeps my joint from locking up, any way I love going there and I am really seeing a difference in the weight loss and I feel better.
It is a very slow loss only a few punds a month and I have sooo may to go but at least I am feeling better.
I love the plan you guys are doing and I am going to check that out.
I love eating all the fresh veggies and fruit this time of year from the gardens and orchards!
I will pray for you guys to get a new place with a big yard and where you have less asthma!

Meredith said...

I read the entire post. I will let you know when I read "you know that I am morbidly obese" I thought of myself. I used to refer to myself that way. I also used to be a size 22 and weigh 242 pounds. Key word used to. I realized that I am a child of God -so are you - and referring to myself that way does not help and is really insulting God. Love to hear how you do on the fast. I hope this was ok to post it just hit me when I read your post. You can do it !!

Lynette said...

Make me number 10 who read the entire post. I admit I skimmed over it early this morning, then came back this afternoon to read it more carefully. Bravo for you making changes for you & your kiddos & hubby of course. I also try to buy very little proccessed foods, seasoning mixes & so on. Thanks for the tip when cooking mexican food. I want to switch over to all fresh herbs & did plant some rosemary in a pot. It is slowly taking off. I did use it for Shula's Rosemary Lemon chicken-there is no comparison-the fresh rosemary that is, what a difference compared to the stuff in the jar.
My problem right now is acid reflux & allergies. Many foods give me heartburn & many other fresh fruits cause my mouth & ears to itch. I am very senistive to acidic foods. What to do!
2 questions-1.what sneaky names does MSG fall under? and 2. imported grapes what is the difference, taste, quality?
See you Sunday!

Mrs Noah said...

I am a very proud mother... Dear Daughter of Mine!

Keep up the good work and know I too am praying for you.

Ich Liebe Dich!