With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and February being National Heart Month, I thought it would be an appropriate time to add a weekly feature to this blog. Introducing, the Healthy Harvest Weekly Highlight.
I don’t claim to be a nutrition guru, and that’s not what this weekly highlight is going to be about. It is an attempt to share my journey towards eating cleaner and healthier and all of the benefits that come with it.
Several years ago, my body under went some significant hormonal changes that, inevitably, ended up leaving me with a diagnosis of insulin resistance. In short, insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Although the exact causes of insulin resistance are not completely understood, excess weight and physical inactivity are major contributors. However, the things that many don’t know is that the excess weight and physical inactivity also can be brought on by other factors that may include ethnicity, certain diseases, hormones, steroid use, some medications, older age, sleep problems, and smoking.
At 39, I was an active mother of three, working part time when I found out that I was pregnant with my fourth child. I remained pretty active and ate well throughout my pregnancy, only gaining a total of 17 pounds. Within weeks of delivering my 10 lb. 5 oz. bundle of joy, my pre-pregnancy clothes didn’t fit…..they were too big! I was so proud of myself. This lasted about eight weeks or so until the weight started to come back. It didn’t just creep up on me either; it was coming at rapid speed. I exercised, joined a gym, dieted, joined weight loss programs and nothing seemed to stop this weight train from coming at me full speed ahead.
Years of doctor visits and poking and prodding brought nothing but frustration and heartache; wondering why, despite all of my efforts, I kept failing. What was I doing wrong? Finally, I found an endocrinologist and nutritionist that sat down with me and listened! After getting to know me and my complete history and lifestyle habits, they explained that hormones are a hard to understand and they believed a combination of things factored into my current state of health. They also explained how the impact of years and years of preservatives, pesticides, growth hormones, artificial sugars and additives have played into all of it. My age, lifestyle, activity, and food choices had finally converged and the result – insulin resistance.
Needless to say, I did A LOT of research, and was determined to make some serious lifestyle changes. I don’t know about you but as a working mother of four, my effort to change everything all at once was very overwhelming to do all at once – but I charged on! Guess how that went? Yep, more failures; more frustrations.
A little over two years ago, I just decided to accept where I was at the moment and begin with one small change at a time. When that one change became habit, I moved on to the next. This is still a work in progress and a slow process, I’ll admit, but one well worth it.
In this weekly post, I’ll highlight a Healthy Harvest way in which I took back control of what enters my home, what is created from scratch, what is grown in my garden (or purchased from local farmer’s markets and produce stands) and what I still might be struggling with. It isn’t always easy, but our health and the health of our family makes it worth the time and effort we put into it!