When Christine Lehmann was diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm, she was given pills, but knew she could do more to reclaim her health.
Vanessa came to me stressed and wanting to lose 30 pounds to meet the Army’s fitness criteria. She complained of dizziness, headaches, and stomach aches. I looked at her food journal.
“That’s great that you eat breakfast. Can you replace the refined, sugary cereal with steel-cut oats and adding raw almonds, a little fruit, or honey? You can also eat two eggs for breakfast without worrying about cholesterol.”
Vanessa was on a “blood sugar roller-coaster ride” from a diet heavy in refined starchy carbs (think pastas, white rice, bread, cereals, chips, cookies, snack bars) that converts into glucose quickly and sends her blood-sugar levels fluctuating more than normal. She was at risk for diabetes and obesity.
And she was not cooking meals either. “I didn’t really start cooking until two years ago,” I told her.
My mantra was convenience. Weeknights, I tossed pasta in a pot of boiling water and opened jars of sauces. Salads seemed like too much work. I microwaved low-fat frozen lunches at work that were high in sodium and additives. Two cups of coffee and two Diet Cokes powered me through my workday.
Following My Heart
My body protested two years ago. I passed out in my apartment and ended up in the emergency room. The doctor’s diagnosed me with atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) and a potassium deficiency, which causes dizziness. I got a two-week supply of potassium pills and made an appointment to see a cardiologist.
My heart rate returned to normal and I bought high-potassium food, but the shakiness and weakness continued. My stress spiked after my mother suffered a severe stroke, was hospitalized, and moved to a nursing home. Overnight I became her healthcare coordinator, advocate, bill payer, and visitor.
Working full-time 50 miles from home became a nightmare. I was afraid I would pass out at work or during my commute. I became so weak at a professional conference in another state that I returned to my hotel room to lie down. When I couldn’t stop trembling, I knew I needed professional help.
I prayed for guidance. Having tried traditional medicine, I was open to a different approach. One day, I was looking for a massage therapist on a fitness club’s website when I found a certified holistic nutritionist named Erin. My intuition said “go see her.”
A week later, Erin was reviewing my food journal and recommending a “blood-sugar-control diet” with healthy proteins, carbs from veggies and some fruit, and fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils. Buying only low-fat food for years had deprived my body of healthy fats.
Armed with Erin’s shopping list, recipes, and meal plans, I started buying real food and cooking. My favorite place to shop was my local farmers’ market with its colorful stalls of fresh vegetables and fruit, herbs, honey, eggs, and grass-fed meat. My taste buds popped the first time I ate farm-fresh raspberries and tomatoes.
A few weeks into the sugar-control diet, my energy increased and I dropped 10 pounds. This motivated me to start Phase 2 with no dairy, grains, alcohol, and caffeine. Fruit was limited to one serving daily. The idea was to detox completely from sugar, including glucose from carbs, fructose from fruit, and lactose from dairy.
Because it was summer, I swam, played tennis, or jogged several times a week. After a month on Phase 2, I dropped 20 more pounds for a total of 30. Nothing boosted my self-esteem like fitting into my old size 6 and 8 clothes and my sexy black bathing suit. I donated my old size 12 and 14 clothes to charity.
Although I had been a healthcare writer and reporter for years, I still felt something was missing. Erin told me that she loved her work as a nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP). After she answered my questions, I enrolled in the Nutritional Therapy Association’s nine-month program.
After passing the rigorous exams, I became a certified NTP last year.
I now own a holistic nutrition consulting business called Nourishing Foundations and see clients with diabetes, obesity, hormonal imbalances, and other conditions. It’s so rewarding to see their health blossom.
After helping Vanessa, she told me: “I don’t get headaches or stomach aches anymore. I don’t crave sugar except for a little chocolate — it’s nothing compared to before. I am so glad I found you online.” I just smiled.
Photo credit for featured image: Looks of Love Photography