My Health, Wellness, and Fitness Journey
My journey to better health, wellness, and fitness began with many health issues and concerns. I've had several diagnoses through the years:
1990 – Fibrocystic Breast Disease
1996 – Gestational Diabetes
2005 – Irritable Bowel Syndrome
2005 – Lactose Intolerance
2007 – Thyroid Disease
2008 – Adenomyosis / Fibroid Tumors
2009 – Partial Hysterectomy (to cure adenomyosis/fibroids) Read about this near-death experience in my book, 12 Days: A Story of Faith, Hope, Healing, and Victory available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
2013 – Craniotomy for Meningioma (right front section of my brain)
2013 – Partial Thyroidectomy (right side)
2014 – Elevated Blood Pressure
2015 – Gastritis
2015 – Esophagitis
2015 – Mild Fatty Liver
2015 – Gluten and Carb Sensitivity
2019 – Menopausal Symptoms?
That's enough, right? Because of my family history, I have to be careful of high blood pressure and diabetes. However, a few of the health issues above were caused by my own negligence of my body by not eating the right foods and getting plenty of exercise – both cardiovascular exercise and strength training.
Throughout my journey, I tried many different diets. My weight went up and down. Most of the time, I successfully lost weight; however, I couldn't keep it off. I tried to figure out why that was. Part of it was going back to old bad habits. But that wasn't the whole reason why my weight would return. I believe that diets are temporary fixes to our weight gain problem and a lifestyle change should happen to solve the problem.
As I went on and off diets, I decided that maybe losing weight and keeping it off would not happen for me. Perhaps I would have to live with internal pain, fatigue, and not feeling well. However, after a while, the light bulb turned back on, and I decided that living in pain was not living at all. I had too many diagnoses to let the pain continue and not try at least one more time to get better. Enough was enough! What was I doing wrong, and how could I fix myself? I could do better with my eating and getting more exercise, but something else was missing. I needed a permanent change in my lifestyle.
Well, I started strategizing to solve this weight gain and pain problem. I realized that my mind and my spirit had to change. I needed to change how I thought about food. The way I did that was to start a regular prayer routine (day and night) with God so he could fix my thought process and give me the strength to change my ways. I began reading a book called The Maker's Diet by Jordin S. Rubin. The book has a spiritual component to everyday diet and lifestyle as it pertains to food. As I prayed, I had an epiphany and realized that is what was missing from my past weight loss efforts. By regularly communicating with God, he miraculously changed me!
Then, I researched gluten sensitivity and mild fatty liver. I found out what trigger foods were making me sick, like regular pasta, certain types of bread, and anything containing gluten. I reduced the amount of gluten I was eating. My new mantra: "I eat to live and do not live to eat." Thanks to my sister-in-law, Dionne, I began to do the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith. The Green Smoothie Cleanse (GSC) has been critical to healing my stomach pain and giving my intestinal tract a rest from the harsh digestive process that breaking down regular foods can cause. What a relief GSC has been for me! As a part of the GSC program, I drank detox tea. Also, I drink ginger tea. Most of the time, when I drank tea in the past, it included some type of sweetener. I haven't had any tea with sweetener since January 2015. That's a miracle in itself!
I also learned about a free nutrition program at my university for employees called "LIFTUP!" (Lifestyle Intervention for Total Health), which helped the participants understand body type and the role food and exercise play in calorie consumption and burning. They help participants set reasonable goals to be successful in weight loss over some time. I have learned about proper portion size in preparing my food, foods with the best nutritional value for me, how much exercise to get, how to consume enough calories per day, and balance that against regular exercise, and it goes on and on. My nutritionist set me up on a plan that allowed me to eat up to 1600 calories a day, and that went along with my six-day a week exercise plan.
Another tool that I used to help me in this journey was a Fitbit. It is a device that attaches under your clothing to help you keep track of calorie intake, activity, and water consumption to keep track of your habits daily.
What I came to realize was praying, doing exercise, drinking half my body weight in water, implementing proper eating habits, drinking green smoothies, participating in LIFTUP!, keeping track of my activity for calorie burn and food consumption with my Fitbit was very necessary to get to this point. I am extremely grateful because I now know that although I tried to exercise and change my diet in the past, the real key to success was my relationship with God and having regular communication with him so that he could guide me through it all.
My lifestyle has changed because of God's influence, a great team of doctors that helped reveal some of my health problems, and implementing necessary changes to obtain good health and wellness to maintain a healthy weight. The cool thing about this is that I didn't start the journey to lose weight for vanity purposes. I wanted to lose weight to feel better internally.
Implementing the strategies above helped me look at food differently. In other words, although food gives us pleasure, its main purpose is to nourish the body. I try to keep that in mind each time I plan to eat. I won’t say that I’m perfect, but I’m so much better than I was, and I was feeling amazing until…
The dreaded menopause. What I experienced in 2019 was unlike anything else I’ve experienced concerning my health. I felt different and off unlike my normal jovial self. I knew something was wrong. I began to have night sweats, anxiety, moments of panic, brain fogginess, inability to concentrate, insomnia, “personal summers,” joint and body aches, belly softening, exhaustion, moodiness, sadness. I heard so much about menopause but wasn’t necessarily expecting it now. I happened upon an article by my weight loss/management guru JJ Smith called How to Balance Your Hormones for Weight Loss, in which she provided some great insight into hormonal imbalance and how to balance your hormones.
After some lab work, it was confirmed that I am in the beginning stages of the dreaded menopause. I began taking natural supplements to thwart its effects. I thought to myself, “what else am I going to go through?” I know, I know it’s all a part of the female experience. This is not an easy walk by any stretch of the imagination since I have thyroid disease too – I’m battling both simultaneously. However, I try to stay positive and prayerful that I’ll get through this like everything else. Truthfully, I am feeling a lot better than I did before I started taking natural supplements. If you start to feel off and you’re a woman of a certain age, I suggest going to the doctor for analysis sooner than later. I’m coming along now and feel like my spirit/soul is in tune with God who is helping me understand my earthly purpose more clearly.
In March 2020, we were in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and started to work remotely. I realized, at this point, that I was transitioning to a new phase concerning food -- my appetite began to change. I was not feeling very hungry in the morning and decided to try intermittent fasting after reading some articles about it, and it felt natural at this point in my life. Since I started the new phase of menopause, I did not feel I had anything to lose. Well, it turns out that it works for me! I can go from 16 to 18 hours from my previous night's meal to the next day and now eat twice a day. I find that it helps me to keep my weight in even better control, and I give my digestive system a break from processing food -- a win-win for me!
I hope that my blog blesses you immensely and helps you forge a path for good health and wellness in your journey. Stay tuned for more to come.
Live, laugh, love, and pray.
God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness,
Antoinette Shar’ron Johnson
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