My Story – A Reboot Journey

I’m a searcher on a journey, like you.

Click here for: Women of Distinction Magazine Article

 

Food,      Exercise,      Weight Loss,    Wellness,      Stress…..

I kept hearing these words, but it was so confusing, my life felt so difficult, that although that at 5’4″ I was weighing in at 250 lbs., I threw my hands up and said ‘Forget it, I don’t care’.

Many times we all do that, even if we are not in the situation I was in, you might be in OK shape, but food, nutrition, exercise, all of it can be very confusing. The usual and understandable response is “I’m just going to enjoy myself, try to eat healthy (as I understand it) and hope for the best’. For some people it works. Unfortunately, for some it does not.

Let me tell you the rest of my story…

The teen me. Full of energy, skinny and eating whatever I wanted.

The teen me. Full of energy, skinny and eating whatever I wanted.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s when convenience foods were the newest and greatest thing to give homemakers everywhere the freedom to put a quick dinner on the table and then be off to other things. TV dinners were common, and each new product was eagerly sampled and integrated into the family menu. Casseroles, made with canned soup, canned meat and canned veggies, were a staple meal.

My mom was on the ‘cutting edge’ of the modern homemaker’s new knowledge. She belonged to the County Extension who sent out handouts of quick and easy , healthy meals using all the greatest new innovations to come along. They pushed the food pyramid and urged us to always eat according to government guidelines. Mom was diligent and even started a home economics club for girls to teach them to cook and learn good nutrition. Her heart was in absolutely the right place. The problem was, the information we were given back then was not actually healthy as we now know.

I learned to bake and use margarine because it was ‘better’ than butter for cooking. I made casseroles loaded with cheese. I was a self-confessed cheese-a-holic, the more cheese on something, the better it was. I put it on everything. Baked potatoes were always loaded, spaghetti was a staple, from a box or a can. The perfect snack for me was butter on saltine crackers, or home baked cookies – lots of them – filled with chocolate chips and brown sugar.

I hated vegetables and would eat only the occasional green bean, carrot or tomato. Maybe iceburg lettuce if it was slathered in dressing.

School lunches contained what we affectionately called ‘mystery meat’, and sad looking canned vegetables and other unidentifiable things. Jello was a highlight. If we took our lunches to school, we always tried to trade that apple for the salty-crunchy snack or sweet treat our friends had. Soda and chips made their way into the vending machines by the time I was in high school and we were delighted. As a child I was skinny, I could eat anything and remained underweight.

This pattern followed me into adulthood as I married, had kids, brought them up on nacho chips and happy meals and watched myself and my friends begin to get heavier and more and more sedentary. We all just thought it was inevitable, that it occurred with age. Everyone said so, and we sure loved our loaded nachos and beer! Plus, we had the kids and we had no time and…a million other excuses.

Of course, I would look in the mirror and not like…um…hate.. what I saw. I was 250 lbs at my heaviest and in the beginning stages of Metabolic Syndrome. My triglycerides were over 700 – a number that shocked even my doctor.

Like my friends, I would hear about diets and try them, one after the other, and some would work for a while. I would lose some weight, but then it would come

At 250 lbs, I hid behind my hair and big dresses

At 250 lbs, I hid behind my hair and big dresses

back because I got tired of eating a salad for every meal, or drinking shakes twice a day or whatever the particular restrictive thing was.

I also did not realize that all this dieting was depriving my body of needed nutrients and playing havoc with my digestion and health. I had health complaints I

could not really pin down, but I knew I absolutely did not feel good. I was overweight, tired, and achy, had massive migraine headaches, low thyroid, muscle aches and very poor digestion and just figured that was the way it would always be. I did drop my weight to around 188, a big improvement over the 250. That took care of the metabolic syndrome and the ridiculous triglyceride levels, although they were still higher than they should be and I was still on medication for them along with medication for several other issues.


 BEFORE PICTURES:

Me and my folks... Mom always discreetly said... 'you are a little heavy' She wasn't kidding!

Me and my folks… Mom always discreetly said… ‘you are a little heavy’ She wasn’t kidding I was around 190 lbs here… still less than my heaviest of 250!

 

Playing in the ocean with my grandson in 2011 - the summer before my cancer diagnosis

Playing in the ocean with my grandson in 2011 – the summer before my cancer diagnosis – Weight around 180 lbs.. Still hiding in baggy clothes. A swimsuit was out of the question. The only ones I could find that fit were maternity suits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mom and Dad.  Dad just turned 90 and is still driving (and doing well).
Mom passed 6 years ago at 81 of a massive hemorrhagic stroke.
This picture was taken when she was 80.

 

 

Me at 180

 

This was taken during my recovery,
but before I’d started to eat healthy
…right before I started my new ‘rebooted’ lifestyle. Still around 180

 

optimized Janine-13

Now 130 lbs – No dieting, just clean eating, gluten and dairy free! Plus a little yoga. BTW, I am 55 this September, officially a Senior Citizen and feel like I am ‘maybe’ 30.

 

 

AFTER PICTURE:  Photo Shoot June 2015

Me at 180

Me at 180 and 49 years old. I was tired all the time, and felt every year of my age, plus some.

 

    Compare it to:

At just under 200.. I still can't find one at 250...still looking

At just under 200.. at age 50, I still can’t find one at 250…still looking…This was after my marriage in 2010. I’d gained back some of the weight I’d lost to fit into the dress!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard to believe I am even the same person!

If I can ever find a picture of me at 250lbs (I never allowed pictures, so I am having a hard time locating one) I will post that here also.  At that weight, I was in my 30’s and early 40’s and had difficulty even getting up and down from a chair.


 

The day the world turned upside down…

In 2011, at the age of 51, I was living my life, with the usual midlife complaints, when the bomb that woke me up dropped. Two days after my husband was laid off, two days before Christmas I was diagnosed with Stage III, Triple Negative Breast Cancer, and it had spread to 13 lymph nodes. Hello? What? Me? I did not feel THAT sick! Cancer!? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. I was in total shock and scared out of my wits. Triple Negative Breast Cancer is not hormone driven, so there are not a lot of medical options for treatment. They pretty much just throw some heavy-duty poisons into you and hope. I was told I had a lower survival rate than someone who had hormone positive cancer, but the surgery, chemotherapy and the radiation should ‘help’. I was told to eat whatever I could keep down and not to take any supplements as it might interfere with the chemo. My oncologist, I later found out, never expected me to make it.  She started my initial report with the words, “This unfortunate woman…”

Two months after my last chemo- my hair started coming back snow white, and then black and straight. I was in the midst of radiation at this point.

Two months after my last chemo- my hair started coming back snow white, and then black and straight. I was in the midst of radiation at this point.

Knowing nothing about alternatives and too terrified to even consider other options, I hopped right on board the cancer treatment conveyer belt and off I went.

Once into the process I did begin to look into things and start studying. I found nutritional things to help me through the treatments. I did NOT tell my doctor as she forbade me to do anything nutritional to help myself because it might interfere, and she continued to be negative throughout treatment. I was too sick and overwhelmed to try to find another doctor in the midst of everything.  Instead, I spent hours on the internet looking up side effects, natural ways to combat them, foods to keep my strength up and to rebuild my body from the effect of the poison. I also read about some of the alternatives to chemo, but I was still too scared to stop the treatment and rely totally on nutrition.

The chemo, associated medications, and the radiation took a terrible toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally. I lost my job due to the cancer and I ended up having a mental/emotional breakdown. I have faced death and have been to the lowest pits of hell emotionally, and crawled back out. If anyone needed a reboot, it was me!

It took this for me to find myself again and to find a way to rebuild and begin to walk and even at times run and skip on my journey instead of crawl as I had been doing since treatment.

The road back….and how it relates to YOU!

During all that time, I researched, I read studies, and I implemented changes in my diet, in the supplements I took each day, in my ways of thinking, in my

After treatment was all done....coming back. The Reboot in full swing...

After treatment was all done….coming back. The Reboot in full swing…

physical activity. I did this slowly over time, one thing at a time, experimenting on myself to see what worked. I began to find studies that confirmed that what I was doing was being found to be backed by real scientific and anecdotal studies…I was stumbling onto things that actually worked, right in through the back door!

I want to share the things I have found and continue to find with you here in hopes that perhaps, my journey may help you and inspire you to do your own research to find what might be optimal for you.

I can honestly say that am now healthier than I have ever been in my life. I am energetic, happy, strong and very, very positive in my outlook for the future

I am now formally certified in Nutritional Therapy and Integrative Wellness, a certified Holistic Life Coach and I am enrolled in several other classes continuously to increase my knowledge. I am not a medical professional, and even once I receive my certification, even though I will have a lot more formal knowledge, I still will not be a state licensed medical professional. Therefore, I ask that you definitely look at the studies I cite in other articles, and make your own decisions along with your medical professional if you decide to make changes in your diet and life. You are responsible for your own health and wellness, and the information I share is for informational purposes only.

Each of us is unique; my journey is my own, just as yours will be yours. However, we can walk together and share what we learn.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SICK to benefit from the things I have learned! You can start from anywhere, well, sick, recovering.  Every step you take on the path is one step closer to optimal wellness.  If you begin crawling on your knees, know that one day you will walk, and then run….

Come run with me through the garden! Come reboot your life, and return to the hope you had before life bogged you down! We can thrive again, and make the second half of our lives even better than the first — NO MATTER WHAT we have been through!

 

At 135 lbs, I am at a healthy weight for my height, with tons of energy and cancer behind me, the future bright in front of me!

At 130 lbs, I am at a healthy weight for my height, with tons of energy and cancer behind me, the future bright in front of me!