My Messy, Imperfect, Eye-Opening Journey
In 2003 I was shocked when our thirteen-year-old son Josh was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I knew nothing about the disease and no one in our family had been diagnosed with it in the past. Let the schooling of metabolic health begin.
I was surprised to learn that all sugars and starches were carbohydrates and affected our blood sugar levels. It didn’t matter if the carbs were from a candy bar, cashews, or green beans, they needed to be counted as we dialed in the amount of insulin my son needed to survive. I quickly learned that drinking sugar has an especially dangerous effect on our body as it spikes blood sugar and then crashes fast dropping our blood sugar levels just in time for the insulin to start working and make it even lower.
This began my messy, imperfect, eye-opening journey to metabolic health.
I never struggled with my weight until I had my children. This was right about the time we all decided that it was the fat in our food making us fat and we dove headfirst into low-fat (i.e., high sugar) dieting. Olestra chips, Cherry Coke, and Red Vines ruled the day! This “worked” to lose weight initially. But I always gained it all back with a couple extra pounds for good measure.
Years down the road I was introduced to a Keto diet. It worked! I lost weight, but again, it was only temporary, I never learned how to maintain my weight and would head right back into poor eating habits on vacation or at the first sign of a birthday cake. I HAD to celebrate right?! Those celebrations sent me spiraling back down into a world of carb addiction. I had already blown it soooo might as well keep going!
Fast forward to 2020. Yes, THAT 2020.
I was trying to be good! But the world and its drama got to me. I love to bake, and since my coffee house was shuttered, I baked at home and submersed myself in carb loaded comfort foods. By Christmas I saw an all-time high number on the scale. We’re talking, beyond the number of my last pregnancy high. I was pre-diabetic (Type 2), in pain, and filled with inflammation.
This wasn’t just about weight loss anymore.
Since 2005 I had been on thyroid medication for Hashimoto's Disease and was dealing with a slew of autoimmune issues and finally diagnosed in 2019 with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.
(MCTD) has signs and symptoms of a combination of disorders — primarily lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, and polymyositis. Many people with this uncommon disease also have Sjogren's syndrome. For this reason, MCTD is sometimes called an overlap disease. In mixed connective tissue disease, the symptoms of the separate diseases usually don't appear all at once. Instead, they tend to occur over a number of years, which can complicate diagnosis. Early signs and symptoms often involve the hands. Fingers might get puffy, and the fingertips become white and numb, often in response to cold exposure. In later stages, some organs — such as the lungs, heart and kidneys — can be affected. There's no cure for mixed connective tissue disease. Treatment depends on how severe the disease is and the organs involved. (via mayoclinic.org)
I did my research and knew that many autoimmune issues begin in the gut, so I studied how to heal my gut. Guess what? It all comes back to what we put in our mouths. I learned that by managing my blood sugar I could reverse the oncoming train of Type 2 diabetes and possibly quiet the autoimmune storm happening inside me.
I got serious about what I ate and by the end of 2021, after a year focused on metabolic health, I was in much better condition. I finally learned how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Yes, I dropped the extra 40 pounds, but also, my blood work showed that my body was responding very well to this new low-carb/no sugar lifestyle. My A1C (three-month blood sugar level) was in the normal range for the first time in many years and all the indicators of autoimmune flare were negative. My cholesterol numbers were much better and basically, things on the inside looked as good as I was feeling on the outside.
I was less hangry, less grumpy, less flyoffthehandl-ey, less sad, clearer headed, I had more energy, and overall, just felt so much better.
Don’t get me wrong. It was not easy, and I didn’t feel great every day.
Not at all!
Did I mention it was a messy, imperfect, eye-opening journey? Honestly, it was a year of battle. I fought temptation and cravings around every corner. I didn’t realize all the unhealthy habits and patterns I had developed over the past 50-something years. I distracted myself with lots of house reorganization/remodeling and focused on getting my coaching certification (I’m currently continuing studies to get more certification in health-related coaching and accreditation through the Nutrition Network).
It is still a day-by-day journey, though the cravings are not as severe since breaking many bad habits and creating new ones. It took a lot of learning how to rewire my thinking and overcome the past well-worn pathways of an unhealthy lifestyle. Sugar/carb addiction is a REAL and formidable foe. I never knew I was addicted until I stopped, started, and kept stopping. But God created our brains with this amazing feature called "neuroplasticity," it's the key to stopping old habits and creating new healthy ones.
Even though it’s been difficult, I wouldn’t trade this life now for all the Lindt milk chocolate in the world.
This is still better.
This is lasting.
The dopamine hits from sweets are wonderful, but disappointingly temporary, and begin the craving/reward cycle in our brain that is never satisfied.
Along this journey, I've had many people asking how I did it, what was different this time, how did I stick with it? I shared my story with friends and family and saw there was a real desire to learn more about metabolic health. We (as a world in 2020) were learning the hard way that being unhealthy metabolically was dangerous and possibly even deadly. If there was ever a time to create a healthy lifestyle, it’s now. We have a long road ahead, and big-food companies don’t want us learning about the dangers of sugar, processed foods, and seed oils. But, knowledge is power and it’s time to take our health into our own hands.
The idea of Craving Peace came to me in the beginning of 2021, but I wanted to have at least a year of this lifestyle under my belt before I invited others to come on this journey with me.
In January 2022 I started two six-week groups in my home and one online to share the things I’ve learned. It has been so good. Honestly, it’s too much information for six classes, but I crammed in the highlights, gave them a lot of think about, and equipped them with the tools to explore much more for themselves. Even in that short time we had testimonies of better sleep, less anxiety, less brain fog and even weight loss. My heart warms when I hear women say, “I just feel so much better.” I’m also thrilled with the gals who didn’t apply much of the info yet, but they are learning, and taking this journey at their own pace. This is a lifetime journey, not a sprint to a number on the scale.
*I created a podcast to share all the material from the classes, see link below*
I am currently coaching small groups of women and intensive on-on-one coaching. I am passionate about this and loving helping others on this journey! This season of coaching also gives me great opportunity to learn and grow along the way. I have committed 2022 as a year of training/schooling and coaching women in-person and online. The connection, encouragement, and strength I receive from the women I’m privileged to coach, is priceless to me and no cost to them. I consider it on-the-job training for when I launch my coaching business in 2023.
My faith is a huge part of this journey, in fact it’s the foundation of it. I believe a deeper walk with God is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle, it is for me anyways. Every cell in our body was intricately created by God and I think He has a lot to say about how we take care of it and why it’s important. Sure, we can lose weight and improve our bloodwork without Him, but God gives life meaning, purpose, and peace. I believe the only way we become the woman He’s created us to be is through relationship with Him and His leading in our lives. I don’t believe peace, real peace, is possible without Him at the center of our lives. Learning about His love for us and living IN that love is not only foundational, it’s everything.
I’m craving peace, peace with God, peace with others, and peace with cravings.
I'm not yet where I want to be, but I'm on this journey for the rest of my life, and that's the important part.
Share the journey with women just like you in our Facebook Craving Peace Community Group:
Check out our FB page and Twitter feed for lots of articles and links to great doctors, professors, and teachers in this space: Craving Peace Facebook Page
Enough about me, drop me a note and tell me about YOU!
I'd love to hear your story.
Click here to listen to the podcast from this post: My Story and Your Story
Link: About Sue Cramer
P.S. In case you are wondering, NO, I have no products to sell you and I didn’t take or use any either. The only supplements I take are prescription Vitamin D, chelated Zinc, & Magnesium Glycinate that I get on Amazon.
P.P.S. I've started a podcast if you'd like to listen.