Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is Optimal Health? (and why do I care so much?)

            "Optimal health is ones mental and physical condition being at 100%."

All through 2010 I simultaneously began putting on weight (due to my increasing sugar addiction) and began struggling physically with asthma-related symptoms.  I've always been healthy and of average weight so it came as quite a surprise when I developed horrible allergies, Atopic-dermatitis and suddenly asthma.  Breathing became very difficult and I just wanted medication to make it all better, but after many doctor's visits (3 specialists) and more blood draws than I can remember, the end result was that my insurance wouldn't qualify me for the only medication that seemed to help.  In the end I was left on my own to figure something out.  The only words of hope my dr gave me were "if you lose some weight, it'll help ease the pressure on your lungs and you should be able to breathe better."  I was about 50 lbs overweight and, since this was my only hope, decided to run with it. 

I began with Weight Watchers in Feb 2011, and it worked for awhile.  But Optimal Health became my goal around April/May 2011 when I realized that I was losing weight with Weight Watchers but I still wasn't healthy.  I'd discovered ways to cheat and stay within my points but deep down inside I knew I was cheating...I knew the food wasn't good for me, I just didn't know why.  I decided then to go on a search to find out how I could improve over Weight Watchers...lose weight AND be healthy.  I knew nothing of clean eating or of the raw lifestyle, but I did have my sister and parents constantly talking to me about being gluten free.  There was NO WAY I was going to go gluten free since that pretty much encompassed 100% of my diet!  So I ignored them.  One day I remembered learning something (again from my sister) about eating for your bloodtype.  I immediately googled it and found out that my blood-type (A+) was the vegetarian type.  Which basically meant that my body would metabolize food best if I ate according to a vegetarian diet.  Plant-based proteins, whole grains...staying away from meat products.  Thus began my journey into raw foods and eventually into settling on Clean Eating.

But back to Optimal Health.  If you do a google search on the term "optimal health" you're going to come up with a whole lot of scary responses.  "Colon cleansing, Enimas, Fasting, Detoxification, FIR Sauna, Massage, Nutritional Counseling, mega food suppliment" (ok, I'll take the massage part!)  It's funny that nothing comes up about what medications to take or cosmetic proceedures you can have done.  Everything related to obtaining Optimal Health is done by natural means.  When I started my journey to find Optimal Health, I knew none of that ~ I just wanted to be healthy!

"Optimal health is ones mental and physical condition being at 100%.  What an incredible goal to have!  For so many with chronic and debilitating diseases/conditions/illnesses, it's not even a dream they believe has a chance of fulfillment.  We're a nation that medicates up and then suffers side-effects so we medicate up more to counter-act the side effects and still expect to live a fulfilling life.  We want instant answers and often the only answers out there require time and hard work.  I was told today, "Wow, Amy, you're looking really great.  You've lost a ton of weight.  Is it stress or did you actually work at it."  No, I've actually worked at it...for 8 long months!  Optimal Health can not be attained through stress (if only it were that simple since plenty of that abounds!).  It can be attained through eating healthy and exercise.  80% of it is food, though.  What goes in your mouth determines how much energy you'll have, how your body will respond to viruses and bugs that come around, whether you'll gain or lose weight...and so much more!

Many years ago my grandmother, who suffered from diabetes and heart conditions, was told by her doctor that, due to the way she and her children ate, none of them had a chance to live healthy lives and they would all die from diseases related to how they had eaten.  But he said my grandmother's grandchildren's generation (me) had hope IF they learned how to eat properly early in life.  I've heard that story so many times and shrugged it off.  The good 'ol "Whatever" attitude.  But this year I've begun to learn how wise that doctor was.  My generation needs to eat properly to have hope of Optimal Health.  I'm so thankful I made this realization before it also was too late for me and while my children are still young.  I hope others reading with come to the realization, too, that if you're still breathing, it's not too late.  Make some intentional changes today that will make for a better tomorrow.

*definition for Optimal Health taken from
*To learn more about eating for your bloodtype, here is the official site:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Naturally Sweet Surprises

Hello!  Welcome to Naturally Sweet Surprises.  This blog will be about my journey to find health.  Along the way I'll share parts of my story and how I came to be in this place.  My hope is that by sharing where I've been and the things I've learned along the way, that others might be encouraged to start living life healthier as well.  I use the word "Journey" because making the choice to eat healthier does not happen overnight, nor will the weight fall off or the habits changes quickly.  All of that takes's a journey.

I have chosen to title my blog Naturally Sweet Surprises for several reasons.  

Naturally!  Natural foods are God's perfect plan for mankind.  The Garden of Eden was fully stocked with whole, raw foods that provided 100% perfect nutrition for its inhabitants.  It was natural.  The Natural part of my title gives all the glory and honor to the One who designed whole foods for our consumption.  Most of the foods that line our grocery store aisles are processed and packed full of chemicals.  Nothing is natural about them...not the smells, colors or ingredients.  They are full of chemicals that cause addictions and toxins that make us sick.  They are poison.  Part of my journey has been to choose to eat naturally, as God originally intended, and say no to those tempting poisons.

Sweet! Oh how I love sweets!  I've long joked that sugar is my drug.  I could breathe it in and it would make me happy.  I had no idea how true a statement that was until I decided to stop eating sugar.  The reaction in my body was the same as a person coming off drugs.  I had such bad detox symptoms that I had to go back ON sugar!  And then slowly start taking it out of my diet.  But God made naturally sweet foods and it has been so fun to start discovering other foods that satisfy my sweet tooth but are still healthy.

Surprises!  Wow - this whole journey has been a surprise!  If you know me, you know that I'm the instigator.  I'm the one encouraging others to eat bad because I am SO addicted to bad foods that I don't want to be the only one eating it (and looking like I'm eating it!) and feeling guilty.  What a surprise for ME to be the one turning to healthy whole foods.  What a surprise that I'm liking it!  What a suprise that I've lost weight, have more energy and am healthier than I've ever been!  What a surprise how many people are now asking ME to blog my journey, asking me for tips and advice.  What a surprise that healthy foods can taste GOOD! 

This journey has been one full of trials and errors.  I tend to learn things the hard way.  But if I can make your journey a little smoother, I'm so happy to have stumbled a bit in advance of you.  Many thanks to Klicken Photography for the photo I am using that so beautifully depicts the journey.  I love the carefree abandon of those feet as they run through the sand.  May your journey be as freeing.