I wanted to bring this post to you sooner, but I’ve been sidetracked by a handsome man of Sri Lankan descent who just returned from a three week vacation. These things happen. However, I really want to share this with you guys because aside from the post-Christmas blip with my gallbladder, which I’m glad to say is a thing of the past, I feel really good. And I want you to feel good, too.
Three thing you should know about me:
1. I’m a book geek.
2. These books changed my life.
3. I’m still learning from these books.
That’s why my first official post in my How I Got Healthier series is about a book. Knowledge is power, y’all. The books I’m talking about are 90 Day Immune System Makeover by Janet Maccaro, PhD, CNC and The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin.
It all started on Christmas of 2008, nearly a year after I started treatment for Lyme Disease, Bartonella, and Babesiosis. For more on that, check my story. As I mentioned, after a few months of treatment I still wasn’t doing so hot until I started considering some of the lifestyle changes that I could make to help my body heal. But really, I had no idea where to start except for a few suggestions my doctor had made. Cue 90 Day Immune System Makeover.
My mother casually handed me this book on a trip back home, but I really believe it was God’s way of opening my eyes to a whole new way of life. Have you ever read a book and then felt like “now I get it!”? That’s this book. Have you ever also read a book and felt like “I relate to this author so much it’s creepy”? That’s also this book. Dr. Janet, as she’s known to her readers, writes from the perspective of someone who’s lived the confusion, pain, and frustration of chronic illness. After years of searching for a diagnosis and a cure (like so many of us) she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and told “there’s really nothing more we can do for you.” What I love about Dr. Janet is she was pretty much like “Yeah, see that’s not really going to work for me.” (Quotes totally a fabrication of my imagination.)
Then she started praying for guidance and began to learn about all the topics she covers in 90 Day Immune System Makeover. Here’s where it applied to me. From the book I started to learn more about the concept of balance. Which is really another way of saying homeostasis – the scientific term for God’s way of designing each aspect of our body to work as one big happy team. And I learned that illness and imbalance are often a vicious cycle. It can be hard to say which came first, but either way once you’re in the vicious cycle, it’s hard to get out.
I received The Maker’s Diet a couple months later from a friend at church, and it reiterated the same message and helped me build on what I’d learned from 90 Day Immune System Makeover. Jordan Rubin went from healthy to incredibly ill in the course of just one year only to be diagnosed with Chron’s Disease – an incurable illness. Like Dr. Janet he searched for a cure for years, praying the whole time for guidance and healing. And after several years he began to study what the Bible says about food and health, he applied it to his life, and he began to recover. The Maker’s Diet taught me the importance of “good bacteria” and digestive health and helped me take things to the next level of feeling better.
Both books focus so much on how our bodies are designed to receive nutrients and vitamins, how we’re designed for specific kinds of activity and rest, and how genetic imbalances or a deviation from the right kinds of foods and activity can weaken our bodies’ defenses against disease, that I couldn’t help but realize there’s something to it. Both are also inspiring stories of people who have gone from sickness to health and seen God’s healing power in their lives.
I’d spent years thinking my poor health was caused by something wrong – a real health condition. And really it very much was. But that real health condition had set off a chain reaction of issues throughout my body that only sped up my downward spiral. I learned that by giving my body what it was created to need – healthy food, vitamins and supplements of nutrients we no longer get as much of in our modern diets, rest, exercise, positive thoughts – I was actually helping it get back into balance and do what it was designed to do best: fight back.
You’ve heard all of this before, but in my case the tricky part was knowing where to start, what foods were truly good for me and what foods should I avoid, what kinds of meals was I supposed to eat with all these new foods, how much of a vitamin I needed, what kind of exercise would strengthen my body’s immune system without hurting me, and more.
Because both Dr. Janet and Jordan Rubin are so down to earth and conversational, and because they write with true compassion for anyone dealing with illness, their books helped me begin to understand the difference between the mixed messages I’d heard in the media and what my body really needed for health. Dr. Janet has self tests that helped me determine what areas of my body were imbalanced (hint: pretty much all of them!) and outlines that helped me get a big picture view of how I could nurture those areas back to health, as well as sections devoted to overcoming specific issues, such as thyroid problems, hormonal imbalance, candidiasis, or anxiety. Both books have meal plans, recipes, and more.
I wish I could tell you I made all the changes in a period like 90 days. Seriously, “if I could turn back time…” But in my case, I took each step a little slower and adopted the immune building techniques over the course of a year. As I mentioned, I’m a book geek and I did a lot of research about each of their suggestions every step of the way. But I’m telling you about these books because they really helped me, and if you’re not feeling your best, I believe they can help you too. I saw real results with each change that I made – so much so that my doctors started to ask what I was doing differently. And one year after I made the decision to live a healthier life, I was announced in remission from the illnesses that defined my life for the previous two decades. For the first time in a looong time, I felt great.
I still live by the principles that I learned from 90 Day Immune System Makeover and The Maker’s Diet, and I’m still discovering the wealth of knowledge in their pages. Like when I had my gallbladder attacks and realized both of these books had suggested I care about my liver before something like that happens! But like I say, wellness is a journey not just a destination. And I’m grateful for these two road maps along the way.
Topics addressed in 90 Day Immune System Makeover: the immune system / detoxing / immune boosting foods / foods to cut out / exercise / sleep / digestion / vitamins and supplements / thyroid / hormones / liver / stress / anxiety / herbs / recipes / 90-day outline to better health …
Topics addressed in The Maker’s Diet: the importance of a healthy digestive system / the world’s healthiest people / success stories / the Biblical and medical basis of The Maker’s Diet / hygiene / emotions and health / Biblical medicine / rest and relaxation /recipes / 40-day outline to better health …
A couple side notes:
Healing takes time. I’ve spent the past 2+ years studying health and wellness both in my own time and in the lecture halls of an NYC university. What I’ve learned is that getting things back in balance isn’t always an immediate thing. The body takes time to heal, so I like to tell people to give it at least 3 months of dedication to see a difference. That seemed to be the magic number when it came to reaping the rewards of positive change in my own life.
Aim for an A. I found out the hard way that my body wasn’t really interested in a couple half hearted attempts at eating well, followed by a weekend of sugar binging and bad food. Believe me, I tried. I love my sweets. But in my case, I had to really stick to my new habits to see real results. So I held myself to a 90/10 rule. I would eat organic, hormone free, antibiotic free, healthy meals 90% of the time, and allow a (healthier) sweet to sneak in 10% of the time. The closer I stuck to 90%, the better I felt. The more my bad habits creeped above 10%, the worse off I felt. After a couple rocky months of transitioning, I really liked sticking to my new habits more than 90% of the time. Because nothing’s better than the sweet, sweet taste of freedom.
For a healthy dessert, try these candied pecans.
I know it can be hard. Believe me, if anyone knows what it’s like to be broke, exhausted, and not up for a challenge, it’s me. That’s why I made my lifestyle changes at a pace that worked for me. But if this is you, hang in there! I’m just getting started, and I’ll be including tips on how I made it work for me as I go.