Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Heidi, Where have you been?

Hi Y'all! Sorry for the long absence from my blog. My only excuse is that I'm just so T-I-R-E-D. Common side effect of chronic fatigue. My energy was amazing right before Christmas, and then a series of events that included traveling, allergies, and  going on and off the raw food diet put my body into havoc. You could say I fell off the wagon, but I also lapsed into a series of colds and great periods of fatigue; the worst being in mid-February when a cold turned into Pneumonia. I have recovered from the worst of it, but am still left greatly fatigued. The worst part is just feeling utterly incapable of doing normal day to day stuff like keeping the laundry caught up or putting dinner on the table; the two things I thought at the very least I could do. Losing your capabilities like this is just so frustrating; I am grateful for a patient husband and for God's grace. I've even been learning in redemption group that I can still be grateful for what God has blessed me with through my pain. That doesn't mean that I still don't cry out to God, but I have stopped blaming him and see that he has me in his hands and is providing for me. Just last week I had a friend bless me greatly when she learned I was having several family members staying over, and she came and cleaned my house for me after she heard how tired I was. It's hard to accept help because it makes me admit how weak I am to others, but I have to realize that God is blessing me and I am in the process of learning to accept his blessings just as I learn to see the provision of this season. 
I am making small steps back to the raw food diet; I found a Champion Juicer on Craigslist and hope to get it tomorrow. This type of juicer will allow me to make a larger batch of juice in advance so I can drink it over one to two days instead of what I've been doing with the Jack LaLane juicer where I have to drink the juice within 20-30 minutes of making it.  I'm hoping to increase my juice consumption and increase my energy as a result. Part of the catch-22 of my chronic fatigue is that sometimes I'm too tired to make myself juice or a salad that would be beneficial for my healing.
What's so funny about how God provides is that I got the call this morning from the person selling me their juicer, and this afternoon as I'm volunteering at the Cancer clinic, a family friend from my childhood comes in with her son who is about to get a transplant. I ask her if she'd like to use my Jack LaLane juicer while they are here, and she says,  "Sure!" and she starts telling me all the amazing stories of how people are providing for them while they're in Seattle. Her son will be on a liquid/soft food diet after his transplant and the juicer will come in handy. Isn't God good?
I hope to give you more stories of God's goodness and grace as I continue this crazy journey.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Increasing your nutrients with a little help from your friends at Freggies

What do you think? Have you bought some fresh produce yet? How does it taste? Did you realize you could fall in love with veggies again? Fresh fruit? How about those globe grapes? Aren't those amazing?
After you've been increasing your vegetable intake for a while, you may start to look for fresher produce or you might even go ORGANIC. I suggest starting out with organics- you won't be disappointed and the investment you make is well worth the effort. The biggest difference I notice is with celery, but I can also tell a marked difference with tomatoes, green peppers, grapes and anything leafy; i.e. spinach, lettuce, etc.. Basically, anything that carries a high percentage of water in it also has the potential to carry more pesticides, so be careful. Pesticides do actually end up inside your food, even if washed, so it is important to try and find produce that wasn't subjected to pesticides in the first place. Fruits and vegetables thought to have the highest pesticide residue are: apples, peaches, grapes, strawberries, green beans, pears and winter squash. I will update this list as I come across more information. As a general rule, it's safest to go organic so you're not putting harmful chemicals into your body.
I know what you might say... "But organics are expensive!?!!" If you think about it, the most expensive item in your grocery cart is usually meat. If you decrease your meat consumption and increase your organic fruit and vegetable intake, then buy some raw walnuts and almonds, it pretty much evens out. In addition, organics are more nutritious, so you get more "bang for your buck" per se.
So where do you buy organic? (Especially for my family in Idaho?)
Costco, believe it or not, is a great place to buy organic produce. Fred Meyer also has a great selection as well as a naturals section for fun grains and bulk items. Look for farmer's markets or natural food stores; they tend to carry organics and pay attention to farming practices. Feel free to post suggestions under this posting for places in your area that you like to go.
For us lucky Seattleites, there is a service called Freggies (www.freggies.com) that was started by Jerrod and Nikki Sessler. I have been using Freggies for a few months now and am incredibly impressed with the produce. I have some photos I will be posting so you can see the difference for yourself. Even produce bought from PCC (the top natural grocery store in our area) can't compare. The pears from Freggies were twice as big and juicier than the PCC pears, and I even made sure to buy the same varietal. The produce from Freggies always has amazing quality; and if that weren't enough; you can get some exotic varieties like the New Zealand gold kiwis I got with my first order. I had never seen them before and they were incredibly delicious (Nikki tells me they are out of season, so you might have to wait until next year to try one.)
Did I mention that Freggies delivers? That's right! Every week a big box of amazing produce shows up at my front door. The produce is delivered at the peak of freshness, and if a certain item isn't the best quality possible, they won't include it in my box. It's nice to know they're looking out for me.
Regardless of where you find your organic produce, you are sure to enjoy it so much more; almost like having your own vegetable garden. Anyone who has eaten a home-grown tomato knows what I'm talking about. Viva la fresh, organic produce!

Your diet intimidates me... how do I get started even if I wanted to?

I have heard a few reactions to my blog recently; anything from "I stopped reading when it said, 'NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS' in caps" to, "That's nice that it works for you, but there is no way I could ever do that."
I have to admit that it's not easy to try something new. Making it harder would be the extremist "all-or-nothing mentality" or having fear that whatever you put in your body that might be wrong could harm you.
So, let's not think that way. Let's not focus on what can't be done, but what CAN. If I beat myself up frequently with doubt that I can't do this and fear that I won't do it right, I will never love the raw diet enough to be consistent with it. Let me share with you how easy it is for you to get started eating better with me:
1.) Dust off the juicer that your aunt/sister/daughter/son/relative gave you that sits in your garage/attic/storage area.
2.) If you don't have one, spend $89 at Costco to invest in a Jack LaLane juicer.
3.) While at Costco, buy a 15 pound bag of carrots
4.) While you're there you might as well buy some bananas; after all, they're only $1.27 for like, 3 pounds of them. Enjoy yourself in the produce department. You might say, "Hey, look at the size of these grapes! Maybe I'll get some of those too! What about this bag of avocados?" And it goes on until you have a few items in your cart like spinach, apples, tomatoes, dates and raw almonds. Don't overdo it on your first trip; you want to pace yourself so the next time you are in a produce section you can try a few new things.
5.) Try to juice every day; having at least 50% of your juice be from carrots. Juice only vegetables, and then very last, put in 1/2 an apple. This is what my daily juicing repertoire looks like:
(photo coming soon)
6.) Try to eat a salad every day; be creative and invest $4 in a really good salad dressing that you like. (My favorite is Drew's Smoked Tomato that is gluten and dairy free.)
 And that's it! I'll stop with the numbered list while I'm ahead so you can start small and simple.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Peaks and Valleys

Right now I'm craving a tomato. Funny, a couple of months ago I'd be craving a soy latte and one of those artisan breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks. I would definitely say that my perspective is changing, as is the desire to put more live food into my body. Since I'm out of tomatoes this morning, my breakfast is some vegan granola with blackberries the size of jawbreakers and blueberries the size of my thumb. Eating organic has certainly impressed me with the size of the produce! I will elaborate more on that in my next post about how impressed I am with Freggies.
For now, I want to get back to my original thought, "Peaks and Valleys," or perhaps more appropriately titled, "Hope and Despair." Immediately I think of the movie Princess Bride and the 'pit of despair,'  which I very much felt I was in a couple of weeks ago, and as I thought about it, Wesley and Buttercup fell down a very steep ravine before they entered it... which is exactly what I did.
Ok, it wasn't an actual ravine, but it was a trip to the doctor's office to get my bloodwork results. For those of you who talk to me regularly or see me often, you know already that the blood was taken from August, when I had an episode where I couldn't climb the stairs from our basement and had to call Kevin to come and get me. Scary! You also know I've been dealing with this for five years or so and anytime I get bad news it is discouraging. The news from my doctor is that most of my levels were elevated or not elevated enough; all in a negative way. For example, the Epstein Barr virus, rampant in my body and the same virus that causes Mono, was at a level in the 400s. It is supposed to be at a level less than 18. My Candida level is still high (bad) and unfortunately, my cortisol is almost non-existent (also bad.) If I can't get my cortisol levels up, I could seriously be at risk for Addison's disease, which would put me on medication the rest of my life.
UGH! How depressing!
So, that was the steep ravine I fell down before I entered my very own pit of despair, where I woke up the next morning crying and asking Kevin if God is punishing me. He soothed me enough for us to get on our way to church where Pastor Mark, by the power of the Holy Spirit, spoke directly to me through his sermon. (That happens more often than you know! God is so good!)
The sermon was 11/15/09 from Luke 2:8-20, titled Christ the Lord. I will link to it here:

The one point from this sermon that struck me so intensely was my own sin of viewing God in a theistic way.  The belief that when I am hurting, it is because God is punishing me for something I did in my past. The TRUTH is that God is our father and although there is consequence for sin, he does not punish us.
I had a false belief, and a false theology. As I shared this with my community group later that week, the leaders dug a little deeper, I shared a little more, and by the end of group they offered to have the elders of the church pray over me and my illness. I confessed my unbelief, and they showed me the story of the paralytic that was lowered by ropes to see Jesus in Matthew 9:2 and that "when Jesus saw their faith" the man was healed. I was given so much HOPE by this! By the faith of my friends and the Elders, by your faith and my faith, I will be healed!
This last Sunday the elders prayed over me. As we were together, Pastor James Noriega made it clear that we are asking this to glorify God, not for me to feel better. And also that it is not a sin for us to ask for healing, and they prayed a glorious prayer over me. By the end of it I was radiant; I could feel the Holy Spirit present and during prayer felt a change in my heart. I thought to myself, "That's weird?- why the change in my heart? My illness is in my digestion," but maybe God was changing my heart to heal me. My friend Kari was there and asked me yesterday as we were having breakfast, "How would you feel if you didn't get better?" And I told her,"It doesn't matter, because I have HOPE that God will heal me. Whether I feel better or not, he has given me HOPE. I can live day by day with this hope even if I don't get better." But I will! He has promised to heal me, and I hope to share my story with all of you, a story of redemption and healing and reconciliation to Jesus and if you read that and don't know exactly what I mean, ask me to share the gospel with you.
I will keep updating my progress for you and will also be adding recipes (I just figured out how to do that) as well as photos of amazing produce! Fun!
By the way- for those of you worried I was losing weight too fast, I want to let you know that I leveled off at losing only 9 pounds and seem to be maintaining it. The amazing progress has been my skin; my face looks younger, my skin is tighter, and those annoying KP bumps on my arms are disappearing. I do have more energy and am sleeping great. Since Sunday, I have been incredibly motivated to keep up the diet. God IS healing me! He's doing it His way.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

To Give Them Hope

Jeremiah 29:11: 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This verse is hanging on the wall in the Sessler's home. After the day I had on Tuesday, this verse really jumped out at me with regard to what the Sessler's have been through, you know, CANCER and all. It's a pretty big deal. Did you know that Jerrod was diagnosed at the age of 30? I can't imagine having a stage 4 diagnosis at that point in my life.
Knowing that God has asked me to heal my body the same way Jerrod healed his, I am grateful for them opening their home to me so I can see how they did it; how they continue to do it.
Is it coincidence that a couple of months ago I began volunteering with cancer patients? On Tuesday, while at the clinic, I witnessed a woman very angry for being there. After her appointment she had clearly been told she had nothing to worry about because she ran up to me to tell me she was ok. She had hope to live another day.
Hope is so important to one's vital being; to your motivation to live, to every aspect of your life.  Pastor Mark gave a sermon on hope last year from 1 Peter 1:13-21 on February 1, 2009. I have put it here for reference:

While looking at my notes from the sermon, the theme that leaps from the page is that we are not to put our hope in man, but in Jesus. Pastor Mark defined it this way:
"Hope is confident assurance in the person and spirit of Jesus Christ." he then went on to say that, "Faith acts upon confident hope" and finally, "If you stop hoping, you stop living."
Every time I tell my mom I had kind of a hard day at the clinic, she says, "They have to put their hope in a higher being."
This is true; God is Supreme; the God of all comfort. We all need Jesus. For those I am in contact with, who may or may not know Jesus and who are facing uncertainty and death, how can I help them have hope? Jerrod was told he only had a 5% chance to live, and, being told there was nothing more he could do, he remembered visiting his Aunt & Uncle in Chicago who were on the Hallelujah diet. Two months later he began the diet and two years later was completely cancer-free! I believe God led Jerrod to this diet, as he led me. How can I share this hope with others? Is this the wrong hope as our lives are fleeting anyway? Couldn't I just be telling them about Jesus? But if this diet is the way God designed us to eat, then maybe I am sharing Jesus with them by sharing the diet. Theologians, please insert suggestions here:____________________
Jerrod talks about setting up a booth across the street from the cancer clinic to catch those people who have just been told they have no other options, and give them information on this diet, to give them hope. Not a bad idea.
So, how about for the rest of us who do not have cancer, but need hope?
Let's turn back to Jesus and the sermon I mentioned earlier. Pastor Mark gave 6 areas we can have hope. These notes are abbreviated from the notes I took back in February; for the full context, please watch the sermon.
Six Areas We Can Have Hope:
1.) I can be a wise learner. I can prepare my mind for action. I can give my life a foundation of Jesus. As Pastor Mark says, "A lot of Bible needs to go into our minds so God's thoughts can come out."
The change in our life begins in our thoughts. HEAR the word, READ the word, MEMORIZE the word and STUDY the word.
2.) I can be a sober thinker, aka "being sober minded." Reflect on what you need to learn and what causes you to have clouded judgement.
3.) I can be a grace seeker. THIS ONE IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!! Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you by Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us Grace to give us hope. God's grace IS in your life; you need to seek it. This will help keep hope aflame in your heart.
4.) I can be a holy worshipper. I Peter 1:14-16: 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."
Be holy in your conduct as your life is holy. Because God loves us, we should want to be holy.
5.) I can be a ransomed sinner. I Peter 1:17-19: 17Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
We are missionaries in a foreign home; our home is in heaven. We can be ransomed from the futile ways of our forefathers. Our slavery is self-selected. As we worship Jesus, we are liberated from our slavery.
6.) I can be a legacy leaver. I Peter 1: 18: (see above).
We don't have to carry on the godless ways of our forefathers; we  have the opportunity to create a new legacy. We may say, "but, that's how we are." The question is- is that how God is?

My faith and my hope are in God. I Peter 1: 20-21: 20He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

May you know Jesus, and may you have hope.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fun Size Candy...Aka Dung Size

Hoping as I write this that the word "dung" is not offensive to the masses. How else can I describe what fun size Halloween candy did to my body this weekend? I use the word dung because honestly, the load of sugar felt like crap in my system. I asked Kevin this morning if he could help me with a play on words for "Fun Size," so I could correctly portray how horrible these little morsels of chocolate and caramel made me feel. Not only did they stop the vibrating "hum" I had worked so hard to achieve through diligent juicing and raw veggie consumption, I got back some headaches and 4 of the 11 pounds that had shed so easily. Maybe if I replace the word "fun" with "dung" every time I look at a 2-bite Snickers, I will remember not to eat it.
Just for the record, Kevin did not come up with "dung" and I am open to suggestion for a good play on words for "fun size" as a "raw food diet impediment."
So, let's talk about sugar and what it does to your body. In the Hallelujah Diet book, it describes sugar as one of the four toxins: White Sugar, White Salt, White Flour and Caffeine. Per the book, pg 122:
"A 12-ounce can of soda contains approximately 11 teaspoons of sugar. That's enough sugar to knock out the immune system's bacteria-eating white blood cells for about three hours."
So, sugar is essentially weakening our immune system and knocking out our first line of defense against germs, viruses and disease. No wonder I felt crummy! It is also pretty common knowledge that sugar leads to weight gain and being overweight can lead to diabetes. This book, only twelve pages later, goes on to describe how even just 10 pounds of extra weight can lead to diabetes. Per Dr. Fuhrman on page 134:
"A person of normal weight will produce the right amount of insulin for their body weight. However, with just ten pounds added, the extra fat will begin blocking the uptake of insulin in the cells. The pancreas will then respond by adding more insulin. With an extra 20 pounds of fat, a person might be producing one and a half times as much insulin as someone of normal weight. If they gain 30, 40 or 50 pounds of extra fat, production of insulin might go up four to five times..." "...after five to eight years, the pancreas poops out! It can't keep up with this increased amount. It's an unnaturally high demand of insulin which it cannot maintain for the rest of its life. So then it begins producing only twice as much insulin as a normal person would need, which is not enough for this person's overweight body." Dr Fuhrman goes on to say later in the chapter on pg 136 that with a Type 2 diabetic, 90 percent become non-diabetic within only 3 months of being on the Hallelujah diet. That is a staggering statistic! 90 percent!!! 9 out of 10!!!!

If you could save your life in only 3 months, would you?

Progress Report: Good, good good good Vibrations... followed by sleep!

Week two brought plenty of amazing surprises; the first and most significant for me was my body correcting its dehydration issue. Have you ever had that dream where you are looking for a restroom and when you find one, you try to go to the bathroom but you can't? Or you go (in your dream) and you feel no relief? Then you wake up, check to make sure you haven't wet the bed, and run to the bathroom because you have to pee so bad? That is me. Every night for the last five years. Thankfully I've never wet the bed, but I do remember having this dream nightly for a really long time.
Or maybe I can describe it like this: You know that feeling you get when you've had too much water and you feel kind of "slosh-y?" I never get that feeling. I can and normally do drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day and will still be thirsty. I am the person in the group that goes to the restroom at least once if not twice when out to dinner. I had asked my doctors about it because it seemed to me a sign of diabetes, but they said no, going to the bathroom a lot is normal when you drink a lot of water. Dr. Beth says perhaps my body wasn't utilizing the water I was drinking.  UNTIL....
Drumroll please....
I noticed it last Monday when I slept like a baby and didn't have the "go to the restroom" dream. I slept for 10 hours without needing the bathroom. This is a huge deal for me!!! HUGE!  I also started to feel "slosh-y", or even full after drinking water.
Other significant progress changes are:
I lost 11 pounds in 2 weeks. I gained 4 back over Halloween, but hey- who cares? I think 11 was too many for 2 weeks anyway. (I will address these four pounds and "fun size" candy in my next post... stay tuned!)
My skin is glowing. No joke. I've had at least 5 people comment on it in the last week.
Kevin, my husband, tells me the wrinkles around my eyes and the bags underneath them are fading. This is a pretty big deal for a chronic fatigue sufferer!
I started to feel an energy "hum" in my body. Call it a good vibration!
My thinking is more clear; I have more energy and more motivation to do things around the house.
These are the good things; I also feel I have a responsibility to mention the bad things that happened as my body was cleaning out toxins and replacing them with good nutrients.
The first week or two, my skin felt really scaly, itchy and dry. I also had some GI issues, had to wash my hair more frequently, and I felt kind of like I had the flu- achy, headaches, body pain, fatigued, etc. I asked Mia at the Zoopa event about this, and she calls it a "healing crisis." Apparently when she began the diet, she was sleeping 20 hours a night! Wow! I'm not sleeping that much, but my body definitely tells me that it needs more. Last night, for example, I went to bed at 8:30 pm. So, even though I am seeing significant progress in some areas and I know my body has sloughed off a lot of the toxins that were causing my dry skin and flu symptoms, I still need a lot of sleep. Jerrod Sessler talks about how you might have this kind of reaction when your body eliminates stored fat in your body. Since I've gained 30 pounds over the last year, I have a feeling that I've got some more "healing crisis" pounds to go. I'm not really worried about it and I'm not using this diet as a means for weight-loss; that just happens to be one of the many positive side effects. The most important thing is how I feel, and I can tell that the more good stuff that goes in, the better I feel. I can also tell that my body is getting very sensitive to what I put in it; for example- sugar will stop the "hum" vibration for a couple of days. Oh, hex on Halloween candy! See my next post, "fun size.... aka dung size."