90 Days to a Physical Renewal

 

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

It’s the last Monday of the month so today is another article in our Love Your Body Sereis. Our guest blogger today is Debbie Alsdorf, a dear friend, and fellow author, speaker, and breast cancer survivor. When I saw on Facebook that Debbie had been diagnosed with breast cancer, I sent her my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. Debbie used my book as a devotional every morning and she said it was as if I was walking through her journey with her, which was my vision for this book.

Then I started to reading about Debbie’s amazing diet changes that she’s been sharing with all her Facebook followers. All her changes were the things I’ve been writing about in the Love Your Body series and try to get women and men to embrace in their daily lives. I thought you would be doubly inspired to hear from a woman who has put healthy eating and exercise into practice by tossing out all the old excuses and surrendering her body to God—loving her body like God loves it. Enjoy and please leave a comment and let Debbie and me know how her sharing has helped and inspired you to also Love Your Body.

 My Wake-up Call

By Debbie Alsdorf

Let the weak say “ I am strong.” Joel 3:10 AMP

Three months ago, my cupboard shelves were filled with the latest diet products—nutrition bars, snack packs, and 90-calorie “this-and-that.” Despite having a pantry filled with diet foods, I’ve been a consistent 40 pounds overweight for many years. As I’ve gotten older, the weight has clung to me. Nothing I did seemed to budge the pudge, as my appetite for sweets, comfort, and junk foods kept growing stronger. Each day brought fatigue and frustration. I saw no end in sight.

Then in the middle of yet another “diet plan,” I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a wake-up call. The shock was enough to make me lose my appetite for a few weeks, but after the shock wore off, discouragement set in. Though my instruction was to exercise and lose any excess weight for optimal health and to reduce the chance of a reoccurrence, I couldn’t bring myself to do either. After surgery and six weeks of daily radiation treatments, I began to take a cancer-preventive drug that had side effects: hot flashes, bone pain, fatigue, nausea and weight gain. Ugh! Worse yet, I was to take this drug for five years. Discouragement seems to call for comfort foods, and in the blink-of-an-eye, I added ten pounds to my already overweight frame.

When the symptoms began to get ridiculous, my oncologist had me stop the drug. I apparently was not a candidate for this normal protocol. My only hope would be to take care of my body through nutrition, proper rest, and physical exercise. Easier said than done! I had never been able to do it in the past, so what made me think I could now?

The 90 Day Challenge

A doctor suggested I try a strict protocol of no sugar, no dairy, and no grain for 90 days. These foods cause inflammation—fuel for any disease. This strict protocol also would help insulin resistance and the liver problems I had been plagued with for years.

 

My initial thought was no way! I didn’t want to be that weird girl who couldn’t eat what everyone else could eat, and I didn’t want to make others uncomfortable. I travel a lot for speaking and often eat whatever the venue is serving. I am in airports, long car rides . . . I kept thinking of all the excuses that would keep me from taking care of me.

 

Truth was, I just didn’t want to change because I had little faith that I really could change. I didn’t want to give up anything I liked, even if it was hurting me. But, I knew without a doubt, it was time to take care of myself. Thus began the journey of 90 days to freedom from the bondage of all my comfort foods. I have to be honest, the first two weeks were terrible. I experienced withdrawals and that was a wake-up call in itself. What drug was I withdrawing from? Sugars and grains.

From the Inside Out

            He satisfies my mouth with good things, so my youth is renewed...” Psalm 103:5 NKJV

A week ago, I completed the 90 day protocol. I have no desire to add back into my diet the desserts and snacks that were my old best friends. Not only do I feel better, but after 90 days, my blood work returned to normal. All levels have improved dramatically, and I am no longer fatigued or frustrated. Instead, I am sleeping well, waking up energized, no longer napping every day, lost 6 inches off my waistline, and am now 28 pounds lighter!

What Plan Did I Follow?

I didn’t follow a “plan.” No gimmicks, no diet foods, and no anxiety over weight loss. Instead, I concentrated on eating nutritious, whole foods. Some call this “eating clean” or paleo; but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own personal way of eating that I believe God helped me discover. Rather than thinking of all I couldn’t eat, I chose to focus on what I could eat. I began filling up my plate with lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and a few fruits.

 

You may have noticed that processed foods were not on my list. What I never knew is that my love for sugars, carbs, and processed foods aided the development of a fatty liver, which caused me all kinds of problems. Besides cancer, I was on a slippery slope as fatty liver can develop into cirrhosis, and cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer. With the change in diet, my liver went back to normal!

My New Normal

My first mother’s day after cancer brought the joy of being alive. My children bought me a NutriBullet, and that is when things went into high gear. Now I was juicing delicious veggie and fruit smoothies every day. Spinach, kale, chard, chia seeds, almond milk, and half a frozen banana. I was also advised to give up all artificial sweeteners, so I added a little stevia to taste and said good-bye to diet soft drinks. I can’t explain what these vegetables have done for me . . . there are no words. Suffice it to say, I have not felt this good for at least twenty years!

This new eating journey takes a little more work up front. I prepare and plan a bit more than I did before. I read restaurant menus a little longer and choose what is good for me ,not what I feel like having in the moment. I carry healthy snacks and water and find it a small inconvenience in comparison with how great I feel.

Walking My Way to Wellness

Once I started getting used to no sugar, grain or dairy, I knew it was time to start getting physical. I put my Fitbit on one day just to get a baseline of my normal daily steps. Pathetically, 1078 steps by 5 pm! 10,000 is the suggested steps we all should strive for each day. I had my work cut out for me. I was lazy from being so inactive. I had zero motivation and never even went to the health club where I had a membership. Every cancer support group touted exercise as the magic bullet to renewed health, so I realized I had to make more changes.

Things have changed. No longer lazy and inactive, I now look for ways to move my body and schedule exercise into my schedule six days a week. This morning, I was up walking with my friend at 6:30 am. We walk about 4 miles or 8,000 steps. At dinnertime, I was at 17,000 steps! Quite a change. I must say that at first, it felt like someone was coming over and putting a leash on me to drag me out for a walk. I went along with it—I didn’t like it— but I knew I had to do something. Just like the first few weeks of no sugar was hard, the first few weeks of exercise were just as hard. Over time, I have come to look forward to walking every bit as much as I look forward to my morning shake.

 You Can Change

Did you know that you can change? Our habits and comforts don’t have to rule us any longer. When we yield our bodies and our food issues to God, He begins the work in us. Yielding doesn’t mean we do nothing. Once I knew I needed to change, I began to ask Jesus for the grace to succeed. Every day I thanked Him that I would get to my goal weight. I didn’t have a date in mind; I just knew it had to happen. I took 90 days, one day at a time. Some days I went to bed pretty hungry and other days I forgot to eat when I should have eaten. Food was slowly losing its power over me. I am still not at my goal weight. I have about 15 pounds to go, but I am now living this new lifestyle one day at a time.

 

Since the 90 days are over, I am carefully adding in foods one at a time. I have no plans to add back in the junk, just good wholesome things. Each day, I still pray the same thing,

“Dear Lord give me the grace and strength to make it to my health goals. Guide me today into what is right for my individual body. Thank you that I will reach my goal because I have prayed to you for the grace to make it and the strength to see the new path before me”

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

I received the following guidelines after my breast cancer diagnosis:

  •   Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight
  •   Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily
  •   Avoid sugary drinks and foods
  •   Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits
  •   Avoid processed foods and meats
  •   Use meat as a condiment and focus on vegetables
  •  After cancer treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention. Following these recommendations could help prevent at least 1/3 of all cancers.

Physical and Spiritual Renewal

I’m on a path of discovering that walking with God is a sacred journey that encompasses every area of our lives. I no longer dread the scale and I am not looking for the latest and greatest diet. I am eating when I am hungry and filling up with good things. It is wonderful to begin taking care of me after years of neglect. I love God, am a Christian author and Bible study teacher, but the one area I previously refused to look at was the discipline of surrendering my body to its Maker. I am grateful for the gift I found in the middle of a cancer diagnosis. It was a wake-up call that awakened my soul to fresh surrender and my body to renewed health.

 

My Morning Green Shake

green shake

4 ice cubes

1 Cup Almond Milk

4-5 frozen Mango Chunks

½ banana

2 handfuls (2 cups) of power greens (spinach, kale, chard)

1 T. Chia Seed

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (sweetened with Stevia)

(This is Janet speaking, if you’ve had breast cancer be sure to check the label of any protein powders to be sure they don’t contain soy. Most do.)

Stevia to taste              You can use other fruits, this is my favorite.

After 30 pound loss in 90 days

After 30 pound loss in 90 days

 

Debbie Alsdorf before 30 pound weight loss

Debbie Alsdorf before 30 pound weight loss

Debbie Alsdorf has been a women’s ministry leader for over 25 years. She is an Amazon bestselling author, international speaker, and the founder of Design4Living Ministries. Affectionately known as a cheerleader of hope, Debbie holds out God’s Word to women with compassion and application. Her messages are real and a mix of wit, humor, and biblical truth. Her life’s work is to encourage women to embrace God’s love for them and learn to live in the life changing realities of God’s Word in the practical places of everyday life.

She is the author of twelve books, A Woman Who Trusts God, A Different Kind of WildDeeper, The Faith Dare (Revell) and The Design 4 Living Bible Study Series (David C. Cook).

Comments

  1. Wow, what an encouraging post, Debbie and Janet! Thank you for sharing your journeys with us. In the past few years my mother and two first cousins have developed breast cancer, so I reluctantly came off my estrogen…and I feel it! But I knew estrogen increased my chances to have breast cancer, so I discontinued it.

    Sadly, I haven’t been as committed to a physical renewal, but your words do encourage me, Debbie! Blessings to both of you as you continue this journey to good health.

    • Janet Thompson says:

      So good to hear from you Vonda and blessed that Debbie and I have encouraged you towards a healthier lifestyle. It’s good for your hubby too! I’m so sorry to hear about your mother and cousins having breast cancer. I hope you’ll share this post with them and so glad it was a wake-up call for you too. Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Vonda,
      It is hard coming off estrogen! Sadly I came off after 4 years after I was already diagnosed. I am shocked at how changing my diet has almost completely removed the hot flashes and mental fog! Thanks for your encouraging words. We are really all in this together, encouraging one another and holding out hope!
      Debbie

  2. Thanks, Debbie and Janet, I discovered this site from twitter and appreciate the encouragement. I am doing a 20 day rejuvenation diet book that is very similar. Now in my mid-60s I am only losing a pound a week, but going to continue on for great health! Glad to know I have companions on my journey!

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Hi Rose. Congratulations on your journey to good health. I’m so glad you found my blog. I do a Love Your Body post the last Monday of the month and blog on other topics on the other Mondays. Would love to have you join me. You can sign up on this website to receive the blog in your email every Monday morning! BTW your weight loss of 1 pound a week is great! It’s the lifestyle change that will keep it off. Blessed to be traveling on this journey with you.

      • Janet Thompson says:

        PS Rose forgot to mention that you can type in Love Your Body in the search box on the right side of the website and it will bring up all the previous Love Your Body blog posts to encourage you!

    • Dear Rose,
      I am 59 and my weight loss was slow. It’s OK, we just have to be committed to health and surrender of our physical bodies to God! You will get there! Stay the course! I am on the journey too, not at and end, just at the beginning of a new normal.
      God Bless You!
      Debbie

  3. Hi Debbie and Janet! You two both inspire me so much anyway, but thanks for the timely health advice. Great reminders I needed to hear, especially during the summer when it’s so easy to cut corners. Thanks for being a blessing to many!

    • Janet Thompson says:

      You are welcome Cheryl. Feel free to share with anyone you know who might be struggling with health, energy, or weight issues. Food is God’s fuel for us, but like anything it can be turned into an idol or an addiction…or just misused. What a joy it is to Him and us when we eat healthy! Great hearing from you.

  4. Debbie & Janet,
    Thank you for sharing this. Perfect timing for some very similar struggles I’m going through. Frankly, right now I’m praying “Make me willing to be willing” to try something like this because I’m resistant. I’m sure I have some of the same excuses as you mentioned. And while my hubby is supportive of me doing what I need to do for good health, he can only take “healthy” food so long and then he wants processed foods. Even if I can’t go “cold turkey” into the new plan, if I can start implementing small changes, maybe it will work. I know the optimal way is the plan you mentioned. Pray for me!

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Hi Kathy,
      I will be praying for you Kathy. I know all the health issues you’ve had and I’m sure healthy eating would help you so much. It’s the fuel God gave us to keep our bodies running optimally. My hubby had a hard time too, but when I had breast cancer (now 3 times) he agreed to do whatever it took. I’ve always eaten healthy since my first career was as a Registered Dietitian…and he had made many changes when we married, but he made huge strides after bc. But he doesn’t do greens or as much raw as I do…and that’s ok. Maybe you could convince your hubby that healthy eating would be so good for him too…because you love him and want him to be around for a long time. But until then, make the change yourself and set the example as he watches you have more energy and be healthier. Praying for you to take the leap…and be encouraged by Debbie’s honesty and rewards:).

  5. HI Kathy,
    Though my husband is very supportive,he did not do this pln with me. What he did do is eat the basic same dinner that I ate so I wouldn’t have to prepare two different things. My dinners usually consisted of lean protein, salad and vegetable. Last night I had delicious grilled chicken, mashed cauliflower and grilled zucchini. It doesn’t get much better….Really! Sometimes I would add a starch for him, but he ended up quite happy without it. He still had his ice cream at night….I got used to not joining him in that. Without doing it fully, he lost one shirt size and one pant size in the 90 days! I pray for God to show you what the most effective eating plan would be for “you”. He knows you, as He knows me….he will lead you but it might not be comfortable at first. May God grace you every step of the way as you journey to health!

    • Thanks, Debbie and Janet! I’ve been making this a real matter of prayer. My hubby comes home for lunch AND dinner and he doesn’t care for produce much. He will eat a salad about every other week. I need to do something I can sustain for the long-haul. I know God will show me! I love hearing what He is doing in your lives!

  6. Debbie, you look great! More energentic, too than at Mt Hermon. 🙂 In this 90 day challenge what I think I’d miss most is the dairy. A doc put me on a strict diet for food allergy testing a couple years ago and it was hellish. Dairy alternatives were so icky to me (except coconut milk). Not sure I could do it again. Kudos to you for the self discipline! It obviously paid off. 🙂

  7. Hi Bethany!
    If you are talking writers conference, that is the week I started the 90 days. It was really hard to do it there….I felt awful. Anyway, I didn’t use alternatives, I just cut the foods out completely. So I didn’t do replacement breads, dairy etc. I just ate whole foods and there are plenty of them! I do put Almond Milk in my Green Drink, but don’t drink it plain. I thought dairy would be the hardest and I don’t care in the slightest now. I do use a cookbook, Against All Grains by Danielle Walker. However, remember, it’s not forever, as the body becomes more healed and less inflamed, things can be tried to add back in. A good book I just came across regarding food intolerances is The Virgin Diet, by JJ Virgin. It gives the science behind cutting foods out for awhile and the path to adding back in. She has her readers do a 21 day cycle. I am so glad that I went cold turkey and that God gave me the grace for 90 days. I no longer feel awful. Yes the first 2 weeks I really missed stuff, but then you lose all food cravings, it’s incredible. Yay!!!!!

    • Thanks so much for the cookbook/book recommendations. 🙂 I think cutting completely without trying to add substitutes is a wise way to go. On the docs diet, I had so many icky experiences/associations with the process I swore I’d never do it again. And it didn’t yield any conclusive results or benefits. Since then, I have many times googled “how to” discover/eliminate trigger foods, but there were so many differing opinions, and all so complicated, expensive, and not user/family friendly that I finally gave up. I’ll definitely check out the “The Virgin Diet.” Thanks for being such an encouragement! And by the way, I loved your “Yay!!!!!” at the end there. One of my favorite expressions. 🙂

    • Janet Thompson says:

      Bethany I so happy to hear the encouragement in your comment. I know Debbie’s story will spur you on to seeking the best God has planned for your body and your health.

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