Firstly please note I am not a nutritionist or doctor or qualified to give medical or health advice. This article is merely a record of my personal journey and should not be used as a guideline to follow.



My journey to good health started 4 years ago with a desire to be healthier. I started reading books and websites seeking how I could be in better shape. For me the key to good health lay in education. The more I educated myself about food, exercise, toxins, etc., the more I wanted to go that route. I realized just how polluted this world is, how much of the food we put into our bodies isn't good for us and how those toxins slowly kill us.



I weighed 230 pounds. The thing is, I thought I was healthy. Now at 190 pounds I realize how unhealthy I was back then, but I also realize how much further I have to go on my journey to good health.



I read so much that I started reading the same themes in multiple books. Eat more fruit and vegetables, reduce the meat, exercise more. When I came across something that was a new idea to me, I researched it on the Internet. After all, we all know milk is good for us, or is it? I encourage you the reader not to take my word for anything, but to do your own research. I believe everything I'm writing here is true, but you won't take action until you believe it is true also. So here are the results of my research and the actions that I took. Everything I did, I did gradually. It didn't feel like big steps at the time, it's only now when I look back that realize how much I've moved toward my goal.



The top three most poisonous metals are lead, mercury and aluminum. Most cooking pots are made from aluminum. We use aluminum foil in cooking. Aluminum is added to anti-perspirants and antacids. Mercury is found in many places and gets into our food supply. I bought cast iron pans and stopped cooking with aluminum foil. I went to the dentist monthly for a long time and had my mercury amalgam fillings removed and replaced by composite ones.



I read somewhere that microwave cooking is bad for you. I was shocked, no one had suggested that before, so I did my research. There are a number of Internet sites saying that food cooked in the microwave is harder to digest than food cooked the conventional way. I couldn't find one site that suggested microwaved food is good to eat. The microwave I was using was lent to me by a friend, so I returned it to her.



The more I read the more convinced I became that the bowels and the liver are vitally important to good health. I did a number of bowel cleanses and liver cleanses in the hope that I would become healthier. I read about herbs that heal and started taking some of them. Milk thistle in particular is very cheap and effective for a healthy liver. Many illnesses are said to start in the intestine, I wanted my G.I. tract to be as healthy as I could possibly make it. I read about healthy bacteria in the gut and started taking probiotics.  I realized that I'd been eating badly for 40 years, I wasn't going to be healthy overnight. I learned that there is no quick fix or magic pill where health is concerned.



I read the history of sugar and how when it entered our food stream so did cavities and other diseases. But I also read about the sugar substitutes and they didn't seem any better. I've tried very hard to cut out all sugar and sugar substitutes from my diet. Immediately I realized if I was to continue eating processed food this would be very difficult. Little by little I have reduced the amount of processed food I have eaten and increased the amount of fresh produce I consume. There are many items used as fillers in frozen, processed meals. I avoid high fructose corn syrup, mono sodium glutamate, trans fat, pork and soy to name a few. The path was clear, you can't eat processed food and avoid all those as they are commonly used as fillers.



These days many people are turning to organic foods. My opinion is that the option is simple, do you want your food with pesticides or without? Sometimes organic food is more expensive or more difficult to get hold of, but for as much as possible, what I eat is organic.



I cut out wheat, dairy, pork, soy and shellfish from my diet. For each of these I researched if they are healthy to eat or not. I know there is a lot of controversy about these items, but I came to the decision that I would remove them from my diet. I try and buy organic chicken and grass fed beef. I read once that the healthiest meats are lamb and turkey. We don't eat much lamb in America, but you can find it in most supermarkets.



I started to exercise, first on the children's trampoline, then an exercise bike, then a treadmill. Finally I rowed on a rowing machine. I love the rowing machine it is just the best method of exercising for me at the moment. I now row for about 20 minutes twice a day 5-6 days a week. It's taken a while to get there, but that is a level that I enjoy. As a child I never enjoyed P.E. or exercise. I knew for a long time that I should exercise, but it took a while for me to find something I like and also find the time in the day to do that exercise. I realized that twice a day for 20 minutes each time was easier to fit into my schedule than 40 minutes once a day.



I started drinking a lot of water. I installed a reverse osmosis system so I was drinking filtered water. I try and drink a glass of water an hour. Now I only drink water or tea or freshly squeezed orange juice. I don't drink any other drinks. Well the truth is, I have the occasional coffee when I'm stressed, but I try not to.



The journey started four years ago with education, but it was only two years ago that I started to lose weight. I was eating the right foods, I just needed to reduce the quantity a little. When I did that I started to lose weight. I went from a size 24 to a size 14/16. I planned to lose 5 pounds every month, some months I did that, others I stayed at the same weight, but over 2 years I have lost 40 pounds.



You can't go healthy and lose weight in isolation. What I have done has affected the whole family. Although they still like to eat unhealthily I am the one who buys the food and prepares the meals. I've got the children involved in food preparation, which helps with my schedule a lot. The rest of the family still likes to eat junk food, but it's not easy to do that. I have no control when they are out of my sight, but when they are in the house there are only healthy options on offer.



I can't explain how good I feel compared with a few years ago. The sacrifice is not difficult when I realize how much energy I have. When I realize I can eat good food and feel good or eat bad food and feel bad, it's an easy choice. The diet is not over, it's never over. What I have changed, I have changed for good. I don't plan to rejoice that I have lost weight and go back to my old eating habits. I plan to eat like this for the rest of my life, which I hope will be very long.