“This whole process opened my eyes to how individual health and wellness is for everyone.”
An Illinois woman has lost her period after years of disordered eating and over-exercising. Hoping to get pregnant and start a family in a natural and healthy way, she and her husband embarked on a drastic diet overhaul, and in the process, they changed their bodies, their lives, and their futures.
Joelle Kurczodyna, 35, lives with her husband Jim, 36, and their three children on a 5-acre farm in northern Illinois, and they are expecting a fourth child in March.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Joelle, who holds a degree in dietetics, shared that she had always been “very healthy and active” as a child. But that all changed once she started restricting her diet and exercising more.
“I was never diagnosed, I was just told to take birth control pills to get my cycle back,” she said.
“Early on our journey, it was tempting to just try an infertility pill or treatment that the doctors told me would work. But I knew, deep down, that it wasn’t the best one. option for us. I could have bypassed the hard journey we endured, the weight gain and the wait. But in doing so, we would have missed out on the immense health and growth that Jim and I have experienced.
Joelle, who was once an avid marathon runner, started controlling her calorie intake as a teenager just to shed a few pounds. And before long, his restrictive lifestyle escalated.
“It started innocently,” she said. “From around 16, I started restricting my diet and increasing my physical activity, especially distance running. I was able to easily lose a few pounds, so I kept going. I started being very concerned about counting calories, choosing low-fat and fat-free foods, and running almost every day.
By her early twenties, she had already lost her cycle and weighed around 100 pounds (45 kg) or less. She was constantly cold but had hot flashes at night, her hair was thinner, and she was more irritable and withdrawn.
She said: “I was 22 when Jim and I got married. I became so wrapped up in this image of being a ‘skinny runner’ that the thought of making changes was terrifying. However, my desire to having children was even greater.
“To get pregnant, I needed to get my cycle back.”
Choose real food
Joelle had the support of those close to her as she reassessed her choices. It was his sister, a graduate of chiropractic school, who introduced him to the concept of an anti-inflammatory diet made up of whole, unprocessed foods after he attended a seminar on the subject in 2011.
Having decided to get her life back together, Joelle started researching online as much as she could. She discovered dentist and nutrition expert Weston A. Price, whose proposed links between “real” nutritious foods and body health hit home.
“Being an all-in-one person, overnight I emptied all processed foods from our fridge, freezer and pantry and started buying only real whole foods like meat, eggs , fruits, vegetables and dairy products. I also stopped running and switched to walking exclusively,” she said.
Joelle learned that she needed to source locally, so she started being a regular at their farmers market. She wholeheartedly allowed her food to be her medicine and started eating nutritious foods.
In the first year that she ate real food and listened to her body’s natural hunger cues, Joelle gained 40 pounds (18 kg). She struggled to come to terms with her changing body and cried a lot, but her hot flashes subsided, her hair thickened and she laughed more than she had in a long time.
‘I am grateful’
After 12 months on Joelle’s new diet, her cycle returned.
“It was so exciting to know that my body finally felt safe enough for my cycle to return after years of stress,” she said. “However, I knew I still had a long way to go. There were clear indications that my hormones were out of whack and there was more healing to be done.
“It took another whole year before we got pregnant and had a miscarriage. At that point, I knew my body was still not in an ideal place to conceive. So we took the months to focus only on food, rest and fun.
A year after her miscarriage, Joelle and Jim became happily pregnant with their first child, a girl. They named their baby girl Eloise, meaning ‘healthy woman’, to reflect their hopes for her.
“Although it seemed so long at the time, looking back, I’m grateful,” Joelle said. “My body had time to do the healing it needed so that when she was conceived I came from a place of nourishment and was able to give her everything she needed to be a baby. strong and healthy.”
Having a child encouraged Joelle and Jim to re-evaluate their goals. Together, they wrote a “family mission statement” and made their shared values tangible. They already raised chickens, large gardens and a beehive on their 1/3 acre suburban plot, and were immersed in the local food and farming culture, but longed for a farm on which to do more.
“We knew the right decision for us and our values was to have some land and freedom to really live the farm life we were looking for,” she said.
Today, Joelle and Jim have the land they dreamed of with a dog, two cows, chickens and pigs. Joelle homeschools the kids, Jim left construction to go into farming, and the couple blog together to share ideas, tips and recipes: From Scratch Farmstead.
Joelle believes that the toughest journeys in life are often the most rewarding.
She said: “This whole process has opened my eyes to how individual health and wellbeing is for everyone. I was quite put off at first by the unique treatment options I received from doctors that in no way seemed to address what I was dealing with.
“Some people can have a very healthy pregnancy while being a size 2 – that wasn’t me. My body had to go through some pretty drastic changes to be ready to support another lifetime. Ultimately, I needed to be my own health advocate… it was a tiring and sometimes lonely journey, but ultimately it was empowering to educate myself and be in tune with my body in a way I never thought I would possible.
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