This One Change Made Me Feel 20 Years Younger

bowl of fruit

For most of my life, I've been a health nut, exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping stress to a minimum. But in 2005, that all changed. I developed a collagen problem in my shoulder that required multiple surgeries, and after the procedures, I was in pain all the time. The discomfort wore me down, and by 3 p.m. every day, my energy was depleted. To help myself, I started reaching for whatever offered instant relief and energy -- mainly carbs and sugar. As for those long draining workouts I used to love, they were now out of the question.

My pain wasn’t going away, and after a couple of years of suffering, I felt miserable. I doubted I’d ever return to my normal self. I had come to a standstill.

My Transformation

My daughter Nicole couldn't stand to see me in pain all the time. One day, she emailed me a link to a wellness site, where women improved their health by tweaking their diets. She confessed that she thought my eating habits were prolonging my pain. I doubted that the issue was as simple as that, but before I could completely discard her theory, more links arrived in my inbox from my daughter. As I read others' stories, what I suddenly started seeing left me stunned: A whole army of women were really transforming their lives with an approach as simple as setting better eating habits.

Although I still had my doubts -- and really didn’t want to give up my pizza! -- what finally convinced me to try it was watching my daughter set the example by eating and feeding her husband and two sons in this new, healthy way. So I followed suit, filling my fridge and pantry with proteins and high-fiber foods.

And the results were astounding. It turned out my body was starving for proper nutrition. I didn’t realize that my body needed extra protein while healing. And unlike all those sugar and carbs I’d been munching on, fiber helps maintain a healthy weight, an excess of which only adds more stress -- and therefore pain -- to my body. With my new balanced diet, I was actually helping my body heal and deal with pain. I felt energized and optimistic for the first time in a long time.

Strong and Happy Beyond 50

I consider myself a smart person, but I have no idea why it took me so long to figure this one out! Once I began feeling better, I had to call my daughter and say, “You had it right!” Her response: “Well, Mom, I’m made of the same genes you are, and it’s been working for me.” It was like we had reversed roles. She was the mother, and I was the daughter.

At 53, I feel happier, healthier and stronger than ever, and I'm proud I raised my daughter Nicole to be so wise. Today, as we continue to work together in changing our diets, we are continuing to transform our lives as well. And I thank my lucky stars for that, because I couldn't have asked for a better supporter than her.

by Michele Howe