Instead of just jumping right in & sharing healthy living tips & info, I though it would be best to first share with you my WHY for this passion of mine! Long story short, I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food & my body image in the past, which led to unhealthy habits, which led to an unhealthy body, which led to medical problems, which led to my journey toward healing (which I’m currently still on). That’s the short version. Stay tuned, buckle your seat belts, & get ready for a bumpy ride if you want the long version….
Let’s start with high school. I never really had body image issues in high school, probably because I was naturally fairly thin without having to worry about what I ate or how often I worked out. I was on dance team & played volleyball, so was decently active, which helped, but I definitely didn’t eat well at all! Let’s just say my favorite after school snack was Mountain Dew & Tostito’s Chips & Queso. Get the picture?
OK, so then there was college. They call it the “Freshman 15” for a reason. Too much booze, lack of proper nutrition habits, & minimized physical activity, led me to put on that dreaded 15 pounds. Well, it was really more like 10 probably, but all I know is that it was enough to freak me out & get my butt in gear! Luckily, I had a great friend, Robyn, who lived on my dorm floor who had excellent eating & exercise habits. I turned to her for advice, she started teaching me things about nutrition, & I’d go to the rec center with her to work out every now & then. (Sidenote: Robyn ended up becoming by best friend & still is to this day. She also ended up becoming a Registered Dietitian & is still my #1 go to for information. I remember prompting her to pursue a career in Nutrition & Wellness our Freshman year in her dorm room b/c she had helped me so much & I could definitely see her potential there). Anyway, back to the story.
Throughout the rest of my college career, I took the knowledge I had & slowly started eating better & working out more. I found my soul-mate workout in JAZZERCISE & was hooked! I went almost every day. I lost the weight I had gained my freshman year, plus some. Eventually, I discovered My Fitness Pal (an online calorie tracker) & became addicted to that too. Soon, my interest in these 2 things changed from a healthy habit to an unhealthy obsession. I would try to eat as little as possible, didn’t pay attention to the quality of food I was eating & only paid attention to the numbers. During this time, I remember being hungry … a lot. I also got to the point where I felt like I had to work out every day otherwise the world would end. Even though I weighed less than ever, I was still never satisfied & wanted to lose MORE. I was skinny, but definitely not in a good place mentally.
As you can imagine, the years of this stress I put on my body really messed up my metabolism. After my wedding in 2012, I slowly started to realize that I had led myself down a bad path & what I was doing was not healthy. I turned to Robyn again to vent about this, & the conversation we had that day was the starting point to my healing. I remember her telling me to STOP the calorie counting madness! At this time, she was going through her schooling to become a R.D. with a focus in integrative health & functional medicine, so I really trusted her (plus she’s my best friend, so obviously I took what she said to heart). She educated me on the importance of QUALITY food, rather than quantity, & listening to your body to know how much to eat, rather than the numbers I plugged into a computer. She told me to break up with the scale & focus more on how I FEEL & how my clothes fit, rather than being obsessed with a number. I remember ending that conversation ready to make a change. I stopped my mad obsession with numbers cold turkey, & I remember it being the most freeing & liberating feeling! But then things got a little ugly ….
As I mentioned before, the years of under-eating & over-exercising really messed me up. My metabolism was majorly sluggish & I had trained my body to only be able to handle like 1,000 calories a day (plus I was exercising hard core, so probably less than that). Therefore, when I started eating more (even though it was healthy food), I gained weight. I seriously felt like I gained 10 pounds overnight. I started trying to compensate for this & increased the intensity of my exercise. This did nothing. I think I had reached this breaking point where my body had had enough. Besides weight gain, I also started experiencing other symptoms, like fatigue, & the most concerning one…no menstrual cycle for over a year. I felt like my hormones had literally turned off (which is not a good feeling when you’re a newlywed). Long story short, I was a MESS, I was unhappy, I felt like crap, & I had no idea what to do about it.
After months & months of feeling like this, I decided to seek help. In July of 2014, went to a health care professional in integrative medicine (read more about what integrative medicine is here: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/alternative-medicine-integrative-medicine) in Kansas City where Robyn was working. I had several tests done, including several blood tests, urine tests, a stool test (fun), & a gluten sensitivity test. In September, I received my results back, which indicated that I had low T3 (an important but often overlooked component of the thyroid), a sensitivity to gluten, & some deficiencies in certain vitamins & minerals. Therefore, my steps toward healing included the following:
– Cutting out gluten completely (protein found in wheat, barley, & rye)
– Daily regimen of supplements including a probiotic, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, selenium (brazil nuts), & iodine (kelp sprinkles)
– Limiting intense exercise (since this actually makes things WORSE for people with thyroid problems) & doing more slow gentle movement exercises (walks, yoga, moving more during the day, etc.)
– Eating REAL food (eliminating processed foods as much as possible) & paying attention to the ingredients list in foods (the shorter the better) rather than the calorie or fat content.
– Eating a balanced diet (CPF+ as Robyn teaches to her clients, which stands for Carbs (C), Protein (P), Fat (F), & the most nutrient-rich versions of those 3 things (+))
I also began integrating red light therapy, which I learned about through Ari Whitten’s Metabolism Supercharge program (learn more about that here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/MetabolismSuperchargeUpdate/Bonus+%232/Bonus+%23+2+-+Red+Light+to+Speed+Up+Your+Metabolism+4.pdf)
Within a few months after starting this regimen, I was seeing improvements in many of my symptoms. I had more energy, I was leaning out, my clothes fit better, I felt less bloated, & I was showing signs that my sex hormones were up & running again (I won’t go into any more detail here, but you get the picture). From the time I began this process in September 2014, I had told myself that I’d give it until January 1 before trying something else or going a different route. Well, God is good, because my “time of the month” (or year in my case), arrived ON January 1. What!?!?! I was shocked. I could feel that it was working the whole time, but that moment on January 1 was the final proof I needed to seal the deal. Sorry if this is TMI, but it’s a huge part of my story, so I feel like I must share! I’ve been “regular” in that area ever since, & I finally feel like myself again!!
This change in my health has improved all areas of my life, including my relationships (especially with my husband), self-esteem, productivity, spirituality, & just overall happiness. I’m still learning every day….I think our health is something that is very individualized & is definitely a lifelong learning process. Slowly but surely, I’m learning how to listen to my body to tell me what it needs. I feel 100 times better than I did a few years ago. I feel like my metabolism is finally working for me instead of against me. I have a stable weight without having to deprive myself or kill myself in the gym. Most importantly, I’m so so so happy!
So, there’s the story of my WHY. Long, I know, so PROPS to you if you stuck with it until the end! Looking forward to sharing more with you in this area, like healthy recipes (& maybe a few indulgent recipes every now & then…gotta keep a balance, right?), products I like, cool workouts I’ve found, etc. Hope you enjoy!
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