This page is titled ‘My Journey’ because I feel like health is just that- a journey. Our culture looks at health in terms of end goals- losing X lb., doing X pullups, running X miles. We set our sights on specific goals and meticulously set out to achieve them with very focused plans. I know because I used to do the same thing. Everything used to be based off of a predetermined set of goals and I would set out to fix or change some component of my heath with gusto. I was going to ‘fix’ my digestive issues and then life would be perfect. However, I always ended up disappointed and frustrated with myself and my body. Once I switched my way of thinking and embraced that each day could and would include a variety of outcomes, my health became more fluid and more accepting which of course allowed even better results and a healthier psychological relationship with my body. Your health should be treated the same way- as a journey. Accept that changes will be made, but your journey will evolve over time.

It is my hope that by sharing my struggles and my journey it may help you on yours. Maybe you have reached similar frustrations and are are ready to take back the power you have lost. Maybe you have symptoms you can’t figure out. Or maybe you just need some hope that one day you will feel happy in your own skin. It took me years, but I got there. My journey certainly isn’t over, but I have reached a place where I can say that my major hurdles, thus far, have been tackled and conquered.

My Journey

I have dealt with digestive troubles most of my life. In high school, doctors blamed my discomfort and stomach distention to hormones.  The monthly migraines experienced as well solidified their thoughts and there was hope that as I got older, my hormones would regulate, leaving me symptom free. As an athlete, I looked relatively healthy, so it was assumed that there wasn’t really anything wrong that time couldn’t take care of. Hell, I was a collegiate competitive athlete, how could I possibly be sick, right?

Wrong. At 22, I woke up one morning to get ready for work, took two steps upon standing up, and proceeded to face plant on to the  floor (FYI- healthy 22 year olds don’t do that). Doctors ran a variety of tests and determined my heart and brain were healthy (woo hoo), but ran out of ideas. I saw a Gastroenterologist who ran all of the invasive tests to determine I was ‘healthy’ and as he stated, ‘too young to be in his office.’ If I was so healthy, though, why did I feel so terrible? What would cause me pass out? Why could I not climb a set of stairs without losing my breath and feeling lightheaded? Why did my stomach bloat EVERY SINGLE DAY? Why wasn’t anyone taking this seriously?

I began seeing a new doctor who ran a full blood screen and found I was nearly depleted of all store Iron (which causes shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and weakness). He kindly wrote me a prescription for an Iron supplement and sent me on my way. We never discussed the possible causes of this issue- just handed me a slip of paper to cover up get rid of the symptom. I was excited to have a cause to some of my symptoms, but as to the others, I realized I was on my own.

Around that time, my uncle was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. Having no markers for the disease, I still decided to give the gluten-free diet a shot (since Iron deficiency is a symptom of the disease). The diet was a major transition since I was a devoted follower to the standard food pyramid promised to help maintain a health weight- included in the food pyramid was the 6-11 servings of grains. The diet seemed to help and my iron levels began to rise, but my digestive issues only got worse. My mental state was also a mess because those whole-grain foods were replaced by potato or rice flour products- elevating my insulin on a regular basis. I spent these months in a constant struggle trying to regulate my energy levels and picking myself up from the sugar-laden crashes. I felt depleted and frustrated. I felt so HUNGRY all the time- making me a depressed cocktail of emotions.

I continued to struggle with digestive ailments. My confidence plummeted as I couldn’t recognize the bloated, depressed version of myself. I was miserable in my own body and began to lose myself in all the discomfort and pain I was surrounded by each day. Then a co-worker and friend of mine introduced me to a blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. Once I clicked, my life changed forever. I literally owe my life to her for pushing me to take a step. Mark Sisson (the author of the blog) promotes a primal diet void of grains and processed carbohydrates. Getting our diets to resemble our earliest ancestors. His blog claimed to ease my discomfort and thank goodness I tried it because it did. I tossed all the prepackaged products in my house and learned to cook grain free. I read food labels and became aware of the quality of my food.

However, I was still consuming dairy and sugar on a regular basis. The bloating continued, not nearly at the level it once had but enough to make me feel poorly, along with the bathroom complications that no one enjoys talking about, but lets face it- when that isn’t working- life sucks. I was tired of being aware of every bathroom in every building. I decided I was tired of having my life driven by how my body was feeling each day and decided to take my diet a step further. Enter the Whole30. The challenge was to rid my diet of grains (done), diary, soy, sugar, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days (this diet is also known as the Paleo Diet). Also, due to suspecting an auto immune issue, I ditched the eggs as well. One week into the challenge- all symptoms were GONE! I couldn’t believe it. Welcome to my life, Paleo Diet, you may stay forever. As each week passed, I felt even better. Energy levels stabilized, bloating never returned, eczema cleared up, bathroom behavior regulated, hair and nails got stronger, joint pain subsided. It was like I woke up in a new body. For the first time in years, I am comfortable in my own skin. It took me six years to get here but the person I know and love is looking back at me in the mirror. I am finally free from pain, discomfort, self loathing, and anger. I love food again and cook with joy and for fun! No longer do I question every bite of food going into my mouth.

I feel FREE for the first time in a long time! I can finally enjoy all life has to offer because my body is healthy.

Laura-Blog

Hopefully through this blog,  I can share my passion for delicious primal/Paleo cooking with you as well as some tips to inspire your own journey to life long health!

— Elby

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