My Story: The Extended Cut
Welcome to my blog! <---- Did I just say my blog??? That's right...I'm becoming a blogger. I'm going to attempt to blog on a semi-regular basis about nutrition and wellness so stay tuned because I'll be sharing a plethora of wellness tips and #nutritiontruthbombs. But before we get to that, I thought for my first official post I should start by telling you who I am and why I have so much to say about nutrition and wellness.
Ten things you should know about me
I'm a mama to an amazing 18 month old. She is my world.
I operate with integrity and empathy
I'm a recovering sugar addict
I'm a questioner (shout out to Gretchen Rubin)
I have a love for learning and teaching others
I'm a virgo
When I do something I give it 110% and don't quit. I may take the long way, but I never give up.
I love being outdoors
I'm uncoordinated and accident prone
Even though it's been too long since my feet have hit the pavement...I'm still a runner!
Why I'm passionate about nutrition and wellness
You can read the short version of my store here, but today you get the extended cut.
The early days
As child I was sick a lot. Nothing too serious, but sick nonetheless. In fact, I have a lot of memories of being sick on our family vacations. One particular trip stands out in my mind. We joined my father in Washington DC on his business trip and I was sick the. entire. time. I felt a little better at the end our stay and decided to venture out to visit the capitol. My fever spiked not too long after we got to the capitol and my stepmother had to carry me, an eleven or twelve year old, back to the hotel. Let's just say that we could laugh about it years later, but it was NOT the highlight of our trip.
As I moved into my teen years I had severe acne. I used all the potions, creams and treatments my dermatologist was willing to try. In fact my mom recently came across a picture of me giving myself a "carrot mask" in hopes that it would help. I have no idea where we got that idea, but I really wish my mom didn't have that picture to remind me of it.
I ultimately ended up using Accutane, which I not so lovingly refer to as chemo for acne. It was a drastic step, but I was desperate for help. I remember begging and pleading with my parents to let me begin the treatment, but they were hesitant, for good reason. For one, I had to sign a document saying I would take measures to prevent pregnancy because it would cause birth defects. Also, it had a list of side effects a mile long. Both of my parents had to consent prior to me beginning treatment. I had to get my blood drawn regularly throughout the treatment and I began losing a lot of hair, this is why I coined it chemo for acne. The treatment did do the trick and my acne cleared up. I still struggled with deep cystic acne throughout my 20s, but is was a few lesions here and there an no longer covered my face entirely.
Also in my 20s I realized I could no longer eat whatever I wanted.
In high school I was a carhop at Sonic Drive-In (no, I didn't wear skates...I was too much of a liability and was happy to work drive-thru or carhop in my tennis shoes). I was a fast food junky and rarely ate a home cooked meal. I started experimenting with "getting healthy" by trying different meal replacement shakes, powders, bars and even some "magic pills". I tried several apps to track my calories and I would count every calorie I burned during my workout, not stopping until I was in a big enough deficit so that I could eat dinner. Of course they didn't work; they weren't sustainable. I was starving! I would eventually eat ravenously and feel terrible both physically and mentally. I'd then proceed to beat myself up about it for a few days or weeks while I was trying to convince myself to get back "on the wagon".
At the end of my 20s I discovered running. Turns out I actually like it! It was no longer something I "had to do" at practice for another sport or something I was forced to do in PE. I enjoyed pushing myself and being able to turn the noise in my head off for a bit. It was a great way to de-stress after a long, long day at my corporate job. I also really liked to see that "calories burned" number at the end of my run. I told everyone I ran so I could eat whatever I want. Turns out...that doesn't work. I ran many 5Ks, a few half marathons and eventually a full marathon (yes that one is singular...whew! 26.2 miles is a LONG way). And I didn't lose a pound. I was "fit", but I wasn't losing the extra pounds. I did what I was supposed to do and I ate the recommended gels, gummies and beans to fuel my runs. I always refueled after my workout, mostly with a smoothie or bagel...Panera was my BFF.
So why wasn't I losing weight?
It wasn't until my 30s that I heard a podcast talking about being "fat adapted" that I questioned my fueling strategy. I listened intently, but it sounded a bit ridiculous and I completely wrote it off. As a child of the 80s, it was drilled into me that fat is bad and you shouldn't eat it. So the thought that I should not only eat it, but eat a lot of it was laughable. But I heard about it again a few months later and this time I thought, why haven't I ever heard of this??? If this was "THE thing" that worked why isn't everyone doing it? No one in my running club was doing it and certainly no one in my inner circle was doing it. This time it stuck in my head a little more and I thought about it over the next few days, but still wasn't convinced. A few weeks later, I heard about it AGAIN on a different running podcast. This time I said, okay, what do I have to lose? I've tried many other things over the years that didn't work so what's the worst that could happen? Well, it turns out nothing bad happened. It actually worked really well for me. Not only did I lose the pounds, but I didn't have to "work at it" and I wasn't hungry or hangry. And thus, my health journey begins...
My Aha Moment
I learned many things about myself as I started down this path. For one, I have a major sugar addiction. Okay, I didn't discover this in my 30s but I had a huge realization about just how addicted I was/am. I also learned that I don't tolerate a lot of grains or dairy. Gah! No bread? No donuts? No ice cream? Say it isn't so! It took me a very long time to accept this...a very long time. In fact, it wasn't until several trips to different doctors trying to figure out why I had fluid on my ears that caused a few very scary moments with my heart rate and my vision during a run that I accepted I needed to say goodbye to dairy. I had no idea growing up that it was likely contributing to or caused my acne and my poor immune system. Once I cut out grains I discovered how much digestive distress I had been living with and accepted because "it's genetic". My gut health was wrecked,which again, was leading to my immune struggles and acne. Did you know 70 to 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut? Neither did I. None of my doctors had ever discussed diet with me or my parents. I had no idea that acne could be cause by what I was eating. Maybe I should've been eating those carrots instead of wearing them. >>insert eye role<< I had no idea what impact the many rounds of antibiotics I had taken over the years had on my gut health...until now.
Realizing how much food played a role in my health fueled my fire and I kept digging to find more answers. I felt "good" for the first time in my adult life and I was on a mission to feel "great". Podcasts became my new addiction and I couldn't wait to get outdoors to run and listen/learn. I began learning not just about the role of food in my body, but self-care, stress and toxins. I began taking steps to reduce stress, change my mindset and remove toxins from my body care routine and eventually from the products I use inside and outside of my home. My amazing partner, Corey, was along for the ride, even if he wasn't sure he wanted to be. (Love you honey!) We began buying organic produce and one by one we replaced cleaning products, body care products and even our food storage containers. Eventually, I decided that I needed to go back to school so I could understand these concepts on a deeper, scientific level. (Remember, I was on a mission to feel GREAT!) So I started taking classes for holistic nutrition and juggling my very busy schedule to incorporate time to read and study. My passion for health only grew and I started to feel like I needed to shout this message from the rooftops.
Then we had a baby.
I was so happy I had a lot of holistic nutrition knowledge going into pregnancy, but quickly discovered there was so much more to learn. I had to shift my focus to researching everything I needed to know about bringing a tiny human into this world. I now had to uncover the truth and dodge the dogma related to pregnancy, postpartum and feeding a tiny human. While I have so much more to learn on this topic, I'm thankful that I started my health journey before conceiving.
During pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding I have changed my eating strategy and follow my body's queues during each phase. In addition to learning how to fuel my body for this phase of life I've been battling severe eczema for the first time ever. My thyroid is sluggish and my gut health was wrecked once again due to taking antibiotics during delivery and again due to mastitis shortly after giving birth. They were necessary and I took them this time knowing the impact.
I tell you all of this because not only is every body unique, but our needs change over time. What has always worked in the past may no longer work for you. It's not that you are or were doing something wrong, but your body needs something different now. The body is amazing and adapts to change readily, but at some point it will expect that you make a change so it can stop working so hard. It's when you don't listen that it starts yelling and sometimes refuses to keep up with the demands.
Finally, this story comes to my current chapter. I'm glad you stuck with me because this is the best part! I've decided to make my passion my career.
Not only will this allow me to help others learn the key fundamentals to feel happy, healthy and nourished, but I can live life more slowly and with intention. I can spend more time with my family nourishing them and myself by giving extra cuddles, offering more patience and spending time outside. I can allow myself time each day for self-care and be more present in all things. I'm so looking forward to this chapter and enjoying life to the fullest while helping others do the same.