Years pass and with a gradual change of lifestyle I tend to forget the health issues I used to deal with that aren't present I'm my life anymore. It has been a long journey of learning what is good for me and what is not. It has taken many-o-years to get where I am now. Quite frankly, I didn't have as much options or influence as I have now, so my process probably took longer and then had gotten much more accelerated in the past 5 years. I even forget how much time has past since I first started making changes to take care of myself and my body.
My journey continues as I battle more of my mental and emotional side of health and healing. Which in all honesty is the hardest one of them all.
For what ever reason, the other day when I was driving around listening to my praise and worship music I actually started to think back and make a mental list of all of my chronic health issues I had and I started to praise and thank God for my healing and that I was able to learn what I needed to in order to make the changes that got me where I am now. The thought occurred that I should write these down, so that when I am feeling discouraged or pressured by the outside world, I can be reminded that all the hard work, and lifestyle changes in fact do pay off. Maybe they can give you perseverance and hopefully inspire you as well.
I feel so much healthier, stronger, able, calm and better than I had ever. I wanted to share with you the struggles I used to face, because I think we all get discouraged. We start thinking that all the effort isn't paying off. It is important to be patient, and as the years go by, step back and reflect on the differences it actually has made. We may not realize so much on the day to day because we're getting used to how we feel now, but when you can look back over years and see the big picture, wow. This is also a reflection as to how God has plaid out my life in general, and yours too. So many times we go through heart aches, losses and pains and we cannot imagine how God is going to use it for our good. Instead we get angry as say, "If he was a good God why would he do this to me!?" I bet if you're suffering with an auto-immune disorder, you have thought that at least once. He is a faithful God though. Even if we cant see the "why," right now, it is all part of his good plan, and one day we will see it all. I know for me personally, I am finally at an age where I can start to look back on my life and see some of the "why," and it all makes much more sense. He IS a good God.
I noticed things that weren't good about my health at a young age. Over the years I made changes based on what I currently knew and that kept building on. Now, I am a full on Naturopathic Practitioner in the best health of my life. Not perfect, but best for where I have been so far (Side note, weight doesn't always define health).
One of the first things I ever did to better my health was overcome my inability to run. I felt so overweight, out of shape, pathetic and embarrassed of myself in late elementary school to early middle school. I couldn't even run 1 block. Then, one marvelous day, God sent a blessing my way. My small City I grew up in put up a walking trail over the lake and it was the best thing that happened to me, as a kid. My mom brought us there to walk a few times and I started to run from one light post to the next, for fun. Soon, I figured out that if I do this daily, or a few times/week, adding one more light post on each time, I'd build up my endurance. That began my running streak.
I started going there to run across the bridge and back and eventually was running the bridge several times. I built on to being able to run from my parents house to the park (with the walking trail) and back. Next thing you know I'm running all over town. My parents also live on a circular block, and my dad figured out that 3x around = 1 mile. I ran that, counting my miles. Something to point out in this whole message, is to set a goal that is a feasible goal in which you can build upon. I still wasn't a great runner. I was never fast, but it felt so good to be able to run and take out my teenage stress and anger out on the pavement.
Eventually, I met a friend who convinced me to join the cross country team in high school. I had no idea what I was in for. I knew nothing about sports, not even running sports. I had no idea it was about racing. Oh crud, I slightly panicked as I only maintained my running if I kept a good place, otherwise I got an asthma attack or burnt out quickly. By the way, I had really bad asthma and joints as a kid. Especially knees and hips. I also got royally bad cramps in my calves which I later found out was lactic acid build up. I wish I knew then what I knew now. Had I been educated, I would have been drinking much more water, making magnesium salt baths, stretching much more and making sure to get my amino acids/glucosamine. My high school running would have been so much better and way less miserable! At the start of the season we had cross country camp and I forgot my inhaler at home. We had really long running days in the heat, up high, rolling country hills. I thought I was going to die. I cried on my first day and wanted to go home. But my breathing improved tremendously the more I ran and conditioned my lungs! So I started using what caused some asthma flair ups to actually combat my asthma, instead of steroids. During cross country, I also found out I was really anemic. They told me to take iron pills, which I always forgot to do, but good thing because it turns out that taking iron for anemia can have adverse effects too! I was never educated by my doctor or coach on what to eat or do to not be anemic. They also didn't teach me what it really meant to be anemic and why I was. I learned that on my own many years later. There were lots of races I could barely make it because my fatigue was so bad and I was so malnourished (not because I didn't eat enough, but because of what I was eating) that my muscles couldn't do it.
So, the list is building. I was horribly out of shape, I had asthma, joint problems, and anemia. But that's not all. In fifth grade I had crippling stomach cramps that completely stole my fifth grade year and made me so miserable. The doctors couldn't figure it out other than after the 3rd appointment they assumed I was chronically constipated and lactose intolerant (not wrong). They really didn't say anything about that either, other than prescribed me some nasty tasting chewable lactase wafers. It helped, but didn't solve anything. Add 2 more things to my list. The next thing I noticed was that if I drank a soda from Culver's, where I worked when I was 14, I would feel this numbing rush of fatigue go from my neck down my shoulders, upper back and arms. I would feel like I was going to pass out. I had to lean against something and close my eyes until it passed. Sounds to me like type 2 pre-diabetes, but I've never gotten a diagnosis, that's not my thing. I also couldn't concentrate for a darn in school. I would get so frustrated because I couldn't sit down and focus, but I never wanted to ask for help. My brother and sister were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD but I never went in for a diagnosis. I covered up my struggles and learning disability and persevered on. I was a silent sufferer. I guess getting medical diagnosis has never been my thing.
It's funny how that was a telling of my future to come. Now, I don't believe in having the labels of medical diagnosis. I think the awareness is good, and it's good to know if you really have something or not. However, I don't think having the label is necessary or a good thing, because we tend to want to make it our identity and become it. Letting your medical diagnosis define you hinders your healing progression. We can't heal if deep down it's a part of us, that we never want to let go.
Continuing on with my list, all my life, I also had a ton of fatigue - similar to Lyme's sufferers. I'd get soo unexplainably tired in the middle of the day, and had a hard time completing normal tasks. I seemed to have runny noses and drainage all through the winter, fall and spring and then bad allergy related asthma in the summer because of pollen and humidity. One day as a kid, I noticed one of my ankles started to be more swollen then the other. It was like I had this fatty patch on the side of my foot. They told me it was just how my feet and ankles are. I was always skeptical of that. But now I appreciate it - because it's my sure fire indication that I did or ate something my body doesn't like. Which means that now, I rarely have that swollen patch, whereas it was always there before. That is how I could make the correlation. When I am good both ankles and feet are very skinny and uninflamed. When I am bad, the one foot gets that swollen fatty patch. Now I always check it to see. I've been on a really great streak lately with no inflammation in my feet and ankles!
I am kind of bouncing around what order things came first, but I am listing them off as I remember;
In high school, I went to see several dermatologists for chronic eczema and other skin issues, but they were not resolved by them. They just gave me steroid creams (a lot of use of steroids in my story??).
I was also diagnosed with slight scoliosis. I slouch a lot with very poor posture and ability to maintain good form. My back always hurt.
I developed tendentious and did physical therapy for it, but what helped was chiropractic!
I would get arthritic-like feelings in my toes and fingers, mostly when they were cold.
Every time I went to the dentist, I had tons of cavities, probably from my addiction to candy and sugar.
I got headaches a lot that would last an entire week or 2!
Most of the time I had horrible stomach pains after eating out or at a family gathering. Because of this I dreaded family gatherings, especially overnighters - Especially when it was a friend or boyfriends family! I was always so uncomfortable and in pain after eating.
I had severe IBS symptoms and constipation (I pooped like twice a week!). This made it so my stomach was always distended and I had a lot of gassiness.
Whenever I'd stand from laying or sitting I'd get dizzy.
My teeth were incredibly sensitive to temperatures.
I had all these broken capillaries in my face and varicose type veins in my legs.
My face was filled with tons of blemishes.
My hands and feet were always cold and clammy/wet.
I had horrible breath all the time.
My hair started thinning.
I had cellulite, even when I was thin.
Crippling menstrual cramps and blood clotting.
Chronic yeast infections
Severe depression, and poor self image.
To top it off I was an awful pessimist/negative Nancy (very hard to unlearn but I have been trying very hard to overcome this and be a positive bubbly person!). To be honest, I'm probably missing things on this list, but we get the point.
It's not to say boo-hoo me or that my younger years were miserable, I honestly got so used to being in pain or discomfort 24/7 that I barely noticed it half the time. I did really fear what my older years would be like though because I thought it could only keep getting worse. I don't fear them anymore, in-fact, I look forward to them.
Today, I am confident to say;
I have overcome, almost all of these things. I don't get asthma, except on rare occasions. I'm not anemic anymore. I have less lactic acid cramps, and now know how to stop them or release it. knee pain only flair ups once or twice/year when I screw up my form working out, but it gets better quickly. I have little to no cellulite anymore, even when I have gained weight. I'm much less depressed, although I go through Flair's of depressions still, but not nearly what I had before. I have many ways to manage it now. I haven't had a runny or stuffy nose all season, nor do I get mucus. It's been years since I've had a yeast infection. I really don't notice arthritic-like feelings anymore. I had 1 headache that I remember this entire year and it was after being exposed to a toxin. However, if I do eat any white table sugar, I get a stabbing pain in my head. My body definitely rejects it and I can feel exactly where the sugar is damaging me. I haven't had any eczema in over a year, and no more contact dermatitis. I breathe freely and easily now. Most of the time, my energy lasts through the whole day, and I experience much less anxiety and negative thoughts (in comparison). Since I gave up sugar, I haven't had a single cavity in years and my teeth seem stronger and less sensitive too. My skin has less veining and redness. It's much more even. I don't get stomach pains or cramps anymore - unless I deliberately eat something I know is a trigger. But I can even eat some of those things in moderation now without problems. My back hurts less often and I no longer have tendentious. My hair grew back thicker, my skin is firmer, even with weight gain. I did end up losing the weight I had as an overweight kid and I maintained a healthy weight then on. Only this past year I have gained weight from job, school and life stress and because I'm in the kitchen cooking up yummy healthy food a lot! However, I am still in shape and have more muscle form then ever. One big thing that happened this year, is I am rarely constipated, in fact TMI, but I easily poop like 3x/day... which is how it's supposed to be actually!! Overall, I generally feel pretty good and have a harder and harder time coming up with health issues or pains to tell an accupuncturist or someone I see for routine maintenance. I still struggle with balancing hormones. that horrible birth control teenage girls go on and stay on for many years is so damaging! It has been a struggle to heal from that, but I have had a lot of improvement with that too! Like I said earlier on, I am also working on the emotional and mental aspects too, but have had lots of improvement there as well. My journey is not over. I am so thankful for my health and knowledge I have now, and whenever someone gives me a hard time about being too into "healthy stuff," I have to remind myself of this. It fuels me to press on. It is why I am passionate and why I can help you. I have been through it and came out on the other end. I understand it, studied it, lived it and overcome a lot of it. My desire is to help you overcome yours too. Let me help guide you through the messy.