I have been on a long health journey myself, which has inspired me to help others live a simpler, healthier life.
Restrictive eating, exercise obsession, binge eating, acne, weight gain, anxiety and depression, hormone and gut dysfunction, intense stress and grief; I’ve been through it all.
My health journey started in college. I was 21 years old and had found that I gained the freshman 15. My self-confidence had tanked and all those nights of partying and going through the Taco Bell drive-thru had finally caught up to me. I had always been a weight and health-conscious person, but just like any other college kid, my health wasn’t a priority.
I remember as a 13-year-old looking through a J-14 magazine, (which I was obsessed with anyone else?!), and, I saw that the pop star Shakira weighed 102 lbs at her height of 5’2″; well I was 5’4″ and weighed 116 lbs. To me, this meant I needed to lose weight because I was ‘fat.’ So, that day I decided I was just not going to eat, and that I was going to ‘starve’ myself sexy. Well, that lasted for a few hours because I got too hungry and went upstairs to the panty and got myself a big bowl of fruity pebbles. I will always remember this moment because that is when my body issues came to light. I grew up participating in a dance in which all the girls wear leotards. I was definitely one of the chubbiest in my leotard. I looked at the skinny girls wearing theirs and always wanted to be them. But, I digress.
Back to college.
My boyfriend at the time, now my fiance, was also overweight and very unhealthy. One day I decided that I was sick of living like that. We first started doing Insanity a few times a week. Man…that was awful. Kyle, my fiance’, even said “this sucks, let’s just be fat.” We next tried meal-prepping “healthy” dishes. I thought healthy meant home-cooked meals. Therefore we made Doritos taco bake, creamy, cheesy Alfredo, and other various pasta dishes for our dinners. After a short period of time and with a lot of research I realized we weren’t cooking much better, and the exercise routine was not sustainable.
Moreover, I realized we wouldn’t lose weight eating that many calories. I knew I needed to learn more about food so I became obsessed with research. Every time I discovered new research on healthy eating, I would tell my boyfriend and we would try something new. All with the primary goal of eating ‘healthy’, and losing weight.
Restrictive Eating & Excessive Obsession
We started meal prepping in typical bodybuilder fashion: chicken breast, rice, and broccoli, etc. We also started weight training for the first time. I went in headfirst. A typical workout consisted of weight training, a HIIT/circuit workout, and sprinting on the treadmill, EVERY DAY. I wasn’t focused on health, just on weight loss. Like many others, I was misguided by social media influencers, or websites providing info on how to lose weight now. I began to notice a common theme of “eat 1200 calories daily”. I started eating 1200 calories a day and tracking it in MyFitnessPal religiously. I dropped weight fast. But even though I was losing weight, I found it really hard to balance my life as a college kid on the weekends. So, I decided to throw in the towel, on the weekends, and binge on anything and everything I could get my hands on.
Everything that was off-limits on the weekdays was fair game on the weekends. My boyfriend and I’s favorite was Marcos pizza. It’s the pizza company owned by Family Video, and if your Family Video doesn’t suck, it will have a Marcos instead of Little Caeeser’s. I would eat until my stomach was in pain, and I’d still want more. I felt ravenous around food.
At some point, this mentality changed. I found myself turning down social opportunities in pursuit of the ‘perfect’ body. I knew social opportunities with friends would hinder my progress. I thought, why would I work so hard in the gym to blow it on a 1,000 calorie marg?
After losing 15-20 lbs, I was very confident in my body and loved all the compliments I was getting. But, I was terrified of losing what I worked so hard for; gaining all the weight back.
Enter supplements. I started taking prototypical bodybuilding supplements like pre-workout, protein powder, BCAA’s, etc., because I heard they would help you get to your goals faster.
Kyle and I graduated college and Kyle started Law School at a different university. It was at this point that we fully immersed ourselves into bodybuilding. After following all these bikini girls on Instagram I decided that I wanted to be a bikini competitor and compete in bodybuilding bikini competitions. I started training and dieting hard for a local competition. I even hired a coach who provided invaluable diet advice, such as “eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch before every workout.” Needless to say, none of her advice advanced my health goals. Nevertheless, I put my heart and soul into training for the show, but the show was unfortunately canceled due to a lack of participation. Although it was a disappointment, it was definitely a blessing in disguise. #blessed. I don’t think my body could have handled any more after two years of excessive cardio and restrictive dieting.
Enter nutrition and health. I started educating myself more and more about nutrition and exercise. Once again, I was obsessed and wanted to know everything (notice a theme here?). Instead of only looking at bodybuilders for advice and information, I started listening to podcasts. This opened up a whole new world of health and wellness information.
The first podcast I listened to was a fitness podcast called Mind Pump. Shameless plug: if you are into health and fitness, go listen to them now! Hands down the best fitness podcast available.
This podcast changed my view on exercise and nutrition. I also found valuable information from Mind Pump, in terms of recommendations from the hosts or guests that were featured on their show. I guess you could say I adopted a holistic lifestyle. I started changing my boyfriend and I’s lifestyle little by little. We decided to cut out processed food, dairy, and grains. This wasn’t a fast or easy change. It was a journey of educating ourselves as well as messing up so many times. This journey eventually led to me enrolling in the Kresser Institute Adapt Health Coach Training Program. My goal was to become a health coach and help other people through their health journey.
Anti-depressants & Birth Control
During this process, I became aware of the harmful side effects of certain medications. This led me to discontinue taking Birth Control and Anti-depressants. I didn’t want these medications controlling my body anymore. I first got off antidepressants; cold turkey. I do not recommend this. It sent my body on an emotional roller coaster and to this day was one of the most challenging things I have been through. Some days I felt insane.
After about 8 months of being off anti-depressants, I decided to get off my birth control.
This also was not easy.
My hormones were so out of whack because I was taking a pill that controlled them for so long. After getting off I noticed that I was not having a period. I started learning all about what this meant for my body and how to get my period back.
I went to multiple doctors who told me not having a period for 8 months wasn’t a big deal, and that hopefully, it comes back soon. I took a whole bunch of supplements and even enrolled in Dr. Jolene Brighten’s Birth Control Hormone Reset Program to learn about healing my hormones and getting my period back.
Stress & Grief
I mentioned earlier that quitting anti-depressants cold turkey was one of the most difficult things I’ve been through. Well, this paled in comparison to the trauma I experienced when my younger brother, Sam, passed away at the tender age of 19 as the result of an ATV accident. I never expected or knew the toll that the grief and stress of this experience would take on my mental, physical, and emotional health. During this time I used the knowledge of eating healthy and exercising to take care of myself so that I could take care of others around me. At first, I felt like I was doing okay. I was back to my normal routine. I also started to see a counselor weekly. I have never been an emotional person so talking about the experience and my feelings was very difficult. Even though I was talking to a counselor, I still found myself suppressing a lot of emotion towards what happened.
And let me tell you . . . suppressing any emotions or trauma will lead to a myriad of health issues. It lead to insurmountable physical stress on my body.
I began experiencing severe brain fog, weight gain, severe digestive issues, acne, and extreme anxiety and depression.
And, I was still not having a period. I was so miserable. I knew I had to figure out a solution. Through my research I read it is common for women to lose their period for an average of 3 months after getting off birth control. It had been 11 months at that point and I still didn’t have a period. I learned that I needed to eat more calories, especially more carbs in order to get it back. I had been undereating for far too long. After increasing my calories, carbs, and gaining 20 pounds I finally got my period back.
Digestive Issues & Acne
At this time I was also struggling with severe gut and digestive issues, and acne. I was also not to happy about the 20 pounds I put on. I tried many things to try and heal my gut myself, but nothing was working.
I decided to invest in working with a functional dietician and nutritionist. This changed my life. I was able to get a stool test done that no other doctors would order for me. The stool test showed pathogens, H. pylori, gut dysbiosis, and a parasite. The dietician said that my results were the worst she’s ever seen.
I started to feel really discouraged. I thought I was doing everything right with my health. This made me realize what stress and grief can do to your body.
I was a complete mess.
I knew I had a lot of work to do to heal my body and my mind. I started working on my mindset but really struggled in my new body with the 20 pounds I put on. None of my clothes fit, and my body took on a whole new shape. This was a different identity for me. I had never been this out of shape or looked this unhealthy.
My acne was extremely bad and I looked 9 months pregnant with my constant bloat. I wore sweatpants, hats, and sweatshirts, daily, to cover myself up. My self-confidence was extremely low, even worse than my initial brash with weigh-gain in college. I had some very emotional days of accepting myself for who I am and not the way I look. It was a constant work in progress.
I started taking the supplements I needed to heal my gut and continue to heal my hormones. After 5 months of working with the dietician and noticing so many improvements, I took another stool test.
Almost all of my results were back to normal. My hormones also improved, and my period was normal. The extreme bloating was gone. And my acne was slowly getting better. Digestive issues, nada.
Fast forward to now, I’m feeling great, although I am constantly working on bettering myself so that I can live my best life.
What I learned from this journey is that you have to take one step at a time to become a healthier and better you. It takes time to heal your body as well as form healthy routines and habits. It is not easy. Period. It takes time, practice, and consistency.
My goal with writing is to help you skip over the BS and confusion of health and wellness; and provide you with nutritious whole-food-based recipes, and sustainable lifestyle practices.
Thanks so much for reading! Now I want to hear about your health or life journey.
Just checking out your low sulphur foods list and at a glance, it looks like you may be dealing with toxic mould illness (also called chronic inflammatory response). High levels of Gliotoxin make it hard to tolerate sulphur and gliotoxin also causes serious brain fog. Might be worth looking into! Have a look at Dr Shoemaker’s cluster symptoms, and see if that fit with your other symptoms.