The year was 2003 and it was supposed to be one of the best years of my life. I had anticipated it for so long that my expectations were through the roof. This was the year I was supposed to see all my hard work pay off on the basketball court, living out my Division 1 college dream.
I can still recall the first day of practice. My emotions were high, masking what I was really feeling inside.
What I was really feeling was pain… A LOT of it.
My stomach was cramping. my legs felt like bricks. I was exhausted and my muscles were so sore I wasn’t sure how I was going to continue physically exerting myself for the next 2 hours, let alone the next 4 years.
I chalked it up to not being tip top shape, lack of sleep and nerves. I knew tomorrow would be better; it had to be.
But it wasn’t… not even close!
The Downward Health Spiral….
As I continued to tune into my body, I began to realize what I was feeling wasn’t just because of nerves, a new home, or a higher level of play. Something wasn’t right and it began to scare me. My face was starting to look puffy, I couldn’t recover from any of the workouts, and I had a hard time waking up for class, even after sleeping for 12 hours straight. My stomach cramps were so bad, I’d have to ask for frequent water breaks just to leave practice so I could bear the pain. I would stand in a place where no one could see me and push on my stomach in hopes of making it stop. I couldn’t eat anything without this occurring. In addition, the acne on my face was so bad, I didn’t want to leave my dorm room.
Not the year I had expected… at all.
Over the next 3 months, I began to isolate myself from the team, who happened to be the only people I knew in a 200-mile radius. I was too fatigued to join in anything fun and all I really wanted to do was sleep. I found myself reliant on NSAIDs to get through the day and was simply taking a turn for the worse as loneliness and depression began to set in.
I came to the realization that I had to figure out what was going on inside my body. If I wanted to be able to function as a part of society on a daily basis, I had no choice but to do something.
So, I did what most people do when they feel sick…. I called the doctor.
It felt great, I immediately had hope that I was going to get better and this was surely a step in the right direction.
After a 20-minute consult and written instructions to 1) see a counselor and 2) fill my prescription for Zoloft (a depression medication), all my hope turned to despair.
I’m not really depressed, am I? Why didn’t they address my stomach issues? What about the fatigue and pain I felt every day? To be honest, I was so confused.
My intuition told me to keep searching, look deeper, and leave the pills where they belonged – in the bottle. At that time, I didn’t even know holistic medicine existed. I grew up in a small town of 2,500 people in the middle of nowhere and was not exposed to anything but conventional western medicine. For me, that was my only choice and I had to find a way to make it work.
Six doctors and numerous appointments later, I gave up on that route. I couldn’t stand to be handed one more bottle of something I couldn’t pronounce. I mustered up enough energy to go to the bookstore and simply began reading. As my memory serves me, I recall reading about the Paleo diet and how our gut health affected the whole body. Those 2 things really stuck in my mind. With every turned page, I could feel hope and healing on the horizon and knew this was my ticket back to health.
While I couldn’t fully comprehend everything I had read, one thing was clear: My diet was killing me and it had to change. My low fat, grain- and sugar-filled diet had finally caught up to me.
I felt very angry that not one of those doctors mentioned the word food.
Not. One. Time.
After my 3-hour bookstore session, I instantly became fascinated with the whole health food connection. I continued to come across life-changing information, like this podcast with Jordan, Steve, and Sean Croxton and a quiz similar to this one here.
I was inspired to put together a little plan for myself, that included 3 simple rules.
- Absolutely no sugar (cane, beet, syrups, alcohols, artificial)
- Eliminate any food that comes from a box, wrapper, or can
- Eliminate Dairy and grain for 30 days
What happened to me in the next 30 days and beyond was nothing short of a transformation. My skin looked much better and less inflamed, my joints stopped aching and the best part of all – my stomach cramps were substantially less. I found myself waking up early in the morning with more energy than I’d ever known and my mood began to stabilize. I was in complete disbelief that simply changing my diet could have this effect. I knew there were more improvements to be had, but I was over the moon with joy and a sense of relief.
The most notable of all may have been my mood. I no longer felt down in the dumps on a day-to-day basis and my thoughts were much more clear. I could actually process stressful times in a different manner, which always come in handy the first year of college. To this day, if my diet slips beyond what I can tolerate, my mood starts to slip too. It’s like a built in doctor telling us what we can handle and what we can’t. If you would have told me before I changed my diet that my mood would change, I would have thought you needed your head examined.
A New Beginning
Those changes motivated me to continue for longer than 30 days. In fact, I still follow those 3 simple rules.The bulk of my diet consists of local free range eggs, veggies, fruit, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, local pork, small amounts of nuts/butters/milks, and an occasional bowl of quinoa or rice. Beside small amounts of grass-fed butter, dairy does not sit well with me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love something sweet now and again. I’ve gotten pretty good at making treats that are devoid of white sugar, grain, and syrups (and all those ingredients that bring me back to feeling sick). This is no longer just a diet, but it’s my diet and more so a way of life.
The amount of health information out there is astonishing and I’m committed to taking in as much as I can. As they always say, you’re only one tweak away from feeling great. I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of changing one thing in your diet and the impact it can have.
Over the past 13 years, I’ve learned a few things that have really helped me manage my health and I’d like to share them with this community
- Health is a journey with many moving parts and it’s up to us to keep all those parts (stress, gut health, spiritual, mind, etc) moving in the right direction.
- Growing your own food is one of the most nurturing things you can do for you mind, body and soul.
- Stay in tune with your body. Stop and listen to what it’s telling you, as it is your best doctor.
- Constantly reevaluate your health regime and don’t settle for mediocrity.
Personally, it’s time to be honest with myself and reevaluate some of those parts. While my diet has remained very clean and I’ve felt really good the majority of the past 13 years, I believe stress has taken it’s toll. Despite my best efforts to incorporate yoga, deep breathing, exercise, and other stress management tools, my body is telling me something is not right again. As part of a continued promise to never settle for mediocrity, I’ll be taking a BioHealth 201 Adrenal Stress Profile to obtain a clear picture of my adrenal function. It’s so important to be in tune with your body, so don’t be afraid to stop, listen, and reevaluate your situation, too.
My very own health journey has inspired me to not only share my story, but help others along the way. I am blessed to be part of an amazing team here at SCD Lifestyle, where each of us has had our own health struggles. We get it. We can feel your pain across the computer screen and we’re here to help.
I consider myself very lucky, because I know for some folks it isn’t as easy as removing a few foods and feeling better. If you’ve started a real food diet and feel worse, this is for you. If you’re stuck and need some help figuring out what the next steps should be, please read more here.
If you know someone who could really benefit from learning how food affects our everyday lives (and how it might be keeping them sick), please direct them here:
We’d Love to Hear YOUR Story
How has food impacted your life? Do you have a story that could change the lives of others, so they too can find freedom from everyday health struggles? Connect with us by replying in the comments below, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If we can not only learn to stop and listen to our body but actually trust what it’s saying, great things can happen. Listen to your inner doctor.
In good health,