I don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone when I say that health is an enormous focus in my life. It has been since the second I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. My focus has only grown more and more after discovering that the way to manage my illness was all lifestyle and diet based. Health is something that we all want to strive for regardless of our health status, right? It’s not wrong to want health. However, there’s a fine line between being focused on your health, and letting it control your life. So, how do you stop it from controlling your life?
First, I want to draw the distinction between obsession as in Googling and Instagraming health topics too much and obsession as in developing a disorder. If your obsession is literally dominating your life and creating disorder, I highly, highly recommend speaking one on one with a counselor or therapist to talk about your own situation. I am not a therapist by any means and I’m only sharing my own experiences here, and not professional advice that substitutes for treatment of anything. I often recommend my own clients to therapy, and having done it myself, I can’t talk enough about the benefits…
There’s a balance between being your own health advocate and having your health control your life in a negative way.
In a world of some less than perfect health advice, and tons of contradicting information, we all need to be our own health advocate. Research and staying up on health news is necessary! We need to be our own health advocates! We need to Google, we need to read books, we need to listen to podcasts, and we need to stay up on new research. I never would’ve found AIP if I didn’t research it, and that research has literally changed my life.
However, there’s a fine line between educating yourself and feeling like your obsessed. Let’s loosely define what I’m talking about here…
- Being your own health advocate is when you’re proactive about your own health and pursue a healthy lifestyle
- Obsessing over your health is feeling that you’re constantly thinking about it, and you just want a dang break already!
How I Knew My Pursuit of Health Was Controlling My Life…
Fine lines can be incredibly hard to distinguish, but let’s be honest… you know when you’re just over it. I’ve had plenty of times in my health journey when I knew I just was over it.
Here are some of the signs that I’ve seen in myself…
- Always thinking about what I was going to eat that day/the next day
- Making tons of unnecessary health purchases
- Constantly judging what other people are eating
- Endlessly Googling my own condition (Hashimoto’s and leaky gut)
- Constantly starting a new regimen every single week/month to find relief
- Just feeling exhausted over health news
Sound familiar? Here’s what I do…
How To Stop Letting Your Health Control Your Life
1. Make finding and addressing the root cause of your health struggles your top priority
Health trends like short detoxes and fast workout plans are quick, short, and offer results in a matter of weeks, which is why they’re insanely popular. However, when it comes to chronic health challenges like autoimmunity, leaky gut, or other, it’s all to easy to lean on quick fixes for relief. If we just try this one 30 day diet, then this other one, then this program, and so on and so forth. It becomes a cycle of quick fixes that offer little long term relief, and the constant change of routine makes it feel like health is controlling your life.
Rather, the most important thing with any health challenge is to insure that you’re working to find the root cause. Why do you have gut issues? What triggered your autoimmunity? Spending your time and energy on finding and addressing what’s causing your issues helps you get at the heart of what’s wrong rather than obsessing over the next new thing to help you find relief.
2. Focus on hobbies and entertainment completely outside of health
If you’re anything like me, your netflix suggestions are all filled with food documentaries, and Amazon wishlist is nothing but health books and supplements. I’ve gone through phases where all I wanted to consume was health related. Everything I bought, everything I did, and everything I consumed was all about health and the pursuit to better my own health. Though it’s important to learn and continue to be an advocate for your own health, this is were it can start to control your life.
Find hobbies and entertainment that have absolutely nothing to do with health and embrace the heck out of them! Maybe it’s art, music, a sport, writing, or other. Something that I’ve gotten more into fairly recently has been collecting plants! Yes… collecting plants. Luckily I have a husband who is also into it and we’ve been slowly growing our collection while we make plans for a custom succulent wall, and more!
Yup. These little plants have nothing to do with health… and I love it!
3. Accept and acknowledge that health struggles happen
The misconception in this health and healing community is that if we Paleo hard enough, we will be forever healed. If we just research more, eat more kale, do more crossfit, or meditate more, we’ll heal. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes health struggles can be out of our hands. Sometimes we’re hit with a stressful event that we just can’t control. And sometimes our bodies just change. We age, our environment changes, and we change.
As always, there a fine line here. If you’re not able to thrive, there’s a real issue there that needs to be addressed. However, if we let every sniffle, every off day, and every yawn control our life, we’re denying what it means to be human. Humans aren’t perfect, and no amount of obsession will change that.
4. Create a routine
If you’re at the beginning of your health journey, it will likely feel like you’re obsessing over it. So many decisions, so many different opinions, and so many new things to learn. Don’t freak out… this is normal in the beginning, and even necessary to form a new habit and routine. New habits, especially ones that are all encompassing like creating a new lifestyle take a lot of time.
It takes time to form it, but creating a routine always works for me. Even the most basic routine is an amazing way to make time for healthy habits every week, but makes it so you don’t have to obsess over them constantly.
For example, when I first started AIP, I would obsess daily over what I would be having to eat that day, and the next. I’d spend my entire drive to work recounting everything in my fridge, my pantry, and would make plans to stop at the store daily. This was obsessive, and exhausting.
Eventually, I had enough of it. Every Saturday, I would sit down and plan a rough outline of my meals for the week, and then I would take Sunday to prep 75-80% of what I needed for the week. I’ve done this for years. It keeps me from obsessing about what I should be eating everyday, and it’s a routine that I love!
I also do this with workouts. I used to schedule myself so tightly that I never had time to work out. Now, every week, I go into my phone and schedule my workouts like an appointment with myself. That way, I know that I’m making time for it and schedule around it. If I miss a work out… it’s no big deal. But, scheduling them helps keep me active without me having to obsess over whether or not I got enough movement that week.
5. Accept and embrace diverse friends and family who aren’t necessarily “heath” people
This goes against what most self help books will tell you. “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people”. While I don’t disagree entirely, I think it can be a little much to be constantly surrounded by healthy people as it can influence more judgement against those who don’t pursue a certain lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s so important to have a support system of friends and family who support you. However, don’t snub friendships just because they’re not “health” people. Embrace social relationships with people who have different interests, and want to do different things rather than just going to a yoga class and getting a green juice all of the time. It’s refreshing to get together with friends who just want to watch a movie and play a game sometimes!
That doesn’t mean you have to do what they do, or eat what they eat. But it’s important to remember that relationships have so much more to offer than just feeding into your own interests.
I can tell you first hand that living with health challenges isn’t easy. You do have to stay on top of it to make sure you continue to progress, and it does take a lot of time and energy. However, by applying these steps, it makes it much easier to make it a healthy lifestyle rather than something that’s controlling and exhausting.
When it comes to pursuing better health, we all want to heal fast. Blame it on the media which is littered with drastic before and after pictures taken only a few months apart, or blame it on our own personal drive to just feel better already. Whatever it is, once people start on a mission for better health, they want it to happen immediately. However, there’s always a bad day, there’s always a cake at a party, there’s always bad traffic on the way to the gym, and we stumble. We stumble on our health and healing journey, and we hate ourselves for it.
There are different kinds of health journeys. Sometimes it’s weight loss, sometimes it’s just trying to live a healthier lifestyle, and others, like the one that myself and most of my readers are on, are health journeys related to chronic illness that really effect your quality of life. I’ve stumbled many times on my journey to heal my gut and my Hashimoto’s, and it’s okay. We all stumble and I’m going to tell that it’s okay, and how to pick yourself up afterwards.
We All Stumble On Our Health Journeys
As someone who is deeply engrossed in this health industry both personally and professionally, I can tell you that we all stumble from time to time. Whether that’s bingeing on a food that we know is bad for our health, quitting an exercise routine, or just giving up on ourselves, we all do it.
I know about this first hand. I’ve done it several times in almost the past decade that I’ve been pursuing better health with Hashimoto’s, and with leaky gut. I’ve gone back to eating gluten for months out of nowhere plenty of times, and I’ve fully disregarded doctors advice. There are tons of little things, but I want to tell you about my worst stumble in own health…
I was 18, newly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and trapped in what felt like a whirlwind. My first semester of college was supposed to make me feel young, and excited for life, but it was the complete opposite. I was clueless on how to really address my health beyond medication. I was so fatigued that I was sleeping 16 hours a day, my digestion was so bad that I developed a bingeing habit to keep up wth the fact that I wasn’t absorbing any of my food, and I was growing more and more anxious and depressed every day. My health felt tied to where I was, and for some reason, I felt like I could run away from it all.
My ultimate dream in my young life was to indeed run away and have an experience of a lifetime where I could travel and life a different life for even just a short time. I made the brash decision to literally run away. I loaded up my car, drove across the country, and set off to do a semester long internship in the happiest place on Earth. I thought the time away from the stress of school and working in a fun environment with new people would solve my health problems. It didn’t.
My health just got worse. I go back and forth between gluten free junk, and tons of sugar. I remember aimlessly wandering around grocery stores on the brink of tears… knowing that I needed to be eating better, doing better, feeling better, but I had no idea how. I developed the most random obsessive habits around food like drinking tons of fruit juice (which I never did) and chewing entire packs on gum in a day because I was so desperate to just constantly eat. I had several infections and illnesses that had me on antibiotics, and my anxiety was getting worse and worse and I got regular attacks. I was so antisocial and so down on myself that I did nothing to enjoy the experience of a lifetime… I had to run away again… I left the internship early having zero of my problems solved, and only returned with more.
Picking Yourself Back Up And Not Hating Yourself For It
Coming back from that trip 5 months older and feeling set back in my health and my life 5 months was hard. I moped around for weeks not knowing what to do with myself. But I had to slowly get back up and stop hating myself for it. That was easier said than done.
This is a hard step for everyone, including me. We get so down on ourselves about it. We say that we failed, we say that we’re not good enough and we say that we lost so much precious time. However, we need to stop that negative self talk immediately.
In this post health bump state, we need to accept that the longer we dwell on it and stay mad at ourselves, the longer we stay in limbo with out health. The sooner that we dust ourselves off and just push forward, the sooner we get to being healthier and getting back in our groove,
It Takes TIME To Find Your Groove And To Forgive Yourself
Even though we need to just push ourselves back into finding a groove rather than moping around and feeling sorry for ourselves, it takes time to find a groove. One of the biggest questions that I always get from people is “how long did it take you to heal?” Months, and then Years… and I’m still doing it.
But slowly and surely, day by day, you develop strategies to stay the course like….
- Acknowledging that it’s okay to stumble… you’re not a bad person or a failure for it
- Learning to meal prep to always have health meals on hand
- You find more staple recipes that make eating healthier more enjoyable
- You find a workout routine that you love
- You find an online community of similar folks who can support you
- You develop an arsenal of strategies that just work for you (check out these gut healing strategies)
- You find a doctor that gets you
It happens slowly and you don’t always know exactly how you got there, but when you work at it every day, you eventually do find your healthy lifestyle groove.
So, my dream was to run away for some dream travel in college when I was 18 and I crashed and burned with my health. I wanted it at 18. I wanted my health to be stable and I wanted the experience of a lifetime. Did I ever achieve my dream? Yes. Four years later. It took time.
At 22, after working for 4 years on getting myself in a physically and mentally healthier state I was healthy enough to study abroad in Florence Italy for a month. I had zero anxiety attacks, no particularly earth shattering food reactions, and I had literally had the time of my life. And you know what? I still went off the rails with my health and didn’t do a single structured workout for over a month, and I ate gluten and tomatoes and foods that would normally throw me off back at home. The food did eventually catch up with me, but I didn’t mentally abuse myself and mope over it when I got back to the states. I acknowledged that i had an amazing time, and got right back into my normal healthy lifestyle routine when I got home. It took years for me to get mentally and physically healthy enough to do this, but it happened.. and it was amazing.
Your Groove Is Always Changing and Stumbles Will Happen Again… But That’s Okay.
The reason that we all stumble in our healthy lifestyle is because our lives are always still changing. My healthy lifestyle today is so different than the one I developed when I was 19, and it will be entirely different when I’m 30.
Living a health journey like gut issues and autoimmunity is lifelong so stumbles and shifts in your groove are normal. I stumbled when I got my first full time job, I stumbled when I left certain long term relationships, and I still have mini stumbles a stressful week or a long trip. It’s okay. I will continue to happen over and over and it’s fine. We all stumble, but we all have to learn to just dust ourselves off and keep going.
Leaning On Something Bigger Than Yourself
Through all of my early stumbles, I always ran away. I ran away when I took that internship, I ran away from myself and into toxic relationships, and I ran away from my feeling and into unhealthy relationships with food. When really, I needed to run into it and lean on something bigger than myself. I couldn’t single handily solve all of my own problems, especially when I was running away from them. Again, it took years for me to realize this. Taking yourself outside of yourself and seeking advice and guidance elsewhere is always transformative.
Running to God and telling Him that I clearly needed help, strength, and guidance was the ultimate game changer for me. It took prayer, strengthening my relationships with Him, and strengthening my relationships with other Godly people helped me reconcile the fact that I am just not perfect. I will always stumble and I will always fall, but I’ve been redeemed of that eternally. I don’t have to be perfect. I can just focus on being the best that I can be, and trusting God with it.
When you stumble, know that it’s not the end of your health journey. We all do it, and it’s always redeemable. It takes time, guidance, and determination, but if I can do it, so can you.
When I first got Hashimoto’s disease, I had never even set foot in a functional medicine doctors office. Actually, I had never even heard of it. I was under the impression that doctors only existed for annual embarrassing weigh ins and seemingly useless check up’s. Little did I know that functional medicine would become a huge part of my healing journey. People ask me
First, what is functional medicine? Functional medicine looks at the person as a whole rather than just zeroing in on their condition. For example, my endocrinologist worked to just mask the symptoms of my Hashimoto’s disease, where as, my functional medicine doctor looked at my gut, my toxicity, my hormones, etc. and how to heal the root cause of my condition. Functional medicine is much different than conventional, and it’s typical much more expensive, but it’s been a huge part of my own healing journey.
I’ve seen tons of functional medicine practitioners in my day. Some that didn’t help me at all, and some that helped me for years and I just grew out of. I firmly believe working to find the right practitioner that works for you isn’t easy. It’s like finding a partner or a best friend… you just can’t pick any random ol’ person. That’s why I wanted to share my tips for finding a good one from both the perspective of a nutritional therapy practitioner, and a patient myself.
How To Find A Good Functional Doctor or Holistic Practitioner
1.Ask around for recommendations
Most of the practitioners that I’ve seen have come from recommendations from friends and co-workers. In my area, a lot of the folks I know actually see a lot of the same people. Functional medicine communities are typically pretty tight knit and you can find a lot of them fairly easily once you find one or two.
It doesn’t have to be awkward to ask about doctors. Think about the people you know if your life who have had health struggles or daily members who have. Ask them who they see or have seen in the past, and you’ll be surprised of the gems that are right in your own backyard.
You can also take advantage of online groups like Facebook groups, forums, etc!
2. Look for practitioners who specialize in your area of need
Figure out what you want to target and find someone who specializes in it. Maybe that’s lyme disease, maybe it’s Hashimoto’s, etc. For me, it’s crucial to work with someone who gets autoimmunity and gut issues. Most practitioners do at this point, but I did extra research to find someone who really got me.
For example, I advertise in my own nutritional therapy consulting business that I specialize in working with women with chronic illness and autoimmunity by supporting their bodies ability to heal with nutrition and foundational work. I don’t necessarily work with people on just losing weight or getting on a Paleo diet alone.
Do some research on what exactly you want a practitioner to address and find the best option for who can do it.
3. Find a good “anchor” doctor and layer on specialists from there
This is my favorite piece of advice to give as I firmly believe that everyone needs to work with a doctor who can directly diagnose and treat your disease, and can run labs. Not every practitioner can do that. It’s important to find that anchor doctor that can really be hands on. So, what kind of doctor?
- Functional Medicine Doctor
- MD who practices functionally
- A naturopath
- An herbalist or chiropractor
Though it’s important to have your anchor doctor, they may not be able to give you all of the support you need. Lots of my own clients see a functional medicine doctor and then see me for more hands on nutrition support, or also see a massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc. So, who else could you potentially see?
- Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
- Massage therapist
- Colonic specialist
- Counselor or psychologist
4. Seek out someone you trust.
In order to heal anything, you have to believe in what you’re doing. If you’re on a protocol that you’re iffy about from the beginning or you just don’t trust your doctor, you’re already at a disadvantage.
Ask yourself… what makes someone trustworthy to you? Is it social proof like good reviews online? Is it a smiling face and a family oriented atmosphere at the office? Think about what really helps you trust someone and look for those qualities in a doctor.
5. Seek out someone you relate to.
I became a nutritional therapy practitioner because I relate to what my clients are going through, and I want to help to make their journey easier than mine was. Most (if not all) of the really good practitioners out there have a story just like yours that you can relate to. Not only does this make them more trust worthy, but they take more mindful care of you.
For example, when I was seeing my first functional medicine doctor, they would sell me tons and tons of supplements that had ingredients I couldn’t have… soy, wheat, potato starch, immune stimulants etc. The doctor knew that I couldn’t have these… they were just so busy and rushed. At the time, I didn’t know to look, and found myself with so many supplements that didn’t work for me, or ones that I had bad reactions to. After having this experience so many times, I read every single label of the supplements that I recommend for my clients beforehand to ensure that they don’t waste their time or money. Sure, that bad reactions still happen even when there are no obvious things present. But I’m not going to be the guy who gives my celiac client a supplement with wheat in it. Why? Because I relate.
Most doctors will have an about page on their website that shares their own speciality, and hopefully their story as well. A really good doctor will even share their own personal experience when putting you on a protocol!
6. Ask about how long appointments last and support between visits.
This is key. I have lots of questions when I’m seeing a doctor, and don’t want to work with someone who’s rushing me out in 15 minutes. When scheduling appointments ask about how long the initial visit and the follow up lasts. In my mind, you want minimum 45 minutes with the doctor to really dig deep.
Support between visits is another important piece of the puzzle. I’ve had entirely too many bad reactions to protocols and doctors that didn’t care to know that this something that you need to ask about. Many doctors offer zero support, while others have great email support in between visits. Ask about their policy, and how you can reach them in between visits.
7. Find out what testing you want done and see who offers it in your area
After doing my own research online, I knew that I wanted to work with a doctor who did food allergy testing, blood work, SIBO testing, etc. That piece really just comes from doing research online on websites and blogs like my own. From there, I did research for either who could run these in my area, or who I could work with online to do it.
Most practitioners list what tests they run on their website, but you may also need to call and email to confirm what they do and do not do.
8. Use search engines and search hashtags.
The internet rocks, man. We have all of this information at our finger tips right here and now!
I like to use websites like Healthgrades or Yelp and type in keywords like “Hashimoto’s” or “Leaky Gut”. That way, I can search to find past reviews about testimonials from patients who wrote about those issues with specific doctors. I also recommend this functional medicine doctor search engine!
You’d also be surprised what you can find with a hashtag search on instagram! I’ve found tons of fellow NTP’s by searching #NTP. Try searching hashtags relating to your area of need and see what you can find.
9. Don’t be afraid to work with someone remotely.
You don’t have to be limited to practitioners in your area alone to find a great doctor. Traditionally, we’re used to going to a doctors office and getting an actual physical that requires vitals, and being seen in person… and that’s still necessary to see a doctor who does that. However, if you’re just layering on something like a specialist for added support, don’t be afraid of working with someone remotely.
With Skype, Zoom, and the internet in general, working remotely is more common and more convenient than ever. I work with all of my NTP clients remotely and it works out great for everyone!
My recommendations for good functional medicine practitioners in Dallas Fort Worth
Inevitability, I know everyone will ask who I see and who I recommend in DFW! So here are my recommendations…
Working one on one with a practitioner that you love and trust is so crucial to your healing journey! I hope these recommendations helped take you one step closer to finding your own, or building a greater team
It’s that time of year again… Cinco De Mayo has come and gone. And since I don’t actually partake in going out and drinking and eating yummy Mexican food, that means I’m excited for another reason… Cinco De May is my birthday! I’m turning 26 years old (just aged myself and totally don’t care) and in 26 years, I’m blessed to have accomplished, send, and done so much. I’ve graduated college, gotten married, bought a house, started my own business, and so much more. I have so many things to thank for what I’ve been able to do in 26 years… my family, my husband, God’s grace and provision in my life, and my journey to transform my health to make my self that much more effective at what I’m able to do. Living with Hashimoto’s and serious leaky gut has never been easy, but I’m so grateful for all of the progress I’ve made. In celebration of my birthday, I wanted to share 26 things that transformed my health!
I want to preface all of this by saying that I am by no means in perfect health. I have heavy metals I’m dealing with, hormones that still fluctuate, and my gut still can get pretty jacked up if I stray too far from a healing diet. I am not claiming perfection with this blog post… I’m celebrating progress.
But first, how has my health been changed positively from these 26 things?
- I reversed my Hashimoto’s
- I stopped having random fainting spells (likely a combination of bad blood sugar control and Hashimoto’s)
- I no longer have constant stomach aches and pains
- I can eat a variety of foods and not get sick
- I’m not reliant and advil and coffee to get me through the day because of fatigue and chronic headaches
Like I said, I still struggle, but these are massive, massive wins in my mind, and I’ll take every little win I can get! So here are just some of the things I’ve done…
26 Things That Transformed My Health
Diet & Wellness
1.I cut out gluten, soy, and nightshades
Though these are loosely in no particular order, this was huge for me. I went gluten free-ish when I was 18 after learning the connection it had with Hashimoto’s. I went full on gluten, soy, and nightshade free until 3 years later, and it changed my life. I had no idea how much these foods were effecting me on a daily basis and how much better I feel without them!
2. I discovered AIP
For me, gluten free, soy free and nightshade free wasn’t enough to really heal. I really needed to nix grains, take a dairy break, and learn about inflammatory oils and how to be a nutrient seeker. It’s been about 2 years that I’ve followed an AIP template, and it’s really helped change the way I feel, and the way I see food as nourishment for healing rather than something to just eat or avoid.
3. I began my bone broth obsession
All week, every week… I’m drinking broth. Whether it’s a bone broth based soup, a drink, a meal with a bone broth sauce like this spaghetti squash alfredo, or just straight up in a mug, bone broth has been huge in transforming my health. It’s helped with my gut healing, and mineral absorption!
4. I started eating protein & healthy fat daily
In high school, I prided myself in having a zero fat diet. Face palm. I also had a terrible meat aversion and never ate protein. Not only did I not crave these foods, but I couldn’t digest them. It took a lot of gut healing, but now I eat them daily and my energy has changed drastically.
5. I eat vegetables at every meal
Even breakfast, yes. Check out this breakfast bowl for reference 😉 Vegetables are the base of my diet and eating mostly vegetables rather than mostly grains like I used to has given me so much more energy, vitality, and has done so much good for my gut.
6. I let go of societies standard for “balanced eating”
We’ve all hear of the 80/20 rule. Most often the 20% is perceived as alcohol, cupcakes and taco bell. If you’re not pigging out on junk food every so often, society views you as obsessed with healthy food… I highly disagree. You need not need a balance of junk food to be healthy. I’m perfectly happy with my 20% being things like dark chocolate and matcha lattes, and eating a nutrient dense diet!
7. But, I still give myself “permission” to eat lots of chocolate… like… a lot
Not like I need “permission” but I do indeed still treat myself. You guys… I eat a lot of chocolate. If I don’t have something chocolate-y minimum a couple of times a week, I’m a sad panda… do people still say that?
8. I started batch cooking
The best way for me to not stress about having healthy meals prepared!
9. I stopped trying to lose weight and learned to productively deal with my weight fluctuations with Hashimoto’s
10. I learned that Hashimoto’s can be managed holistically
11. I went on a journey to heal my gut & support my gut health
Gut health was a huge trigger for my Hashimoto’s, and a whole separate issue in itself for me. Going on my gut healing journey and supporting my gut health going forward is one of the main things that keep my Hashimoto’s controlled, and previous IBS type symptoms under control!
12. I learned how digestion is actually supposed to work
Learning how digestion works changed how I approach gut healing. Truly, take a look at how digestion actually works and think about how you can support your digestion to support your gut health.
13. I take Betaine HCL and enzymes with every meal
Like I said, my gut still a’int perfect. Taking digestive support supplements has been a huge factor in my gut healing journey.
14. I discovered the importance of blood sugar control and how to balance meals
Oh, you mean oatmeal with chocolate chips and coffee is a bad idea for breakfast? Yeah… it kind of is. I had horrible hypoglycemia my whole life, and the spikes and dips of blood sugar are so bad for your adrenals, and your liver, and your body in general!
It’s only been about two years that I’ve started to take this seriously, and balancing my meals is always going to be a daily challenge, but it’s made a drastic difference in my headaches, fainting spells, and over all hunger.
15. I strengthened (and continue to strengthen) my relationship with God
Above giving up gluten, drinking bone broth, and even getting married, I owe everything to God. I personally believe that God has lead me on and through this health journey for a purpose. God calls us to love Him will all of our hearts, to pursue Him, and to establish a relationship with Him. In doing this, it’s given me reassurance in my health, and changed my mental health so much more than even the best yoga class ever could.
16. I married an amazing, supportive, cute, blonde man.
Marrying Daniel is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, if not the best. He’s grounded, supportive, ambitious, and the perfect partner for me on this journey. I’ve had some tumultuous relationships in the past that were terrible for my health. Daniel does nothing but support and strengthen my physical and mental health <3
17. I stopped crazy exercise
As a former crossfitter, it just wasn’t working for me and my adrenals anymore. I walked away from something that I still technically loved in interest of support my health with more gentle exercise.
18. I started doing yoga & weight lifting
I still love lifting weights… my body likes lifting weights. It also really loves yoga. I may not be a star weight lifter or yogi, but these gentle exercises are just what my body needs to stay challenged, keep myself moving, and not spike my stress levels to a crazy amount.
19. I take walks several times a week
Weather permitting 😉 I do live in Texas and it’s already super hot here. But taking walks is an amazing way to gently move your body and take some self care time to think, meditate, and pray. If I’m ever having an off day, a walk almost always sets me straight.
20. I learned how to not feel “left out” with my lifestyle and diet
21. I got a cat named, “Stinky”
Pets are amazing health boosters. My little kitty was a stray that ran up to my mom during a snow day here in Dallas as she was leaving work. She threw him in her car, and guess where he ended up 😉 ? The name “Stinky” was a silly nickname from my husband because he was in denial that we were actually keeping him. Oh, but we did. Stinky always cheers me up, and snuggling with him is always one of my favorite parts of the day.
Oh, and did I mention that this little lover has a heart on his side?
22. I left my 8-5 job
This is always a hard one because people want to believe it’s impossible… but it’s not. I left my 8-5 day job for pursuing my own business and freelancing, and the effect it’s had on my health is drastic. Is it easy? Of course not. Is it possible? Yes.
23. I focus energy on helping others
One of my favorite parts of being an NTP/ blogger is all of the people I get to help. It warms my heart like crazy when a client tells me I helped improved their digestion, or a reader says they love my healing recipes. Looking outside yourself and helping others rather than dwelling on your own situation and health all of the time can be one of the most healing things you can do.
24. I got certified to be an NTP through the nutritional therapy association
Blog post to come on my experience as an NTP, but going through the program gave me so much insight and holistic understanding of my own health! Though I’ve been able to make a career out of it as well, it was worth it for the personal knowledge alone.
25. I became a podcast junkie
Okay, I am obsessed with podcasts. For entertainment value, for education, for self improvement…. basically all of the things. They help me relax, they make me laugh, and they teach me so. much. about. health. (and other things) Balanced Bites, Paleo Women, Stuff You Should Know… I’m so grateful for all of the value they bring and what they’ve taught me about my health!
And Very Importantly…
26. I continue to pursue this journey
By no means is my health perfect… like at all. I still have issues that I’m dealing with that relate to hormones, heavy metals and more. The most transformative thing that anyone can do for their health is to pursue it as a journey, and never give up on growing.
We’re all different… this is just my journey. I share it to inspire you in any way I can, and hope that this post did just that!
From the second that I first started presenting symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, I knew that my life was never going to be the same. Even then, I felt this pull that this was a huge turning point in my life at just 17 years old. The first time that I had a serious heart palpitation episode and fainted right behind the cash register at my high school job, lead me down a path that I could never back out of. I was officially the chronically ill girl who battled these uncomfortable symptoms, flares that shifted my weight and physical appearance, and dramatic fainting episodes and panic attacks for years.
Though I had zero choice as to whether or not this all would happen to me, I did have a choice if it would change my life for the better, or worse. Some days it’s both, but all in all, I chose to be grateful for my Hashimoto’s and leaky gut.
When I look at it just right, I see that I’m grateful that I have Hashimoto’s disease. It has changed my life for the better.
So, first… why do I have a positive outlook on having a chronic disease like Hashimoto’s?
First, know that I’m not a sunshine-y person who is always incredibly positive and has thought this way from day one. Not in the least. I’ve cried many tears, and have asked my fair share of “why me’s”. Shifting my perspective to a positive one was a choice. And a necessary one…
If I continue to keep being negative and not forgive myself of my body for bringing me to a state of disease, the only person I’m hurting is myself. The more stressed and negative I am, the worse my life gets. The more positive I am, the more positive my life is as a whole. As Buddha said, “What you think, you become”.
I didn’t want to think negative and be the person who hates my situation any more. The stress was bad for my health, my healing, and my overall quality of life.
That’s not to say that it’s easy. Hashimoto’s has still been incredibly hard for me…
Believe it or not, I’ve been called out for having a positive outlook and being grateful for my Hashimoto’s as if it was a bad thing. As if I “just haven’t suffered enough” and clearly that’s why I’m grateful. I hate playing the “who has it worse game”, so I refuse to really get into that conversation.
But in reality, we all suffer differently and no one persons journey with their disease is the same. Hashimoto’s, leaky gut, and all of the chronic disease I’ve lived with have been hard. I missed tons of high school, I lost many friends, I became a person I didn’t recognize anymore, I gave up all of my former favorite foods, and I had so many days in bed with pain, fatigue, and more. It has not been easy.
But still, if I dwell on that, I can’t live a happy life… so I choose to force myself to see the positive. Some days that’s easier than others, but I still have to make the effort.
So, how has Hashimoto’s changed my life for the better?
1. Hashimoto’s made me more empathetic to others who are going through health struggles.
Some people are naturally just a good shoulder to cry on. We need those people in the world, and I love those people. Before I got sick, I was never that person. I was awkward, cold, and just couldn’t relate.
Going through my experience with my Hashimoto’s disease and gut issues has showed me what it’s like to be sick, scared, and confused, so I care deeply and relate on a personal level to those who are going through the same.
I love being able to sit down for a cup of tea with someone who’s going through a rough time, hear their heart, and really be empathetic towards them. I needed those people when I first got sick, and I’m glad that I can be that person for others.
2. It inspired me to live a healthy lifestyle and take my health seriously.
I make jokes on my blog about how I’m a recovered french fry and ketchup addict, and it’s literally so accurate. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. I ate a horrifically unhealthy diet, overexercised, and lived anything but a healthy lifestyle and didn’t even realize that it was negatively affecting my health.
Being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s was the wake up call that I needed to take my health seriously. To stop eating junk, to stop unhealthy exercise habits, to get out of unhealthy relationships, and to start living a healthier lifestyle.
Getting Hashimoto’s wasn’t my first sign of being unhealthy. I had signs of leaky gut as early as two years old with random food allergies, chronic ear infections, digestive issues, and blood sugar imbalances that finally came to a head at 17 with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. I was unwell my entire life… Hashimoto’s was just my bodies way of telling me that I needed to change. And, I am so grateful that it did!
The sad reality is that’s what it takes for so many people to start taking their health seriously, when really we need to take it seriously way before we get to that point. But here I am, and it’s better late than never!
These days, I love the healthy lifestyle I live. I love eating salmon, and vegetables, and drinking bone broth and I’m happy to turn down the fast food that I once love. Yes, people think I’m crazy that I just won’t break down and eat a donut every now and then, but literally, I don’t care. I know how much my health means to me now that I’ve experienced life without it, and I choose to nourish my body with food that I love.
Plus its not the end of the world when I’m enjoying things like these gluten free, dairy free, paleo sweet potato chicken poppers 😉 Yes, you can eat real food that tastes delicious!
3. My journey with Hashimoto’s enables me to inspire others.
Like I said, it still hasn’t been easy. My journey with Hashimoto’s was/(is) tumultuous. I dealt with the insecurity of my weight fluctuating. I had serious social anxiety in college. When I was supposed to be out making friends and having fun, I was having panic attacks at the thought of going out and eating something that would make me sick. I felt weak from not being able to stay awake for more than 6 hours a day or even stand from more than 5 minutes at time. I fainted in high school parking lot and was accused of being a drug addict, I had my endocrinologist call me fat, and I had to quit a dream internship because I was so sick.
And if you have autoimmune disease, you can probably relate to at least one of those things that I just said.
I firmly believe that we live in a fallen world and things like chronic illness just happen. No one is immune, anyone can be struck down by it, and millions have what I have. But I also believe that God but this challenge in my way so I could inspire others who are going through the same.
By acknowledging that I’ve struggled, but have overcome and continue to fight regardless, I’m able to inspire others to keep fighting.
By starting Unbound Wellness, I’m able to share my struggles, my triumphs, and tons of fun recipes that are still delicious even though it’s gluten free, dairy free, grain free, nightshade free, seed free.. and jeez, you get the point, right?
I’m amazed and humbled by the number of people I’ve been able to inspire with my story of fighting and healing. The people I work with one on one in my nutrition practice, the people who have joined my groups, the people who have bought and had success with my gut healing book, the friends I’ve made through blogging and social media, and even just the person who reads my blog that I never hear from. I’m beyond grateful to inspire each and everyone one of the people that I can touch.
At the end of the day, I know it’s hard to live with an autoimmune disease, but it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to be grateful for.
Taking the high road and choosing to be grateful is hard. But it’s also just that… it’s a choice.
When you make that choice, I guarantee that it will only change your life for the better.
I thought that I never wanted to talk “hormones” on my blog. I wanted to keep thing like “times of the month” to myself and talk more heavily about my journey with hashimoto’s and my gut. That’s really always been more of my issue, so I never saw the need to go in-depth with hormones. However, after a crazy flare and my own constant discovery that our bodies and our health are all connected, I felt like I had to share my story of how I balanced my hormones naturally.
I’ll be honest here, I’ve struggled with this a lot recently. I may seen like I’m in remission or healed, but that is simply not the case. My health is a journey, just as yours is. Just because I gave up gluten doesn’t mean I’m suddenly immune from health flares. Our bodies and are health our always changing.
Like I said, I was hesitant to talk “hormones”, but if I share the good with you all, I have to share the bad too. Plus, hormones are so much more than times of the month. It’s about sleep, blood sugar, acne, mood, and more…
My Hormonal Imbalance Flare
I used to have terrible hormonal flares with acne, pain, and mood swings when I was a teenager. Doctors always just brushed it off as me being a teenager and didn’t look beyond that. In retrospect, I know that a lot of what caused my recently hormone flare was what was causing my flares in the past.
I had terrible acne that just wouldn’t budge. I tried creams, ointments, and even prescription acne pills (horrible idea) and nothing helped. It was eventually determined that it was hormonal acne, and I was put on a birth control pill when I was about 17 or 18 to just silence this symptom. My acne went away and I was afraid to ever get off the pill in fear of what it would do to my skin. However, when my husband and I got married, he talked me into talking to my doctor about getting off the pill. He had his head on way straighter than I did at the time and convinced me that the pill was probably doing way more harm than good. And he was right.
I got off the pill a few years ago and had already changed my diet by the time that I did, so my symptoms were much better. I had some acne and mood swing here and there, but never anything drastic… until recently.
This all started around this past summer…
What Happened To Trigger It?
This is always just speculation, but here are the things that were going on at the time…
- I was taking my finals at the NTA
- We were simultaneously buying our first house and moving
- I was feeling pressured to quit my full-time job and make the leap to entrepreneurship right then and there
- We moved into a new old house that was recently remodeled
- I was eating more starch
- I got out of my normal healthy routine
My symptoms came on so hard and so fast that I actually got tested for mold toxicity. I thought that our new house was contaminated with mold and that that’s what was triggering me.
So basically, I was crazy stressed in more ways than one.
The symptoms were hard, fast, and debilitating at times. It wasn’t bad every day, but when it was, it was really bad.
- Trouble sleeping… I would wake up every night at 3am which is not typical for me at all.
- Mood swings
- Weight gain… I can just tell hormonal weight gain on my body. I was holding onto 7-8 pounds of hormonal weight gain that wouldn’t budge
- Leg cramps
- Shooting back pain
What my lab work said…
- My thyroid and inflammation levels are still good (thankfully some positive news!)
- I was estrogen dominant
- I was low in progesterone
- I’m very low in Vitamin D
- I had elevated liver enzymes
- I had freakishly high beta-glucaronidase
- I was in stage 2 adrenal fatigue (which is hopefully improving)
- I was mineral deficient
- I’m highly mercury toxic (more on this in another post… omg…)
Clearly, I had a lot of work to do. I’ve come a long way and am still working on it, but I’m finally starting to feel relief.
How I Balanced My Hormones Naturally
(and am still working on it)
1.I Zeroed In on Blood Sugar Control and Cut Out Starches In Excess
Blood sugar is so important for your hormones! I repeat, please care about your blood sugar. Please care about how many carbs and sugars you eat (even natural, real food sources), how much fat and protein you pair it with, and how often you eat. You want your meals to be balanced. That balance is different for everyone, but generally speaking, you don’t want half of your meals to be fruit and sweet potatoes. You want fat, protein, and a balance of vegetable based carbs.
Our hormones of blood sugar sugar control of part of our entire endocrine cascade. Our hormones have to balanced, right? Spikes in our blood sugar mean imbalances in our hormones. Ever get hangry after just having a smoothie for breakfast? What about running to the bathroom at 2 am? Or feeling tired at 3 pm and only feeling relief from eating. All signs that your blood sugar is imbalanced.
I began to notice that the more starches and sugar I ate throughout the month, the worse my flares were. I was more anxious, had more acne, more pain, and I was just a wreck.
So, here’s what I did…
- I cut out/ cut down on starches like starchy flours (cassava, tapioca, sweet potato, etc.)
- I focused on eating more non-starchy veggies like carrots, squash, etc. and cooking them in lots of fat!
- I do fruit in moderation and as treats
- I made sure I had little to no caffeine. Maybe a matcha here and there, but no daily coffee for sure.
2. I Focused On Cutting Down My Stress Levels
I firmly believe that stress was the finally nail in the coffin of this flare, so it was the key to really getting rid of it. Stress in all forms (physical, emotional, etc.) spikes our cortisol which throws off our entire hormone cascade. I knew that my adrenals were seriously fatigued, and that I was incredibly stressed. Stress is the one thing that I always encourage my clients to really take an honest look at. We must reduce stress as much as possible to help rebalance our hormones and stop spikes and dips in stress hormone levels. But it’s easier said than done…
Stress is hard. It comes in so many different forms, and it’s impossible to get rid of stress altogether.
There comes a point where we need to just accept a certain level of stress in our lives. We’ll never get rid of it altogether, so we just have to find ways to manage it and get rid of unnecessary stress. Stress reduction means something different for everyone. We can’t just drop our responsibilities, so we have to find a way to balance.
So, here’s what I did…
- I worked really hard to transition away from my 8-5 job and do part time office work, consulting, and work on my own business (more on that here)
- Spent more time outside
- I take at least one evening a week to not have any obligations or appointments and just relax
- I spend more time with God
3. I Kept Working On My Gut
Because it all begins in the gut, right? Our mood, our hormones, everything! Little did I know that the biggest factor to my hormones was still in my gut. I know that working on my gut is a lifelong journey, and I’m up for the challenge.
So, let’s talk beta-glucaronidase. I had never really heard of this before I realized mine was so high. Beta-glucaronidase is an enzyme that becomes elevated from unfriendly gut bacteria. The enzyme stops us from detoxing things like old hormones, and these old hormones keep recirculating in our system… which is why I had the same symptoms for months. This was the big hairy monster in my flare. Beta-glucarondiase can be found on a stool test, and it’s imperative to lower it as it’s associated with cancer of the prostate, colon, and breast cancer.
Our gut health is huge, huge, huge. That’s why I literally wrote a book on healing your gut, and why I talk so often about healing foods like bone broth. I focus on it with all of my clients and believe that in todays toxic world, working on your gut health is an ongoing process.
A few years ago I couldn’t go a single day without having some sort of stomach ache, pain, bloating, or mystery reaction to food. Though still I have an off day here and there, I’m blown away with how far I’ve come and how much my quality of life has improved as a result. Regardless, there’s apparently still on going work to do.
Here’s what I did…
- I worked with my doctor to get on some supplements (like calcium d-glucarate) to help out my elevated beta-glucaronidase and am continuing to work with her on treating the root cause.
- I cut out excess starches and sugars to stop feeding bad gut bacteria. This was huge for me and I never thought I could do it! It’s not that my gut flora is depleted… quite the opposite. I had a huge diversity in my gut of both good and bad bacteria. My strategy for rebalancing has been to favor good bacteria with the right ferments, and starve bad bacteria which is part of cutting out starches and sugars which they feed on!
- I followed all of the principles for on-going gut healing as laid out in my e-book, the 30 Day Gut Healing Guide.
4. I Started Exercising Smarter
Getting out of my routine during the stressful summer meant getting out of my workout routine. I went from a normal routine that was working for me to just not really moving with purpose at all.
A lot of what I was dealing with my hormone flare was inflammation, and the right kind of exercise and restorative movement with purpose can be great for reducing inflammation. Everyone’s routine will be different, and actually getting into a routine is half the battle, but exercise makes such huge difference in hormone balance when we don’t over or under do it.
Here’s what I do now…
- Walking is my anchor and I take walks several times a week
- I try to go to a yoga class at least twice a week
- I also try to practice yoga at home on off days for even just 10-20 minutes to get in some movement and stretch. I’m loving Yoga with Adrienne videos.
- I’ll strength train with weights (which I love) once or twice a week or go to a more challenging yoga class
- If I’m having an off week, I’ll only walk and do restorative yoga
5. I Worked With My Doctor To Supplement Smarter
I always stress that we need to be working with a practitioner one on one with things like supplementation, because I was way off on my own routine!
I’m not really going to share the exact supplements my doctor recommended for me in depth, because the last thing I want anyone doing is just grabbing what I’m on and taking that. More likely than not, it won’t work for you like it is me. You’ll likely need something different.
In short, my doctor helped me with mineral support, Vitamin D, progesterone, and initial mercury detox support.
How My Symptoms Have Improved…
- I sleep perfectly!
- My skin is better
- My mood swings are basically gone
- No more headaches or migraines
- I shed most of my hormonal weight
- I’m way less stressed
- I’m only anxious about stupid this and not irrational things (because I’m still quirky, y’all… driving with loud music makes anxious… I’m weird 😛 )
What I’m Still Working On…
- Mercury detox! This is a huge bear and throws everything off in your body. More on this as I continue down this path, but it’s just starting for me.
- Mineral status.
- My gut flora and the beta-glucaronidaise. A constant journey as well!
- My vitamin D which has been low for years, y’all
- My back pain still gets iffy at certain times… working on my inflammation and everything else above for this
So, phew! There you have it. Like I said, this is a constant journey. I’m still in the thick of it every day and have lots of work to keep doing. What I do know, is that I’m beyond grateful that I’m able to manage these shifts naturally with real food and lifestyle changes, and not birth control anymore. There’s a lot to know, and much still to learn, but as always, I’ll be here to share!