“Your story could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison. Don’t be afraid to share it.”
I would normally try to keep my challenges in life private, but this quote has inspired me to share my story.
I was living in Denver at the time (2014) and I had just finished competing in my first fitness competition. I spent the previous 12 weeks on a strict, low-calorie meal plan and a gym routine that required me to exercise twice a day. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I would eat the same 4-6 foods including sweet potatoes, oatmeal, steamed broccoli, egg whites, tilapia and grilled chicken. I was also eating A TON of sugar free jello, mustard, and Walden Farms “calorie free” condiments. I used these foods, as well as chewing gum to curve cravings for sweets. This was the unhealthiest way of living, and although I looked fit and trim on the outside, I was dying on the inside.
Sure, all of these condiments are all sugar free and fat free, but what most people don’t realize is that they are definitely not chemical free! This goes a lot further than just condiments, though. If you stop and think about it, nearly 80% of the products sold in grocery stores today didn’t exist 100 years ago. Unfortunately, processed foods take up most of the aisles in the supermarkets. Today, humans consume plenty of calories but not NEARLY enough nutrients.
“If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t eat it!”
I started to lose my hair, my nails were brittle, and my skin was dry. I started having extreme panic attacks and night sweats. I would get chills and chest pains, headaches, and pains in my right side that took me to the ER twice in a matter of two weeks. My body was slowly dying. The doctors made me feel like a hypochondriac. Most of the tests they took all came back “normal” until my second visit to the ER. They decided to take further tests on my gallbladder, liver and kidneys. My gallbladder was running at 52% and my white blood cell count was so low, the doctor referred me to a Cancer Center in Ohio. I remember telling my mom I didn’t think I was going to make it to my 26th birthday.
To make everything a little bit more complicated, my boyfriend and I headed out on a 3 month backpacking trip through SE Asia. I managed most of my symptoms by going back to eating the same 4-6 foods I did throughout the competition, but some days were really tough. I noticed all of my symptoms would show up immediately after eating, so I started doing some research.
When I came home from the trip, I took an ALCAT food sensitivity test and a full vitamin/nutrient panel. I found out I was extremely deficient in Vitamin D, as well as several B vitamins. I had also developed 57 food sensitivities in this short period of time.
My love for food, health and fitness started when I was in my senior year of high school, but has dramatically increased since becoming sick. I find myself constantly reading and soaking up any information I can to understand how the body works. The information I have gathered over the years has helped me heal and I look forward to helping others.