My Journey to a Healthier Life
My journey to a healthier life hasn't been an easy or quick one. I've struggled with a digestive disorder which has made health goals and life in general difficult for me. I've learned a lot along the way and want to share those lessons which anyone struggling with similar difficulties!
My Early Life
My stomach issues started when I was 12 years old. I started realizing a sensitivity to dairy so I worked towards removing dairy from my diet. But that really only went as far as milk, because let's be honest - cheese is incredible. Fast forward a few years to about age 16 and my issues were getting worse. I visited a GI specialist and ran some tests to discover that it wasn't so much a lactose thing as it was acid reflux (at least that's what he told me). I was put on prescription medication and everything was ok for about a year until it kept getting worse. When all the doctors would do was up my dose I got frustrated. I was so confused with prescriptions in the first place. I started doing research into the pharmaceutical industry and realized that they wouldn't want to cure my acid reflux or they wouldn't make money! So I decided to get a second opinion during my freshman year of college (So I'm like 19 now....also 4 years of relying on medication). During that second round of test I can back as normal. This boggled my mind because my body seemed normal, but missing a day of my pills killed me. Frustrated I turned to more natural medication. Around this time all of my issues continued to get worse. I was of course more stressed (but I've never been able to deal with stress well...whoops) but my body was super sensitive to wheat and dairy. At different points in my life I had tried going dairy free, wheat free, and I'd tried tons of probiotics and medications and never saw lasting results.
Being Diagnosed with IBS
Throughout my high school and early college life I was in and out of doctors, almost always feeling sick. But regardless of what they tested me for I always came back negative. Then the doctors would say something like "I don't know, you seem fine. Just drink plenty of water." And to me that wasn't good enough. I knew something was wrong but no one could figure it out. By the time I started my freshman year of college everything escalated to an unbearable level. I had zero energy, I felt nauseous every morning, anything I ate made me sick to my stomach, I had migraines everyday, I couldn't focus or think through basic tasks, not to mention I wasn't sleeping very well. For a period of about 4 months I would have a regular nights sleep on the first day, and the next night I wouldn't be able to sleep so I would be up all night, then I would crash in the middle of the 2nd day (like 10-12 hours in the middle of the day), then the 3rd and 4th day would be the same. By the 5th day I'd finally be able to get sleep during the night and the 6th day would be ok, just to start the cycle over again the 7th day. I missed class often, my grades suffered, I wasn't awake enough to hold a regular job, and there was no energy to work out. I felt miserable and knew something needed to change. During those sleepless nights I did a lot of research, trying to determine how all of this connected. That's when I started reading up on IBS. Everything I had ever dealt with was a symptom. The problem with IBS is you can't really test for it, you just have to come back negative for a handful of other things, like Crohn's disease. Also, everyone with IBS develops and treats it differently. I talked with my GI specialist who officially determined it to be IBS-C and she recommended a few things to try. Of course those were medications that I felt just stuck a bandaid on the problem. Laxatives and pain killers that worked for a couple of days and then stopped. I didn't want to be reliant on medication for the rest of my life so I was determined to find a better solution.
Professional Nutritionist and Trainer
A few months after figuring out I had IBS I started meal prepping to have control over my diet and start identifying what my body could and couldn't handle. I started with the 21 day fix (super popular on Pinterest) and it was great, but I feel I needed more specialized help. That's when I found Total Health and Fitness in Centerville. I went in to learn about what they offer and then convinced my mom to do it with me. I honestly loved working with them. They taught us how to meal prep for our specific needs, and how to workout (cause before the weight room scared me LOL). I gained confidence in taking control and investing in myself and my overall health. Working with them was a game changer. They got me on the right path and gave me the knowledge to continue living healthy the rest of my life. Unfortunately I only saw about have the expected result, but I'll explain that below.
My Choice To Go Paleo
Soon after figuring out I had IBS I learned about the "Elimination Diet" I tried that for a few weeks but it wasn't really for me. Instead I was very focused on how I felt after eating specific things. I knew I was sensitive to dairy, but I also learned that wheat and processed sugar bothered me. If I ate any type of dessert I would get super bad migraines and be MIA for a day or two. While working with my personal trainer I had a very strict "NO" list for things I couldn't eat. Even while eating and working out there was a new food almost every week that I reacted poorly too. One week it was tomatoes, then onions, then garlic, then chocolate (great...) About half way through my program I learned about the Paleo (or Caveman) Diet on Pinterest. Basically it's a no wheat, no dairy, no sugar, no processed food diet. Which was literally what I was trying to do anyways. So I adopted the Paleo lifestyle and I've honestly loved it! I'll be writing more about what Paleo means to me and why you might want to try it.
Finding my Golden Key - Plexus
Regardless of the fact that I was meal prepping, eating the paleo diet, and working out 4-5 times a week - I only saw about have the expected results working with my professional trainer. She was confused why I hadn't seen more improvement because scientifically - I should have been. But I knew the problem was in my Gut Health. Because my gut wasn't working right I wasn't sleeping enough and my metabolism wasn't working the way it should be. Around the end of my sophomore year my cousin introduced me to a supplement company called Plexus. I'm super picky about what I put in my body now so I asked a lot of questions and did my homework for months before giving it a try. Basically Plexus is a supplement company who is focused on gut health - which is where my focus had been lately so it really rang true to me. Plexus isn't about quick fixes - WHICH I LOVE! They had a couple of products that work together to weed out the bad bacteria in your gut, plant seeds of good bacteria, and nourish all the good things in your gut. I started their probiotic products in May of 2018 and in a matter of weeks I saw significant improvement! My energy was back, I could focus easier, my stomach felt better - AND I went back to my trainer and weighed in after about 2 weeks on the products and saw the most significant drop I've ever had! I'm a true believer! Now, I'm not saying that Plexus cures IBS - because that's not its purpose, (be sure to read this disclaimer) but it does add good bacteria to your gut which is usually why IBS occurs. If you're struggling with IBS-C or IBS-D I HIGHLY recommend giving it a try! If you're interested in the program feel free to reach out to me on social media or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this helps you understand a little about who I am and why I choose the live the lifestyle I do! If you struggle from some of this same issues feel free to drop a comment! If you'd like to chat about anything feel free to reach out to me on social media or send me and email. Thanks!