Your Style Story & Top 6 Tips 👗

During quarantine, clothing and style have been a struggle for many of us – with everyone from TV anchors to corporate C-suiters opting either to not wear pants at all or something comfy that isn’t visible on video. As more people are vaccinated, we’re all anxious to get out of the house – and our sweatpants – to be more social. For perhaps the first time in 18 months, we’re wondering what to wear for our re-entrance into society.

The first question is: Why does style matter?

It seems frivolous and like a waste of time to pour through clothes on a shopping rack, online, or even in our own closets. It takes time to curate an outfit to wear, along with shoes, jewelry and other accessories.

Since the pandemic’s start, leggings and stretchy, more forgiving pants have been the pants du jour. Part of the reason for this has been the so-called ‘Quarantine 15’ (or 20, 30lbs) weight gain and part of it has been a desire for comfort during an uncertain and unsettling time. For the first time in perhaps our entire lives, many of us did not need to present ourselves publicly below the waist. Who cares if we wear pajama pants or ‘atheleisure’?

It’s a question to ask yourself: what does style matter to me?

Seeing, feeling, thinking, believing – these are the stages of how we change our style on the outside and our self-image on the inside.” – Stacy London

Our style story

In high school, we remember hearing about how some of our classmates would wake up an extra hour early to either curl or straighten their hair and put on a full face of make-up. It sounded ridiculous to us as waking up before dawn was already early enough and 4:45am sounded downright painful. Plus, homework and sleep took priority over getting dolled up to go to school. Jeans, t-shirts, and some nice tops were all mixed and matched to create a school ‘uniform’ of sorts, but we never really thought much about style – unless we were preparing for a date or a dance. Clothing was mainly functional, met the guidelines of the school, and kept us at a more comfortable temperature. Frankly, we believed that being ‘in fashion’ or ‘stylish’ was something for girly-girls who had too much time (and money) on their hands, and weren’t interested in reading to expand their knowledge or playing sports. In short, our belief was that focus on clothes, purses, and shoes was for the vain and vapid. Not us.

The belief didn’t change much during college. Luckily, we didn’t buy into the trend of wearing pajama pants, crop tops, or yoga pants with sequined words on the rear. It was interesting to see how ‘comfortably’ these students behaved in class when they dressed this way and we wondered how a just-rolled-out-of-bed look might detract from a professor’s positive recommendation. Did we dress well during this time? Somewhat. Again, the main wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, and sweaters but we did have fun with finding bright red pants and pairing them with a striped top, leopard skin pink pants, trying out different bold colors and geometric shapes. That is what one’s 20s are really all about – exploration, creativity, and diverse experiences…and our closet mirrored this. We had outfits for our moods (rebellious, blissful romantic, free-spirited) and for environments ranging from dance clubs and concerts to corporate America. Around this time we also started working with a spa and, when things weren’t busy, the stylists and beauty experts would cajole us into letting them do some color-typing that would indicate if one was a ‘True Summer’ or ‘Bright Winter.’ ...it was an experience akin to Andy’s in The Devil Wears Prada movie. We took it with a grain of salt and mostly stuck with the tried-and-true colors and clothes we had.

A problem realized was overwhelm – an abundance of clothes we collected through different ages, times in life, moods, etc. We didn’t learn about constraint until the mid 2010’s. It was our good luck to have had a couple style-minded friends who relished going through our closet, having us try on clothes, and then giving feedback about fit, hemlines, and colors that didn’t compliment our skin tone (e.g. tomato red). That third-party assessment helped us with the vocabulary to articulate why a certain piece didn’t get much use, even though it looked great on a mannequin.

With our ongoing journey of minimalism as maximalism, we’re not interested in only having and wearing 20 pieces, but relishing a curated wardrobe where everything fits well, looks great, and allows quicker and clearer decisions when it comes to getting ready for the day. To this end, we see having a clear style and curated clothing as a way of promoting efficiency as well as confidence.

What is your style story? How do you think and feel about it in general and when it comes to your personal style now?

Style is somewhat intuitive and somewhat scientific. When you find a great piece that fits you perfectly and has a color that lights up your face, you know what we mean. Most of us are unaware of why we pull the same outfits out over and over again, while leaving behind the green sweater or gray dress. Having a third party observe and point out the poor fit or how the color doesn’t compliment your skin tone can help you weed out the pieces that don’t do you justice.

Style is for YOU. Sure, it reflects to other people aspects of you – such as your personality, maybe that you value designer purses or shoes – and it may attract people to you. But this isn’t about the male gaze or anyone else’s. It’s about how you move about in the world and how you think and feel about yourself. Think about the last time you were dressed up. How did you feel in that outfit that day? Perhaps you felt a strong sense of confidence; how did you show up in your work activities and your interactions with others? More importantly, how did you interact with yourself? Did you wink at yourself in the mirror or have nicer thoughts about your body?

Style can be Fun and Functional. Choose pieces that reflect a bit of your personality – bring in a little bit of glam, French romantic, or maybe choose dramatic geometric shapes in you clothes or jewelry. Part of functionality is sizing. To be comfortable, you may need a larger size or a one that can be tailored to fit your shoulders or waist. Figuring out your style can be fun as well – whether you consult with a beauty or style expert or do your own research through online quizzes or YouTube. One that we like and have done recently is called Kibbe (here’s a video with the ‘test’). In many ways it confirmed what we already knew, but also gave more ideas and inspiration as we go through the closet.

Our style is ultimately a reflection of how we think and how we feel about ourselves. Walking around in a bathrobe for hours on end could result from wanting to extend a nice, spa-like shower experience or it could be a symptom of depression and Eeyore-like “why bother?” thinking. Same with our stretchy pants. What’s behind what you’re wearing? What are you thinking and feeling about yourself right now in this outfit?

Top 6 Tips to Elevate your Style Story

1. Spring -clean your closet. This is a great time to go through your items and release what you don’t like or no longer fits and really curate your favorite clothing items. You’ll feel more confident, comfortable and more clarity as you clear out your space and you’ll have less stress and overwhelm about what to wear.

2. Find 10 of your absolute favorite pieces, place them in a section of your wardrobe.

3. Identify 10 items you know you can let go, don’t do you justice or make you feel guilty.

4. Recruit your 3rd party observer and assessor. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or style expert, another person’s perspective can help give insight about the fit of your clothing or the colors that look best on you.

5. Learn more about your style with the methods discussed above, including Kibbe.

6. Aim to dress just 10% better. We’re all coming out of quarantine together and permanent retirement of our sweatpants or dressing to the 9s is likely too much of a change, too quickly. Instead, focus on the 10% improvement – whether it’s wearing a nicer top, putting on a piece of jewelry or two, or adding a red lip to your outfit.

Hopefully you’ll reflect on your style story and where you want to go, clean out your closet, and discover or refine your personal style in order to feel confident and comfortable going into the coming months.

‘Crap-e’ Diem! 5 Tips for AM Poo

What partially inspired this topic was an experience we had while in our dietetic internship (for those unfamiliar, to be a registered dietitian-nutritionist one has 4 years of medical training and then a year of paying, not paid, internship). Between our collective stress as a cohort and our lifestyle factors, which included adult beverages and dancing at bars on weekends, it’s no wonder that, while walking with a friend to meet with our program director, she had a grimace on her face. When asked what was wrong, she grouchily responded, “I haven’t had my morning poo”. We were flabbergasted. Though we were far from the Bridgerton-era of delicate sensibilities, no one talked about poo. Ever. She helped to change that, as her simple statement helped illustrate how integral a morning routine, with a healthy bowel movement, could be. Lest you ever find yourself grimacing because you too have not had a good morning poo, we’ve got you, boo.

Pooping is a common problem in the United States, affecting all ages and populations. About 16% of adults, and 33% of adults 60 and older have symptoms of constipation.

What are symptoms of constipation?

< 3 bowel movements per week

stools that are hard, small and difficult to pass

a feeling of having incomplete bowel movements

Who could be at risk for Constipation?

Pretty much everyone. But more specifically:

• Pregnant women and those who have recently given birth

• People who are not getting enough fiber

• Those taking certain supplements or medications (including iron supplements or diuretics, calcium channel blockers, depression, and pain medication)

• If you’re stressed you’re probably not going to be pooping very well

• Those with certain health conditions or gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. IBS)

Constipation can be a sign of a medical problem so you’re going to walk to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider to rule more serious issues out.

5 Tips for a Good Morning Poo

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

1. As a general principle, you want to ensure you are drinking enough water. This seems basic and so many people skip over this, but don’t. When the body isn’t properly hydrated, it draws water out of the colon, which results in hard, dry stools.

2. This goes along with #1; get enough fiber into your diet. Plant foods are a great way to achieve this; however, if you increase your fiber intake without getting enough water, you’re going to have more ‘plumbing’ issues. Adults should get at least 25 grams of fiber per day.

3. Move your body and get your bowels moving. Whether it’s a light morning jog, walk, or even jumping jacks, this could help move things along your digestive tract.

4. Hot beverages. The heat from tea, coffee, or hot water and lemon can help stimulate a bowel movement. The high levels of caffeine in coffee are known to stimulate the bowels. A word of caution, you don’t want to have to rely on this.

5. Squat it out. A toilet stool or Squatty Potty can put your body in a position to make elimination easier.

Remember, talk with your friendly registered dietitian-nutritionist to investigate the amounts and types of fiber in your diet as well as to plan more fiber-rich meals.

So try these tips and ‘Crap-e’ Diem everyday!

Royal Coco-cacao Smoothie Bowl

Did you know that purple is one of the colors of representing royalty? What better way to start your day than to treat yourself like the queen or king you are! This beautiful bowl, with toppings like coconut and cacao, will leave you feeling full and energized. Ready to eat? Here’s the recipe:

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1-2

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Ingredients

4 large strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 cup non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut milk from Elmhurst)

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp cacao nibs

2 tbsp shredded coconut

1/2 tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

Blend all ingredients, except shredded coconut and cacao nibs, until desired texture is achieved. Top with shredded coconut and cacao nibs or other favorites.

A Case for Morning Routines

Have a better tomorrow by learning about morning routines then building and implementing your own! (Video version available here in our Go with your Gut free Facebook group).

Benefits of a Morning Routine

1. With a set morning routine, you’re on auto-pilot and the morning flows fairly seamlessly. The alternative is jumping all over the place as you feed the dog, get dressed, check your voicemail, and look for your keys.

2. Peace is a result of a well-planned morning routine; instead of feeling scattered and stressed, you can enjoy your cup of coffee or tea and know that you are ready for the day.

3. Feeling organized about your day – you can see your appointments and activities laid out, and you have a plan to achieve your most important goals, even building in self-care!

Life before a AM Routine

We’re speaking for ourselves here, but you can likely relate.

1. Inconsistent wake (and sleep) times. Sometimes we’d wake at 6am, or 8:45am or 11am…this left us feeling discombobulated and stressed as we struggled to fit in all our appointments and to-do tasks. Even worse, we’d work into the night and then create a self-perpetuating problem of inconsistent waking times.

2. Adrenaline rushes. Running around grabbing work materials, finding the outfit we planned on wearing was in the laundry hamper and having to figure out an alternative, looking for keys or an umbrella…and then hoping and praying traffic to get to meetings on time. Mornings were full of stress and anxiety.

3. Forgetting water and/or lunch. This lead to us either skipping lunch or buying a $13-20 lunch when we had perfectly good food at home. What typically followed was both food waste and money waste (from lost groceries and eating out).

This way of living cost us time, peace, and money. Something needed to change. Tired of the results we were getting, we decided, “No more of this chaos, we’re getting organized with our mornings.”

Our First Attempts at a Morning Routine

We’ve read all these articles about successful people who wake up at 4am or 5am, so we decided to enlist willpower and sign ourselves up for a 6am boxing class (during the snowy/icy winter season). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. Why? For one, it didn’t work with our life and sleep schedule. We don’t go to bed at 8pm or 9pm typically and so we were always tired in the mornings. For two, we like food; the problem was fueling ourselves around this class. If we skipped breakfast, we’d typically feel faint during the 1-hour high-intensity workout. If we ate even a small snack 15-30 minutes ahead of time, we felt nauseous.

Reading about the great achievers, such as Richard Branson and Tony Robbins, showed me that some of these morning routines were 2-3 hours long. That was never going to work with our lifestyle so we had to create our own flexible 30 minute AM routine with exercise included. We’ve changed it throughout the years and kept it flexible to support where we are in life. Here’s what it looks like now (we’re big fans of alliteration, as you’ll see):

1. Wash and water – we brush our teeth first thing and then drink 1 cup of water before jumping into exercise…

2. Strength-training and skincare – we’ll play a very short podcast and bust out squats, full push-ups, ab work, bridges, ‘superhumaning’ (laying on the belly and lifting arms and legs), and pull-ups. All done in about 6 minutes! Then we’ll typically wash our face and body and get dressed.

3. Bunnies (pets) and breakfast – we have two (unbonded) bunnies and we’ll let one out as we prep our coffee or tea and breakfast. About halfway through, we switch them out. Typically we’ll also do our ‘mental/spiritual gym’ exercises. For your purposes, insert dog/cat/kid(s) where we have bunnies listed.

4. Launch into life – we go into the office and check the day’s calendar and our most important goals; we set alarms and put the phone on airplane mode (as needed); we’ll also take breaks to do household activities (e.g. laundry) during the day

This is not a *perfect* morning routine. Use this for inspiration to create your own routine. Now that we’ve created a customized morning routine, the only regret we have is not starting earlier in life. High school, college, and post-college could have been SO much easier and not filled with stress and anxiety. Peace is a gift we can give ourselves with a simple morning routine. The key is to make it work for YOU!

So what do you think? Do you already have a morning routine? Is there a way to improve your mornings by putting them on auto-pilot?

Recipe: Brownie Overnight Oats

Dietitian confessions go both ways. While we’re often the ones people ‘confess’ to about eating certain junk foods, we also like to purify our minds and souls by relating our dietary ‘sins’.

You may remember that we have really loved ice cream throughout our lives, even to the point where travels to Italy were less about the architecture and more about finding the perfect gelateria (true story), but we didn’t reveal that we also grew up making (read: eating) brownies. Heaven on a dessert plate would be the two served together – brownie a la mode style. Hell would be making us choose only one to have at our last dessert. Obviously, it would be a real Sophie’s Choice situation.

As we’ve ventured into finding healthier forms of ice cream (done and done), we’ve done the same for brownies (check out our black bean version). But to have brownies for breakfast? Well, that required a little extra dietary finesse…and so we’ve created a decadent, yet healthy, version of eating brownies for the first meal of the day, or even as a snack for when sugar cravings strike. Care to partake? Here’s the recipe:

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients

1 cup organic rolled oats

1 banana, mashed

1 cup non-dairy almond or hazelnut milk (DIY almond milk or the ready-made hazelnut version)

3 tbsp cocoa or cacao powder

2 tbsp chopped nuts (e.g. pecan, walnut, macademia) or nut butter

2 tbsp cacao nibs or 85% chocolate chips, optional

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Stir together rolled oats, cocoa/cacao powder and chia seeds in a mason jar or other container with a lid. Add nuts, nibs/chocolate chips, banana, non-dairy milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Seal the lid and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Place in fridge overnight. The next morning, top with chocolate chips and/or fresh berries if you’d like. Enjoy!

She’s a Superstar!

Have you ever felt hopeless over a health condition? Or believed that the weight gain and symptoms you were experiencing were random or just ‘a part of the aging process’? It’s time to challenge these thoughts; there is hope in exploring one of the last modalities often turned to – nutrition – and yet, as you’ll read below, it played a huge part in healing, weight loss, and improving blood sugar regulation. It has been a pleasure in helping Sherri uncover common, ‘healthy’ foods that were tied to some uncomfortable and distressing symptoms.

“The symptoms in my throat have improved, including getting rid of the globus feeling and acid reflux symptoms. I have lost 45 pounds, have more energy, and I’m having fewer neurological symptoms. I feel healthier overall and I feel like I am making better food choices and have fewer unhealthy food issues like stress-eating or over-indulging in unhealthy foods. I went from having a 7.1 A1C to a 5.6 A1C without any medications just diet and increased steps a day. 🙂

I like the fact that you truly listen and that you believe me when I describe my symptoms. I also feel like you care about me and want me to succeed. I think you are creative and empowering and I enjoy talking with you.

I feel like I have embraced trying foods I may have never considered before. Aside from arugula and kale, I didn’t eat many greens. I also would have never known about certain high-fiber foods or the importance of looking for non-GMO and organic foods. I also never considered how much better I would feel eating gluten-free.

I tell everyone I know that working with a dietician was what helped me feel better. Last time I saw my doctor he told me keep working with the dietician because it’s working. :)”

Thanks for all you do!!

– Sherri G.

Columbus, OH

———–

Superstar Sherri has met her 6 month goals and has really taken her MRT Food Sensitivity test results and LEAP protocol to heart. She expressed early on how her problems with her throat were threatening to ruin her relationship with food. Though it wasn’t easy, tracking symptoms in her food diary and following her LEAP protocol helped her figure out how to ‘reset’ when things went wrong, and to see foods that were ‘friendly’ to her. We didn’t just talk about food though – we explored personal hygiene products for damaging ingredients and even air quality in the home (radon is an issue in Ohio). As Sherri said in our most recent session, “it confirms that I didn’t need a pill, I just needed a change in my lifestyle. We are killing ourselves with the food we eat.” Luckily, we can also help our bodies heal with the foods we eat.

Ready to look at your health issues and goals with a 4-dimensional approach? Schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call.

The Person behind the Professional – My Healing Story

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A short jaunt over to the “about” tab will give you some of my professional story- the multiple degrees and certifications from such renowned institutions as The Ohio State University, Columbia University, Cornell University, and more. However, client curiosity around why I chose this satisfying profession has led me to share more about the person behind the professional.

“You’re so lucky to be thin and healthy, you can eat whatever you want!”

This phrase has been said to me at various points in my life. I wanted to believe it was true because then I’d only have to stay thin in order to be healthy, right?

Early Life through Adolescence 

Let’s begin at the beginning. As an infant and small child, I had gastro-intestinal issues and was on repeated rounds of antibiotics for both active infections and as a prophylactic measure for something the doctors told my parents I should ‘grow out of’. That never happened. I was painfully poked and prodded, given barium and multiple x-rays, and underwent extensive testing. At age 5, I had major surgery to correct part of my urinary system and we all hoped my problems would be over.

…But they weren’t. Over the years I would intermittently get to live the life I loved – full of energy, activity, and vitality. Other days and weeks, even months, I would go to bed one night and wake up in pain, feverish, and unable to leave the house. If it was a weekend, that was the worst, because it meant me having to wait days to see the doctor while being in acute pain. Sometimes I think about how much of my life I’ve spent curled up on the couch, overloading myself with fluids and prescription medications, and wondering if I’d ever truly be well and free of what felt like a health curse.

An Unhealthy Obsession

Somewhere around ages 15 and 16, I developed disordered eating practices and patterns. As mentioned above, thinness was associated with health and I was also praised and envied by others for being ‘so tiny’. It was rewarding to be small & athletic- I was always the ‘flyer’ in gymnastics as the lightest person in 7th grade gym class but was still strong enough to do 18 pull-ups! As my body changed and I went from 89lbs at age 15 to over 100lbs at 16, I had problems adjusting and, like some others, developed a sense of body dysmorphia. Recruited to run track as a sprinter in high school, I felt the need to be light so I wouldn’t weigh myself down with extra poundage. Eating for athletic performance? I knew nothing about this. Lunch was a Twix bar from the vending machine and an apple; these were justified on vegetarian grounds at the time. My friends and boyfriend were worried about me and, to both my annoyance and twisted sense of pleasure, they gave extra attention to me and my meals. I felt I could better control the stress of school and life if I could just control my weight. Now I can recognize that part of this disordered eating had roots in food intolerances…the so-called healthy cereal, bread, and pasta gave me stomachaches. By eating less or barely at all, I felt better and had more energy. Buuuuut, I still had cravings…

I craved sugar and carbs like an addict. Baking cookies, eating ice cream, and having salty pretzels became a regular occurrence. During one particular day, I couldn’t find the sweet-enough item I was jonesing for so I took a spoon out of the drawer and went straight for the bag of brown sugar in the pantry. That feeling of desperation to get my sugar fix was reminiscent of an addict doing whatever it took to get alcohol, heroin, or meth. I realized this was a problem but felt powerless over my cravings and berated myself for not having enough willpower to stick to my ‘healthy diet’.

Forays into Health Education

As a teenager with aims to become a doctor and a passion for learning about health, I was already building a library of books on traditional and holistic healing theories. Nearly everyone has a go-to health-nut friend and I was that person people would come to about their acne, blood sugar levels, anxiety, depression, and even their parents’ issues. This challenge was enticing to me and I’d go home and look through my library for ideas on how to use nutrition, herbs, and alternative therapies before presenting my findings. I had great faith and quite a lot of scientific evidence that nutrition was a key part of the puzzle; it was just so overwhelming and hard to implement the knowledge. (This is later where behavior change and accountability with my health coaching would come in.)

The College Years & A Turning Point

When starting college, at a youthful time in life that is associated with being at the epitome of health and fitness, I wasn’t feeling it.

Besides the recurrent illness itself still playing into my college years, I also had acne breakouts, skin rashes, stomachaches, constipation, alternating periods of high energy and lethargy, anxiety, depression, hormone imbalances, and my increased weight had my BMI dangerously close to the ‘overweight’ category. For the first time in my life, instead of informing me that I was in the lower percentile for weight and height, I horrifically received a talk from my doctor about the need for ‘diet and exercise’. I threw my hands in the air with exasperation. What did that really mean anyway?

It became apparent to me during my sophomore year of college that I might have to withdraw from the university due to not being able to attend classes more than sporadically. I, the person who loved learning and had been a precocious teenager taking college classes, was about to give up. I put aside my studies in German and political science because I knew I didn’t have another option- I was desperate and compelled to learn more about why my body was so upset.

I did a lot of internet searching while still faithfully visiting my multiple doctors. Between and during fresh rounds of antibiotics, I was learning bits and pieces about gut health, sugar, probiotics, herbs, and medical ‘cures’. Eventually, I took a course in nutrition and had an epiphany. THIS is what I wanted to do with my life. Instead of doctoring with surgery and medications, I could utilize food in helping people heal! But first I had to heal myself and that required a lot more than what I already knew from years of my nutrition hobby. That year, I started my third undergraduate degree- this time in dietetics. I received another small miracle in late 2005 when I visited a website with a link to a nutrition school in Manhattan that offered to educate me on all the different dietary theories and to help me heal my own life so that I could help others heal theirs.

It amazed me that I, a lay-person and nutrition novice, through learning about the human body’s systems and the interactions of nutrition, could put pieces of the puzzle together that my urologist, general practitioner, and OB-GYN could not. It just made so much sense, I couldn’t ignore it.

I stopped relying on doctors to ‘fix me’ and started taking responsibility– for every morsel of food I put in my body, getting enough water, sleep, and exercise, as well as managing stress better. I acted as though my life depended on dietary diligence and application of lifestyle improvements, because it did.

The first time I was able to effectively mitigate a healing crisis with herbs, nutrition and fluids, I was astounded. Maybe I didn’t have an antibiotic deficiency at all – maybe I didn’t need to have my doctor’s phone number on speed-dial…..I scarcely dared to hope that perhaps, just MAYBE, my body wanted to get better and all I needed to really do was pay attention to it and supply it with the tools it needed in order to repair itself.

As I rose into the role of president of my own life, I knew I still needed a cabinet- a group of experts who would help me achieve a higher state of health. I hired acupuncturists & massage therapists and have consistently had a health coach who inspires me and keeps me accountable to my health goals. Having a health-minded partner and friends is huge in this area too. No (wo)man is an island.

Illness and Fear, with a Twinkle of Hope

Having a recurrent illness does a lot of things to you. One of these is creating fear that you’ll always have this condition, pain, and misery.

It did the same to me. Since I had suffered for this long, fear told me my life would probably always be like this. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to hold down a job without running through my sick days like crazy. I had fear that I couldn’t be in a great relationship or see my friends when I wanted to because I never knew when I could count on being well enough. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to travel without bottles of supplements and the possibility of needing to find a store to buy more, or even more dreaded, visiting a doctor.

But, at the same time, I knew health was possible because I had those short periods of true vitality and energy…. and that’s what I would strive for.

The Cost of Illness and Disease

My illness and health conditions cost me (and my parents until age 18) thousands of dollars in the form of co-pays, prescriptions, and expensive tests. It cost me money that I couldn’t earn due to being unable to show up to work as well as college tuition for classes I couldn’t attend.

But not all costs are associated with ones from the wallet. This illness was cheating me out of education and better grades, a sense of security, time with friends, and vitality….it OWNED me. And I was tired of being its sick, sad slave.

How Nutrition Changed Everything

Let’s talk about the diet I had growing up. First let me say that my parents are wonderful people who tried the best they knew how. My mom recounts how, even though she’s not a fan of vegetables, she would always get them in for her pregnancies. We grew up eating ‘healthy’ cereals such as Total, Kix, and Special K with skim milk. Junk cereals were relegated to the weekends along with coveted pancakes and bacon and eggs dishes. Our lunches were not the fruity snacks, white bread sandwiches, and sugary treat meals our school companions had – we had whole wheat bread sandwiches, a piece of fruit, juice or water, and 2-3 small cookies. Dinners might be a stir-fry, pot pies (with trans-fat *shudder*), microwaved meals, pasta, and usually some vegetables at every meal. Snacks were ice cream, pretzels, and occasionally candy such as Snickers or M&Ms. I drank milk, juice, and (not enough) water. When I became a vegetarian, my parents didn’t really know what to do with me. I didn’t either. I just knew meat was out of the question. So I was left with oh-so-many carbs in my very low protein and fat diet (this was the low-fat craze from the ’90s going on.)

I started healing as best as I could during my adolescence but it wasn’t until years later, particularly during my year of school in New York that I made myself and my healing more of a priority. I kept a food journal, had a a health coach who encouraged me and provided ideas and accountability, I did elimination diets/food sensitivity testing and found a few foods that were associated with my digestive issues, skin, and hormone issues. I realized the connection my brain/gut had was real and that my mood improved when I started giving myself better food. Genetic testing gave me an additional layer to my already-healthy-eating plan that has also lead to improved mood, digestion, eye-health, and hopefully decreased risk for diseases.

Food has become the foundation for a healthy life along with lifestyle factors and ‘primary food’ – the areas of life that feed our souls, not our stomachs- including having a meaningful life I love and share with others.

How my Life has Transformed

The tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent on my education to learn about nutrition as well as self-care has been worth every single penny. I’m glad to continue to invest in myself through buying organic, healthy, anti-inflammatory and genetically-appropriate foods and supplements, to get massage and acupuncture, and….to take rejuvenating vacations. Compared to the dollars spent in co-pays, medication costs, expensive tests, and doctors visits, I now experience less pain, less negative side effects from medication, and waaaay more fun and pleasure.

Through applied, bio-individualized nutrition, the benefits to my health have been: clearer skin (no make-up!), drastically improved stomachaches and digestion, little/no cravings, much better mood and mental outlook, and an increasingly balanced life.

In terms of my illness, the changes I was making in my life started adding up. I could soon go a solid week without another infection, then I slowly reached my first month without a healing crisis. As of this writing, knock on wood, I have been free and clear of the former ‘health curse’ for over 3 years. 

There is a moment in our lives when most of us experience a great shift. Everything changes. For me, this came when I decided I would no longer be a prisoner to this illness and I was willing to do whatever it took to get better. That moment of commitment, as Goethe reminds us, is when the “entire universe conspires to assist you.” The results I’ve experienced as well as my healing team of health professionals and personal relationships are a testament to the veracity of this statement.

A Healthier Obsession

During the deepest and darkest times of my life and with my health condition, food became an obsession. When a person is sick, all they can think about is how they don’t want to be sick and how they can get better. For me, this manifested as anxiety around food (especially low-quality food in social situations) and disordered eating.

These days, quality food is not an obsession. Orthorexia is a real issue, but it’s not one I have. What I do have is a strong set of values and awareness around organic/non-GMO, whole and sustainably grown foods.

Epilogue

Health involves so much more than being thin. I think about what people have told me and how such a simplistic statement puts focus on the wrong areas of life.

Though I find it a bit traumatic to revisit this time in my life and reflect upon the pain and discomfort involved, I let gratitude for my healing overshadow it. I’m so thankful that I’ve healed my body and that this experience has enabled me to empathize with my clients as I empower them to also leave health issues, frequent doctors’ visits, lists of medications, pain, and unwanted weight behind so they can step into the life of vitality they deserve. We all deserve this.