For far too long, my rosiness was my remedy. As a believer in Jesus I've often told my twin that if Satan couldn't break down my spirit, he would try my physical body. Behind-the-scenes the past few years I've dealt with more than the rest of the world has realized. Nothing life or death, but issues like ruptured cysts, severe cramps, headaches, nausea, and more. If you've been around for long at all then you know I do have a heart for healthy living and strive to do so. However, during the past year or two the symptoms I was having on a monthly basis made it very hard to care consistently about my health like I should. I just wanted to feel good and often what felt good was a dose of Ibuprofen, some junk food, and sitting in bed.
I covered it well. Some may say I am a fake because I'm typically quite rosy. I say it saved me. Do you know what it does to a person's spirit to not feel good at least 2 full weeks of every month? It just wears on you. My rosiness helped me see the beautiful in myself, in my story, and in others when things threatened to feel dark and ugly.
The photo taken above was from about a month ago. It makes me sad to see and yet happy because I'm no longer there. I had just been to the doctor and was diagnosed with endometriosis. The cures given? Well, not really cures at all but just bandaids, each with their own host of bad side effects. After quickly deciding I couldn't succumb my body to any more negativity I went to the chiropractor. I was also having major neck, back, and leg pain that Ibuprofen couldn't even touch. I wondered if any of this was linked to the endometriosis. I was desperate enough to see. Friends, I had been feeling so bad and in such pain I wasn't exercising, eating right, or dreaming. The last part is what really gets me. I was seriously wondering how I would do foster care and build my photography business, while feeling so terribly. So onto the chiropractor I went. I wrote down my honest weight, my honest struggles with endometriosis, and got x-rays. They weren't pretty. My spine and neck were a mess. My chiropractor also happens to be quite knowledgeable about natural ways of living and healing. I asked him (desperately) what to do to feel better and confessed I'd try just about anything! He recommended starting by cutting out dairy, grains, sugar, and processed food to see how I'd feel.
(this is me now)
I started this on November 8th. I came home and made up my mind to try it, to quit fast food, grains, dairy, white sugar, and processed food. I said goodbye to my favorite treat of cheese and crackers. Tea became my bff. I have honestly stuck with this for a full month and that combined with weekly chiropractor visits and exercise has me feeling amazing.
I feel like a completely different person. I was walking down the sidewalk one day recently and this thought jumped into my head " I got my life back." That's truly how it feels. I have energy all day long, my gut feels clean and happy, not gurgly and gassy. I've discovered I actually DO have the self-control to pick the right foods for me, even when at a restaurant and I'm the only one.
And for those wondering, I've also lost a considerable amount of weight, in just one month.
The weight is something I mentioned right away to my chiropractor and a reason why I've hesitated to bring up this whole journey. As I sat and asked him for help with the health side of things I admitted that while I felt a lot of women I know paid attention to their bodies, it was for weight and to be skinny, not necessarily for their mental well-being. This is the part that gets me a bit nervous, because I too have been the one watching what I eat for the sole purpose of my weight for many, many years! And with health, it is truly "to each their own". But this time I knew something needed to change. The scale could no longer be my sensor for whether I was happy or not. Call me a hippy if you'd like, but something about a natural lifestyle, free of medicine (when possible), free of junk food and an upset gut, and having the mental well-being (not depression) to dream just sounded delightful. I might not be able to explain the ins and outs of how my mind is connected to my endometriosis and gut and spine, but they are connected. God made us intricate and wonderful and I'm reaping the benefits of living a natural lifestyle. You couldn't convince me I'm making this up because I know how good I feel!
And friends, it's possible! Now that I've shared my heart and will probably go hide while you read this, let's wrap up with a few paragraphs on what I'm doing/not doing as far as my eating. It is hard to feel like you're the weird one at the party who doesn't eat most of what's offered. But as I realized one day, I have to live with my stomach, my mental health, my pain or gain. So I think it's ok to take responsibility and say with confidence "no thank-you." But there are so many options to eat if you look at it creatively. Let's take a look!
First, if you asked me if I was doing Whole 30, Paleo, etc. I wouldn't know how to answer. For example, I believe the Paleo lifestyle doesn't allow for peanuts. But occasionally I still eat them (I mean hello, life without PB?!). When I look at a list like Whole 30 and try to be super strict about it I get stressed. It just doesn't work well for me. Instead what I've done is read cookbooks in line with my way of thinking and save Pinterest recipes that stick within the guidelines I'm following.
Another great tip I've done is to try and find substitutes for what I used to love.
For example, the meal above was fabulous. Instead of using a tortilla for these fish tacos, I used lettuce from the garden. The fish was coated and cooked in flax seed, instead of bread crumbs. The sauce was non-dairy, instead of sour cream.
I eat a lot of bowls of delicious food. Cooked veggies and an egg on top are my fave!
Of course we still have salads from the garden which makes life very easy too. Just pick, wash, and eat. My favorite salad toppings are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peppers, green olives, and a homemade dressing.
A really delicious treat food is frozen bananas and a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder combined in the food processor. Top with crushed cashews!
A quick treat I like to mix up (that the girls LOVE) is this. Instead of granola I just mix a combination of nuts, unsweetened coconut, and bite-sized dates in a jar.
And as I mentioned, a mug of hot tea goes with me everywhere. So many times I think I'm hungry but then I'll stop and have a cup of hot tea or a bottle of water and realize I'm actually ok, I was just needing some hydration.
A few of you have asked if the rest of my family is eating like I am. In short, sometimes. Usually. But not always. This is hard. But, for family functions like Thanksgiving, I made my own treats to take, like these flax crackers and dairy-free spinach artichoke dip. Everyone seemed to really like the dip!
Cheese has been hard for me to give up. I just love it. But my body is feeling so fantastic without it that I don't miss it that much. I have learned to make this vegan queso dip and it is so, so good!
You can find the recipe here: Vegan Queso Dip
I have also purchased non-dairy cheese. Yes, it's really a thing! See this pile of it on my plate? I hardly got a piece because the girls gobbled up the rest. They do still eat regular cheese and dairy, by the way. And they still eat grains and sugar. We just limit both!
This was a favorite meal! Mashed pinto beans, a fried egg, pumpkin seeds, jalapeño, and non-dairy cheese. Another bowl meal!
As far as me being "sugar-free", that means if I eat something that's sweetened it's done so with maple syrup or honey. Both of which we are still using sparingly.
I dare you to try these paleo, gluten-free, maple-syrup sweetened "twix bars." They may be one of the best things I've ever tasted! We put them in the freezer before eating.
You can find the recipe here.
Savoy Tea in Fayetteville is a great spot to get a delicious cup of brewed tea! I have learned to treat myself with this, instead of a Chick-fil-a sandwich. Which surprisingly doesn't even sound good anymore. (who am I?!)
So that's my honest journey and what's been going on. I don't always feel like I know how to write about this because maybe I shared a meal pic and someone made a funny comment on it. Or offers to be a health coach flood my inbox and that's really not my heart. But a tiny part of me wonders if maybe at least one of you is having a difficult time physically or emotionally or mentally. And maybe you've tried everything else and maybe there really is something to all this health stuff. I hope I've given you a bit of hope. Friends, if I can do this (the biggest foodie EVER), you can. I'm on a path to complete health with no gimmicks, no monthly plans, no coach, just God and I.
My rosy is still my remedy. Not because I'm a fake, but because it's the weapon God uses to remind me that I can do hard things. That life is beautiful, that I'm worth working on, that dreams are worth having.
Have any other questions for me? Ask away in the comments, write me on FB, or email me!