Today I am going to tell you why I got into health and writing. The title of my website eludes to fitness, but you may notice that I write a lot of posts concerning what you eat and other random health info. Everything that I have written about has affected me in some way or other. It all begins from my own journey that started back in the early 2000’s.
I was a senior at Penn State, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology, and not quite knowing what to do with myself. I decided to follow in one of my teachers footsteps and continue my education in a Masters of Science program in northeastern Pennsylvania (bc hey I was good at school and why not!) One of the prerequisites for the program was a tuberculosis titer, since hospital rounds were a part of the education. My arm was pricked and I was to wait. Shortly into the first day the red dot began growing. And all I could think was how in the world could I be positive for tuberculosis (TB)?! Well… the test was positive (I now think it was a false positive test or I could have been exposed to TB and not actually gotten sick from it). Follow-up included a chest x-ray to verify if I had tuberculosis granulomas in my lungs, which I did not. Whew. (It is important to note, that you can be exposed to TB, not become sick with it, and have a positive test.) So end of story right? Nope, typical treatment for ‘not having TB’ but still having a positive TB titer includes 9 months of antibiotic therapy on a drug called Isoniazid.
So there I was, in grad school, taking the antibiotic every day. In addition, living in a house filled with mold, so I was getting sinus infections one after another, and taking additional antibiotics for that….. DISASTER! I did not know, nor did I question, why I should not be taking this many antibiotics. My first symptom was chronic yeast infections. Talk about terrible. I would treat with the box you buy at CVS, and almost immediately it would reappear. I was frantic as the box said “if you have recurrent infections, you could have HIV.” WTF (pardon my truncated french). A mouth swab later and a negative test, I was baffled, searching endlessly online for what could be the problem. Until I stumbled upon something called candida albicans (yeast that happily lives in everyone’s colon in proper proportions). I no longer had those proper proportions, as I had killed off the GOOD bacteria that held them in check. Other symptoms included, decreased immunity (I kept getting sinus infections), anal itching (weird I know), diarrhea, yellowish stool, allergies like nobody’s business, and worsening of all these when I ate certain foods like SUGAR and CARBS.
I bought books, I researched websites…. you know name it, I was arming myself with the proper arsenal. No one should live like this! I started my ‘candida diet’ and just like Murphy’s Law everyone started forcing sweets upon me! I even lost a friend who wanted me to go out and drink with her (but of course alcohol made my symptoms out of control). No one seemed to care that foods made me worse and it seemed like they were forcing them upon me. I became emotional at any type of event that was centered around eating. Thanksgiving? No thanks. I finally found my solution by telling people I was ALLERGIC (because of course everyone wants an explanation as to why you are NOT drinking and eating with them. How is ‘no thanks’ not an appropriate response?)
So my diet and supplement protocol put all these symptoms at bay… and I became better. Around this time, I moved to California (I had always wanted to go to California, don’t ask me why… it was one of those things I said as a child for God know’s what reason. I always made a joke and attributed it to my Saved By The Bell obsession.)
Little did I know, that other things were happening inside of me. I put all those horrible symptoms at bay, and retreated to my old habits. I ate sugar, carbs, and drank alcohol. Not in any alarming proportions, but how ‘normal’ people would eat them. I started getting other symptoms while in Chiropractic school, that I casually dismissed. I would pass out in class about an hour after lunch was over. Everyone made jokes that I was the class sleeper (along with a guy named Brandon). I played along, after all I still had amazing grades. We had a lab class where we learned how to collect urine samples and analyze the results. My glucose levels were quite high (signaling insulin resistance I now know). I started to watch what I ate more, in fear that I was developing diabetes. I also started noticing that when I would workout or go for a run, my legs felt weak. I would tell people it felt like I was carrying two tree trunks around. Hence, my fitness suffered. I still did not realize what was happening inside of me.
Then came the stomach pains. Sharp, fetal position inducing stomach pains after I ate. They would last for what felt like ages, as I would curl up in bed. I started noticing that I would have more pains after certain foods… the first food I noticed that gave me a MAJOR problem was corn. AND I LOVE CORN CHIPS, SALSA, AND TACOS! Hello, I live in Southern California! How can I go a day without delicious Mexican food?! I became desperate and started trying everything I could to make these pains stop. I removed corn. I removed gluten (yes WHEAT gave me pain – I reinforce this because for some reason many people think that gluten intolerance is not real. I can tell you this, if I eat a piece of bread, symptoms return.) I started taking glutamine (an amino acid that helps repair the gut lining), which helped. I took growth hormone for 2 weeks, which made my stomach pains go away completely, but then slowly returned after I was done with it. So i developed a list of foods I absolutely knew I had to stay away from.
Then I went to India (I have been traveling around the world for the past 3 years on and off). India was great, except the food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Indian food. But every day, breakfast lunch and dinner for 5 weeks is too much. I kid you not… my boyfriend and I would get ECSTATIC when we would see a McDonalds! AND I WOULD NOT TOUCH MCDONALDS WITH A 10 FOOT POLE, ugh! That’s how bad the food can be. And we were eating in hotels. Oh and not to mention, we made the mistake one day of eating in a stall style restaurant and got ridiculously sick. *If you ever go to India, follow this one rule… NEVER eat somewhere there is not a sink present. Because it is highly likely your cook has gone to the bathroom and not washed his hands. And toilet paper is not regularly used there. By the time the 5 weeks was up, I was uber fatigued and relied on coffee in the morning to wake up, was losing hair, and had puffy eyes. I looked horrific.
Time passed with more remedies and some relief here and there… But nothing permanent. I had a reiki session with a psychic woman who told me she kept getting messages about my thyroid. I dismissed her (I do not know why). Looking back that was the only time I had relief for my puffy eyes. The fatigue lasted for months. And the puffy eyes persisted. I had acupuncture and herbs (which I am an advocate of), which brought me much relief. But those dang puffy eyes. And I always looked at those around me…. there are a sea of puffy eyes out there! I came to realize this is a BIG symptom of depressed thyroid function – facial swelling.
I came across a book I had purchased around the time when my problems started, Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? when My Lab Tests Are Normal: a Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism by Dr. Datis Kharrazian. I had been to several of his seminars, learning how to evaluate bloodwork. Isn’t it funny how we are presented exactly what we need? We just have to be willing and open to the possibility. I apparently was not.
Hypothyroid symptoms can include any of the following (remember everyone is different and symptoms can manifest differently in different people):
- Fatigue or muscle weakness (I was fastigued, relying on coffee. I had muscle weakness when I would workout).
- Mood swings (I started having large PMS fits).
- Skin dryness (SO MUCH!).
- Trouble sleeping (Never a problem for me).
- Hair fall/breakage (What felt like globs of hair every time I brushed, I resorted to getting out of the shower and immediately putting my hair in a bun to avoid the brushing trauma).
- Facial swelling, eye puffiness (THIS IS WHAT HAS PLAGUED ME!)
- Intolerance to cold (you betcha!)
- Constipation (Not a problem for me).
- Unexplained weight gain (slightly, if I did not keep up with exercise,which was hard to do with the muscle weakness and lack of motivation).
- Muscle aches, tenderness, stiffness (yup).
- Pain, stiffness, swelling in joints (I have had random joint problems, especially when exercising).
- Hoarseness (not a problem for me).
- Depression (at times, but I took Vitamin D and felt fine)
- Impaired memory (I would have brain fog).
- Heavier than normal, or irregular menstrual periods (getting heavier and more crampier)
So take us to present time. I am going to take you with me, through the bloodwork protocol that I have learned from Dr. Datis Kharrazian. I want you to see how all of our body systems work together, and how there needs to be balance for all systems to work properly. My health problems began with gastrointestinal issues (hence why I stress the important of your gut) and have spread into other systems.
Through this process I want you to learn how to best treat your body so maybe you can avoid what I went through… or that you can learn there is a way out for you. There is no reason to live with any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned above. It is NOT normal. And it does negatively affect the quality of your life. Any problems you have, are directly yours to fix. I want to educate and empower you to take control of your health and your fitness.
Please come with me on this journey.