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My Health Journey: Part II

Welcome back, dear reader. So-- where were we?

Ah yes... So, after my heartfelt decision to go fully plant-based, I went through 2 weeks of intense symptoms which I learned were detox reactions, and completely normal.

I experienced: extreme bloating, gas, terrible smelling sweat, and mild headaches. It came and went just as people described, so I never thought it anything to worry about.

The initial detox symptoms died off and I was feeling great. Better than I ever had. I had tons of energy and was feeling more vibrant than I knew I could, but... my gut seemed to still be bothered. It was bloated and distended to varying degrees more often than not, and it became embarrassing to even wear certain styles of clothing. It started to affect my confidence, and I just couldn’t figure out why it was wasn’t returning to normal when everything else had resolved.

And thennn began the journey into gut health.

(Are we sensing a theme?)

I spent the next 2 years down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. I fell into juicing, and detoxing, and raw food, and fasting-- you name it, I tried it. You name the YouTuber, I watched them. You name the gut specialist, I followed them. You name the book, I read it.

Now, you might be thinking, 'Clearly it was the change in diet that upset everything, why didn't you just stop?!'

I asked myself that too.

And the answer was, other than my gut, I'd never felt better! I know that sounds weird to say, because how can you say you feel great if your gut is on and off always struggling? How can you think everything is ok when your stomach is distended more often than not and you have changes in your bowels? But honestly, I really did feel amazing! I felt really energized, I was waking up refreshed, I was laser focused- I just felt ON and I felt like I could go for hours and hours and never wear out. At the time I was really passionate about a plant-based and cruelty free way of life, and I was convinced that this was the healthiest way a person could eat (that we know currently know of). I just kept assuming that my body just needed more time to adjust, or that I was just cleansing too fast, or that maybe it was post pill syndrome (it's a thing, look it up), or that I just had more work to do on my gut. (And all of that was probably true! It's never just one thing, after all..)

Somewhere in there I visited a holistic practitioner. She did a comprehensive work up which revealed that I had a retrovirus (HHV-6), a gram negative bacteria, parasites, and antibodies in my thyroid. I was thrilled. It felt like I at least had some answers. But, she wasn’t a fan of the vegan lifestyle. She strongly recommended an auto-immune paleo protocol, which meant no dairy (which I was doing), no processed sugar (which I was doing), no grains (yikes) and all the high quality meat, eggs, and vegetables I wanted. Well-- that just didn’t work for me. I CERTAINLY wasn’t willing to eat meat, and I was upset about the thought of reintroducing even just eggs. I tried it her way, eating nothing but steamed vegetables, sweet potatoes and coconut yogurt. The herbs did help in certain ways, but I was also starving all the time following such a restricted list of approved foods. I was willing to do it, but after 2 months I couldn't any more! I don’t know if it was the right decision at the time, we clearly weren’t on the same page, so I opted out of working through the rest of her program.

And so, I continued on my own, trying this, trying that, reading this, reading that, incorporating this, incorporating that… Now, I would always recommend working with someone one-on-one, because why drive yourself crazy, and why prolong any health issue that could present a problem down the road? HOWEVER: in my case there were lessons to be learned, and I know now why it happened this way. I needed to do it the hard way. Lesson #4: Be Your own advocate. Lesson #5: A healing journey is never linear. Lesson #6: There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Certain symptoms definitely improved along the way. Intermittent fasting helped my digestive system rest. Celery juice helped me make more stomach acid and flush my system out. A high fruit diet helped detoxify my blood and lymph system, and elevated my consciousness even further. I really did love the way I felt in my mind and in my energy during that time.

But, certain things never fully resolved. For one, my inflamed, bloated belly, and it was really wearing on me.

I eventually decided to work with a detox specialist who utilized iridology. She put me me on herbs and restricted my diet even further until I was eating only fruit, but one step further, only certain fruits!

Now, at this point, I hadn’t gotten my period more than a handful of times since I had ditched the pill, I had developed food sensitivities, and I could barely digest anything any more.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t let things get to her, and makes the most of every situation. I went on living my normal happy life, but at the same time, I was in constant turmoil. Crying because my body just wouldn’t heal all the way, and crying because I hated how I looked pregnant all the time, and crying because I knew going without a menstrual cycle meant something was really, really off with my hormones. I was always frustrated, and hiding behind baggy clothes to disguise my stomach. It took such a toll on my mental health to know that I was trying to 'do everything right,' yet I was still trapped in this place. The worst part was begging for the answer to the question, 'why now?'

I grew up in a balanced household, but still; we ate hot dogs in the summer time, we ate macaroni and cheese from a box often enough. I grew up eating lunch meat and conventional dairy. I spent 4 years at college eating God knows what. As anyone with a perpetual sweet tooth would wonder, why after taking sugar out of my diet to make it better, am I having issues? What thread did I pull at? What balance could I have possibly interrupted by taking out some well-known 'offenders?'

Why would my health start to unravel now, after trying to make so many improvements?

'I’ve been eating the cleanest I ever have for the past 3 years, so why is my health the 'worst' it’s ever been?!'

And this, I would find, would be the final lesson to learn.

read part I here

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