Out of the Fog – Part One

Warning: I have no “before and after” photos for you in this post. I have only a “before and after” life. There will be, in fact, no photos in this series of posts. I hope that the writing will speak for itself.

I’ve decided to make parts one and two of this post on a Saturday and Sunday for a specific reason. How many of us say, “I know I need get back on the wagon…I’ll start Monday.” Right? I’ll admit it…I do it too. Well…if you are looking for that “I promise I’ll start on Monday” motivation…keep reading! I hope by Monday morning you’ll be excited to get started…on whatever your goal may be!

You know how after you’ve been really sick, like stomach flu sick, you realize how a-m-a-z-i-n-g it feels to be over it? Right? I do too! You feel like you have a new lease on life, like you could do just about anything.

That amazing feeling is now a common occurrence for me, daily in fact, unless I am sick or otherwise incapacitated. It comes after years of not feeling that way. At the time, I didn’t know any differently…how I felt was just that, how I felt.

What you are about to read is a parallel to, My Love Affair with Running, which discusses my journey to health through fitness. Below is my journey to health through nutrition. These concepts, along with the need for personal cue cards, are the basis for the entire blog.

I hope you enjoy learning about my journey as much as I enjoy sharing it with you.

When I little, maybe 5 or 6, I started having horrible stomach issues. I had constant intestinal trouble and cramping that led me to stay in much more than a little girl wanted to. I remember my parents signing me up for 4H camp one summer and being terrified to go because of my tummy troubles. I also remember being tired. All. The. Time.

I’m not sure what my parents thought of the whole thing, but I was miserable. I don’t remember ever having a conversation about why I felt the way I did, and as the years went on, I just accepted that my stomach would always be an issue.

When I was about 10 years old, I was living in South Carolina. I was over at a friend’s house and her mom had some sort of woman’s magazine, Prevention, or something like that. I was flipping through it and noticed an article about lactose intolerance. Every single symptom matched mine. I took the magazine home to my mom, and asked her if it was possible that this was what was wrong with me. She said, “who knows, it’s worth a shot though.” I quit eating dairy products and there was a huge improvement in how I felt. My doctor said that I would likely out-grow the lactose intolerance, and as the years went on, I did.

For the next four years or so, my stomach felt pretty good. I still felt tired though. Constantly.

After my Sophomore year of high school something changed. Out of the blue, I began to have crippling stomach issues again. I immediately quit all dairy products but nothing helped. Nothing. I was life-guarding that summer and must have dropped 20 pounds (which at just over 5 feet tall, is a lot and on me, was unhealthy) because all I could stomach were Goldfish Crackers and water.

The following 6 months were full of doctor visits and tests. My Junior year of high school was miserable. I dropped all extra-curricular activities and one required course because I had absolutely no energy . The doctors ruled out Giardia and E-coli at first, and then when things still did not improve I underwent more invasive tests to rule out colon and intestinal cancers and Crohn’s Disease. Everything came back negative.

Because they could not find anything to diagnose me with, the doctors diagnosed me with a catch-all disorder called Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and put me on medication that slowed down the digestive process. It did this by slowing everything else down too, with a serious side effect of drowsiness. To someone who was already tired all the time, the “drowsiness” itself continued to incapacitate me almost as badly as the stomach issues had.

My stomach issues did subside and I eventually stopped taking the medication. Even after months of ending the medication though, I still found myself tired.

I got plenty of sleep and I took vitamins. I had at least one home-cooked meal every day. No matter what I did, I was fall-asleep-at-my-desk exhausted every single day. Whenever someone asked me how I was doing, my response was, “Good, tired, but good.” I often wondered why no one else around me responded that way.

I went on with my life, exhausted every day. I would spend my days wishing I could go to bed but then when I got into bed at night, I would lie awake worrying about everything I hadn’t gotten done that day.

When I was about 24, I started watching the Food Network. I really wanted to learn how to cook and I was totally sucked into the daily cooking shows. My favorite was Rachael Ray. Fast, easy, healthy (although a little overly-cutesy)…perfect! I’ve since broadened my scope of what a great cook is. Still love me some Rachael though!

Through the food network, I started learning about food. No, not about the stuff I was putting in my body every day, but about actual food. You know…the stuff that either has a mother or grew out of the ground? Food! I started experimenting with different ingredients and discovered how to cook real meals.

Growing up, I thought that I was a healthy eater. Looking back, I had no idea what that meant.

Slowly, I began to learn just what food really was…and I was amazed. Everything I learned made me want to learn more. I read books like, Fast Food Nation and In Defense of Food and watched films like, Super Size Me. I developed my own food personality, which you can read about, here. There is so much information out there. We spend so much time learning about math, history, politics, religion, the weather, business and the like…but how much time do we spend learning about what we are putting into our own bodies, and the effects of those choices? Does any of the other stuff matter if our bodies start to fail us?

I realized, maybe that’s exactly what had been happening to me throughout the years. I had a body that had been failing to do what it was designed to do. I also realized, as an otherwise healthy woman, it was my job to figure out why my body was not functioning properly…and to finally do something about it.

Tomorrow, the rest of my journey, and what I hope will be the beginning of yours. If you’re already in a place of health and happiness, I hope tomorrow’s post will give you further encouragement and inspiration. Stay tuned!

Oh…and Happy Saturday!

One Comment to “Out of the Fog – Part One”

  1. I mostly feel crummy all the time too. I hate it because I don’t understand it, and the doctors tell me I’m healthy. I’m finally to the stage of admitting there is something wrong and looking for answers. Stories like yours help me feel like I’m not alone!

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