My Path To Recovery
Today I feel like hell. The kind of hell after a weekend of heavy drinking and debauchery. Know what I mean? How when you wake up you feel like you probably shouldn’t have done what you did?
It was a great weekend, don’t get me wrong. It just included some choices that now I have to deal with. Now some of you might be wondering what in tarnation I did over the weekend and is there a warrant out for my arrest or at least compromising photographs available on the internet. And my answer would be no, and yes.
For my friends who follow me either on Twitter or Facebook, they know I recently completed a thirty-day allergen diet. At first I only asked folks to cheer me on in a very limited fashion, preferring to keep the whole thing on the down-low. Then a friend mentioned wanting to improve her health so I offered to be her cheerleader and share with her my process. That’s when I started posting on Facebook a photo of my dinner. Sixteen dinners saved for posterity–chronicling not only what I fed my family in January, but folks’ reactions.
Then Saturday I was done with my thirty days and I ate what I wanted to (within reason because I am allergic to gluten). I ate some french fries at IKEA, I had a glass of wine, and on Sunday, I ate a bucketload of my favorite corn tortilla chips and guacamole. And today, my body is letting me know that it does not approve. I have a headache for the first time in three weeks. My hands are swollen. I ache.
I’m not a medical doctor nor am I a scientist. However, I am pretty good at knowing my body. And I know that for most of my life I have hurt and for the past twenty-some years the doctors haven’t really had a good idea as to why. But I am pretty sure I do.
The food I’ve been eating, combined with things going on in my life, have been hurting me. And it’s time to recover my health.
Let me explain.
I developed an active eating disorder by the time I was 11 years old (when I began puberty). While I was “best” at anorexia, I battled with bulimia for all of high school and the start of college. I haven’t ever liked my body–I’ve either been self-concious of it, or hated what it looked like. There is a running commentary happening via 2 voices all the time in my head. One tells me how bad I look and the other describes food as bad and how bad I am for eating it.
The first time I had abdominal pain, I was 15 years old. I was a freshman in high school and my family had just survived losing the family farm. It was a very difficult time in my life. I remember standing in the kitchen talking to my mom and it suddenly felt like I was being stabbed in the stomach. My mom did all the normal diagnostic things and finally told me to lay down on a heating pad. The pain eventually passed but became a lifetime constant that ultimately led to a full-upper GI (barium is such a foul, foul thing!) and many failed pharmaceutical remedies. Finally my doctor was forced to advise me to avoid stress and things that seemed to make it worse.
By the time I was in my thirties, my feet and ankles ached every morning when I woke up. Since I had a bunionectomy on both my feet in my late 20s, and there didn’t seem to be a logical answer for my pain, the prevailing response was to avoid things that made it worse and use pain relievers as needed.
By the time I was in my early forties, my “normal” was to have a headache every day and a migraine at least 3-4 times a month, especially in a cyclical pattern coinciding with my menstrual cycle. Regardless of what I ate, my weight slowly crept up over the years and my normally athletic pear-shaped body was becoming more and more round. I drank coffee to clear the fog in the morning as I shuffled about the kitchen, I drank coffee in the afternoon to keep going when all I wanted to do was collapse and hide under my blankets. I took ibuprofen nearly every day at least once.
I developed PTSD as a child and Post-partum Depression with each pregnancy. I required anti-depressants to battle back from each pregnancy (each one’s depression was worse and more violent than the preceding) and suffered not only from a 15 pound weight gain each time but also all the other common side effects.
Basically, by the time I entered my 40s, I was a physical and emotional mess.
And yet, I looked healthy. 20-30 pounds overweight and a mild case of hypothyroidism yes, but with fantastic blood pressure, great cholesterol levels, strong heart, blah blah blah. As far as my doctor (I use an Internal Medicine doc) was concerned, I could benefit from losing a few pounds, sleeping a bit more, and reducing stress, but I was doing okay. All my numbers (weight, BP, etc) haven’t changed up or down in nearly a decade and so the prevailing wisdom is that this is my normal.
Except normal doesn’t feel very good.
So I decided that 2013 was going to be about doing something about it.
For 30 days I cut out all grains, processed sugar, alcohol. I limited caffeine and salt. I ate animal protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and healthy fats. And now my normal is different.
So here’s some numbers for those of you who like them:
7.6 pounds lost.
7.25 inches lost.
25 days without any pain relievers.
30 days of real food.
30 days of not hating my body.
I am on a path to recovery. Food is no longer going to be either what fuels the negative-self-talk or what poisons my body. Food is going to be the fuel that gets me up the hills on this journey and allows me to enjoy the beautiful views.
I am Kristina and I am going to be a better me and in doing so, I’m going to teach my children that being healthy is something that is easy to do, tastes great, and is normal.
ps. For the folks who have asked what I’m doing to look so much better these days and then say, “I could never give up bread!” that is something I understand. This is my journey and I now live by the thought that “nothing tastes as good as healthy feels”. I’m happy to share my experiences but I am not a doctor.