I grew up in your typical Standard American Diet (SAD) home eating some of the best American comfort food and spending my allowance on junk food, donuts and soda. Now, don't get my wrong, Mom made everything from scratch, including bread, biscuits, gravy, home-raised pork, chickens, eggs and the works. I didn't even know what Dinty Moore meant when somebody from school asked about my soup. That said, despite Mom's best efforts, it was tough to get me to eat veggies and I rarely enjoyed fruit. I predominately ate BBQ'd meat and carbs. Even though my mother tried to limit my intake, soda was a daily beverage. I was never very active but wasn’t exactly lazy either.
In June 2003 at 23 years old, I was diagnosed with Dermatomyositis, a rare Autoimmune disease. I struggled with reaching my feet and lifting my hands above my head due to severe connective tissue inflammation. My menstrual cycle was so irregular I at one point went 70 days between cycles. At 5’7″, I was 175 pounds, a SAD eater and struggling to find the strength to be an active person. I enjoyed dance, hiking and the occasional yoga class but I was far from routine and needed a lifestyle change. So I quit my corporate job, moved back home with mom and took my savings to see a Naturopathic Doctor. He put me on several herbal concoctions and a high protein, low carb diet. I avoided all things packaged and processed and completely stopped ALL sugar intake, including fruit. I was overridden with Candida from the inside out. I began losing weight quickly. I maintained this system steady for 3 months until I couldn’t afford it anymore. I had rid my body of all yeast overgrowth, walked around 20 pounds lighter, and started hiking and doing yoga regularly.
I realized that I couldn't afford to continue like this so I pursued an education in Holistic Medicine. I started regular juice fasting, and went vegetarian within the first 6 months. Now, I coach people through their own journey to Restoring Wellness through www.WellnessByMotherNature.com.
I now walk around 60-70 pounds lighter than my max (199lbs), still routinely juice fast and eat vegetarian. I've journeyed from a predominately meat eating person to raw vegan and now, intuitive vegetarian, as I call it.
People routinely tell me that they CAN'T do it. They have to cook for a husband or children... or they have to do it alone. They see my figure now and assume I've always been this size or that I grew up eating this way. They say, "I can't do that because I love food too much."
"If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them." In each and every day - every moment - you have the opportunity to RECREATE yourSELF in the ways that you dream. See yourself as an athlete? - become one! See yourself thin? - do it. See yourself healthy? - FEEL IT and BECOME IT.
To those who say they CAN'T, I write this bio and other articles published in magazines on how to deal with a unique dietary lifestyle when others do not understand it. I cooked for my partner at the time - breakfast, lunch and dinners - while fasting. If I can do it - somebody who also LOVES food - you can do it too.
One mother wrote me with a description of how she tried her best to raise her daughter, who also has an autoimmune disease. It is a bit long but I highly recommend you read through to the end. She writes:
I know your story is important for people to open up and see you are just like everyone else. We all have a story. We all have a beginning, which affected where we find ourselves today. I've sat in your classes in the past and wondered if people are looking at my weight and asking themselves about "the unhealthy lady" in the front row. Granted, I'm taking the steps to get healthier and perhaps being the underdog inspires others. But I digress... I wanted to share with you how my story would read from the other side - as the mother of a child with an autoimmune disease. It is a little bit different than yours.
Read the rest here (toward the 2nd half of the page):