How I found the power of food

When Katie asked me to share my personal journey and experience with nutrition and health, I said I would love to, but that I could probably write a book! Over the last several years, I have made a major transition in how I view overall health and wellness.

First a little background…I have always been a “healthy” person. Or so I thought. I grew up playing sports, eating a well-balanced standard American diet (meat, whole wheat bread, low-fat dairy, fruits/veggies, and the occasional diet coke!), and my parents made sure we always had lots of fun as kids. Fast forward a few years- I still maintained what I thought was good nutrition and exercise (running 3-5miles/day, cylcing classes, and basketball). Now add in nursing school, work, and stresses of being a busy college student as well as a young woman trying to find her way in this world. With a hard-working and perfectionist personality, I never slowed down. Not even when my entire world literally crashed right before me.

Weeks before my 21st birthday and in the middle of my senior year of nursing school, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My. life. fell. apart. It was an unimaginably tough battle for our family from the moment the first doctor said the word…cancer. The cancer never once responded to the multitude of chemotherapy burning through my mom’s body. 9 short, yet never-ending, months later, my family and I sat beside my mother as she took her last breath on Earth.

My mother taught my sister and I to always be strong, faithful, and giving women. Thats exactly how we live every day. But as time went on, the busier I made myself, the less I payed attention to how I was truly feeling inside. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This post is supposed to be about nutrition, right? I promise I’m getting there!

The amount of stress I encountered as well as forced upon my self was slowly destroying my body. I was diagnosed with Grave’s disease, an auto-immune condition in which my own immune system was destroying my thyroid gland. Very much a result of physical and mental stress and poor nutrition. Unknowingly, I listened to my doctor at the time and was quick to take any medication he gave me. I accepted the quick fix mentality of health care and ignored the possible root cause of my auto-immune condition (stress, lifestyle, nutrition). Powerful medications only made me feel worse. Ok..next quick fix- remove my thyroid! Yes, I was a little nervous, but I was also too busy being a nurse and taking care of everyone else around me, I neglected my own health. BIG MISTAKE!

Somewhere in that time, I was introduced to CrossFit. I instantly fell in love. A daily workout, designed by the CrossFit certified trainers, that was a combination of high intensity, functional movements, and heavy weights. Perfect for this washed up athlete with a competitive spirit! But what I didn’t see coming was CrossFit’s strong emphasis on nutrition and other lifestyle factors. Enter…Paleo!

CrossFit nationwide endorses the paleolithic lifestyle. AKA the caveman diet, hunter-gatherer, whole foods diet, or just paleo. In very simple terms, it is the lifestyle and nutrition of our ancestors from the Paleolithic time. Think about it…back then there was no fast food. They needed to hunt and gather and be fast and fit to survive. Furthermore, the Paleo lifestyle is “nourishing our bodies with real food that is grown and raised as nature intended, not manufactured in a sterile facility. It’s about unplugging from the modern-day electronics from time to time and giving your body a chance to actually rest. It’s about getting enough sleep, getting out in the sun, playing for the sake of playing, reducing stress and giving your body a chance to thrive in the manner it evolved” (Paleo 101).

Finally. Something woke me up. Actually, slapped me in the face! Paleo is a lot more than just a “fad” diet. It is a lifestyle template that makes sense. It is derived from history and supported by modern evolutionary science and research. It has saved thousands of lives, including mine.

I will write a second post about more details of My Paleo Lifestyle. Sorry if you didn’t want all the personal background here! But I think it’s so important as it relates to almost everyone in one way or another! Regardless if your story looks like mine or not, most of us are submerged in a similar busy, stressful, sedentary lifestyle. Or the opposite can also cause stress…under eating and over exercising. Regardless, God put each of us on this beautiful earth for such a short time. We all deserve to find and feel our ultimate best!

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