This week I want to share with you a gift of inspiration from a dear friend. I have encouraged her for some time to see a naturopathic doctor for her health concerns. She has been suffering for some time and her health problems were not comprehended nor adequately addressed with conventional medicine. Recently, they became more serious, so she took the leap of faith and went to see an ND to whom I referred her. Since then, she has experienced life-changing success. I wanted to share her story to inspire you to pursue your health goals and understand the tremendous benefits you stand to gain when you make positive changes in your life. This is her story:
One Body, One Chance
I always thought that I lived a healthy lifestyle. I worked out at least three times a week, I got my proper intake of fruits and vegetables, I took several vitamin supplements, I ate three or four meals a day and I got six to seven hours of sleep every night. I held off from drinking alcohol until the weekends so that I had a clear mind when working with my students. Why then, was I so extremely exhausted at the end of the day? I drive an hour to get to work, as a Kindergarten teacher, and then drive an hour to get back home. I figured it was either the long driving throughout the day, the high energy need required by my wonderful students, or a mixture of the two. It was normal, I thought, to get home and want to fall asleep at seven o’clock.
As I focused more on what my body was telling me, I realized that a lot more was happening than just the fatigue. I was getting dizzy spells every time I stood up from bending to talk to my students, or sitting at the carpet with them. I was also seeing dots in my vision occasionally upon standing too quickly. There were instances when I felt like I was living in a dream. I was aware of what was happening around me and I was able to respond and intake information, but it was as though I was outside of myself looking in. The best analogy of this feeling is comparing it to a life-like dream. Furthermore, I found it difficult to focus for long periods of time without my mind wandering off to daydream or think about aspects unrelated to what was currently being addressed. I often craved foods, such as chocolate, candy and salty snacks. Lastly, I began to get headaches.
My best friend is a naturopathic doctor and has been encouraging me to visit one ever since she began school. My ears always perked up when I would hear her talk about her beliefs as a doctor as well as simple strategies to be proactive in living a healthy lifestyle. Her remedies always made sense and took into consideration the whole body rather than only the problem areas. I, however, always made excuses as to why I didn’t visit a naturopath for myself. “It’s too expensive and I can’t afford it.” “I work all day and do not have time to visit one throughout the week.” “My medical doctor is great and she would decipher if there was something wrong.” “I am healthy so there is no reason for me to see one.”
Finally, after taking a closer look into what my body was telling me, I decided to bite the bullet and make an appointment to see a naturopath. I was getting frustrated with my fatigue once I began falling asleep by eight o’clock on Friday nights and my boyfriend was seemingly being neglected! After making the initial appointment, my naturopath emailed me a questionnaire that took nearly three hours to complete. Why on earth was she asking so many questions!? It seemed as though she was piercing into the depths of my childhood to gain any information possible about my health history. My first appointment took over an hour. She reviewed my case and continued to ask pertinent questions about my bodily signals. Without further ado, she concluded that my blood sugar was dysregulated, my hormones were out of balance, and I had a congested liver among other specifics. She recommended certain liquid supplements to balance my hormones, as well as self-treating using a castor oil pack on my liver. She thought that I should be referred to a neurologist because of my dream-like states, which could possibly be petit mal seizures. She also recommended lab tests, which my medical doctor ordered and was to fax her the results.
Among all of her recommendations, the most difficult was the diet. I was to avoid sugar, including white bread, white pasta and white rice. This seemed nearly impossible since I am from Italian descent. My Nana makes the world’s best gnocchi, ravioli and genettis! When we sit down to eat there is always white bread with the meal, pasta and dessert. To top things off, my stepfather is Chinese and owns a delicious Chinese restaurant, where white rice goes with almost every dish. I grew up eating this way and knew no other. I also had to stop drinking coffee and if desired, replace it with green tea. I was to have no alcohol, red meats or dairy. Dairy inhibits magnesium absorption and red meats are sources of exogenous estrogens. I had to eat protein with every single meal and snack. I was to eat fiber before every main meal and I was never to skip meals, especially breakfast and always have a snack on hand. Finally, I was to have little or no carbs with my last meal of the day since I didn’t need energy at that time. WOW…. How was I going to do this?
The first week was extremely difficult. Being an avid coffee drinker, I went through withdrawals. Yes….withdrawals from coffee. In retrospect, I had been consuming it every single morning since I was twelve years old. Since red meat and dairy had always been in the heart of my diet, I had to learn to cook with chicken and fish. Grocery shopping is a completely different experience. I now read the labels on EVERY single item that I am placing into my grocery cart. The thing that surprised me the most was that sugar is in almost everything – even a lot of whole wheat breads and soy or almond milk beverages. Additionally, dairy milk powder is in a lot of products. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, goat cheese, hummus and almond butter are now my staples.
Although it was extremely difficult, the hard work surely paid off. It has been a month and a half and I have never in my life felt better. I have so much more energy throughout the day and feel like I am giving my students the attention and energy that they deserve. I do not feel tired until I lay my head down on my pillow at night, and I fall right to sleep. I have not had an episode where I feel like I am in a dream-like state since the first week of being on this diet. I no longer have food cravings. Surprisingly, I never feel extremely hungry other than in the morning when I first get up. I eat all day long, small meals, and I have lost six pounds. More importantly, my body fat index went from being 32% to 19%. My body feels lean and I am more comfortable with myself. I am happier and feel more present when speaking to people. I am able to spend more time with my boyfriend during the evenings!
This journey to health has truly been an amazing experience. I am looking forward to meeting with my ND within the next week, where we can continue to work together towards reaching my next goals. The great thing about having her is that we continually communicate. She is very supportive and truly cares about my wellbeing. I only have this one body and I am going to treat it with love and care because it deserves nothing less.