There’s raw broccoli and a bag of sweet potato chips on the table. Both Paleo foods and both ready to eat immediately. Which do you choose? The choice is obvious here, but it’s a hard one to make when you aren’t really able to understand what the options in front of you mean for your body. Time and time again in all aspects of my life, I was choosing the chips, not realizing yet how the decisions I was making were affecting my body. I don’t mean I was literally eating chips all the time (wouldn’t that be nice?) but what I do mean is I wasn’t fully aware yet to my own body’s needs. Having been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis at 15 and most recently diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue and a significant hormone imbalance, there are key things my body needs and I hadn’t yet figured out what they were.
That is, until I decided to.
You know the feeling, when you’ve exhausted all your options? You feel nothing you do to improve your health is actually working towards your ultimate goal of healing. This was me, only that mental and emotional exhaustion was heightened by the oncoming change of graduating college. The fatigue manifested itself into my spirit and perpetuated my physical body. This was when I decided to begin a Paleo lifestyle. I was willing to do just about anything and this seemed like a last resort type of deal. The mere idea of having to give up pizza, homemade biscuits and baked good seemed like the end-all. And well, it sort of was.
The swelling in my hands had made it so my rings could no longer easily slip on and off and the puffs under my eyes aged me a good five years, I’m sure. So I did a cleanse, I fasted for five days and after that week I no longer included gluten, dairy, legumes, any processed foods or sugars in my diet. Pretty hardcore right?
I began feeling better. Really, my body began adjusting to my new preferences (not restrictions). But, what no one tells you when you first begin, IT IS HARD. It does take determination and a steadfast ability to keep with it. Especially if you have friends and family who still live a lifestyle that no longer aligns with your needs. And, if like me you have always enjoyed and appreciate food, it proved challenging at times. There were several occasions that I “cheated”, practiced the 80/20 rule, and most definitely explored the luster of Paleo baked goods.
It wasn’t working. I had always ate well prior to Paleo but yes, that included gluten. So now certainly without gluten in my diet I should be better right? Or so I thought. But it is such warped thinking. And much more common than we’d all like to believe because we see fellow Paleoers (is that a word?) eating and enjoying pretty much whatever they want in realm of the Paleolithic diet.
But I was missing something, a HUGE something. And it wasn’t just food. I was in a job where I was under appreciated, verbally abused and exhausted. All of my emotional energy was spent trying to figure out how to better my employment situation and not on my wellness. The tricky part of this though is that it’s all retrospective. At the time I really felt my number one priority was my health and I would have adamantly told you that. What I began to realize was the space in which I was confined was so taxing on me emotionally that it created physical problems and affected all of my choices.
I don’t write any of this out of guilt. I didn’t yet have the understanding of my body, or myself for that matter that I do now. I was beginning my journey and was still doing pretty damn good for starting out! And, I WAS eating vegetables (not always the sweet potato chips), duh 😉
So my quest to the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol has been broken into segments by defining moments where I made choices. These decisions had nothing to with anyone else but myself. And if there is one thing I have learned in my practice of wellness, it is to trust in yourself to know what is right.
But my point is this; once you decide something you are no longer restricted to whatever held you back before, you are liberated.
I decided to start a Paleo Lifestyle.
I decided to go off all my medications.
I decided to move to a new place.
I decided to take a job that was not right for me, and perhaps stayed too long.
I decided to immerse myself in food and medical research.
I decided to leave my job.
I decided to find joy every single day.
I decided that my body is more valuable to me if it is flexible and limber.
I decided to begin a daily yoga practice.
I decided to begin following the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol.
I decided that for me that also meant removing most fruits and starches.
And most recently, I decided to create a space to share my journey, and here YOU are!
So, if you can’t make up your mind, if you’re on the edge of making a choice to improve yourself, your health, happiness, whatever it is, DECIDE. It is a powerful move only you can make. It creates ripples in the air that trigger a domino effect of changes that allow you to have power over your life.
*A special thanks to Mickey Trescott from autoimmune-paleo.com for her encouraging words, and her hard work to create her cook book. It was during a Google hangout batch cooking session she hosted where I was the fortunate winner of her book, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. Even further, receiving that book with her kind words was the catalyst in my decision to begin AIP (Autoimmune Protocol). Thank you so much, you are truly helping people.
Great post, it is just so true. I am the same, I “make” the change but don’t see the results you hear others rave about, but when you try to just change because, because you just want relief. It is hard, challenging but also the most empowering to know you have the power.
I have eliminated gluten for some time but went a bit nuts over thanksgiving, and paid the price. Headaches, sore throat, cold sweats, the whole nine. So I ditched it again then indulged on the weekend. Gluten again. I have excluded it again, knowing now is my time to take hold and keep it out!
Of course it is a journey, so many things to consider, but you have the power and decisions, although tough, are the key, to most things in life! Plus, don’t be scared to change your choice, just give things a fair chance and don’t cheat yourself out of success!
Thank you Amanda, I appreciate you reading what I wrote! Gluten can be viscous with the repercussions after eliminating because you now have the awareness of how it makes your body feel, where before you probably felt bad but didn’t connect what the trigger was, or didn’t pay as close attention to how you felt.
AND- YES I love what you said “Don’t be scared to change your choice, just give things a fair chance and don’t cheat yourself out of success!” Amen! Plus, if you want to change your mind, so what, DO IT who cares. It’s your life and your decisions after all, don’t settle just because you feel that something else may be better or work better for you now, that may not before.
I SO appreciate you contributing to a conversation here. THANK YOU!
First off, LOVE that you’ve launched this blog – I can’t wait to read more content and share your journey. Second, this post really spoke to me – your health challenges, job, life – all so relatable. I’m in the same process of slowly changing my life and having really honest conversations with myself, my husband about how we should define our ‘life’…it feels empowering!
XOXO – congrats again!!
It IS SO empowering Kari. (by the way, I know we say our names different, but this is too funny, I SWEAR I’m not talking to myself!;)
I love that! Thank you so much for your support, and commenting that you are able to relate, it truly means a lot to me and is the exact reason I wanted to share with people. I feel so supported on this journey, but haven’t always felt that way, I understand what it is like for people who feel that no one understands them, so I hope that this space can serve as proof that this is all possible.
I am at the very VERY beginning of this food journey. I too have a bunch of dietary issues and I am beginning to think that an intense, total restructure of everything i have been eating/doing may be the only solution. It’s incredibly hard to start, but it inspires me that you are already on this journey and have been killing it!!
Excited to see whats to come with your blog!!
So happy to help inspire Ashley! The beginning of anything is always scary, but once you’ve decided to do something it just get’s easier and more empowering from there. Best of luck to you on your journey as well!