Disclaimer: This post is about my personal journey restoring my health. I will not be sharing any amounts of medications or supplements that took, or am currently taking. If you think you may be suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid condition, please seek a medical professional. This is strictly gossip for you all (sort of not really…) Enjoy!
Growing up with a few medical professionals in my family, whom I idolize deeply, I always had an interest in health and nutrition. My grandfather is a doctor who has specialized in alternative medicine, and healing through nutrition. His cousin has followed in his footsteps to practice the same type of medicine. These two people are passionate about health, and I greatly respect that. I have tried to the best of my ability to soak up the knowledge that my grandfather effortlessly emits from his entire being. He is a doctor who thinks. He has never been one to put a bandage on a wound, but instead find the root cause and heal from within. This of course is what most of us strive to do when we follow a whole foods based diet, right? You can now understand why I am so passionate about this way of eating, and how miraculous food can be for the body.
Despite my passion for healthy food, my road to get to this place of peace and love of food hasn’t been so easy. My insecurities are ones that I will be working to move past probably for the rest of my life. When I was eight years old I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I had a severe phobia of vomiting throughout my childhood. This phobia caused a lot of pain for myself as well as my parents. I wont go into the details of that time in my life, but it was pretty difficult. I had severe panic attacks, I stopped eating for a while, I had serious separation anxiety from my mom, and once I finally started eating again I would only eat at home. My rationale as a child was that if I didn’t eat, I couldn’t throw up. So I wouldn’t eat. I didn’t understand the thoughts or feelings that I was having, and for years I was in a constant state of panic.
Through some child therapy I was able to let go of some of my anxiety, but the damage I did by not eating showed up very quickly when I started eating again. By the time I was eleven I was eating normally again, but by that time my parents had separated. My dad was never as health conscious as my mom, so meals with my dad were not as healthy. I was also spending a lot of time with neighbor friends, who had an unlimited supply of snack foods and candy. This all resulted in me gaining weight quickly. I went from being a thin, anxious child, to a somewhat chunky pre-teen. By the time I was in middle school I felt fat, and ugly. I come from a family of thin, athletic people, and I felt like an outsider. By the time I got to high school I started to find interest in dieting. The first time I actually went on a “diet” was the summer between 9th and 10th grade. I did several diets and cleanses through high school to which I saw short lived success. Being so young I didn’t know how to translate a “diet” into a healthy eating plan that was sustainable in the long term. This caused a roller coaster ride of extreme dieting which caused “failure” and binging on junk food until I was about 22 years old. In the back of my mind, I knew that health was what was important, but I thought it was harder for me, and this was something I had to work at. This caused me to resent friends, family, and food.
After high school I got really into working out. I was at the gym everyday doing either spin class or kickboxing. I was eating low fat foods, and sugar free foods. My diet consisted of food which contained a lot of chemicals. My battle with my body continued, and I was at a loss. My aunt Justine has always tried to guide me in the way of health, and is actually the one who I truly credit for inspiring me to get back in touch with my passion for health. I quickly transitioned from globo gym world to yoga, which really helped change the direction I was going with my mind and body. By now I had completely eliminated all artificial sweeteners, soda, and most desserts from my diet. I thought I was really getting somewhere, but something still wasn’t right. At this point I was following a vegetarian diet and eating a lot of soy, grains, and sugar. Again, I couldn’t figure out why it was so much harder for me. Why my weight was all over the place, and why I didn’t feel good? I was eating healthy, right? I wasn’t eating meat, I was eating whole grains, rice pasta, tofu, fruit, and “natural, gluten-free sweets.” I was doing everything “they” say you need to do to be healthy and thin, but something was still wrong.
After having a complete meltdown about my body, my mom suggested I get my thyroid checked. I knew there were some thyroid problems in my family, but I never considered that could be something I would have deal with. I talked with my grandfather, and he agreed that I should pursue treatment. I then scheduled an appointment with my cousin Franne Berez and started my treatment. She did a saliva test, put me on homeopathic remedy as well as some thyroid support supplements, and I waited for the results. She was pretty concerned to find that my cortisol levels came back MORE than double the average values. She said it was as though I was walking around in a state of alarm all day long. Apparently I had not overcome my anxiety, I had just suppressed it to the point where I felt normal being anxious. I did not have health insurance at the time, so I started a trial run of Armour Thyroid to see if it would help based on my symptoms of low thyroid (weight gain and resistance to weight loss, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, etc…) I couldn’t get blood work done, and neither my Grandpa Buz, nor Franne were too concerned with blood results. Often times, blood work comes back normal, when in fact there is a problem.
I started the thyroid hormone and within two to three months I had lost 12 pounds. I was feeling great. The problem was though, that I had very little knowledge on thyroid health, or foods that can effect thyroid health. I was vegetarian, and I had no idea that soy is so harmful that it can cause thyroid cancer, and yet I was eating it all the time. The instructions on Armour Thyroid specifically say “do not take with soy” (you are supposed to take it on an empty stomach because there are several foods that can influence the hormone, but the specifically call out soy). I didn’t want to have a permanent problem with my thyroid. I didn’t want to have something be “wrong” with me. I wanted it to be situational, and not something I’d have to deal with forever, so I really didn’t take things seriously. Since I was following a vegetarian diet (which I did not tell Franne or my grandfather), consuming a ton of soy and grains, my weight again started to fluctuate. Faced with a similar breakdown about my body as before I started the thyroid, I decided to make a drastic decision with my eating.
After hearing about the HCG diet I decided I wanted to try it out. I was desperate to change the way I looked and felt, and I had no idea what else to do. For 30 days I injected myself with human chorionic gonadotrophin, and ate a 500 calorie a day diet that consisted of only steamed or raw green vegetables, low sugar fruits, and very lean protein. In 30 days I lost almost 30 pounds and turned into someone I didn’t even recognize. My previously tight size 8 jeans were now living in the trash because I could pull them up without unbuttoning them. I was now in size 4 jeans that were loose on me, my breasts (which have always been small to begin with) were barely there anymore, and for a month after finishing HCG I didn’t get my period. I was skinny, and scared to eat. I threw out all of my old pants, and chopped my hair off thinking I wouldn’t let myself gain any weight back if I didn’t have pants that fit a bigger size and my hair was too short to mask weight gain. I didn’t get that thin by following a normal diet. I did it in a way that wasn’t natural, so I was scared of what would happen when I started eating normally again. The follow up to the HCG protocol was pretty simple, for three weeks to maintain weight loss I could only eat lean protein, non starchy vegetables, healthy fat, and fruit. It was Paleo.
The HCG follow up protocol which I did not know was Paleo, was effortless. I felt great. My weight didn’t budge, and I felt like I had finally found a way to eat that worked for me. However, I had also felt as though I made a deal with the devil. I had gotten so thin so fast, that I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I had no idea that I could ever be that small, and I had no idea that I even had that much weight to lose! My mind was a mess from the experience and my cells were starved for nutrients. I was scared to eat fat, and eating a low fat Paleo diet was literally making me miserable, but since I didn’t know that your brain NEEDS fat, I didn’t know how to fix it. Once I found Marks Daily Apple, I soaked up as much information on the ancestral way of eating as I could, however I was still struggling a little. I was trying to figure out how I could enjoy “normal food” like everyone else around me without going overboard, or gaining weight. I gained some weight back, but it was healthy weight. I was still a much smaller version of the person I used to be, although it was hard to see myself that way.
After meeting Bill and starting our Paleo journey together, I realized that this really was a way of life, and I didn’t have to feel like I should be able to eat conventional processed foods and stay thin to be normal. Those foods do not fuel our bodies, they only cause harm, and it’s not normal to be able to eat processed food and grains and thrive from it. It was eye opening to come to the realization that it wasn’t me that was wrong, inadequate, or not normal, it was the foods I thought I should be able to eat that were the problem. Luckily I had Bill standing by my side, always helping me talk through my thoughts. Bill loves me, thinks I’m beautiful, and tells me this everyday. He has always been there to pick me up when I’m down, and I am positive that I wouldn’t be as comfortable in my own skin as I am today without his love and support.
Now, here’s when things got messy. I was feeling so great following a Paleo diet, that I decided I didn’t want to be taking ANY prescriptions. I didn’t need them, I was healing my body with food, right? I was wrong. NEVER play doctor. I decided I didn’t need my thyroid hormone. I didn’t think I actually had a problem with my thyroid. I thought it was situational, and I had healed myself in one year eating a Paleo diet. My weight had fluctuated even on thyroid, so I figured I could take myself off of it, and get through it all by eating the right foods. Boy was I wrong…