I began my nutrition career back in 1988 when I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and became a Registered Dietitian. I later earned my personal training credentials with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Nutrition and exercise have been life-long passions of mine.
In 2004, I was physically in the best shape of my life. I was working as a personal trainer, exercising aggressively, driving my body to achieve lower and lower levels of body fat. Either I walked 5-10 miles a day, or I parked my car at my sons’ school and jogged to work where I worked out in the morning, and again after work. Then, I would jog the 3 miles back to my car. I lifted weights 6X a week, did high intensity cardio classes, sometimes hiring my own personal trainer to take my fitness to the next level. I loved how I looked, my skin looked radiant, my abs were cut, and I wished I could help others lose weight and get fit by teaching them what I “knew” about nutrition, but I rarely talked about nutrition because this level of resistance and denial didn’t feel like a life anyone would want.
As a trainer, I was frequently asked what I did, but I was so unhappy with the herculian effort it took to resist the constant cravings, to push myself to exercise, to know every minute that I can’t let down my guard or I will give in to the constant temptation, I didn’t share my strategy with others. It took mental energy just to resist the hunger. I felt like I needed sweets, cakes, cookies. I thought about food all the time. I desired sweets more than any pleasure in life — I wanted to eat cake! I used self-talk like “Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels” to get me through the cravings reassuring myself it would pass. It did pass, but it always came back. My diet at the time was a typical dieter’s meal plan loosely following the USDA’s pyramid minus the daily vegetables (I wasn’t fond of vegetables and I assumed close enough was good enough). I ate “low-fat”, “sugar-free”, and “diet” but I ate very little “whole” as in whole foods. I loved white and processed foods but included “whole” grains. My servings were small, I ate frequent meals, and my beverage of choice was diet soda from a 2-liter bottle.
I was 39 years old when my health began to decline rapidly. My PMS, mood swings and almost daily headaches, which I treated with two ibuprofen every 4 hours, developed into severe migraines and crippling fatigue. I left my job when my PMS became so severe I was crying at work and overreacting to normal workplace tensions. I quit exercising and starting eating everything in site — making up for the carbs I had denied myself all those years. Nothing was off limits! I ate and ate and ate. My blood pressure climbed, my legs swelled, and my resting heart rate beat over 100 BPM. My periods were irregular, I had foggy brain, adult onset ADD, early onset dementia, memory loss, severe nervous system irritability, and intermittent heart palpitations. I was bloated, constipated, had fluid in my ears and lungs. I either slept for 12 hours or didn’t sleep at all. I became clinically depressed, emotionally unstable, and socially isolated. I hid from everyone I knew because I was too ashamed for them to see what I had become. Being fit and healthy was my identity. Now, I had lost my career and my health.
My weight ballooned from a sporty 128 pounds to a debilitating 250 pounds in a span of less than 2 years. My measurements were 34/26/36 and I wore a size 4-6. At my highest weight, I weighed 250 pounds, measured 50/53/52 and was bursting the seams of a size 22. I went from a busy working professional to being homebound, unable to work, and incapacitated by pain. I developed plantar fasciitis, a pain in my feet that limited my ability to stand or walk. Chronic pain all over including localized joint pain led to a presumptive diagnosis of fibromyalgia. My husband researched a taping technique for plantar fascitiis that enabled me to be on my feet around the house. Every day, he bound my feet tightly with the athletic tape, in order that I could put weight on my feet. It felt like the ligaments of my feet were collapsing under my weight. I was suicidal for many months ruminating on the impossibility of my situation trying to figure out how I could end my pain without hurting my young children. Many times I pleaded with my husband to help me find a forgiveable way I could die so my children wouldn’t have to live knowing I chose to leave them. I’m still here because I couldn’t hurt them.
I had pain everywhere. I explained to my kids they couldn’t sit next to me or touch me because I had “bruises” under my skin. They weren’t bruises, my body just hurt all over. I felt toxic like I was being poisoned. I developed sensitivities to smells that forced me to stand outside of doctors’ offices if they sprayed air freshener or stop the car on the side of the road if someone were wearing cologne. The smells caused me to have panic attacks. I became agitated and frantic to leave. I couldn’t calm my nervous system until I got fresh air. At home, My husband had to install a high powered venthood and purchase a half-mask respirator for me to use when cooking.
Sometimes, at night I would become agitated and there was nothing that would calm my panic. I tried warm baths, but sometimes the water was assaulting. I locked myself in a dark room while I braced to survive the attack. Not only was I feeling like I needed to leave my house and run away, but I felt frozen in my bed at the same time. I felt heat radiating from my chest and frozen in my extremities. I didn’t know whether to cover up or remove the covers because I was both hot and cold at the same time in the extreme. My nervous system was so unstable that I experienced incapacitating fight or flight at the slightest stimulation like two people walking in front of me in different directions or one person talking while music was playing in the background. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, I just knew I was collapsing physically and emotionally.
My speech slowed to that of a confused 90-year-old. If you asked me how I was, I would take several long seconds trying to figure out if you asked me how I was or what was up? Should I say, “nothing much” or should I say “I’m fine.” I developed episodes of tunnel vision that made it difficult for me to drive. My handwriting deteriorated — I left out letters I used to spell easily. My brain frame rate slowed to the point that I saw the world as if a slow strobe light was making people and objects diseappear and reappear somewhere else. It was frightening at times to be in public. My brain moved too slowly to track movement in real time. I couldn’t navigate simple conversation or even add two numbers…on paper! I couldn’t remember the language needed to construct sentences so I spoke slowly with long pauses in the middle of sentences. Some memories seem to be lost forever – I call it a “partial mind wipe”. One good thing is I can watch old movies a second time because they are new to me. I also hear stories of my past told by others that I can no longer remember.
I lost the ability to think of time as past, present and future. I could only think in the present tense. This still happens if I get a severe migraine, but at my worst, I lost this brain facility for many months. It was then that I developed the habit of purchasing food daily. I could only handle to task of thinking of one meal…the next one. I didn’t have brain strength to widen my focus. I still purchase food daily because I like getting fresh food every day and I’ve been doing it now for 8 years, it’s a habit I enjoy.
The turning point came in 2010 when I saw the health recoveries people were experiencing with a raw food diet. It inspired me to see if changing my food would improve my symptoms. I started by trying to live on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and juices. Miraculously, most of my symptoms resolved in 3-6 months. The physical pain disappeared completely with the exception of ongoing migraine headaches that would continue monthly for many years. My weight dropped 50 pounds quickly in the first 6 months and over the next 5 years, I have lost an additional 24 pounds without difficulty. I got tested for food allergies and discovered an allergy to eggs, soy, corn, dairy, and gluten. I tested positive for fat malabsorption.
Among the food changes I made were cutting out processed foods, canned foods, restaurant meals, added sugars, wheat, legumes, dairy, soy, and eggs. I now eat low glycemic fruits, leafy greens, sulfur-rich vegetables, color rich vegetables, soaked nuts and seeds, fermented vegetables, yams, grass-fed meats, organic chicken with skin, sardines, wild-caught salmon, bone broth, 100% unsweetened cocoa, grass-fed butter, olive oil and raw coconut oil. I drink coffee with butter and coconut oil and kombucha regularly. I also eat pork sausage and bacon although I do not consider either of these to be health foods. If I eat legumes, I soak and sprout them. I generally avoid nightshade vegetables, perhaps eating them once a month. Occasionally, I make green tea with fresh turmeric and fresh ginger or drink celtic sea salt dissolved in water. I drink apple cider vinegar daily with my enzymes before meals. I eat signficant amounts of good fats, eat very few carbohydrates, and try to get enough protein to maintain my muscle mass.
The non-food practices I adopted were epsom salt baths, skin brushing, deep breathing, rebounding, and sun exposure, when possible. I replaced plastic with glass. I switched all my cleaning products to non-toxic and fragrance-free. I removed five mercury fillings and brush my teeth with fluoride-free, SLS-free toothpaste and I drink water with fluoride and chlorine filtered out. I traded all my non-stick skillets for cast iron pans and got rid of the microwave oven.
The supplements I have taken over the years have run the gamut. I’ll never know what helped and what didn’t. At the time, the biggest challenge was designing an appropriate protocol for myself when I was barely functioning mentally. I was both the patient and the caregiver with numerous experts contributing a piece here and a piece there. I tended to take the shotgun approach and just do anything and everything I could think of. I took B vitamins, vitamin c, iodine (12.5 mg), lithium (10 mg), vitamin D3, Omega 3s, Vitamins A, E, and K2, Zinc and Copper, digestive enzymes, magnesium, NAC, B12, ALA, CoQ10, Niacin, Selenium, Glutamine, Manganese, and Progesterone cream. I took HealthForce’s Vitamineral Green, Vitamineral Earth, Zeoforce, and Intestinal Movement Formula.
Over time, though I settled into a supplement program that seems to keep me energetic, clear-headed, and pain-free. I now take Youngevity’s Beyond Tangy Tangerine Original, Ultimate Selenium, Biolumin Nightly Essence (probiotics), Ultimate EFAs, Ultimate EFA Plus, Ultimate Enzymes, Sweet-Eze, Fucoid Z, Plant Minerals, and Osteo FX. For additional support, I add Vitamins C, A, D, E, K2, Zinc, Copper, magnesium and iodoral.
My symptoms have either completely disappeared or reduced sufficiently that I can live my life fully. I am pain-free. My depression is completely gone! I have no thoughts of suicide and am actively pursuing interests and hobbies I enjoy. I am socially active and am no longer experiencing panic attacks. My brain is sharp and clear and my memory is improving. I speak fluidly and interact with others comfortably. I’m noticing an almost normal ability to recall words and articulate my thoughts. My vision is back to normal. My handwriting has improved. My headaches are less severe and of shorter duration. I can concentrate when I read, and write easily with normal brain endurance. I am wearing a size 10 and am continuing to lose weight without trying. I have absolutely no food cravings…NONE!!! I am fully satiated and able to go for many hours with no need to refuel. I sleep soundly most of the time. My blood pressure is generally normal, tends to run low. My heart rate is generally normal, although occasionally runs fast. The swelling in my ankles is mostly gone. Occasionally, I notice mental weaknesses like not recognizing someone’s face I’ve met before, or having trouble with multi-tasking or I might not get your joke until a few minutes after you tell it. Ugh! I am a work in progress.
Although I have made many changes in my diet and lifestyle, I didn’t change overnight. I tried many approaches trying to keep what worked and abandon what didn’t. I settled into a plan that works for me and that is the basis of my Goals page. “Goals” Please think of this website as a filing cabinet of resources that changed my life. I hope this inspires you to take back control of your health and discover for yourself what you can change to reduce your symptoms and enjoy vitality, happiness, and joy again.