Will this always be my life?
For anyone battling with the task of finding answers for a myriad of seemingly unexplained body complaints and symptoms, looking down the road and imagining what your life will be is often depressing and overwhelming.
How many doctors told you it’s all in your head? Maybe you just need counseling or medication?
There were many nights (and days) that I too wondered how I could go on like this for another 20, 30 or 40 years before I discovered my path of healing from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
The women sitting properly in the chair with the blank or blurred face is a picture that I heavily identify with. I looked fine, dressed, poised, present but my face didn’t portray the battle I was waging.
Actually, I looked like this. But I didn’t feel strong…I was miserable.
As a nutritionist, I am exposed to battle on a daily basis. Client after client seeks answers. I always remind them to not “get lost in the weeds.” For me, the weeds are a plethora of symptoms or consequences of what eventually leads to a bigger picture of the autoimmune crisis.
No one shares the exact same story, but everyone shares the same cascade of events. The timeline is the difference.
I love pictures, especially word pictures. Imagine a bucket. We all have a different sized bucket, a stress bucket if you will. What it takes to overflow a bucket depends on how big the bucket is and at what rate it is being filled right and don’t forget the integrity of the bucket matters as well.
What fills a stress bucket? Here are a few examples: Toxic foods, chronic stress, metals, infections, and plastics.
This is what I felt like when I had toxic foods and chronic stress. My Everything hurt or was tight or fatigued. I could barely think…
What is toxic to me and overflows my bucket may not affect another person in the same way. Maybe your bucket is simply larger than mine. Maybe my bucket has been damaged and yours is showing signs yet?
My husband and I were at a wedding last night. At 48 and 51 years old, we don’t go to many weddings anymore! If we do, it is the 2nd or 3rd marriage for the happy couple. These weddings are still joyous and precious, but there is a different feel about this new beginning. It’s a “We are going to do it right this time” feel.
Of course, they did the “Who has been married the longest dance.” We won with our 27 years. Our marriage bucket is BIG and strong! We have learned and grown a lot. Our marriage has withstood 27 years and we have never been happier. Like every marriage, we have had good and bad times. We have moved away from friends and family for work, we have lost children, and we have had financial trouble, and have survived a law enforcement career (which is not an easy one) and we are surviving my own autoimmune crisis and healing.
Why have we made it?
Just like the autoimmune system when it’s working well, our marriage bucket is well made and can hold a lot.
But what does this have to do with autoimmune conditions and dysfunction Brandi?
Sometimes life just eats away at us and we don’t even see it happening.
It’s easier to see a marriage falling apart than it is to see our health bucket disintegrating.
Most of us can recognize the signs of a marriage in trouble. But we miss the signs that our stress bucket is in trouble.
Genetics and Epigenetics
Genetics are the cards you were dealt when you were created. Epigenetics is the games you choose to play with those cards, your environment, how you live.
Science has learned that your genes contribute to only up to 10% of your health outcomes. That means that you control the remaining 90%. If your Mom has Diabetes and your Dad died from heart disease and your Grandma had stomach cancer, you can do something about it. You have more control than you think.
Back to the wedding. As we sat and ate dinner a comment was made noticing that my husband doesn’t eat anything like me. His answer, “I haven’t hit my wall yet.” So true.
Nothing motivates like pain and discomfort. He looks and feels great! Why should he pass on the tortillas and IPA?
I say prevention would be a great plan! But this is HIS journey, not mine. I pray that his bucket is big and strong and he lives a long and consequence-free life.
The first thing I do with clients is to remove the stressors and strengthen the defenses.
There has been a lot of research about the Gut the last 15 years, and it is finally mainstream knowledge that Gut Health is one of the root causes of autoimmune dysfunction and disease.
We heal the gut.
Since 60% of your immune cells are located in your gut, this is a logical place to start. But healing this very important part of our body is impossible while continuing to irritate it. So the next steps are about finding those irritants. Removing soy, gluten, dairy, most sugars, and processed foods is step one.
Strengthening the defenses also comes with other lifestyle changes outside of food. My Restore® program guides you through improving your stress, sleep, community, spiritual life, and movement.
Reversing your autoimmune condition isn’t just about plugging holes in your bucket, it’s about rebuilding your bucket, sometimes from scratch.
It’s not uncommon to discover either by food elimination or by testing that other foods are causing issue outside of the obvious list of offenders. Foods such as nightshades, legumes or even oligosaccharides like the Jerusalem Artichoke. Healthy for some, but not for all.
It’s all about experimentation. Discovering what isn’t working for your body RIGHT now, and letting your body bounce back and heal. Maybe later that food won’t be a problem.
Homeostasis. This is just the scientific word for balance. Your body is constantly trying to find balance. This can only be done with a healthy bucket and a bucket that can handle the load of daily toxins that modern day living delivers and then properly dispose or detoxify your body from them.
Support is very important during this phase of healing. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband and children and other naturopathic professionals. I read, I studied, I even went back to school!
This is why your Tribe (your people) are needed as well as a spiritual life that allows you to pour out your emotions and be refreshed. As a Christian, I need my bible and I need worship music and church. Whatever spiritual path you have, I encourage you to walk in it. Healing needs the umbrella of someone bigger than us.
Lastly, we need to reduce stress. Taking action, being proactive is what is required for your healing journey and discovery. But even this can be stressful. Many of my clients come to me rather obsessed with finding answers. I too have felt that way. But we need to be patient and work through the process in an organized way.
For most of us, including myself, it took years to finally overflow and corrode our buckets. And they overflowed for quite some time as we wrote off the warning signs often using age as an excuse. But once the bucket itself started to corrode (attacking itself) like with Leaky Gut, we noticed.
When the body begins attacking its own tissue, we are in danger of what used to be irritating can transition to disease. We see this in Fibromyalgia, Chron’s, RA, MS, Lupus, and CANCER.
Epigenetics has taught us that we may carry the genes but it is lifestyle that activates them.
Don’t wait for your bucket to corrode into a disease.
Pay attention to your body and don’t settle for what has become “Normal” in our society. We live in a modern day culture that is sick and doesn’t know it. How many people do you see these days with cancer and autoimmune conditions compared to when you were a child? Ask your mom or grandparent what they have noticed in the course of their lives.
You can overcome your autoimmune condition.
The first step for most is getting a handle on your food. My next Restart® course is starting. Check out the details and we will have you on your way to healing. Restart® isn’t just for Autoimmune-ers it is for people battling ANY health crisis: Cholesterol, Blood sugar, hormones, allergies. It is a chance to find level footing again!