Happy Sunday friends!
This blog post marks the beginning of a new series that is focused on “wellness.” I put that in parenthesis because sometimes I think the wellness trend can be kinda icky (i.e. judgmental, expensive, misinformed, etc.). So no. This is not going to be me preaching to you about essential oils, organic veggies, or toxic skincare.
Instead, I wanted to create a space on my blog where I can share the ways that my family is implementing stress relieving ways of living.
So today I thought I would share by just giving you an update on what’s been going on since August of 2020. I have not shared any of this with you guys for a few reasons:
a. one of the ways we are becoming healthier as a family is by creating privacy boundaries on social media
b. I didn’t want to share anything before I had answers
c. I was too exhausted to talk about it
I know I’m being cryptic so let me just get on with the update:
BEFORE I BEGIN I WANT TO SAY THAT I AM SHARING MY EXPERIENCES AND THIS IS NOT A PRESCRIPTIVE POST. PLEASE TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ANY SORT OF VITAMIN AND SUPPLEMENT REGIMEN AND BEFORE CHANGING YOUR DIET TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE DOING WHAT’S BEST FOR YOUR UNIQUE SITUATION.
In August of 2020 I started to have health issues that seemed really random and came out of seemingly nowhere. It started with really intense heartburn after eating anything even remotely fatty (even an avocado!), and then I started to break out in hives and get intense itching anytime I ate even the smallest amount of sugar. I was mystified, but I was able to mostly control those symptoms by cutting out those things from my diet. At the time, I was very focused on eating macros so it wasn’t a huge deal honestly to cut out fat or sugars… it just made it easier for me to hit my goals!
But even after I cut those things out I noticed that I was becoming increasingly more anxious and irritable, my periods got really heavy and really long (sometimes lasting as many as 9 days), I had headaches all the time, I could barely get out of bed, and my stomach hurt a lot. I had zero energy and when I would get a small burst of energy it wouldn’t last long. And the longer this happened, the more my mental health tanked.
Last January and February were really dark for me… I have never felt so low mentally (even compared to my postpartum depression after the twins). At the beginning of March I decided to try taking CBD oil (you can use code REFKARINRAMBO to get $30 off your first order… I am not partnered with them in any way, my code is just part of their general referral program) to see if it would help with my mental health, and it DID. I was kind of shocked by how much it helped ha! My brain felt clearer, things bothered me less, and I was overall more even in my emotions.
But I didn’t want to just take something to cover the problem, I wanted to figure out why things changed so drastically and suddenly. I scheduled an appointment with my OB to talk to her about my periods and she ran tests to see if it was my thyroid or if I had low iron levels and she put me on a high dose of Vitamin D. We also ruled out prediabetes. Both of the tests came back negative, but she mentioned that I should check into gut health or food sensitivities.
I signed up for ZOE to test my gut health, and I did a comprehensive food sensitivity test through Everly. I was SO shocked when I got my results back. My food sensitivity results showed me that I am highly sensitive to eggs, chicken, tuna, cow’s milk (already knew that), and wheat (I have some other random things I’m also sensitive to, but those were the big things)… and all of a sudden everything made total sense. I had started eating macros in the spring of 2020 to lose my baby weight from Gabe, and ALL of the things on that list were things that I started eating a LOT more of in order to boost my protein macros (I’ve always been a bread lover so I can’t blame macros for the wheat one). So it makes sense that after eating a LOT more of the foods I’m very sensitive to everything started to flare up a few months later in August… and continued to get worse the longer I ate higher amounts of those foods.
I also got my ZOE results back, and it revealed that my gut health was terrible. I had almost no good gut bacteria… and again this made a lot of sense to me. I had cut out cow’s dairy four years before and hadn’t replaced my daily Greek yogurt with a probiotic. I never really thought they were that necessary because in my ignorance I assumed probiotics were just for keeping you regular.
So I was consuming a bunch of things my body doesn’t process very well and slowly destroying my gut all at the same time. ALL of my symptoms made so much sense… the heartburn, the negative immune response, the mental health, headaches, fatigue…
I found all of this out in late July of this year and I’ve been slowly working towards making changes to my diet and I’m already feeling SO much better. I started taking probiotics and prebiotics (these are the ones I’ve been taking), I’ve added foods that are good for my gut, and I’ve made the switch to a gluten free, pescatarian diet (my family has not). One of the perks from doing the Zoe program is that after you get your results back, you get access to an app where it gives you personalized recommendations and education for 8 weeks after. You plug in your meals and it will give you a score so you know how healthy the meal is for your gut and every day they take you through a short course where you learn how to change your lifestyle for long term gut health. It’s been transformational you guys!
I always thought I was a super healthy eater, but I realized how much I was relying on convenience foods (hello 4 kids), instead of eating simpler, more whole foods. I also realized how little variety I have in my fruits and veggies. I tended to eat the same things over and over, but your gut needs variety to thrive.
I’ve now graduated from the program, and even though I can continue to track my foods, I’ve decided to keep going without tracking. Zoe encourages you to remember that gut health is a long term game and not a quick fix so I’m confident that if I continue to cut out the things I’m sensitive to, and continue to eat varied whole foods (and take my supplements) my body will heal itself in a few years. I also wanted to be done with “counting” in terms of food. I realized it’s healthier for me to just eat healthfully instead of always working on some “goal” when it came to my body. Or in other words: I’ve released that need for control over my diet.
But that brings me to the next piece of this: my mental health.
Another reason my gut health had gotten so bad was the amount of stress I’ve been living under these last couple of years. Obviously the pandemic played a huge part in that, but doing distance education with Kit was one of the HARDEST things I’ve ever had to do as a parent. She HATED it, and watching her struggle every day was such a heavy burden on me… it created such friction between the two of us and our relationship really suffered.
Then we started seeing a therapist for one of my girls for situational anxiety, one of my girls was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, and Gabe had to go to physical therapy for delayed walking.
And on top of the distance learning, and all of these appointments (and the mental strain that came with them) both David and I suddenly had much busier work schedules. It got to a point where I hadn’t worked out or done a single thing to recharge in MONTHS. I would wake up at 5 or 6 and I would be GOING until 11:00 at night. My body was under a tremendous amount of stress and quite simply, it had enough and decided to start shutting down so I would finally pay attention to it.
I had a moment of clarity when we went camping this past July. There was almost no cell service and it was just a full weekend of space to think.
I recently listed to an episode of the Art of Growth Podcast called the Type 8 Panel- Engaging the Body, Heart, and Head (I’m an 8). It helped me to realize that one of the stumbling blocks that 8’s have is that we feel things in our bodies almost exclusively, but we have a hard time listening to our bodies (a bad combo!) until our body decides to get “loud enough” that we have to listen. I realized that, that is exactly the space I’ve been living in for awhile now. My body was feeling EVERYTHING, but I wasn’t listening to my body. And it wasn’t until I gave myself the space to listen to my body that I realized how much I’d ignored.
On that camping trip I realized things had to change, and I made a commitment to myself to SLOW down. And David and I have been slowly implementing new rhythms of slowness into our home over the past couple of months. I’ve been saying no more, I’ve been setting boundaries, I’ve been making hard choices in regards to priorities, and we’ve been majorly decluttering.
And that’s exactly what I want this Sunday Series to be about. I want to share these new rhythms in the hopes that any of you who are finding yourself in a similar situation can grow with me. But I want to go beyond just the concepts and share really practical things we’re doing that might also help you (like meal plans, decluttering tips, tips for saving money, etc.!).
If you made it all the way to the end, thanks for sticking with me! That was a bit long winded, but I wanted to give you guys a full update because it’s been a long time coming. I’m curious if any of you have had similar “journeys.” If you have, and you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
And stick around because I’ll be sharing my fall capsule wardrobe this week (another thing I’m doing to “slow down”) and you won’t want to miss that because I have lots of thoughts to share about my new approach to capsule wardrobes.
Until next time,