The "magic formula" for health
I have been inundated lately with calls and emails from people asking for help - they are sick, they are miserable, and they don’t know where to start. Either they have recently received an autoimmune or chronic disease diagnosis (Celiac Disease, Hashimotos, endometriosis, etc) or the doctors have given up on them and labelled them with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia (yes, this is the doctors giving up on you if they label you with those), or they don’t know WHAT is wrong but they just know they shouldn’t feel the way they do. It seems overwhelming the amount of people that are miserable and don’t know why - I’m here to tell you why. Our lifestyle today in this country is GARBAGE. We eat crap, run from one thing to the next stressed, tired, and late, don’t sleep enough (or sleep too much) and are constantly on sensory overload from TV, radio, billboards, cell phones, smartphones, tablets, commercials, political shows, advertisements, do this, buy that, be this kind of person AHH! It’s all overwhelming and nobody seems to be doing it right anymore. And everyone thinks they are ok and they are fine, meanwhile they are trying their best to ignore migraines, catching one bug after another, stomach upsets, heartburn, indigestion, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, memory problems, jacked up skin, muscle weakness, joint pain, exhaustion, constipation, diarrhea, moodiness, confusion, hormonal imbalances, kidney problems, gallbladder problems, hair falling out, and anything else you can think of. They pop this pill to deal with this problem and then add another pill to the daily regime to deal with the side effects from the first pill. We grab a quick lunch, yell at those we love and feel our blood boil up into our heads when our boss upsets us.
This is a formula for disaster. You may think you are handling it all but your body is slowly taking the brunt of all this and eventually, if not now, you will feel the effects. Most likely, if you are reading this you already have come to your “rock bottom” point and are looking for a way out.
Here’s the part that might piss you off. There is no magic cure. When it comes to autoimmune diseases, food allergies, or just a jacked up lifestyle in general, there is NO quick fix. This is where I lose most people. I can’t recommend one single supplement, one certain diet, or one program to fix it all. And that fact alone has most people turning their heads and saying 'fine, I will just keep living in misery because a total lifestyle change is way too much work'. But, I am living proof that putting in that work is worth it. I’ll get into my story another day but briefly, I was at one point diagnosed with 22 different diseases and illnesses by various doctors, emergency room physicians, wholistic practitioners, and psychologists. I was SICK. One doctor would tell me I was dying and could have a heart attack at any moment, and the next doctor would tell me it was all in my head. It took me over 20 years of misery, 100 + kidney stones, dropping out of college multiple times, changing careers multiple times, tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills and just wanting to die before I figured out that my diet was killing me. I have Celiac disease with some other AIs and food allergies added into the mix. I started the journey of cleaning up my diet thinking that I could help end the constant stomach distress I was in - little did I know that the changes I made in the way I eat were going to literally END the symptoms of the autoimmune diseases that had been ruining my life for so long and clear up the brain fog that I didn’t even know I had. Being able to run a successful award winning business, travel the country multiple times over, and do what I want with no limits is an incredible contrast to being bedridden for months and checking myself into a mental hospital at one point because one doctor decided my health problems were all in my imagination. I am here to tell you that no matter how far gone you think you are, you aren’t. There is so much health out there waiting for you to grab it and take off running.
It took a few years for me to realize that simply cutting gluten out isn’t the final answer. You can remove gluten and still feel sick - in fact this is the case for a lot of people and then they give up, thinking they’ve been misdiagnosed or this diet change doesn’t work. That’s because for MOST people there are other food sensitivities and other factors at play and for everybody out there, a healthy lifestyle requires a wholistic approach, not only paying attention to what you eat.
Here, I am going to share with you MY magic formula after years of experimenting, working at it, failing, succeeding, and finally reaching a place where I was on top of the world physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is the “magic formula” and it is ALL important. You cannot do 75% of the steps and then complain that you aren’t feeling better. You have to make a commitment to yourself that any inconvenience or cost that might arise from this is better than feeling the way that you’ve been feeling or facing the long term consequences of not making a lifestyle change. So without further ado, here is the formula.
This is the single, most important and first step on the road to being healthy. And this is where I’m going to be the hardest on you. Garbage in, garbage out. You cannot eat crap and expect to look or feel good. Here are the two most important points I want to make as far as diet goes:
1. If you are cutting out gluten because you have a diagnosis of Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity, an autoimmune disease or for whatever reason you believe that gluten is causing you issues - you MUST cut out ALL of the gluten. Not 99% of the time, not 99% of the gluten, not just 6 days a week. But all of the gluten all of the time. This includes everything you put IN yourself (food, drinks, supplements), everything you put ON yourself (lotions, hair products, makeup), and everything you touch, breathe, and come into close contact with (pet foods and treats, cooking utensils, kitchen appliances). The tiniest amount of gluten can set off the entire autoimmune reaction making you think that despite your efforts to change your diet, it is not working. This can cause a whole myriad of problems but most importantly, thinking that cutting gluten out isn’t really going to help you when it actually is. An all or nothing approach is absolutely imperative when it comes to a gluten free diet. And as much as you don’t want to believe it (because EW!) we do eat EVERYTHING in our environment including our dog’s food, our cleaning supplies, even our mascara. This is an actual real thing and once you realize it you start to become aware that a lot of what we come into contact with on a daily basis is pretty gross.
2. Gluten isn’t the only trigger for Celiac Disease, autoimmune diseases, and feeling unwell. Grains of all kinds are inflammatory. And before you start throwing all that food pyramid stuff at me I want you to realize that our food is NOT the same food that we were eating the 1970’s when that thing was devised and that our current lifestyle and health conditions call for a drastic change. I am also not saying that you need to cut out all grains forever- in many cases once you get your body to baseline and find the healthiest version of yourself, you will be able to add things back in. For myself personally I can do rice and rice only as far as grains go. Many sugars, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, and other things are inflammatory as well. I never feel as great as when I am eating a totally Paleo diet and I have NEVER met someone that ate a clean Paleo diet and didn’t see a drastic change. The wonderful thing about this too is that it is super easy to find a TON of info and inspiration online, on Pinterest, and in book stores on how to shop and eat this way. The main point is you are going to be eating meats, fruits, and veggies, and if you shop around the outer perimeter of the grocery store, that is what you’ll find. Avoid the inner aisles for the most part and focus on the outer edges and you’ll get it. Better yet, buy as much as you can at your local butcher and your farmers markets and you’ll be on fire.
*When it comes to drastically changing your diet, there are some really important things to keep in mind for success:
A) BE PREPARED. You must, must, must learn to food prep, plan ahead, and keep healthy snacks on you at all times. Otherwise you will either find yourself eating something you aren’t supposed to or crying in the frozen aisle of the grocery store looking for a quick fix and going to bed hungry. I’ll let you guess which of those I became really familiar with my first year of being gluten free. If you plan ahead you will save money, save time, and save your sanity. If you need help with food prep and planning ahead, contact me. I have this down to a science and I can help. In fact there are a few people that actually hire me to do their meal planning and food prepping for them. We can get this figured out together. Here are some of my tips for successful food prepping.
B) Stick with it. You didn’t get unhealthy overnight and you aren’t going to get healthy overnight either. Celebrate little victories and focus on the end goals. Don’t focus on what hasn’t changed (big things take bigger time) and instead focus on what does change right away. For me my brain fog and stomach aches disappeared within THREE DAYS of changing my diet. I focused on being thrilled about that instead of the fact that my blood sugar was still screwy. One thing at a time. Your body knows how to heal itself given the right tools and enough time.
I’m going to let you in on a big secret here. You don’t need a gym membership, any special equipment, a personal trainer, or expensive clothes. You don’t need a class, a friend, a program, or even a plan. This isn’t even going to cost you anything. You just need to MOVE. Every day, first thing. I don’t care if you get up early for work or you’re tired in the mornings or what your excuse is - because you don’t need an hour, you don’t even need a half hour. The point is to get your blood flowing, to get your endorphins pumping, and to get your day started in a positive direction. So wear your pajamas, I don’t care. Jog in place in your bedroom, jog around the block. Put on your favorite song and dance for 3 1/2 minutes. Whatever it takes, just MOVE. Plaster a smile on your face knowing that you are taking small step in the right direction and that future you is going to be kicking ass and thanking you. Do I want you to eventually actually put in some time and effort working out? Yes. But right now the focus isn’t weight loss, muscle gain, or carving abs of steel. The focus is to get enough endorphins going that you FEEL happy and energetic and you are ready to focus and make good decisions for the rest of the day. You can’t feel happy if you are lethargic, depressed, or generally unwell. Getting straight out of bed and moving around will help you with all of those. And you will find yourself able to move a little more each day with a little bigger of a smile. Take pride in the fact that you are doing something positive. It doesn’t matter if your steps are huge or tiny, you get to the destination one way or another as long as you are putting one foot in front of the other. I started with quick jogs to the end of the block. Yes, the end of my block. I didn’t care if the neighbors thought I was being a weenie or that it took longer to put on my running shoes than to go on the actual run - I knew my health situation and my personal goals and I was just doing what I felt comfortable with. If you’re judging me from your couch you are an asshole anyway. That little jog would get my endorphins pumping which would put me in a better mood. My appetite for healthy food and making healthy decisions went up. My energy increased which put me in a better mood which made me happier and more able to get things done, make good meals, and look forward to doing it all again the next day. Baby steps. Another great tip is to switch it up. Some days I kayak. Some days I bike. Some days I run, walk, dance naked in the kitchen, or chase my dogs around the park. As long as you’re moving you’re winning.
I hate how important this is. And I hate how much I didn’t know or believe that in the beginning. Truth be told, my health situation actually got WORSE in some ways until I got on the right vitamin and supplement routine. Don’t be like me, don’t skip this step. Any time you are changing or limiting your diet you are going to need to make sure you are supplementing. And most of the blah symptoms people feel on a daily basis do come from lack in certain areas of nutrition. While it would be ideal to get ALL of our vitamin needs from our foods, the fact of the matter is that rarely happens. So this is where supplementing comes in. Getting a basic blood panel done by your physician is a great place to start to know what areas you might be lacking in if you can. But either way I highly, highly, highly recommend the ez-melt brand of vitamins available on Amazon. Very limited ingredients and the vitamins dissolve under your tongue which allows them to go straight into your blood stream instead of waiting for your stomach to dissolve a pill (btw many of those pills never do actually get dissolved in your system which means you are literally flushing them straight down the toilet). If you can get away with one multivitamin that’s great. I can’t. Here is what I supplement daily and why:
-Klair Labs multi vitamin powder: Because it’s gluten and corn and everything I’m allergic to-free. You can mix this in water, juice, food, whatever. I’ve been known to mix it in a cocktail on the beach a time or two. Don’t judge, it’s called balance. I buy it here. My daily way of taking it is to put it in my protein bars which I eat two of per day. My recipe for those is here.
-Dr. Carlson’s vitamin D drops: Oh em gee. Being low on vitamin D is the pits. I found out I was deficient when I got depressed for absolutely no reason and had no energy. Turned out that my D and iron were though the floor. We humans need to take in BOTH forms of vitamin D - the kind you get from the sun and the kind you get from diet. They are both important. So get outside and eat your eggs and take some vitamin D drops if you need to.
-Iron: This is so important especially for women. Most women are iron deficient anyway, add in an AI disease, gastric issues and a menstrual cycle and we’re screwed. I LOVE the ez melts brand, because it dissolves under your tongue there’s no upset stomach or side effects like with other iron pills.
-Iodine: If you are cutting out table salt (going salt free or only eating sea salt, this is a thing for corn allergic folks) you are not going to be getting iodine in your diet which can result in your thyroid crashing. I used iodine drops until I found a good multi vitamin that contains iodine.
-Magnesium: THIS IS SO IMPORTANT that I thought about giving it a separate category. Most people are magenesium deficient and don’t know it because it isn’t in the regular battery of blood tests your doctor does as part of routing blood work. You can take magnesium in pill or powder form but I don’t like to because it can take a little while to find the right does for your body (i.e. the does the makes you feel better but doesn’t give you the runs). If that’s easier for you buy a bottle of Natural Calm or buy some magnesium pills. For me, I prefer to take it topically - epsom salt or magnesium flake baths (these are AMAZING) in the winter and magnesium oil the rest of the year. Here is a link with info on how to make your own magnesium oil. You can also buy it in oil or lotion form. THIS CHAGED MY LIFE. What started as a way to ease Restless Legs Syndrome ended up helping make my food and seasonal allergies actually start to go away, helped with stress and anxiety, helped with temperature regulation (although the triple digit temps would kill me at work before, now I can tolerate them fine), and many other little annoying things that I had no idea magnesium was responsible for. Just do it, you can thank me later.
-Probiotics. Now there are two ways to go about this - you can buy probiotic pills. I am not a fan of adding one more pill into my daily routine though so I opt for option #2 - fermented foods. Probiotics help to add healthy bacteria back into your gut (which is destroyed by antibiotics, stress, gut issues, and more). I always struggled to try to add them into my diet until I found out that fermented foods are natural probiotics. And they are DELICIOUS. Pickles, sauerkraut, etc. I am a huge, huge fan of Bubbles brand for my fellow clean eaters. Whole Foods, Sprouts, and New Earth Market all carry Bubbies products. You can also find them on Amazon or make your own! Saurkraut itself is very easy to make.
Nobody wants to do this, nobody likes to admit they need to. But your body and mind need to recharge. We are working all day every day at getting things done, pleasing other people, cleaning up after the dog, taking care of the kid, answering phone calls and emails, waiting fort the slow lady walking down the middle of the parking lot to get out of the way. It’s all just SO MUCH. You NEED to rest. Rest must be prioritized right there with diet and exercise. And if you can’t sleep because you are battling insomnia issues (I believe those will get better for you in time with your new healthy lifestyle) for now take a bath, read a book, lay in the dark and meditate, watch your favorite tv show or movie. Just be still and let yourself chilllll out.
We all know life is stressful and you can’t ever escape that fact. But giving yourself the tools and time to actually cope with that stress is so important. Remove any stressful things in your life that don't need to be a part of it. Read books and articles on stress reduction, meditate, rest. But also, focus on the things that you love and that make you happy. Keep a list in your mind of go-to’s for when it’s all too much or when you need to remind yourself what it’s all about. Pictures of your kids or grandkids. Favorite songs to listen to. Essential oils that make you feel happy. Memories of your favorite trip. A shopping trip for a new pair of shoes. Whatever your thing is, make sure you make time for it. Guilt free, I deserve this, I need to focus on my own health and sanity time. I’m a big believer that you need to take little time outs throughout the day every day. Don’t be miserable 6 days a week and then allow yourself happiness on one. Don’t work your ass off 11 months of the year and take a break on one. Don’t work yourself to the bone for 40 years with the idea that you can be happy when you retire after all that. All we have is this day in front of us right now and we have to do the best we can with it. Even if your happy break is only five minutes, that five minutes of happiness can set the tone for the rest of the day and can enable you to really cope with something stressful that might get thrown your way. SMILE. And the most important thing I can add for happiness is feeding your mind - there is nothing better than reading or listening to motivational words, books, speeches. I have a huge list I can recommend based on your situation of books, audiobooks, podcasts, YouTube videos. These will feed your brain and keep you motivated for positive changes and stoked on life! Look up Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and Les Brown for starters.
So that’s my “magic formula”. I’m sorry it’s not shorter or simpler and doesn’t come in pill form. But it works. If you are desperate for a change and to feel better, and you have been down every road with no success, this is a really good place to start. We all have a level of “perfect health” that we can reach for ourselves where we feel well enough that we can reach our full potential. Some of us have to work much harder than others to get to that place and that’s ok. We all have our own journey. If there’s anything I can do to help you on yours please let me know!