Diet, Food and Fitness.. Oh my!


The food I eat {my diet} is always evolving, I used to eat PB&J everyday, or survive on grilled cheese and Luna bars. The past couple years I have eating more healthy with a larger variety of menu options including grilled chicken, bacon, protein bars, cereal, toast, fruit, some salads, large amounts of ice cream and McDonald’s runs. Despite this so-called variety, my health and body had basically deteriorated into a painful, inflamed, tired, pile of sadness. I tried many different workout programs and macro-nutrient formulas, but it would still always end in the same thing, injury, joint pain, fatigue, and no physical changes, along with a slew of other worsening random symptoms including eye bags, rashes, insomnia, anxiety, night terrors, prolonged napping, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, joint swelling, dry eyes, dry throat, headache, coughing, confusion, brain fog, canker sores, memory loss, dry skin and chest pain. Of course I visited a number of doctors and was sent to numerous physical therapists; my acute injury would get better but the constant joint pain wouldn’t go away. I tried stretching, yoga, massage, Epsom salt baths, heat and ice therapy, walking, exercising more, exercising less, taking a break, vitamins, supplements, foam rollers, trigger point therapy, topical gels, compression wraps, stability braces, and nothing helped. The pain started in my hip-joint, then added my ankle. Then the pain was creeping from being two joints that I was tolerating, to two more joints that I needed all day for my job; my wrist/hand and my elbow. More doctors and blood work was done, but all that I could find was a mild anemia, which I started taking Iron for; The iron slightly helped the dark circles under my eyes, but not the bags. My wrist and ankle joint then started getting fluid over them. A small grade swelling, just enough to cause me discomfort. All the while I was still eating my chicken and veggie dinners, the next day followed my fast food, another night pizza; breakfast was toast or oatmeal; maybe a protein bar or sandwich for lunch; with Ice cream some days for dessert.

Without any help from doctors, I decided to research google for hours until I found something. Thus, I stumbled upon the Autoimmune Paleo Diet {read my intro to Paleo that explains what Paleo is, what to eat and what to avoid, here}. Even though my blood test was coming back negative for an autoimmune condition, that did not necessarily rule out that I was heading in that direction. I found an extensive amount of information with this book:The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body , on how food can be highly correlated with all of these symptoms that I was having and also that exercise/lifestyle have an influence. At this point I was in too much pain and wasn’t exercising anymore, even though I knew I needed to. So to sum myself up at this point: Sedentary + Crappy food {processed, high sugar, lots of grains, lots of gluten} + Stress = Me a big painful, unhappy, fatigued, moody lady= Hot mess. My poor husband, bless his soul for always supporting me. The good part about all of this was that I COULD change it, I could change my diet and exercise and feel better, yay!

While I would love to tell you that I started the AIP diet and did it exactly and was perfect and here I am 100% happy and healthy, unfortunately I am human and still learning, and it did not happen in this magically wonderful way. I did indeed start the AIP diet and I followed it perfectly for 70 days {the longest I’ve ever stuck to anything!}. At first it was very difficult to figure out what I could eat because it is meant to be a very restrictive diet so that your body can heal. The first week or two I felt just as bad, maybe even a little worse than before starting, but by the third week I was starting to see improvements. At 40 days I was feeling great, about 75% of my symptoms had disappeared. The joint pain was still there but not at bad. At 60 days, I would say 96% of my symptoms were gone, I wasn’t napping all day, I could sleep at night, my joints stopped hurting unless I was in an extremely stressful situation they would flare for the duration, I had energy to clean the house, my skin looked better, I wasn’t having pressure rashes, the bags under my eyes were gone, I could walk in my yard and not be out of breath, the swelling in my joints was gone, my brain fog was gone, I could think clearly again, I could spell again, my eyes and throat were not dry anymore, my nightmares and shaking was gone, I even had lost 10 lbs and I was happy again. The rainbows were out, and I was ecstatic.

I was very nervous about reintroducing food on the AIP diet, because I knew I had a portion problem/craving problem. Really I had a major ice cream problem. So I didn’t really want to add anything back, in fear of all my symptoms coming back because I went off the deep end and ate a whole pizza instead of 1 slice. Unfortunately, the AIP diet for me was not very sustainable, with the lifestyle I had at the time. I had just changed jobs and my hours went through the roof, and the job its self was very stressful. Maybe I got comfortable with where I was at and got a little lazy in making/planning meals, after working all day and being physically and mentally exhausted by the time I got home. My anxiety was through the roof which snowballed into 1 dinner being a “treat/reward” as my husband called it, into 5 weeks of struggling.

In this painful 5 weeks, I did learn a lot {the hard way}. The first two weeks we ate whatever we want, we got pizza, donuts, ice cream, McDonald’s, whatever we felt like. By the third week I was absolutely miserable, with all my old symptoms back. Obviously whatever was going on inside of me was directly related to food. I had a clue that maybe gluten was involved. Every time I ate something with bread, or wheat, I noticed my symptoms immediately came back, and were worse than other foods. SO, I got this great idea, okay cool, maybe it’s just gluten that is the culprit {totally throwing out the window all the awesome knowledge I had learned about other grains, processed foods, sweeteners and legumes, effect on the body} and that I could eat whatever else I wanted as long as it wasn’t gluten and my symptoms would disappear and I could keep eating Ice cream the rest of my life, win! So, the fourth week, that is exactly what I did. We ate McDonald’s, but I didn’t eat the bun { you’re laughing at me aren’t you?} I bought pizza, but it was gluten-free! I ate ice cream, but it didn’t have anything gluten in it. Well by the end of the 4th week, let me tell you, I realized how idiotic I was being and that gluten yes was giving me issues, but I was still getting terrible joint pain, so something else was causing an issue.

At the end of the 5th week deep down I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to eat processed food anymore, Reese’s had to go, Ice cream runs at 9 pm couldn’t happen anymore, cheese cake without gluten was still a no no, and coca cola was a no go too. Honestly I was hoping that it was just gluten so that I could still enjoy my gluten-free cake and eat it too. It made me sad to think that when I go to my sister-in-laws wedding, I wont be able to eat their cake, or whatever snacks they have floating around, that I would always feel like that odd one out at family functions. Like I was standing on the sideline, watching the game, so close, but never taking part in the fun. That sounded so CRAPPY to me, BUT I knew with all the information I had read about the Paleo diet, and the results I had seen on AIP, if I wanted to live a life pain-free, with energy to greet my husband, and endurance to walk my dogs or clean my house, I was going to have to really stick to my guns and be Paleo FOREVER. Maybe the “rules” wouldn’t always be the same or the same for me. Everyone is different, some people can still have dairy, or peanuts, and I would learn what I could and could not tolerate.

Which brings me to today, I’ve come to realize that yes, I am going to have to fight off the desire to eat the whole pizza my husband brings home from work, and it is going to be difficult to not worry about the weird looks and questions I get about why I’m not eating that wedding cake or birthday cake. I will have to feel like the odd one out when I go to dinner with my family and they order a crispy chicken sandwich on a pretzel bun with french fries and coke, and I order a salad. It will be hard to plan out what I am going to eat on a 5 day camping trip with my parents and bring my own food.People may make comments about me, question or make jokes about me and my food, BUT I really have to do what I know is right and will keep me healthy. It is a hard choice to make, but I know that I will have more energy to serve other people and God. I know that I have been assigned this difficult task to show you guys that it can be done, you can do what you need to, you can get healthy, you can overcome your intense love for ice cream, you can get rid of all of your pain and stop calling the pizza place on Friday nights. I had years of ingrained bad eating habits, and unhealthy cravings for harmful foods, but I’m here to be an example for you, that this is REAL life and you can do what you need to.

Processed food is plain bad for your body, gluten and grains are inflammatory, high sugar foods are not good for you either, I could list endless reasons why, but deep down I’m sure you know that the deli meat sandwich and take out you ate yesterday, are not optimal. If you are interested in the science behind this, I highly recommend The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne. There are chapters of loaded information and a wealth of knowledge about food and how it works in the body. Unfortunately, most people do still eat processed food and order take out. You probably will feel funny busting open your home-made lunch when the company orders Jimmy Johns or Olive Garden for their lunch-in, but don’t let that stop you, do what is best for you {only you know what that is}, and don’t worry about those funny looks, you probably won’t remember them, but you will remember derailing your diet for the 20th time and not lose the weight you wanted to for the 5th year in a row, and your joint pain will promptly remind you of your lack of exercise, or slip up of eating donuts. If you feel lonely in your journey, cling to the one that is always there with you, God; keep going and lead by example, the people around you might follow when they see your results, but if not, there are endless blogs, books, Instagram accounts and webpages with information and people in the community. Don’t conform to the ways of the world. Even if you feel pressured by other people, or even your own cravings, make a decision to live above your feelings and emotions, and make the right decision, everyday, consistently.


“Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate {spacious and broad} is the way that leads to destruction and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow {contracted by pressure} and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it” Matthew 7:13-14


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