Over the past four years, my life has changed more than I can really put into words. Like, WHOA! The current 30 year-old version of me is a woman who loves to cook, test new recipes, teach others about real food, read health blogs, make homemade bone broth, cares deeply about where my food comes from, and dreams of visiting farms (because farmers are the coolest!)!
The 21 year old version of me is like – LOL
Seriously though, I think about the person I’ve become, and my mind is often blown. But, you know what? I’m really, really proud of who I am. I’m now at a place where I truly love the life that I live. I stand behind what I believe in, and I’m very fortunate, because I’ve learned at a young age what it really means to take care of myself. I’ve learned just how precious my health is, and how much control we really have over our own lives. I feel very blessed to have learned these lessons before it was too late.
February 4th marks a really special day for me. It’s the day my life was forever changed for multiple reasons: both four years ago, and two years ago. Four years ago, on February 4th 2011, I had a major surgery to have my entire large intestine (colon) removed, and two years ago (February 4th 2013) is the day that I dove in to a paleo lifestyle, and I never looked back. Although I didn’t realize these two dates were the same at the time, they’ll always hold a very special meaning in my heart.
Recently, my husband (Mike) was telling me how physically strong I’ve become. He’s been getting around mostly on crutches since his knee surgery, so I’ve been carrying all of our heavy bags while we’re at the farmers market. Just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this, as I was too weak, and lacked the energy. It’s amazing just how much my life has changed, as I used to spend so much of my time in bed, due to being sick. Well, not anymore!!
Through struggle and hardship, life has taught me some incredibly valuable lessons. Here are my top five important lessons that I’ve learned over the past four years, that I would love to share with you:
- Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Take care of yourself now. Like right now. The most important lesson I’ve learned is my number one lesson for you.
Don’t let what happened to me, happen to you.
I never thought that I would get as sick as I did. I never thought that I would have my entire large intestine removed. I never thought the medications I took would destroy my immune system. None of this is what I had planned for my life.
I’m here as a warning for what could happen.
I know, I know – but it won’t be you. Right? That’s what I said too.
Far too often, I’ll hear someone say that they’ll only change their lifestyle/diet once they feel they need to (AKA once they get sick). It pains me to hear this, as I know what it’s like on the other side. No one ever thinks it’s going to be them. Preventing disease is FAR easier than treating disease. So find your motivation and start taking small steps towards a healthier future.
I never realized how powerful food could be, and that what I was eating was preventing my body from healing itself. Just a couple years ago, I’d never even heard of leaky gut syndrome! It’s not like I would eat a piece of bread and feel awful, it’s that I never really felt great, because I was eating gluten and grains everyday. You really don’t know what works for your body until you completely cut it out. I didn’t believe in the power of real food until it changed my entire world, and gave me my life back. Now I see food as the most powerful tool anyone can use to change their own life.
- Do Your Own Research
No matter what it is, if you care about it, research anything and everything you can, and form your own opinion. Don’t just listen to what your doctor says, or what an article on the Internet says, and run with it. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is that I only ever listened to my doctors, and I didn’t do my own research.
I don’t blame my doctors whatsoever for what happened to me. I had the very best doctors who cared so much for me. I’m very thankful for them and all that they did to help me. They did the best they could, with the tools that they had; they simply work for a system that desperately needs to evolve. I don’t blame them or anyone for how sick I became. It’s no ones fault, I just didn’t know any better back then. Once I knew better, I did better. I strive to learn all that I can, because knowledge is power. I now make educated decisions about everything that I do.
- Let Go of The Fear of Failure
This is a big one for me. I’ve had to push through incredible amounts of fear just to get to where I’m at today. It’s not easy, and fear can feel so real, that it stops you dead in your tracks. It can stop you from achieving your dreams and doing the things you want to do in life, but only if you let it.
Fear is not real. It’s an emotion that we create within ourselves when we think about a future possibility that does not yet exist. Fear is a choice. Amazing things happen when you push past your fears and keep moving towards your goals.
If I’d given up every time fear had crept in, I promise you, I’d never even have a blog. Putting yourself out there to be judged by the world isn’t easy, but I do it anyway, because I want to make this world a better place. I do my best to become a better version of myself, each and every day.
Ask yourself what it is that’s stopping you from achieving all that you want from life? If it’s fear of failure – fear of whatever – let it go. If we all waited until we were ready to try something new, odds are, we’d never get started. Life is too short to not absolutely love what you do. Start taking steps towards your goals, and love the life you live!
- Healing Doesn’t Always Happen Overnight
Real, lasting change, takes time. My story is a miracle, and it shows the incredible power of the food that you put into your body, but it didn’t happen overnight. Healing takes patience, something many of us aren’t accustomed to, as far too often, doctors will hand you that “quick fix” pill. The only problem is, that pill always comes with a price.
Although I noticed a dramatic change in my health within a short period of time once I changed my diet, that doesn’t mean that every symptom I’ve ever had just went away. There is no quick fix pill, and there is no magic wand, but I’m okay with that. Medications come with a price that I’m no longer willing to pay. Real food, on the other hand, comes with powerful health benefits and lasting change. Your body will thank you!
Each and every day that I continue to eat healthy, and make the effort to “slow down,” my healing reaches a much deeper level. It’s been two years since I changed my diet, and although I feel amazing, I know that my body still has a ways to go. I now work with a functional medicine practitioner, who’s been a huge help in taking my health to a much greater level. Healing comes in many different forms; don’t be afraid of experimenting to find out what works best for you!
- Stop Trying to Be Perfect
Adhering to a paleo based diet completely changed my life, but what started out as a strict “follow-the-rules” way of eating, has evolved into a lifestyle that’s really easy to follow. The real beauty of it is, I now know what works for my body, and what doesn’t. Now, I just eat real food!
I had someone attack me on social media a few weeks ago because I was eating an Epic Bar. It was their belief that because it was packaged, it wasn’t “paleo.” It’s a grassfed beef jerky bar.
It’s comments like that, that make you realize that you can’t please everyone. The harder you strive to be perfect, the more you’ll drive yourself insane. Just because I’m eating or doing something that someone else doesn’t agree with, doesn’t make my choice wrong. The same goes for you, do what makes you feel your best! As long as you aren’t hurting anyone, forget the haters and keep doing your thing! If you want to, you’ll figure out what works for you!
Life can be such a strange, challenging, and trying journey at times, and I’m here to show you that there can be another way to healing. Eating real food and getting rid of the junk… now that’s a great place to start! If you are struggling, keep fighting, and most importantly, never, ever give up. It WILL be worth it!