Hey LSK readers!
Melissa, here- Lauren’s friend and blog contributor! When Lo asked me to share this story with ya’ll on the blog, I was so excited and thankful for the opportunity. As you know, health and wellness are at the heart of LSK! My wellness journey and migration toward mostly clean living started several years ago, but I have learned SO much through Lo in the past couple of years, especially through the creation of her Clean Sweep Program. It’s SUCH an incredible resource for everyone who is on their own wellness journey. Speaking of wellness journeys, my health took a major turn south this past March. When symptoms set in and I started to feel very unlike my normal self, I was shocked and a little scared since I have always felt “good” and am pretty healthy.
Without boring you with too many details, I basically all of a sudden felt awful. With what I now can clearly see as the perfect storm of bad allergy season in Maryland, high stress, delayed response to emotional trauma, not fueling my body with the proper nutrients, not resting enough + a very busy schedule, I was left feeling completely depleted and pretty convinced that I was going to receive a diagnosis of some kind. When it came to symptoms, here is the summary: one morning and almost all at once, I experienced extreme fatigue, daily headaches, major moodiness and emotional rollercoasters, bouts of depression and anxiety, an extremely irregular menstrual cycle (when I am ALWAYS a 28 day cycle), constant digestive struggles, incredibly bad brain fog, muscle weakness, some tingling in my feet and hands, body aches, sinus problems, dizziness, and probably a few more things that I have mentally blocked out. These symptoms came in waves of intensity, on and off, but occurred on most days over the course of four months, leaving me in a pretty consistent feeling of being unwell.
After MANY frustrating doctor’s appointments including an anti-anxiety prescription that I never filled, a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy that appeared fine, a negative celiac test, and a negative lyme disease test, I felt answerless and frustrated. Then came a life changing statement from a very well-respected doctor here in Maryland that my brother had recently become connected with through work. He told the doctor all my symptoms and his advice? Stop eating gluten and pray. Despite testing negative for celiacs, he still thought eliminating gluten could help me. It’s worth noting, too, that he referred me to an amazing endocrinologist to rule out autoimmune and thyroid issues as well. Again, everything came back fine. Blood tests did show though that I was on the low end of some important nutrients, including iron.
On July 4th, I stopped eating gluten and stepped up my prayer game when it came to my health, telling the Lord that I surrendered to not feeling good right now and trusted that this season of feeling so bad was temporary. I spoke my trust that He would lead me to green pastures of feeling healthy again. I spoke it and prayed it until I really believed it. A week after cutting out gluten, the thought came to me that I needed to supplement my diet since I had cut out some foods. Side note: months ago when I first told my wise and loving older brother, Doug, that I didn’t feel well, he semi-sarcastically (but mostly seriously) told me to go eat a steak. I laughed because I didn’t eat red meat and hadn’t for years. He told me the same thing again (and again!) and finally one day I listened. I walked over to Whole Foods, bought a grass-fed tenderloin and cooked it in my cast iron skillet in ghee. And it made me feel good. My stomach didn’t even flinch after close to 10 years of not eating red meat. In fact, I felt like my body was literally soaking it up. Note: it was grass-fed, high quality, and well-sourced meat, of course, but at that moment I started to regularly incorporate red meat in my diet.
Also, I started to really pay attention to my protein intake in general from red meat, to chicken, to fish, to plant protein powder, and more. I apparently missed the protein train along the way and am pretty positive that for years, on most days, I was not getting enough protein to fuel my busy days. How insane is that!? Essentially, I was felt like I was running on E and I pretty much was. Now, I consciously make sure I am getting adequate amounts of protein (from quality sources) at every meal. Important to note, this remedy might not be for everyone and I am not a doctor! What works for me might not work for you, but there is power in sharing our stories of healing and figuring out our own personal health stuff. Every situation is different and every body is different, but hearing stories of healing is inspiring and empowering.
To summarize: removing gluten and increasing protein has made a world of difference in my life. All of the symptoms I listed earlier have literally disappeared…all of them, including my irregular menstrual cycle (within a month of the diet change) + a lifelong rash I’ve had on the back of my arms…poof, gone. Even more than all of that good news, I feel better than I ever have before: strong, happy, healthy, sharp, positive, calm, and equipped to take on the challenges of life. The photos in this post are from a trip to Aspen, Colorado that I took in August; once I was feeling like my new, strong, healthy self!
Whatever you might be going through health wise, I pray that you find people in your life to help you get good advice. I pray that you give yourself time to figure it out for you. And I hope this story, plus Lauren’s Clean Sweep program, encourages you that food is powerful and medicinal. Food is not always the answer of course, but in my case and many cases it is. Explore what foods you are fueling yourself with and see where the journey takes you. It might just surprise you and lead you to feeling better than ever before.
Thanks for reading 🙂 xo, Melissa.