My Short Story Long.
I have always eaten healthy. I was always athletic and fit. I cheered at Auburn University, so you'd think I would have an easy time staying fit and looking my best. You'd think I would find a balance after graduating and no longer cheering. I should know how to workout to stay fit and I should know how to destress and not get overwhelmed.
Unfortunately... staying fit/happy/healthy/normal was nearly impossible after I graduated college and stopped cheering. I took on four jobs to support me and my new husband (who is in dental school) so I became the "breadwinner". I quickly put on ten pounds and no matter my strategy, I couldn't lose it. I became a recluse and depressed. I was working at a job that was wearing me down physically and emotionally. How was I supposed to know that I was harming my adrenals and stress response? How was I supposed to know that cutting out carbs in response to gaining weight was actually making me gain MORE weight?
(this is me on the left a few months after I got married)
HOW IT ALL BEGAN (PCOS):
-At the age of 13, I had my first period; the start of a lovely messed up cycle. I had 3 - 4 periods a year and when it came, it was like Niagara Falls. I have way too many humiliating stories from high school about my period.
-After a couple periods, I began having relentless pain every month that sent me to the hospital 3 times in a row. 1st --the doctor in the emergency room at 2:00am prescribed me laxatives and said I was constipated. 2nd -- the doctor told me I had appendicitis and the only cure was to remove my appendix (as they said "our appendixes have no use in our bodies anyways so it won't hurt remove it" which was so terribly wrong). 3rd -- the doctor told me that it actually wasn't appendicitis (my appendix showed to be normal- but of course they didn't know this until after they removed it) and that the ultrasound showed several cysts on my ovaries and one in the size of a softball. Since I wasn't menstruating monthly, these cysts never washed away and stayed on my ovaries to grow and reap havoc on my body.
-I went to the gynecologist at age 15. The doctors assured me the only cure to these cysts and irregular periods was birth control. I believed them. I was immediately thrown into a whirl of symptoms. It was obvious my body was fighting against me and the medicine.
-I gained what I liked to call "fat pockets" on my body, developed a small amount of hirituism (which I was told was normal and genetic?), I became moody and irrational, I was no longer fun or happy, and many more lovely things!
-I was so confused. I called my doctor about once a month saying that the pill wasn't working only to find two responses: 1 - give it time to work, this usually takes 3-6 months & 2 - come in and we can change your dosage.
-I cycled through those two answers until I had been on 9 different types of hormonal birth control pills, sending my body through a whirl of changes in a time where my body was already changing so much on its own.
-I actually told my doctor that I had PCOS on my first visit. But no doctor wants to take advice from a 15 yr old. I was laughed at - they said not to trust the internet, I didn't physically fit the bill, and that I should trust them in the area of my female health.
- I never brought it up again but I never forgot about it.
So, for those of you that don't know PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a chronic condition that affects 1in every 15 women. It is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with multiple small cysts on the outsides of the ovaries, due to the follicles not maturing into eggs (lack of ovulation). This may sound pretty simple but the implications of not ovulating can be overwhelming and severe. There is acne, weight gain, abnormal hair growth as well as hair loss, irregular periods, infertility, depression and anxiety, intolerance to sugar, and it can all lead to bigger issues like diabetes, cancer, and more.
(far right - three weeks into cleansing my liver and quitting the pill)
It was the spring of my junior year at Auburn University when I decided to quit birth control. I immediately did a liver cleanse to rid my body of all the built up synthetic hormones. I felt amazing just after 2 weeks of getting off the pill. Eventually, I started to shed that extra weight, my hair began to grow, my skin cleared, and I was HAPPY.
Everything was great until PCOS began sneaking back in. I have body image issues (who doesn't) and I was cheering at Auburn at the time. I was so set on staying small and only getting smaller, that I deprived my body of so many valuable nutrients it needed. I resisted sweets, carbs, and anything I thought would make me gain weight. I was working out like a maniac and doing cardio 60-90 min a day. I began slowly gaining weight in the middle of football season (detrimental to my mental well-being) and it was a long vicious cycle for months of intense restrictive dieting, forcing myself to push through long intense cardio, to bingeing and having no energy to even walk to class anymore. I was supposed to be a happy and healthy cheerleader, but I wasn't. Was I crazy? I kept telling myself that it was all because I lacked willpower. I kept blaming my body for not being able to last more than an hour on the elliptical anymore. I was so disconnected from my own body and I was so lost. February came around and I was engaged! Wilkerson and I planned to get married in a short 5 months (which was awesome) to ensure we were married before he started dental school and moved. My health was put on the back burner and I dove into planning and losing weight and trying to figure out how I was going to handle all the craziness of the next few months.
The pressure just kept adding on. As did the weight. I became super obsessive about my diet and wore myself out trying to workout. No matter how many times I tried, I could never workout like I used to. My body was screaming at me to stop. But I couldn't... I was getting married and I had to look perfect. I tried every trick in the book to lose weight and nothing was working. I had completely cut out carbs and was living off veggies, protein, and water.
My fiancé had also freaked out about what we would do about sex on the honeymoon considering I wasn't on the pill anymore. I felt a lot of pressure to get back on the pill.. not just from him, but just because it was the norm and it seemed like everyone I knew did it. My body had had enough of that though and two weeks after getting back on the pill, I had a panic attack. I almost wrecked my car because I didn't want to get married. I couldn't breathe and I felt like my mind was split into two people arguing back and forth. I was seeing hallucinations and I thought I was crazy. Praise the good Lord above for my sweet mother who encouraged me (or rather - yelled at me) to stop the medicine. It was a miracle... ONE DAY after being off the pills, I was better. No more thoughts, no more split personality, no more anxiety. This was also two weeks before the wedding so good thing I had thrown my body into another whirlwind, right? One week before the wedding, the seamstress for my wedding dress told me I needed to stop eating until my wedding if I wanted to fit in my dress. Cool - that's what a bride wants to hear on the week of her wedding. That comment wrecked my world and I starved myself that week.
By the grace of God, the dress fit and the wedding was a dream, but the aftermath of starvation and exhaustion hit on our wedding night. I fell asleep on the way to our hotel. I got so sick, we had to leave at 3am the next morning just so we could get some medicine before our flight took off. I pushed my body through the week and ignored all of the signs it was giving me. We came back and spent our first month of marriage living 2.5 hours apart. I was alone again and still so so lost. My body was exhausted and the more I pushed and restricted, the more my body retained weight. I finally moved in a month later and the next couple of months would prove to be the hardest I have ever experienced.
I gained that 10-15 pounds. My hirituism increased. I was depressed. I had anxiety about seeing anyone I knew. My adrenals were fatigued. I was losing my hair. I was getting hormonal acne. My body was desperately trying to get my attention.
(I am on the left -- and as you can tell, my weight is incredibly inconsistent - only getting "better" when I starved and exercised excessively -- which lead to even more weight gain)
I have done a lot of research on the effects of food on our bodies and have been especially interested in nutrition in infants, as that is the leading cause of developmental delays, autism, learning disabilities, etc. I was not eating processed foods and was very wary about what went into my body. I cooked super healthy meals for me and my husband and we got a super nice water filter. Just through talking to Will about the effects of food, he was almost all in on not eating processed carbs, sugary foods, dairy, etc. Will has always struggled with acne and could never figure out why or a strong enough cleanser to help. Within two months of eating whole foods, his acne had cleared and has not returned since! Amongst my research in healing children with autism with a specific diet and watching Will's acne disappear, I decided to research what I could do to eat for my hormones.
This is where I began to appreciate my body and the foods of the earth that God has given us to thrive on. I began looking at foods that would help regulate my blood sugar and reverse PCOS. This has been a process since the majority of the western world and the medical world sees the pill as the only help. The more I researched PCOS, the more I cared and became terrified reading that it leads to increased chance of breast cancer (which my mother already had), increased risk of endometrial and ovarian cancer, high risk of diabetes, heart attack, and hypertension.
I prayed and prayed that God would show me the best way to heal myself and this is where it gets better! I studied whole foods and hormones, bought several books, and started eating for each phase of my cycle.
Shortly after, I enrolled to take a year long program to become a certified Holistic Health Coach for Integrative Nutrition from IIN.
In just five months of this program and researching through their libraries about women's health, hormones, weight loss, etc., I have have a period for each month - each 31 days apart. I have lost 10 pounds of the weight I gained (still more to go) but taking it slow due to my adrenal health and obsessive nature with food and exercise! I have broken my depression and love myself in the sense of who God sees me. He has formulated this whole plan for me. As much as I hate every little issue that I had to face, I am so glad to have experience with them all. I know anxiety and depression, loneliness, eating disorders, obsessive nature, body hatred, hormonal imbalances, inflammation and psoriasis, weight gain, etc. I want to help others find their own health that they create and nurture with God's love.
I went to a new gynecologist who diagnosed me with PCOS before she even ran a blood test. She told me birth control would alleviate my symptoms but respected my decision to not get back on the pill. She told me that it would be nothing short of a miracle to consider having kids down the road and that becoming healthy will be an uphill battle. PCOS has no cure, but I have found healing in balancing hormones and all the areas of my life. God had worked miracles in just half a year and I know they will only continue. I rebuke any negative thought about my health that is not from the Lord. If I am to not have children, it will come from Him, not a blood test. I believe in His miracles and provisions. I will continue to believe and trust in His goodness.
I am not fully healed, but I know how to work with my body. I know what it needs when something isn't feeling right. I know my triggers and I know how to prevent them. I use the research from my class libraries to find the best way to heal hormones. I have been studying lectures from my husband's dental school classes on adrenal function, hormones, hematology, and fat cells and learning so much more about the intricacies of our one and only body! I am finally treating this body as God's holy temple and I fully intend to use it for His good and glory.
With all of this, I am now certified and am excited to be working with people on finding their own healing!
But for now, this is me - this is why I am here - and what I am working towards. If you want a free consultation to see if I would be able to help you, just email me!! I would love to hear from you!