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I’ll never forget the day that my husband had to lift me off of the toilet because I couldn’t move. The pain was excruciating, and even the smallest movements resulted in my cries of agony. It was a very humbling moment, to say the least. The problem was with my hips… they hurt terribly, and nothing I tried was helping. It was, no doubt, the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life! Doctors were of no help… My general practitioner knew that this was beyond his scope of practice, so he suggested a rheumatologist. Unfortunately, none would see me because my blood work didn’t show any signs of RA, and apparently, that is a requirement to even be evaluated for any other autoimmune diseases. (I know this isn’t 100% true, but it is what I was told.) The orthopedist said I had spinal stenosis and arthritis in my lower back. This was after an earlier diagnosis of piriformis syndrome, which turned out to be incorrect. The neurosurgeon he sent me to saw none of that and informed me that I was, in fact, perfectly fine. There was nothing he could or would do to help. But the pain was real, and I desperately needed relief!
Around the same time, I learned that my friend, Katie from Basil & White, was a nutritionist with a particular interest in autoimmune diseases and inflammation. I knew that inflammation was a major problem for me, and after dealing with multiple doctors who were of no help, I was eager to learn everything that Katie knew. So I sent her a message, explaining my situation, and patiently waited for a response. I was beyond excited to hear back. She recommended a book for me to read, and said that we would get through this together. At the time, I was very discouraged. I was getting more depressed with every passing day, and wanted so badly for the pain to go away. Her response was just exactly what I needed emotionally. So I immediately bought the book that she recommended, and devoured it. This was the beginning of a journey that would change my life.
The book, It Starts With Food, by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig was very eye-opening, and inspired me to change to a Paleo diet, starting with their The Whole30 plan. I learned that most of the foods I was eating were contributing to my problems, and making a change was the best next step. So, I hired Katie to help me, and we set to work. The plan was to cut five things from my diet: sugar, gluten, dairy, grains, and legumes. It was overwhelming at first, trying to find what I could and couldn’t eat, but I learned really quickly where to find the foods that I needed. Plus, having a nutritionist by my side for support was key to helping me stay on track. The next few weeks brought drastic changes to my health.
* Brain fog disappeared! The first difference came after about a week. I woke up one morning and my mind was actually clear! For years, I had lived in a state of fogginess. It was almost as if a cloud was hovering around my head. I was forgetful, and had a difficult time with focus. But on this day, I was able to think clearly, and it was a huge relief to have that heavy cloud lifted from my head.
* I had more energy! A few weeks before I started this diet, I remember telling my sister that I couldn’t understand where people got so much energy. I was always tired, and had to drag myself through the long, exhausting days. Some days, I could do little more than the bare minimum, and I was done. I napped frequently, and when given the opportunity, I would sleep all day. The thing is, I was not lazy! I was truly trying to do better, but I just didn’t have it in me. So I was amazed to suddenly have more energy! I wanted to do *all* the things, and it was exciting!
* My skin has cleared up! I have very sensitive skin anyway, but eating unhealthy foods had really taken a toll. Changing my diet made a huge difference for my skin. The biggest difference has been that the eczema is almost gone. It had spread all over my chin, neck, and back. Honestly, It was embarrassing! But today, I only have a tiny patch on my chin, and it is easily manageable with skin care products. Most people can’t even tell it’s there!
* I lost weight! Okay, so weight loss hasn’t been huge. I have lost an average of about a pound a week, and have been doing this for about six weeks, so I’m down six pounds. Honestly, I really don’t care how slow the weight comes off. As long as I’m seeing progress, I’m good with it. The reality is that if you lose a pound a week, you will have lost 52 pounds in a year. The year will pass anyway, so I am being productive with the time and bettering my health.
* My pain is almost completely gone! The truth is that it may never go away completely, but I can live with mild back pain. What I can’t live with is constant level 10/10 pain; the kind of pain that prevents me from walking. This diet has taken all of that away. My hips are better than ever, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be free from the burden of being stuck in a chair while having everyone else wait on me. I have been able to finally work on some yoga stretching, and in the next couple of months, I plan to join a local gym and start working out. I’m going slow, but continuing onward toward perfect health is my goal.
Has this change been difficult? In some ways, yes. The first week was the hardest, as I was detoxing from all of the sugars and unhealthy stuff I had been feeding my body. Since then, I do sometimes have random cravings, mostly for chocolate and for soda. I have refused to give in though. I feel so much better that it wouldn’t be worth it for me to make the choice to go back. I like feeling this awesome, and cheating isn’t an option!
What do I recommend for you? Read Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s books, It Starts With Food, and The Whole30! When you have finished those, I highly recommend reading The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, by Robb Wolf. A good friend recommended it, and it has been invaluable to me and my education about eating a Paleo diet.
Can you do this? YES! YES! YES! Yes, you can! And I highly recommend it! I very strongly believe that eating this way will change anyone’s life. But you have to actually do it! Follow the plan and don’t cheat, even in the smallest way. You will be amazed at the difference it will make!