After decades of struggling with chronic health conditions – easy weight gain, digestive issues, a racing mind, brain fog (difficulty focusing on tasks), chronic fatigue, and a nagging under-current of stress I just couldn't shake – I ffinally got to the core of what was wrong.
Every traditional doctor I saw over the years said my lab tests were all in the normal range, and they had no idea why I wasn't feeling good. When I pushed the question about my weight struggles I was basically told "calories in versus calories out," meaning I wasn't exercising enough and must've been eating too many calories. So for years I busted my ass counting calories, logging my food, practicing portion control, starving myself, and upping my exercise.
In June of 2015 I finally found Dr. Michael Johnson, a functional medicine doctor. At the time I met him I'd been working out hardcore 6 days a week (high-impact cardio, running, and doing CrossFit). I was feeling exhausted all the time and completely frustrated because I knew deep down that something wasn't right.
Following a slew of extensive tests, Dr. Johnson diagnosed me with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism and adrenal burnout. I suspected I had hypothyroidism because that runs in my family, but I'd never heard of Hashimoto's (Hashi's for short) before. Hashi's is an autoimmune disorder that can be genetic, triggered by extreme stress, or both. And my adrenal burnout was from consistently pushing myself so hard.
To manage my Hashi's and heal my adrenals, I had to make some drastic changes to my lifestyle if I ever wanted to feel better again. Some changes were temporary, while others would need to be permanent.
The first thing I needed to do was stop working out so I could allow my body adequate time to rest. I was able to go for walks and could do low-impact cardio, like Zumba Gold, but I needed to step away from CrossFit and running. As soon as I accepted that I needed to take a break from exercising so much, I felt a huge sense of relief.
The scariest part was that I needed to make drastic changes to my diet. Due to how my body processes foods, I could no longer eat grains (wheat, rice, quinoa), corn, soy, dairy, or gluten, and I'd need to eat a Paleo diet to help heal my body.
At first I thought, "this doesn't sound so bad." But later that day when I went to the grocery store, I began to panic. Do you know how much packaged, canned, and jarred food contains grains, corn, soy, dairy, or gluten? Basically everything!! I stood in the "organic" isle of my local grocery store at 2pm on a Tuesday afternoon and started to cry. The thought that was stuck in my head was, "What the hell was I going to be able to eat?"
Where I'm At Today
Fast forward over a year, and I've successfully transitioned to the Paleo diet and am enjoying eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, seafood, nuts and seeds. I'm also beginning to step back into working out again. What out Zumba, here I come!
I feel so much better now! I'm no longer exhausted all the time. My brain fog is gone. I no longer have digestive issues. And that under-current of stress....yeah, that's long gone too!
The extreme stress I dealt with in my emotionally abusive first marriage and my family history both ultimately led to my diagnosis. And while that sucks, I'm so grateful that I found a functional medicine doctor who's been able to help me get my health under control again!