I never cease to be amazed at how much things and people change over time. One day something that means so much to you right now may not even be a blip on your radar a year from now. Then there are things that will transform your life and you never see it coming.
When I look back at who I was 7 years ago, I was so naive about how difficult life could be. Until suddenly my husband was diagnosed with cancer and everything changed. Our lives were dramatically altered in the blink of an eye. He was 28 years old. We had two little girls, one was three and the other a 13 month old baby. He was supposed to come home from his doctor appointment and say he just had kidney stones. I wasn’t prepared to hear him say the words “I have a 4 inch cancerous mass in my abdomen”. Those words, they shifted the course of our life. I can still feel all the emotions, and picture his face as he dropped to his knees, grabbed our daughters and held them close. He looked up at me with a tear stained, panic stricken face and repeated those words to me. It was the scariest year we have ever faced. Multiple surgeries, months of chemo, hundreds of blood tests, and countless CT scans. Cancer consumes your life and makes you view things in a different light. I thank God every, single, day that he is now cancer free and thriving.
So much was taken away from us during that year though. Yet, so much was given to us. It’s funny how that works. God always has a plan for everything. We lost the freedom of our youth and the freedom to be naive about how difficult life can be. We lost so much more, things that are just too personal to even put into words. The gains though, those things, they make the battle a little easier. We gained the ability to live life like there is no tomorrow. While at the same time, knowing the vital importance of also planning for tomorrow. When you face a battle such as cancer, you tend to view life differently. You realize how short life is and you truly appreciate the time you have a little more.
As years went on, we got busy with life and let some of our healthier habits slip. I was still very conscious of cleaning supplies and things we used in our home but when it came to food I personally lost my focus from “healthy” to wanting to be “skinny”. If I could go back in time and beat myself with a big stick for that, I’d do it in a heartbeat. The ironic thing is I had somehow convinced myself that skinny equated to healthy. Thinking if I cut my calories to a measly 1,200 a day I would achieve some stellar level of health. Oh how wrong I was!! I ate well enough, but definitely not enough, and not enough of the right things. Sure, I lost a lot of weight, but I also had no energy. I suffered from almost daily migraines, and my joints started to ache. So much so that I couldn’t even function enough to lift my child out of our truck and almost dropped her one day. It was at that moment that I started to fear what was happening to me. The weight I lost had crept back on and I even gained back more weight than I had started with. I was miserable with my body and even more so with how I felt physically.
I went to doctor after doctor. Eventually I was diagnosed with multiple nutrient deficiencies. I was given scrips for them and it helped me feel a little better, but I naively thought that it would solve all my problems. WRONG! Sure, it helped for a short period of time. Until things slowly got worse. I didn’t realize how bad I was until just day to day functioning was out of the range of things I could do. I felt like my body was on a roller coaster of symptoms. The whole time all this was going on I was so concerned with being thin that it never occurred to me that could’ve been big part of my problem. I had quite literally starved my body of the nutrients it so desperately needed to survive.
Then the day came that I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I will forever remember that day. Driving home, I cried so hard that I couldn’t see the road. I knew enough to know, this would be something I would face for the rest of my life. Autoimmune disease (AI) is where your body self attacks in some way. You can put autoimmune disease into remission but you still always have it. To top that off, once you have one AI you are three times more likely to trigger another autoimmune disease. One that could be life threatening. After having been through one very serious health battle in our family, I refused to put my family through it again. Those are not odds I am willing to take.
Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them. The cancer diagnosis, the autoimmune diagnosis, news of a miscarriage, or loss of a loved one. We never see it coming. We get so caught up in the unimportant things of life that we often forget what really matters. That was the day that I decided to start living the Paleo lifestyle and I never looked back.
This isn’t a blog post about how amazing Paleo is. (It is though so don’t get me wrong!!) This post, is about a wake-up call. The wake-up call to anyone reading it who thinks that the key to feeling great is getting skinny, or that being thin is the answer, or that losing tons of weight will automatically mean healthy. Working out is amazing, I will never discount that. But you can work out all day long and still die of a massive heart attack, colon cancer, or multiple sclerosis if you don’t first care about the food that goes into your mouth.
There are so many products on the market right now with sales pitches to lose weight and look great by replacing meals with shakes, and so on. I’m not at all trying to single anyone or any certain thing out. Quite simply, my heart breaks at the thought of anyone having to hear the words “you have cancer” or “you have an autoimmune disease”. As I sit here and type this, I have hot tears streaming down my face, my emotions run strong. If there is one thing I could tell someone and pray that they heard it deep in their soul, it would be this….
Don’t ever lose focus on being healthy first, by putting your health at risk for your physical appearance.
Because one day you may be like me, and look back and want to kick yourself for being so ignorant.
Here’s the kicker. When I stopped putting so much focus on how I looked, and I solely focused on my health, all the weight I had gained melted off without effort. I started to love my body. Not for what it looks like, but for what it does for me. I can wake up and step painlessly out of bed. Migraine free. Before my alarm even goes off, because I’m no longer exhausted. This body allows me to make food for my family, pack lunches, do laundry, clean a house, hug my kids, play with my kids, do yoga with my kids. Do yoga not just on my own but teaching others as well, three days a week! This body is well cared for now, and loved for the vessel that it is.
The day I changed my mind from treating my body like an object I hated, to realizing it is my temple and the only place I have to live, is the day I changed my life.