I am a Holistic Health Coach.
(Whew. There it is. It feels good to say it.) Like- not a practicing Holistic Health Coach. But this is one of those "I think, therefore I am" situations.
As I'm sure you're aware from this blog or other interactions with me, I have a passion for health and wellness. My personal journey to wellness has been an extraordinary one, to say the least. I've learned so much about myself, my body, and my relationships. I've seen the transformative powers of food and have come to believe that what you put into your body for nourishment is far more influential on your health than any workout, medicine, or supplement out there. As a result of this, I've started down a new path in my journey. I'm stepping out in faith that what I know and what I've learned has value to others. I'm taking classes, working on business development, and lining up seminars. And in January 2014, I will be ready to rock the world of Health and Wellness.
So below is the first of a multi-part series of my personal health journey. Today I'm talking about where I've been, next will be how I manage my health today, and the final part will detail what exactly a Holistic Health Coach does and my thoughts on what health should look like (don't worry, it won't be a sales pitch).
I believe the first step to understanding where someone is going it to understand where they have been. Not many people know my journey.
I have Multiple Sclerosis. I've spent a large part of the past 5 years hiding it from my friends and family. I always have been, and still am, very uncomfortable with this diagnosis.
For those of you who don't know, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition that causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system. Symptoms include (but are not limited to) numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, loss of balance, loss of cognitive function, and loss of motor skills. This last one, loss of motor skills, was the one that struck fear into my heart. By no means am I nor have I ever been an Olympic level athlete, but I can tell you that I've spent a good portion of my life active or playing organized sports. The idea of not being able to move scared me to my very core.
Oh, and hey, the other chilling factor of this diagnosis? The medical community knows no cure. There are disease managing drugs, but no known medical way to reverse the progression of the disease.
I spent the first two years taking 8 shots per week. As you can imagine, that got old quick. So I upgraded my prescription to a brand new oral drug called Gileyna (hot off the FDA presses). But something didn't sit right with me. Namely, the list of complications associated with the drug. Below is a list of side effects according to WedMD (remember- this drug will not cure the disease, only manage it):
|Abnormal Heart Rhythm|
|Abnormal Liver Function Tests|
|Abnormally Low Blood Pressure|
|Atrioventricular Heart Block|
|Decrease in Air Exhaled by Lungs|
|Decreased Number of Lymphocytes in the Blood|
|Decreased White Blood Cells|
|Herpes Simplex Infection|
|High Amount of Triglyceride in the Blood|
|High Blood Pressure|
|Inflammation of the Lining of the Stomach and Intestines|
|Pain in the Eye|
|Progressive Disease in the White Brain Matter|
|Sinus Irritation and Congestion|
I'm sorry, but, what? No. Just, no. 'Progresssive Disease in the White Brain Matter,' 'Decreased White Blood Cells,' and 'Atrioventricular Heart Block.' No. For a medication that will not cure and possibly not even stop the progression of the disease, this was not an acceptable level of risk for me. Oh yeah, and pre-insurance, the cost of this medication was $40,000 per year (no wonder we all feel overwhelmed and hopeless when it comes to our own health).
So I owned it. Several months earlier, I was introduced to Paleo and a guy named Robb Wolf by my trainer at the time, Kevin Randall. What peaked my interest in the diet was the fact that there is some significant evidence linking modern diets to not just MS, but autoimmune issues in general. By modern diet, I'm referring to high carb, low fat, low protein, with the inclusion of processed foods, industrial seed oils, and most notably- GLUTEN. Not sure you believe me? That's completely understandable- but you can check out resources here, here, here, here, here, or here, or do your own Googling.
The remainder of my health journey is a series of test and learn events. I can tell you, after two years of self experimentation, there is a sweet spot of nutrition, movement, stress, and sleep that keeps me off that cliff. I have a propensity towards having a very inflamed system and pushing that system means my symptoms start to move back in. In short- when I eat highly inflammatory foods, get poor sleep, have loads of stress, and train too hard (ie-live a Standard American lifestyle). And I believe this to be a fact: I am not sick because I have MS, I have MS because I am sick.
So I know that I've rambled long enough on this one, and probably the only person still reading is my mom (heyyyyy Mom). So this is Part 1. That's where I came from. The next part will be my formula for health- what I eat, how I move, and how I manage the stress of everyday life.
And a side note- if you have a comment or question, please leave it in the comments below! I love feedback, and I love dialogue over this stuff even more.