This morning I removed myself from several groups on Facebook. I had voiced an opinion on a “scientific study” that was posted about the concept of fasting. This study had very few participants, for a very short period of time. These participants were also healthy and lean to begin with, thus, their results from fasting would be different than if the study looked at obese or sick people over an extended period of time. I mentioned these shortfalls in the study, and was essentially told that I was “wrong”.
Now keep in mind, I teach statistics. I have been navigating my own health journey for close to 40 years. I have been researching, refining and modifying my lifestyle for most of my adult life. I have also taken multiple courses on nutrition and lifestyle including Precision Nutrition, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, ISSA personal trainer certification, yoga teacher training, meditation and mindfulness training and many others. I have also personally tried many, many diets, ways of eating (WOE), workout programs and supplement plans. I am not new to this game. I wasn’t offended that this particular group reacted that way, because to be completely honest, their livelihood depends on a particular WOE to be the “only” way. But here is the truth; there is NOT one right WOE, workout program, supplement program or lifestyle that will meet the needs of every person. NOT ONE!
Once I realized that listening to my intuition was the best way to figure out how to move forward from a lifestyle perspective, things became much easier. Since 2015 I have dealt with a Lyme diagnosis and recovery, massive stomach and digestive issues, headaches that wouldn’t quit, and ultimately, a cancer diagnosis, surgery and healing journey. I needed to figure out what was going on in my body to heal myself. It wasn’t all about food, fitness and supplements. I was struggling with grief, trauma, and repressed anger as well. All of these things contributed to my overall health, or lack thereof….
When I started to research for the Lyme diagnosis, I came across the ketogenic diet and gave it a try. At that time, I was eating dairy, nuts, meat and vegetables liberally. My Lyme resolved with a round of doxycycline and the dietary changes, but my stomach issues and headaches persisted. I also struggled to lose any weight at all. I was making “keto treats” with “approved sweeteners” and loading up my meals with butter and other dairy based fats. I was feeling better, but still not good, so I journeyed on with my research.
I decided that I needed to do an elimination diet. At that time, most of them were based on vegan principles, so I did a 21-day vegan cleanse that left me weak, sick and exhausted. As I started to add things back, my energy came back, but so did the headaches and stomach issues. Zantac was my friend for my digestive problems for many years, and I wanted to get away from pain medications for my headaches. One was fueling the need for the other, and it was a vicious cycle. This combined with going through menopause was just kicking my butt physically and emotionally, so the research continues…
In 2020, we all started going through the Covid-19 lockdowns, isolation and fear. I was working from home as a college instructor, curriculum writer, and doing some accounting work. Financially, we were good through the lockdowns, since my work could continue, and my husband was eligible for unemployment until his business could pick back up. I kept up my yoga practice and daily runs for fitness, but emotionally I was struggling.
It was in mid-2020 that I noticed a lump in my right breast that had changed. I waited until January of 2021 to have it checked, and by April, I had surgery. Between knowing I had cancer and having the surgery, I continued to do heavy research on diet and lifestyle to see how I could navigate this journey in the most holistic way possible. I was listening intently to my intuition while reading and researching. I read about people who had transitioned to a vegan diet, a vegetarian diet, ketogenic diet, juicing and a few others. What struck me about every single person who had made a dietary change that was helpful was that they were all based on whole foods in their natural state. Each of these people found health with different components on their plate, with the common thread being a whole foods diet.
I started to dig deeper into that concept. I looked back on all of the things I had tried in the past to try to remember when I had felt the best, both physically and emotionally. The ketogenic diet and lots of yoga and meditation seemed to intuitively feel best to me. But I needed to tweak them to get rid of the other issues I was dealing with. In the book The Metabolic Approach to Cancer, author Nasha Winters discussed how someone can have all of their diet and lifestyle stuff dialed in, and still get sick or stay sick. This part of the book was tough to read, as I could see myself there. I was stressed, working to much, navigating grief and repressed anger, and I needed to address those things too. I was dealing with food obsessions that were difficult to navigate and bordered on an eating disorder. I was tracking every single thing from a “macro” and calorie perspective, but I wasn’t identifying how I was feeling.
So, I started to listen closer to what my intuition was telling me! I stopped tracking my food from a calorie perspective and started to journal about how I felt before, during and after eating. I identified dairy and nuts as causing me stomach and inflammation issues. Gluten and grains had been removed from my diet long ago, and I didn’t feel the need to test those again! I got out every single “keto treat” whether it was considered “approved” or not. I was eating primarily grassfed beef, wild caught seafood, organic chicken, green vegetables, berries and spices. I started to lose weight effortlessly, and the other stuff all faded away as well. I was never hungry eating two meals a day and doing some intermittent fasting and some extended fasts.
I also had to work with the emotional stuff at this time. Stress is a huge component of illness, and I was dealing with a bunch of it. In addition to my cancer diagnosis, my daughter had been diagnosed with MS and my son was navigating a mental health crisis. Covid was still part of the equation as well, and my anxiety was high. I started working more with my meditation and yoga practice. I joined an online support group and started to be better able to speak my truth (like I am here!!).
Today, I can tell you that I am feeling better than ever. My last appointment gave me a clean bill of health, suggesting follow-ups every three months to make sure I stay this way. My protocol may be vastly different from what works for others. We are each individual and need to navigate our own journey to health by listening to our intuition. The books Radical Hope and Radical Remission by Kelly Turner, PhD are excellent resources to get you started on listening to your own intuition.
In a nutshell, here is what I am currently doing to stay healthy:
- Eating a whole foods ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting and periodic extended fasts.
- Running or walking daily and doing some strength training.
- Practicing yoga and meditation daily.
- Eliminated unnecessary tasks, jobs and projects and learned to more easily say NO.
- Eliminated all chemicals from my life including cleaning supplies, beauty products etc.
- Get outside in the sunshine (or rain!!) every day and getting fresh air.
- Letting go of anger, resentment, and sadness by honoring my truth, letting go of the past and living in the present moment.
- Turning off the news and spending less time on social media.
- Talking with a friend every single day, whether live or on ZOOM!
- Limiting stress to the best of my ability while still functioning in the world.
- Listening intently to my intuition and modifying accordingly to monitor my health and well-being.
- Taking daily supplements that support my health and healing journey!
So, if you are ready to start your healing journey, or just want to stay healthy, let me know! I would love to be the coach and cheerleader to help you find your best health and best self! Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to talk!
Have a great day!
(aka YogaJen and The Keto Yogi)