My health journey so far...
Life is a journey with lots of ups and downs. Remember to enjoy and learn from it.
Here is my LONG healthy journey SO FAR...(Video Below)
In 1972, Jim and Rita learned that their adopted daughter, Stacy, had a sister that was just born (that’s me!) They adopted Stacy because their son Jimmy died of kidney disease at the age of two and their other son, Michael, had the same kidney disease. Michael passed at the age of 11, when I was 3. My mother then passed away from Wegner’s disease (Autoimmune disease) when I was in 5th grade. My dad left this world in 2012 at the age of 74 from a long list of ailments. His last days were when he decided to stop dialysis. My family ate terribly and my parents smoked for most of their lives. I tell you this because even though genetics plays a role in your health, LIFESTYLE plays a bigger role.
I was around 4 when I had a mystery lump in my throat that eventually went away with bubblegum tasting medicine. Following that, I also remember not being able to see my feet when I was in the shower because my belly was so bloated. I went to the doctor for back pain and had terrible rolled over shoulders. These should have been clues as to what was going on with me. To keep me healthy, my parents fed me McDonalds, Burger King (a double cheeseburger, onion rings and a milkshake every Monday before dancing school), Wendy’s, pizza, meatball Parmesan, candy, diet soda, Kool aid, bologna, hot dogs, mall food, Twinkies, white bread and more candy. So naturally, as an adult, I flourished. HA!
In my twenties I became very ill and was never the same again. It started with my throat. It closed up and I had to go to the emergency room. It still comes on every year, but now I know how to handle it. About two years later I looked like someone shoved a pump up my butt and filled me with air. I was so inflamed. I went to see my doctor who had no idea what to do with me. He ordered tests like barium test, ultrasound (stomach), blood tests…no conclusive results.
I went to a GI doc…the unhealthy-looking doc in front of me said “Maybe you should go on that meat diet thing (Atkins)”. He then ordered a thyroid test. My result TSH was 365 (optimal range is 1 to 2). A-Ha!
I then started to see an endocrinologist who put me on Synthroid and worked with him for a while to keep tweaking the dosage. He told me my chances for a miscarriage were high which was so upsetting because I was ready to get pregnant. By this time, I had started to clean up my terrible diet. I no longer drank soda and was introducing more vegetable into my diet, I felt like I was eating pretty good. Of course, the only person who mentioned anything about diet to me was the big doc who told me to just eat meat since vegetables bloated me (no one ever tried to figure out WHY they bloated me and I’m pretty sure I was so bloated from them because I ate at the salad bar all the time which spray preservatives. It still bloats me like crazy if I eat a salad bar, even Whole Foods). And of course, if I did follow his recommendation it would have been a disaster. I had no hydrochloric acid which is needed to digest meat.
About a year later I gave birth to Jake on 9/11/2000. Twenty-two months later I had Sean on 7/30/2002. I continued to feel sick. My second pregnancy was really tough. Extreme nausea the entire pregnancy, extreme fatigue. At this point I had cleaned up my diet a lot and had been doing a ton of research on health. A friend gave me the book “Super Baby Food” by Ruth Yarn when I had Jake. The book inspired me to feed the kids whole foods. Parents would look at me like I was nuts when I took out a banana or avocado and mashed it.
I started to see natural docs who gave me a bunch of diagnosis (leaky gut, fibromyalgia) and told me to ‘try’ a bunch of supplements, try the blood type diet or get B injections. They did a hair analysis which revealed I had uranium levels that were off the charts. The doctors wrote that off as weird and did nothing about it. No one really knew what to do with me and never came up with a complete program for me. A friend told me about NAET, a way of muscle tested and clearing your body of allergies. I have to say, it did help me with my lactose intolerance.
I finally joined a gym when Sean was 6 months old. It took a few months, but with constant exercise (cardio/weight intervals and Power Yoga), as well as eliminating all sugars from my diet and extreme stress with planning a move to SC and trying to sell our house, all the stars seemed to have aligned and I lost a ton of weight (and my boobs)…fast! I felt better than ever and bonus, I looked so much better too (except the boobs)! It was not that I was “fixed” at that point, I just had so much stress that it suppressed the other problems going on in my body.
Fast forward 1 year when we moved to Charleston, SC from PA in 2004. I was starting to get sick again. The stress of moving was gone. I had traveled back to PA and forgot my generic Thyroid med Levothyroxin. I felt SO much better after not taking it for a few days. I decided to find a natural doctor for help get myself on Armour Thyroid to replace the synthetic. A practice of two women 3 hours away sounded perfect. I filled out copious amounts of paperwork and mailed it in. Weeks later it was sent back to me. I forgot a couple of questions. I was so mad! At this point, without medication, I was so sick and had gained over 20 lbs in a few short weeks. I finally talked a local doctor into giving me Armour Thyroid, a desiccated natural form of it. He finally agreed, even though he said “you can try it, but it won’t work”.
During this time, I had joined a network marketing company that was supposed to have healthy products. I became deeply involved (brain washed) and worked hard so I could make lots of money, help others make money and help people get healthy. As it turns out, the products weren’t that safe, pure and beneficial like they said. I knew I wanted to help people get healthy, but this was not the right avenue to do that. In the meantime, I was getting sicker, I was so blown up (bloated/inflamed), I could not get out of bed in the morning. I joined a Pilates studio, changed some foods, and made some strides. There was someone with a “nutrition” program there. She was very specific on what to eat, like oatmeal in the morning. Ugh...it was like rocks in my stomach. She also said I wasn’t losing any weight because my mind was not thinking I could. Yes, the mind-body connection is powerful, but I wasn’t losing weight because her “nutrition” program was a one size fits all and that’s NOT how it should be.
I found another doctor who is a holistic doctor. After doing a cortisol test, he found my cortisol levels were flat lined (they should be peaked in the morning: imagine a lounge chair shape) …a-ha! I took licorice for a while, but to no avail (now I know why this protocol did not work). Throughout the years of seeing me, he put me on a major antibiotic thinking maybe I had candida (that doesn’t sound very holistic). He also thought I may have Hep B because my liver number were through the roof. He asked if I had a drinking problem. “If getting drunk off of one beer is a problem, then yes! I have a problem.” Another nutrition/chiropractic doctor looked at that same blood work later told me that it was clear I wasn’t drinking a lot as my cholesterol levels were fine. They would have been sky high if I was an alcoholic. I also did some saliva hormone tests that came backed wacked. Where to go now?
I started doing an intense hip-hop followed by a workout 2-hour class twice/week, walking the bridge (our big bridge in Charleston…the only hill), getting workouts in whenever I could and doing elimination diets. It was working. I was feeling a bit better and not as inflamed (fat-feeling). I was taking all kinds of classes, like raw food and cooking classes hoping one of these ways of eating would make me feel better.
In 2008, I was still sick, unhappy in my marriage and eating up every bit of information I could about nutrition and living healthy. I was reading an article and the title behind the author’s name was “Holistic Health Counselor” *Light-Bulb moment*…I want to be a Holistic Health Counselor!!! I want to help people get healthy. People were already coming to me for advice all the time. I found the school she went to, Integrative Institute of Nutrition (IIN) in New York City. It would have been much easier if I went while I lived in PA! My husband was supportive (guys: life is easier when you are supportive to a hormonal, sick bitch!) so I signed up without hesitation.
While I waited to start my travels to NYC for IIN, I decided to become a NASM certified personal trainer as well. I felt it was the perfect complement. I’m so glad I did! Training people is so fun and what an awesome feeling to get people moving, feeling great and making life-long friends in the process.
Going to NYC about 12 times in 9 months was a great experience. In fact, it was life-changing. While the classes at Lincoln Center were fun, the amazing part was coming to terms with things in my life that needed to change. A friend had decided to take the program with me and we became friends and roommates with another Charleston student. After a full day of class, the three of us would go out to dinner and talk all things nutrition for hours. Being away and immersed with information made it so clear to me that this was not only what I wanted to do, but it was what I needed to do so that I could help so many!
I enthusiastically started The Holistic Chick in 2009 with the goal to get people healthy: mind, body and nutrition. The only problem was that I was still on a roller coaster ride of health myself. I was also still really not happy in my marriage. How can I tell other people how to get healthy if I’m not? It took some major life changes like divorce, taking a waitressing job for extra money and having roommates at age 38 to answer this question: Getting healthy is a process. It can be in slow steps or you can go for it all at once. Just keep going towards your goals and don’t quit, no matter how hard it is. Things always do get better and life works out the way it is supposed to. You just have to keep taking the steps to get you there.
My health has honestly been up and down since then. My body is in a constant state of freaking out. If I didn’t live the way I do, I can’t imagine how sick I would be. I’m pretty sure I’d be obese, on tons of meds, cancer would be likely and just plain miserable, if alive at all.
I know more about why I couldn’t get healthy than I ever did. The cause of the ‘lump in my throat’ may have been from our Pennsylvania mountain vacation house. A lot of toxic stuff had been dumped down the street. We were not allowed to drink the water, but we don’t know how long it had been there. For all we know, my bottles could have been filled with that water. We still bathed in it and used it to brush our teeth and wash the dishes. It never had occurred to me that the Uranium came from the tainted water at the mountain house was likely the cause of the lump in my throat (a thyroid that had been zapped). Were the problems made worse by my old high school boyfriend who had mono? He either gave me Epstein-Barr Virus or maybe I already had EBV and exposure to his fresh virus made it worse. This is what led the way to chicken pox in college, a weak immune system and the enormous goiter that I’ve had since my 20’s. The thyroid was definitely screaming for iodine and was being attacked by Epstein Barr Virus. I know that my adrenals were completely spent from being sick, stressed and unhappy. They were also stressed from all the sugar. Sugar handling was a big problem for me (and the rest of America). This screwed up the rest of my hormones and taxed out my liver which could no longer process my hormones. Since my liver was not fully functioning, neither was my gallbladder. I was getting sick after I ate because I could not handle anything. I know that my heart is compromised because my thyroid was so under active for so long. The junk food and soda I grew up with depleted my body of vitamins and minerals and led way for heavy metals and parasites. I know that I do not have enough enzymes and hydrochloric acid in my stomach to properly digest my food and essential nutrients. My problems have led me to be highly sensitive to light, sound and anything chemical. I can pick out fake food and fragrance from a mile away.
I took herbs that target EBV and Heavy Metals (MediHerb) and I found some relief from my chronic pain in my side and a was able to lose a couple pounds which I had been struggling with for about 4 years. I have been told of a therapy that helps with chronic EBV, so stay tuned!
Holy crap, no wonder I’m so screwed up! I just keep moving forward and address these problems through what I teach you in the Upgrade Your Life program plus whole food supplements,herbs and Nature Thyroid. Now I am ready to pass the information I have learned on to you!
UPDATE: Read about my Diagnosis and my Road to Recovery here!