I have to be honest, I had to Google what the heck a Liebster Award was. I’m fairly new to this blogging thing, which is pretty obvious due to my lack of consistency… I’m working on that. So when my Instagram buddy, Anna, nominated me for one, I went to my trusty Google Machine to do some research. What I’ve gathered from various blogs and sites is that the Liebster Award is an award that only exists on the internets, and it is a recognition among bloggers of other blogs they feel worthy of such an award. Liebster is derived from a German term, roughly translating to sweetest, kindest, lovely… you get it. All positive words. It is way to recognize up and coming bloggers, and when nominated, you can then pay it forward by recognizing and linking to other bloggers, thus generating traffic to all these blogs. Seems pretty simple. There are apparently rules, but I found so many different ones, that I plan to just stick with answering the few questions that Anna asked me, then nominate so folks and ask them the same amount of questions. I think that’s fair.
It was so amazing of sweet Anna to nominate me for this fun award. I feel very honored to have inspired and encouraged her. You should follow her account zucchiniandcarrots on Instagram if you don’t already! She doesn’t have a blog, but maybe she will one day! And if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you should do that too. Yes, you should. Don’t you want to know what I eat everyday? And what my pets look like? And occasionally be able to see how awesome my family is? Yeah ya do. You do.
Alright, now to get to her questions.
1. What first inspired you to adopt a healthier lifestyle?
(Warning, this is a loaded question)
Well, let’s look back several years to when I was a teenager. At that time, Seventeen Magazine and Cosmogirl inspired me to be “healthier.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that they had a very backwards view of health, and didn’t ever have MY best interest in mind. I just wanted to feel good in a bikini, and ordering a McSalad Shaker at McDonald’s with a small order of fries was health food! I ate a lot of grilled chicken and rice-a-roni and refused to eat after a certain time in the evenings. For about two weeks of my life I tried throwing up what I ate because, believe it or not, that became a bit trendy among a small group of girls at my school. Good thing my body doesn’t like to throw up.
Fast forward a couple of years to when my son was born. I wanted to be “healthier” so that I could instill those habits into my family, and lose all the pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. Oh, I lost the weight… eating so many whole grains, legumes, low fat dairy, limiting red meat, and severely restricting calories. I was hungry ALL THE TIME. And a complete bitch, most of the time. I worked out quite often, but was always ridiculously tired. I eventually adopted a mostly vegetarian diet and had these dreams of becoming a strict vegan one day. This continued throughout college. (Side note: I had my son and got married at 18, and graduated college at 23, just in case you were getting confused about the timeline.)
My husband and I went on a cruise for our second anniversary in 2005, and attended a seminar on the ship about the importance of organic food and how detox is beneficial. Of course, they were trying to sell this $300 bottle of detox pills, which we definitely didn’t buy. However, it really opened my eyes to the importance of organic food and how most of our “health foods” were actually polluting our bodies. I switched to as much organic food as I could, and in less than a month I dropped 10 pounds. I’m convinced those 10 pounds were all toxins that were eliminated just by consuming organics.
A few years later, events occurred in my life that triggered an extreme stress response in my body. I dropped over twenty pounds, spent what seemed like hours in the bathroom everyday, lost quite a bit of hair, had a face covered in awful acne, was exhausted all the time… you get the picture. It sucked. It was during this two.5 year period that I began research the effects of food on acne, digestion, etc. Thankfully I have always been a researcher and always tended to go the more natural route when it came to solving health issues. I had just been doing my research in all the wrong places. I eventually came upon the Paleo diet and was hooked. I’ve eaten mostly paleo for the last three years, but still have dealt with the occasional flare up that has made me pretty much useless for weeks at a time. The last time I got really sick, I lost the use of my hands. MY HANDS. That just could not happen! I have to cook my own food to survive, and when I was barely able to open a jar and pick up a utensil without pain, I knew I needed to seek out other help. (I won’t go into how I had talked to other doctors before who just prescribed me very strong antibiotics and told me it was just stress-related IBS. Glad I didn’t trust THAT “answer.”)
I have been working with my functional medicine doctor for a couple of months now. It has been determined that I do have at least one autoimmune condition, though I haven’t tested for which specific one(s) it may be, mainly due to financial constraints at this time. I did get tested for food intolerance, which was such a blessing and so many things made sense after I got those results. So now, I’m focused on following a Paleo version of the Autoimmune Protocol + SCD and finally getting my health back. I’ve had a few set backs, but I feel like things are moving in the right direction.
So I would like to thank my family and, believe it or not, my autoimmune condition, for inspiring me to heal.
2. Do you have tips on traveling/eating out?
Be as prepared as possible. Do research on the places you’ll be traveling and restaurants you’ll be visiting. With me, restaurants are REALLY limited because I can’t consume the following without an awful reaction: gluten, all gluten free grains, corn, rice, soy, yeast, and eggs. So I will plan to eat prior and pack plenty of snacks and a large cooler! I have called ahead to restaurants to see if they could accommodate and have had an okay experience with that. I recommend calling ahead though and talking to a manager because the server doesn’t always understand and realize the importance of your requests. And try to locate the nearest Whole Foods or similar store and book your hotel near there if you can – makes it a lot easier. We will be traveling to NYC and Vegas later this year and I have already begun my research and planning!
3. Have your habit changes rubbed off on anyone else in your life?
I’m happy to say they have! My family has started asking more questions and have all been paying attention to how they feel after certain foods. That’s HUGE to me. Also, I’ve become a bit of a food authority among my family and friends, which is pretty cool. I do not by any means claim to be, but I get several friends coming to me each week asking about which foods can help with certain issues, or asking if I can share recipes or even come cook for them. My parents are excited to visit our local farmers’ market with us this Saturday – I’m thrilled!
4. What has been your favorite discovery you’ve made as a result of your lifestyle changes?
That I have inspired people. That’s amazing.
Also, how grateful I am to have a knack for creativity in the kitchen. I don’t know if I could handle this very well if I hated to cook and mix flavors.
5. What do you wish I’d asked you instead of the above questions?
Ha, oh goodness. I’m not really sure! You could have asked something about how I get my son to eat better – I love to give inspiration to other parents who struggle with this. Believe me, I’m not nearly as strict with him, but it IS possible to get a 9 year old to eat bone marrow and asparagus!
Well that was fun! I’m out of blogging time today, but I’ll be thinking about who I’d like to award. Stay tuned.