life changer thursday: eleanor’s story

guest post! guest post! GUEST POST!!  i am SO excited to announce a new event happening on my blog! “life changer thursday” will be a reoccurring event here….until i run out of guest posters! :)  this will be a chance for friends, family, strangers, to post about how making a change in their life, well….changed their life! it may be in the food department, exercise, seeing a really great therapist (all advice welcome!!), dating, marriage, kids, or any other event or change that has made a positive impact in your life. i just want this to be a time where people are encouraged and motivated, and i think hearing other peoples’ stories can be so powerful.  so to start, my friend eleanor has volunteered to get things going! she has an incredible story of overcoming her chronic illness, and i can’t wait to share it with you! be inspired! and if you have an inspiring or life changing story to tell, email me! treasureandheart@gmail.com

so without further ado:  eleanor’s story: 

Question: Have you ever really, I mean really looked at all the choices there are in the local grocery store? Let’s even just say, for cereal (yeah, that’s right, cereal)? Stores reserve an ENTIRE aisle just for cereal. And I mean a looooong aisle too, not your tiny-pack-everything-into-one-aisle-Trader-Joes-style aisle. We are talking about an aisle so long you have to squint to see the end. Now, imagine looking through all those boxes and trying to find just one box that doesn’t have sugar in it. I dare you. Double dare. Before we continue here, let me explain my story:

My healthy food lifestyle story, (yes that is a fancy way of saying ‘diet’), is really, truly, a life change. Not a fad, or a number I was trying to reach on that horrible scale I never should have bought, but a big change, a hard change, and the best change I ever made.

I don’t really know where to start, so let me just put you right into the thick of my thoughts or else this might turn into a novel:

I have always been an active, healthy person.   I grew-up in a house where we made all our own meals, there was never a pop in the fridge or cookies in a cookie jar (were cookie jars real or was it just a song?). We were the “co-op grocery store” shoppers, the “homemade bread” kind of family. But, then I went to college. Cafeteria food entered my world, and I LOVED it. King size rice crispy bars 24/7, late night Mac and Cheese, and of course as a poor college kid I didn’t want to spend more than $40 at the grocery store every two week, if I could help it.  Well, as a result, my stomach started to ache. You know, just the usual ache here and there, the once in a while ache from stuffing my stomach so full I could burst, or the occasional ache of a balloon in the stomach. This is normal right? That is what I thought for years. Until…Drum roll……

I had a baby. Now don’t get me wrong, he is the cutest little blue eyed baby the world ever did see! But, well, he gave me Chronic Hives. Babies do that sometimes (something to look forward to, those of you who don’t yet have kids!).  I’ve known moms who have ended up needing glasses after being pregnant, moms whose hair turned curly, and even moms who were blessed with perfect skin after the blessed event (I hate these women!) Aaaaaand, then there was me. I was blessed with Chronic Hives. Never heard of such a thing? Yeah, me neither, until I finally went into an allergist to solve my “hive mystery”. I had been breaking out in hives EVERY NIGHT for 4 months all over my stomach, legs, back, and arms after my sweet boy was born.  Go ahead, Google Chronic Hives, it is legit.  Overall, unfortunately, my doctor didn’t have any good answers or advice on how to help me aside from taking drugs, which I wasn’t a fan of since I was breastfeeding. Frustrated and defeated, I called my mom for help (she is a research queen). She read that Chronic Hives can be caused by such triggers as certain types of foods, stress, lack of sleep, and exhaustion. Oh yeah, did I mention I just had a baby? Stress, lack of sleep….it all started making sense.  But the biggest trigger for me was FOOD.

FOOD. I was tired of breaking out in hives. I needed to change my food choices.  I took a deep breath, and then a REALLY deep breath, and cut out ALL sugars (with the exception of honey) ALL processed foods and ALL grains. Now listen: the first 3 weeks were horrible. I love to eat, and I now felt hungry every second of the day. I did eat, I ate all the time, but my body wasn’t satisfied. My body and mind were going through sugar withdrawals, grain withdrawals, Trader-Joe’s-dark-chocolate-sea-salt-covered-almond withdrawals! But I had to do this. I was tired of my skin feeling like fire every night. And before I knew it, there it was: the light at the end of the tunnel! And it was BRIGHT! My hives stopped. And on top of that, even more exciting things started to happen. My stomach seemed to disappear, as in, I couldn’t feel any more aches, no more bloating, no more uncomfortable ‘jean button popping after meals’ kind of thing. My energy stayed up throughout the day. WOW, it was amazing, and still is amazing. Sometimes I take the plunge and enjoy that big glass of sugary red wine or a mouth-watering piece of truffle chocolate cake but the aftermath always reminds me of why I made my lifestyle change. Uncomfortable aches, itchy skin, sleepy eyes and food cravings, be gone! I am now fueling my body for the long haul.

So I started off talking about cereal, but I could replace “cereal” with “t.v. dinners”, “bags of chips”, “frozen pizzas”, “Hamburger Helper”, or any and all of the processed foods that tempt us daily.  We are in a country where sugar and processed foods are in every food aisle we walk down. As for me, I am sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the real food lies, and am loving my hive free skin, my ache free stomach and knowing that I am fueling my body with the good stuff that will keep me healthy!  You too, have this same ability to only consume foods that are REAL, in their most natural form, but it is not always easy. Most rewarding things in life aren’t easy, and are usually the hardest to achieve. But that’s what makes it SO rewarding.

So ladies and gents you now know why I finally changed my lifestyle, starting with food. A lot of good info goes in one ear and out the other, but our ‘instant gratification button’ we Americans have just won’t cut it when it comes to health. It takes time. But feeling good over the course of your life, is time well spent.

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