Continuing from part I, I was feeling the healthiest I had ever felt in my entire life as a vegetarian, running 70-75 miles a week and falling head over heels in love with Steve. What more could a girl ask for? This all came to a sudden stop on November 1st, 2015, when I woke up to red/itchy/puffy eye lids which was the beginning of the worst flare of my life that would last nearly 6 months. No amount of steroid creams, antihistamine pills or over the counter drugs could help my condition and it soon spread into full-blown hives from head to chest within 30-days.
Fast forward 4 months, 2 Primary Care Physicians, 4 Dermatologists, 3 Allergists, 1 Immunologist and 1 Acupuncturist later, I finally began to feel some relief. All of the doctors listed above kept telling me these flares were related to eczema and they kept prescribing me pharmaceutical drugs, which I refused to use unless I was absolutely desperate. Sometimes I felt like I was and gave in to using the prescriptions meds. The Acupuncturist was different than any of the other practitioners in that he took the time to explain Leaky Gut and he introduced me to the Paleo Diet/Lifestyle. Additionally, I was beginning to learn just how “sick” I truly was once I began to evaluate my stress levels and poor sleep quality. After adapting the Paleo Diet/Lifestyle for 10-days, I started to see tremendous improvement but then I went right back to my old habits which put me into another horrible flare that spread all the way down to my toes. What the hell was happening to me?!?
A few more months passed and in August of 2016, I was so sick of being sick that I was ready to fully adopt the Paleo Diet/Lifestyle which meant cleaning up my diet, managing stress levels, getting good-quality sleep, building a medical team and dramatically decreasing the amount of exercise I was partaking in every day. At this point in time, I had an idea that ultra-running was contributing to the flares because it was too much added stress on my body but I refused to believe it. How could something that usually made me feel so happy be so bad for me?
The first 4 weeks of transition to Paleo were absolutely brutal, especially the withdrawals from sugar cravings. TORTURE! I was suffering from dizziness, nausea, mood swings, fatigue, constipation, skin rash, slurred speech and so many other symptoms. I stuck with it and then it was clear as night and day, I felt so much better!!! Although I knew in my heart that I needed to stick to the diet change, I was still silly enough to think that I could go straight back to my old habits which is exactly what I did by eating and drinking whatever I wanted (damn those Breakfast Burritos and chocolate cake!). Of course, this put me in a horrible flare for the next month and even though I was extremely angry with myself for allowing that to happen, I also began to realize just how powerful and effective food can be used as medicine.
January of 2017 was when I decided to try the Autoimmune Protocol and while I was never diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, this experience allowed me to connect with my mind, body and soul in ways that I never thought were possible.