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Wellness

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Chronic Lyme Disease

It has been such a struggle for me to write this. There’s so much to say… I think I would be best served to just write a book because this post may be way too long for a blog and I might lose a lot of readers halfway through… But, for those of you who bear with me to the end, I want to thank you for reading.  So much needs to be done for Lyme Disease awareness and education.  I’m trying to do my part.  It’s very difficult and emotional to talk about, so I’ve done my best here for now…

For me, Lyme disease hasn’t been a moment in time where I might I recall getting bit by a tick, or seeing a bulls-eye rash… for me, it’s been quite the opposite of a moment.  Rather, it has been an endless series of grueling moments of pain, slow realizations of debilitating terror, and shape-shifting never-ending symptoms that continue to elude many of the sharpest and well-respected practitioners in the country.  Oh, and absolutely none of this is covered by any insurance, either.

Starting at the “beginning” is hard to do in a situation like this, where you’ve been miles down the path well before you even knew the path existed.  I recognized for sure that something was very wrong one February evening in 2016 after I had just finished a workout that seemed much more difficult for me than usual.  I had been in recovery and remission from autoimmune hepatitis (not a viral form, it’s chronic inflammation of the liver) for about 6 months at that moment, and was working hard to reclaim my health, body, and life.  I had been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease 6 years prior when I went completely jaundice one day with no explanation.  I had been unwell for a while prior to that day, but I was young and didn’t know that what I was feeling wasn’t normal, because honestly I’d felt unwell for years.  So when I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, I went on a strong cocktail of corticosteroids (Prednisone) and immunosuppressants for 6 years. Steroids are supposed to help bring down inflammation, and the immunosuppressants suppressed my immune system, weakening it so my body would “stop attacking itself”.  After five and a half years of this cocktail not working, my specialists gave up and told me I would have to go on the liver transplant list.  It was then that I took things into my own hands and started the autoimmune paleo diet and an all natural supplement protocol that got my liver disease into remission in less than 6 months!  So, I started to wean off of the steroids at that time, and thought I was getting my life back.  However, that’s when things got really ugly.  I slowly started to notice I was more and more fatigued. My liver remained in remission, but everything else got much, much worse!  I kept on pushing, trying to work out and battle through… Which then brings us back to February 2016 after that particularly rough workout.

That night, as I made dinner I noticed a heavy feeling start to creep over my body, like I was coming down with something, HARD.  It continued to get heavier and heavier and was so overwhelming that I was crying out in pain!  I couldn’t lift my fork to my mouth, or carry my plate.  My muscles were at complete failure.  My body felt like I was wearing a lead suit it was so heavy.  I felt like my eyes were about to pop out of my skull. I had a constant fever for weeks. I had never felt so sick or weak in my life!  Something was seriously wrong.  I tried to tell myself that maybe it was just the flu or mono.  After a few days I went to the Dr and he couldn’t find anything wrong in my blood work or x-rays.  As time continued, my body crashed even harder! 

The first several months of trying to figure out what was going on were horrifying. I was in so much pain, and was so weak, I could barely walk across the room without falling over.  The pain in my head was like someone had taken my skull and slammed it off of a cement curb.  It throbbed and ached morning to night.  I felt like I was carrying around a 100 lb lead ball on my neck.  The pain shot down my neck and my shoulders, into my back.  I had joint pain that ached and radiated so deeply in my knees, hips, elbows, hands, and wrists that I would sometimes scream and cry. Little did I know this pain would follow me for years to come.  My muscles ached so badly.  The smallest amounts of movement like chewing would cause so much pain.  I couldn’t sleep.  I would go to bed and lie awake for hours maybe catching a few minutes here and there but never into a deep state.  Every couple of hours I would crash even harder, not able to get up or move about as I wished.  I couldn’t read.  My mind couldn’t keep up to make sense of an entire sentence.  By the time I reached the middle of the sentence I had forgotten the first few words completely.  I couldn’t follow the story line of TV shows or movies.  My husband took me to see The Book of Mormon and I can’t for the life of me tell you what that show is about!  🙁  Everything was like sensory overload!  Music was too loud, lights were too bright, smells were overpowering.  All I could hear was noise and it made me extremely anxious and nervous, I just wanted to scream!  The smallest unexpected noise would send me over the edge!  I couldn’t recover from being startled in the slightest.  I had to stop watching suspenseful TV and exciting movies.  I couldn’t have stressful or emotional conversations without intense physical reactions.  My head and my heart would pound so hard, it was so loud inside of my body.  I also couldn’t find my words.  It was like my vocabulary had been deleted from my memory.  I felt like I had lost complete control over every part of my body.  We were trying to look at new houses at the time.  Sometimes I couldn’t look at more than one.  I would walk through the house, sometimes not even making it upstairs and be so completely wiped out that we would have to drive straight home.  I got scooters at stores because I couldn’t walk the aisles without fainting.  And nobody seemed to have a clue as to WHY.

My PCP told me he thought it was my thyroid.  I knew better.  This was much more than my thyroid. But I couldn’t seem to get any Dr to listen to me.  All my tests kept coming back normal to them.  I went to an endocrinologist specialist, who couldn’t tell me anything either, except that I was slightly hypothyroid and that that shouldn’t be causing all of these symptoms. People would look at me and think I looked perfectly fine!  Newsflash!  You can’t see inside someone’s body!  I spent years masking how I felt inside, so it’s no wonder you couldn’t see it on the outside!  Plus, a little bit of concealer, bronzer, blush, and mascara, and who doesn’t look normal?  I’m not a loud or overly expressive person.  I’m pretty quiet, polite, and sometimes timid.  None of the doctors I went to in my health insurance network could pinpoint anything.  So, I moved on.  I finally found a whole team of like-minded people in functional medicine, integrative medicine, holistic naturopaths, chinese herbalists, and chiropractors who helped diagnose me with Lyme Disease and extreme adrenal fatigue. Along the way, these natural health practitioners have found so many other issues going on in my body that are causing problems.  It was such a relief to find answers!  I felt like  someone was finally telling me, “No!  You’re not going completely insane!  Something really is wrong with you!”  Sometimes just hearing that I wasn’t crazy would bring me to tears, let alone the fear of the diagnosis itself.  The natural health care field goes above and beyond to find what most conventional doctors do not.  They really dig deep to find the root cause of the issues instead of treating the body like individual compartments that need repair.  I realize that this might not be the fault of Western medicine doctors because they aren’t trained to look for Lyme Disease or root causes of illness in this way and that in-depth testing of this sort isn’t in their standard procedure.  But, for so long now conventional medicine has completely missed the boat for me and for so many friends, friends of friends, family members & others I connect with through support groups.  I really wish the practices would change to help more people find the causes of their problems… I’ll share more on that in another post. (See my post – “Why I Choose Holistic Medicine – How I Healed From Autoimmune Disease Naturally” here)

Chronic Lyme disease is very difficult to diagnose and to treat.  Once it has been in your system for a while, it more often than not does not show up in the usual blood tests.  If you have had it for a long time, your immune system becomes so suppressed that your body can’t make the antibodies that would show up on the blood test.  It also hides in your organs, and forms something called a biofilm that is a protective shield around it that antibiotics cannot penetrate.  So, just taking the antibiotic like most people do when they first get bit does not work for someone who has had it in their system for a longer period of time.  I know so many people who have tried many rounds of antibiotics for their Lyme and are still so sick and now have damaged their gut and immune system so much.  My Lyme Dr says that if you catch it within three weeks and take the antibiotic, that it will kill the borellia.  But, if it is in your system longer than 3 weeks, it has gone into it’s second stage where it forms the biofilm and becomes chronic. That’s when you are in big trouble.  You may not have severe symptoms or any symptoms at all sometimes for many years.  But, when your immune system is weakened, for several different kinds of reasons, the disease will activate and spread.  So, when I was on the medications for my liver to decrease my immune system, the Lyme disease was only getting stronger.  But, the steroids I was taking were masking many of those symptoms because they pump you up and give you energy and reduce inflammation!  So, the entire time I was taking those drugs that never helped my liver, they were hurting my immune system and making the underlying cause of the autoimmune disease, the Lyme, even worse!

I never remember seeing a rash or a tick. Less than half of the people who get Lyme disease see a rash.  Don’t depend on seeing a rash to determine whether or not you may have Lyme.  But, when I think back to my childhood, I remember that around age 12 I was having bad pain in my knees and really struggling in dance classes.  The Dr said it was growing pains or Osgood Schlatter disease.  Thing is, that pain never went away, I just got used to having it.  In fact, it got worse in high school when I had a job at Osh Kosh B’Gosh.  I worked 8-9 hour shifts on my feet and would come home an aching, tired, miserable, mess.  My hips and knees were the worst!  I also had a severe bout of anemia in high school as well.  I would pass out if I walked up the stairs, or scrubbed my head in the shower.  I ended up having to stay home from school for a few weeks and had to quit all of my physical activities.  I didn’t mind the pass on gym class, but I was really sad to stop my dance classes.  I never got back to them.  I tried, but my body just didn’t work the same.  I would even fall asleep in the shower in the mornings.  Thinking back on it, I was really fatigued, and it wasn’t at all normal.  But at the time, I didn’t know any better.  My health didn’t get any better in college.  I had terrible fatigue coupled with anxiety and depression.  I started having awful digestive problems in my early 20s, too.  But still, no one had any answers for me other than that I was depressed!  Well, of course I was depressed!  I felt like total crap all the time and had unknown pathogens wreaking havoc inside my body!  It wasn’t until I was 26 that the autoimmune diagnosis came along which lead me to find the Lyme disease several years later.

My first step in treatment for the Lyme disease was to start an protocol that came highly recommended by a trusted friend and health coach.  The Chinese herbalist was Dr. Zhang.  He has his own clinic in NYC specifically for the treatment of Lyme disease and other difficult to treat diseases.  When I first started the protocol, I felt like I was dying. I started to even prepare myself for the possibility.  The reaction to the treatment was horrible.  When you treat Lyme Disease, you have something called a Herxheimer Reaction.  It’s the body’s response to toxic die off.  You feel worse and your symptoms intensify before you feel better.  In the Lyme world, we call this “herxing”.  I felt like I was in an endless herx.  I would detox daily with my infrared sauna, ionic foot baths, teas, other supplements, colon hydrotherapy, massage therapy, epsom salt baths, anything I could try to lessen the blow I would.  I would break down almost every night for the next couple years and sob because I wasn’t feeling better.  I knew that people with chronic Lyme disease did not lead comfortable lives. I could barely leave my bed for months. If I did, I paid for it hard later.  Eventually, I felt a small amount of relief.  I could read again, and I had a tiny bit more energy.  Some of the joint pain was slightly better.  But, I was still extremely ill and after 10 months on this protocol, I had plateaued and knew it was time for me to try something new.

I was and still am very involved in the chronic Lyme disease community online, particularly on Facebook.  Through that group and through word of mouth I was connected to a person who lived near me who was now in Lyme remission and was doing great!  She had gone to a local wellness center that treated Lyme with a different herbal protocol and had great success.  So, I went there, did their testing and started their treatment.  They told me that I was one of the sickest patients they’d ever had (you’d be surprised how many times I’ve heard this!).  I hated hearing that because I was already so down on my luck with the first protocol not working that I didn’t want to think of the chances of this one being unsuccessful, but they were confident that it would work.  After their testing of all my organs and systems, their opinion was that I had had this disease for well over 20 years, which would have put me back at the age where I first started noticing the joint pain.  Things were going okay on this protocol until I increased the dosage for the first time, and it hit me like a truck!  The herxing was beyond anything I had ever experienced before.  I was so sick, I couldn’t get out of bed (not exaggerating folks, for real).  I couldn’t do anything for myself.  Showering was extremely difficult.  We had to bring in help to cook, clean, and do errands and things around the house (Thank you Vicky, we would have been lost without you!).  They told me to go back down on the treatment to the first dosage, but I continued to be just as sick as I was when I first learned I had it, and I knew my body just couldn’t handle this protocol.  I once again felt like I was on my death bed.  So, I stopped the treatment all together and hoped to regain some strength.

During this time, we knew we had to find another route for treatment.  It seemed as though my body, specifically my liver was not capable of handling the herbal protocols.  They were just too strong and knocked me out entirely.  We were seriously considering a stem cell treatment center in CA.  It was a huge investment of money and time and the reviews were not that stellar.  Some people had success, others none at all.  We were so confused and uncertain of what to do.  Thankfully, my husband was still out in the world making waves and helping others and someone came into our lives at that time that has forever changed ours and we couldn’t be more thankful.  Angela, a client of my husband’s was selling t-shirts months before for her own daughter to go to CT to have a rare laser treatment done for Lyme disease.  I remember when Ryan came home with the T-Shirt and told me the story of Angela and her daughter at that time.  In our desperation for possible avenues, my husband recalled Angela and reached out to her to ask her about how that treatment went.  She said that her daughter was doing amazingly well and told us how to get in touch with the Dr who did it.  Everyone we heard of that went to have this treatment was doing much better, at least in terms of their Lyme disease.  We were put on a waiting list for 5 months.  Those were the longest, hardest, most terrifying 5 months of our lives.  I wasn’t on any treatment at all because nothing was helping.  We felt like if this treatment didn’t work, we had no idea what to do next.  I couldn’t imagine continuing to live in the state I was in for the rest of my life.  It was an incredibly emotionally difficult time for us.  We wanted to be so hopeful about it, but with our experience of being hopeful and then being let down in the past with other protocols, we knew it would be foolish to put all of faith into it.  But, we kind of did anyway.

Finally that 5 months was up and we left for CT.  We were there for 12 days, with a total of 8 treatments.  He determines which strains of Lyme you have as well as which coinfections (when you get bit by a tick, you do not get just Lyme borrelia, you also get other infections that they carry like Bartonella, Babesia, etc).  I had 14 strains of Lyme of both stage 1 and stage 2, and 7 coinfections, including Babesia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  He said that of the strains that I tested positive for, some were from 20+ years ago, and some were more recent years, so it was likely that I had been bit more than once!  It was in all of my organs, but the majority was in my brain stem and cerebellum. On the final day when he said I no longer have any Lyme in me, I couldn’t even believe it.  I was having herx reactions to the treatment, so I didn’t feel well at this time, but I knew eventually the herx would fade.  We left the office and went outside and cried in the car!  That night we went out for a fancy dinner to celebrate and headed home the next day.  I was in so much pain the car ride home, but my heart was full of hope!

When we got home things got worse.  I continued to herx for several months.  It wasn’t until 4 months later that I really began to notice a change.  In the meantime, I’d been diagnosed with yet another chronic condition called Interstitial Cystitis or Painful Bladder Syndrome; likely also caused by my immune system being weakened for so long, wrecked with Lyme disease and other pathogens.  This was another huge blow that really sent me in a downward spiral emotionally.  I had constant stabbing pains in my bladder around the clock.  Interstitial Cystitis is a different subject, so I’ll write more on it another day, but it really floored me how yet again, I get another major diagnosis in the midst of trying to recover from the previous one.  I can’t seem to escape!  But slowly, I started noticing my Lyme symptoms were getting better.  I was able to walk further, I had less pain in my head and joints, and I could start to do more than one thing a day.  We went to Hawaii in January, and I walked in the sand!  That was a major moment!  I hadn’t been able to do that just 6 months prior.

Now, exactly one year later, I am doing much better than I was before that treatment in CT!  I am able to function at a higher level!  I can cook again, I can take care of myself, I can walk around the neighborhood, I can run several errands, I just have more energy in general!  The constant headaches are gone. (I do owe some of that to Family Chiropractic in Cranberry.  Dr. Amanda Jordan and Dr. Cotey Jordan have an amazing Migraine Challenge every year, and they really helped me out, I would highly recommend them!)  The joint pain is much better.  The fatigue is much less.  My overall hope and state of well-being has really improved.  I look forward to living a full life instead of fearing a life of misery.  I am still struggling with other pathogens and organ dysfunction in my body that cause me pain and fatigue.  I still have to take very good and careful care of myself.  I can still get really run down.  But, all of my blood work currently shows no signs of Lyme disease.  There is no test that can definitively tell you for 100% certain that you DON’T have Lyme disease.  But, all other tests that might indicate that it’s there are negative.  It’s possible there are some stragglers still inside of me and I know I still have a co-infection that we did not know about at the time of the treatment in CT.  But, I’m still hopeful and determined to eliminate them and continue on my healing journey!

Having chronic Lyme disease opens you up to a whole other host of disease and health problems, not just the Lyme disease itself.  I myself have experienced severe adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, bladder disease, autoimmune liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, IBS, arthritis, kidney dysfunction, parasites, anemia, gastroparesis, among other things.  If you get bit, I would urge you to seek treatment immediately.  It is not something that you want lingering in your system.  It causes all of your body systems to go completely haywire.

I am so thankful for my husband who has always believed me, believed IN me, and trusted me throughout this entire journey.  I wish it was over, but he remains so faithful to seeing me through it.  He’s been a constant source of love, support, and patience for me.  I would never have made it through any of this without him.  When everyone else told me I was fine, he stood by my side and fought for me.  So often when women have chronic illness, men, and other people in general, but particularly the men, will overlook it and think you’re just overreacting or “it’s all in your head”.  We aren’t taken seriously because we “don’t look sick”.  We sit in social situations and smile while we’re in great amounts of pain.  So everyone just assumes you must be fine.  They don’t know that adrenaline kicks in when you’re out and you want to be normal for a little while, so you ride the adrenaline and then come home and completely crash after a few hours of being “on”.  I am so grateful to Ryan for looking past all of that and for knowing my limitations and accepting them.  I’m sure it has been so hard for him to not be able to live the way he would if his spouse wasn’t so ill all of the time.  But, he has been so patient and loving in the way that he deals with it, never making me feel bad.  He knows I carry a lot of guilt, but he never makes me feel guilty.  I’m so glad he has never had to feel the pain that I feel, but I know he gets it.  I couldn’t love him more for tirelessly taking such good care of me. With everything that I’ve endured, I’ve always known how lucky I am to have him for a husband.

And so, if you’ve read this far, thank you!  I hope that you learned a little about chronic Lyme disease and what is like to have it.  If you know someone who might relate to this, I would encourage you to share it with them so that we can connect.  I love to be a source of support for my fellow sufferers. Having a community of support really makes a huge difference! Life isn’t all about suffering.  We find ways to enjoy the beauty in it, too!  Part of that beauty is supporting and loving others in the same or similar situations.  Anything I can do to help someone else who’s also hurting always helps to ease my own pain.  I’ve also realized for me that things like fashion, decorating, and creating other beautiful things around me is a way for me to channel my frustrations and pain and to bring beauty into the world.  So, I hope that you enjoy my blog and that it brings a little fun and enjoyment into your life as well!  I would love for you to share anything in the comments below, or message me, about your journey or things you like to do to bring beauty into your life, too 🙂

Happy Wellness Wednesday, ladies (and gents if you are reading this)! I hope you’re having a great week. I am spending the day at the spa with my hubs and I’m so excited! We really needed a day off together to relax and unwind. We have been working our bums off and I’ve also been unwell for the last two months. So, for Valentine’s Day I got us a gift certificate for massages and facials! Self-care is a must for me. I take it very seriously, haha. Speaking of which, I wanted to share one of my self-care practices with you today: dry brushing!

What is dry-brushing and how do I do it?

Dry brushing is pretty much exactly what it sounds like! You literally take a stiff, bristled brush and brush your entire body in upward circular motions on dry skin. Start at the feet and work your work your way up your legs going toward the heart. This helps the lymphatic system to drain properly. Then, you can brush your abdomen, arms, armpits, glutes, back, and even your face if you like. Brush each section thoroughly. I like to do about 3-5 circular motions in each area. You don’t want to do it too roughly, though, especially if you have sensitive skin. For those with eczema, psoriasis, or other kinds of skin conditions, I would recommend asking your doctor if it’s something you’re interested in trying. They would know your particular case best and if it would be a good idea for you or not. I would guess you might want to avoid it. But, if you have normal skin, it’s recommended to do it 1-3 times a week. You may experience some redness and that is normal. But, if your skin gets very irritated, hurts, cracks, or bleeds, you are definitely doing it too hard. Decrease the pressure and give yourself some time in between brushings to let it heal. I would advise starting lightly and increasing your pressure. You may even peel after the first couple of times. That’s okay. Don’t be worried about that! It will reveal softer, smoother skin and the peeling will eventually stop.

I always dry brush right before I get in the shower so that I can wash off the dead skin cells right away. When I’m done in the shower, I use a lotion that’s all natural like shea or cocoa butter.

You want to get a brush that has nice and firm bristles. I like one with a long handle because you can reach your back more easily. You should replace it every 6 months to a year as well as wash it every couple of weeks. This helps to remove built up dead skin cells! Yuck.

What are the benefits?

There are lots of reasons to dry brush! You might be surprised. It sounds pretty non-exciting, but it does deliver some solid benefits.

  1. EXFOLIATION: Dry brushing as you can imagine is a great way to exfoliate your body. We spend so much time on faces, we shouldn’t ignore the rest of our skin! I’m sure J. Lo doesn’t get her youthful glow (at age 50) on her legs by ignoring them, know what I mean? Gotta take care of the whole thing! This process eliminates dead skin cells and reveals softer skin. It can even help with ingrown hairs that cause those tiny bumps. I notice my skin is much softer when I make it a habit to dry brush.
  2. STIMULATES THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM: The lymphatic system is crucial to staying healthy! By stimulating this, we are improving our overall health and immunity. The lymphatic system distributes lymph (a fluid that contains white blood cells which are responsible for fighting infections) throughout the body. This system is also responsible for removing a lot of the body’s waste, including unwanted fat cells! By stimulating the lymphatic system, you are helping your body to detox better.
  3. INCREASED CIRCULATION: Dry brushing helps to increase your circulation. This is important to maintain healthy blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. It allows organs like your lungs, heart and muscles to function at optimal levels. Good circulation also means your immune system will function better because the white blood cells are properly transported, fighting off infections. Increasing your circulation can also give you an energy boost! YAY!
  4. POSSIBLE CELLULITE REDUCTION: There’s no real evidence out there to say that this is necessarily true. I can’t tell you my experience because I don’t have cellulite myself – at least not yet. But, it’s very common and totally normal if you do. Dry brushing has been reported to reduce cellulite because it is a toxic material that is allegedly trapped in fat cells beneath the skin. The increase in circulation is supposed to help rid the body of toxic substances including cellulite. So, it may not get rid of it, but it could reduce the appearance of it.

My Dry Brush Recommendations:

As I mentioned above, I like a brush with a long handle so you can get to hard to reach places without pulling your back out! I also found some that will work best for your face if you want to try brushing your face as well. If you do brush your face, I would recommend getting a special facial brush like the ones I linked here because they will be more gentle on that delicate skin. Here are some great body and facial brushes I found in different price ranges.

I personally like to dry brush! My skin feels softer, smoother, less flaky and dry, and I like knowing that I’m potentially helping my immune system and detoxification pathways. If you’re interested, give it a try! It might not be for everyone, but it could possibly help you, too. As always, I am not making any kind of health claims. This is only my experience. I am not a licensed medical professional. I just like to share my self-care tips and routines with you all, but that does not mean that they will or will not work for you.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Have a fabulous rest of your week!

XOXO,

Kelly

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! I hope that you’re having a great week so far! Today, I wanted to share with you exactly why I choose to use holistic medicine to treat and manage my chronic illnesses. I’m not going to go into a hugely detailed, scientific explanation. But, I will tell you about my experience, which is really the most relevant thing because if a certain kind of treatment works best, why wouldn’t I choose it anyway? We should all be doing what works best for us. So, I’m sharing with you today in case you haven’t considered alternative routes but haven’t had success in following conventional medicine either.

My Autoimmune Story…

Ten years ago now I was at work and my boss noticed that I was jaundiced. This was quite a shock to me at the time, but looking back, it probably shouldn’t have been. I had been sick already for many years with horrible IBS. I was chronically fatigued, and I suffered a lot with depression and anxiety. I thought at the time that it was all my fault. I figured the anxiety was causing the chronic diarrhea. I thought that the depression was what was making me tired and that I was just a lazy person because I couldn’t get myself to do everything everyone else my age was doing. I kind of accepted the fact that I just wasn’t a go-getter and that I was internally flawed. Turns out, I had been sicker than I could ever have imagined the entire time. You don’t just get an autoimmune disease out of the blue. It takes years and years to get to the point where your body is screaming at you and you’re severely inflamed. But, the diagnosis happens pretty quickly. So, sometimes people don’t understand or realize that they were actually sick for many years prior. We tend to just keep pushing forward and trying to ignore signs and symptoms. We brush them off in hopes they go away soon. But, all of those little signs are actually big red flags that our bodies are not functioning properly. We go to the doctor, get a pill, and then maybe our symptoms get better for a little bit, or maybe they don’t and we just learn to deal with it. That was me. I was just dealing with it. I had been to my primary care doctor a million times for my chronic IBS. She’d given me things to try, but nothing ever worked. So, I just lived with it. But, I have no doubt that was a sign that my body was under duress.

I went to the doctor the next day and he ran some tests for my liver functionality. I received a pretty frantic phone call from him as soon as he got the results. He wanted me admitted to the hospital immediately! He said that my liver enzyme levels were around 1,000 and the normal range was 21-30. I was so panicked. I had just been in the hospital a couple of months prior with a severe kidney infection (another red flag!). The last place I wanted to go was back to the hospital. But, I went anyway. I was in there for days as they ran test after test on me. They’d come stick me for blood every few hours, all hours of the day and night, until I had no spots left to draw from on my arms. I finally got to go home, but still didn’t have any answers. Eventually my doctor scheduled a liver biopsy for me. This was an awful experience, too! I hate to sound like a negative Nancy, but honestly this whole experience was a horrifying nightmare. The liver biopsy is performed while you are awake. They numb the skin where they make the incision, but everything from there you feel 100%! They go in through your rib cage with the longest, largest needle you will ever see, and snip a piece of your liver. Not only can you feel it but you can even hear it! It’s so awful. They say it won’t hurt at all, but mine definitely did. They also said that it would heal quickly and I would not feel any pain in the liver because the liver can’t possibly feel pain. Well, that’s not true either. I felt the whooole thing. Beginning to end, and I was in pain for six months afterward.

My doctor sent all of my results to a local specialist who then called and requested that I come in for an appointment. I went in to the appointment by myself and listened as he told me that I had Autoimmune Hepatitis. He said that it’s not a viral form of hepatitis. It’s an inflammatory response in the liver to my own immune system attacking it. Essentially, he was saying, my body was attacking itself. He went on to try to reassure me that this wasn’t the end of the world. I may have a shorter life than others, but I could live a totally normal life and manage this relatively easily. He said I would be on steroids for a few weeks probably and then the inflammation would calm down. I would just have to take another drug called an immunosuppressant (I took Azathioprine for anyone who knows this road) for the rest of my life. That immunosuppressant would lower my immune system so that it wouldn’t attack my liver. So, that sounded pretty manageable to me at the time. I left with a smile on my face and confidence that this would just be a minor bump in the road.

So, I started on the Prednisone and Azathioprine protocol. Weeks and weeks went by with little to no improvement. They told me that I could continue eating and drinking as I usually do. I ate what I thought at the time was a healthy diet and exercised frequently. Sadly, I was still eating healthier than most typical Americans do, but it wasn’t clean enough. I still ate frozen dinners and canned foods. I had processed lunch meats like Subway and sauces with hidden ingredients I didn’t know about. I also still continued to drink alcohol. So dumb. They told me I could! I was in my early twenties and I liked to have fun. So, I still drank alcohol. They said it had nothing to do with why I was sick. I know that it wasn’t the reason why I was sick at all, but I know now that it wasn’t helping the inflammation. I was extremely fatigued. It hurt to get out of bed and I felt like it took everything I had in my body to just get ready to go work, let alone actually drive there and put in a day’s worth.

I had no idea what to expect. Everyone else (with the exception of my husband and I think sometimes even my boss) expected that I should still be able to function just the same. You couldn’t see my illness other than the bloating, acne, and weight gain. I could still walk and talk. I wasn’t screaming in pain, so I should be able to carry-on, right? WRONG. I also know now that when you’re so sick that your liver is making you jaundice, you absolutely will feel like complete garbage. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t depression or laziness causing me to feel this way. I was severely ill! It’s so frustrating to look back now and realize how I let other people make me feel like I was lazy and unmotivated. I felt so horribly about myself. I had no self-esteem, and I felt like I had inflicted all of this upon myself. I even had people questioning if it was partying that caused my illness. Everywhere around me I felt like there were fingers pointed in my direction and I was extremely overwhelmed, frightened for my life, sad, anxious, and exhausted. That only made me feel worse and just go deeper into my depression.

I continued to have the IBS, but now with the Prednisone added in, I was having terrible insomnia, extreme mood swings, increased anxiety, insatiable hunger, acne, moon face (when your face bloats up particularly round), painful abdominal bloating, and weight gain. I was newly engaged at the time. Only a couple of weeks in. Not exactly how I wanted to be feeling at that time or EVER!

I went to get my liver enzymes checked every two weeks. I was so hopeful and sure every time that it would be better, but it never was. I eventually sought out a new specialist. I spent years with her, did so many kinds of testing, and still saw no improvement. In fact, things were getting progressively worse. I did try some supplements around this time. My pharmacist suggested I try things for my gut and inflammation. When I read about it online, it seemed like this was a great idea! So, I bought a whole big bag worth of supplements which totally broke my bank at the time, but I was hopeful I’d see some improvement. When I told my specialist about them, she immediately told me to stop taking all of them right away! She said they were toxic and that pharmacists don’t know enough about this to be giving me supplements. In hindsight, I wish I taken them anyway!

I eventually made a trip to Cleveland Clinic with Ryan and my mom. I went in super hopeful that they would have something different to say than the others I had already seen. But, that doctor took one look at me and said, “You need to be on Prednisone and an immunosuppressant. And, I don’t think your face is bloated from steroids, I think it’s just fat.” I’m not kidding you. He seriously said that! Crushed is an understatement. I left there and was so upset and extremely hopeless.

I finally went to see THE GUY at my insurance-approved hospital in my city. He was the top gastroenterologist and came highly recommended. He said that I had one other option. I could try a different type of steroid called Budesonide. It apparently works slightly differently and does not have as severe of side effects as Prednisone, particularly the weight gain part. Since I was always concerned about the weight gain (55 pounds worth on my 5’3 frame) I desperately wanted to try this drug. It was supposed to also not make it so difficult to sleep and I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in four years at that point. So, we tried to get this drug but quickly realized that it was not covered by my insurance. It was going to cost $1,000 a month and we did not have the funds at that time to afford that. Far from it. So, we had to give up hope on that option. I was crushed. It’s such a shame that better medications aren’t covered by insurance companies. It really upsets me. I know so many people who just can’t afford the better options and have to settle for cheaper, more damaging treatments because they can’t afford it. So much of our current medical system is tied up in insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Money is the driving factor for everything. People aren’t getting the care they need because people are being so greedy about the money.

This was me at my cousin’s wedding. It’s the only picture that I have of me at this time in my life because I would not agree to be in any photos otherwise. I’m glad I didn’t sneak out of this one so that I can share this transformation with you. It’s so hard to share, but I think it’s important. I love how Ryan is still placing his hand on my back. He loved me anyway.

So, I continued on the same protocol. They would just keep increasing and increasing my dosages of the steroids and immunosuppressants. I was taking 60 mg of Prednisone a day and 120 mg of Azathioprine. That’s an absurd amount! Regular doses of Prednisone are 5-10 mg. I was a horrible, miserable, mess! For years I wouldn’t go out of my apartment much at all. I hated being seen in public because I looked unrecognizable. I couldn’t sleep at night, but I slept all day. I barely got out of bed. I ballooned up to 175 pounds. I am naturally very petite. My face looked totally distorted. My upper body was so much bigger than my lower body, too. I gained it all in my chest and belly. It was all anyone would talk about. I felt so ashamed. Most of the time I just wanted to die. I couldn’t see a way out of this and it was just so hard to keep going day after day. I felt so badly for my husband because I was not the person I was when we first met. But, he stayed by my side and kept supporting me.

One day, I was researching online about treatments for autoimmune disease, I came across the autoimmune paleo diet also known as the autoimmune protocol, or AIP. It was an elimination diet that took out any inflammatory foods such as processed foods and oils, gluten, dairy, grains, soy, nightshades, eggs, and sugar. The success stories sounded really great! So, I printed out the information and took it with me to my next appointment with my specialist. He looked it over, handed it back to me, and said, “this is a bunch of horse****! If you want to go buy the most expensive cuts of meat, go knock yourself out, but this is not going to solve your problem.” I accepted that and was let down that he didn’t think it was a viable option, but I didn’t consider giving it a try regardless. There’s that hindsight again!

Eventually my specialist told me that this protocol was clearly not working (you think?). We were five years in. Five years on this same exact protocol and they were now just telling me that it wasn’t going to work? He suggested I try second-tier drugs, one of which was Methotrexate, before he would put me on the liver transplant list. Yikes. My jaw dropped when he said “liver transplant list”. He started to explain about this option to try Methotrexate. Methotrexate is a drug that is used for transplant and cancer patients. It has horrible side effects including hair loss, extreme nausea, vomitting, diarrhea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, chills, and not to mention lymphoma! He wanted to make sure that I understood all of these side effects before I started. I also had to stop drinking all alcohol or else I would likely die from the combination! I was so disappointed that a drug this terrible was my only option other than a transplant. But, I figured I had no other choice. So, I committed to no alcohol and started the drug. I was on it for a couple of weeks. It made me violently ill! I would throw up constantly. All afternoon and evening. I was so dizzy, my stomach ached like never before, and the nausea was terrible. At the two week mark, we tested my liver enzymes. With no alcohol and the addition of the Methotrexate, my liver enzymes had gone UP 800 points! That’s a HUGE amount in two weeks time.

When they called to tell me this news, it was a very somber phone call. I was alone in my apartment, and it was the doctor calling me, not the nurse. He said that he was out of options. I had tried all of the drugs that would have any impact. He told me that I would need to go on the liver transplant list. As he explained to me what this would be like and what the rest of my life would look like, my heart sunk. I felt like this was the beginning of the end. He told me that I would live a short life. Generally, 75% of people who have a liver transplant live for at least five years. Meaning, for every 100 people who undergo a liver transplant, approximately 70 will live for five years and 30 will die within five years. My specialist said given my case and the fact that my disease was chronic and would come back, I could expect about ten years. I was 30 years old. As I’m writing this, I tear up because I could possibly be dead right now if I had gone along with this as I had the rest of the conventional medicine protocols. I hung up the phone and broke down in tears. I wondered how I would tell my husband about this when he got home. How do you break this news to your family? I barely remember telling Ryan about it. I don’t really recall even what I did in the few days following that phone call. I know that I chose not to tell my family about it. I just couldn’t even talk about it. (Anyone else just go silent when they’re going through something incredibly difficult?) The doctor told me to go back on the high dose of Prednisone and Azathioprine. He thought it was better than nothing. So, I did.

I couldn’t fathom going through with a liver transplant. I didn’t want to die in less than ten years. I had barely gotten to live yet! I had been sick my entire teen and adult life. I started to revisit that autoimmune paleo diet online. I delved in deep. I researched the heck out of it and I decided that I would give it everything that I had. I set a start date for when I would first go completely gluten free. Then a week after that I would go dairy free, and a week after that I would go full-on autoimmune paleo. I had a plan and I was determined to execute it!

I was still having horrible insomnia. At night I would scroll through a Facebook support group for Autoimmune Hepatitis. One night, I noticed an unusual post. It was a photo of a woman smiling and the caption said that she reversed her autoimmune disease with an all-natural protocol using Alpha Lipoic Acid. No one posts pics of themselves smiling in that group, and certainly no one has ever said that reversing their autoimmune disease is even possible! She said she had found out about this protocol from a book called “Curing Courtney”. It was the story of how a mother reversed her child’s autoimmune hepatitis this way after years of struggling with the same conventional medicine protocol that I had been on. I immediately ordered the book and when it came I read it in one night. It was like reading my own story but through a mother’s perspective. I was so touched by it. The name of the woman who wrote the book is Denise Gabay Otten. She would soon become my hero. She too had been from specialist to specialist desperately seeking answers to save her daughter’s life. Finally, she came upon Dr. Bert Berkson who was a medical doctor of the liver himself. He had seen how liver patients were treated by the medical system and he knew that there were better options. He was working with Alpha Lipoic Acid and found that it was regenerating people’s livers who had been sick for years! People who were on their death beds were making full comebacks. However, the medical system did not approve of using this natural substance because it did not profit them at all. They told him, “we are in the business of transplants”. The business of transplants. It was all coming together. I don’t think that my doctors necessarily were just in it for my money. I don’t think that they wanted me to live a short life. But, I do believe that our medical system is severely flawed and is driven by money. They teach doctors in school to practice in ways that profit. They don’t teach them to truly heal people. So, doctors like mine, when presented with alternative options see no “scientific evidence” that anything other than their treatments would help. Why? Because no studies show that they help. Well, the problem is, no scientific studies are done on alternative treatments. Why? Because pharmaceutical companies are funding the studies. Why would they study the effectiveness of natural treatments? There’s no money in that.

I really resonated with Denise’s story. Her daughter was also able to come completely off of the steroids and immunosuppressants. She was able to live a normal, healthy life! The woman that posted in the group was also off of her medications and her autoimmune hepatitis remained in remission. I finally had a piece of hope!

I found Denise on Facebook and I sent her a private message. She texted me the next day and we set up an appointment to talk. She wanted to video chat! I was mortified because I looked so terrible and I didn’t want anyone to see me like this, not even a total stranger who completely understand why my face would be so blown up. But, I did it and we talked for a while about the protocol and what to expect. We agreed that she would coach me through it. I told her I was doing the autoimmune paleo diet and she agreed that it was a great thing to do! So, I borrowed some money from my parents to pay for her coaching fee and supplements, and I started the protocol!

Within weeks I already had more energy from the diet and supplements. I was even starting to do some exercise! I had my first blood test done at the two week mark, and sure enough, my liver enzymes had dropped! It was the first time they had dropped that much! I was ecstatic and it gave me so much hope to keep going with the protocol. I did not tell my liver specialist about it at all. I knew he would not support it. I simply told him that I would continue on the Prednisone and think about the liver transplant. So, for the meantime, I would take those drugs in conjunction with the supplements. More weeks went by and the numbers just kept dropping. Eventually, I started to decrease my Prednisone amount. Every two weeks we tested my enzymes. Sometimes they would remain the same or slightly go up a few points. This would completely freak me out! I would start to get slightly discouraged. But, Denise assured me this was normal and to keep going.

Meanwhile, my specialist who was ordering the tests was thrilled that the numbers were going down at all. They had no idea why the numbers were truly dropping, though. They thought it was because I was taking the Prednisone by itself, not because of the diet and Alpha Lipoic Acid protocol. Hilarious.

I continued to wean off of the Prednisone and was doing great on the diet. I lost 60 pounds in 5 months! My levels were so close to being in remission but for a couple of months it seemed like I couldn’t get them to budge. I had an appointment coming up with my specialist and I had to get them checked before I went. I was so excited to go see him because I was 60 pounds lighter and down to 5 mg of Prednisone. He had no idea that I wasn’t still on the large dose.

Ok, so I know this is super blurry, but this was me on the right just 6 months after I started the AIP diet. I slowly added exercise into my routine and in a few months I not only had lost the weight, weaned off the prednisone, but also was more fit than I’d ever been in my life! I was a Beachbody coach and I did the 21-Day Fix eating plan while still being AIP compliant, the 21-Day Fix Workouts both regular and Xtreme, T25, and Insanity Max30 (which honestly broke me down, I probably should not have done that one!). My face still looks a little puffy, but so much better! Hence, why my doctor didn’t recognize me!

When we got there, the nurse took us back. She didn’t recognize me at first. When I told her what I had done, she just looked at me and said “Good for you!” in a very non-excited way. Haha. This was the same nurse who prayed over me for my vanity because I was concerned about the weight gain. Yeah. How rude is that?! Pretty sure a 55 pound weight gain is not just a vanity concern. It’s also a serious health concern! They’re also the same ones who always informed me that my BMI was too high. (Huge eye roll…)

When the doctor first opened the door, he looked up from his chart, saw me, looked back down at the chart and started to back away. Then, he looked back up at me with a very puzzled look and said, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t even recognize you! What’s happened?!” I filled him in. Every last detail. I wanted him to know that there are other options out there besides damaging steroids and immunosuppressants. There are things that we can do naturally to support our bodies and begin to heal on a deeper level. He was shocked. He admitted that he couldn’t take credit for it! He even asked me if he could borrow my copy of the book “Curing Courtney”! I was like, dude, you’re a top level gastroenterologist at the best hospital in Pittsburgh. Pretty sure you can buy your own copy! Haha!

He was so impressed with what I had done. But, before I left, I wanted to know if he had my last blood test results. He went back to check. When he came back in, he had a shocked look on his face. He told me that I was in remission! I was finally in remission! My liver enzymes had come down into the normal range! Six years of battling this awful disease and I had finally made it. I’d avoided a liver transplant that would have taken my life at such a young age, and I had done it with my own will power, drive, determination, and the help of an incredible woman, not to mention the patience and support of my husband and help from my parents. I wasn’t a lazy loser afterall! Haha. I felt like I could take on the world! It was the most amazing moment of my life.

Sadly, just eight months after, my body crashed from the usage of the high doses of steroids and immunosuppressants for so many years. In a way, this was a blessing because it lead me to find the true cause behind the autoimmune disease, but it has been another extremely long and painful process. I was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease in a very chronic, late stage. I also found that I have heavy loads of mold, metals, viruses, and other pathogens. I’m still on my healing journey, but I know that I will get there eventually. Healing from years and years of being sick doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process in itself just to find the treatments that work without completely wiping my body out. Killing pathogens is an entirely different kind of healing than reducing inflammation. It’s so much harder on the body. But, I continue to stay on the holistic path, and have no doubts that I can heal. It’s just a matter of the right plan and timing.

My Conclusions…

So, this is why I choose holistic medicine. This is why it makes so much more sense to me to find the root cause of the problem and go after that instead of band-aiding the symptoms with drugs that only harm our bodies more. The Prednisone steroid and immunosuppressants only made my infections worse. They weakened my immune system and allowed the infections to take an even deeper hold. They destroyed my adrenal glands. I now struggle with horrible adrenal fatigue. I couldn’t watch a suspenseful or stressful TV show because I couldn’t recover from the rush of adrenaline for so long. If something startled me I felt like I was stuck at the top of a roller-coaster and couldn’t come down. Having a difficult conversation was unbelievably physically painful because I had no adrenal support to help me handle the stress. Try telling that to someone as an excuse for why you don’t want to talk to them! Haha. Nobody understood because it didn’t show on the outside. But, what those drugs did to me was brutal on the inside. The steroids also caused the mold and candida to grow rampantly in my body which taxes the liver and other organs even more. My kidneys have not been the same since. I have a horrific bladder condition, my other organs have been affected… things just aren’t the same as they used to be before I spent years on those medications. Yet, I’m not angry with the people who prescribed them to me. I’m angry with the medical system for allowing and encouraging it. No one should ever be on that high of a dose of steroids or immunosuppressants for that matter, for that long! It’s absolutely insane. Those are meant for short term use. The fact that we have no better options when there clearly are natural, safe options is absolutely ridiculous! We have been conditioned to believe that our medical system is going to take care of us. We believe that they are doing the best that they can and have the most amount of knowledge of anyone out there. We practically worship doctors because they go to school longer than any of us. But, the fact is, this system is broken and it is not helping us. It’s hurting us. It is not health care. Health care is preventing and healing conditions, not making them worse or ending one’s life too soon for no reason. And can we talk about the domino effect of medications?! Once you start taking a pill you get a bunch of side effects. So, what do they do? They prescribe you another pill to deal with the side effects of that one. And then another for the side effects of the other one, and so on. I was on so many medications I couldn’t even keep them straight! How’s that for healing an inflamed liver?

Now, some of you might be saying, well what would you do if you got into a car accident? Well, of course I would use conventional medicine. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing treatments, surgeries, and doctors out there! (I truly don’t think that the majority of doctors mean us any harm.) I think modern medicine is fantastic for trauma, injury, and other necessary things. But, for chronic illness, I do not find it remotely helpful. And, I’ve had A LOT of chronic illnesses over the years and I often give western medicine a shot, because when we are in pain or some kind of discomfort, we will do just about anything to get out of it. But, conventional (western) medicine for me has never had long-term solutions for chronic issues.

Also, I’d love to tell you my opinion about autoimmune disease. I do not believe that an autoimmune disease is the result of the body attacking itself. Our bodies are extremely intelligent. They know how to heal themselves. They also know how to create tiny humans, give birth to them, know that they need food from us, and they supply it. They do not just randomly go about attacking themselves. I know this now because I eventually found the root causes of my autoimmune disease: Lyme, mold, viruses, heavy metals, parasites, and other toxins. The problem is, for some reason, the medical community does not look for the root causes of chronic illnesses anymore. I don’t know if there ever was a time that they did. I haven’t been alive to see it. They just slap a name on your condition (for which there could be many individual causes, no one chronic condition is caused by the same exact thing, so I don’t know why they treat it as such) and send you home with a drug to band-aid your symptoms. You never get medication to address the root cause of chronic illness. There is a never a cure, because they don’t know why it truly happens. (I can’t tell you how many times I requested to be tested for Lyme Disease and was denied!) You can’t cure something without finding out why it’s happening at all. Did anyone ever ask their doctor why their immune system is attacking itself? What makes it do that? I would guess they would blame it on our faulty genes. It’s always those dang genes. Well, sure, maybe genes have something to do with it because when you’re in the womb you do get toxins and pathogens passed on to you. Plus, if you inherit your parents eating habits and lifestyle, that affects your health, too. But, in my opinion and experience, there is always a pathogen and toxic load involved in chronic, mystery illnesses. It’s not always just passed on from your parents. That is not to say that there aren’t illnesses that are genetic, such as Down’s Syndrome and Friedreich ataxia. But, those are in a totally different category.

Our bodies aren’t made to handle the chemicals in modern day drugs. They bring so much toxicity. That’s why there are side effects. Toxins are one of the major reasons we get sick in the first place, not to mention the fact that they feed the pathogens that also make us sick. So, pumping our bodies full of more toxins doesn’t make any sense to me or others with my same beliefs. I’m not alone here. We have to look at the facts and the truth about how what we put in our bodies effects our health. That includes drugs to treat illness. It also includes our daily diets. No pill is going to counteract a terrible diet forever. Your body will start to break down in other ways. Clearly, coming off of those drugs and removing the inflammatory foods I was eating changed my body so much! I went from dying to having a new chance at life. So, my point here is, please don’t fall victim to believing everything that medical doctors tell you to be true. It’s very dangerous. You have to be your own health advocate and inform yourself! You have the power to change your health right in your own hands. It starts with you and your choices. It is not your fault that you have pathogens and toxins. It’s not your fault that you are sick. You didn’t do it to yourself. No one in their right mind would do that to themselves. But, you can change it yourself.

My Advice To You…

If you’re wondering where to start on your holistic journey, I would highly recommend seeking out an experienced naturopath or functional medicine doctor. You can often find certified ones that are also chiropractors. There is a lot of talk about chiropractors being total quacks. I think that is unfortunate because the majority of them aren’t. Most chiropractors generally want to help you on your wellness journey. I will admit, there are some out there that don’t always know what they’re doing and follow the trends in hopes of growing their businesses. But, if you do your research, ask for referrals, and find someone who has been practicing successfully for years, you can find great ones who can really help and support you. You will find that they are more attentive to your concerns, will do more in depth testing to find out why you are sick, and they will treat your body as a whole – not as separate compartments like conventional medicine does. The human body is all interconnected. Why we treat it like separate computer parts is very puzzling. But, holistic medicine will look at the entire picture. I can’t promise you success overnight or immediate relief. But, I can guarantee that it will help you become healthier! You have to be patient and believe in it. Your attitude towards it is just as important as what you are putting inside of your body. It’s so true that health is all about the mind, body, spirit connection. So, don’t forget those aspects either.

Obviously, I’m not totally healed yet. But, I know that when I put all of these things into place, I see improvement. It’s slow sometimes and so frustrating to get through, but eventually it gets better. I know I can heal and I’m determined to do so.

I do not always have support from friends and family regarding my choices of treatment. In fact, I’d say most people don’t agree with it. It’s disappointing to me. I would hope that they would listen to my concerns, value my opinions, see what I’ve been through, and understand why I would make the choices that I do. But, a lot of them just think I’m crazy and avoiding the help that the western medicine world could offer me. Funny though, most of those people don’t have any chronic health conditions of their own to actually understand firsthand that the medical system does not offer true help for chronic illness. They don’t understand the toxicity of drugs or how they can make conditions worse. They don’t feel the pain of the side-effects. So, I have to stand firm in my beliefs and often keep them to myself. It protects my energy and my sanity! I know what I’ve experienced and I’ve put in the countless hours of research. My body is the one who has been through all of this, and it knows what’s best for me. I listen to my gut and I have absolutely zero doubts that the path I have chosen is the best one. Don’t let other people persuade you. You have to make your own decisions. If you don’t have support around you, find it elsewhere. It’s there! I promise you. There are countless support groups online and in person. You can choose your path and find others who are on it, too.

I am not a medical professional. Please do not take this as advice on how to heal your condition. Rather, let it be inspiration to help you find answers on your own health journey. The AIP Diet helped me a lot. It may or may not be what’s best for you, though. If you want to learn more about my experience doing it and the itself, see my previous post here. I’ve done a lot of trial and error with diets over the years for different kinds of conditions. Each one is unique. So, if one thing doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to get back out there, do some more research, and try another! You will find what works best for you. Follow your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, like getting a serious, life-altering surgery, postpone it and take the time you need to figure out the best path – if you have the time. It’s your body. No one is in control of it but you. You can say no to doctors. They aren’t God. They’re human and they make mistakes just like you and me. Remember that. And if I can ever be of any help to you, please don’t ever hesitate to reach out. I’m here for you! Thank you to anyone who actually read this post all the way to the end! It was kind of therapeutic to write this story and I appreciate you taking the time to read it. I hope that it helps you in some way.

Be well, friends!

XOXO,

Kelly

This is me now, healthier, happier, and still in remission from autoimmune disease! 🙂

Happy #WellnessWednesday friends! I hope that you are having a great week. It feels so good to be feeling well enough to come and type my heart out to you! If you haven’t been following along on social media, I have been having a really bad flare-up of Interstitial Cystitis. It’s also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome. Yes, it is as awful as it sounds. It’s a very similar feeling to a UTI, but in many cases much worse. It doesn’t respond to antibiotics and traditional western medicine testing cannot detect any source of infection at all. It feels like someone is stabbing you in the bladder, like you have to go to the bathroom so badly, but there’s barely a drop inside of you, your bladder feels sore and full, and even the outside parts of you can hurt, too – 24/7. Some women live their entire lives in this pain. No pain medication will touch it. There are no cures and only one drug on the market that only works for 30% of people and then usually stops working after a few months. Not trying to sound negative here peeps, just giving you the straight talk. Plus, the side-effects are hair loss, liver damage, and possibly cancer. So, no thanks. That’s not for me. I did get so desperate that I tried it a couple of years ago when this first happened, but I lasted about two weeks on it and saw absolutely no improvement, so I stopped. I didn’t want to do any further damage to my body.

You all know by now that I don’t use western medicine for my chronic illness healing protocols or symptom relief. There are times when pain is so bad that I will have to temporarily take something, but I never do that more than a couple times a year. So, when I first had this Interstitial Cystitis come about, I was on the hunt for ways to heal it FAST. Unfortunately, it took a really long time for me to find what helped. I tried EVERYTHING under the sun! I was in severe pain for nine months. I pretty much just wanted to either get a permanent epidural to knock out all feeling in my lower half, or have someone take me to Dr. Kevorkian and sign me out of this life. This was after the autoimmune disease, the Lyme Disease, the parasites, hormone imbalance, adrenal fatigue, endometriosis, gastritis, IBS, migraines, and so much more that I’m not going to stay here all day typing out. I felt like “what on earth have I done to deserve all of this?!?!” I was beyond frustrated, devastated, and sad. No one had answers and I felt so alone in my quest to find them. But, once again, I dedicated my entire life to researching and putting myself out there to find the help I needed. Thankfully, it showed up!

I was in a support group for IC and several ladies mentioned that a raw, fruit and vegetable liquid diet got them out of pain and into full remission. (By the way, if you are searching for answers for your chronic illness problems, I highly recommend joining a FB support group for your conditions. Just don’t get sucked in – they can be very depressing because people are suffering. You have to always remember that you are not a statistic and you are not that person who is living with the pain. You are searching for and WILL FIND answers, and you HAVE to keep a positive mindset!) So, I googled raw diets and there was the Medical Medium. I’d heard about this guy from friends and Goop but I’d never looked into his protocols. I was too busy following what my practitioners were telling me to do. But, when I researched his approach more it started to really click with me. He posed a lot of good questions like, “how long have you been following that high fat, high protein diet and what has it done for you lately?” and “Did it help you at first but now you’re stuck in a rut again and nothing is changing?” I was like, “Ummmm… YES. Exactly. It did help me at first a lot! But in the last several years, I have been feeling pretty much the same on it.” Which is totally true.

I started out doing the Autoimmune Paleo Diet five years ago. I went from a standard American diet of what I thought was “healthy” to the Paleo diet. So, of course I saw improvements and of course my inflammation went down after cutting out gluten, dairy, grains, sugar, soy, and processed foods. But then, I plateaued. Doing the Paleo diet kept my autoimmune disease in remission, but it never healed my underlying causes. The Medical Medium’s protocol on the other hand, was a completely different approach and he was claiming it would heal these underlying conditions. So, in a desperate attempt, I started the 28 Day Cleanse and within a couple of months I was out of pain! So, when this flared up again on New Year’s Day this year, I returned to the protocol.

So, you might be wondering, why did I stop? I stopped drinking it because someone told me that I should, haha. They said that I wasn’t getting enough protein and that the celery juice was making me less alkaline. I don’t think that was true now at all. Here’s the thing about other people’s opinions… they’re just that. They’re not always true, not always right, and not always the best for YOU personally. You have to find and discover what works best for you. What helps you feel good? What gets you out of pain? What brings you energy and well-being? No one else can decide that for you. You have to get in tune with your body and figure this out for yourself. There are so many opinions and schools of thought out there about what is the “right” way to eat. Is it Paleo, lectin-free, carnivore diet, vegan diet, plant-based diet, etc, etc? Most practitioners in the western medicine world couldn’t care less about what diet you do. They don’t even think diet helps with inflammation, autoimmune disease, Lyme, or any kind of chronic illness or even cancer! Now that, I can tell you from experience is absolutely absurd. I have a whole other post coming on that. But, then there are the holistic practitioners who all want to tell us that high fat, high protein diets are the way to go. I followed this for years and years and my health didn’t improve at all. In fact, my liver got more sluggish, I had a harder time detoxing from protocols killing Lyme, parasites, and mold, and I couldn’t shed pockets of fat in areas, mainly around my liver. But, when I do a lower fat, plant-based diet, I detox better and I lose that fat faster. I can always tell because one alcoholic drink doesn’t give me a headache or make me feel like death the next day, and I thin out in areas where I usually can’t. Anyway, my point is this… keep an open mind about avenues for healing. Just because your doctor said that you have to eat high protein, low carb, high fat and that’s the only way you’ll heal, does not mean that they are right. They’re human, too. They have biases because they are taught in school that that’s the best way to heal from certain conditions. That’s what all their peers are doing. That’s what is trending in functional and holistic medicine. I see so many patients getting brainwashed that this is the only way that they can eat. Someone asked me once how I healed my IC the first time, and when I told them that I did an all fruit and vegetable cleanse for a few months, they looked horrified! They said, “I can’t do that! I can’t eat fruit!” It wasn’t part of their high protein, high-fat diet. Also, when we stop eating those things our systems don’t handle them so well when they get reintroduced. As I said earlier, my system was unhappy for a long while when I first started the Medical Medium Protocol. But, after a bit, I was able to eat whatever fruits and starches I wanted without any of the discomforts.

We limit our options for healing when we buy into ideas that there is only one diet to help us. That’s why I urge you to stay open to new, seemingly impossible ways to get better. It’s in these leaps of faith where I’ve found the most healing. When I go so far outside of the box that we’ve been conditioned to stay inside, I find the greatest ways to heal. Keep this in mind on your journey, friends.

So here’s a bit more about the Medical Medium, the cleanse, and how it’s helped me…

The Medical Medium

If you haven’t heard about Anthony William, let me be the first to tell you that he is a very interesting guy! He is not a doctor as you might suspect. He is just a regular guy with an extraordinary gift if you so choose to believe. I’ve been on the fence about this for years, but here’s what he says. He claims that he has had a voice speaking to him since the age of four. He was at a family dinner when a very clear voice spoke to him in his head and it said: “Grandma has lung cancer.” So, he told his family this. She had no symptoms at the time, but she went to the doctor and sure enough, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Ever since then, Anthony has heard the voice telling him about everyone’s health problems that he is around. He can’t shut the voice off. He said this was a very difficult thing to accept for a long time. He didn’t want to have this voice speaking to him. But, he eventually realized that he could help so many people and he started to lean into his role. Since then, he has helped tens of thousands of people heal, including very famous celebrities who endorse him. If you pick up one of his books, you’ll find hundreds of testimonials from famous people of all backgrounds who say how much Anthony has helped them and their families.

Spirit tells Anthony all about the root causes of people’s chronic conditions. In a world where chronic illness is running rampant and mystery illness is more common than ever, people are latching on to Anthony’s advice from Spirit and are finding real healing! Spirit tells him not only what is wrong with people, but it tells him how to fix it, too! Anthony has answers to all kinds of chronic ailments from acne to Lyme Disease, Hashimotos, ALS, autoimmune disease, gallbladder disease, mold, viruses, thyroid dysfunction, liver disease, Lupus, endometriosis, UTIs, IC, you name it! Many of you would be shocked to hear what he claims are the root causes to these sicknesses. They’re often things you already know about and probably have already had multiple times in your life like the strep or mono virus!

The exciting part about Anthony’s gift of Spirit is that he can share what Spirit tells him about how to heal with us. Spirit always has natural, safe, and holistic ways of clearing out pathogens that are causing disease. You can find most of the protocol at your health food store and grocery store! It’s accessible and for me and so many others, it’s helped immensely.

The first time I tried this protocol, I was open to believing in Spirit, but I wasn’t fully there yet. I don’t know that I’m 100% there now, but I have a really good gut feeling about it this time around. I get that it is totally out there and it would make so much sense that this guy was making all of this up to be famous and sell books. But, my intuition is telling me otherwise. The more I listen to him and read his work, the more I feel a connection to it and it resonates with me on so many levels. I’ve seen people with spiritual gifts firsthand and that’s also helped me to have more faith in what Anthony is telling us. I once worked with a woman who does energy healing and it was undeniable that she had a gift of connecting with the spiritual realm. She knew things about me that I’d never told a soul. They were incredibly detailed and exact and it was honestly shocking. She did the same for my husband and it was so different, but also spot on. For those that are fearful of people connecting to another realm, I don’t think that you should be if you are working with the right kind of person. It’s not about Satan, it’s not about idolizing anything or playing God. In fact, the woman I worked with is a very devout Christian and she tells me every time that I speak to her that her gift is from God. I don’t doubt her because she was so incredibly accurate. So, since that experience, I have been much more inclined to believe people who claim to have gifts like this. But, even more than that, the protocol has helped me every time that I’ve done it. Additionally, I’ve had testing done that’s revealed that I have these things he claims to be root causes. Is it possible that it’s a scam? Sure. It is. But, when you’re in pain and desperately seeking answers, you’ll try anything! So, I did. I’m glad I did. It helped me. That’s why I’m sharing it with you today. I realize it may be outside of a lot of people’s comfort zones, but, I challenge you to push through that and give this a shot, especially if you’re suffering. If you disagree, that’s totally fine. I completely understand. I’m not here to argue or start a debate. It just simply helped me and I want to do what I can to help others through my experience, so that’s what I’m going to do today! 🙂

The 28-Day Cleanse:

So, how does it work? Well, Anthony has a bunch of books out and I would highly recommend starting there. I can’t possibly give you all of the information you need in this blog post. But, if you grab a copy of a book and listen to his podcast here on SoundCloud, you’ll quickly learn a lot of what you need to know.

I started out reading the book “Medical Medium” which I think is a great place to start if you’re unsure of which book to read first. It clearly lays out where and how he gets his info and it has the details for the 28 Day Cleanse as well. If you have a liver or thyroid condition, I would recommend getting one or both of the books on those specific topics (I linked all of the books below for you) depending upon what you’re dealing with. I am also pre-ordering the “Cleanse To Heal” book that’s coming out soon because I’m sure there will be a lot of great information in there as well. All of his books are so interesting and packed with great knowledge and tips!

So, on the 28 Day Cleanse, Anthony tells us that we have to bring the fats and proteins way down (to next to nothing) in order for the liver to have a break from processing those and to focus on cleansing out all of the pathogens and toxins that are making us sick. But, this cleanse is just as much about what you SHOULD eat as it is what you shouldn’t. He says that you must focus on fruits mainly because they have such incredible healing powers, followed by vegetables. There are certain fruits and vegetables that are best for treating specific conditions. So, you’ll want to listen to the podcasts and read the books to find out exactly which fruits and veggies are best for you, and which supplements and herbs to bring in as well.

Many of you reading this are probably thinking, HECK NO, I’m not eating fruits! I hear you, I felt the same way at first! I was like, “no way, I have candida and mold, I can’t possibly be eating fruit! I might as well poison myself!” But, trust me… I did it and it didn’t kill me. My mold levels didn’t get worse and neither did the candida. Also, he makes really good points about why fruits aren’t to be feared. He has an entire episode on “Fruit Fear” and how we have been conditioned to believe it’s bad for us when in reality he says it’s what is going to help us heal. I highly recommend listening to that episode here. You should also listen to the “Healing from Mold Exposure” episode and “The Truth About Candida”. Fascinating!

During the 28 Day Cleanse, you will eat raw fruits and vegetables every day for 28 days. He does not recommend eating any grains, gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods or oils, and very limited beans or legumes if at all. He says that you should minimize any fats and proteins. He does give you some options for fats such as a little bit of avocado and some different recipes for cashew sauces that can be used for dressings and dips to flavor your food! But, to get the most benefit from the cleanse, he recommends that you eat raw fruits and veggies for 28 days. For many people, this can be too intense. If you are really sick, as I was the first time I did this cleanse, it can be too much for your liver and body to handle at once. I knew this because I was completely wiped out and couldn’t do much of anything. So, in this case, he recommends that you slow it down by adding in some cooked vegetables and a little bit of fat. In this case, he says that eating potatoes (yes, even WHITE POTATOES! Say what?!?!) for dinner is a good idea. Spirit has told Anthony that potatoes are actually a very healing food. They draw out viruses and help the body to heal, contrary to what we have been told in modern culture about potatoes, right?! I was pretty excited to finally eat a potato again, haha! You can eat white potatoes or sweet potatoes. Both have great healing benefits.

Here are the foods that are on the NO LIST:

  • MSG – can be disguised as saying “Natural Flavor”
  • Dairy
  • Canola Oil
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Gluten
  • Pork
  • Citric Acid
  • Soy
  • Processed Sugar
  • Processed Beet Sugar
  • Farmed Fish
  • Natural Flavors
  • Eggs
  • Artificial Sweeteners
  • Corn
  • Most Grains
  • Vinegar

While you are on the cleanse, there are a couple of key foods that play a huge role. The first is celery juice. If you haven’t yet, check out my post all about celery juice and its benefits here. Celery juice is to be drunk on an empty stomach. It’s best first thing in the morning, but if you absolutely can’t do that, later is better than never. Celery juice is so beneficial because it increases your natural stomach acid which is critical to your health, and helps fight pathogens. It is great for the liver and detoxing the body. There are so many more benefits to it, so check out that blog post for more, and definitely pick up one of his books to find even more info as well!

Another key to the cleanse is the Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie. This smoothie helps to draw out heavy metals that are inside of your body. These metals are extremely toxic! They feed pathogens and damage your organs. They are often behind so many of our chronic conditions! This smoothie consists of:

  • 2 cups of Organic Wild Blueberries – Incredible healing food!
  • 2 Bananas (I like mine frozen for extra creaminess!)
  • 1 cup of freshly squeezed OJ
  • 1 cup of organic Cilantro or Parsely (I use parsley because cilantro tastes like soap to me!)
  • A tsp of Vimergy Barley Grass Juice Powder
  • A TBS of Atlantic Dulse Flakes
  • Hawaiin Spirulina

This magical little blend will slowly, and safely draw out the metals from your body. You can assist in this process by using a sauna, doing Epsom salt baths, and dry brushing!

Anthony also recommends that you add in snacks for your adrenals. It’s important to support them throughout the cleanse. He suggests eating red apples, celery, and dates to keep your adrenal glands functioning well.

A typical day on the cleanse for me looks like this:

AM:

Warm water with the juice of 1 lemon squeezed into it on an empty stomach

16-24 oz of Celery Juice – wait 20 minutes to eat

The Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie – mentioned above

Take supplements and herbs

PM:

Snack – Apples, celery, dates

Lunch – Spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, red onion and squeezed lemon juice. Can add a bit of avocado if you need to slow the detox down.

Snack – Berries – raspberries, blueberries, and/or strawberries

Dinner – Cooked vegetables such as sweet potatoes or russet potatoes. There are lots of delicious recipes with potatoes that are on the Medical Medium Website. You can find packets for all kinds of approved recipes here (scroll down on this page to get to the recipe packets). I also make salsa, curry, sweet potato nachos, spinach potato cups, potato crust pizza, and more! You won’t starve on this cleanse, I PROMISE you! 🙂

Take supplements and herbs

Supplements and Herbs:

Anthony also recommends a lot of herbs and supplements to help you heal while you’re on the cleanse. I would recommend going slowly with the herbs that kill pathogens because it can be a lot for someone who is very ill to add these in. I had to first start the cleanse and get my body used to that and then I carefully added these to my regimen. He goes over all of the appropriate herbs and supplements for each condition on his podcast and in his books. So, you’ll want to check those out to find out what is best for you at this time. There is a webpage for the best brands of supplements to use which you can find here.

Speaking of herbs, teas are a great thing that Anthony recommends on this cleanse. Be sure you use pure herbal tea. No additives! Sometimes companies add in eggs or rice, which are a big NO on this cleanse (eggs and rice are foods that feed pathogens)! They also can contain “natural flavors” which are code for MSG, which is also a big no-no food. I like the Traditional Medicinals brand of tea. Simple and pure! You can also add raw honey to your tea. Raw honey has a lot of healing properties such as being anti-viral, anti-fungal, helps promote digestive health, heal skin conditions, and is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Anthony recommends using wildflower honey and let me tell you, it is SO delish!

For my IC which he says is caused by Strep, I am taking Lemon Balm, Propolis, Goldenseal, Elderberry Syrup, Vit D3, Vit B12, Ester-C, Zinc, Manganese, Magnesium, Oregon Grape, Eyebright, L-lysine, Burdock Tea, Nettle Leaf Tea, Ginger Tea, Lemon Balm Tea, and some other things that have helped me that are not a part of the protocol. I am going to do a post for just IC and I’ll have that info in there. But, in case you’re struggling badly right now and reading this, I also use Desert Harvest products like their freeze dried Aloe, Buffered Vit C, Quercetin and Glucosamine & Chondroitin which you can find here. These supplements combined with the mostly raw, very low fat and protein diet have helped me get out of pain in a fairly quick manner. As I said earlier, last time this IC flared, I was in excruciating pain for nine months. This time around after I started the cleanse I was out of the pain for the most part within ten days. Much faster than anything western medicine has ever offered me! Nothing they gave me ever helped, unfortunately. So, do keep an open mind about what might be helpful to your healing process.

Take It At Your Own Pace:

I do want to mention that you have to take this at your own pace. If you can’t go fully fat-free and raw right off the bat, that’s okay! Ease yourself into it. But, be purposeful about it. Don’t just say, “I’m going to lower my fat today” and then not have a plan. Make a plan for how you’re going to transition into it and stick to it! Then, each day or two, slowly start to take out more fat and protein until you are compliant with the cleanse. Or, you can be like me and just go in cold turkey! Lol. That works, too! It might be a bit of a shock to the body, but it’ll come around.

That being said, not everyone can eat all of the foods he lists as healing foods upon starting this cleanse. When I first started, citrus was difficult for me because of my bladder symptoms. But, eventually, I was able to reintroduce it and had no problems at all. This time around, cashews are not going down well for me. So, I’m staying away from those and using avocado as my fat source. It’s okay if you can’t do everything he mentions. Just take it out or substitute it with something that your body can handle.

Also, do join the Facebook support group if you decide to do this. There are so many helpful people there who are such a great source of knowledge and encouragement. You can find that group here.

My Experience on the Cleanse:

As I have mentioned above, this cleanse has helped me get out of severe pain twice now. But, it did not come without some discomfort along the way. Detoxes typically never do. I will say though that this one is much more gentle on my body than others I have done in the past by a longshot.

When I first did this cleanse, I was very sick. I was struggling with very heavy fatigue, IC pain in the bladder, and chronic pain all over my body. I had been doing the Paleo Diet for years and years and was more on the side of keto because I thought it was helping with my candida. However, this high protein, high-fat diet was actually making my liver very sluggish and adding to my fatigue and pain. My stomach acid was low, allowing for infections to easily enter into my gut, and my body was not detoxing well on its own at all. Anthony says to think of it like this… If you were to get showered, do your hair, put on your makeup and a nice outfit and then go outside and someone threw a bucket of oil on you, you’d have to go home, shower, and get ready all over again. What if you went back outside and it happened again? Eventually, over time you would get very worn down and tired from this routine. This is basically what you are doing to your liver when you are eating a high-fat diet. Even if you think you aren’t eating a high-fat diet, if you’re eating a lot of animal protein, you are eating a high-fat diet. Chicken breast has a lot more fat than what the label says. Anyway, back to the liver… this analogy demonstrates how your liver feels when you feed yourself a large amount of fat. It’s doing well, feeling fine, and then BAM! You hit it with a lot of fat and it has to stop everything it’s doing and working on and address breaking down that fat instead. So while it might have been killing off pathogens and cleansing your body of toxins, it had to pull away to deal with the influx of fat you just served it. Over time, this makes your liver sluggish and built up with toxic waste that also makes you feel rundown. Make sense? So, I decided that I was going to try this completely different approach because the Paleo Diet wasn’t helping me to heal and the proof was in the pudding. I hadn’t healed on it and it had been so many years. Do I think it helps bring down inflammation? Absolutely. Can we do even better than that and actually heal? I think so!

So, when I started this totally different regime the first time around, my body was in a pretty crazy state of shock. Taking out the protein and fat was a big change. I was detoxing so rapidly. I was completely exhausted, my head hurt, and I felt bloated. My skin also started to break out badly. When we detox, sometimes it starts to come out through our skin. Don’t be alarmed, this happens to most people and it will eventually pass. It’s my least favorite part about this cleanse, but I keep telling myself it’s for the greater good of my body and I shouldn’t be so concerned about my appearance. My health is much more important! Still very hard not to freak out over, I get it.

My experience this time around has been very similar. However, I’m not as wiped out, I can handle the herbs and supplements more easily, and I can function on a day to day basis much better. The cleanse has helped me get out of terrible pain in my bladder and I’m detoxing a lot. I know this because I go to the bathroom a lot more than I normally do. I am still experiencing bloating after meals. This is a very common complaint on this cleanse. When you eat a lot of raw, fresh produce, I think it’s par for the course that you’re going to feel bloated. Especially when it’s not your usual fare. As I remember from the first time I did this, the bloating is something that never completely went away for me. I did the protocol for a few months the first time, and then I transitioned into a vegan, plant-based diet. But, I don’t remember ever feeling like the bloating was totally gone while fully on the cleanse. This time around it’s still here at the end of the 28 days. I’m curious to see if it sticks around the longer I continue. I’ll keep you posted.

I did have to slow the cleanse down again this time. I was feeling rundown and the breakouts on my face were really bothering me. I added in fats and cooked potatoes in the evenings. Just a little bit of fat, though. About half of an avocado at most, or a tiny bit of olive oil. I also have made soups with coconut milk. Doing this helps with fatigue, exhaustion, and headaches caused by detoxing. So, if you’re feeling like it’s too intense, just add in some more potatoes and a little bit of fat.

As I mentioned above, I am also experiencing breakouts on my face. I know this is a detox symptom because it does not resemble my usual breakouts. I have tiny little blemishes coming up through my skin on my forehead, chin, and cheeks. Drinking lots of lemon water, Burdock tea, Nettle Leaf tea, and sauna sessions should help with this. I need to step up all of these things!

You may also experience diarrhea while doing this cleanse. It’s totally normal. You are eating a lot of fiber and probably drinking more liquids than usual. As a whole in my experience, eating a plant-based diet of any kind causes more bowel movements, which is a good thing. But, don’t be surprised if you have some diarrhea for a few days. Just try to stay hydrated! Anthony recommends drinking coconut water because it is filled with natural electrolytes! YUM.

The most noticeable benefits of being on this cleanse have been increased energy, increased liver function, decreased pain, and an overall improvement in well-being including my mood. In the past, I noticed that my periods eventually were not as painful either. I haven’t gotten to that point this time, but I would expect that they will get better again. I did a workout yesterday and I felt energized. The first time around it completely changed my energy levels! I felt a million times better. This time, I feel the energy, but not quite the same boost I did the first go-round. But, I haven’t been doing it as long yet, so that may come later as well. I also recall from the first time that I felt happier and more at ease. That might have had something to do with the fact that I was in less pain and had more energy, haha! That always makes people feel better overall.

What Do I Need to Do This Cleanse?

The good news is, you don’t need much to do this cleanse. The biggest thing you need is an open mind and a positive outlook. If you choose to believe that this is going to heal you, you will have a better chance of it working. If you spend your time doubting, second-guessing, focusing on all of the discomforts and how it’s not working quickly enough, you will fail. You will decide that it’s not for you or that it’s total crap and not worth your efforts. It’s not easy. I get it. But, it has helped me and so many of my friends and people that I follow along with. I’m in a Facebook support group for the Medical Medium 28 Day Cleanse, and there are hundreds of people in there who have healed this way. Listen to the successes and find inspiration and hope in them to keep going.

Secondly, you need a high-speed blender. This will help you to make your detox smoothie, other smoothies you might want to try, and your cashew sauce and dips. You can even make celery juice in a blender if you don’t have a juicer!

Lastly, I would recommend getting a juicer. You can find one online for pretty decent prices nowadays and in my opinion, it’s absolutely worth it. It’s more work to make celery juice in a blender. I like the ease of the juicer much more. Plus, you can make your own fresh juices that have more nutrients in them than bottled juice does. It’s best to drink juice that’s been freshly made minutes before than bottled juice. It contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals.

What’s Next?

Great question. I’m still kind of figuring this out, but I think that I will stay on this mostly plant-based diet with lots of raw fruits, the celery juice, and cooked vegetables (especially sweet potatoes for me because next I’m going to work on endometriosis and Anthony says those are best for endo!) in the evenings with some fats from avocado, coconut, and olive oil. I’m going to stay grain-free as he recommends. I will likely add in more black beans (pressure cooking them helps me digest them so much better!), some millet, and possibly quinoa, too. I’ll stick to a lot of spinach, apples, celery, cucumbers, wild blueberries, tomatoes, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, lettuces, mango, garlic, papaya, and herbs like parsley, ginger, and turmeric. If you check out his book Life-Changing Foods, or the podcast, you can learn about all of the healing powers in these foods and why you want to include them in your diet.

I am sure that I will also add in some fish once in a while. Anthony says that wild-caught halibut and salmon are best, and that’s totally fine with me! I like to go out to eat, so if there are wild-caught options that’s an easy way to eat as clean as possible while dining at a restaurant.

As for other options while eating out, I would say stick to veggies. Ask the staff if they use olive oil to cook with or if it is canola or a blend of canola and olive oil. If it is anything but straight olive oil, ask for your veggies to be steamed or baked. An easy option would be a baked sweet or regular potato. I also ask for steamed vegetables with a side of lemon that I squeeze over everything to give it some flavor. It works well.

Remember, you don’t have to be on this cleanse forever. Anthony says that once you are healed, you can add your favorite NO foods back in once in a while. I wouldn’t make a total habit out of it, but every now and then won’t kill you if you have really done your healing work. He is not anti-animal protein or anti any kind of diet. He just says that to heal your body, you have to take out the fats and high amounts of protein. So, going forward, he recommends to keep your fats low, keep eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and don’t overdo it with animal proteins. I think that’s a totally do-able diet and all-around healthy. I’ve done something similar before, and honestly, I was the leanest I ever was in my life! I personally find that when I lower my fat intake, I get leaner. When I do the keto stuff I ALWAYS gain weight. That diet isn’t for everyone. But, listen to your body, and do what’s best for your healing.

One thing that I will definitely do this time around is to continue using the herbs and supplements for maintenance. I did not do this previously, and I think it could have very well helped me to keep flares like this at bay. So, listen when he says which herbs and supplements are most critical for your condition, and stay on those for the long haul.

I realize that while this approach may be an uncomfortable change, it could be an option to bring you some relief and healing. I’m not trying to convince you to do this or that it’s definitely going to heal you. I just want you to keep an open mind about your options and not limit yourself to fads and trends that are out there.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, this girl and the people who follow this are absolutely insane… I can see where you’re coming from. However, please don’t be judgemental about someone’s healing path. Dealing with chronic illness is extremely difficult, taxing on the body, the soul, the spirit, the mind, the heart, relationships, and so much more. It is a very hard road to travel. We aren’t given many options for healing. Most things don’t work or even make us worse. We are desperate for answers and help. If something brings someone even a bit of relief, try to be supportive. It may not make sense to you, but it doesn’t have to. It’s not your body, and it’s not your life. If someone you know chooses to do things differently than you would just do your best to be there for them and encourage them to keep fighting for their health. You never know what you would do until you’re faced with these circumstances. Trust me, I never thought in a million years that I would be here writing about a man who hears health problems and answers from a spirit. LOL.

As always, this is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or a trained practitioner. This is based solely upon my own experience. I simply want to share what has helped me in hopes of helping you.

I hope that this post has helped you get an understanding of how this cleanse works! Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of help in any way. I would love to hear your thoughts, too! So, if you’ve got any, leave a comment for us below!

Thanks so much for reading, friends! Have a fabulous day 🙂

XOXO,

Kelly

Hey, guys! Happy Wellness Wednesday! I hope you’re having a great week and feeling awesome. I’ve been really excited to share this post with you because it’s something that has been really helpful to me and I hope that it might help you, too. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, yes, it’s celery juice! It probably sounds disgusting to most, but I promise you, it’s not as bad as you might think. I actually find the taste to be much milder compared to a lot of other green juices I have tried. So, stick with me! I’m going to share some benefits that might just entice you to give it a shot!

Why Am I Drinking Celery Juice?

First, I wanted to tell you why I’m drinking it. A couple of years ago, after my Lyme Disease laser treatment that worked so wonderfully for me, I was doing another protocol for parasites. We all have them. Don’t panic. But, if you have Lyme or chronic illness of another kind, you probably have more of them then you’d like to know. I found this out and it wasn’t pretty, haha! So, I was working with Dr. Todd Watts on a parasite protocol, when my stomach started to blow up! Something in killing those parasites made my gut very unhappy which led to my bladder flaring up horribly. It felt like a stabbing, extremely painful UTI. But, it did not go away with my usual UTI treatments, and I ended up being in pain for 9 months straight! I have had bladder problems for most of my life, and I’d been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (aka Painful Bladder Syndrome) about four months prior to this flare-up, but had gotten the pain mostly under control within a couple of weeks. This time was so much different.

IC is a very painful condition of the bladder. It is diagnosed as IC because western medicine traditional tests cannot detect any infection. The white blood cell counts are off, but they can’t find the source of the problem. So, they slap you with the label “IC” and send you off with no help. Sound familiar? Pretty much how everything goes with every chronic illness. I was in HELL and was desperately looking for answers. I spent 7 months searching for them and tried everything under the sun. I finally came across the Medical Medium protocol after hearing from other women that a raw fruit and vegetable liquid diet helped them get into remission. I jumped in full throttle and within 2 months, I was out of pain! Then, just this past New Year’s Day, my bladder flared up again! As you can imagine, I have been devastated because I never want to go through an excruciating nine months’ worth of horrific pain like that ever again. It was torturous. So many women live their entire lives in that pain. It’s unreal. So, I picked up my Medical Medium protocol again (I probably should never have abandoned it in the first place) and got to work on detoxing out whatever is going on in my body causing this pain. I can tell you that within the first 24 hours I noticed a change, and within ten days I am experiencing mostly pain-free days already. My hope is to continue to heal so that this never comes back again!

Since discovering the Medical Medium’s protocols, I quickly learned that celery juice would not only help my IC, but it helps so many other conditions, too! I have had Lyme, Autoimmune Disease, Gastritis, Endometriosis, Fibroids, EBV, Mold Toxicity, Adrenal Fatigue, Hormone Imbalance, Migraines, etc, etc, etc… So, if celery juice can help treat and prevent these conditions, by all means, I am here for trying it out!

The Benefits of Drinking Celery Juice

One of the biggest parts of the protocol is drinking celery juice every morning on an empty stomach. There are lots of benefits to this and I’m going to go over them here with you. You can still reap these benefits even if you don’t do the full protocol! It’s great for everyone, no matter what kind of diet you follow. Here’s why…

  • Helps fight Autoimmune Disease: This might blow a lot of people’s minds, but I don’t believe that autoimmune disease is your body “attacking itself”. I may refer to this at times, but that is only because that’s what I was initially told by my western medicine practitioners. Since then, I learned that I had Lyme Disease, EBV, mold, and the strep virus active in my body the entire time that my autoimmune disease was active. I don’t for a second think that my body just one day decided to attack my liver. I know in my gut and my bones that these other pathogens were behind the reason why I got so sick with the autoimmune disease in the first place. I have said that for years. Then, I found the Medical Medium and he agrees! Don’t fall victim to believing that your body is against you and hurting you. It’s not. It’s under attack. It’s not attacking itself. So, that being said, celery juice helps clear out those pathogens that CAUSE autoimmune disease! Celery Juice has sodium cluster salts that can break down and flush out pathogens. So, whether you are sick with autoimmune, have the flu, or a cold, a UTI, or cancer, celery juice will help eliminate those pathogens that are making you sick!
  • Helps Flush Toxins out of the Liver: “Celery juice’s sodium cluster salts bind onto neurotoxins, dermatoxins, & other viral waste, as well as troublemakers, & draw them out of the liver.” – Medical Medium Well, this is great news! I don’t think we realize how many toxins we encounter on a daily basis. They’re in the air, in our soil where our food grows, added to our foods, everything we touch, etc. Toxins in our bodies make and keep us sick. So, detoxing and flushing them out is essential to our health!
  • Kills EBV (Mono) & Shingles: ” The white blood cells of the liver’s personalized immune system add the cluster salts to their cell membrane coatings, making them toxic to viruses.” – Medical Medium Did you know that a common reason we have thyroid problems and chronic fatigue is that we have the mono virus or other viruses such as shingles living at undetectable levels in our organs? Yep, they are tough ones to eradicate. Just ask Justin Bieber! Once you have it, you always have it. But, with help, you can get these viral loads down to where you are no longer symptomatic.
  • Helps Get Rid of Strep Bacteria: Strep is another common pathogen that is in our bodies wreaking havoc and no one ever knows about it – until you read the Medical Medium or this post! I’ve found this to be very true. I have had in-depth testing done by alternative practitioners and sure enough I have strep in my body, especially in the bladder. Like I said earlier, once I started drinking celery juice every day, the pain subsided. Coincidence?? I don’t think so. The Medical Medium says that strep is behind conditions like UTIs, IC, acne, yeast infections, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overload), and many more!
  • Helps to Repair Stomach Acid and Liver Bile Flow: As we age our bodies produce less and less hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is stomach acid that help breakdown our foods and aid in digestion, as well as kill off pathogens that enter our bodies through food. This is bad because when our digestion suffers, we get bloated, infections, malnutrition from poor absorption of vitamins and minerals, and our energy suffers because of it. Celery juice helps to rebuild our natural HCl and helps strengthen the liver, which helps our bile production. All very important!
  • Critical for Chronic Acid Reflux: How many people do you know that have acid reflux? Probably a lot! So many people are on PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) which actually stop your body from producing it’s own HCl. I would not ever recommend taking these long term. So many bad side effects. But, when you have acid reflux, you have low HCl, higher load of pathogens like E. Coli and Strep, and a weakened liver because of all of this. Celery juice helps to rebuild the HCl, fight off the pathogens, and strengthen the liver!
  • Helps Restore Adrenal Glands: Do you notice that you get frazzled by the end of the day? Super stressed out and feel like you can’t calm down? Wired but exhausted? You have an adrenal problem. The salt clusters in celery juice have sodium in them that helps to stabilize your adrenal glands so that they function optimally.
  • Helps Fight SIBO and Bloating: As I mentioned above, celery juice helps to fight small intestinal bacterial overload which is often caused by strep. This can cause a lot of stomach bloating problems. If you feel bloated after you eat, have a lot of popping, gurgling, and rolling movement, it may be SIBO. It also helps with bloating by breaking down old rancid proteins and fats left in the small intestine! EW!

Celery juice also helps to lower inflammation, support weight loss, heal digestion, eczema, and psoriasis, fight infections, prevent UTIs, high blood pressure, and ulcers, lower cholesterol, and protect your liver health. It’s really a total body healing juice! That’s why I’m on board. I can tell a difference when I drink it versus when I don’t. So, give it a shot!

How To Make Celery Juice:

This infographic is from the Medical Medium website which is linked at the end of this post.

Here’s how I make mine:

  1. Buy ORGANIC fresh, celery. Each package of celery is one glass of juice. This is good to know because if you want to see the benefits of juicing celery, you should do it consecutively and you’ll want to stock up so you don’t run out. It’s important to get organic celery because you don’t want to be putting pesticides into your body that you’re trying to detox. Go to Aldi or Walmart to find affordable organic produce!
  2. Cut the ends off of the stock, then cut the celery in half so you have sticks that are 4-6 inches long. This helps them to go into the juicer easily and makes them easier to wash, too.
  3. WASH YOUR CELERY IN WATER AND IODINE! I cannot stress this enough. Water is not enough to clean your produce. Trust me. As someone with a compromised gut, I get infections so easily. When I first started I didn’t know any better and only washed my produce in water. I kept getting very sick, and I realized quickly that you can get salmonella and other pathogens from vegetables just as much as meat! My practitioner tells me to always wash all my produce in water with 10 drops of iodine. I use Lugol’s iodine which can be found at Amazon and I will link it below. Let it soak in the water 15-30 minutes. Then, rinse and you’re ready to juice!
  4. Load the celery into your juicer and juice at least 16 oz worth. I actually do more than this. I try to get 21 oz. I use an Omega juicer which I will link below. It works perfectly, I love it!
  5. Strain the fibers. After you have juiced your celery, get out a large glass and put a very tight strainer over top (tight meaning the holes are very tiny). Then, pour your juice into the glass through the strainer so that you don’t get any of the fibrous pulp. You only want the juice. This makes it easier for your body to digest and absorb than if there was all of the fiber in it as well.
  6. ENJOY! Bottoms up! It’s really not that bad. I don’t think it has much of a taste. But, try to get it down and get used to the taste.
  7. Wait 20 minutes before eating or drinking anything else.
  8. Reap the benefits! Keep going for several weeks and see how you start to feel!

You can also follow the infographic above to use a blender if you don’t have a juicer! It’s pretty simple. Remember to drink it on an empty stomach. It’s best to do first thing in the morning. But, if you don’t have time for that, just do it when you can. Later is better than never! I don’t always have time to wash my juicer, so I fill up my sink with water and soap and take apart my juicer pieces, toss them in the sink to soak, and wash it properly when I get home and have more time.

How Often and How Much Should I drink?

The Medical Medium recommends that you drink at least 16 oz a day. If you are in a bad situation like myself and have a lot of pain or are very, very ill, he suggests drinking 16-24 oz twice a day! I’ve done this and it does help me get relief faster.

I hope that you found this post informative and helpful! More importantly, I hope that it brings you healing. I’m always here for you if you have questions, need help, or just someone to chat with. I know how hard it is to be suffering every day, and having someone to talk to is so important. Make sure you have some support on your side because it’s just too hard of a battle to go alone. I’m a message away.

Below I have linked the Medical Medium’s books so you can read and learn more about these protocols. I would start with “Medical Medium” unless you know which organ is causing you problems. If you know you have thyroid or liver issues, by all means, grab those. But, if you want an overall explanation of his approach, check out “Medical Medium” and “Life Changing Foods”. His new book “Cleanse to Heal” is available for pre-order. I’ll definitely be getting that! All of his books include information on celery juice, but he has an entire book dedicated just to that if you’re mostly interested in that. I have not read that one, but I’m sure it’s great. He also has a podcast you can listen to on SoundCloud. I highly recommend listening to those if you are interested in finding out more. I’m also linking the iodine I use to wash my fruits and veggies and my Omega juicer!

If you try out the celery juice, please take a pic and tag me on social media! I’d love to see you rocking your new wellness routine. It helps me to stay inspired to keep creating content like this when I know that it has been beneficial to you! Thanks so much for reading guys. Have a great day and BE WELL!

XOXO,

Kelly

medicalmedium.com, Medical Medium at. “10 Health Benefits of Celery Juice.” Medical Medium, 16 Jan. 2019, www.medicalmedium.com/blog/10-health-benefits-of-celery-juice.

Happy weekend, friends! I hope that you had a fabulous Christmas with your friends and family! We got to spend a lot of time with ours and it was so nice. But, I couldn’t have done it all without the help of Walmart’s new InHome grocery delivery service! Because of their new service, I didn’t have to go running off to the store several times throughout the week to grab what I needed. Instead, I just hopped on my phone, opened up the Grocery app, and ordered everything I needed right from my couch! They delivered it straight to my home and I didn’t have to lift a finger. I recently signed up for this InHome grocery delivery service and I am so excited to share all about it! It’s been a serious time and energy saver and has helped me stay on track with my nutrition goals, too.

How It Works:

So, you might be wondering, “How does this work exactly? What all’s involved?” Well, it is really pretty simple! Once you download the InHome app (click here for Android and here for iPhone) and sign up for the service, Walmart comes to your home and installs a Smart Level Lock device either on your front door or your garage door. This way, the delivery service can come and go even if you’re not home. But, don’t fret, they use a one time access code so no one can come back and re-enter your home a second time. They can only enter during your delivery window with your specific delivery. You get a notification when the delivery is on its way, and again when the delivery person arrives at your home.

If you choose the front door delivery, they will put your groceries away in your kitchen fridge. If you choose the garage entry, they will put them in your garage fridge. The best part is, they even clear away the bags and boxes. There’s no mess left for you to clean up!

Something else to note is that the delivery person wears a camera, which is awesome! As soon as the delivery begins at your home, they turn on their camera and you can watch from your app while the delivery is happening to ensure that you feel safe and that your home is in good hands. The delivery video can be viewed for a week after the delivery if you aren’t able to watch it live. They also heavily vet their delivery personnel and are well insured. I love how Walmart makes so much effort to make you feel comfortable!

Ordering Groceries:

So, when you’re ready to make your first order for a delivery, you just hop onto Walmart’s Grocery App (the orange one! Click here for Android and here for iPhone) and select to reserve your InHome delivery day. Deliveries are available for the following business day or the next few days after, whatever your need might be. You’ll get a time window for your delivery as well. Then you just shop, and add everything to your cart that you need. You can even add household items, clothes, toys, you name it. If it’s at your local Walmart, you can add it! If something is not available, you can turn on substitutions and they will automatically substitute an item that is similar for you.

Then, you just wait for your notification that your delivery is on its way! It’s really very simple and easy. I could get used to this convenience!

Why I Love It:

I love that Walmart has so many amazing fresh, organic produce options and the prices can’t be beat! This has helped me so much! I am better able to stay on top of my meal prep and planning when I have healthy foods that align with my nutritional needs right at my fingertips. They also have really great brands of specialty food items for those of us who have food allergies or restrictions. I can find practically everything that I need in one place!

When I place my order, I know that it will be delivered the next day and I can plan ahead for what I’m going to make without having to spend an hour or more wandering around the store. I used to go to the grocery store exhausted and starving, buy a bunch of things I didn’t need or shouldn’t eat, and then get home only to be too tired to even make the dinner, haha! Anyone else do this?! It’s been a huge time and energy savings for me and has really helped me stay on track with my dietary needs.

I also want to note that this service would be very helpful for you or someone that you know that has chronic illness or cancer. I know a lot of you suffer from conditions like these, and you know I can relate. There were years where I couldn’t even step foot in a grocery store, let alone lift a bag of groceries! So, keep it in mind as a suggestion for someone who could use a little help in this area.

I have had a few very successful deliveries already and they went off without a hitch! No issues at all, and I feel completely safe and satisfied using this service. I do want you to know that this post is sponsored by Walmart. But, as you all know, I do not recommend anything to you that I don’t use and love myself. Walmart’s InHome delivery service is definitely on the list of things I value. I hope that it helps you to stay on track with your wellness goals and saves you time this year as well! Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help you out with this service in any way! Always here and happy to help.

Cheers to less stress and healthier habits in 2020!

XOXO,

Kelly

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! Can you believe that Christmas will be here in a week?! Wow. This whole fall and holiday season has really flown by, but it’s been a fun one! Today, I’m sharing some of my FAVORITE Paleo recipes for the holidays with you! Five years ago, I started the Autoimmune Paleo Diet to hopefully get my Autoimmune Disease into remission, and it worked like magic! Ever since, I have been doing the regular Paleo diet to keep things in check. My body and my gut feel so much better when I stick to it. I did have a stint in plant-based as many of you know, but I was struggling with the starchy proteins and my doctors thought it was best to return to Paleo. So, here I am! That’s why I want to share some of my go-to recipes that have brought me that nostalgic holiday feeling, despite being free from so many things that are often in our classic Thanksgiving and Christmas favorites!

CAULIFLOWER MASH:

Photo from “The Rookie Cookie”.

Have you guys ever had those store-bought Bob Evan’s Mashed Potatoes? I think they were on Oprah’s list of favorite things, haha! We used to get them and cheat by microwaving them for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Lol. Time gets tight and sometimes you gotta fake it til you make it, right? Well, we have long since given up processed, store-bought foods like this and make everything from scratch ourselves. Good news is, since it’s Paleo, there are very few ingredients, and it’s surprisingly very simple and easy to make! These cauliflower mashed “potatoes” taste just like the Bob Evans mashed potatoes! In fact, some people like them even better! I found this Rosemary & Garlic Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” recipe on Pinterest from The Cookie Rookie! There are no potatoes in this recipe, but you’ll be totally shocked at how much it tastes like potatoes! This photo is from The Rookie Cookie and her recipe can be found here.

*** NOTE: When using this recipe, I do not use butter or cream cheese. I substitute Kite Hill Almond Cream Cheese for the cream cheese, and I use Beyond Balance vegan butter in place of the butter, and they turn out beautifully!

BRUSSEL SPROUTS:

Photo from “Bravo for Paleo”.

Everyone loves brussel sprouts! Who knew this little vegetable would become so trendy!? But seriously, they are so delicious. If you haven’t re-tried them in your adulthood with a good recipe, you’re missing out! I’m not a fan of steamed brussels, but roasted, sauteed, or fried are insanely good! This recipe is roasted and I’ll share my quick recipe that I do as well. But, if you’re looking for a brussel sprout recipe with a lot of different flavors, I love this one by Bravo for Paleo! She is a Paleo food blogger and has great recipes to share. This Brussel Sprout Salad has dijon mustard, pecans, apple cider vinegar, and raisins to really amp up all of the seasonal notes! This is Monica’s photo and you can find this recipe here. It’s been a big hit at my holiday dinners! The flavors really mesh well together.

***ALTERNATIVELY: I like to make a simple brussel sprout recipe. Here is how I typically do them that’s quicker but still so delicious!

CRISPY BALSAMIC ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS:

  • 1 Bag of Brussel Sprouts, washed, ends trimmed, and halved
  • Avocado Oil – I love Primal Kitchen’s
  • Sea Salt
  • Organic Garlic Powder or Minced Garlic
  • Organic Balsamic Vinegar
  • Optional Bacon – chopped up into small pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F
  2. Arrange your brussel sprouts (and optional bacon) on a baking sheet evenly.
  3. Drizzle a generous amount of avocado oil over them
  4. Sprinkle salt and garlic on top
  5. Drizzle a generous amount of Balsamic Vinegar over top
  6. Put your baking tray in the oven and set a timer for 20-25 minutes. It works well if you flip them in between, but not totally necessary. Keep an eye out because ovens vary. You want them to be brown and crispy but not completely charred.
  7. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH:

I eat this recipe probably every other day, no joke! It’s so delicious and is such a great little side full of sweet flavor! It’s a nice addition to almost any meal, it’s low in carbs, and has lots of nutrients. Win, win! Here’s how I make it:

  • 1 Butternut Squash cut into small cubes, or pre-cut butternut squash cubes (this is the way to go in my opinion)
  • Avocado Oil
  • Organic Ground Cinnamon
  • Organic Garlic Powder or Minced Garlic
  • Sea Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F
  2. Arrange your butternut squash cubes on a baking tray.
  3. Drizzle with a generous amount of Avocado Oil.
  4. Sprinkle Cinnamon, Salt, and Garlic over top.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Enjoy!

So simple, yet so delicious!

CRANBERRY SAUCE:

Photo from “Cook Eat Paleo”.

We used to eat cranberry sauce from a can, but making it fresh is so much more fun, healthy, and tasty! This recipe from Cook Eeat Paleo only has three simple ingredients: cranberries, orange juice, and honey or maple syrup. This is Lisa’s photo and you can find the quick and easy recipe here. It tastes delicious on turkey, with stuffing, and I’m sure it’d be amazing on ham, too!

PALEO PUMPKIN PIE:

Photo from “Cook Eat Paleo”.

This is a real crowd pleaser! Everyone likes this pumpkin pie recipe no matter what diet they’re on! I’ve been making this for five years now and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. It’s soooo easy and simple, but it tastes like a lot of effort went into it. This recipe and photo are also from Cook Eat Paleo. That’s a great account to follow for amazing Paleo dishes! You can find this recipe here.

***NOTE: I use coconut oil in place of butter or ghee for this and it works beautifully!

ZUCCHINI BREAD OR MUFFINS:

Photo from “Against All Grain”.

This zucchini bread recipe is also an absolute favorite of everyone! It’s honestly very hard to tell the difference between this and real zucchini bread! This recipe and photo are by the amazing Danielle Walker of Against All Grain (a MUST follow!). I’ve been making this for five years now as well and it never gets old! It tastes amazing just on its and that’s how I typically eat it, but you could add vegan butter like Earth Balance if you wanted to. I love to make this recipe both ways, as bread and as muffins. But, it’s easier in my opinion to do as muffins for the holidays because everyone can easily pass them around or send them home as leftovers with little mess. You can find this delicious recipe here.

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE BROWNIES:

Photo from “Delicious Obsessions”.

Because everyone needs brownies no matter what diet you are on! LOL. These brownies are made in a blender! So simple. They do have a slight banana taste to them because they are sweetened by the bananas. So, if you have an adverse taste to things with banana, these probably aren’t for you, but I love them! They’re very fudgy and rich, so you get that chocolatey flavor you’re craving, but you don’t overeat on these because they are pretty rich. This photo and recipe is from Delicious Obsessions and you can find the recipe here.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE:

Photo from “Cupcakes OMG”.

This Paleo sweet potato casserole puts all the rest to shame! It’s seriously incredible! I could eat it as dessert. It’s covered in pecans and really gives you that nostalgic holiday feeling! This recipe and photo are by Cupcakes OMG. Such a cute blog name! You can find the recipe here.

Alright guys, that’s a wrap on my favorite Paleo holiday dishes and desserts! I hope this might make your holiday feast feel a little more comfortable if you are following the Paleo diet, or a gluten, dairy, or grain free diet for the first time this year. Or, if you have been Paleo for years but are looking for some new ideas, I hope this sparked some inspo for you! If you try anything, please leave me a comment below. Thanks so much for reading and I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas!

XOXO,

Kelly Bibza

Happy Wellness Wednesday, guys! I hope you’re having a great week so far. We have been sooo busy! It’s been nuts. I look and feel exhausted. I’m ready for this Christmas “break”, haha. Nothing stops in the blogging world, there really is no such thing as a break. But, I’m gonna have to find a way to take one because I desperately need it! I’m sure you all struggle as well with finding time to unwind from all of the stress of the holidays. I hope that you too can put things down and just be in the moment and enjoy time with your friends and family and just rest! Speaking of unwinding, let’s talk about this CBD…

Today I want to share a really awesome LOCAL to Pittsburgh CBD business with you! I was introduced to Hippie & French through a local friend of mine, and let me tell you, I am so impressed! Not only are the products totally top notch and effective, but the owner, Lindsay is so incredible herself! Lindsay is a recovering opiate addict. Please don’t judge her for a moment, though! Addiction to opiates is so incredibly common and can happen to anyone, especially those of us who suffer from chronic pain and mental and emotional disorders. But, Lindsay is a true warrior woman! She pulled herself together and got into recovery and started this amazing CBD business to help other people struggling with pain, chronic illness, addiction, mental and emotional health problems like anxiety, depression, and insomnia, among others. There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone triumph over tragedy and she has surely done that and more! I am so happy to get to help support her and I’m cheering her on all the way. You should, too! She recently donated a portion of her proceeds to AFSP Western PA, which is a non-profit organization that helps raise awareness for suicide prevention. She’s taken her hardships and turned them around to better the lives of others and there’s really nothing more inspiring than that!

Here’s a little snippet of what Lindsay has to say about her story and her store… “CBD has been a game changer for my anxiety without risk of addiction. It’s a natural approach for anxiety management. I opened this store because there wasn’t a reliable CBD only store in Pittsburgh… There wasn’t a place people could go to get quality CBD and I thought I could change that.” And that she did!

Lindsay has a ton of products to choose from at Hippie & French like CBD oil, CBD pain relieving cream, facial serums, chocolate, body scrubs, and even bulk hemp flowers. All of the products and brands have been very carefully vetted so you can trust that your CBD purchases are of the highest quality, and only whole plant derived options. They’re also supplied by women-owned, small batch companies, so you’re supporting your fellow ladies when you shop at Hippie & French! YESSS! You can shop online or visit her in her adorable store on Butler Street in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh, PA. She even has products for your pets! My dog really needs something to calm him down, so I’m going to be purchasing the bacon and salmon flavored CBD for him!

Today I am sharing a fun holiday cocktail recipe with you, using Hippie & French’s Peppermint CBD oil! I love putting a bit of CBD oil in my cocktails. I like the flavor and I love the relaxed vibe I get from it. I have also personally noticed that I don’t get a headache as much or feel as tired the next day when I mix in a bit of CBD. I don’t drink often or much but when I do, I like to use the CBD for an extra stress-reliever. I notice that I also don’t feel the desire to drink as much when I add CBD! Not at all saying that there is any scientific evidence to support this, it’s just my personal experience and opinion. If you are a recovering alcoholic, or do not like to drink alcohol, you can absolutely leave the booze out of this drink and make a CBD mocktail!

I love holiday themed cocktails because they are so fun to serve to guests to make their experience in your home even more special during the festive season! This time of year, I like to use cranberry in a lot of my drinks. Cranberries have great health benefits and they make a mean mixer for cocktails, too! This drink has notes of ginger from the ginger beer, as well as peppermint from the CBD oil. Lots of seasonal favorites in this one.

Cranberry CBD Mule:

Servings: 2

  • 2 ounces of Vodka or Gin
  • 4 ounces Cranberry Juice (I use unsweetened because I like to keep the sugar content low, but if you prefer cranberry juice cocktail, by all means, use it!)
  • 4 ounces Ginger Beer (Ginger Beer is more like a soda, not actual beer – this drink is gluten free, of course!)
  • Ice Cubes
  • Lime Wedges – give it a little squeeze in there!
  • Cranberries (fresh or frozen works, too!)
  • 1 mL Hippie & French Peppermint CBD Oil
  • Sprig of Rosemary or Thyme for garnishing
  • Cocktail Shaker

To Make:

  1. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice cubes and your glasses with ice, too.
  2. Combine all of the liquids, including the CBD oil into the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously.
  3. Pour into your glasses of ice.
  4. Garnish with cranberries, a lime wedge (I like to squeeze a bit in mine), and a sprig of Rosemary or Thyme.
  5. Relax & Enjoy!

I hope that you will take some time to check out Hippie & French! I know I’m not alone when I rave about the store, its products, and the owner, Lindsay. There are lots of testimonials on the website from other customers and on her Instagram that you can find here as well! CBD oil has helped me and her other customers so much with insomnia, anxiety, and inflammation. Hippie & French is an amazing brand that I use and trust. And I must mention, the taste of the peppermint CBD is pretty amazing all on its own! Be sure to give her a follow on Instagram to get alerts on sales and promotions that she often does.

Thank you Hippie & French for gifting me this CBD oil and CBD cream. I greatly appreciate it! I do not receive any commission or payment from Hippie & French. I purely just wanted to share this brand and recipe with all of you. I love to support local businesses and Hippie & French is an amazing one!

Happy Holiday cocktail sipping, friends 🙂

XOXO,

Kelly

Happy Wellness Wednesday, ya’ll! Hope you are having a great day. Today I’m so excited to share one of my favorite clean eating brands with you: Primal Kitchen! I’ve been using Primal Kitchen products for years ever since I started the Paleo diet. Their items are always super clean and healthy and compliant with the Paleo Diet and often Plant Based, Keto, and Vegan Diets, too! I love that they never use gluten, dairy, grains, soy, refined sugars, oils, or nasty additives and chemicals that cause inflammation, gut irritation, and chronic disease. They recently sent me a big box of new and classic products of theirs to try! Here are a few of my favorites…

Unsweetened Organic Ketchup: Well, this just made my entire life! LOL! I come from the land of Ketchup lovers… Pittsburgh, PA is known for being the home of Heinz Ketchup. I grew up covering french fries and chicken nuggets in this delicious sauce. But, as I got older and learned more about nutrition and how to read ingredient labels, I quickly learned that it is full of nasty ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and sugar which lead to heart disease, inflammation, diabetes, and weight gain to name a few! On the Paleo diet, I can only eat sugar in natural forms – i.e. fruit and honey. So, high fructose corn syrup and refined white sugar in conventional ketchup are out. Meanwhile, in comes Primal Kitchen with the cleanest ketchup on the planet to save my homemade sweet potato fries from being sauce-less! It has six simple, organic ingredients: Tomato Concentrate, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Organic Spices. It’s delicious and I don’t miss the Heinz anymore! Many thanks to Primal Kitchen for understanding how desperately the world needed a clean ketchup 🙂 Highly recommend this!

Organic Spicy Brown Mustard: I love a good spicy mustard! When you are eating really cleanly, incorporating flavor with spices and sauces is essential to you sticking with the lifestyle change. If you don’t love the way your food tastes, you are less likely to stick with it, right? I love using spicy brown mustard mixed with honey for dipping sauce, or just on it’s own on a burger with a lettuce wrap! Primal Kitchen’s Organic Spicy Brown Mustard is sooo good and it only has five ingredients: Water, Vinegar, Mustard Seeds, Salt and Turmeric! Simply delicious.

Protein & Collagen Bars: If you have watched my Instagram stories lately, you have probably seen me talk about how bad the protein bar options are at health food stores. Most all of them have hidden sugars or inflammatory oils among other additives and unhealthy ingredients. They look healthy and they say they’re healthy, but when you look at the ingredient list and the sugar content, the writing is on the wall. They’re not. My choice for protein bars has always been Primal Kitchen’s Dark Chocolate Almond Collagen Bars! They are so delicious. They remind me of tootsie rolls! Primal Kitchen also just recently introduced new protein bars in a variety of flavors. They sent me the Almond Spice to try and it’s very tasty! They’re less chewy than the collagen bars. They have a much softer texture. They’re also nice, small squares, so you can easily fit them in your pocket, bag, or car. My favorite is still the Dark Chocolate Almond Collagen, though. Those are a staple in my handbag on the go! Both are sweetened with a tiny bit of honey, no refined or cane sugar, and are gluten, grain, sugar, dariy, and soy free! Plus, they are keto friendly!

Collagen Fuel: I’ve been using Primal Kitchen’s Collagen Fuel forever it seems! I love that the Vanilla Coconut Flavor is AIP friendly! It’s hard to find protein powders that fit the Autoimmune Paleo Diet, but this one does. I love to mix it with fruit or avocados, coconut or almond milk, and some spinach or other greens in a smoothie. They also sent me the Chocolate flavor which is equally delicious in a smoothie, water, or coffee if you can tolerate it. You can drink it hot or cold. Collagen is great for the skin, hair, nails, and joints! I’ve noticed my nails have been really long and strong lately. Thank you, Primal Kitchen 🙂

Salad Dressings: Another gripe I have with health food stores is their lack of clean salad dressing options. It’s crazy how many poor ingredients are in them! Almost all of them use canola oil and sugar. Canola oil is usually made from GMOs and is very inflammatory. That’s why I love Primal Kitchen’s dressings because they use only the best and cleanest ingredients like avocado oil in their dressings. I really love the Lemon Turmeric which is vegan, and the BBQ Ranch which is Paleo. They can be used as marinades, too! I’m going to share a recipe with you below using the BBQ Ranch. They have a lot of other awesome dressings you should definitely check out as well.

Avocado Oil: If you haven’t started using avocado oil yet, you need to get on board! It’s one of the best oils you can use for cooking because it has a high smoke point of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it won’t break down and release toxic fumes and free radicals that can damage healthy cells in your body like other oils such as coconut and olive oil. Coconut and olive oil are great oils, but they should not be used at high temperatures for this reason. That’s why I love and use Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil so much!

Mayo:   I also must mention Primal Kitchen’s Mayonnaise!  Conventional mayonnaise has all kinds of gross ingredients you do not want to be eating including canola oil, which is a trans fat that leads to heart disease. Primal Kitchen’s mayo uses Avocado oil which is an oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.  Much healthier! So, if you’re going to eat mayo, make it a clean one like Primal Kitchen’s!  

 

BBQ RANCH CHICKEN STUFFED SWEET POTATOES:

I love a good, simple crockpot recipe and this is as easy and tasty as it gets! 

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs (2 large) Organic Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Bottle of Primal Kitchen BBQ Ranch Dressing & Marinade
  • 4 Sweet Potatoes
  • Red Onion
  • Parsley Bundle

Directions:

  1. Put your chicken breasts into your crockpot. Cover with 1/2 cup of BBQ Ranch Sauce.
  2. Set your crockpot to cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
  3. Bake your sweet potatoes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour.
  4. Wash and chop your red onion and parsley
  5. When the chicken is done, simply shred it, leaving it in the sauce.
  6. When your sweet potatoes are done, take them out and cut slits in them.
  7. Take your shredded chicken and put half in each sweet potato.
  8. Top with the chopped onion and parsley and drizzle the remaining BBQ Ranch sauce over top.
  9. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this super simple, clean, Paleo recipe! Thank you to Primal Kitchen for sponsoring this post today! Be sure to check out their website here and all of the delicious products they offer. I have been a big fan for a long time and only recommend things I use and love with you all. Primal Kitchen is a standout company and I definitely see myself using their products for a long time to come 🙂

Happy Wellness Wednesday! Thanks for stopping by to check out this post! I’ve been on my wellness journey for a very long time now, well over a decade. As many of you know, I’ve had autoimmune disease, chronic Lyme disease, and many other chronic issues. I still struggle daily with fatigue and pain caused from having these illnesses for so long. But, I do my best to manage them through holistic means. Here’s a quick look at some things I do for self care everyday!

START THE DAY OFF WITH POSITIVE VIBES: For a long time I used to wake up and immediately check my IG, Facebook, and email. While I can’t exactly ignore these things, I’ve been changing what I see first thing in the morning by incorporating new habits. I’ve been reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s books and I really love them! They’re so inspiring, uplifting, and give you great guidance. She has an app called Spirit Junkie. Everyday there is a new positive affirmation to read in the app. It has a reminder to check it. Instead of checking my social media right off the bat, I’ve been checking that app, reading the affirmation, and thinking on it for a few minutes as soon as I wake up. It’s just a great way to start the day on the right foot!

MINERALS DO A BODY GOOD: After I read my affirmation, I always take some minerals! Minerals help to keep your body’s energy up! I can always tell when I’m low on minerals because my joints get stiff, I feel anxious, and I get fatigued. Sometimes I even get body pains. But, when I take the minerals with plenty of water, I feel much better! I’ve been using Trace Minerals for over a year now and I really love them. They don’t have any extra added fillers or nasty ingredients in them like so many supplements do. They’re very pure and give you a great dose of Magnesium! Magnesium is critical for many processes in the body. It helps to regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It also facilitates the production of protein, bone, and DNA. It’s crucial for those of us who are doing protocols where you are detoxing. When we detox through sweat or other methods, we lose minerals. For a long time I didn’t realize this and was detoxing heavily without replenishing. I felt HORRIBLE. Now I know that taking minerals is super important to the process. I also take potassium and calcium.

BEMER MAT TIME: A couple years ago I was having horrific bladder pain. I thought it was a UTI, but it ended up being Interstitial Cystitis, aka Painful Bladder Syndrome. If you have this condition, my heart goes out to you! It is as miserable as having full blow Lyme disease. The pain feels like a jagged knife stabbing you in the bladder 24/7 with so much urgency and frequency to pee! I am so fortunate to have found natural ways to heal from this. I know so many women and men live it with it for their whole lives and it’s utterly torturous. But, back to the point… when I first had this, we were scrambling for ideas of how to help. A chiropractor I was seeing at the time had one of these mats and we started to learn more about it. It is a mat that’s full of coils and they give out customized electric frequencies that help get blood flow into your capillaries. This is where detoxification and healing begins. It is a fantastic tool for detoxing and pain management! My husband was so kind to buy this for me. It’s very expensive, but sometimes you can find one used on Ebay or from a practitioner. A lot of chiropractors and holistic wellness centers use them as well, so you can make an appointment to go and use one if buying one isn’t an option. They come highly recommended for any chronic disease, cancer, and pain. Tom Brady uses it, so you know it’s gotta be good! 🙂

MEDITATION: This is a newer one for me and to be totally honest, it’s hard as well! I am not one who sits quietly very well. I have a lot of anxiety and my mind is always running at full speed. So, that tells me I need to meditate even more! I’ve gotten a lot better at it recently and have even found it enjoyable. I realized that I don’t have to put so much pressure on myself to do it perfectly. It’s okay if your mind wanders. Just take note, and re-focus! You don’t even have to do it for very long to reap the benefits! It’s wonderful for reducing stress, anxiety, pain, muscle relaxation, boosting your immune system and mood, and even helps to decrease blood pressure! I know that when I take the time to do this my day is always better. I’ve been using Gabrielle Bernstein’s meditations that you can download from her site or the Headspace app. They are guided meditations and if you’re just beginning, it’s a great place to start! It really helps to clear my head and help me to focus, be present, and have a more positive outlook and attitude for the rest of the day. I kill two birds with one stone and do this while I lay on my Bemer mat!

FRESH AIR AND EXERCISE: I feel so grateful to be able to walk my dog again! For years just walking to the mailbox caused me a lot of fatigue and pain. I couldn’t do any kind of slight incline without flaring up terribly. Now, I’m walking Barkley for a mile and sometimes more! I don’t do a lot of hills yet, but that’s ok! Baby steps. But, getting outside to get fresh air, be among the trees (hello oxygen!! So necessary for healing!) and nature, and moving your body for 30 minutes a day is known to reduce disease and help digestion, joints, cardiovascular health, muscle endurace, sleep, and mood to name a few! I always feel less anxious and more focused when I get a good walk in. Plus it makes Barkley happy and it feels good to do something nice for someone else even if it’s just your pup 🙂

FOLLOW A WHOLE FOODS DIET: I strictly follow the Paleo diet, but not everyone needs to be grain and legume free. So, I’m not here to preach about being Paleo, but I love the lifestyle it has created for me because my body functions at a higher level and I have less pain and indigestion. The Paleo diet excludes grains, gluten, dairy, sugar, legumes, and any processed foods or oils. So, it really strips it down to whole foods that come straight from a farm, not a box. This is the healthiest way to get your nutrition. It is an anti-inflammatory diet. It’s great for everyone, but especially those that have chronic illness and inflammatory diseases. It brought my autoimmune disease into remission five years ago and I’ve remained in remission ever since I made the switch!

There are some Paleo approved snacks and products that I also use on occasion, but I try my best to always eat real food that you can buy in the produce section. I don’t love eating meat, but because grains and legumes cause me a lot of inflammation, I have to get protein somewhere, so I always buy organic, grass-fed meat, poultry, and wild-caught fish. I do make a point to have at least one plant-based meal a day, though if not more. It’s good for your body and for the environment!

So, even if you aren’t Paleo, eating whole foods (i.e. apples, squash, salmon, nuts, seeds) instead of foods pre-packaged, prepared, and processed, will make a HUGE difference in your health. If you’re looking for ways to get started, check out my post on the Paleo Diet here and here.

CBD FOR ANXIETY: At the end of a busy day, I tend to feel pretty stressed out and need to caaalllmmm down. This is when I reach for my CBD oil! I take a few droppers full along with some other herbs for relaxation and try my best to put my phone down, have dinner with my hubs, watch some TV, and relax. It’s important to have this time for yourself and your family. It’s healthy for your body and your relationships! CBD helps me relax so much. I would be lost without it! I also take Calm A.S.A.P. by Gaia, Rock Rose, and a homeopathic for anxiety. I love the Nano CBD by Hemple. You can use code KELLY10 for $10 off of your purchase.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT OR SPIRITUAL BOOKS: I end my day by reading a book that inspires me to be a better me! Lately, I’ve been loving books by Gabrielle Bernstein! I just finished “The Universe Has Your Back” and I totally loved it! It is so full of great info, meditations, and guidance for how to love more and fear less. It’s helped me to gain a lot of perspective about life and circumstances we all find ourselves in. It helps to make the difficult times a little more bearable, knowing that you are always being guided. It’s a fresh perspective on spirituality. But, it is all encompassing. Anyone of any religion can read it and find value in it. It’s not a religious specific book. I think it’s amazing! So, I just got her new book “Super Attractor” and I’m loving it just as much! I downloaded the meditations and use them daily, too. I also loved Oprah’s “The Wisdom of Sundays” and “The Path Made Clear”, as well as Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth”. If you’re looking to elevate yourself and raise your vibration, check all of these out!

Those are my Top 8 Wellness Tips for Everyday! I do a lot more than just these things, but if I have to choose, these are my most important and effective ones. What are your every day wellness practices? Please share some in the comments below! 🙂

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