Last year around this time, I was so sick, I couldn’t leave my bed for more than a few hours at a time and only then to the couch or the bathroom. I was basically a warmed over field zombie. I don’t even really remember January or much of February for that matter with the exception of MLK Day when I finally went to the UTC after three weeks of feeling nauseated. For three months, I endured two middle of the night stints in the ER, a CAT scan, and an ultrasound. The stomach virus I got on Christmas Day in 2013, was the worst best thing to ever happen to me and started a chain of events in my life that irreversibly altered how I looked at my health. I had never been that sick in my life. Ever. It’s amazing how it took a UTI, a (painful) fatty liver, respiratory issues and chronic headaches along with chronic gastritis (as a result of a stress/unhealthy diet/stomach virus/antibiotic combo) to force me to reassess everything and everyone in my life. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone.
I’m not going to go into the play by play of all that went wrong and right because that’s not what you’re here for. You want to know how I am rebuilding my immune system and lost over a hundred pounds and counting. Diet and exercise are of course important and in a sense I was lucky because I have no willpower to resist temptation, so with my body calling the shots, I literally couldn’t indulge in my favorite vices. So here’s what I did/used/concluded. Take or leave what you like, but I suggest not shocking your body with everything all at once. This took me nine months to figure out what was right for my body and what I learned with gastritis and digestive issues in particular is that literally every body’s different. For instance, lots of people with gastritis could do sweet potatoes and oatmeal. Me? Not so. I can only do those tiny Yukon white potatoes and grits occasionally.
· Fresh juice. Get a good juicer. Juice. Fresh juice literally saved my life when I couldn’t eat solids. I like a basic green drink: spinach/green apple/celery & a beet/carrot/apple juice daily. I just sipped on it. I also do some kind of lemon/ginger/honey concoction for the alkaline properties. I used a Champion last year, but I just invested in a Breville.
· I ate A LOT of Asian food. Not stir fry. But vegan sushi and pho basically were and are my life. Especially since the sushi was portable and the pho was shippable and came with veggies.
· I ate A LOT of watermelon. Not only is it alkaline, but it keeps you hydrated.
· I tried to eat half an avocado a day on rice crackers. I needed the fat and calories.
· I drank A LOT of coconut water. Hydration and good for your belly.
· I went gluten-free. Helped alleviate the headaches and didn’t irritate my stomach lining. You can find gluten-free everything nowadays from English muffins to tortillas. I typically keep at least some Udi’s cinnamon raisin bread around in the freezer and gluten free waffles.
· I went mostly vegan. I tell people I’m not vegan but my body is, lol. I sometimes do egg whites now a few mornings a week. I also use honey religiously (local organic). So not pure vegan. But I am really turned off by meat at the moment so I just don’t eat it. When I decide to eat meat again, I won’t beat myself up about it. But I definitely don’t do dairy apart from a little goat cheese in a salad occasionally. I also like some meat substitutes and bean burgers.
· I take my supplements. I take a multi, an iron pill (I’m anemic), super kelp, quercetain + bromelain (for immune &respiratory support), d-mannose + cranactin (to help with the UTI thing which is hereditary in my family), cortisol manager (to help with the stress), one or two tbsp of ACV diluted with water daily (more regularly when the gastritis flares up). I like the Now brand and Solaray. Just do your research on Amazon reviews and figure out what you can afford. I also take a garlic pill regularly now and incorporate a lot of cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon in my lemon/ginger/honey tonic daily. Oh and a daily probiotic. I also love KeVita, kombucha and kefir quite a bit.
· I didn’t do the following: chocolate, coffee (or any caffeine for a long time), fried foods, alcohol, tobacco. I also couldn’t go out to clubs or parties often and when I did, I brought a ton of coconut water or a sparkling water to hold me over. Lately I have been able to have some cider or a little wine occasionally. And I can do a black tea once a day or a chai with almond milk. But I don’t overdo it. Usually it's red tea which is caffeine free, chamomile, ginger, peppermint, or sometimes a decaf green.
· I started walking five mins a day a) because it’s all I could do and b) I read it helped with digestion. On a good week, I’m walking five days a week, on a not so good week when I’m super busy, more like two or three, but I’m up to four miles if I push it, but I typically just like to stroll a couple miles and call it a day. I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day. I look forward to walking outdoors in any weather because it clears my head. Start slow. Stroll. It’s not a race. It was just nice getting to learn my body again and how strong I was becoming.
· Mindfulness meditation has helped me tremendously because one of the side effects of being so ill so long is you kinda go through this hypochondriac phase where every little symptom is the harbinger of the next round. And that can trigger stress which really well affect you negatively. Doing body scans helped a lot. I downloaded an app called Buddifhy2 and I love it. I also did a group meditation class last year to get me in the habit but I love the app because you can literally do it anywhere, any time from a few minutes to ten or eleven minutes when you can fit it in.
· I wash my hands ALL THE TIME. I also stock up on Eucerin, lol, so I don’t end up with crone’s hands. I also use a specially-ordered Clorox hand sanitizer for when I’m out at the store and can’t get to a sink quickly. It even kills the norovirus.
· I eliminated sources of extreme stress from my life. At the moment, I don’t know that I feel like going into too many details about that because I’m still working through some things in my personal life, but let’s put it this way, when you say yes to peace, your worldview and confidence can only benefit.
· If I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m sleepy, I sleep. My body tells me when it’s had enough of either. I’ve learned to listen. I try and take rest really seriously. I don't answer emails, texts, calls, tags, if I don't want to and it's GLORIOUS. I also take my social media breaks super seriously. In fact, I feel another one coming on right now, lol.
· I don’t really do heartburn medication but sometimes I will take some Pepto occasionally and keep it in my purse, especially if I’m eating out or trying something new. I take Zofran for nausea which sometimes rears its head when I try to get froggy and eat Indian or something. I can do Ethiopian but not Indian food these days. Weird, right?
· Dehydration has been my biggest foe. Drinking that much water in one day has never been easy for me but if you start off by downing at least half a liter even before your shower, that’s a good way to get in a bunch of ounces. I’m learning now that the more hydrated you stay, the better your body runs.
· Essential oils. I didn’t want to take headache medicine because it irritated my stomach, so I started using a peppermint/lavender oil on my headaches. I still have them occasionally but they are not as severe and usually are a result of tension or not eating enough. I also use an immunity boost oil and a tummy wellness blend from this lady. Worth every penny: http://www.leesscience.co.nz/
· I’ve had to learn how to prepare meals ahead of time, especially since I travel so much for readings. Bananas, nuts, apples, berries, grapes: the real fast food.
· This year, since I lost so much muscle mass along with the pounds, I am working on getting strong but approaching it the same way I did with the walks. Squats and planks daily but only as many as I feel comfortable with as I build slowly. I don't let anyone pressure me into extreme fitness because for my lifestyle, that's not sustainable. I’m looking forward to a yoga practice this year, though. And the walking stays.
This is pretty much all I can think of at the moment, so I hope some of this helps. You learn to adapt to all sorts of scenarios and your friends and family will adapt around you and will eventually become your biggest allies because they’re the ones sitting with you in the ER in the middle of the night. And who wants that?
Happy to answer further questions!