Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A new venture: the Whole 30

Okay, okay. I know it's only Day 1, but I cannot believe the hype I created in my head about this ...

& the scariest of them all

.... trust me the list goes on. Perhaps the fact that I gorged myself on my fav foods these last few days is why I feel totally on board with W30? As if my body just knows it's time to get on track ... maybe I'm just delirious. Who knows!

I've been getting asked a TON of questions about Whole30. Like for real, so many questions!!
  • what is whole 30? 
  • why are you doing it?
  • don't you already follow a diet? 
  • why are you trying to lose more weight? 
  • is this another fad?
  • what are you supposed to eat, twigs?
  • aren't you still nursing, it can't be good for her? (not really a question...)
  • NO ALCOHOL?!?!

First off - can I just say I find it strikingly odd that there are people out there who think clean eating while breast feeding may pose a danger to my child, and yet they are completely mind-blown to how I will go 30 days without alcohol. Hmmm, is it just me or does something just NOT add up there??

I digress ...
So YES! I have chosen to complete the Whole 30 program (get it here!) ... possibly making it a Whole 40? 60? 90?! ... that's that Day 1 ambition right there HA!

This means for the next month I will be eating tons of fresh veggies & fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins & experimenting with nature's secrets like fresh herbs, citrus, & other tasty mouth-party foods!
I'll be eliminating anything processed, sugars, legumes, soy, dairy, grains, & alcohol. 
SAY WHATTT!?!?! No tacos, pizza, ice-cream or whiskey?! But those are the tastiest things on the planet!

True, so true. But you know what? They also come with a full platter of nasty side effects that I have just about had enough of. Not the typical "I feel bloated after gluten", "My face breaks out after chocolate", "Cheese makes me gassy" kinda stuff. No. My issues keep me from sitting at that trendy cool kids' problem table.

story time
 {and I may just get a little graphic so if you have a weak stomach, skip to the end!}

For as long as I can remember, my Dad had terrible athlete's foot. I know, gross. But this is real shit kids. I remember when I was little, we lived in a tiny little 700 sq foot (on a good day) bungalow with 1 teeny bathroom for my parents, myself, and my three sisters (yea, you read that right ... 6 people to 1 bathroom). My dad would prop his foot up on the toilet and spray his feet with that God-awful smelling Lotrimin ... I can literally smell it right now as I type this. He did this what seems like daily for as long as I can remember. It never really went away though - it was just always kinda, there
I didn't know what it was really, my Dad was an athlete, he had feet, so to a little kid, A + B = C, right? 

I remember talking to him, I was probably 12 or so, about my ears. I rarely had any problems with them, but occasionally they would get really itchy. I'm not talking itchy like you have an itch, scratch it, hit the spot & it's gone. I'm talking a ferocious itch. In school I would literally take the end of a pen cap and use it to scratch the inside of my ears (yes I now realize how incredibly dangerous this is, but hey - ya gotta do what ya gotta do).  Anyway, my Dad knew exactly what I was talking about - even showed me the drops he used (conveniently in his pocket) to "clear them up". Again, it wasn't like this was a huge problem; but for both of us, the annoyance was just always kinda, there.

As I got older, more uncomfortable little bumps in the road of health started creeping up. After puberty, I started to get weird skin splotches. I have pretty clear, naturally olive-tan skin ... but every summer I would suddenly wake up with scaly white patches; my face, my back, my stomach, and sometimes the backs of my arms would be covered in white spots about the size of a quarter. I was so disgusted with it (I mean really, how dare anything interrupt the tan of a 16 year old), I went to the doctor who gave me a weird cream for my "fungus". UM WHAT. Fungus? Like a mushroom? On my FACE?! Yea, I wasn't happy. I used the cream, which worked for a bit. They'd come back each summer, sometimes less noticeable - or maybe I just got used to it. Either way, they were just always kinda, there.

Over the next few years I started to notice a little trend - I was getting yeast infections a few times a year. 
Sorry, I know. But I think it's important I go full disclosure here. 
At first, it was a few times a year, maybe 2 or 3. I just assumed it was normal to be honest. I knew exactly what to do - Monistat 7 was ideal, 3 if I really HAD to, but 1 was a waste of money. Always get the wipes and external cream because Lord knows I needed that. I could literally feel it coming on and I'd know I had less than 24 hours to make something happen. I still don't really know how, but I did a great job of hiding this from family, friends, & boyfriends ... all things considered.

Fast forward a few years of this lovely pattern, coupled with the sudden onset of some SERIOUS seasonal allergies (I'm talking so bad I had to be seen by the Infectious Disease Specialist at Stony Brook Hospital more than once), a false Lupus diagnoses, & I started having increased mood swings & anxiety. I started gaining a ton of weight. I wasn't a sweets person (savory please!), but I started craving sugar. I craved alcohol. I gained more weight. I became more depressed. My scalp was flaky, my skin felt waxy in spots ... and then I hit 212 pounds. 

I saw that number on the scale during my Winter Break home from college in December of 2008. I was 19, and I was 212 pounds. I felt like shit. I looked like shit. I kept saying how I felt like my brain was in a dense "fog", for lack of a better term. I decided I needed to do something. In February 2009 I read a pretty cool book, Skinny Bitch, and went totally vegan. I felt freaking AMAZING. No joke, I had tiger's blood running through my veins. I started working out with (funny enough) Tony Horton's P90X, and in about 45 days I had lost nearly 30 pounds. For the next 4 years I was a vegan - but my problems, ahem, 'down there', didn't stop. Every year, a few times a year, I had to run out and blow $20+ on those stupid cream kits. It wasn't until I was about 22/23 that I realized ... this wasn't normal. 

It was about that time that my dad's cancer (Hodgkin's Lymphoma) stopped responding to treatments. He sought out holistic nutrition, holistic doctors, & holistic cures. I remember researching with him and coming across an article on fungal infections in the body. The article went into great detail, how fungi (is that right?) grow quickly given the right conditions, they can take over and kill off healthy organisms in the path of fungal growth ... just like a cancer. 
Wait, what?! So cancer is fungus? Is fungus a cancer? 
Before I start to make medical claims that I am not qualified to make - yes, I have done research on this, no it's not conclusive, yes there are actual studies out there linking the two. My Dad passed away in 2013 after battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma for 12 long years. The tenacity of his cancer was overwhelming, spreading and thriving in the environment that was his body.
His case was so rare it's written up in Medical Journals at NYU and Sloan Kettering. Hodgkin's was supposed to be the curable one.

After having my daughter Isabella in 2014, my symptoms started to worsen. And then they came more frequently. And then it was like a damn tornado. 
All of the sudden I realized I had strategically placed bobby pins around my house, because they made the best inner ear scratchers. 
My seasonal allergies became totally debilitating, leaving me in the hospital twice in 2015 for what doctors believed was Lyme's Disease. 
I get yest infections monthly, sometimes twice a month. 
My skin looks like a leopard with white spots. 
My scalp is perpetually flaky. 
I feel painfully bloated more weeks than not. 
I've been seeing a therapist once a week, at a minimum, for my anxiety and depression. 
I have awful mood swings. 
Oh, & I am officially addicted to sugar.


I want you all to understand that with all that said above, I don't feel bad daily. Really, I don't.
In fact, I feel a lot better now than I have in a long time. These weird health ailments are all just kind of ... there. I don't think about them much. At least not until I started to put it all together in the last few months, doing more and more research, and finding every single one of my symptoms points to a singular issue. 
A familiar issue. 


Candida. A yeast. A fungus. An infection of the body.
specifically, "a yeastlike, parasitic fungus that can sometimes cause thrush". Thrush - now there's a familiar word. You mean that oral infection that my daughter suffered the first few weeks of her life? Where her pediatrician said, after her second round of medication, that if this new medicine didn't cure it we would have to schedule an appointment with the infectious disease specialist at Stony Brook hospital? 
Oh yea, I know thrush.

Suddenly Dad's "Anti-Candida" books suddenly come to mind after all these years ...  
And a fungus, ey? So was my Dad's persistent Athlete's foot a precursor to his wildly persistent cancer? Was his body a breeding ground of fungal infections, ultimately leading to a breeding ground for Lymphoma? 
Honestly, I may never know. 

But what I DO know - is I am very much like him. scary much. And I know I do not want to end up missing out on life's greatest moments;
My Dad never got to know that I was pregnant. 
He never got to be a Grandpa. 
He will never get to walk me down the aisle. 

I refuse to let history repeat itself.

And this, my friends, is WHY I have chosen to complete the Whole 30 program. It has nothing to do with weight loss. It has everything to do with breaking food addictions. Killing off the yeast that is thriving inside of me. Starting fresh. Creating a breeding ground of optimal health within me, rather than parasitic fungus. 
It is perfectly healthy nutrition, IDEAL even. Think it's unbearable? Follow me to check in on how absolutely freakin' delicious my "twig" meals are. And oh yea - I can have approved tacos, so HA to the haters!

In all seriousness though, if skipping out on some pizza, ice cream, and drinks now
means I get YEARS of enjoyment in life later

For YEARS I didn't talk about this, tell anyone, or even acknowledge it. I now realize I am far from the only one who suffers from this. If you, whoever  you are reading this now, can relate and know you aren't alone, then this post has served a purpose.

I'm excited to share this next month with you, and I really can't wait to know how I am going to feel on the other side of all this!

xx Ashley

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