I’m in awe of how magical spring is every year, and I just love watching the flowers blooming, the bees busy around and the trees becoming green again. It fills my heart with so much joy to watch nature waking up.
And that waking up is what I want to talk to you about today. I did some serious waking up when I had my own health diagnoses years ago. I want to share with you part of my journey of wellness and particularly around my own work with polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. I want to share this with you because in today’s world women are overwhelmed by chronic health problems. Endometriosis, PCOS, Adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, candida, SIBO… The list goes on and there are many different ways to treat it. For many of the clients I talk to, they have to decide among various options of drugs, diets, supplements, and countless “miracle cures,” from fasting to ice baths. This can be just as exhausting as the health problems themselves! Women receive all sorts of competing messages about what we need to do to be healthy. We have busy lives and there is constant new information about the “right” diet or new trend for health, it’s nearly impossible to keep up.
And yet with all of these options, most people still are not getting better. That’s because many of them fail alone to address the root of the problem. What I’ve seen is that there isn’t a single solution- it’s the integration and perspective that is important. That’s why the Centered Wellness Framework works. It takes multiple approaches.
Health is big business. As you’ve heard me talk about before, inflammation is a big contributor to many physical manifestations of disease. Cardiovascular disease, arthritis, allergies, stroke, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders are all considered inflammatory disease processes, and affect millions of people in the US each year. Current estimates are that 23.5-50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease, with the number rising.
I know what it’s like to be one of these tired, frustrated souls searching for answers. For years I struggled with a litany of symptoms: exhaustion, dizzy spells, migraines, high cholesterol, hypoglycemia, irritable bowel syndrome. After seeing doctor after doctor, I discovered that many of my issues were part of a larger systemic problem PCOS, which is one of the most common endocrine disorders among women today. I also learned that many practitioners simply put women with PCOS on fertility drugs, as was suggested for me. I kept thinking “There has to be a better way.” Luckily, I’m stubborn. I poured over research and books from medical professionals who looked at PCOS differently. Many suggested that changing diet could actually fix the cause of the problem along with lifestyle changes. I had to push the specialist I was seeing, who finally said, “Fine, you can try nutrition changes. But if it doesn’t work, the next step is the prescription I’ve suggested.”
Several weeks later I was eating more whole foods, mostly cooked at home. I had minimized junk food and eliminated added sugars (which was a small miracle considering how sugar addicted I was). I was feeling better. I had more energy, fewer symptoms, and my blood test results had improved dramatically. I felt empowered that I could do things a different way and see amazing results. I now knew there were other perspectives on health. When I returned to the doctor, she was surprised by my results and declared that I could be the poster child for how nutrition can help PCOS. It was a turning point, really cementing the idea it was up to me to play an active role in my health, which included questioning the status quo.
I saw how so much of my health could be shifted and changed with plant-based whole foods. But it didn’t stop there. I found a balance of the type of food was necessary to balance the blood sugar, and I found supplements that could support the reversal of PCOS. Also, there was more than just eating differently in order to heal the physical symptoms. There were other aspects of me that were contributing to the physical challenges I was having. I was also a high-achieving, stressed out young woman and my emotions and thoughts were influencing my health, and how I felt on a day to day basis.
Over the years, I began training to heal myself more extensively. It started with counseling, nutrition, and self-help books. I was a sponge when it came to reading and applying this information to my life. Over years I went to chiropractors, yogis, acupuncturists, Rolfers, massage therapists, physical therapists, naturopaths, counselors, life coaches, Reiki masters, shamans, and everyone else I could find. Often they helped with one or two issues, yet none of them fully solved my problems. I kept seeking answers and pulling together information from many of the different treatments. Noticing what helped what components, and what didn’t help.
I attended silent yoga and mindfulness retreats, learned and applied yogic principles to my own life, studied with Buddhist monks, and learned mindfulness-based stress reduction from Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli. I kept using all of this work for me, and I began to share it with others. I started offering individual and group sessions at the hospital through the Mind Body Institute, and eventually through my own practice. I learned about the power of energy, how to clear it or bring it back to a person; in today’s world we no longer have that practice, and we suffer for the lack of it. What I saw again and again, was that I wasn’t taking care of all parts of me, I couldn’t truly be well.
I worked with many amazing people, yet often found myself wishing they had another piece of the healing puzzle. Many had been trained in one or two modalities and couldn’t see how ALL of the different modalities were affecting each other. I wanted all of the people on my healing team to talk to each other and to have direct conversations about my healing process. And yet that framework didn’t seem to exist, so I created it for myself. Over the years, there were other challenges that I went through from car accidents to dealing with my own children’s issues and subsequent food allergies. When these challenges came up, I applied this same process and framework again. The holistic picture of who we are and what we need was always a beneficial approach for me, and now for my clients.
And that’s what I want you to know. There are different ways of looking at health and wellness that are available. When you see that there are different perspectives and possibilities, sometimes it can be a waking up that opens up possibilities and options for you that you never knew existed. That is the process of empowering yourself and finding what works for you. Maybe you want to follow the traditional medical path and that’s totally fine if that’s what you want. I knew for me I didn’t want that and was so relieved to have other options.
Are you willing to be uncomfortable? Society tries to shy away from being uncomfortable and it creates stagnation. While trying something new or shifting to a healthier lifestyle may be uncomfortable at first, it won’t stay that way. It will become easier. In this episode I talk about how important it is to be uncomfortable in order to create good change in our lives and how best to handle that discomfort.
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