Jessica’s Story

before-&-afterYou see, I wasn’t always interested in what it really meant to be healthy. I struggled with being overweight most of my life, so sure I tried to pay attention to “eating right” and exercising. I was still overall pretty happy, though, so losing weight was more a want than a necessity – I never really put my whole heart into it and “cheated” on my diets often.

And while I won’t go into too much detail about my past, there have been some hard & sad things I’ve had to deal with that certainly affected my overall mood and wellbeing. (We all have our own issues and battles, and in my case  – amongst other things – losing both maternal grandparents to cancer six months apart and then losing my dad in a motorcycle accident a year later was quite a big bite of bad to swallow) Life knocks us down, and we get back up. The things I’ve been though have certainly helped to shape who I am, but I never let them define me.  Always acknowledging & reflecting on how my life experiences affected how I could see the world, I chose to cling to hope and see the good. I graduated college, got a job, got married, and began my life as a full time confetti queen.

In the summer of 2014, though, things began to shift dramatically for me. I started having what seemed like completely random panic attacks and felt tired no matter how much I slept and some days could barely muster the motivation to get out of bed.  I seemed to be consumed by a constant wave of anxiety that would sometimes elevate into full blown panic that I couldn’t control. Never before had my anxiety interfered with my day to day routine, and it became scary and depressing. Doctor’s visits and blood work and even an emergency room trip seemed to show no answers. I started seeing a psychologist and considered any possibility as to why I felt so helpless in trying to make myself better. I’m a problem solver by nature, and it was driving me insane not having any answers.  All I knew was something was not right – it was like my mind & my body couldn’t get in sync. Logically I wanted to be happy and felt grateful for everything I had in my life, but physically I was spiraling out of control.

And for some reason – perhaps my somewhat stubborn and self-determined nature – I didn’t want to immediately go the traditional route of chemical medication (anti-depressants/SSRIs or things of the sort). Sure I  was prescribed a benzodiazepine that I only took briefly on an “as needed” basis, but I feared the long term effects of anything that I would come to depend on indefinitely. I just personally wanted to explore a more holistic approach to my problems, and I have no other explanation than it was a gut feeling to do so.

I started seeing a naturopathic doctor, and while it took a few months and various tests (hormone and neurotransmitter levels, food sensitivities, etc.) we finally figured out I had Candida, a yeast overgrowth in your body where the little snots take over, release toxins, and wreak all sorts of havoc on everything from your mental state to your digestive system and just about everything in between. (Technically everyone has candida in their systems as part of your normal, healthy gut flora, but when it starts to crowd out your good bacteria things can get ugly) Turns out it actually explained a lot of the other minor symptoms I had been dealing with for years (itchiness, brain fog, mood swings, cravings, etc.). I was put on a very strict diet and a rotation of various probiotics and supplements, and while for a while things got a little worse (as they often do), I finally started to feel better – in a myriad of different ways. (You can read a more in depth version of how this all started here)

I guess I never really realized how true the cliche “you are what you eat” is, and I have become so much more interested and aware of what goes on in and around my body. I’ve become particularly conscious of the ill-effects of sugar (since eliminating sugars – in all forms – is basically the key to fighting Candida), and have made it my choice to pursue a healthier lifestyle beyond my short Candida detox and recovery. Don’t get me wrong – I still crave a slice of pizza and a big ol’ ice cream sundae as much as the next guy, but I’ve come to discover that there are plenty of alternatives to my favorite foods that can be simple to make and free of that pesky evil sugar.

I’ve learned that when you eat the right types of foods, your body knows how to get itself together. In the past I had to fight and struggle to try and lose a few pounds even though I was exercising and counting calories or points, and I would gain it right back as soon as I fell off the wagon. Once I eliminated eating dairy, wheat/gluten/most starches, processed foods, and sugar, more than 60 pounds came right off in only a couple of months -without even trying.

Through all of this it all just seemed to click for me. Health and happiness doesn’t have to be a struggle. If you can commit to putting yourself and your wellbeing at the top of your priority list, everything just seems to fall into place.

So while I am by no means perfect, Simple Unsweet is my little outlet to share my journey. I hope it helps to inspire you to find your own version of health and happiness!