I remember doing a fitness photo shoot when I was 25 or 26 years old. I was trying my hardest to make it BIG in the fitness competition world, and this photoshoot was supposed to be my declaration to the world that I meant business and was going to dominate... Man how different I was then.
Different, not only in my mindset and priorities but also in my awareness of how my body reacted to foods and what it needed in order to stay lean, full of energy and have a properly functioning digestive system.
The following is what happened that day of the photoshoot (and everyday until I cleaned up my digestive system):
I woke up with abs, muscle striations and clear energy. Packed my suitcase with food (I had terrible blood sugar irregularity and couldn't go 2 hours without eating) then was on my way to the shoot.
A staple in my portable bag-o-food was yogurt, berries and granola. I loved it. It was what I looked forward to everyday and was in COMPLETE denial that the whey-based yogurt was contributing to my acne, bloating, water retention and constipation.
So, I kept eating it. I showed up to the shoot, ate my dairy-based yogurt while getting make up and hair done, got an hour or two of great shots in, then started down the slippery slope of an
immune reaction to dairy.
I got tired.
My striations disappeared.
Abs went away.
Confidence down the drain.
I couldn't for the life of me understand why I would train SO HARD in the gym, eat super clean and still not achieve the level of aesthetics others seemed to be achieving just fine.
Hind sight is always so damn valuable, isn't it?
I know now that I had undiagnosed SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and was reacting to the lactose sugar in dairy. I also had a sluggish gallbladder and was getting constipated from the fats in dairy. I had leaky gut, adrenal fatigue and no healthy coping
mechanisms. My gut-brain connection wasn't very connected at all.
It's been almost 10 years since that shoot. I've done a hell of a lot of work to clean up my digestive system and balance my response to stress so that my gut, brain, adrenals and heart can live a well-functioning and peaceful life.
Going dairy-free was the first step for me in achieving digestive wellness. Then was gluten-free, and finally, completing a few rounds of the 12-Week Gut restore Program in order to reduce the
bacterial load in the gut contributing to my chronic fatigue, gas, bloat, constipation and immune reactions to high fibre and FODMAP foods.
I can't leave out the importance of the inner work I did. Not everyone may need this level of personal work, but I came from a traumatic past of addictions, family neglect and abandonment,
physical abuse and low self-esteem. These are integral pieces and reasons as to why I suffered for so long and so intensely with gut issues. My healing work was rooted in learning and
practising the following:
My point here isn't to boast on all of the work I've done on myself. It is to show that I was willing to stop at NOTHING to find physical, emotional and mental wellness.
Yes it was expensive, but I found the money. There is no price tag for wellness in my eyes.
If you're suffering from chronic mental stress and gut illness know that I, too, understand the struggle and believe that you can most definitely overcome these challenges.
Reach out to us, we're here to help.
Cassandra Hope, RHN
Founder of The IBS Academy
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