This is a post I have been needing to write for a very long time now. But the thought of it gives me so much pain that I have been procrastinating like crazy!
And I’ve basically been in hiding. If you have been paying any attention at all, you’ve noticed that I have not been posting on Facebook like I used to.
There is a reason for that…
I have really been struggling, for quite some time now. Struggling with my health. And struggling with my diet.
The good news is that I’ve been able to use my own good sense, knowledge, and experience to prevent having to do anything drastic, like going on pharmaceuticals (which I am vehemently opposed to), or anything of that nature. But I have been dealing with multiple health issues for the past three+ years and I have paid a price for it.
Long story short…I blamed my health problems on my diet. The raw foods diet, to be precise.
So, I began making alterations. And in the last three, quite frankly, I have been all over the map.
Since I had been following a high-raw, vegan lifestyle for 3+ years at the time, and since I was having serious anemia, B12, and iron deficiency symptoms, I decided the first thing I needed to do was add animal protein back into my diet. And start taking daily supplements.
And honestly, I DID start feeling better. Almost immediately.
But hormones were a significant factor. In fact, looking back now, I believe they were THE PRIMARY factor in my symptoms. And I didn’t realize it at the time…so I did what I thought I had to do in order to get through the situation.
Let me step back, though, because I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before I continue on with the story…I think it’s important that I share a visual. Please remember that this is a very emotionally painful revelation for me…but in the desire for complete transparency, I’m going to just blow through this in my commitment to move forward.
So, here goes…
The following collage is a representation of me in 2010 (top two pics) – age 48 – before menopause really kicked into full gear, following an Eighty Percent Raw lifestyle. And the lower two pics are me in May of 2013 – age 51 – after going through what was the worst part of menopause – having followed multiple diets…Atkins, Paleo, The Starch Solution, etc…The evidence speaks for itself.
Sooo…in the upper photos I had shed 35 pounds by following a high-raw lifestyle. And I was feeling GREAT! Better than I had felt in years! I’m 5’8″ tall and was down to 159 pounds. Which was the least I had weighed for most of my adult life. And I was very excited about that.
But then it started…
My menstrual cycle had been erratic for a couple of years prior to this time, but it really began to get crazy around mid July of 2010. Without getting into too much detail, let me just say that at that particular time I was experiencing a heavy period lasting more than 30 days in duration. Sooo…no wonder I was anemic, right? On a walk to my favorite book store I began experiencing deep muscle pain in my left thigh and then it moved to both of my hips. I was having difficulty walking, and was so exhausted that I didn’t think I would make it to my destination. However, I pushed myself, and when I got there I ordered a cold drink and found a seat. I remember feeling so light headed that I thought I would pass out and wondered how the ambulance driver would figure out how to get a hold of my husband.
The good news is that I didn’t pass out. But when I finally got home hubby was very worried about me, and based on my description to him, he strongly suggested that I start taking some iron supplements right away. Which I did. And I also started eating some red meat immediately (hubby is not a raw foodist/vegan, so there was meat in the house). And as I mentioned earlier, I started feeling better.
But I was also having other symptoms…I had been having arthritic pain in my knees, which lasted for months…maybe over a year. It would fluctuate from one knee to the other, lasting weeks at a time in each. And the pain was debilitating. I couldn’t roll over in bed at night without excruciating pain. So, doing simple things that I’d taken for granted before, like getting up and down off of the floor, sitting and standing back up, walking down the stairs, or even lifting my leg to walk, were unbearable. I absolutely believed I had rheumatoid arthritis and that I was going to be handicapped for the rest of my life.
But after several months of adjusting my diet from one style of eating to another, the pain began to diminish. And I still thought it was diet-related. It was such a relief to be out of pain…
Then things shifted. I started getting numbness and tingling in my arms and legs, mostly at night when I was sleeping. And there was a new pain in the left side of my neck. It became difficult to yawn…as strange as that sounds…again, mostly when I was laying down at night. These new symptoms really caused me concern because my older brother had a heart attack a couple of years earlier and was simultaneously diagnosed with type two diabetes. Additionally, my father had multiple heart attacks prior to his death…so the tendency is strong in my family line.
Well…the symptoms just went on and on…
And all the while I was battling my weight.
Even though I’ve struggled my entire adult life to stay slim, this was something entirely new and different. In the past, my “trouble spot” had always been my thighs. Never my stomach/waist. But all of the sudden that problem shifted…and I began gaining around my middle. And in my upper torso. This is a condition that really makes me crazy because I’ve never had to deal with this before. And it isn’t like I’m NOT being extremely careful about what I eat! Yet, over the last 3 years I’ve gradually regained the 35 pounds I lost and it makes me insane!
Sooo…the good new is, I believe the worst of it is behind me! And I’m excited to say that I THINK I’ve figured out now that almost all of what I’ve been going through has been the result of fluctuating hormones and NOT because of my diet. I used to think it was my diet because it seemed like when I would abandon high-raw foods for a while, and instead follow a high-fat/high-protein plan, my knee pain would diminish. But when I resumed a high-raw lifestyle the pain would come back. So, even though in my heart of hearts I WANTED to go back to following an Eighty Percent Raw lifestyle, I felt that I was compelled not to.
But now that it seems like my hormones have settled and stabilized, I appear to be able to eliminate meat, dairy, and animal products and replace them with a high-raw, vegan diet with no negative consequences!!! OMG! Can I tell you how excited I am?!?
My poor husband is really worried about me not eating meat and animal products…because of what I went through before. But I am feeling sooo much better now. And I’m quite confident that all of these damn symptoms I have been enduring have been due to my body trying desperately to find it’s balance.
Sooo…I am writing all of this for multiple reasons; 1.) Because I feel the need to be accountable to all those of you who have been following Eighty Percent Raw. I felt the need to pull away because I couldn’t, in good conscience, promote a lifestyle that I believed was THE CAUSE of all of my misfortune. I am very happy to have come full-circle and to an understanding of the true source of my difficulties. And 2.) Because I don’t know how many other women (raw foodists and otherwise) have gone through, or are currently going through, these terrible hormonal fluctuations related to menopause. And I don’t know how many realize what kind of havoc it can wreak in your life, or how L-O-N-G it can take to settle back into any kind of balance. So, I hope that by posting this it may help and give hope to others who may experience something similar. And finally, 3.) Because I want to make a public record of my journey back to health and fitness.
Thanks for allowing me to open up and share this very personal and painful part of my life.
I plan to begin tracking my experience and progress with videos I will post to YouTube and simultaneously here on the website. If this is something that would be of interest to you I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’m happy to say that I’m very excited about the future (now!) and that I’m anxiously looking forward to reclaiming the body I had before all of this happened (or whatever version awaits me at the end of this particular odyssey!)
Hugs and Blessings to All,