how small steps lead to big change

I’m Julie. I am a Mom, Wife, Health Coach, and MS Fighter.  Over the past few years, I have dramatically improved my MS symptoms and migraines through diet and lifestyle improvements.  I want to help you to make small changes to your lifestyle that will lead to big improvements in your health too.

Growing up in the 80’s when the mantra was “fat makes you fat,” my diet consisted of mostly carbs and low fat or fat-free processed foods.  My childhood nutrition included frozen TV dinners, canned fruit, packaged meals and fast food.  From grade school through my teens, I suffered from chronic neck and back pain, acne and severe headaches.  Exercise was non-existent, as I was not much of an athlete and didn’t participate in after-school activities.  I struggled with my weight, and wished to be thin and fit. As it turns out, I had no idea what it meant to live a healthy lifestyle, and I didn’t know where to begin.

Read about "Let's Move to Fight MS" in the Rivertowns Enterprise.

Read about "Let's Move to Fight MS" in the Rivertowns Enterprise.

In my 20’s, I experimented with different diets and my weight went up and down, but my headaches and other ailments continued.  Things escalated soon after the birth of my 2nd child, when I started experiencing weakness in my right hand. I couldn’t open baby food jars or water bottles.  My doctor diagnosed me with “tennis elbow” from carrying my baby on the same side for too long, and gave me a brace to wear.  The strength came back to my hand in a few months and I didn’t think about it again.

Three years later, while training for a 39-mile charity walk, I noticed tingling and numbness in my right foot and right hand. Initial MRI scans showed two lesions on my brain, but the doctor was unalarmed when another scan six months later was unchanged.  I knew that I was out of shape and above my goal weight, and I attributed the numbness to injuring my back during my new exercise routine.  In an effort to lose weight, I started a diet program that included pre-portioned, frozen, processed food with a daily menu system. I lost about 30 pounds, yet I felt worse than ever before. The numbness, tingling, and electric shock feelings had increased, and I became fatigued very easily.  My migraines had intensified and were now occurring 2-3 times per week. It was then three years after my first MRI scan, so I went back for a follow up which found a new abnormal spot. That led to a battery of tests and scans for close to a year, which led to my MS diagnosis in December of 2011.

My neurologist did not talk to me about making any lifestyle changes, his primary focus was ensuring I had the proper medication to avoid further progression.  I started taking Copaxone injections, but I also started reading some self-help books on the subject.  I read about how MS can be controlled, through food choices, exercise, and lifestyle improvements.

A year later, overcome by debilitating migraines, anxiety, and extreme fatigue, I was ready to take some dramatic steps to improve my health.  Based on the books I had read, eliminating gluten seemed to be a good first step. I went to the supermarket and filled my cart with every gluten-free product I could find. As of that moment, I was gluten free. I never had my last bowl of pasta, or that final slice of pizza, I just went for it and never looked back.

Within a few days I felt better.  I started to think more clearly.  My brain fog had lifted. The migraine pain finally subsided. My research told me that gluten takes weeks to come out of your system, but just knowing that I was taking control, that I was on a new path towards better health, made my world a brighter place. Eight months after going gluten free, I was still feeling stronger and more energized. I was frustrated that my doctors had not indicated that my symptoms might improve by making changes to my diet. I wanted to get that message out.  I joined the world of social media and started an Instagram account, to share information with others looking to transition to a gluten-free lifestyle.

It turns out I was not alone. Many others with autoimmune diseases were finding relief by making dramatic changes to their diets.  I found that people were finding relief in a variety of ways, from eliminating meat and dairy, to converting to a vegan lifestyle, or starting a Paleo protocol (eliminating all grains, legumes, dairy, and refined sugars).  As I continued to see what worked best for my own body, my health continued to improve.  I started by following the 21-Day Sugar Detox, then transitioned into a modified Paleo lifestyle.  I started eating grass-fed organic meats and other quality sources of protein. I tried new vegetables.  I made bone broth.  I stopped eating processed foods and refined sugars.  It wasn't always easy, but knowing that I had the power to improve my own health made it all worth it. 

Within a few weeks my fatigue had vanished. I began sleeping through the night which was an issue for me for years. My numbness and tingling were gone. My migraines are now occurring once a month at most, and are often relieved without medication. I exercise regularly, attend weekly yoga classes, and I’m working on developing a consistent meditation practice.  Symptoms will emerge from time to time, but now I am the one in control. I now know that I may have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.

I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), and though my private coaching practice, Healthy On Hudson, I can now lead others on their own journey to better health. The same foods will impact people in very different ways. What heals one individual can be harmful to another. We can work together to discover what diet and lifestyle changes can be most beneficial for YOU. The human body is an incredible thing. It can overcome many ailments that you deal with every day.

Given the proper nutrients and care, your body can, and will, heal itself. 

 

Photo Credit: Brian Reisinger

Photo Credit: Brian Reisinger

Contact me today to schedule your free initial consultation.