Today I’m sharing why Ali Weinberg is A Gutsy Girl. Here is Ali’s story on taking control of her health.
You will heal. I will help.
Today I’m sharing why Ali Weinberg is A Gutsy Girl. Here is Ali’s story on taking control of her health.
Don’t yet see yourself as a super-healthy person? Experiment with doing a little of what you’d do if you were already supremely healthy and fit. As often as you can, act as if your commitment were unwavering.
Day 19 could not be anymore applicable today than for me to share with you the gutsy girl guest, Stephanie Bartelt. You will realize very shorty that she is still on the fence about seeing herself as “healthy.”
My intro notes: Steph is a dear friend from back in the homeskillet, MN. I only really know her as Steph Hoy, so writing “Bartelt” seems off. She introduced me several, several years ago in her bedroom upstairs to some original Dolly Parton hits. We were always jammin’ to the latest and greatest – ha 🙂 I won’t lie, when I got to paragraph 5 of her story, I had tears. Wanting to be a mommy is a hard place to find yourself. As it continues to haunt me, I can’t help but have a little piece of my heart fall, knowing that there are so many who actually are “with child,” but then lose them. And with that, meet Stephanie Bartelt.
While thinking about “Why I am Gutsy,” I continue to feel I am not quite there. I have always had issues with loving myself or even believing in myself. Why, you ask? I have no idea! I grew up with very loving parents, and one brother who I have always considered to be my 1st best friend. I mainly wanted to be a guest today to hold myself accountable! For the first time in 10+ years I have goals for MYSELF!
A little about me.
I never went to college mainly due to “taking a year off” after high school. I got a job and started making small amounts of money, but I was not willing to give that up. I fell in love and married my high school sweet heart shortly after graduating. His name is Nick, and he has been my best friend for the last 14 years.
The only job I have ever truly wanted was to be a mother, so Nick and I decided to start our family a few months after our wedding. In August of 2005 we welcomed our 1st daughter, Ella. October of 2007 came Brooke, and February of 2010 our final princess Claire made her entrance into this crazy world. Sounds pretty simple, right? Not exactly.
It was an emotional roller coaster, to say the least. In the end I had been pregnant a total of 6 times in 5 years. With all of the miscarriages and unwanted advice from the doctors to take it easy on my “mommy” goals I would NOT give up. Due to this, and complicated pregnancies, I made a drastic decision to finally be done having babies after Claire. This was a hard choice, but I knew it was the best choice for our situation.
With each pregnancy and each miscarriage I lost/gave up a piece of ME.
Some may think I am crazy, but I devote every waking hour of every day to my girls. I would give my life for them in a heartbeat. In doing this, I have taken more and more away from myself to the point that it has become very unhealthy.
I love my children and do not wish for my life to be any different. But I am learning that I need to love me, too. I need to make time for myself. It is not acceptable to not eat breakfast or lunch, or even shower until bed time.
I started making changes….baby steps. I go out running/walking every evening before they go to bed. Can you guess what happened the first time I did this? Right –> they stood at the door and cried and waved good-bye to me as if they were never going to see me again. Seriously…get a grip! I only went down to the stop sign and back…they could see me the whole mile.
I have noticed they respect me a little more, though, now that I am taking time for myself. Maybe it’s because I am respecting myself enough to know that I need this time away, even if it is only 20 minutes.
I want to be that positive female role model in their lives, and I also want to prepare myself appropriately for the day when they do not need me as much.
Last fall, I came to this devastating realization. Ella, our oldest, was “extremely ‘cited” for a KidsK she was going to be running in. She did it, and smiled the entire time. I loved watching her, and at the finish line with big puppy dog eyes she asked me if I was going to be running in the 5K that “ALL the other mommies” were doing. I, of course said, “ummm…no! Do you want me to die!?!” Miss Smarty Pants replied, “Mommy, you won’t die from running, but you might if you don’t start!” I will never forget those words.
I started running, and this year I will run that 5K. In June, I completed the Warrior Dash. It was not completely in record time, but I finished. I did not die. I felt amazing!
Am I gutsy? Kind of, but in due time – most definitely.
I am determined. My girls are my everything. They deserve to have their mommy watch them grow old. They deserve to have a good example on how to be healthy. If they were ever ill or hurt due to my lack in making healthy decisions for them while they were young, I would be devastated. They deserve a fighting chance. And let’s be honest; I want all of my girls to be proud enough of me to pick me out in the crowd when they are in high school and say, “Hey, that’s MY mom!”
I am a work in progress, but I like the progress I have made. I never plan on giving up. (<<—- SKH Note: Now that’s #gutsy.)
Tomorrow is day 20. Topic:
Aim for 85%
I mentioned HERE yesterday that I have an addictive personality. We shall see how this 85% post pans out.
Love your guts,
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A healthy life is more a marathon than a sprint. So start where you are. Choose sensible, sustainable shifts over instant cures and quick fixes.
I’ve been blogging so much that I think my fingers might fall off. Luckily for me, today I have a wonderful guest to introduce you all to, and subsequently who will let these fingers rest a quick second!
Today is day 12 of 101 days of blogging. This weekend try to pay attention to what day 12 is all about….going at your own pace. I have a bazillion things to do, but I’m going to be sensible and take it all one step at a time. I hope you’ll do the same!
Enough about me, meet Clare. Clare Brady that is. Clare is a fellow IIN’er. She’s also just simply fabulous, and she blogs at fitting it all in. She’s adorable. She’s also gutsy. And here’s why….
When Sarah changed her blog name to “A Gusty Girl” I was immediately intrigued. Obviously the title has a double meaning for her, but for me it was just the first time I’d really thought about what it means to be “gutsy”. It’s a good thing right? Having guts? But did I have guts?
I tend to think of doing something gutsy as being a really big deal. Like smacking your cheating boyfriend in the face or telling off your mean boss in some overly dramatic, perfectly scripted speech. Or something like that.
But here’s the thing. The chances of me ever doing those things are slim, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be gutsy in my own way. What takes guts for one person might be no big deal to another person – it’s totally individual. Maybe for you being gutsy is trying a new food at the grocery store or finally signing up for that pottery class you’d been eyeing. As long as it’s something that takes courage and puts you outside your comfort zone, it’s gutsy.
When I actually sat down and examined the past few years of my life, I realized I’m a lot gutsier than I thought. No boyfriend-slapping or boss-yelling for me, but gutsy in my own way. And proud!
Tomorrow is day 13. Topic:
Love your guts,
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What is it like living with an autoimmune disease?
So we carry on with Marci’s story. She left off yesterday with, “However, I would soon discover that just because I looked healthy didn’t mean that I necessarily was…”
(SKH Note: A million women can likely identify with this story. The story left me nearly in tears, but the commitment and dedication with nothing but inspiration.)
Click HERE to save this post for later.
My rude awakening came Memorial Day weekend of my junior year. I had just returned from a house boating trip, and I was back home at my sorority studying for my upcoming finals. I can distinctly remember sitting at my desk, when out of nowhere my body began to itch. But this wasn’t one of those passing itches that you can relive with a light stroke of the fingers, this was a violent itch that would not let up, no matter how hard I scratched. While I found the sensation odd, I quickly dismissed it, assuming that it was simply the result of having been covered in sweat and dirt for the past four days without access to a shower. I figured a hot soak would sooth my skin, but much to my dismay the itching continued, and I ended up scratching myself to sleep that night.
The next morning, I awoke to find the cause of the previous night’s discomfort. I was covered from head to toe with tiny red patches that resembled a cross between the chicken pox and poison oak. After my initial panic, I began fervently searching the Internet in an attempt to self-diagnose. I came to the conclusion that it was nothing more than a bad case of poison oak and promptly made an appointment at the health center to pick up a treatment.
Fast forward a few weeks. Despite diligently applying a prescription cortisone cream to every little spot that had popped up on my skin, I began to notice that the redness was not subsiding, and in fact, more spots were beginning to appear. At this point, my entire back, chest, stomach, scalp, and shins were covered with what now resembled red lesions. As much as I wanted to deny it, I knew deep down that this was definitely not a case of poison oak and something more serious was going on. I was scheduled to fly home to California in the next few days, so I made a dermatologist appointment for when I arrived to get a more qualified opinion.
The day of that consultation is one that I may never forget. The dermatologist was a callous man whose pathetic bedside manner did not ease my worry. After giving my body the once-over, he matter of factly stated that it looked as though I was suffering from Psoriasis, but a biopsy was needed to be sure. As I sat in that cold, sterile exam room, my mind raced with thoughts of how this disease would impact the rest of my life. I kept asking the doctor questions, hoping that his answers would reassure me. Will I have this forever? Will it get better? Will it get worse? All he could tell me, without a bit of compassion in his voice, was that he had no idea. Each person who develops the condition is affected differently.
When the biopsy results finally arrived, my worst fear was confirmed. I indeed had Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the skin. Through my own research and talking with the dermatologist who began treating my condition up in Oregon, I learned that Psoriais is an underlying genetic condition that is often triggered by stress, injury to the skin, or certain infections. While those facts seemed rather black and white, what I couldn’t put my finger on was how and why this happened to me? Sure the rigors of college had me a little stressed, but none of the other triggers applied, and I made such an effort to be SO healthy. I was at a loss, and all I could do was feel sorry for myself. Call me dramatic, but by this point, I was well aware that severe cases of Psoriasis can leave people with either the red lesions like the ones I developed or crusty, scaly plaques that can cover almost every inch of skin on their body. Although my case was not nearly that bad, my mind could only go to the worst possible scenario, and I worried that I would spend the rest of my life having to hide my skin.
The treatments for Psoriasis are many. But it my case, applying a topical steroid cream seemed like the best place to start. I was quickly briefed on the possible side effects that the various drugs can cause, and while it worried me to an extent, my main concern was ridding my body of the lesions that were causing me so much emotional distress. The medication worked well to clear the redness, but it also made the affected skin thin and almost translucent. So rather than have red patches covering my body, I know had white spots all over me, which wasn’t a great alternative. Yet I continued to treat myself with the creams until finally, they all disappeared.
Although my skin was pretty much back to normal, I was definitely not out of the woods when it came to my health. As the years went on, I began suffering from debilitating fatigue, depression, acid reflux, and other gut related issues. I consulted with numerous doctors and had a slew of medical tests run, but was never given a clear cut diagnosis. Just like with psoriasis, I was handed synthetic pharmaceuticals to mask the symptoms. Desperate for relief, I took the drugs, but in the back of my mind I knew there had to be a better way, and I was determined to find one.
As fate would have it, around this time is when I met Sarah. She and I hit it off right away, as we discovered that we were both health nuts who loved learning about exercise and nutrition. We would also come to realize that despite both of our best efforts to become versions of our most vibrant selves, we were suffering from similar health ailments. At the time, Sarah was using alternative methods to heal her body, and I can remember reading about her success working with a nutritionist who focused on more holistic methods. From that point on I made it my mission to take a more natural approach to my lifestyle. Extensive research eventually lead me to discover that many medical conditions are the direct result of poor food choices and other environmental factors. Over time these stressors damage the body and lead to inflammation.
Hippocrates once said thousands of years ago,
All diseases start in the gut.
Looking back on the time leading up to my initial Psoriasis outbreak, I can apply that statement to finally put the pieces together as to why my seemingly healthy body began to attack itself. In an attempt to lose weight, gain muscle, or reach whatever physique goal I was after at the time, I wreaking havoc on my body. It is now clear that what I thought was good for me at the time most definitely was not, especially when it came to my nutrition. While I tried to incorporate healthy foods like lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, I also supplemented my diet with plenty of artificial, processed junk that I justified has healthy because it was sugar-free, low-carb, etc. While living in the sorority, I consumed copious amounts of Egg Beaters, protein powder, Splenda sugar-free Jell-o, Crystal Light, Diet Coke, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and “healthy,” yet processed cereals. What do all of those foods have in common? They are laden with chemicals and other artificial ingredients. On top of that, I was drinking on the weekends, engaging in excessive exercise, and enduring the emotional stressors of college.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the culmination of these factors resulted in me developing a gut. The gut plays a crucial role in managing the immune system, and one that is compromised has been shown cause of various autoimmune diseases and other conditions, such as acid reflux, IBS, depression etc., all of which I have suffered from.
Ok, so I have an autoimmune disease and some other health ailments, but how exactly does that make me a Gutsy Girl? Well for one, going against the societal norm is never easy. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements for pharmaceuticals that lead us to believe that healing comes in the form of a pill. But if you’ve ever read the fine print of a prescription or listened to the end of a drug commercial, then you know that these drugs can pose some serious risks. There is no denying that most drugs work and can provide almost instantaneous relief. I know that if any of my reflux or Psoriasis returns I can easily pop a pill or apply a cream to get relief. While this may be the acceptable solution for some, I am not willing to compromise my health down the road to feel better in the moment. In my mind drugs are simply a band-aid, as the relief of symptoms, does not mean that the body is healed. Symptoms are the body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right, and in order to prevent further damage it is important to get to the root cause of what is causing the discomfort in the first place. It is my belief and experience, that only then can true healing take place.
Defying the theories of conventional doctors and modern medicine by choosing to self-medicate through food and lifestyle changes requires courage. When I decided to take my health into my own hands, I was aware that the road to recovery would be slow, but I also knew the process would be worth it. My first step towards healing was to adopt a modified version of the Paleo Diet. I cut out gluten (buh bye my beloved oat meal) and dairy (so long, protein shakes), which are often the first things to go in elimination type diets, and was thrilled to find that doing so relieved much of my acid reflux and bloating issues. The next step was trying to heal my Psoriasis, which proved a little more difficult.
While I am fortunate that my skin has been 99% clear for years now, I still have one pesky patch on the back of my ear that refuses to heal, and about 6 months ago I developed a rough, red lesion next to my nose. For a while, that spot was quite inflamed and at least once a day, someone would come up to me with a look of disgust, point at the spot and say, “What’s wrong with your face?” While I consider these comments completely rude and unnecessary, at this point in my life I’m secure enough with myself at that it doesn’t bother me. However, that’s not to say that I don’t want it to vanish completely. Not only would it save me from having to explain my condition, but it would also be a good indicator that my gut is completely healed.
For experimentation purposes, I have most recently been using the autoimmune version of the Paleo diet in an effort to clear the lingering spots of Psoriasis. While I’ve always been extremely self-disciplined, there is no denying that this “diet” is tough. The autoimmune protocol eliminates all dairy, gluten, grains, alcohol, eggs, nuts/seeds, and nightshades, as these foods are seen as inflammatory to those suffering from autoimmunity. I have given up some of my very favorite foods that were once a staple in my diet and that takes some serious discipline. Even in the face of societal pressures, when people make snide comments about my food choices and force me to eat just one bite, it’s always been easy for me to avoid indulgences that I know won’t get my to my ultimate goal. But it becomes more difficult now that I must avoid the foods that have been a nutritional staples of an already strict diet. While I honestly enjoy eating healthy, I won’t deny that a diet of only meat, vegetables, avocado, coconut oil, and the occasional sweet potato or squash on workout days gets a little boring after a while. Am I ever tempted to cheat? Sure. Do I often find myself questioning if all this is even worth it, when results are merely anecdotal? You betcha. There are times when I want nothing more than a big bowl of oatmeal, some protein pancakes and a dip into the almond butter jar. But when those feelings and frustrations do arise, I must reflect on how far I have come on this journey to improved health. It is then that I realize that food is simply fuel for my body, and I must be willing to take whatever action is required to ensure that I lead a long, healthy life.
Autoimmunity is a tricky beast, and suppressing its symptoms is no simple feat. Unlike the diets I have been on in the past when my only concern was aesthetics, a diet to cure autoimmune conditions requires 100% strict adherence. Consuming an offending food can reignite the inflammatory process and have you back starting at square one. I am hoping that in time, my extreme discipline will pay off and my gut will heal permanently. If so, then there is a chance that I will once again be able to go back to eating some of the foods that I enjoy and do miss. But until then, I am determined to stay strong and prove to myself that I am gutsy. I have come too far to turn back now, and I look forward to what the future holds for my health.
I urge anyone who is reading this and suffering from health ailments, autoimmune related or not, to take an honest look at your diet. It is amazing what a powerful and healing tool food can be. While change isn’t always easy, I am proof that with a little courage, faith, and discipline you can regain your vitality in a healthy way.
All dress sizes are welcome here. It says so in my tagline. And I’m serious.
All dress sizes means all dress sizes.
It also means all dress colors, all dress shapes and all the struggles and successes the woman in that dress carries.
The truth is that there is nothing special about me being “gutsy.” You are all gutsy. You just have to dig deep to figure out why and how, and then how you can take that gutsy-ness and give back to the world. Remember from yesterday, “pay it forward.”
Today I’m also launching my new Friday feature, which is the “Why I’m a Gutsy Girl“ feature. Each Friday, I will feature your fabulous selves. I want the world to know that it’s filled with gutsy girls. I’m not just talking about gutsy as it relates to tummy troubles, infertility or laying the holistic concept vs medicated solution on the line. I’m talking about your own, unique sense of gutsy.
I am a self-proclaimed health and fitness junkie. I earn my living as a personal trainer, and if I’m not lifting weights in the gym or practicing yoga, you can often find me pouring over blogs and reading articles about exercise and nutrition. Training is my one true passion, as it makes me feel alive, strong and confident in a way that nothing else can. If you were to look at me right now, you’d think I have it pretty good. At just 5’2, I’m a petite little thing, and I maintain a comfortable level of leanness year round. Yet contrary to what most people assume, I have to work hard for my physique, and I surely can’t get away with eating whatever I want. Win the genetic lottery I most definitely did not, and it has taken years of sacrifice and dedication to get to where I am today- which ultimately isn’t even where I want to be.
Growing up I was a chunky kid, with a head full of unruly, frizzy hair. In middle school I was often teased by the boys, and in the beginning of high school was the sidekick to my prettier, skinner friends. As a result, I had a poor body image and lacked any sense of self confidence. Despite being active in various sports, my weight continued to rise, so I joined a gym in an attempt to exercise-off the unwanted pounds. At the time, I was unaware of the role that proper nutrition played in creating the change I desired, and no amount of activity could override the processed crap that was my diet.
The summer going in to my sophomore year my mom joined Weight Watchers in an effort to lose some weight herself, which ultimately served as the catalyst for my own transformation. Although I wasn’t a part of the program, she taught me how to use the points system to monitor my intake. Looking back, I know that my food choices were still poor, yet the concept of portion control helped to jumpstart my initial weight loss. Slowly my body began to transform, and by the time high school graduation arrived, I was literally a different person. I had lost twenty pounds, and I felt ready to take on the new challenges and experiences of college.
Despite what I had heard about gaining the dreaded Freshmen 15, I was determined not to become part of that statistic. While my friends were fueling their all-nighters with pizza and candy, I stuck to a diet of nothing but “clean” foods. And when everyone else was nursing their hangovers after a night of drinking, I was at the gym getting my workout it. The results of my hard work showed, as I was leaner than I had ever been in my life. Yet for some reason, I still was not satisfied. I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about nutrition and exercise, which inspired me to train harder and manipulate my diet even further. And because I was able to maintain such a regimented lifestyle despite the stress and social pressures I faced, I viewed myself as the epitome of health and fitness.
However, I would soon discover that just because I looked healthy didn’t mean that I necessarily was…
Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow, which is day 6. Topic:
Redefine Your Role.
Love your guts,
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