Like many other women my Endometriosis journey began long before I knew it. I started struggling specifically with period pain my sophomore year of college. I remember the first time I threw up from my period I had just eaten some very yummy lasagna but sadly it came back up. I was confused because I always had pretty mild periods before then but ever since that period they just got worse and worse. I thought this was normal, so I didn’t think there was anything wrong, no one ever tells you that its not normal to have excruciating cramps and throwing up on your period. In fact, my sister had the same problem on her period so it seemed normal to me. I lived with this for about three years till my other symptoms got worse; pain during intercourse, pelvic pain not during my period, constipation, severe cramping with bowel movements, acne and bloating. I decided I should probably get this checked out but every time I went to the doctor I was sent home with more questions and medications for something other than endometriosis. After several failed trips to the doctor for the next four years I decided to research my symptoms myself. After many late nights and endless searches of all the different symptoms I had I came across endometriosis, something I had never heard of before, the symptoms lined up exactly with the symptoms I was dealing with. I thought it was funny I had never heard this word before because it affects 1 in 10 women! And that doesn’t include the undiagnosed, that’s crazy more people should be aware of this disease, so more women can be diagnosed and helped. I was convinced that endometriosis was what I had so I booked an appointment at my OBGYN. when I told the doctor, I believed I had endometriosis she said, “your probably right because your symptoms match up.” I thought it was weird that I could make the connection between my symptoms and endometriosis but after hearing my symptoms several times my doctor couldn’t make the connection until hearing it from me. My doctor wanted to do some tests to rule out anything else, but she also wanted to get me started on birth control for my symptoms. I told the doctor I did not want to take birth control, but she wrote me the prescription any ways and said I can choose to use it if I want. Leaving the doctor’s office, I was a bit frustrated because all I knew was that I probably had endometriosis, there is no cure, my doctor wants me to manage symptoms with birth control, and surgery was the only way to confirm that I had endometriosis. I hated not knowing what was going on with my body, yes, I assumed it was endometriosis, but I couldn’t be for sure, so how am I supposed to treat myself when I’m not positive what I have. I decided to get the surgery even though my doctor encouraged me to try the birth control first, but I was done questioning what I had and I wanted some answers. I came out of surgery ready to know exactly what was affecting me, at that point I didn’t care what it was as long as I had an answer. When my doctor told me that I did have endometriosis it really hit me at that moment that I would be living with this disease for the rest of my life. What I didn’t know then was that I wouldn’t have to live with the symptoms of endometriosis for the rest of my life. It took me seven years to get diagnosed and this doesn’t include the years before painful periods when I had constipation, cramping with bowel movements, acne and bloating. although I had finally been diagnosed this was just the beginning of my journey with endometriosis. As I was recovering from surgery I had a lot of time to think about what path I wanted to take, I had always been fairly healthy, and I enjoyed physical activity and holistic healing, but I had never taken a really close look at my diet and my mental health was seriously lacking (at the time I always thought how much could mental health really affect your physical health? Turns out it can affect it a lot!). I knew that food was a big factor in my pain and I wanted to eliminate trigger foods, add in lots of nutritious food, and add in supplements that I wasn’t getting enough of through my food. Below are the endometriosis symptoms I used to struggle with and if you read on I tell you about how I eliminated these symptoms.
Symptoms I had:
- Painful periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Ovulation pain
- Pain with bowel movements
HOW DID I HEAL FROM ENODMETRIOSIS?
I took my health into my own hand and I began to heal myself through nutritional health, physical activity health, and mental health.
HEALING THROUGH FOOD
I began to cut out inflammatory foods, I eliminated dairy, gluten, red meat, and some soy. its important to not overwhelm yourself by eliminating more food than you can handle so I made sure to just do what I felt like I could do. I continued this diet for about a year and I had more energy, less acne, no ovulation pain, less headaches, less bloating but I was still experiencing painful intercourse and painful periods and I was still taking ibuprofen on my period. I decided that I wanted to get off ibuprofen on my period because I knew it was causing problems with my liver and gut health. I started the program I now offer to my clients, the important difference between this diet and what I was doing for the past year is that I was adding in a lot of food rather than just eliminating food. I began to eat a lot more vegetables, I added food high in probiotics, and added a lot more anti-inflammatory food. It is just as important to add food to your diet as it is to eliminate food to heal endometriosis. Along with adding and eliminating food from my diet I also added supplements. It took some time to try different supplements to see what I needed and what I didn’t need. One supplement that I could not live without is magnesium! This supplement helped so much with my constipation, and bowel movement pain.
HEALING THOUGHT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
I have always been active throughout my life. I grew up in Montana where I lived on a farm and loved to do outdoor activities like hiking, snowboarding, and sports. I grew up with five siblings on a farm where we ran around and played silly games outside (we may or may not have invented a game where we let our goat out of its cage to chase us down and up the drive way, whoever got hit lost) it might sound weird and a little crazy but it kept us active. I have played soccer since I can remember, I always tell my clients to find something they love to do or at least enjoy and I promise you will participate in it more than forcing yourself to run on a treadmill, but I also participate in other sports whenever I can because I love the competitive nature of sports and it makes it so entertaining and fun for me (when I’m winning haha). As I mentioned above I love the outdoors and have always been into hiking, if you’re not into competition and don’t like sports you may enjoy something like hiking, it can be very relaxing and there are many different levels and difficulties to hiking which makes it good for all levels. Although I’ve always been active its always been a bit inconsistent, I wanted to get consistent exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more. I began to consistently go to the gym instead of just going once here and once there, I signed up for soccer leagues that I could consistently go to and play. The key thing to keeping me consistent is having variety and doing things I enjoy. I love helping my clients find things they love and giving them lots of different ideas to keep things interesting and fun.
HEALING THROUGH MINDSET/MENTAL
Before I began my lifestyle change I was negative, very emotional (hormone imbalances), quick to anger, anxious, and depressed at times. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be optimistic, I wanted to get my emotions under control. A lot of this also has to do with diet and physical activity but it also has to do with mindset and mental health. Meditation was a big help for me, it helped me calm my mind and get into a positive mindset. I try to meditate once in the morning and once at night. I also needed to learn how to be alone, how to be okay with being by myself because often I would get stressed or anxious when I was alone. With time and effort I began to enjoy my time alone, I did things that I enjoyed doing be myself, I thought about how peaceful it was to have my own quit space. I struggled a lot with stress as well, I let little things stress me out, I let things I couldn’t change stress me out, and of course I let big decisions stress me out. It is important to let go of things that you cannot change because stressing out about those things will only negatively affect your health and you cannot do anything about them. It is hard to avoid stress all together but there are exercises in my program that help you reduce and cope with stress. Because I was feeling healthier from my diet change and increased physical activity it was a lot easier to change my mindset and improve my mental health.
You may be wondering what my mental health has to do with my endometriosis. Stress, anxiety, negative feelings, depression, and other mental health issues can negatively affect your health (contributing to endo pain) and can also be symptoms of endometriosis. Improving mental health may help you improve your endometriosis but most importantly your overall health.
After improving every aspect of my life and healing myself without medications and surgery I am much happier and I am hardly ever bloated, my period pain is little to none, I no longer get acne, no more intercourse pain or ovulation pain, I have lots of energy, no more headaches, and I have regular bowel movements with zero pain. I feel healthier, happier, and my mood has improved by so much. I feel younger than I did in college, I didn’t treat my body very good in college; I drank alcohol, I ate fast food, didn’t sleep the proper amount, and more. I was tired all the time, I was almost always sick with a cold, I felt sluggish and drained, and very painful periods. I had all these issues that I no longer have due to the lifestyle changes I have made in my life. I love the person I am today and all I want to do is to continue to maintain my health, my journey doesn’t end here healthy living is a lifestyle not a temporary diet.
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