Hey all!! I wanted to share my long version of how I got to where I am today, because we all have to start somewhere. Also, let me preface by saying I don’t have any fun pictures so I apologize for not having something fun to look at, but I hope you’ll still consider reading anyway :).
My story starts way back in 2008 (man that’s a long time ago!). I was constantly sick with stomach issues, which finally resulted in having my gallbladder removed at the ripe old age of 20. I found some relief, but not much. Then a whole slew of other issues started popping up. I developed a pretty bad case of acid reflux, wicked headaches, knee problems, and overall I just felt miserable and I was mean. Fast forward to 2011. My acid reflux was out of control, I couldn’t find much relief, had to go on a high dosage of antacids, I had a scope done which came back showing signs of potential scaring which can lead to Barret’s Esophagus (possible cancer of the esophagus). This freaked me out pretty bad, considering I was still really young and showing pre-cancerous symptoms for a disease that most adults don’t develop until they’re in their 40s-50s. But it wasn’t enough to get me to wake up and realize that I needed to make serious changes!
Moving forward to 2014. I was a new mom, my son was less than a year old, and I was miserable. I had post-partum depression, which I didn’t recognize until closer to his 1st birthday. During that first year I started doing a lot of research late a night (had to find something to entertain me while I nursed my son and to keep me from falling asleep), I started looking up natural remedies for improving my mood, breaking feelings of depression, alleviating acid reflux flare ups, etc… And through all my late-night internet searches and Pinterest, I started finding more and more about how the food we ate affected our bodies. Little by little I started to wake up, and understood why I felt so awful!
During one of my husband’s longish trainings in October of that same year, about 3 weeks, I decided to try out an elimination diet of sorts, and took meat complete out for the time he was away. I was never a big meat eater anyway, maybe once a day, so that part wasn’t too hard. I noticed that in just that short amount of time, not only did I not miss eating meat or having to spend time touching raw meat (grossest thing ever), my acid reflux was slowing improving! Hooray!! After having daily flare ups, and being curled up in a ball due to the pain, I was down to just a couple flare ups a week! So I knew meat was not my friend, and I wasn’t sad whatsoever. I knew I still had more research and self-testing to go through before I was going to be in a good place, but if cutting out meat made that big of a difference then I was on board!
Over the course of the next 3 months I would eliminate dairy for a couple days at a time then bring it back in to see how my body handled it, and it was always the same thing, I felt good while it was gone and miserable while it was around. Lightbulb! I couldn’t handle dairy. (I also learned months later that dairy was linked to acne, which I suffered from horribly during my teen years, and even into my 20s. It was amazing to finally see clear skin, and not have to fork over tons of money to use gross/skin-drying creams or potentially harmful pills! Yet another amazing side-effect of cutting out animal products!) I did the same thing with eggs. I would eliminate eggs for days at a time, including eggs in foods, and as soon as egg came back my problems came back. So eggs were also not going to work for me.
I made the decision in December of 2014 that starting January 1st I was going to go vegan. I had no false ideas that it was going to be easy, especially since both my husband and my son weren’t going to be doing it with me. But for the sake of my health I had to do what was necessary to feel healthy. Looking back the most amazing part of this experience was getting my results back from a follow-up scope I had done mid-January (only 2 weeks after switching to a full vegan diet). My esophagus was healing, and there was next to no scarring. My pre-cancerous symptoms were gone! I’m pretty sure I cried that day, knowing that I was able to heal my body in such a short time and easy way. To this day I still have to take my antacid, but the dosage is a small amount compared to where I started, and I’ve gotten to know my trigger foods, so I’m usually good about avoiding the problem foods.
Phew! Sorry all, I wasn’t planning on writing a novel on my experiences and why I switched to the vegan diet. This next part will be much shorter I promise :). This part is where running came into my life.
Let me start by saying I used to hate running. I played sports in high school, and when they had us run to warm up I cringed and probably swore a little bit haha. It wasn’t until 2011 that I had any interest in running at all. I started by running a few 5ks, and then while my husband was deployed I decided to train for a half marathon. I ran it in 2:30, which I thought was great. Then I slowly lost interest again and stopped running.
Fast forward to 2014 to when I was a new mom (before switching to being a vegan), I was dealing with PPD, and didn’t understand how to pull myself out of my funk. We had purchased a very nice jogging stroller, while I was pregnant because I wanted to be an active new mom and go running with my baby. Well when you’re miserable, and the world seems dark and pointless, running is the last thing on your mind. We used the stroller, but not much running was done with it. Finally I hit my breaking point, I think my son was about 8-9 months old, and I couldn’t take being miserable anymore! I wanted to lose the baby weight, start feeling better and get out of the house more than once a week. So little by little, I started going for fast walks, which turned into walk/jogs, which turned into actually running. First it was just a mile, then 2, then a 5k! And anyone who hasn’t run in months, maybe even years, to run a 5k was so liberating. I started feeling like a whole new me, and started pulling myself out of my funk.
Honestly I think I really started loving running about the time I went vegan, it was like the two just went hand-in-hand for me. I was eating great, feeling great, and ready to start challenging myself. To date, I have run countless 5ks and 10ks, I’ve completed several half marathons, 2 official marathons, a 50k- which was the most exhausting and accomplishing thing I have ever done, and I also ran 50 miles in the course of 24 hours. Currently I’m chasing a sub-2 hour half marathon finish, and maybe one day I hope to qualify for a top marathon like New York or Boston, but that’ll be many, many years down the road like when I’m 50! I don’t run for the shirts or medals, I run because it makes me happy. I love going out and having time to reflect and think about how I’m doing, what I want to work towards, how far do I want to push myself, or just feeling proud of how far I’ve come in a little over 2 years.
- I can’t forget to give credit to my biggest reason for wanting to change my life and feeling happy and energetic, my amazing little running buddy (whom I post a lot about on my Instagram page). He gets excited for our runs together, and usually hops into the stroller without much fuss. Being a runner mom isn’t easy, but it keeps me sane! I hope to always love running as much as I do now, and I hope that I’ve passed on my love of it to my son.
- Thanks everyone for taking the time read my long story, but I’ve enjoyed sharing with you how I got to where I am today :-).