Listen to Your Gut - Body and Life Transformation Journey
Updated: Jun 21, 2021
There are very few words to describe the treacherous, yet beautiful journey that I have endeavored upon in the last three months. Yet, I will bring my truths straight from the gut.
Last week, I posted a picture of myself on social media sharing that I lost 25 pounds. As excited as I am that I am finally losing weight in a healthy manner (and losing weight at all), there is quite a testimony before the final product that is honestly way more rewarding than the loss.
On March 19, 2021 I found out quite devastating news concerning a platform I was once a part of. This entity caused previous stress that I continued to internalize daily to remain “competent for my position”. With this, I recently started a new contract position, just closed on and moved into a house, and overcame a disastrous winter storm in Texas. It was safe to say that I subconsciously internalized stress. I also had very little boundaries in my life. I was seeking to survive, not necessarily thrive, as much as my body would allow me.
Later that night, after having a difficult and vulnerable conversation with an old friend over hot wings and fries, I went to bed. At about 1:45am, I woke up gasping for air. My throat was slowly closing, and small whispers of air seeped through. I stood up gently in hopes that repositioning my body would spare me more air. It did not work. So, I drove to the hospital (yes, drove—ambulance isn’t cheap). Graciously, I arrived and received help quickly. They tested my lungs, pancreas, heart, and liver. All clear. They had no idea what was wrong. Finally, one of the women working at the desk said, “why don’t you try a GI cocktail?” So, I took it and guess what—I was feeling better! It was understood that there was inflammation going on in the esophagus and my stomach. They suggested a medication and sent me along my way.
About a week later, specifically the day that I finally moved into my house, it happened again. In fact, it was so intense that it knocked off my nerves and part of my body went numb. Same conclusion from the hospital. This happened two more times. In between, I was spending each night waking up at about 2:00am-4:30am shaking, feeling weak, dizzy, and fighting swelling and reflux in my throat. Through each day, I had to strongly monitor what I ate and how I ate it. It was quite a journey. Eventually, the flare ups went away, specifically when I went on vacation, and when I finished my work contract.
I finally took the initiative to go see a specialist and figure out what was wrong before the flare ups would become severe again. In the meantime, I sought this as an opportunity to endeavor on a healthier approach to my life, holistically.
This is the part where I tell you the plan on how I lost 25 pounds naturally in six months. (:
First, I focused my prayer. Yes, prayer has to do with your health. The prayer needs to be specific. I asked God for the increase of stewardship over my body. To not just want to lose weight, but to learn how to holistically care for my temple with obedience and love. It was a little ghetto along the way, but I’m so grateful for my new-found discipline.
Second, I increased my intentionality with yoga. Doing yoga 1-2 times a day, even just for ten minutes, truly addressed how to align my somatic responses to my overall health. It was difficult to stay committed, but I was very intentional. I remained lightly active as well, such as walking more instead of sitting all the time, but in this season, there was no heavy exercising involved.
Third, I asked my friends to join my health journey and kept them very updated with my progress. This is surely optional for those who are more self-motivated. I am quite self-motivated, but the accountability and vulnerability was the healing component. There was healing in bringing to reality my truths by telling someone else, so now I couldn’t avoid it or hide from it, and I can receive help when I needed it. I promise you—it helped. Just must make sure you are sharing with healthy and trustworthy people.
Fourth, I practiced a lot more mindfulness. I meditated daily, which we all know is beneficial. What we seem to gloss over is that our emotions and stress directly impact our gut. Often times, our stomach transparently tells us exactly what we think we are hiding or packing in within our lives. Mindfulness helps to expose that in a healthy way so that you are able to confront and manage it versus pushing it aside and storing it in your gut. You wouldn’t believe how much non-food things were stored in my stomach. Specifically, I also practiced mindfulness with eating. I checked my emotional state before and after eating so I could digest well. I chew slower and longer and enjoy my food (which was hard at first). I make sure to now not work while I’m eating (again, hard). And, I make sure to not eat at least 3 hours before I lay down or go to bed. That sounds like a lot of discipline, but it pours into step 5.
Fifth, I set boundaries in my life. I had enough mid-night scares to know that it was time to let some things go that were clearly upsetting my body. I cut stressors out of my life. I stopped worrying about things I could not control. I stopped caring how people felt about me. I stopped thinking negatively about things I couldn’t control the outcome of. I was kinder to myself. I was empathetic of others. I turned down things that just weren’t healthy without doubting myself. I embraced closed doors. I celebrated open doors. THIS, is what changed my gut health. This turned me from ulcers and cancer to freedom and wellness. I know this is one we all struggle with because it seems like we have to work a little extra. We have to take that job. We have to stay in that relationship. We have to be nice to that person. But, we really don’t. The choice is ours. Just know that your gut will tell you what you really needed.
Sixth, I kept a food journal. Sometimes, we have no idea what in the world we are eating, how our body felt while eating it, or if we even liked it! The food journal really helped me to pinpoint the best diet for me. Now, this is not calorie counting at all, even though it can help. This is being fully in tune with your body and how it takes in food. I didn’t have to even do any fad diets (keto, vegan, caloric-deficit, etc) but instead listened to my body each time I ate and adjusted until a routine was formed. Again, sounds like a lot of discipline but worth it.
Seventh, I changed my diet! Here are the foods I mostly cut out:
-Anything with oils besides avocado oil
-Processed foods (including vegan foods)
-Fried foods (I didn’t eat it anyways)
-Beef, Pork, Chicken unless it was directly from farm (again didn’t eat it anyways)
-All fruit juices, sodas, punches, and alcohol (yes, I said alcohol)
-Pastas, rice, and breads (if you know me, you know this was WILD for me)
-Any gravy or sauces with thick flour or additives
-Cakes, most sweets
So, I was mostly eating:
-Vegetables, seasoned well, lightly tossed in oil
-Sandwiches without bread
-Chicken, Lamb, Turkey no more than 3x a week
-eggs and avocados (that’s my jam and good fats)
-Salmon, catfish, shrimp, and crawfish (I love seafood)
-Non-processed vegan meals (love a good sweet potato)
-YES, I ate chocolate! Almost daily! Balance is necessary!
Again, this is not the sure diet for anyone. You have to know your body and your current nutritional state to be successful in losing weight and becoming healthier. There is no “easy” way to make it happen. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Keto isn’t for everyone. Vegan isn’t for everyone. Take the time to find the right diet for YOU.
Eighth, I drank TONS of water, specifically alkaline water. I never thought I would tear away from the tap, but I’ve become a fan. Such an energizer.
Ninth, I said daily affirmations to my body. Yes, I talk to my body. And, your body talks back, so please listen! It sounds so very goofy, but it worked. Whether it was cramps, swelling, dizziness, or whatever, I reminded myself that my body is an extension of me; therefore, I must say kind things to it so that it works correctly, and listen to what is said in return. For example, if a flare-up occurs when eating a certain food, I thank my stomach for reminding me that this may not be the healthiest food for me, and that it is doing the best it can for everything it is currently battling. Eventually, the flare goes down. Our minds and organs are very connected, so ensure that positivity is flowing into both.
Tenth, I led in love. Love leads me to go to bed on time. Love leads me to eat foods that make my body happy. Love leads to say kind things to myself no matter my size. Love leads me to set boundaries so that my body feels awesome all the time. Love leads me to spend more time in the sun. Love leads me to rest. Love leads me to wellness.
That’s it. That’s all. This was the challenge I was given, and this was the choice I made. Thus, I was able to come out 25 (now 30) pounds lighter in 6 months, healthier skin, healthier hair, and healthier life. I truthfully believe God gave me this moment of awareness to lead my into a place where I truly submit to a lifestyle of wellness and stewardship over my body. Although it was scary at first, I am absolutely grateful for it.
After the one endoscopy I endured, I learned that I have no ulcers, no signs of cancer, no yeast in my stomach, no fungal infection, and no bacteria in my throat or stomach. The inflammation remained but my lifestyle changes actually served as healing much further than any medication could, especially with reducing stress and setting boundaries. My doctor affirmed that I healthily lost the weight on my own efforts. I am so grateful that I now have an accountable somatic response to ensure that I make the best decisions for my life. I now can live a much more intentional and peace-filled life knowing that I can make the choice to remain healthy.
And, so can you.