My HIVEhealth Challenge: How Changing My Diet Brought Hope and Healing
“I dropped the baby today…” Breathe. “He’s okay. He fell on the rug, but I broke his fall.” Silence. I willed myself to finish the story, but I could not, just as he could not answer. More silence, more breathing + nervous glances, and more shame… which in turn, equalled more pain.
As parents, we all have such stories, but there was an unspoken understanding between my husband and me. His intent was NOT shame, and his innate reaction was not his fault. He knew this wasn’t a common accident nor an incident to be laughed off due to the slip of clumsy hands and gratitude that our son was unharmed. It was added to the growing number of everyday needs and tasks that were out of my control, such as the buttoning of my pants, the ability to drive from point A to B, or the capability to think. I was losing common function and quality of life. In turn, I was loosing hope…
Several years ago, after the birth of my fifth child, I had a health crisis that changed me and how I now approach health + wellness. In truth, it changed how I approach myself, others, and life in general. During this time, I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune issues + diseases (fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, adrenal + thyroid failure, Hashimoto's disease, and celiac disease to name a few) and told that if I did not begin my pharmaceutical regimen, I would not walk or properly function by the time I was 50.
In the months to come, insert a myriad of other spectrums, future diagnoses and a new life that revolved around the next appointment, therapy, or ability to research each new suggestion. To say the least, I was confused, exhausted, lost, without answers, afraid, and still. in. pain. To this date, it is one of the hardest, loneliest, and most painful struggles I have ever physically experienced, including the birth of five beautiful babies. It changed me, and I am grateful.
I thought I was healthy and doing all the right things - eating farm to table, getting in all my whole grains, and staying active with my precious little people. Yet my body was in complete revolt with each symptom a screaming red light, as if to warn me of what was to come if something did not change. Each specialist or practitioner had a new jargon and opinion. Thus, the continual searching, grasping + running down every rabbit trail simply trying to find an answer or a reason behind my depleted health. At 33, I found myself looking squarely into my future wondering what life might look like to have a health-professional take care of me and my family, and the weight of even the thought seemed suffocating. Feeling backed into a corner and unaware of my options, I prayed.
One day the phone rang, and upon looking at the caller ID I realized it was a dear friend whom I had not talked to in years. This sweet soul was calling to check on me, and having lost all ability to fake my resilience, I was honest. "I'm not doing so well," I said, and then I realized she had called with the purpose to truly listen, and I told her all that I could relay. To my surprise, her response was not simply astonishment, pity, or disbelief. It was empathy. The next half hour would be a life line to my weary body & soul. As she shared her personal journey, of which I was only partially aware, she made sure I knew there was hope. I had choices, and she confirmed my desires to try the "non-conventional" natural options and diet change. Then, she, Rachel Heppel, being the incredible individual that she is (with a mean pastry skills @feedmerachel, might I add), let me know, she would be there for counsel and to listen when I needed help along the way. (I still can not write or even think about this moment without tears and praise.)
I did not take the medications prescribed for the rest of my life, nor did I listen to the status quo. I chose to take a different path, and I can't help but ask, "What if I hadn’t answered that phone call from a friend who just ‘happened’ to call me?" What if I hadn't been stopped by a knowing technician to hear his words of encouragement and suggestion to CHANGE MY DIET rather than fill my prescriptions as I had been counseled? Or what if I wouldn’t have listened to my inner voice + curiosity to seek out stories of others and their experiences via blogs + social media forums so that I may evaluate my options? Where would I be had I not been given the choice + prompting?
Learning from my wellness journey and experiences the past several years I now find myself, not only willing, but passionately compelled to find others in need. (Read further on that here) Pain and chronic illness + disease set me on an unexpected path to not only find and encourage others who have experienced the same, but to find an avenue to educate + advocate for those in the midst of their current trial or better yet, before it has even taken place. It is astonishing how one event can completely change the trajectory of one's pursuits. I find myself continually grateful and humbled by the ability to use the knowledge I have gained for the benefit of helping others, and by doing so I am constantly reminded of the joy that my story matters and my struggle was not in vain.
With this motivation, I put together an organic group of about 15 women and unknowingly established something we now call a HIVEhealth Challenge. The stories they were sharing within this group were all too familiar, and I hoped to simply be a flame of encouragement in their pursuit, and though I knew the group would be meaningful, I had no idea just how meaningful. It was in this space that I realized the potential for creating a 30-day program to help women (and men) change their diet by giving them the necessary day to day foundational tools + encouragement in an environment geared toward support and healthy sustainability. It has become an incredible community not just learning from my story and experience but also their own and from each other.
The past several months have been a whirlwind worth every bit of time + effort as I see lives changed. It is a body & soul kind of movement (my favorite kind) with our participants finding revelation and renewal in unexpected places. This community + program is not about the rules, body image, or the pursuit of perfection but the journey. It is about the strength, and the dignity of choosing health + wellness not once, not twice, but consistently until it becomes a lifestyle pattern as plain as the nose on your face! Diet change is pivotal in the role of healing and wellness, and I want to invite you to join us if you find yourself in one or more of these categories: In pain (of the mind or body), un-health, autoimmune disease and/or inflammation, chronic fatigue, depression, or simply in need of change.
Join us in creating a foundation that may very well find you looking back, realizing you might never be the same.
Best, and to wellness,
What is a HIVEhealth challenge?
Here to support your unique path, a HIVEhealth Challenge is a 30 day initiative within the HIVEhealth community to create a foundation for wellness by supporting those desiring to sustainably change their diet in an affordable real-life program. Within our options, HIVEhealth Challenges include 3 levels of support (LEVEL 1, LEVEL 2, and LEVEL 3) accommodating the individual and their communication preferences by utilizing tools such as social media and personal apps to create an experience that meets + guides the member within their personal health journey.
Against All Grain: Find inspiration and encouragement in Danielle's heart-felt story and battle with autoimmune issues. Check out her fantastic cookbooks, Against All Grain, Meals Made Simple, and Celebrations. You won't be disappointed.
The Paleo Mom: Here's a mom who knows her way around the kitchen and the science lab. Dr. Sarah Ballantyne is an incredible health advocate who has researched extensively and offered not only detailed science but also practical solutions. Find her thorough and practical books on how to heal autoimmune disease through a paleo lifestyle, Paleo Principles and The Paleo Approach.
Whole30: A clean eating program that focuses on establishing health habits + relationships with food, by eliminating inflammatory and non-nutritive foods for 30 days.
Rachel Heppel, your support and knowledge was a light in a very dark place. I am forever grateful for that fateful phone call and for your story. Find Rachel, her story, her many talents (pastry chef, adventurer, slash musician), and her adorable poodle over on Insta @feedmerachel.
Photos by HIVEhome team-member, Jessica Collins of https://jessicacollins.photography.
Editing, Layout + Publishing by Andrea Haney
Last but not least, a special thanks to all the previous HIVEhealth Challenge community members for your patience, participation, praise, and privilege of letting us share your story + support you on your HIVEhealth Journey. For you, we give thanks.