Hello! I’m Vanessa, newest contributing author here at CarbSmart. I’m a 41-year-old wife, mother, blogger and healthy living enthusiast. I live with two teenage boys, two furbabies and one handsome husband in the Land of 10,000 Lakes — ie, a suburb south of Minneapolis. My website, Healthy Living How To, is an extension of my passion for living healthy in mind, body and spirit in an unhealthy world. Each week I create and share healthy gluten-free and low carb recipes using high-quality organic ingredients. I also regularly write about topics that relate to living healthy in an otherwise unhealthy world. Fair warning: much of what I believe about healthy living goes against conventional wisdom.
A Day in My Life
My idea of a perfect day is waking up early to spend some time in prayer and reflection while enjoying the snuggles of my dog and a cup of dark roasted coffee. A long walk followed by a breakfast of bacon and eggs is the perfect low carb start to the day. An afternoon spent reading, researching and writing or perhaps creating a low carb recipe, and before you know it the day is nearly done. A quick but efficient full-body strength training workout and then off to the kitchen to cook a nourishing meal for my family, then finally retiring to the couch to catch up on the latest health and nutrition news.
My Passion is Helping Others
Continually staying up-to-date with current research in nutrition, healthy living and wellness is my crazy obsession. For many years this passion, combined with empathy and strong desire to help others, was my career. I worked as a health and fitness professional, coaching countless individuals in achieving better physical health through metabolic testing, weight loss counseling and personal training. My niche in the fitness world was expertise in metabolic testing. Having administered well over 1,500 metabolic assessments, I was privy to more metabolic data than any research study could provide. Through my hands on experience and my never-ending search to learn more, I became an educator in my field. This drive to succeed led to a very successful career.
Then I crashed.
My Health was on a Downward Spiral
I’ve been an ardent supporter of a low carb lifestyle for the better part of the past decade. In 2001, like many, I embarked on a low carb lifestyle with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Recently revised, Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution was quite popular. I picked up a copy and eagerly read it cover to cover. I was convinced this was my answer to weight loss and management. I lost weight with little effort and maintained a healthy and fit figure for nearly seven years.
At a fitness convention in Las Vegas in the spring of 2008, my husband Tom and I were surrounded by folks with exuberance and passion for the industry. I remarked how everyone there seemed so enthusiastic and energetic. Meanwhile, I felt flat, blah and tired. This was a defining moment. There was no more denying that something was very wrong with me.
Despite my low carb lifestyle, I had gained a lot of weight in a short period of time. I was tired all the time, rarely laughed or had fun. I had no ambition to do anything or go anywhere. Nights were becoming sleepless and I had developed a nasty nighttime eating disorder. All day long I would eat my healthy low carb meals only to find myself binging on carbs at midnight. My workouts were sporadic as my energy and desire were non-existent. Worst of all, I had no hope. My health was on a downward spiral. I had to do something.
The night we returned home, I felt sad, depressed, and desperate, but I was ready to make a change. I was working very long hours, six days a week. My work environment was tense and stressful due to several turnovers in management. There was division on our team. Most days, going to work felt like going to war. The three day escape had given me needed respite and perspective. If I was going to regain my health, I couldn’t go back. The next day I resigned.
My Healing Journey
What transpired between then and now is my healing journey and recovery from adrenal fatigue. I worked closely with Jim LaValle and his team at the LaValle Metabolic Institute during my healing process. This involved regular lab testing and nutritional guidance, including not only a low carb, gluten and dairy-free diet, but personalized supplementation and lifestyle modifications. I lost the weight, regained my health and have hope for a healthy future.
Along the way, when I wasn’t healing as fast as I expected to, I realized that my mental and spiritual health were not exclusive of my physical health. Living healthy in mind, body and spirit became my focus, requiring a very personal and spiritual self- evaluation. My adrenal fatigue was a direct result of an unhealthy response to stress, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I did not just wake up with it, instead it developed slowly over time, it was part of who I was and how I lived my life. Complete healing from adrenal fatigue required learning a new way of thinking and living with a different level of consciousness. I had to let go of unhealthy habits like perfectionism and obsessiveness, and learn to forgive myself and others.
It has been about three and half years since I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. At the time I could not see the forest for the trees. My health was not restored overnight, but over time my symptoms slowly faded. Now I am quickly reminded when I get out of balance. My body speaks loud and clear , and now I listen. When I was at my worst, I felt like a victim, cursed. Now I see adrenal fatigue as my blessing.
My Abundant Gifts and Giving Back
I have been given abundant gifts on my healthy living journey; I have been blessed by many along the way. In return I want to be a blessing to you. This is the reason I share my story today, and why I agreed to contribute to CarbSmart. I do not have a mile long list of credentials; there is no PhD, MD, RD or any other “D” after my name. What I do have is a brain and the ability to seek out knowledge, and a spirit filled with passion for healthy living. In future articles, I plan to share with you my beliefs about living healthy in mind, body and spirit, beliefs supported by science, personal and professional experience. Stay tuned, as the first topic I will tackle is a heavy one: Adrenal Fatigue.