Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My journey through illness

Every time I go for a long run my mind is flooded with blog post subjects.  But once I get home I can never seem to put the idea into words.  I'm going to attempt to do this even if it doesn't come out like I wanted...
Beautiful Hawaii

If you know me you know I've been fighting a chronic health condition for about 10 years.  The first few years no doctor I visited could explain what was going on.  Some said nothing was wrong.  One told me I was simply panicking and I need to breath into a paper bag.  If I had believed & accepted this my life would be very different now.  

I didn't believe nothing was wrong, nor did I believe I was panicking.  I didn't accept that no one could help me.  I knew something was very wrong & I knew I could find help.  It took a long time but thank God I finally found some good doctors!  

It's still a bit unclear the extent of my illness, but we've narrowed it down & have been working on it. Most people are considered disabled with these symptoms.  

But every doctor I visited did agree on one thing.  If I hadn't been exercising, eating right & taking good care of myself I would have been in much worse condition.  In fact, they were amazed at how healthy I was all things considered and even said this was my saving grace.  One doctor told me she was amazed I hadn't gained a tremendous amount of weight.  She had never seen someone with so many low levels of so many tests that wasn't obese.  

They told me due to my health conditions it would be as if I was starting over each time I workout & I would have to take extra precaution not to over train.  That explains the frustrations over the years.  I always said it was as if I had to start over every run session, that I didn't progress as I should, and I would know being a trainer! 

Here's my list.  

-They believe everything stems from a combination of having Scoliosis and undiagnosed severe allergies.  The combination of the way my spine is curved and the added stress of allergies causes undue stress on every bodily system.  From there, it snowballed until all hell broke loose.

-Next came adrenal fatigue, which many doctors don't even recognize as real.  I was tested for it, and the numbers don't lie.  

Adrenal fatigue triggered much more and that's when I started noticing a huge change in my health:  

-Yeast was growing in my bronchial tubes which caused initial weight gain & unable to breath correctly (hence the 'breath in a bag' comment)


-Chronic fatigue syndrome


-Restless leg syndrome


-Some sort of break in the link my body uses food causing my muscles not to get all of the protein.  This is why I have an extremely hard time gaining muscle

-Weight gain - I gained 40 pounds very quickly & no matter what I did it wouldn't come off (the yeast initially, but it ended up being more than that).  This is a big deal, as I know my body & the gain wasn't a normal gain.

-A "floating virus" that my doctor wasn't even sure how to explain.  He tested for this virus as a rule out.  Only 10% of the population has the symptoms, and only 10% of those people actually have this virus & it's lifelong. 

-Doctors told me that due to all of these issues, 60% of my bodies energy is used just to fight this.  So I have much less energy to give.  I'm supposed to get 10-12hrs of sleep per night, go to bed at a certain time & wake up at a certain time.  I'm supposed to nap daily for maintenance.  That's a LOT of sleep people!  

-Docs also told me it wouldn't be wise to try to carry a child.  They believe my body wouldn't be able to handle the added stress and the baby most likely wouldn't make it.  

It's been a tough road but in the end I feel really blessed.  These issues are chronic, which means I won't deteriorate.  Most of them, over time and dedicated care, I can recover from for the most part.  

I have continued to amaze my doctors with everything I've been able to do.  I'm a triathlete and train triathletes.  I'm a long distance runner and have my first marathon in less than two weeks.  I own OnTrack Fitness and manage it solely plus I work with clients.  I'm also the regional trainer for a company called Faithfully Fit.  

Far cry from being disabled.  

In fact, now days I can honestly say I feel and am healthy. 

I'm not tooting my own horn.  I'm blessed and I can see God's hand working in my life through the years.  For better health we moved to Yuma AZ & because of that move, we now live in Hawaii!  

I started early in life listening closely to my body, making adjustments based on what it says.  I have no problem slowing down or adjusting so I stay healthy.  Because of this I can do a lot.  

Things are harder for me than the average athlete.  I don't see results as I should.  I'm MUCH slower.  I put more effort into just moving.  

But I do it.  I do it, I enjoy it & it keeps me healthy.  And I don't put limits on myself.  I simply adjust as needed and move on with life.  It's helped me become a better trainer.  I can relate to the frustrations & self doubt, the feelings of hopelessness, and of being overweight.  I also passionately know that if I can do all I've done in spite of my challenges, any one can.  

If you're struggling - never, ever EVER give up.  Take it from me and please believe this.  It's worth the fight.  YOU are worth fighting for!  

Contact me if you need some encouragement or if you would like to train with me.  I offer training for any location, no need to live in Hawaii -- Written by Emily Collins, Owner of OnTrack Fitness

Friday, November 15, 2013

Post baby: Your body is not ruined

"Your Body is NOT Ruined"

I wanted to take a moment to talk about a health topic that is very personal
to me and that many people struggle with every single day...body image. 

What is body image? According to Dictionary.com body image is defined as, "an intellectual or idealized image of what one's body is or should be like, that is sometimes misconceived..." 

Every single time we look at ourselves in the mirror, our ideas of what our bodies "should" look like floods our minds. Body image issues can occur with the healthiest, fittest, leanest of all people, obese people, or even just plain normal people; but what I've recently learned from personal experience is that body image issues are found to be the most potent among pregnant women and newly delivered moms. 

I just gave birth to my husband and mine's first baby on October 21st and struggled with body image my whole entire pregnancy. As much as we planned and discussed starting our family, and as much as I researched pregnancy, it was still upsetting to see my fit body change day by day. I couldn't stand to look in the mirror because I didn't even recognize myself anymore. 

My abs disappeared, my thighs started touching, my cravings took over my healthy eating habits, and don't even get my started on my backside- haha! What's worse is that with the way the baby was sitting, my Sciatic Nerve became pinched so I couldn't even moderately work out any longer because of the pain. I couldn't wait for the whole experience to be over- because I was very excited to meet our daughter, but also because I couldn't wait to have my body back again. 

Fast forward to the day I had our daughter. Long story short, I was admitted to the hospital at 1 P.M. and had her at 2:49 P.M. No epidural and hardly any pain meds with a deployed husband may I add. And yes, I'm proud of how my body just knew what to do and how amazing of a labor/birth I was blessed to have. Every time I look at my daughter, I don't think about how terrible I felt about my body when I was carrying her, or how much weight I gained, or how many stretch marks I have- it seems so TRIVIAL now. I proudly can say that now when I look in the mirror at my postpartum body I can say, "My body is amazing," not "My body is ruined." 

I want other moms to understand that it's not about how much weight was gained, or how many stretch marks snuck up on you. All that matters is that your body did an amazing thing- carried another human being for nine long months. Your body is NOT ruined. 

So do me a favor. The next time you moms look in the mirror don't let negative body image cloud your mind...instead, smile with pride and remember how AWESOME your body really is and what it's capable of doing! -- Written by Doni Bullock, OnTrack Fitness personal trainer, San Diego CA