Health & fitness were never always passions of mine, especially the “health” part.
In 2007 I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease where my body’s immune system attacks and kills my thyroid. This leads to peaks and valleys of thyroid function – where it’s super slow since it’s dying, and then speeds up to try and “catch up”. When I was diagnosed, my doctor at the time didn’t medicate me or tell me anything about the disease, so I didn’t think it was important.
Fast-forward to 2011. I finally was prescribed the correct medication (a synthetic hormone identical to the one produced by the thyroid) by a new physician, but still never took my health seriously. I was too busy going to happy hours every night, smoking cigarettes and staying out with friends all hours of the night to care. Also apparently too busy to take my medication regularly.
Over my birthday week, I fell ill with a 104 degree fever that lasted over seven days. I was used to getting sick a lot, but not like this. Nothing would break it – antibiotics, Tylenol…nothing. Realizing something was really wrong, an amazing friend took me to the ER. I had a severe case of pneumonia and was admitted on the spot.
I was admitted, and the doctors waited for my 104 fever to break. This ended up taking three more days…including my birthday. I guarantee that there are few things that feel as pathetic as a birthday card from a hospital nurse.
My body wasn’t fighting the infection at all – it wasn’t even producing white blood cells. The ER doctor blood-tested me twice for HIV. He was convinced that I was HIV positive based on how my body wasn’t reacting to the infection. While I knew with 100% confidence that I was not HIV positive, it’s still terrifying to know your immune system is equally as ineffective as an AIDS patient.
Eventually, my fever went down and I was released from the hospital. I quit smoking cold turkey, and started taking my thyroid medication religiously. I thought that would be enough to keep me healthy. I was wrong.
My autoimmune disease symptoms returned. I was getting serious sinus infections every other month, and began losing large clumps of hair (brushing out the amount of hair pictured below daily). I knew that my Hashimoto’s Disease was not regulated, and continuing to fight against my body.
I hit my breaking point. I was tired of being the “sickly one”. I wanted to take control of my body. I began learning all about proper nutrition, biochemistry, and how food is processed by the body. I started trying to grocery shop mostly along the perimeter of the store – produce, meats, and the natural/organic section. I joined a gym and with Kevin’s encouragement, started lifting weights. Happy hours & alcohol were cut, and I made sleep a priority.
Since this lifestyle change, I’ve never felt better. I’ve kept from getting sick, fought off infections, seen an increase in energy, and I’ve been able to push my body to limits in fitness I never thought were possible. I’m proof that diet and nutrition completely affects your overall health.
I’m not saying I’m a “clean eater” or put any restrictions on my diet aside from tracking macro & micronutrients, but I’d say that when I’m not on competition prep I eat about 80-85% “clean”. Focusing my diet on mostly whole, nutrient dense foods help my body functioning to its fullest – and keep my hormone levels normal. I get to live and enjoy life rather than living in fear of when I’ll get sick of fall victim to an infection.
It’s hard to appreciate something like your health until it’s taken away. This is how 6ftFit was born & why I’m so passionate about it. I’ve seen how life-changing nutrition and being active can be. I hope my past can help give someone a brighter, healthier future.