Over the next weeks, I am going to share with you insights from some of the most inspiring women I know that are heavily into health and fitness. These women have all figured out what works for them, their bodies, and have overcome mental and physical challenges. My hope is that you find someone you identify with, pick up on a helpful nugget of information and are overall inspired to be a healthier individual through their trials, failures, and successes.
Here is what Alyssa had to say!
What is Health: Alyssa the Kid with Unexplainable Digestive Issues
Growing up, I was always the average kid. There was nothing too special about me fitness wise – I was an alright soccer player who played because it was fun. I always had a bit of a tummy, and food was difficult to work with.
From a young age, I had digestive issues. After a major incident of things coming out both ends when I was eight, my parents brought me to the doctor, and they determined that I was lactose intolerant because they ruled out everything else. I tried for many years to avoid dairy, but things were rarely feeling good – so at some point they decided I had irritable bowel syndrome as well.
On a sunny afternoon when I was seventeen-years-old shortly after I ate lunch, my stomach started to hurt. It felt like there was someone twisting a knife in my gut constantly. I figured it would go away like my pains usually did, but it didn’t this time. A week passed, and I was at the point where I could barely eat. After some trial and error about what I could eat that didn’t cause me more pain, I had a small list of foods left that were okay – yogurt, pita bread and hummus, and some fruits and vegetables.
I was in awful pain for a total of a month, and I hardly ate the whole time. I lost fifteen pounds, but felt weak and unhappy.
I finally went to go see a gastroenterologist a few months later. After doing every test in the book, they concluded that there was nothing wrong with me. They told me to just keep track of the foods that negatively affected me, and don’t eat them. I was disappointed that that was the only answer they could give me, but it made sense. I discovered that when I ate things that were high in sugar, that were greasy, that had dairy, and that were mostly processed, I would start to feel the stabbing pain again.
At the age of eighteen with zero natural or whole food guidance growing up, I thought I was doomed. What could I even eat?
I went a few more confusing years before I really figured it out. At twenty, I met my partner who taught me all about eating whole, organic foods and how easy it is to throw so veggies in a pan with brown rice on the side and call it a meal. I stopped eating added sugar and processed foods for the most part, and started to feel a million times better. A few months later, I discovered I was pregnant.
Before I knew I was pregnant, Lilly and I started meeting regularly so we could whip my ass into shape, haha. That was extremely helpful, because I was strong enough mentally and physically to have a natural childbirth.
After giving birth to Luke, I had a rollercoaster time with losing and
gaining weight. For four months I was pretty much eating well, but wasn’t perfect by any means. About two months after birth I really started going to the gym (five days a week), and four months after birth I decided to give up meat. It sucked at first as my body cleaned out, but it got better after a month. I was one hundred percent vegetarian for around nine months, and I did magnificent things for me. Eating a plant-based diet and working out helped me be in the best condition I could so that when we went to Colorado, I was able to hike some mountains.
Eating a plant-based diet is not only super good for you, about it is highly sustainable for us and the Earth for many years to come. Do some quick research on that one and you’ll be blown away.
After Colorado (which was this past summer), I no longer had a gym membership and had a fairly unstable job situation. I let stress get the best of me and started eating poorly and wasn’t working out. I decided to change that when I saw an ad for a free six week challenge. I signed up, and then had a nice scare two days later when I ended up in the hospital to have an emergency removal of my appendix. I could only have liquids for a week. When we stop listening to our bodies, they take drastic measures to tell us to get our shit together. No kidding.
I was able to do the six week challenge and got great results, but they guided you to have a whole foods diet
that was heavy in chicken and turkey. It was a great experience and I learned so much about how to work out the most effective ways, but by the end my body was overwhelmed and confused, and I gained half the weight back. That’s where I’m currently at, but I’m improving every day and I have solid advice to give from my experiences.
First, your body loves you, and if you listen to it, it’ll let you know exactly what it needs. In my experience, when you are actually hungry (when you first think you’re hungry, drink water and then see how you feel), go to the fridge and list healthy options to yourself one at a time. You will be able to feel which food is the best for you in that moment. If the healthy options don’t sound good, then you’re not hungry enough. Hunger is the best sauce.
Second, consider eating more veggies and less meat. It worked wonders for how I felt and it made it easier for me to exercise regularly. I’ve actually haven’t eaten meat for a month again now, and feel great. Just make sure you’re eating enough veggies, beans, rice/quinoa, nuts, tempeh, sprouted bread and whatever healthy proteins you choose/your body wants to balance yourself. Eating vegetarian or plant based does not mean toast with honey and peanut butter twice a day.
Third, cut out the processed B.S. Processed food is the number one reason I gained back half the weight after my challenge. Even the seemingly healthy processed foods do you no good and leave you feeling tired and sick.
Fourth, eat organic foods. It’s better for the amount of chemicals in your body that your body doesn’t want to deal with, and it’s the only way the planet is going to make it. Just research anything about bees and you’ll find the hard truth on that one.
Fifth, do intermittent fasting. This means twice a week, like say a Tuesday and Thursday, don’t eat after 7 P.M. that night and don’t eat again until 11 A.M. the following morning. Google search it if you’re curious why, but long story short, intermittent fasting helps your body burn extra fat and have a chance to really digest everything inside. It’s crazy good for you and leaves you feeling more awake and alive.
Sixth, throw a little bit of exercise in throughout the day on top of your exercise routine (even on rest day). I do some stretching and pushups or sit-ups in the morning, some squats at lunch, and some stretching and windmills before bed. The exercises can be whatever you want. It reminds your body that it is an athlete and brings you into health and balance faster than you’d expect.
Lastly, lift. When you lift weights regularly, doesn’t have to be at an Olympic level by any means, your body gets to build more muscle, and that muscle burns more calories even when you’re not at the gym. If you do lifting/strength exercises on top of a couple days a week of cardio, have a good, mostly organic diet, intermittent fast, and throw some exercises in throughout the day, you cannot fail. Even if you do most of these things you’ll still feel better and see results. Weight loss will be the side effect of you feeling like a boss and accomplishing your dreams every day.
My goal is to be a happy, healthy human being who can go climb any mountain, mentally or physically, whenever asked. These ideas and virtues are how I become the best me, and I hope there are some solid nuggets in there for you too!
With love and gratitude,
Did you miss week 3? Check out Bethany the former Skinny Girl’s take on health!