Here we would like to share our story on how our passion for health and wellness came about. Like many people, this passion has grown and evolved in the midst of and as a result of extraordinarily difficult personal health challenges that began 4 years ago. Shortly after Chad and I were married my health began to take a nose dive. So much for the “honeymoon” period! Looking back, I realize that it all occurred after a period of multiple life stressors (stress is toxic!) including: planning a wedding, passing my physical therapy licensure exam, getting a new job and moving to a new city. In the fall of 2008, I broke out into these horrendous skin rashes all over my legs. They were painful, hot and terribly itchy. I saw multiple dermatologists and doctors, applied various creams and took various medications…all to no avail. No one had a clue what this mystery rash was. Months went by and the rash spread to my arms, torso and neck. My energy levels dropped, my hair started falling out, I was gradually dropping weight and needless to say I became very scared and angry. I was still trying to work as a physical therapist and I was exhausted and miserable. I didn’t know what to do…I was desperate for answers and relief from the pain and itching. I would never have imagined that I would continue to experience these couple for the next few years!! The rashes were unbearable, but sadly it started getting worse.
In the late summer of 2009, I came down with an awful infection of my mouth, throat and tonsils. Doctors would give me an antibiotic and then the infection would return in 3 to 4 days after finishing it. The infections returned with a vengeance 4 times in a month and a half, leaving me mostly bed bound and having to go on short term disability at the age of 29!! The doctors didn’t know what to do. I was terrified! It is scary and does crazy things to your mind when you don’t know what is wrong with you. Here I was…a formally vibrant, fun-loving, high-level athlete stripped of everything I took for granted. My body was gaunt, sickly and plagued with rashes. I dropped to a size 1 pair of pants and I could barely walk down the street, let alone play a 90 minute soccer match. I lost my fun-loving personality to fear, anxiety and anger. I was a mess! I soon realized that conventional medicine had nothing to offer me…no relief from my pain and no plausible explanation for my symptoms. Thus, began my determined and desperate efforts to regain my health. By the grace of God, I came across an article about natural solutions to drug-resistance infections and started taking wild Mediterranean oregano oil. I thought, “What the heck! It couldn’t hurt, right?” The infection went away after about a week and for the first time in almost a year I got a little relief from the burning and itching of my skin. Halleluyah!
I began pouring over books and doing tons of research about nutrition, health and healing. For the first time I started thinking about what I was putting into my body and how it might affect me. I had an innate sense that my body was toxic and it was imperative that everything that came into and on my body needed to be clean and of the highest quality. The more I learned, the more astonished and dismayed I was at the toxins (chemicals, pesticides, hormones, etc) that are present in our food and environment. I came across the Paleo diet and the Weston A. Price foundation and I really started to understand the importance of food in healing and overall health. I was fascinated to learn about the vibrant health of our ancestors that were eating their traditional diets and how far we have strayed as a society from eating REAL FOOD! No wonder we are so sick! No wonder I was so sick! I grew up eating sugar, fast food and lots of refined carbohydrates. My cooking including mac and cheese from the box and cereal for dinner. I always thought about food this way…I could eat whatever I wanted because I was thin and a good athlete. I never once thought about how the quality of food affected me or could potentially affect me long term.
I always understood the importance of movement and exercise, however realized I needed to slow down. I was an athlete and I was used to pushing my body to the limits my whole life. I didn’t understand the value of rest and relaxation. Over-exercise without adequate rest will eventually break down your body. I began walking and doing yoga, versus the hard-core workouts I was accustomed to. I learned of the value of sleep and slept as much and as often as my body would let me. I began seeing holistic doctors and various alternative practitioners. I went through a battery of tests and found out I had multiple food allergies, parasites, fungal infections, heavy metal toxicity, etc. The list goes on. Basically, my immune system was severely compromised. I finally turned a corner when I learned of this term called “leaky gut” that was likely contributing to a lot of my symptoms. It made sense considering that your gut is 80% of your immune system. I needed to heal my gut!! I took steps to begin the process of healing my gut (and I am still in the process) with diet, rest and supplementation. I started to get some diminishing of the rashes and improvement in my symptoms. I began to learn that leaky gut is very common and present in many chronic, degenerative diseases, as well as the root of many negative health symptoms people pexperience.
My diet, supplements, quality of sleep and exercise have no doubt been key players in the regaining of my health, but as time went on God was teaching me more profound lessons that I had to learn in order to achieve my ultimate goal of vibrant health. I was so angry, scared and fearful all the time. I learned that fear, constant mind chatter and negativity is toxic…even more than anything else on the planet! It’s just as toxic and damaging, if not more, than processed food and chemicals. I learned about the life changing power of gratitude, acceptance, intention and being in the present moment. You see…I was doing all this amazing stuff to get rid of toxins in my body, but my mind and spirit were even more toxic. Learning about these things changed my life, my heart, how I view the world and God. I am eternally grateful to my husband for teaching me these principles and living it out.
Just as much as I have been healing and growing in the past few years, so has Chad. Chad embraced this healing journey along with me and has in the process flourished. All the food, lifestyle and mental/emotional changes I made, he made as well. He no longer suffers from depression, has healed a chronic dry, cracking skin condition, and has become an incredible athlete (has an amazing body if I don’t say so myself). He continues to enjoy learning about the emotional and spiritual aspects of health and healing.
You see…healing the body and living a happy, balanced, peaceful existence is multifaceted. There is no magic pill or single solution in this high-stress, crazy world. It requires knowing how to nourish your body and your soul. It is a practice.
So, now I continue on this journey to regain my health. I am rebuilding my body and renewing my mind and spirit in the process. I am now at peace with the process and see this life experience as an opportunity to share what I have learned and maybe help someone else in the process. I continue to learn and continue to grow. I am so grateful to have learned these sacred life lessons and we feel it is our life purpose to pass it on to all of you. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you learn…teach, when you get…give”
We hope this blog educates, enriches, and inspires you!
Brenda Walding, DPT, FDN