After graduating from college, my life changed dramatically in a way I had never dreamed about or would ever wish for. On the outside, I appeared perfectly healthy; however, on the inside my body started turning against me. At the young age of 23, it was difficult to comprehend and understand why I was experiencing significant swelling, stiffness and joint pain. The simplest of tasks that people take for granted were becoming nearly impossible to do. Numerous doctor appointments with those dreaded needle pokes and blood tests led to my eventual diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The thought of living with pain for the rest of my life was hard to wrap my head around!
Being the person that I am, I decided to take matters into my own hands by researching and examining alternative treatments. It was vital for me to gain as much information and knowledge as I could. Although my blood work came back negative for celiac disease, I discovered that gluten intolerance was a possible culprit. Eliminating gluten from my diet resulted in a dramatic reduction in swelling and pain. About a month later, I was finally feeling well enough to enter the workforce, so I accepted my first real design job after college!
Challenges with food propelled me into learning as much as possible about functional medicine, holistic nutrition and the paleo diet. Meeting and connecting with inspiring people that are leaders in the paleo approach motivates and excites me. This has become my way of life instead of the so called “diet” many in society tend to call it. Trust me, it has not been easy at times. Listening and responding to the needs of my body has helped me to overcome minor setbacks along the way.
There were so many times when I would ask, “Why me?” Through time and acceptance, I have changed negative thoughts of pity and feeling sorry for myself into positivity, realizing there is a more powerful reason as to why “I” was given this path in life. In hindsight, this journey has helped me to grow as an individual by giving me internal strength, as well as a new perspective and purpose in life. This personal insight has brought me to the realization that I can offer hope to others experiencing challenges similar to what I have endured.
I AM THANKFUL FOR so many things, big and small. My education from Iowa State University is of utmost importance to me. Domestic and international travels, including my study abroad program through ISU in Rome, Italy helped me to grow and mature into the person I am today. The paleo bloggers and functional medicine doctors inspire me. My spin class instructors and cycle peers motivate me to be faster, stronger and determined to push myself to my limits. I am thankful for my job, coworkers, friends and followers. Most importantly, I give thanks to my family, as they support me and are always there, even through the ups and downs, and twists and turns of life.
In loving memory of