I’m going to get personal about MY BODY
By Esther Sears, FNP, AOCNP
I have not always been a functional medicine practitioner nor have I always been healthy. About 5 years ago, my husband and I (both in our early 50’s) began reading about the paleo lifestyle which is one of many healthy lifestyles we now know about. We enthusiastically adopted it as a lifestyle in an effort to improve our health. We experienced some weight loss, began to feel healthier, and became more active. We became advocates (some would have said “fanatics”) of the paleo lifestyle with our family and friends as we enjoyed the benefits it brought to our lives.
A couple of years later, a physician friend of mine introduced me to Functional Medicine (FM) and suggested we go to a conference together. After briefly looking into it, I literally saw a fork in the road of my career and never questioned which path I was going to take. I began going to FM conferences and studying functional nutrition with the goal of becoming a FM practitioner. This past year, I was given the opportunity to work with the wonderful people at Boise Natural Health Clinic and am now building my own practice. The more I learned, the more I continued to work on improving my own health with supplements and fine tuning my diet.
You may now be asking, what does all of this have to do with my body? Well, as I said earlier, I was not always on this path. Before I discovered a healthier lifestyle, I consumed an inflammatory, standard American diet. I was not giving my body what it desperately needed to be healthy and strong or to resist illness and cancer. As a result, my body shows signs of that lifestyle that will most likely always be a part of who I am. So, I’m going to get personal. I going to tell you the secrets of my body and as a result, I hope it will encourage you to take an honest look at your own body to see what it may be telling you.
First, when you look at my face, you will see scars from the most hurtful part of my teen and young adult years. I had severe cystic acne starting at age 13 that persisted until the age of 43. I tried antibiotics, steroid injections, Acutane, and cleansing routines all to no avail. Looking back, I now know that a diet of simple carbs, foods that I was sensitive to, sugar, soft drinks and lack of water (I never drank water!) all contributed to a growing inflammation in my body. This coupled with my genetics set me up for cystic acne and the pain that came with it. With different genetics, it might have manifested as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue or chronic pain. Remember, the equations is: genes + environmental inputs = disease.
If you look close, you may see some skin tags on my neck. Some have “disappeared” over the years but some remain. These are reminders of the insulin resistance and hormone imbalance I was developing with my poor eating habits. My poochy belly is also a sign of insulin resistance that I still work to rid myself of.
My right breast shows the scars of surgery and radiation for the breast cancer I may never have had if it were not for the hormone imbalance that came with years of consuming an inflammatory diet and lack of regular exercise. I had NO risk factors for breast cancer and yet at the age of 43, I was given this terrifying diagnosis. And just an FYI: I did kick its ugly butt!
So, you might wonder, if I still have evidence of my previous unhealthy lifestyle, what do I have to brag about? Plenty! Now in my late 50’s, after changing my diet, replenishing my body with the nutrients I had been lacking most of my life and supporting it with adequate sleep, exercise, and hydration, I feel stronger and more energetic than I did in my 30’s. I am grateful every day for having energy that allows me to actively participate in life from morning until night. I never feel the need to take a nap or resist dosing off in the evenings. I can get out and enjoy a jog around the neighborhood and feel refreshed. I take strenuous hikes, kayak in lakes and rivers, ride my bike to work and from work whenever I can, and think nothing of a five-mile ride into town just for the fun of it when the whim hits me. I can also keep up with my grandchildren in some pretty competitive backyard games! I have no doubt that if I did not change my lifestyle 5 years ago, I would not only find these activities impossible but I believe my health would have continued to deteriorate with time. I am still a work in progress. I will never look like a gym teacher. I still struggle with old habits and I still sometimes make bad choices, but I continue in my efforts to be kind to my body, to love it just as it is, and give it what it needs to thrive.
There are many ways our bodies speak to us to warn us that our health is at risk if we do not stop and take notice. Some of the signs that your body might be sending you are:
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath
- Low energy
- Thinning hair
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sugar cravings
- Frequent infections
- Brain fog
What is your body trying to tell you? Are you ready to take a new path to health, wellness and improved energy? If so, I would love to help you reach your health care goals. Call to schedule 208-338-0405.