Life can be confusing, overwhelming, sometimes lonely, and just plain scary. If you’ve managed to read through my blog posts regularly you may have picked up on the fact that I’ve been battling something lately. Well, to be honest I’ve been battling silently for over 10 years (and to some, maybe NOT so silently). There were times of such uncertainty, fear, and desperation that I literally prayed for death. Thankfully God denied my plea, and I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way since then. But my struggle is still very real, on-going, and at times very lonely. And now a more recent diagnosis added yet another blow. However; along with that blow came a new friend who has made me feel less alone, less uncertain, and less desperate. Someone who has encouraged me to get back up and fight the good fight after YEARS of wanting to give up. She has made me feel UNDERSTOOD and has recently spoken truth over my life. SHE is Sarah, from Grounded & Surrounded, and I am THRILLED that she has joined us today.
Rachel and I have recently become “Blogger Buddies.” One of the best parts of operating your own blog is discovering the beautiful community of bloggers that exists to support and encourage you along the way.
Rachel is such an enthusiastic person; I was immediately drawn to her after reading a few of her articles. Once we were able to connect on a more personal level, I discovered we had a lot in common.
Here is what I have observed about Rachel during our short time as friends:
Rachel is a TALKER! Ok, confession… We’ve only spoken over the phone once, but this girl can facebook message like nobody’s business!
Rachel is FULL OF LOVE! I mean, all you have to do is read her “You Are Cordially Invited” series to discover that this girl has love oozing out of her.
Rachel is a MOM! I don’t know how she does it, but she pours herself into those little kiddos in a way that totally knocks my socks off.
Rachel is HUMAN! She has recognized that she can’t do it all, she isn’t superwoman, she has limitations and she is learning to love them.
Rachel reached out to me after reading an article I wrote about my personal struggle with an autoimmune disorder. She has been struggling with her health also, and was just recently diagnosed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with this condition, it is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system gets confused and starts attacking the thyroid. People with this condition can become weak and fatigued, intolerant to cold, experience abnormal weight gain or loss, notice changes in their skin and hair, and may suffer from total body pain. They can also develop congestive heart failure as well as significant increase in their cholesterol levels.
Now Rachel has a choice to make. You see, whenever a person is diagnosed with a medical condition they take one of two paths.
But before I get to that, let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I am the daughter of one of the most talented physicians in the world (ok, I might be a bit biased). His name is Ray Strand, M.D., and he has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to Nutritional & Preventive Medicine.
I have been working by his side since I was 17 years old, watching and learning as he educated his patients on what THEY COULD DO to become more proactive in protecting their health.
He has published 3 best-selling books on the subject, and travels all around the world lecturing on Health & Nutrition. He is the best mentor a person could ask for, and what I am going to share with you today I learned from watching his patients respond to his message.
When a person is diagnosed with a medical condition, they generally take one of two paths. The first path is the more traditional approach. They follow their doctor’s recommendations; they take their medication, and they work to accept their fate.
The second is the path that I hope Rachel will choose to take.
This path is one of accepting where you are at, but choosing NOT TO STAY THERE. When you choose to walk this path, you still follow your doctor’s recommendations, you still take your prescribed medication, but you NEVER ACCEPT YOUR FATE!
You study up on your condition, you empower yourself with information, you choose to do everything in your power to find your HEALTHY again.
It can often be a slow and painful process, working to regain your health one small step at a time. It often means that you will take three steps forward, only to find yourself forced to take a few steps backward.
But there is HOPE for people like Rachel and me. Our bodies are amazingly complicated machines. With the right tools and resources, they can repair themselves.
I still suffer from physical limitations due to my autoimmune disorder. My version of HEALTHY doesn’t look like everyone else, but I will never give up. I am always trying new things, searching for different ways to build up my immune system, trusting that my efforts are not in vain.
It has been 13 years since I received my diagnosis, and 17 since I started suffering. In that time I have made many discoveries about HOW to get the most out of this body of mine.
Here are my TOP 10 Healthy Living Tips for Autoimmune Disorders:
- There is HOPE! Life can still be amazing, and wonderful, and delicious. You will just have to learn how to tackle it a bit differently.
- SLEEP is crucial. Sleep is the time when your body rebuilds itself. Make it a priority, now more than ever.
- Manage your STRESS. Stress will hurt your progress towards health more than anything else. Do whatever it takes to keep your stress levels down.
- FOOD matters. When you are trying to build your body up, what you choose to put in your mouth on a daily basis matters.
- Food is NOT ENOUGH! If you have a compromised immune system, you must supplement your diet with high quality nutritional supplements. This is the only way to build it back up.
- All you need is 1-2 people who understand. Most people won’t get it, and that’s ok. Just find 1 or 2 people who you can be real and honest with about your condition.
- Movement is KEY. Keep your body moving, even if it is slow and steady. Lack of movement leads to higher levels of pain and fatigue.
- Find an EXPERT to trust. There is so much conflicting information out there, you must find someone to trust and follow their recommendations completely. If it doesn’t work out, you can move on to another. But don’t try to follow 10 experts at once.
- Respect your LIMITATIONS. Life is going to be different from here on out, but that is ok. Listen to your body, respect it, and you will still be able to do amazing things with your life.
- Have FAITH. God has allowed this in your life. He can use it for HIS GLORY. Trust in Him and you will discover your unique path.
Rachel, no one said this life was going to be easy. Unexpected trials are simply opportunities for growth. And I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in your life, and how he is going to grow you through this challenging time.
You have a friend in me, someone who understands, someone who still has HOPE. Never forget that.
Sarah Koontz is a stay-at-home wife & mother of 2 beautiful little girls. She is passionate about writing, and loves sharing her advice and experiences with anyone who will listen. She has a blog with her best friend Sammi at Grounded & Surrounded where they write about all things Healthy! Heart, Home, & Habits. You can find Sarah on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.