Wellness is a journey, not a destination. I find myself saying this more and more to people these days! It seems we, as a society, view obtaining wellness like obtaining a degree. Put in so much time plus a certain amount of hard work and sacrifice and you get wellness. I have learned over the last many years that you will never arrive at a place of complete wellness this side of heaven. But please dear reader do not let that cause you to loose hope! If there is one truth that I have gained from this journey it is that there is indeed lots of hope! You just need to look back to remember where you have been and just how far you have come.
There is a story in the bible, and a tradition still held by some today, where the people of Isreal were to collect 12 stones and build a memorial. Their God had just saved them again and the stones were to be a way to help them remember what He had done. When others saw the stones and inquired about them the people of Isreal would have the opportunity to share how great their God was to them.
As I write this, I am up once again with my youngest. It is the middle of the night and for some reason unknown to me he is unable to sleep.One could speculate that it is the full moon outside my window that is having this effect. Or it could be due to sensory overload from the haircut he just received. Or it could be so many other things. Without words, he can not tell us and I may never know. But what I do know is that this is one of my stones.
You see a year ago, before we started the GAPS diet, I would not have been able to be up with my Little Bear. My Dreamboat would have had to be the one awake right now and then in a few hours he would have had to leave to put in a full day at work. But tonight it is my privilege to be up with him. Yes, I want to sleep, oh God how badly I want sleep for me and my little buddy. But in the past, I would have been to sick to do this. My body was such a mess that any amount of missed sleep sent me into a terrible downward spiral. If I tried to help I would have paid for it with panic attacks, chills, major stomach pains, and a litany of other stomach issues. Missed sleep also meant crashed adrenals and extreme exhaustion the next day. This would leave me impatient, struggling for clear thoughts, and unable to complete the majority of my day to day tasks.
What else has changed? Well here are 11 more of the many wonderful stones I have from over the past year:
- HOPE. For various reasons over the last few years the foods we could tolerate on a consistent basis had dwindled to a mere handful for me and my boys. When we started the GAPS protocol we were elated to discover that the foods we did tolerate where the very foods allowed at the beginning stages. Not only that, but they were the foods that the GAPS diet claimed brought about healing. This was wonderful news!
- Second chances. We had tried GAPS before you all. We also tried AIP and a few other special diets. None of which seemed to bring about great change. So what was different the second time around for GAPS? Knowledge. We discovered that we were not doing the diet correctly the first time. Armed with amazing resources we learned how to follow the protocol correctly and that made all the difference for us.
- Sometimes the hardest things are the best things. Everywhere you turn there are adds for quick fixes, miracle supplements, and life changing products. Everyone is looking for that magic pill that will fix everything without having to do the hard work. But there is beauty in the hard work. I was reading a note my husband had written to me 6 months ago about just how hard this diet was. At that point we were all experiencing detox and it seemed we were always hungry. But as I sit here now those things have changed! Since healing comes in layers, We will have seasons where we may experience detox again or maybe it will be something else entirely. All I know is that everything hard that I have been through in regards to my health or anything else has always been used for my good. Alternative diets can also be hard in the day to day due to how much additional work and thought it requires, but this too has been worth it. It has taught me to be more organized, to plan and use my time wisely, and to truly value and appreciate the fruits of my labor. I used to take the time I had and the food I ate for granted. Now I find myself continually giving thanks.
- 1 year hospital free! Before starting GAPS I was winding up in the hospital every three months or so due to my many symptoms. This was taxing on my whole family emotionally and on our bank account financially. In between the hospital visits I was meeting with various doctors trying to figure out what was wrong with me and what could possibly help. From the moment my Litle Bear was born both of my boys only experienced me as very weak, worn down, sick, and scared. It was an extremely hard time for all of us, but thank God I can now say none of this is our reality any longer!
- Hashimotos no more. When my Litle Bear was born one of the things we discovered was that I had acquired an autoimmune disease: Hoshimotos. The general rule of thumb with autoimmune diseases is if there is one, most likely you have others that are just not as prevalent. I can now say that, after a year of healing, none of the original autoimmune symptoms are there anymore.
- The Boys. Though we started this diet for me, we have seen incredible things for all of my guys as well. My Dreamboat’s seasonal allergies have improved significantly (even though he has not stuck to the diet 100%). My Little Jedi sleeps better, is significantly more stable emotionally, is enjoying school so much more with less struggles in learning, and can now eat foods he never could before. My Little Bear has improved greatly in his non-verbal communication, no longer has eczema all over, is a lot more clear and interactive with others, and can not only tolerate, but enjoy a lot more textures, flavors, and temperatures of food. Plus his walking has improved significantly which is an amazing side effect I was told was possible but never expected.
- The great outdoors. Ever since becoming pregnant with my Little Jedi over 7 years ago being able to get outside, exercise, and explore became more and more difficult. I simply did not have the energy and my body did not feel up to the task. I still would try from time to time, but I would always pay for it. After giving birth to my Little Bear, things like hiking became impossible. It would break my heart sending my family off to play in the mountains, but I simply could not do it physically, mentally, or emotionally. Last week I was able to go snowshoeing with my family and some friends. I felt energized and invigorated from it. And the next day I felt all the better for having gotten some fresh air and exercise. This, my friends, is huge!
- Food! I can enjoy food once again. This past year has been a giant learning curve in the way I cook, what I cook, and how we live. I would not change it for anything! This diet has forced me to learn how to handle dining with friends, taking food on hiking trips or road trips, and special holidays with creativity and flexibility. But we have adapted and it has paid off. I have enjoyed what I have learned so much that I even started this blog about it!
- Compassion and empathy. I have been greatly humbled and grown in ways unimaginable from this journey. Getting so sick and walking through the years that followed has grown within me a compassion, empathy, and understanding that is invaluable. I am a better wife, mom, and friend because of the hardship and the healing.
- Community. Having a community is vital for wellness! Support and love can have incredible effects on a person’s health. In the beginning, when I was so sick, I quickly discovered who my true friends were. It was painful to lose so many “friendships” realizing that most people won’t actually be there when things get hard. It was too uncomfortable for them. But the ones who remained have been truly amazing and that clearing out made way for friendships and community that are genuine, loving, supportive, self-sacrificial, and full of joy and laughter. In Danielle Della Valle’s new book Happy Weight, she talks about how “Tribes are a part of who we are as humans and once we find like-mindedness we start to relax into who we really are”. Finding your tribe is crucial and I am so grateful for my community and the person they help me to be.
- Gaining knowledge and wisdom. Before going through all of this I used to think I knew so much. I had answers for everything. I now realize I have so much to learn! You see everyone’s journey in life is different and none of our paths to wellness are going to look exactly the same. And there is an endless supply of truths to learn in regards to wellness! When we assume that we have the answers without spending time doing further research and without working towards true understanding we do everyone, including ourselves, a huge disservice. We are acting as fools. This past year on GAPS alone has been a giant learning curve and this is just the beginning! The pursuit of knowledge and wisdom is honorable and good and well worth the journey!
This post has taken me a few days to write. In that time we found out, from a litany of tests, that our youngest has been losing sleep due to a nasty virus and an almost non-responsive immune system. Once again I have seen the benefits of GAPS. From having foods to eat that were nourishing, comforting and supportive in a time of pretty extreme stress to that fact that had we been eating a standard American diet my Little Bear would have been significantly worse is encouraging to me.
Looking back over the past year has reminded me of the many stones God has given me through GAPS and my journey to healing. Writing this post has refreshed my hope in the year to come and I hope it sparks hope in you as well! I am excited about what this new year will hold for me and for you!
Please join me tomorrow evening at 7 pm Mountain Standard Time for my very first Facebook Live event! I will be talking about my journey with GAPS and will be answering all your questions about how to get started on your journey to wellness!