How it All began

As I said, my ‘Better than Before’ wellness journey did not begin like most.  While it may seem a little long winded (there is quite a back-story to my ummmmm….. story), hang in there, it will all come together before I’m done ❤

About 3 years ago, I was really sick – I mean sick…. I was vomiting at least once a day (most days twice) after I would eat and I felt completely miserable.  This lasted for about 2 years.   I was completely depleted of all the energy I was used to having and I spent a lot of time in bed.  These were huge obstacles for me.

First of all, I have 3 mega energetic boys!!!  There are quite a few years between each of my children, the oldest is 14, our middle son is 7 and the youngest is 3.  We are literally all over the place and into everything from football and wrestling to Pokemon and Minecraft to most recently and FINALLY,  successfully potty training!

Second, I have always been on the go!  I am a natural born do-er!  If I see something that needs done, I just do it.  If I can’t find something that needs to be done…. I create something – I LOVE all most things DIY.  I’ve always had enough energy for at least 2 people.  And I’ve always been the one to call when a friend or family member needs help painting, decorating, cleaning, rearranging etc.  And I love it!  I truly love to help others and I LOVE to serve those around me.

So you can see how feeling exhausted all the time and being stuck in bed for days at a time would totally throw a cramp in my style.

At the time that I was going through this prolonged period of sickness, I believed that I was vomiting due to terrible acid reflux – which I do have and has awesomely been passed down from several generations before me.  Thanks great-grandfather Andy.

Being physically sick every day, all the time, to the point of actually being malnourished, one would think that I would at least have been able to enjoy the tiny benefit of losing some weight.  Sounds ridiculously vain right?!?  It is.  But I couldn’t help thinking it would have at least been nice to lose a pound or two.

I see an endocrinologist for hypothyroidism.  I take a compounded thyroid medication as well as some other compounded medications and have for several years.  Every time during these 2 years that I would see him, he would ask about fatigue, whether or not I was able to sleep….regular routine stuff.  My answer was always: ‘I’m super fatigued, don’t sleep well and I throw up everyday and can’t lose a flipping pound.’  Each time, he would make adjustments to my medications, trying to help me feel better. It didn’t.

Adding insult to injury, I was also seriously struggling with acne.  I know right?!?  Another vanity issue…. but in all fairness, I’ve battled acne all my life and my doctors say it’s hormonal.  Which doesn’t mean much to most people, but is really code for – the deep, down, extremely painful kind of acne that is always easy to spot a mile away, takes days to go away and leaves terrible scars.

This, my friends, is where my research actually began.  I started looking online for some sort of product that would help clear up my acne.  That’s it.  What I found changed my life forever.

Sounds dramatic huh?!?  I get it!  People are constantly making ‘life changing’ claims.  And those of you that are skeptics are thinking….’Here it comes….. What is she going to try to sell us?’

This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a sales post!  What I discovered is that EVERY product that I had been using – every single day – contained known endocrine disruptors as well as paragraph sized lists of other harmful ingredients.  Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with endocrine (or hormone) systems at certain doses. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors.  I was devastated.  Known endocrine disruptors? Harmful chemicals and toxins??  How can this be?  Why in the world are companies putting products on store shelves with ingredients that are knowingly harmful to the users??  And more than that, ‘Why are they ALLOWED to do this?!?’

I spent hours and hours researching ingredients and checking labels on every product I owned.  Literally, every single one of them contained harmful chemicals.  On purpose. These ingredients are not placed in products by accident.  They are there on purpose.

Now, I’ve always been one of those moms who likes to sanitize and clean.  I have sprayed my kids’ beds and toys and our furniture countless times with Lysol, used Clorox wipes for everything, used antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, even given my kids sanitizer to use on their hands.  I had a cleaning cabinet FULL of all the ‘latest, greatest, most effective’ cleaners on the market.  I was pretty much the perfect consumer based on current industry and marketing standards…..  Perfectly unaware, that is, that everything I bought contained ingredients that were harmful to myself and my family.

I was able to find a skin care line online that was safe.  The products didn’t contain any harmful ingredients, and better than that, they offered other safe household products too.  I placed my order and then I purged.

And I purged…..  I had been using one makeup/skin care line for years and always loved trying new products.  This = a huge stash.  I literally threw away over $1000 in makeup.  I cleaned out all of my cleaning cabinets, our medicine cabinet and our shower.  Here are just some of things I purged.

Through my research I found this website: ewg.org – the Environmental Working Group, which is a great resource for finding safety scores on popular products and ingredients alike.  Pretty much every product and ingredient I researched looked like this or worse:

IMG_20151110_212758ewg-grading

*I sent this pic to my sister-in-law…. devastated.  I seriously ❤ hair products!  Notice the chart above….. 7-10 = high hazard…. high hazard!  Each product and/or ingredient that I researched had the same or worse ratings.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little carried away!  There’s a list of several things that I threw away prematurely – I didn’t have a safer alternative to replace them with, but I didn’t care, I was angry…. I wanted that stuff out of my house!   My poor hubby may have asked more than once ‘Where is xyz?’  Me, ‘Uhhhhh….. I threw it away……’  Him, ‘OK, what am I supposed to use now??’ Me, ‘Uhhhh…..I have no idea.  I’ll have to figure it out!’

-Toothpaste may or may not be on this list.

After that, several things started to happen.

I received and started using my new, safe skin care line, I replaced as many products as possible with safer alternatives and I continued to research harmful ingredients.

Within a week, my skin started to clear up and I started to feel a little bit better.  Not great, mind you, but a little bit better than I felt before.  Within 2 weeks, I was starting to lose weight…….. What?!?  I’m for real right now!  It turns out that all of the products I was using contained endocrine disruptors in them that were blocking my thyroid medication from being able to work.  Once I cut the harmful toxins, my thyroid, with the help of my medication, was finally able to function properly.

During this same time, I found out that I have a severe dairy intolerance.  While I have never been able to drink milk the first few hours that I am awake – it would cause me to be sick the rest of the day with severe stomach cramps and diarrhea (gross I know!), a glass of milk with dinner didn’t really seem to affect me.

I was at the Dr’s office and she said that we should start investigating foods because I was still vomiting so often.  She asked if I had ever noticed sensitivity to certain foods before.  I answered with ‘I’m dairy intolerant in the mornings, but other than that no.’  She totally laughed and said ‘No one is dairy intolerant for just part of a day!  I think your body is trying to tell you something.’  I was so sick of being sick and even though I wasn’t a big milk drinker, I was eating cheese in some form every day.

I left her office vowing to cut dairy.  Within 24 hours I felt much better and the vomiting almost completely subsided.  Turns out, dairy was the major culprit behind my stomach issues!

This is just the beginning of my ‘Better than Before’ wellness journey…… It’s crazy how it all began, but I am very thankful for the knowledge I have gained and shared with loved ones over these last several years.

I’m sure you can guess that all my harmful chemicals and toxins research led me straight down the path of making major food changes too.  (More on that later)

This journey is far from over…… and believe me…… I am far from perfect.  There are still things I struggle giving up and letting go of, there are ingredients that are questionable – some say they are OK – others say they are NOT (making it hard to know which choice is the best one to make), and then there are things that I just haven’t found a suitable, safer replacement for yet.  I can, however, honestly say I am thankful for progress.  Each harmful chemical that I can remove from our lives is a victory worth counting!

**It’s important to note that my family has been super supportive on this journey so far….. My best friend and my sisters have even joined me, making many changes for themselves and their families ❤  My mom and dad have also made many strides towards a safer, healthier lifestyle!

Until Next Time xo Kerissa

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