I significantly increased my energy levels in 30 days! Did I just say that?! I can hardly believe it myself.
I have battled with fatigue as one of my predominant symptoms of FND for nine years. Even when I was in “remission,” I still battled with fatigue every day. It was mostly mild unless I overdid it, but I still had to build in rest times on the weekends so I could work full time.
I never in a million years thought I could ever feel this good again. Did I dream about feeling this good again? Heck yeah, I did! But did I think it could be a reality? I was kind of losing hope on that.
So how did this happen? What did I do differently?
I’d been researching food as medicine, and I had listened to a few docu-series about how gut health can affect brain health. I’d also found other bloggers claiming their symptoms had gone into remission using food as medicine, and I decided I wanted to try it out.
So here I am trying to think about how I’m going to go about this clean eating diet, but every time I tried to think about how I was going to start it, I just got overwhelmed.
Then I was introduced to a “30 days to healthy living” program.
This program provides nutritional products that are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO formulated. It also offers recipes (not all are vegan/vegetarian), a private Facebook group with others going through the same 30-day program, and a personal coach for accountability.
And let me tell you, my results have been incredible!◊
The 30 Days to Healthy Living Program◊
The 30-day program is designed to give our body a break from all the foods that cause inflammation that we typically eat daily. This break allows our gut to reset, and it puts us on a path of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food.
Concerns I had about completing the 30 Days to Healthy Living Program
Sugar! I had a major sugar addiction. It was no joke. It was so intense that I had a tough time not searching for something sweet when the cravings hit. In other words, nine times out of 10, I searched for something sugary when the cravings came on.
Also, before this program, I had never (not even once) turned down a chance to eat baked goods. In fact, I was usually the first person in line.
My Starting Stats
The day before the 30 days started, I weighed 152 pounds (I am 5’2” tall). On day 1, I got the stomach flu. Wah wah. As a result, I lost 3 pounds. Bonus? Lol.
Beginning stats post stomach flu:
- Weight: 149 pounds
- Waist (belly button): 35.5”
- Hips (2 inches below the belly button): 37.25″
- Right Thigh: 25.25”
- Left Arm: 13.5”
My Daily Diet during the 30 Days
- Morning: Herbal Detox Tea with a natural energy boost
- Breakfast: Meal replacement shake*, one scoop of fiber, and one packet of pre/probiotics.
- Lunch: Meal replacement shake* and one scoop of fiber.
- Snacks: Most if not all were plant-based. My favorite was baby carrots with hummus.
- Afternoon: Natural energy boost – this helped my body from crashing in the evening.
- Dinner: Free range/grass-fed protein with leafy greens and other veggies. Sometimes I would have baked apples with cinnamon and nutmeg for dessert.
- After Dinner: Detox Tea.
*Note: I also added a veggie, fruit, and healthy fat to my shakes.
My Definitions of Tired, Fatigue, and Body Crashes
Before I get into my results, I want to define my definitions of tired, fatigue, and body crashes.
So having fatigue as a symptom is nothing I ever experienced when I was well. Even when I had mono, I was not this fatigued.
My definition of tired means that I’m sleepy. I didn’t get enough sleep, and if I were a person that napped, I would take one frequently if not daily.
My definition of fatigue is something that goes beyond sleepy or tired. People who’ve been sleep deprived, such as the first few months you have a baby, may come close to this fatigued feeling but it’s still not the same.
When I’m fatigued, I don’t always feel sleepy. It’s just this feeling of exhaustion and weight that settles in my body. It makes everything more difficult to do. Moving becomes difficult, and at times, thinking is extremely challenging.
I feel like I’m not describing fatigue as well as it needs to be, but that’s the best I can do right now. Also, everyone seems to experience fatigue a little differently, and that’s why I wanted to explain how I feel when I’m experiencing fatigue.
The body crashes started when I relapsed. They usually occur between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
My body crashes when it can’t handle the fatigue any longer.
When it occurs, the dystonia hits more than one body part at once, with most times affecting almost my whole body except for maybe my arms. The muscles in my feet, legs, abdomen, face, neck, voice, and sometimes hands contract uncontrollably. This could result in muscles locking up or body parts moving without my control. It’s scary for my kids, and I hate it.
I’m usually fully aware during these episodes, but they are immediately followed by me passing out dead asleep. I’m talking so dead asleep no one can wake me up.
There have been times where I’ve tried to wake myself up with all my might. I’ve been able to open my eyes for just moments in a haze. I can say maybe a sentence before I’m out again.
The Results of my 30 Days to Healthy Living Program◊
Well, the week didn’t start as planned because the whole family got the stomach bug. I did, however, lose 3 pounds during this time, so win? I eased into the program on the third day, Wednesday, and by Friday night, I was feeling something I haven’t felt since my FND started nine years ago.
I felt ENERGIZED!
It felt amazing! I then overdid it and was laid out on the couch by Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday. Monday morning I woke up feeling like I’m back at square one, but I’m okay with that.
I hope to feel energized again later this week.🤞 I just have to remember to PACE myself this time even if I feel energized. 🙂
The week started with me recovering from overdoing it, and I worked the entire week, which I hadn’t done the week prior.
The logical part of my brain knew that I might not feel as well since working causes fatigue for me both mentally and physically. Even with having that in mind, I still got a little discouraged during the week because I wasn’t improving as fast as I wanted to.
By Friday, I was starting to feel like I had more energy but nowhere near energized. I made it 45 minutes through my ballroom class without triggering my symptoms, and I danced more this past Friday than previous weeks. 🙂
There were some improvements. I only had one body crash around my kids’ bedtime, and it was mild and didn’t cause me to fall asleep. This is pretty huge! I also was able to stay up later, which I’m not sure is always a great thing.🤪
Another perk, I’ve lost almost another 3 pounds! That’s more than 5 pounds in two weeks, thanks to the stomach flu and the 30-day program. Lol.
This past week I did something I haven’t done since my relapse started in December 2015. I drove over an hour in traffic to a destination, worked, interacted with people in an overstimulating environment, ate dinner in a restaurant, and then drove for about an hour home. I did all of this without any rest!
I had to rest the next day, but it feels so amazing to gain some independence back in my life! I wouldn’t have made it without the natural energy boosts. I took four that day at various points when I felt my energy levels dropping, and I was still able to go to sleep at 11 pm when I got home.
I then got sick again (!) with a cold, and my symptoms flared a little on Saturday and Sunday.
BUT, I noticed something else that’s worth mentioning, and that is running up the stairs without realizing I’m doing it. This may not seem like a big deal, but stairs have been my nemesis.
For the last year, I have, for the most part, been able to walk upstairs by myself thanks to physical therapy. But before that, it was a huge struggle whenever I was tired because my legs would lock up and my husband would have to help me get up the stairs almost every single night.
The energy levels continue to improve. The daily body crashes at night occur 2 – 3 hours later than usual, or they occur during the usual time but are mild and don’t result in passing out asleep, or they don’t occur at all. Very exciting times!
Week 4 and Remaining 30 Days
I didn’t have a single full-body crash during this time!!! Also, A LOT happened.
I started this week off with getting my period. I know it’s kind of taboo to talk about, but I wanted to mention it because I had almost no PMS symptoms and only one chocolate craving which I didn’t need to fulfill! The only sign I had this time was fatigue.
Over these nine days, I drove to a party hosted by my mother-in-law. The following day, I met up with a friend outside of the house for four hours. On the day after that, I ran errands (including a short trip to the grocery store, which is a trigger for me), I went to a doctor’s appointment and then had a conference call after that.
After those three days of crazy activity, I did flare again.
I ended the 30 days in a mild flare, but that doesn’t indicate how this 30-day challenge has totally changed my life.
Final Results and Recap◊
So much happened this month. I got sick twice! I had more flareups in a month than I can remember, BUT I also had the most AMAZING month I’ve had in YEARS.
I kid you not. I NEVER thought I would feel this good again. Here are my results:
- More energy! My feeling of fatigue is still there but not nearly as noticeable now.
- Overall reduction of FND symptoms, including minimal to no end of day body crashes.
- Increased feeling of happiness. In fact, I feel fantastic right now. I can’t even believe it.
- Ended my sugar addiction! Before this program, I couldn’t go a day without eating something sweet because I HAD to have it.
- Significantly reduced cravings to a point where I can say no to sweets!
- I had chocolate candy in my house for a whole week, and I didn’t eat a single piece. I almost did after a week, but I put it down and then forgot about it!
- Ended my after-dinner snacking.
- I increased my water intake.
- I increased my intake of fruits and vegetables.
- I realized I stay up too late and need to go to bed earlier.
- I lost 6 pounds.
- Weight: 146 pounds (-6 pounds total, -3 pounds post stomach bug)
- Waist (belly button): 34.5” (-1″)
- Hips (2 inches below the belly button): 36″ (-1.25″)
- Right Thigh: 24.25” (-0.5″)
- Left Arm: 12.5” (-1″)
June 28, 2019 Update◊
Since the 30 Days to Healthy Living Program, I have stayed on the same plan, but I did try and introduce some food back into my diet with some undesirable results. As of the writing, I’m back on another 30-day challenge, and it’s going great.
Here are a few things that happened between the first and second 30 days to wellness challenges:
- For the first time since August 2010, I ran without triggering my symptoms!!!
- I didn’t run just once but multiple times in one day. At one point, I got up to my full stride (no sprinting yet 😉). This is so significant because I couldn’t run when I was in remission without it triggering symptoms.
- We went to a birthday party, and for the first time in my life, I said no to cake! This is huge because I’m usually the first parent that accepts cake at a birthday party. Or at least I was!
- I found out when I re-introduced gluten into my diet that it is an almost INSTANT trigger for my dystonia. As in I take one bite, and within a minute, my mouth and neck contractions are going. I tested this on four different and not consecutive days and with different foods. I got the same result every time.
- When I tested pretzels after I ate the first one, I thought, “Since my dystonia is triggered, I might as well eat a handful.” Well, within the hour, I had severe brain fog come on. It lifted about an hour or so later after I ate dinner, but I had no idea food could be so powerful!
- I continue to lose weight. It’s been slow for me but some people have lost 15 pounds in one month.
August 2019 Update◊
I’m still following the lifestyle change for the most part, and I’m happy to say that things have continued to improve. Here are some of my updates:
- It is now rare for me to have an end of day body crash.
- I figured out how to help my body eliminate waste more effectively, and I’ve lost more weight as a result of that.
- I’ve lost a total of 14 pounds, and I’m only 8 pounds away from my end goal weight of 130 pounds.
- My only PMS symptom is now fatigue. I used to be extremely irritable for days before.
- I stopped getting acne during ovulation.
- I have enough energy to do low-level workouts.
- I have a sex drive again! I didn’t realize that it had gone away entirely until it came back. Holy cow. It’s aaamazing!
- On good days, I forget about fatigue. Say what?! It’s true, and I love it!
- Weight: 138 pounds (-14 pounds total)
- Waist (belly button): 32” (-3.5″)
- Hips (2 inches below the belly button): 35″ (-2.25″)
- Right Thigh: 24” (-1.25″)
- Left Arm: 12” (-1.5″)