About Kat

Fitness Coach - Recovering Perfectionist - Foodie

Chapter One: For the Love of Food

A lot of clients ask me, "Have you always been as healthy as you are now?" Simple answer... nope. The truth is, while I was lucky enough to grow up with a mom who taught me all about the values of nutrition and healthy eating, I had lots of battles I had to face before I could get to where I am now.
I was a dancer for the first 14 years of my life. I'm happy to say I didn't have any horrible teachers pressuring me to lose weight. But as a girl who held onto baby fat until my sophomore year of college, I learned the insecurities all the same. 
Being the hard working, type A, people pleaser I was, perfection was a goal I strived for for a long time... at least in the eyes of those around me. During the day I would eat cleaner than any middle/high-schooler you've ever met. I danced 30 hours per week while maintaining straight A's. I was the epitome of self control and discipline.
That is until everyone went to bed. That's when I would go to the cupboard and grab a box of cookies, a bowl of ice cream, a bag of pretzels, and maybe some popcorn which I would proceed to spread across my bed and eat while watching Friends re-runs.
If you asked me back then I would have never said I had an eating disorder. I knew about healthy eating and I figured my night time binges were an ok balance considering my day time healthy lifestyle.
Of course it was an eating disorder, I was disordered eating. My eating habits were related to the control I wanted to have over my life that I didn't. Don't get me wrong, I had a great family life. But I was always an old soul and I wanted to be on my own, independent; I swear I had senioritis as a Freshman in high school. 
The good thing for me was that a combination of realizing it was a control issue, reading lots of self help books (yes as a teenager), and finally moving out on my own, by and large healed my psychological issues around food. 
But keep in mind, it was not a healed-and-done situation. I went to a therapist all throughout college (not necessarily for eating, but I have to imagine it helped with that too). I consistently educated myself about nutrition and fitness. And I read many many books, talked to many friends and loved ones, and did lots of self reflection before I could let go of my type A, people pleasing, perfection seeking self that led to my disordered eating in the first place.
How did my eating habits back then affect my future health? Read on to find out. 

About Kat

Health Coach - Knowledge Seeker - Stubborn Patient

Chapter Two: 15 Years to Heal Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

It all started with a series of seemingly unrelated symptoms that spanned over a few years. I remember at about 10 years old I got these random patches of white skin that were itchy and, at one point, covered my entire back. A couple of years later, my digestion went to shit... literally. Shortly after, my energy levels were way below that of a normal high schooler and I was constantly sick with bronchitis and occasionally pneumonia. And as I got older, the acne that seemed to be just a phase for my peers was becoming my new, very annoying, normal (despite numerous creams, antibiotics, ointments, holistic remedies, and years of birth control pills).
I went to various doctors over the years. Some experiences were definitely better than others.... at different times throughout my journey I was diagnosed with IBS, a 6-page list of food allergies, hypothyroidism, and often times wasn't diagnosed at all but was merely written a prescription and sent on my merry way. At one point, I remember a doctor prescribing me a cholesterol drug because one of its side effects would positively affect my digestion. Even then, at 15 years old, I knew in my heart there was something wrong about treating a symptom without actually knowing the underlying cause.
It wasn't until I started studying to become a holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition that I finally got on the right path toward healing. Through my studies I figured out that those white itchy patches I had were actually an overgrowth of yeast. And that, those along with the poor digestion, acne, weak immune system, white film on my tongue, extreme fatigue, constantly cold extremities, and massive list of food allergies all together indicated my actual underlying cause: an overgrowth of Candida.
What is Candida? Long story short, it's a fungus that lives in all of us. But it can overgrow, largely due to overuse of antibiotics and the over consumption of sugar (Remember those fun late night binges? Should've known those would come back and bite me in the ass.). This candida invasion can lead to leaky gut where the candida basically sprouts little legs that poke holes in your gut, possibly leading to a massive list of food allergies, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalances, and even cancer.
So I proceeded to go on a 3 month candida cleanse which basically was my first taste of elimination dieting. I couldn't have any gluten, grains, added sugar of any kind, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, soy, or even fruit (except my one green apple or 1 cup of berries per day). Oh and I took approximately 8 billion supplements every. single. day.
After my protocol was over I decided I wanted to consult with a doctor to confirm that my candida was gone. Good news: it was! Bad news: given that my candida was living as a stow away, undetected for years, the damage was done. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, a condition where my body attacked my thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.
Enter... Melissa Hartwig's Whole30 and Izabella Wentz's Hashimotos Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause. By following the protocols and guidance of these two books, and using myself as a guinea pig over and over again and finding what worked best for MY body, after over a decade of unexplainable symptoms and unbudging thyroid numbers, I was not only able to stabilize my thyroid numbers, gain back my energy, and discover the joys of clear skin again, I was actually able to reverse my autoimmune disease! So when I tell you to be patient and trust the process, know that that is coming from a place of both knowledge and experience.
A couple of take aways that still remain a part of my life today? I DO NOT include gluten or dairy in my diet and I re-test my food allergies yearly. I take selenium, a high grade fish oil, and vitamin D3. I take special care of my gut health, limit my sugar intake and follow a mainly plant-heavy paleo lifestyle. I prioritize 7-8 hours of sleep as a non-negotiable. And I recognize the power of the mind-body connection with regular meditation, self reflection, and journaling.
For an even more detailed look at how the Whole30 changed my life. Read on.

About Kat

Nutrition Coach - Diet Tester - Walk the Walker

Chapter Three: Whole30, Adult Acne, and the Best Side Effect Ever

I told you that healing my Hashimoto's was largely due to following the Whole30 plan. And in case you don't know what it is, it is basically an extreme version of paleo where you eliminate all inflammation causing foods for 30 days and slowly add foods back in to see what your body may be negatively reacting to. What you don't know is that I didn't start the Whole30 with high hopes of it affecting my autoimmune disease. I started the Whole30 because I was sick to death of being in my mid-twenties with acne all over my face. 
The funny thing about this story is that through years of seeing dermatologists and trying a million different topical treatments, prescriptions, supplements, and swapping my cosmetics at least a dozen times over, there was this little voice in the back of my head that told me it had to do with something I was eating. Even though I ate really healthy by normal standards, I had this tiny tickle in the back of my head telling me exactly what the problem was.
But truth be told, I simply wasn't ready to make those changes yet. I couldn't wrap my head around a life without cheese or eliminating gluten from my diet. There was a part of me that loved that I could shock my friends with the amount of burgers and whiskey I could put away without gaining an ounce. Part of my identity was being a foodie and I wasn't ready to see what life would look like without those "pieces of me."
I say this specifically because I hope you'll remember that on your own fitness journey. Often times we have a deep intuition about what our body needs, but sometimes we just have to wait to be psychologically ready to act on those intuitions. And that is ok, you just have to recognize it and try to get through it on your own timeline.
How did I get over this mental hurdle I had about who I was and how I ate? Well 2 things... the first is not exactly healthy and not something I suggest you try and duplicate. It still shocks me to say it, but I actually had an ex boyfriend tell me he didn't want to sleep with me because of the way my skin looked (turned out that wasn't the case at all and it was his own issues that created that situation, but that's a very long story for another time). The second thing is a bit more empowering, I always had it in my head that 25 years old was my limit. I would not deal with acne past 25, I utterly refused.
So as I entered into my 25th year of life with a new (much more supportive) boyfriend in tow, I decided I was ready to make the changes I knew were necessary to get the glowing skin I always had dreamed of. I went through the Whole30, discovered my body's disdain for gluten, dairy, and corn, and haven't gone back since. 
I hardly even miss the foods I've given up anymore and have found tons of new recipes and food substitutions I love! I still get to enjoy delicious evil-free cupcakes and cookies from Unrefined Bakery (if you haven't been and you live in Dallas, you have to check it out!). And I have discovered my new identity as a fitness coach who truly walks the walk every single day. I had an ailment that I utterly hated about myself, I resisted the antidote for years, and then when I was ready I made the changes for the long term and can tell you the view is absolutely beautiful from the other side. 
Oh and that whole putting my autoimmune disease into remission was just about the best side effect I could have ever hoped for!
Need a coach to help you through an elimination diet of your own?
Email me, I'd love to help!

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