Sallie's Healthy Journey - Part 1
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
Hey girls! My name is Sallie. You may have seen me the past few weeks on Instagram @girls.eat.real.fat and gotten little bits and pieces of my story. It’s been a wild ride that has brought me to where I am today, but I am so excited (and a little nervous...but mostly excited) to share it with you!
It may sounds crazy, but I believe that finding my way to an ancestral way of eating -- which includes in particular a lot of good nutrient-dense fat -- has made me a more sexy, beautiful, fertile, fit, energetic, happy, and creative woman! You may be thinking, "That sounds totally bizarre, Sallie. How does that make any sense?!" Well...I’ll briefly touch on all of these things in this post, but you’ll have to join me here at RealFat life on my journey here where I’ll fully unpack each of them over time! :)
Here’s part 1 (there may be a lot of parts) of the story of how ancestral nutrition and nutrient-dense fat have helped me!!
I’ll have to start with my childhood. I ate “healthy” my whole life. Everyone knew us as the “health-nut family.” My parents were awesome. They cared a lot about our health and shielded us from a bunch of the toxins laced into commercially available food. We ground our own grain and made our own whole wheat bread, pancakes, muffins, tortillas, pizza, and more. We ate lean meat and also had vegetarian meals. We ate pretty low fat and focused on healthy fats like olive oil and avocados. We made most of our food from scratch, but also ate boxed cereals and different packaged foods, labeled as healthy. We ate lots of steamed veggies and lots of salads with homemade olive oil dressings. My parents were super strict with me as a kid and never let me have any processed sugar - which was great!!
Sounds healthy, right???
I began to fight my body and fight
food to stay “thin.”
As we got older, some more manufactured foods snuck into our diet like healthy store-bought salad dressings with canola oil and soybean oil, pasteurized organic skim milk, and soy-filled health-food cereals and bars. This may still sound healthy...but something was missing.
When I hit puberty, I became very aware of my body and my appearance. I began to fight my body and fight food to stay “thin.” I felt like I was at “war” with my body. I became intensely fat phobic and meat phobic. When I made a sandwich, I would put fat-free sour cream on my bread instead of mayonnaise. I would skip the meat and only put lettuce or tomato and some mustard. When I cut out meat and fat, all that was left was carbs and sugar. Carbs and sugar of all kinds. All I ate was carbs and sugar. Whole grains (carbs) and fruit (sugar) galore. But mainly fruit (sugar). ;)
Weight problems run in my family on both sides. My grandma ran a chocolate shop and died from complications related to sugar overdose (aka. diabetes). I thought I was doing all the right things. But I didn't know that it was my "healthy" food choices that was actually sabotaging my ability to have a small waist. And it seemed like the more “high calorie” foods I cut out, the more my waistline fought me! But I thought it was ME. I thought it was because I needed to have MORE discipline and EXERCISE more!!!
It’s not like I was ever “overweight,” but that persistent little “spare-tire” I perceived trying to grow around my waistline absolutely freaked me out. My grandma was this teeny tiny little lady with a huge "spare tire" around her middle -- you know the kind with super skinny arms and legs but with a giant waistline. (Classic body type of those with metabolic syndrome/insulin resistance.) Little did I know that I myself was fighting insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Everything I was eating was spiking my blood sugar. There wasn’t enough fat or protein in my diet to regulate my metabolism or keep my blood sugar in check!! So I fought and fought and avoided more and more fat and meat until I was an anorexic vegetarian. :(
I was obsessed with eating as few "calories" as possible. It only went downhill from there. Health issues we're doomed to arise. I developed TERRIBLE cystic acne, for which I went on heavy prescription drug antibiotics. My periods stopped completely (they never were actually regular). And all this time I just exercised more and more. I don’t know where all my energy came from!! I still did soooooo much and was really driven. Ahhhhh, the teenage years. ;)
I would carry around ice packs to class to numb
my hands because it was so painful I couldn’t focus.
Things got worse when I went to college. I was passionate about music and playing the violin. When I went to school to get my bachelor degree in violin performance, I ate less and less and slept less and less. And my freshman year I started to get these tiny blisters on my fingers. “Wonder what that is?” I thought. My digestion became atrocious. Like it stopped working kind of atrocious. Everything basically went through me whole and undigested. My skin looked horrible. I still had acne despite all the antibiotics. Then I got more blisters on my hands. And more. And then my hands swelled up. They got bright red. They got painful. They became excruciating. It hurt to play the violin. There were dozens of blisters under the surface of my skin and my hands would turn blue and multiple colors at the same time. Numbness was the only relief. I would carry around ice packs to class to try to numb my hands because it was so painful I couldn’t focus. I took cold showers to keep them from hurting. I slept with ice packs in my bed because my hands were so painful I couldn’t fall asleep without them in a bag of ice or smashed in between two ice packs. It got to the point that it was greatly impeding my ability to play the violin. Because they were so swollen, I had no dexterity and agility. I had to numb my fingers to even practice, but that would wear off every 10 minutes or so, and it was incredibly time consuming to have to constantly keep getting fresh ice -- especially when I was supposed to be practicing over 4 hours a day!
I wasn't a cry baby. I was a tough cookie. But I remember talking to my dad on the way to class on day and crying on the phone because I was in so much pain. I can remember one 2-hour performance of Handel's Messiah (my favorite piece in the world!!) where I literally had ice packs behind me in my orchestra chair and would play my violin part and then during every single rest that was long enough I would put my violin down on my lap and rush to put my hands on the ice for as long as I could before I had to play again. I was in so much pain during that performance I actually contemplated running off stage. That's when I knew something had to change. I had a heart-to-heart talk with my violin professor - he encouraged me to take a semester off to get my health back. So I came home in the middle of my sophomore year at the end of 2009. Oh, did I mention that all my fingernails started falling off? Ha.
That’s when I started going to the doctors.
To find out what happened when I visited the doctor, look for part 2 of my story!!