Dieting nearly killed me: Four years ago today I was discharged from the hospital

Four years ago today I was discharged from a Los Angeles hospital. Technically speaking, I discharged myself because I had to get to the east coast for my best friend's wedding. I spent five days lying in a hospital bed, totally out of it, hooked up to an IV and on painkillers round-the-clock. What a way to spend my third week of marriage!

This story isn't actually why I'm writing this blog but, for those who are interested, let's rewind 6 days from discharge day: James and I had honeymooned in Fiji and we planned to spend the second part of our honeymoon in LA going to amusement parks. The day we flew into LA I had a bit of pain in my back. I thought it was because of the bumpy van ride we took in Fiji to get to the airport. But as the day went on the pain got worse and worse. I remember laying on the hotel bed crying while James was on the phone with my sister who is a physician's assistant. He was tapping all over my body trying to figure out what was going on... She concluded it was probably appendicitis based on where the pain was. We changed our departure flight to NC to the next morning to try and get me home to our local hospital... The next morning I woke up in so much pain that I could barely walk. We drove to the airport, checked-in, and I had to be pushed in a wheelchair to our gate. James helped me onto the plane and to my seat. It was here that the dramas really begin... We weren't seated next to each other so I asked the people next to both of us if one of them would swap so we could be together for the 6-hour flight. Both declined. I began crying even harder. The flight attendants checked in with me and either James or I let it slip (thank God, we did...) that we thought I might have appendicitis.  We were taken to the back of the plane where the pilot came and told us I wasn't allowed to fly with the possibility of appendicitis. We fought hard to stay on the flight, knowing my family and my local hospital was only 6 hours out of reach. 6 hours, my appendix would hang on! Thankfully though, we lost the fight to stay on board and were taxied to the nearest hospital... Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, California. There was a miscommunication between nurses about the urgency of my situation and we waited (and waited) in the ER waiting room... Hours went by and my condition deteriorated. My temperature plummeted, I began breathing rapidly and shaking. As we would soon find out, I was experiencing the early symptoms of septic shock and was diagnosed with Urosepsis. This dramatic show in the waiting room was enough to get me into a hospital bed, STAT! 

Now we can rewind even more... This is why I'm telling you all this... 

A week before our wedding day... 

A week before our wedding day... 

Leading up to my wedding day I dieted, a lot. I swapped breakfast and lunch out for shakes and once I got bored with that I swapped to the Atkin's diet, then I did the Dukan diet. At one point I did the master cleanse, I ate nothing and only drank lemon juice, cayenne pepper and honey for 10 days. Despite getting back to my high school weight, I still wasn't satisfied. As a last-ditch effort to get to my goal weight, whatever that was, I ordered this tea that I had seen on Instagram: Skinny Me Tea. So for the two weeks before my wedding day, I would get up all throughout the night to go to the bathroom because... that's what the tea made you do! I had intense stomach cramps every night but, for some insane reason, I thought it was worth it because I felt like I still had more weight to lose! I now see how my perception of myself, my body, my weight was so misguided by what I saw on social media. It baffles me to this day that I must have felt like I needed to look like the Skinny Me Tea chicks (among others) in order to be my happiest on my wedding day.

That Skinny Me Tea detox was the final straw... My body, my kidneys especially, couldn't take my neglect and abuse anymore. I spent 5 days in a hospital bed, missed out on running around Los Angeles with my hubs, and nearly died all because I wanted to lose a couple more pounds...

Every diet I had done before that hospital stay was so far from innocent. And unfortunately, every diet I did was found online or in magazines with raving reviews. And they're the same diets that so many people continue to do. Do you realize that the majority of the diets that are out there, that so many men and women alike are doing, are all acts of self-hatred, not self-love. No wonder I never felt love and contentment with my body... And no wonder so many others don't either. The dieting industry is massive and it's primarily funded by this disgust we have with our own flesh!

I couldn't feel love for myself and my body because my choices and actions were communicating everything that isn't love.  

Side note, I can't even remember if I reached my goal weight because that obviously wasn't what ended up being the most memorable part of marrying the man of my dreams. 

wedding.jpg

Funny memory... One thing I do remember is binging on cherry cobbler the day before my wedding at the rehearsal dinner so the next day I was all puffy (water weight). I find that so ironic! What was I thinking?! Clearly, I had reached my maximum level of deprivation. 

As you can probably tell by now, I'm incredibly passionate about women's health because I've lived both sides of the coin of an unhealthy lifestyle. I've done nearly every diet under the sun. I've lived the side of eating in excess as well as the side of not eating enough. I've comforted myself with food and I've coped by not eating anything at all. I've spent hours on the elliptical at the gym, eaten healthy till the sun went down and then binged on cookie dough, cookies, brownie batter and brownies (I doubt there was that much dough and batter left over...). I've known both shame and pride around my eating habits. I've eaten as "clean" as you can possibly eat, to the point that I couldn't eat out without it being an extreme stressor. I've had a healthy body while having a very unhealthy mind. It goes without saying that my past relationship with food has been a dysfunctional one. I'm sharing all this because when I tell my clients these stories they have a hard time believing me. They think that I've always had a healthy relationship with food and that I've never struggled with body image issues. 

Honeymoon part 2

Honeymoon part 2

In the last four years, I've healed and I've learned so much. I'm the healthiest I've ever been in both my mind and my body. My relationship with food is a balanced and carefree one, all the while I still prioritize meeting my nutritional needs and maintaining a healthy weight. I love my body and, because of that, I treat my body with respect and kindness. Every now and then I have moments where I feel discontentment with the fat on my stomach but those feelings no longer rule me. They don't dictate my choices and actions. I've learned to rule myself from a place of true self-love. 

If you're reading this and you've resonated with my story: I may not know you, but I see you. And it's because of you that I'm doing what I do every day. 

I know what it's like for food and eating (or not eating) to consume your thought life. I know how it feels to hate the body that you see in the mirror as well as the guilty pleasure it is when that thigh gap gets wider and wider. I know how it feels to punish yourself for overeating. And I know how to respond to painful situations by reassuring yourself that at least you can control one thing, your weight, in the midst of not being able to control anything else. 

In the year leading up to my wedding day, my heart had just begun to beat to these words: "healthy in, healthy out". It truly was a God-moment when I first heard those words in my spirit. And ever since then I've been learning what that really looks like. Based on the mishap following my honeymoon, I clearly hadn't learned that much in my first year of pursuing health and wholeness. But I had begun... And that hospital stay in Inglewood, California was my wake-up call. It was then that I realized that all I knew about getting healthy was a world away from what true health and good nutrition is all about. Because the product was anything but... health and wholeness. 

Right before leaving the hospital!

Right before leaving the hospital!

A few months after recovering from Urosepsis, I decided to major in Nutrition Science. And today, four years later, I'm a world away from where I was that day. I've learned so much, and am continually learning, about health, nutrition, and what it looks like to be healthy on both the inside and the out.

In the blogs that will follow this one, I'll be sharing more about why dieting doesn't work and what you should be doing instead. However, I want to first share the most important thing that I've learned. And it has nothing to do with nutrition... 

I've learned that self-judgments are futile. So, if you're reading and resonating with my words, and you only take away one thing, take away this: When you want to judge yourself and your actions, don't. Stop those thoughts in their tracks. Flush them. Choose to give yourself grace, forgive yourself. The more you forgive instead of judge, the more freedom you'll be able to walk in in the moments, hours, and days that follow.

Progress and growth is made in the soil of forgiveness.

Judgements are like quicksand, they will pull you further and further down despite your best efforts to rise up. 

Love looks like a lot of things... But when we go back to the moment when the world witnessed the greatest act of Love, when Jesus paid the ultimate price, we learn that true love and the journey of becoming whole begins with forgiveness. 

So, if you feel like you need to start your own journey of becoming whole, begin there.