I may just be the sickest healthy person you know…

“You eat so well!”

“You crush it in the gym!”

“You’re young and look so healthy though!”

All comments that have been said to me — and yet, here I am, about to turn 27 and feeling like an 80 year old whose life has been ripped away from her far too soon with every new medical discovery and diagnosis I receive.

Yesterday, I had my second appointment with Dr. Nicole. If you’ve been keeping up, you’ll remember her to be my new functional doctor. Since my first visit with her, I’ve finished my round of Xifaxan prescribed by my no-longer gastro for the SIBO (and no, I’m not feeling magically better as I had wished) and have also completed more bloodwork – something pretty routine to me by this point.

At my appointment yesterday, we went over the new bloodwork Dr. Nicole had requested, and boy, it was quite the overwhelming experience. I’ll be honest, my happy-go-lucky, can-do attitude broke a little yesterday.

Dr. Nicole, is great – let’s not get that confused. She sat with me and talked through all the findings, and summarized everything into her plan of action very clearly. She answered all my questions, and is just a great human overall. But the information she shared was less than appealing, and although knowledge is power, yesterday, knowledge just felt like a ton of bricks.

Picture this: A movie moment — cue the dramatic and triumphant music (you know the one), a track-star about to win the race, smiling ear to ear, he makes his way toward the finish line in slow motion. The end is in sight, the gold so close he can taste it, and out of nowhere, he starts to trip and his smile fades slowly. Zoom into his ankles turning this way and that way, his knees knocking, now back up to his face that has now gone from a look of victory to full-on defeat before cutting back to real time with the winner-to-be face-planted on the track with a furry of feet trampling him to take his place for first, second and third as he just lays there, defeated.

That is how I felt after my appointment yesterday. When I had the SIBO diagnosis, I felt like I was on my way to victory – FINALLY! Something to blame all my problems on, and medication to potentially fix it! However, the antibiotics haven’t left me feeling any better (deep-down I knew that 2 weeks wouldn’t truly make a difference). But today, I found out that in addition to the SIBO, I have candida, and have also been living with 3 chronic viruses in my system. THREE.

Epstein Barr Virus (two strands of it, actually), some other mono-causing virus, and herpes (no, not that kind). And before you ask, NO I AM NOT CONTAGIOUS.

Am I totally shocked? I mean, not really. Yes in the sense that these viruses are still in my system, but I had mono in college my sophomore year (2012), and since then, have struggled a lot with my health.

In addition to the viruses, I also found a few different things were off with my autoimmune response, candida, some vitamin levels, thyroid levels, etc.

Basically, I’m the sickest healthy person you know. What I mean by that is I do everything right. I do my best to eat well, I exercise regularly, and just generally take good care of myself, and it’s not enough. And isn’t that frustrating? It is. I really can’t even put into words at the moment just how draining it feels.

Dr. Nicole has a protocol for me which I’ll chat about in a different post, but for now all I’ll say is this: it’s a lot of supplements that of course insurance won’t cover, so of course I’m starting to stress about money. But stress isn’t good. How do I not stress? NOW I’M STRESSED ABOUT STRESSING. (Do you see how for a type A personality, this can be a black hole?)

Anyway, the short of it is this: start the supplement protocol, complete the stool test (which cost me $500 – yikes), follow a candida diet, and follow-up in 5 weeks when the aforementioned test results are in.

I know this post was a little more negatively toned than what I typically convey, but I’m having a moment. I feel like I am wasting the prime years of my life just trying to heal myself. At 27, I should be going out and enjoying life and spending my money on fun experiences and meeting new people — not worrying about spending my money on supplements and how much sugar and carbs I’m eating and if I’m doing everything to lower my viral load and kill yeast and bacteria… UGH. Somedays I just feel like an old shell, and it’s hard, because that is NOT me. I used to be, and want to be, a very full person. But it’s hard some days, and that’s just the truth of it.

With my birthday approaching in 2 weeks (May 11th if ya wanna set a calendar reminder!), I feel so conflicted. I know I’ll want to celebrate, but I’ll feel guilty knowing it won’t be good for my body – but am I supposed to just not celebrate? WHERE IS THE FUN IN THAT?!

Life isn’t fair, but I’m trying to remember that there is a lesson in all that we experience. What is meant for you will find you when it’s right for you.

Look out for my next post on my protocol and a few more deep-dive details (if you’re following me for specific health interests!), but until next time…

xx

happily Haleigh

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#slayingSIBO // general update

SO.

Here I am, 3 days after finishing my two-week round of Xifaxan, and I feel… the same.

In fact, I might feel worse? Because along with not finding relief, that ROUGH round of antibiotics left me with some fun side effects: breakouts, weird rashes, swelling in my limbs, worsened joint pain… super fun times, my friends!

Thankfully, I have another appointment with Dr. Nicole on Monday. The plan is to chat about anything she found in my bloodwork, and discuss about next steps (remember that super fun test I talked about previously? Yeah, that’s probably gonna go down LOL).

In the meantime, I have also secured an MRI for my chronic lower back pain and emailed a doctor about my toe pain (I was set to actually have a toe surgery in January, but getting a new job threw a wrench in that!). Not only is my original, right toe still hurting, but now my left one has started bothering me. OOF.

Today in Chicago, it is snowing. Yes, in April. And honestly, while I’m not THRILLED about it, it’s given me the perfect excuse to take this Saturday and truly do nothing. As I’m typing this, I’m laying in bed in the middle of the afternoon with no plans for the rest of the evening, and it’s glorious. I did start my day off nicely though – woke up for a workout where I met a new friend, grabbed a coffee, went to my first therapy session, and wandered Whole Foods just because (does anyone else do this?! Didn’t even buy anything – I just love it!)

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending a restorative yoga session – yoga, something that doctors have told me time and time again to partake in for stress management, and something I usually blow off. However, in the spirit of working on my mental health, I’m going to try. Again.

So anyway, this post was really not substantial because truly, there has not been much change. More to come, and I’ll keep you all posted, but until then, I hope your life is beautiful and your days are wonderful.

xx

happily Haleigh

#slayingSIBO Update

..there are a few things I just HAVE to update you on. Some good things, and some “you’re never going to believe this” things.

Since my doctor appointment upset last week, I’ve been pretty quiet. Partly because I was feeling very lost again, very frustrated and overwhelmed, and partly because life has been HEEECTIC this past week!

But there are a few things I just HAVE to update you on. Some good things, and some “you’re never going to believe this” things.

Let’s start with the Good Things:

A New Doc:

Of course, after being severely disappointed in the gastro and her bandaid approach, I sought out a new functional doctor (you’ll remember, I had seen one before in 2017, but he’s out in the suburbs and it’s super inconvenient to drive out there).

My criteria is that a functional doctor needs to take insurance though, which adds a layer of complexity because that option is few and far between.

BUT, I found one that seemed promising, and I somehow snuck in an appointment with her on Tuesday this past week.

I was honestly stressed to go to the appointment. In my mind, she was just ANOTHER DOCTOR who I needed to spill my guts to, praying that she’d be my last stop on the road – that process is honestly emotionally exhausting.

But I am happy to report that while I’ve only had my first consultation with her, I feel SO optimistic about her! She sat with me for over an hour, just listening to me, asking me probing questions about my medical and life history, and I honestly just felt so cared for. I am so hopeful that she will be my ride-or-die through all this, and that maybe she’ll be the one to help me find relief and true health again.

She asked to see all previous test results and blood work, so I’ve spent the past week compiling and sending all of that to her.

Next step is getting more bloodwork on Monday (anything she wants to see updated or tests she thinks are missing), and then she reeaaallly feels like what I need to do is a….drumroll for TMI approaching…. stool test. Yep. A poop test. Apparently you can test for all sorts of bacteria, pathogens, parasites, etc that way. The only kicker is that the one she orders isn’t typically covered by insurance… and it’s quite pricey. I’m in the process of checking with my insurance myself to see if they’d possibly cover it, so fingers crossed!

For any Chicago friends, her name is Dr. Nicole Maholy out of Aligned Modern Health – Streeterville.

Mindset:

This week, I took a little break from scouring the internet for SIBO information. I could feel myself getting a little wrapped up in it all, so I’m just chilling. I’m on the antibiotics, so I’m just letting them do their thing (more on that later), and I’m trusting that Dr. Nicole will be reviewing my previous labs to decipher a killer plan of action for when I see her next (April 29th).

Saying that, taking a step back allowed me to use my brain power for other things – a few podcasts that I enjoy that I had putting on the back burner, for instance. Podcasts are amazing – you have access to knowledge and new ideas for FREE. #blessed.

Anyway, because I was able to recommit some mind space this week, I’ve felt a little better mentally. I was going to include more on that in this post, but I actually began to ramble and think it deserves its own thought space, so you can read more about a mental mind-shift I’ve had this week HERE 🙂

Now for the “You’re Not Gonna Believe This”:

Really. You won’t. My gastro gave me the wrong dosage on my prescription. And I was the one to notice and point it out!

While I was gathering all my results to send to Dr. Nicole on Wednesday, I was reviewing my SIBO results and outcome. I took a look at the prescription information, and was like “Well…. that’s awkward because that’s NOT what I picked up from CVS on Saturday…”

So, of course, I had been taking the WRONG dosage of Xifaxan for 5 days… GOODNESS GRACIOUS. I immediately contacted the doctor to fill them in and was hit with a “Oh, thank you for bringing this to our attention. Please stop your current prescription and start the new one we ordered for you. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

INCONVENIENCE? How about malpractice?! I literally could not believe it. I also got into a slight argument with them because I was worried I’d have to pay for the new prescription, and I was getting a “shrugged shoulders” response from them. Luckily for me [and the doctor], the pharmacy didn’t charge me.

It was just the icing on the cake with this doctor. Never. Again. Will. I. See. Her.

Anywhooo, now that I’ve been on the CORRECT dosage of Xifaxan for 3 days, let me tell ya, this medication is NO JOKE. The first two days were a little rough – abdominal pain and bloating, nausea, headaches, dizziness, swelling in my legs and arms… fun stuff.

Yesterday I woke up SLIIIIGHTLY less bloated, and for me that was promising. By end of the day though, it was same old same old. UGH. I’m still trying to stay positive. I’ll be on this medication for 2 weeks total, so it’s a bit of a long ride. I’m hoping to see improvement at least by week one…

General Updates:

Anywho, that’s about it on the SIBO front for right now. I’m riding out this medicine, and waiting to really get started with my new doctor. I picked up a few supplements yesterday to help with digestion and just general detoxification. I’ve been holding out on bringing too many supplements back in because I truly don’t know what I’m dealing with. It’s so easy to get supplement crazy by just reading things on the internet, but honestly, throwing a million things in your body probably isn’t all that helpful, even if everything is “healthy”. Not to mention it DRAINS your bank account!! (Been there!)

But yesterday I picked up the following:

  • Liver Detox tincture – In some of my recent tests, I actually noticed my liver levels were high. None of the doctors seemed concerned, but it makes sense that since my body is stressed, my liver can’t keep up. So, trying to give it a little extra love and support.
  • Natural Vitality Calm – Okay honestly, I finally caved and bought this. I have no idea if it’s actually worth the hype, but a lot of people swear by it, and I’m supposed be managing my stress, so here we are!
  • Aloe Vera Juice Inner Fillet (Preservative Free) – I had tried Aloe Vera Juice before for digestive benefits, and honestly couldn’t remember if it had helped or not, so here we are again lol. I’ll keep you all posted!
  • Not a supplement but… CELERY. Yup. As of this morning, I’m back on the celery juice game. Honestly, I started this WAYYY before the craze happened, and saw some benefits, but had a hard time keeping up with it. But, in my current state, I may just need to suck it up and be more diligent about it! Today is day 1, so maybe I’ll check in a few weeks down the road and report any benefits!

There are still some supplements I’m curious about in terms of how they could help me and my SIBO case. I’ll have to continue to do more research and ask Dr. Nicole her thoughts… but here’s what I’m looking into:

  • CBD (let me know if you have any great brand suggestions!)
  • Antimicrobials
  • Adaptogens – I’m curious how someone with adrenal fatigue can leverage these
  • Pro-kinetics

More on supplements later…

Well, I just scrolled to the top of this post and realized how long it is so I’m just going to cut it off here because truly, if you’re still reading, I’m amazed. Go get yourself a cookie. Speaking of cookies, I’ll be baking these today for the first time as part of an attempt to cook or bake one new thing a week. I’ll do a little review later this week!

Happy Sunday, folks!

xx

happily Haleigh

It’s bulking season… and *I guess* I’m here for it.

Hey hey hey! 

If you keep up with me on instagram, you probably saw a recent story of mine chatting about how I plan to do a bulk this winter, starting now.

Hey hey hey!

If you keep up with me on instagram, you probably saw a recent story of mine chatting about how I plan to do a bulk this winter, starting now.

Now, I’ve attempted to do bulks before, but have always stopped because my goals of having visible ab lines and no cellulite have outweighed any other motive. At the first sign of fat gain and fading cut lines, I’d stop, lower my calories again, and up my cardio, just continuing a vicious cycle.

However, I had a somewhat frightening wake up call the other day. I realized my once thick, full, crazy-curly hair has suddenly become EXTREMELY thin. I’m talking you can see my scalp in certain areas thin – something no 26 year old should be worrying about! Aside from this most recent symptom, I have been dealing with health issues the past year and a half now, things that I truly need to get sorted, and things that I hope this bulk will help with. Let me take you through some Haleigh history.

Here’s a quick snapshot of my health journey the past few years:

  • High-school: I was a stick, danced 6 hours a day, didn’t get my cycle until my senior year.
  • College: Stopped pretty much all physical activity, put on a good amount of fat, started getting my cycle every 3 weeks (annoying!) so I went on BC.
  • Post college, started doing some workouts like BBG, super basic things, etc.
  • August 2016 (after switching to a new BC that caused me extreme water retention to the point of pain), went off of BC because I was sick of hormones. I lost my period then (normal after going off of BC), but end up getting it back in January 2017.
  • October 2016: I was sick of being “skinny fat” and wanted to be a fit instagram gal. I stumbled across this amazing online trainer who preached about reverse dieting (adding more food and getting leaner, heck yes!). I reached out to him and started working with him for 6 months. This is what kicked off my fitness journey and I fell in love with weight lifting.
  • January 2017 (got my period back)
  • March 2017: My leanest point ever.march2017
    I was feeling on top of the world. I was up to eating 1800 calories a day. I felt great. Except for the fact that this is the point I lost my period, and have not had it since.
  • Moving forward from March 2017: I’ve dealt with continuing digestive issues, no cycle, hormonal acne, water retention, fluctuating weight, lack of energy, frequent injuries, pain, hair loss, now having to eat less, just feeling blah about life, etc. FUN FUN FUN.
    • I have had multiple sets of tests done including food sensitivities, hormone testing, neurotransmitter testing, and in a nutshell, I had developed a bunch of food sensitivities (although I have avoided them and I still don’t feel much better), my cortisol was/is so low that I don’t follow the typical rise and fall pattern (it’s just always in the basement no matter what time of day!) AKA adrenal fatigue, and my estrogen and progesterone is low.
    • I have tried progesteral creams (starting this again), herbs, supplements, you name it, and I’m still dealing with all this crap!

So, reluctantly, I have challenged myself to put on weight. Now, strangely, I’m not NEARLY as lean as I was when I lost my period (as you’ll see below), and I’m actually eating less food (sadly, at about 1650/1700 calories a day) because I probably did some damage to my metabolism after becoming so lean. So in theory, I feel like I should have enough BF to have my cycle again , but alas, that is not the case and I’ve been without it for over a year and a half now. My thought process is maybe I’m actually under-eating for my activity level, so my body thinks I’m starving myself so it’s holding on to weight/water it doesn’t need truly? Not sure. I might just need more food and nutrients to heal than I’m thinking, and I may just have to be okay with gaining some fat.

Gaining fat. Ugh. I know this sounds so vain, but when I worked with my trainer, I worked SO hard for the body I achieved, and I honestly will be so, so sad to watch that fade. I know I shouldn’t be so concerned with my appearance, but my body image has always been something I struggled with (that could be a whole separate post). So, sticking to this bulk and seeing my body go through changes I don’t necessarily want (added fat, cellulite, saying by to my abs, being fluffier), is going to be so difficult. And, I’m struggling because I’m not currently as lean as I would want to be before starting a bulk, but I guess that’s the issue that landed me here in the first place… Logically I know that I need to do it, but emotionally it is stressful.

I realize that this post and journey actually comes at an interesting time as today is World Mental Health Day. I want to verbalize that I know that much of my struggles are as much mental health struggles as they are physical health struggles. I own that, and hope that if anyone else is going through something similar, that you know you’re not alone!

 

Recently, I found the KK Fit twins (@kk_fit_) on instagram. They are so open and honest about their fitness journey, how they put on a good amount of fat on their bulk, and how they came out the other side and added healthy muscle and are now basically beasts in the gym. Seeing their progress, I bit the bullet and got their 10-week bulking guide, and honestly, they have been so supportive and interactive so far, even though they aren’t technically coaching me!

So following that 10-week guide with very slooooowly upping my calories, I hope to start healing myself this fall/winter, and if you’re interested, I’m going to be very rawly and openly documenting my journey with weekly updates right here, and possibly some vlogs. I’ll be uploading progress pics, weigh-ins, nutrition information, bullets on how I’m feeling/what I’m experiencing, and any  tips and tricks I discover along the way.

So to start off, here’s me, week 1 of the KK-Fit bulking guide and the first week of increasing my calories slightly.

Side note 1: I’m stressed posting these photos because I’m not happy. I personally feel I’m far from where I’ve been before, so I’m bummed, and stressed that I’m going to have to get even more uncomfortable with my appearance before it gets better.
Side note 2: Not looking for pity comments or “Haleigh you look great though!” comments, because we all live in our OWN reality, so all we need to do is support each other in how we feel 🙂
Side note 3: I’m flexing so hard in these lol. The light is helping, but I left these unedited for that #reality.
Side note 4: You can see that I just look kinda puffy – a lot of inflammation, a little fat from celebrations, but I guess I’ll need to get used to that!

P.S. Looking back at these pics, I noticed my little card that I have displayed “You are one badass female” and I really feel that I just need to vibe with that more, ya know???

Week 1 Calories: 1,750 a day || P: 113g || C: 200g || F: 55g

Weight: 124.9 lbs (already 4 lbs up from where I was averaging… again probably water retention). I also took measurements, but I’ll share those at a later date.

How I’m feeling: hesitant, already fluffier, trying to resist the urge to go do cardio as we speak, slightly sad, honestly stressed, but hopeful.

Alright y’all, that’s all for now! I’ll be updating my journey weekly! If you are or have gone through something similar, I would love to connect with you!

xx

happilyhaleigh