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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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

 

 

At it again: GF/DF Banana Choco Chip Muffins!

After being so happy with how my GF/DF/refined sugar-free/low calorie delicious Zucchini Bread turned out, I had to try my hand at something else!

Luckily, I happened to have some persnickety bananas that decided to over-ripen far too quickly, and I, hating to be wasteful, had to find something to do with them! 

After being so happy with how my GF/DF/refined sugar-free/low calorie delicious Zucchini Bread turned out, I had to try my hand at something else!

Luckily, I happened to have some persnickety bananas that decided to over-ripen far too quickly, and I, hating to be wasteful, had to find something to do with them!

Like the zucchini bread, I LOVE my mama’s banana bread, so I decided, hey, the substitution recipe can’t be that different than zucchini!

And lemme tell ya sis, I was right. Another spot on recipe, and this was super quick and easy! I made them early in the morning and they were mixed, out of the oven and in my mouth in about 45 minutes. These muffins are full of banana-y goodness, with a hint of naughty from chocolate chips without all the calories, gluten or dairy 🙂 My cousin even said they taste like Panera’s – I’ll take the compliment!

 

Bananabread

If you have some unruly bananas lying around and an itch for some muffin goodness, take notes:

Bananabread-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mashed bananas (about 3-4 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup Truvia Nectar (or honey if you’re not trying to get the calories/sugar!)
  • 3 tablespoons egg whites (can sub for 1 large egg or flax egg if vegan)
  • 1/2 unsweetened applesauce (could use greek yogurt if not dairy free)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened nut milk of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I don’t measure this)
  • 1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour if you don’t mind gluten)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (can sub melted butter or vegan butter)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips! (I use Lily’s Dark Chocolate Chips to keep it dairy free and no sugar added!)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix bananas, Truvia Nectar, eggs, nut milk, vanilla extract, coconut oil and applesauce until smooth. This an be done in a bowl with hand mixer or in a mixer if you own one!
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Next, add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Finally fold in the chocolate chips and mix again until well combined (leave a few to sprinkle on top later!)
  6. Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake for 25 minutes until tester comes out clean.
  7. Transfer to wire rack to cool and enjoy!

Nutritional Profile:

For 1 muffin:

Calories: 129 | Fat: 3.3g | Carbs: 25.9g | Fiber: 3.7g | Sugars: 9.1g | Protein: 2.6g

Nutritional Benefits:

Did you know that bananas pack some serious health benefits? Many people shy away from them because they are high in sugar and carbs, but they are HEALTHY sugars and carbs! Check out some main reasons of why I love bananas and you should too:

  1. Bananas provide so many vitamins! 
    • Potassium – supports blood pressure, cardiovascular health, bone strength and muscle strength
    • Vitamin B6 – helps maintain a healthy nervous system, helps boost mood, and helps create important antibodies
    • Vitamin C – helps fight against chronic disease, improves iron absorption and boosts immunity
    • Magnesium – ALL THE THINGS – energy creation, nervous system support, muscle movement, protein formulation, so important for woman issues!
    • FIBER – we all know why this is important 🙂
  2. They help moderate blood sugar levels
    • Anyone else deal with dizzy spells? Yeah, bananas are your friend, girl.
  3. Bananas can help with digestive health! (Hello dear friends ilysm)
    • Bananas contain pectin (although it decrease as they ripen), which is said to help prevent colon cancer.
    • Bananas contain resistant starch, which bypasses digesting and ends in the large intestine, feeding good gut bacteria.
  4. ANTIOXIDANTS!
    • Do I really need to talk about why we need these? (Let me know if we do, I’ll do a post!)

So, bake these yummy bad boys and feel no shame while devouring them!

Comment below if you try – would love to hear your thoughts!

xx

happily haleigh

Zucchini Bread – GF & DF & major success!

With Fall approaching though, my mind is lingering on yummy breads as we start to get prepped for the season. Breads are usually laden with gluten, dairy, refined sugar, ya know, you’re typical nasties (but things that we all enjoy from time to time!).

As many of you know, I have been dealing with some pretty annoying digestive issues for a little over a year now, and they’re still (frustratingly) not super in check!

But one thing I do know is that over-indulging in gluten and dairy always sets me off (hello, inflammation!), so in my typical diet when I’m not out with friends, those aren’t a party of my routine.

With Fall approaching though, my mind is lingering on yummy breads as we start to get prepped for the season. Breads are usually laden with gluten, dairy, refined sugar, ya know, you’re typical nasties (but things that we all enjoy from time to time!).

Recently, I’ve made it a goal of mine to start cooking and baking more than I already do and experimenting in the kitchen. While I was home with my parents last week, my mom had THE LARGEST zucchini I’ve ever seen from her garden, and she said she had planned to make zucchini bread – I jumped on the bandwagon and asked if I could try my hand at my own healthier version, and so, we had a little mommy daughter bake-off.

My mom used her traditional recipe – buttermilk Bisquick, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vegetable oil, baking soda. DELICIOUS! But, there are a few things in there that would set me off!

My version? I followed some guidelines from Ambitious Kitchen, and made a few adjustments of my own. I subbed the whole wheat baking flour for gluten free, the honey for Truvia nectar and omitted the nuts.

zucchinibread-9.jpg

The verdict?

SIMPLY WONDERFUL. (If you don’t trust me, my dad, mom and friend Elizabeth can attest!)

It was flavorful, moist, didn’t taste like any “healthy” adjustments were made, and best of all, sensitivity friendly!

This is a must try, so get ready to get your bake on!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Truvia Nectar (or honey if you’re not trying to get the calories/sugar!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour if you don’t mind gluten)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled (can sub melted butter or vegan butter)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 8×4 inch loaf pan (I think glass works best!) with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Mix zucchini, Truvia Nectar, eggs, almond milk, vanilla extract until smooth. This an be done in a bowl with hand mixer or in a mixer if you own one!
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Next, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  5. Finally add in coconut oil and mix again until well combined.
  6. Pour into prepared glass loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes until tester comes out clean.
  7. Transfer to wire rack to cool and serve into 12 slices.

Nutritional Profile:

For 1 slice of 12:

Calories: 162 | Fat: 6.1g | Carbs: 23.4g | Fiber: 2.2g | Sugars: 9.2g | Protein: 3.3g

Comment below if you try – would love to hear your thoughts!

xx

happily haleigh

 

Here we go again…

I’ve done this before, but I’m restarting my blog. Actually, I’m starting fresh on a lot of things.

Hello, hello!

I’ve done this before, but I’m restarting my blog. Actually, I’m starting fresh on a lot of things.

For some of my close friends, they already know I’ve been dealing with these feelings, but I have continued to feel lost and unfocused, continued to struggle with health problems, and have just generally not felt like “Haleigh”.

You may not be able to see this from my instagram, but it’s true. I can remember days when I was full of energy, a brighter (and slightly weirder and crazier) version of myself — and I want her back. I’m sure it’s a combination of societal pressures and my imbalanced hormones, but I’m struggling to feel energized and passionate, and I know that’s just not me!

So I’m restarting this blog not to promote it, not to be a blogger, not to be anything to anyone except myself. I’m keeping this as a space where I can be happily Haleigh, talking about my health struggles, the things I love, making it look how I want, and not worrying about the feedback I either receive or do not receive on it.

While this is my space, I’m happy to share with you. I hope that if you do stick around and follow along, that something resonates with you! Always feel free to drop a hello – friends are fun 🙂

As I post more, I’ll share more in depth about the future content of this site, but I wanted to keep it short and sweet. Briefly, things I’ll be posting about:

  • Hormone imbalances and the quest to get my period back (sorry if that’s TMI but not really that sorry LOL).
  • Food intolerances – living with them and alternative recipes!
  • Fitness routines
  • Fashion/Beauty
  • Pop culture things I love
  • General commentary/venting pieces

xx

happily haleigh