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Sick and Tired

May 16, 2012
By Alexandra Jamieson
|25Comments|


When I was 25 years old, I got sick. Not just a cold or flu, or even a string of colds and flu.

Here I was, in the “prime of my life,” but I felt exhausted every day, was putting on pounds like never before, had migraine headaches several times a week, feeling depressed, and couldn’t stop slurping up caffeine and grabbing chocolate throughout the day.

Getting sick was one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it was a huge wake-up call.

I can’t stand not feeling well. And to feel that bad for weeks and months was just more than I could take. I went to a doctor who asked me about my symptoms. When I explained how I was feeling, I was given two prescriptions: one pain medication for my headaches and one anti-depressant.

This is not the answer, I thought. I never filled those prescriptions.

So, What Are You Eating?

Instead, I reached out and looked for a more holistically minded doctor. I knew my mom had some food allergies, and I wanted to find out if I had any sensitivities.

Sitting on the examination table in this new doctor’s office, I was surprised to see posters with vegetables, pamphlets talking about vitamins and supplements, and a diagram of the human body with energy meridians and acupuncture points all over it.

When my doctor finally arrived and sat down across from me, one of his first questions wasn’t “Why are you here today?” or “What are your symptoms?” Instead, he asked, “What is your daily diet like?”

That one question blew the case wide open! I started to detail my diet at the time:

Breakfast: cereal with milk and coffee or a pastry with a latte on the way to work

Lunch: pizza and soda, subway sandwich and soda, or hamburger with fries and … you guessed it, soda

Snacks: salted nuts, chocolate, another latte, crackers and cheese, maybe an orange

Dinner: pasta with meat and cheese, Chinese take-out, soup and garlic bread, turkey sandwich with potato chips … you get the picture.

Nary a fresh fruit, rarely green vegetables, and often soda and caffeine throughout the day. Oh and sugar – lots of sugar.

This doctor didn’t recommend any painkillers or anti-depressants.

Instead he talked with me about how my diet was causing my discomfort, as well as my weight gain and lack of energy. He gave me a sample list of menus for the week, and suggested some books to read. He also told me that my sugar intake was feeding yeast in my body called “candida albicans”.

And he told me I should go off sugar and caffeine to help my body recover, balance and start to heal. He said, “Alex, you need a detox.”

I had about five minutes of freaking out, and then something clicked – I had been feeling so bad over the last few months, even giving up sugar wouldn’t be so bad if it helped alleviate some of the pain and suffering.

The diet he recommended was wheat-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free and excluded all animal products except a few eggs a week and some salmon.

I began to read everything I could and learned that a vegan diet, totally free of animal products, was an additional way I could improve my health.

I jumped in with both feet. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I started eating tofu for the first time, learned to enjoy stevia in my herbal tea, and only ate a small piece of chocolate a couple of times that first week. The first few days were really tough.

But, about 7-10 days later, I remember waking up and feeling – awake! It was amazing. I actually got out of bed and felt rested – and it was the best feeling ever. It was so easy to continue on this new eating plan because I felt so much better. I had energy to start going to the gym five days a week.

It was freeing and enlivening to take out the foods that were hurting my body. And I began to learn how to cook foods that would actually help me feel better and heal! Vegetables and whole grains were a revelation.

I also had the energy and clarity to look at the rest of my life and realized that my diet wasn’t the only thing that needed detoxing. I was unhappy with my career path, so I found a new job and went back to school. I wasn’t connected or passionate in my intimate relationship, so my sweet boyfriend and I went our separate ways.

Once I started pruning the dispassionate things from my life, my energy and life opened up even more, and things really took off! My new career of healthy chef and holistic health counselor was fun, soul-filling, and interesting. I started dating new people and found deeper, more intimate relationships.

Detoxing and Weeding – My Two Favorite Pastimes

Looking back, it all makes sense.

See, I grew up in my parents’ garden. We had weekly chores that included raking, stacking wood, and cutting the lawn. Weeding and pruning were my favorite chores.

I love looking at a plant and finding what doesn’t need to be there, removing injured or dying flowers, branches and leaves, and cutting away the dead wood.

Taking away the useless, even harmful parts of a bush or tree help it grow stronger, create more blooms and leaves, and result in a more vibrant plant.

That’s what detox is like for people, too.

I love looking at someone’s diet and lifestyle, getting into the details about how they feel and what foods they choose. Finding and cutting away the harmful, useless aspects of a persons diet and life empower them to grow stronger, feel energized and create a new, powerful way of being.

Getting Clear, Without Judgment

My career is filled with opportunities to help people – teaching, writing, sharing healing recipes, information and products. I get to explore new and old methods of detoxing all the time – and the results are glorious. My clients all come from different places and backgrounds, but they all have two things in common – a desire to feel healthy and a “knowing” that choosing different foods can help them feel whole.

Clearing away the “dead wood” of my diet was the first step toward growth and healing. Once the no-longer-passionate lifestyle fell away, I found that my energy and life totally opened up, and amazing things became possible.

I’ve since published three books and traveled the world premiering “Super-Size Me” with my son’s father, Morgan Spurlock. I live in New York City and have incredible friends and colleagues who continually inspire me.

While my diet and lifestyle aren’t always as “perfect” as they were in the beginning, I now recognize the signs faster that my body and energy are off balance. One chocolate dessert and one glass of wine usually make for a pretty groggy, impatient mommy in the morning.

Looking at your own diet and lifestyle, ask yourself: What is my body truly needing right now? Does this serve my life? What can I remove to help my body thrive and heal? Are there different choices I could be making that will energize me, help me succeed and live with delicious vitality?

For more information on how to optimize your life, visit deliciousvitality.com.

Photo credit: clogsilk



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25 responses to Sick and Tired
  1. It’s happened to me too! I got sick (a papilloedema at mi right eye) and doctors didn’t have any solutions. So, I red Kris’ book and I found some solutions to get well and feel better every day!

  2. I know I need to change my diet and lifestyle but something is holding me back, fear of the unknown probably. I just don’t have the energy to start something new :(

  3. Minela, you can do it. Start implementing changes slowly if you have to. As you get on the right track the energy comes. For example this week decide something like “I’m going to walk to complete at least two errands outside the home” and “I’m going to buy kale and learn at least two recipes for preparing it”
    And then just keep adding new goals each week.

    I 100% guarantee the transition is WORTH it!

  4. Mia said on May 16, 2012

    Your story stunned me. The sick part was like reading a chapter from my own story. My symptoms & diagnosis & pills prescribed all the same. The difference was that I took the pills and lived on Epilim, Amitriplene & soda for another four years until I felt sick of being a complete zombie & looked into things for myself. Coca cola damaged my health & veggies have given me back my life!!!
    Thanks for your post!! I’ll continue on my path…
    Mia

  5. I agree with this 100%; however, I’m one of those people that has completely overhauled her diet & I’m still tired & feeling unwell all the time, seeking answers. I refuse to give up though & know that the changes that I’ve already made are helping me on my ultimate path to wellness.

  6. Dawn said on May 16, 2012

    Minela,you have already started on a new path by acknowledging that you need to make changes in your diet and lifestyle.That is often the hardest part of change.Keep going – find a friend to support you and read,read,read – there is a wealth of information out there – you WILL find the energy to start something new.Take baby steps – every little positive change you make will add up to make a huge difference.

  7. Hey Minela –
    I know how you feel!
    Instead of taking on an entire lifestyle change,
    Ask yourself this:
    What’s ONE thing I can do today that I KNOW will help me
    feel better?
    Is it water instead of that extra soda?
    Is it a green smoothie tomorrow morning instead of a pastry?
    Pick 1 thing.
    Take it in.
    Then pick one more thing.
    And keep me posted. Xo, Alex

  8. Thanks Mila!
    I’m sure your journey has inspired people around YOU to heal!
    Xo, Alex

  9. I’m just putting together a documentary on my Mum, who died from Mesothelioma, you know the asbestos related cancer. She did all the right things all through her life, diet, excercise, positive mental affimations, and she still died. I probably breathed in the same amount of asbestos since we lived in the same house while renovations went on, we have the same genetic predisposition and we led the same active lives. I was constantly looking for the differences. I thought at first to blame the childhood, it was perhaps her tyranical abusive fathers upbringing, but looking deeper I discoverd it was my Mums inability to express emotion, she kept things bottled up. I always love a story of someone beating the odds and I look forward to reading more. Nothing happens to the body that doesn’t happen in the mind first.

  10. Thanks so much for sharing your story! Congrats on taking charge of your health, very inspirational! I can identify with everything you wrote, and just last week went to a more holistic doctor and had a very similar conversation. I have not had the willpower, courage, whatever you want to call it that you have had to make all the changes, so this was just what I needed to hear.

  11. I have known so many people who would prefer to keep being chronically ill rather than make a dietary change and its so hard to watch. I have a friend in my town who has suffered from allergies, Crohn’s and rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. I’ve suggested at least eliminating gluten to see what happens but she won’t. And I can only suggest so many times before I become a complete nuisance….
    I did my own allergy elimination diet a few years ago and have since added some things back in as my body has healed, eggs and caffeine (in smaller amounts than before) being what I missed most. Diet remains a challenge though, I had a wake up call this month when I realized I gained 4 lbs AFTER I began walking with my dogs 45 minutes a day. And we all know its not “muscle” as a few well meaning people have tried to tell me. I realized I have been eating too many rich foods and not enough fruits and veggies. Even vegan foods (hello coconut cream!) can wreak havoc.

  12. Lisa said on May 16, 2012

    Thank you for sharing your story! It was the inspiration I needed this morning! :)

  13. I have worked with Alex before and her insight and guidance are remarkably healing! It’s so true that we tend to overlook diet and turn a blind eye to what our body really needs. She helped me to pay attention to my body and get in tune with what it actually needed and helped me see things I didn’t realize were blocking me. It’s amazing how good eating well can feel and taste when you are in tune with your body. I also read Crazy Sexy Diet which is an awesome book! Thanks for sharing your talents ladies!

  14. It really is amazing how much we change when we put ourselves – namely our health – first. I was in a very similar position when I was 25. Hated my job, unhappy relationships, etc. When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I knew having my intestines cut out was NOT an option and I switched my lifestyle 100%. I have been symptom free for five years and have never looked back :)

    Thanks for sharing your story, it is so important for others who are in this position!

  15. WOW, what a great article. This brought tears to my eyes today as I can totally relate. I just started a dairy-free diet this week due to health issues. I have Kris’ amazing diet book but it’s been quite the challenge to force myself into getting started. I am taking baby steps however. Thanks so much for the article and for all of the inspiring comments. It feels good to connect and share.
    Namaste

  16. I’m so glad that sharing my story is inspiring –
    I’m constantly inspired by my clients, their stories
    and what they achieve. Xox, Alex

  17. Thanks for the great article! I’m just going through this now. 2 weeks ago I stopped eating dairy and gluten to see if it would help with my IBS (I’ve been a vegetarian for 20+ years). Since I started, my weight is slowly dropping, my energy is coming back, and with that, my attitude is improving. I wish I would have know this 20 years ago. My GP just wanted to give me drugs for my chronic problems. I’m proud to say I haven’t taking Advil in over 2 weeks! No migraines either!

  18. Jennifer,
    I wonder how your stress levels are – on a scale of 1-10?
    Looking back I see that my anxiety and stress at work had a huge impact on my energy, outlook and cravings.
    What do you see?
    Xo, Alex

  19. I have been doing this very same thing since February, and I have NEVER felt better!!!! Once you let go of all of the foods that serve no purpose (on a daily basis), you realize that you don’t want or NEED them! It is the most LIBERATING experience, and you feel much more in tune with your body. My over all health is FANTASTIC (as a two time breast cancer survivor- that is everything), and my skin is amazing too- a bonus!!!! JUST DO IT- It is the best thing you can do for your health and sanity! PS. I was just starting to get hot flashes when I began this, and have not had one after the first week of this lifestyle- I have NO complaints!!! Thank you for this article, I have shared it on FB, and hope it inspires others!!!!

  20. Very inspiring post, Alex! When I first saw you last year as a featured contributor on CrazySexyLIfe.com, I knew I recognized you from Super-Size Me. When I saw the film all those years ago, I remember having zero understanding or interest in veganism. To me, it was ridiculous to deprive yourself of so many foods with no proven benefits. Fast forward to my 19-20-year-old self, and I could not have been more opposite of the way I thought in my early teen years. Today, I am an alkalarian raw foodist, and professionally, I am a holistic anxiety coach/motivational speaker/self-help author for young women with anxiety. A lot has changed but changed for the better. I could not be more excited about the life I lead now, and as I think back on it, you were one of the original people that inspired my journey into veganism. Although I didn’t know it then, you among others planted the seed of a vegan/plant-based lifestyle in my head, and today, that seed has blossomed into a beautiful, thriving life.

  21. Great post, Alex! I’m a fan of Super Size me and the diet you promote. I want to see someone about possible food allergies and figure out why I have weird skin issues on my face despite a vegan, high-raw diet. A question–what sort of doctor/specialist do you recommend seeing? a “Naturopath” specfically? An allergist? How do you know if someone is reputable? What do you look for?Thanks!

  22. Hi Robyn,
    I went to an osteopath with a clearly holistic practice.
    He used kinesiology to diagnose my allergies.
    A naturopath can also help. Look up naturopath ratings and reviews
    In your area. If you don’t know anyone, ask a friendly
    Clerk at your health food store or a couple of local
    Yoga teachers for suggestions.
    Xox,
    Alex

  23. Hadley, that’s amazing!
    Thanks for the shout out, and keep us all posted on what you’re up to – sounds like your work and personal perspective are helping many others – way to go, girl!
    xo

  24. Lovely testimony to your own experiences honey! Your analogies
    Between gardening and nutritional couseling are right on!
    Now run outside with young Laken and get to work in the backyard garden!
    Xoxoxoxo mamma

  25. Sadly, I have been eating a clean, whole food based diet for the last 2 years…and am currently struggling with a low white blood cell count, adrenal fatigue/chronic fatigue syndrome (?), depression…Not sure what to do…Any suggestions?