It was 6am and I was sitting virtually alone in the ocean, watching pink light dance across glassy wave peaks. A set of chest high waves approached, so I turned, paddled and swept across the face of the wave like lightening on my board. Delighted, I hopped off gingerly, avoiding the coral reef below. The darkness in my life that had come with frustration and anger due to sickness had been swept away by abundant light, health and life. My greatest wish had come true, I had found a way to live again. – April 2014
The paragraph above is written about a surf trip to PR I took on Easter break, which was truly a celebration of the journey to wellness I have taken over the past 5 months. For the first time in my life, I was able to wake up at 6am and enjoy every minute of each day of vacation. I could surf for hours and only stop when fatigue built up in my shoulders, sit by the pool without passing out and enjoy dinner without wishing I could curl up and fall asleep. In fact one night I skipped dinner to surf for two hours in front of the restaurant!
This may all seem mundane, but last year my health had fallen apart so drastically that I wasn’t sure if physical activity, travelling or any form or demanding employment would be possible. The fatigue was constant, the inflammation painful and boy did I feel sorry for myself about it.
When I started Dr Fuhrman’s Eat To Live diet (modified for no grains or nightshades which can trigger reactions) my goal, other than scraping myself out of CFS hell was to get well and eventually be able to reduce my adherence to the plan to around 80%. What I find interesting is although I am now well (other than seasonal allergies which will eventually get better on ETL) I am still happy to adhere to the plan 100%. If anything I am getting stricter. Whilst 42 days of this diet (6 week plan) once sounded like a death sentence, I now realize that the hard part was living with terrible fatigue and unexplained health conditions for almost my whole life, not eating a few veggies.
Not only do I now enjoy plates of colorful veggies and fruits, but having enjoyed the health benefits of my modified intake, I am very sensitive to the fact these decrease when I veer off the plan. A candy bar here or there just makes me tired.
To stay on track in PR, I found fruit/veg stands and a box that I would fill up over and over. Someone commented that they had never seen anyone eat so many mangoes for breakfast before. The mangoes were so good I would have had them 3x a day if I didn’t need to make sure I was getting my greens. A cheap blender in the rental was perfect for a romaine/water/banana smoothie and of course I brought my own nuts. I brought KIND granola bars which are not ETL and made me feel like crap. Real fruits and nuts are way better. The local vegetable was the plantain but I realized pretty fast it had nothing going for it.
At home, I’m finally finding I can eat a little less (I literally couldn’t stop – probably due to malnutrition for all those years). Typically doing green/flax smoothie for breakfast, fruit & large salad for lunch (kale!!!! stop and shop still haven’t figured out that they are undercharging for organic – $1/bunch) and then a bean/seed heavy soup for dinner. The soups last me for days and only take minutes to prep, which is awesome as I am no cook.
The biggest shift I noticed in April was not only more energy, but I’m getting smarter. No joke! I just finished a semester at college with all A’s so far. I used to be incredibly tired every time I sat down, so would have to load up on coffee just to stay awake. Hence classes used to sound like that teacher in Peanuts… wah wah wah etc. I am mentally alert nearly all day and my memory has to be twice what it was before I started the diet. I can even remember where I put my keys!
I think the best part is that eating this way is now habit. I was recently out of town for another weekend, and it was instinct to pick up fruit and a healthy meal at Walgreens instead of pining wistfully for junk food through restaurant windows. I am officially reformed!