My digestive issues stemmed from a number of factors in my life. I had a poor diet for many many years, was always highly stressed, constantly took Advil, and took a number of rounds of antibiotics for various health issues... it's no wonder I ended up with a boatload of gut issues!
What started as a bout of indigestion and acid reflux soon turned into horrible, painful bloating, constipation, inflammation, fatigue, and anxiety. Eventually, things got so bad I couldn't eat or even drink water without pain. I developed a fear of food, avoided social events, was depressed, and couldn't think about anything other than my stomach on a daily basis.
At one point, I became hopeless. I was tired of running to different doctors only for them to brush off my symptoms and prescribe a generic prescription medication which at first provided temporary relief, and then eventually didn't work at all. I knew that this wasn't the answer. When I was at my lowest point and felt like I'd have to live this way forever, I still knew that there had to be another way. A way to address the problem fully and truly, instead of just covering up the symptoms which is all these doctors wanted to do.
So I took my health into my own hands and began to do the research myself. I discovered the world of natural, holistic health and soon realized this was the answer I'd been looking for all along. Holistic medicine focuses on addressing the underlying issue of symptoms so you can truly heal, and that's what I wanted! I started cleaning up my diet, working on improving my lifestyle, and implementing natural supplements to promote healing. Eventually, by luck, I was referred to a Functional Medicine Doctor who really set me on my journey to holistic healing. While she helped me get started, it still wasn't a fix all. Along my journey, I became frustrated. I was doing all the right things, so why wasn't I getting better?
Looking back now years later, I can truly say that I was getting better, but when your struggling and not feeling well, it can feel like nothing is getting better! That's why I wanted to share the 5 things I wish I knew when I started my gut healing journey in hopes that it will help you if you're on your on journey to healing. I truly wish I knew these things because it would have helped me get through the journey much easier and gentler, and who knows... it probably would have helped me heal faster (because mindset is everything!). So let's get into it!
HEALING TAKES TIME. Your health issues didn't develop overnight and so they aren't going to get better overnight either. I wish I knew this because as I said, it was discouraging constantly thinking "I should be better by now." Unfortunately, just like most things, there is no way to know exactly how long it can take for you to get better. It all varies based on how long you've been experiencing the issues, your health history, diet, lifestyle, how quickly you're willing to make changes at one time, how ready your body is to make those changes, and so much more! Each person is different, so just because Suzy Q healed her gut in 3 months doesn't mean you will too. Suzy Q's circumstances were different from yours and so the healing time will be different as well. That's why we can't compare to other people's journeys. You might notice or feel small changes within your body as you work towards the long-term goal, but if your issues are super chronic, it can be hard to notice or feel any change (which is what happened to me). Every small change helps you get one step closer to the larger change, so don't negate that!
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE. As humans, our brains tend to automatically focus on the negative. Especially when you're not feeling good, it can be that much easier to focus on what's not going right rather than what is. Your mindset is so important when it comes to healing (possibly one of the most important things!), and when you're constantly focusing on the negative, it can actually deter you from healing. This is because what we think, we manifest. If you're always telling yourself "I'm never going to get better", then it's likely you are not going to get better! But if you change that and start focusing on feeling better and the small progress you might be experiencing, that can put you in the right direction. We have to put out the energy into the universe that we want to get back. By focusing on the positive, we do just that. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, which is why it's important to enjoy the journey and remember that any obstacles or setbacks only help you grow and make you stronger.
SMALL CHANGES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE. It can feel overwhelming when there's so much information out there about what you "should do" that you might not know where to start. You might feel like you need to make tons of changes all at once, but that's not always the best route! Making small changes that you actually CAN do can get you much further than if you were to try to make larger changes that you actually can't stick to. Slow and steady wins the race, and so focusing on the smaller, consistent changes you're able to commit to will help you get where you want to be in the long run. As you progress and get comfortable with the initial changes, introduce more changes. It definitely makes it less overwhelming of a process when you make consistent small changes. Go at your own pace and do what you can, always remembering to be gentle with yourself!
CONSISTENCY IS KEY. Stick with one regimen and give it time even if you don't see results right away. If you're constantly changing up the things you're doing, for example, using a supplement for a few days, not seeing any benefit, then tossing it, it's going to take longer to heal. Going back to the first point, healing and change takes time, so you have to give things time to work. Also, being consistent with whatever regimen or changes you make is crucial too. If you forget to take your supplements 4 out of 7 days a week, chances are, it probably isn't going to help you as much as it could if you were consistent with 7 out of 7 days a week. Of course, as your adapting to the new changes you make, it can be challenging at first, but overtime the more consistent you can be, the better! Just like with anything, learning a new skill requires consistency to reap the rewards. Think of changing your diet and lifestyle like learning a new skill. Practice makes perfect!
GET SUPPORT/ASK FOR HELP. Healing the body can be challenging, especially when you're doing it on your own and when it's your own body! Sometimes getting an outside perspective, help, guidance from another person can be very helpful, especially when you need help with the consistency and accountability piece. While it's absolutely great to do your own research (and I'd highly recommend it!), it can be challenging because there's so much information out there. Most of the information out there tends to be very general, but we're all different bio-individually, so knowing what's right specifically for you based on general information can be confusing. As I mentioned, I worked with a Functional Medicine Doctor to start, but for me, it wasn't enough as I didn't want to rely on anyone else when it came to my health. I wanted to truly empower myself which is why I went on to study it myself. However, I still needed support because no one knows everything, and as I said, healing your own body can be one of the most difficult things! Acupuncture is something that really helped me. I found an acupuncturist near me who also practices Chinese herbal medicine which was extremely beneficial for me and my health issues. I did other things in addition to this throughout different points in my journey such as, working with an energy healer, masseuse, and mental health therapist. I found support in the areas I felt I needed help the most where I wasn't able to fully support myself. These all supplemented the things I was already doing on my own to really support my healing. It's all about finding what works best for you! Search around you, do the research, and don't be afraid to invest in help. Your health is an investment, not an expense, so if something can help you... do it (within your means of course)! Most often when it comes to asking for help, you'll only wish you had done it sooner!
I hope if anything you are able to take something helpful away from these tips if you're on your own health journey. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! I'd love to see how I can help.
Jenn Horowitz, FNTP, CPT, CES is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified Personal Trainer, and Corrective Exercise Specialist who works to address the root cause of illness. Jenn is the founder of JTH Wellness, a holistic nutrition and wellness practice, specializing in helping people with stomach issues, disordered eating, and weight management problems, take back control of their health through 1:1 nutrition and lifestyle counseling. Jenn works to teach others how to live a balanced lifestyle that allows them to achieve their goals while enjoying life. Learn more about Jenn’s nutrition counseling services and schedule a free 15-minute discovery session by visiting her website, http://www.JTHwellness.com.