My Health Journey: What I Struggled With, What I Learned, Where Am I Todayby Raluca Schachter on Oct 10, 2012 • 4:18 pm 4 Comments
“Why in the world can’t you eat bread now??”
“Do you really need all these supplements??”
“Are you really going to eat all that disgusting animal fat??”
“So what other health disorder have you discovered in your body now, huh??”
“Harmful electromagnetic fields? Heavy metals? Nonsense!”
“Nah, you’ll never be able to make people understand why they need to eat healthy and why they need to change!”
Believe it or not, these and many other similar questions come my way quite often, from people I meet and even from family and friends. I love my job and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m really passionate about my role as a natural health practitioner, educator and real food activist. But I learned to accept the fact that what I do and preach about doesn’t sit well with too many people these days…Well, let me share with you the reasons behind it…
What I Struggled With
My health journey started when, like many others, I was tired and frustrated of going from doctor to doctor, doing the same routine tests and still being plagued by infections, low immunity, a sluggish gallbladder and low energy. I always asked my doctors all kind of questions, was always prepared with a written list and they were really annoyed by this, while nervously watching their clock…To be honest, I never received any logical and truthful explanation or suggestion, never any mention about the food I was putting in my mouth at that time, or my lifestyle, or supplements and natural remedies instead of just more prescribed medication!
Except for once, when I was 17 and a doctor told me to finally stop taking antibiotics which I’ve been constantly popping since I was 5 until then. She told me, next time I have a sore throat (and I had the most horrible ones!), to drink a tea, take some herbs, gargle with saline solution but NO more antibiotics! It took me many years to learn that antibiotics overuse can permanently damage the intestinal flora, especially when they are taken without probiotics. Plus, they create resistant bacteria that are not killed by regular antibiotics anymore. And so this develops the perfect ground for low immunity, leaky gut syndrome, recurrent infections and chronic disease.
On top of that, I wasn’t breastfed or raised on an ideal diet, which added to my inability to thrive. My parents did the best they could at that time, considering the lack of information in a former communist country, where the limited knowledge of mainstream doctors was the golden rule for all. My parents and I consumed all home cooked meals, but this was altered by a poor quality of food during the communism time, not to mention being scarce as well. Alteration continued afterwards with the load of western junk food that invaded the market in the democratic time. I grew up in the city so the connection with the country side, the land and natural remedies were not quite there either at that time.
Coming to US I was thrilled by the variety of foods available. I started to load up on everything “new”, without knowing exactly if it was good for me or not. I tried to find the best information I could get and unfortunately I stumbled across the one that told me soy milk is ok to drink. Thanks God this moment of madness didn’t last for too long! I was still cooking at home all the meals for me and my family but didn’t have a solid knowledge of what healthy food really means. Canola or olive oil? Reduced fat milk or full fat? More veggies and fruits every day? Vaccines? Who knew? All of a sudden I arrived in the land of extremes and information overload.
My health started to deteriorate even more after I had my daughter, and I was underweight. I was overly stressed and my old problems like candida overgrowth and hormonal imbalances kept bothering me to the point of complete despair! The common colds I had seemed to stay with me forever. I also discovered that I had a “nice” load of heavy metals , which I was carrying with me since the Chernobyl nuclear fallout and transmitted to my daughter as well. For the non-believers, I can assure you that reliable hair tests we’ve done showed this dangerous pattern of storing heavy metals to be present in both my body and my daughter’s. It’s not only the nuclear fallouts that are responsible for this, but also food, air and water contamination that are very prevalent these days.
What I Learned
Fortunately my nutritional studies and especially the whole Metabolic Typing protocol for health saved me for good and enabled me to also help everybody I loved improve their health. I transformed this into a career and today my health journey is far from over. For example, I’ve just discovered I am highly reactive to dairy and pork, among other foods. Wow, the very foods my metabolism actually needs to stay healthy, but which became now an issue due to my past health history.
And I LOVE dairy and bacon! When I found out I was reactive to these very foods I… laughed out loud! At the irony and the lesson that Nature and our own body are tirelessly giving us. One of my favorite yoga teachers, when referring to a difficult to do yoga pose, says:
Keep smiling, even if it’s an outrageous smile, it makes a big difference! Smile and be grateful because you CAN take the challenge!
So, it is ok, because I CAN take the challenge and because I KNOW. I know now how to deal with avoiding certain foods from my diet for a while and then reintroduce them slowly, I know how to look for alternatives and what my body really needs. I don’t cry and panic when I find out I need to CHANGE, again! Change is awesome. It’s empowering. It offers you the opportunity to become a better, healthier person and leads you to new discoveries. The world changes continuously, every single minute around us. Why would we be stuck in one single moment? Impossible. Most important, I kept telling myself over the years that becoming healthy (when you didn’t have the privilege to enjoy it from the beginning) is a PROCESS. It’s not a race, it’s journey full of discoveries. We should all enjoy every step of it.
On a side note, I’m not going to lie and say this “embracing change” approach is all so easy all the time! For example, I had cravings for dairy that lasted about 4 days, until I got my body adjusted to additional intakes of nutrients and foods to make up for the “loss”. I was more hungry, irritable and got to the point where all I could think about was dairy, and how wonderful it is. (I still believe it’s wonderful, in its raw, grass fed, pure form, but I’m not wasting my nights thinking about it anymore!) I also know that several foods including dairy, to certain extent, contain opiates which are found to be the addictive and so generating withdrawal symptoms once you stop eating them. No wonder I was “missing” it so badly! That doesn’t mean dairy or other food is “bad” (unless we talk about processed food which is all bad). Foods are not good for you if they don’t fit with your unique metabolism and your specific health conditions. “One man’s meat is another one’s poison.” (Lucretius)
People perceive and define HEALTH very differently. And this will determine how much work somebody is willing to do in order to achieve it. My Metabolic Typing teacher and mentor, William Wolcott, an extraordinary person and practitioner, defines health like this:
As far as my personal definition, health is a dynamic state of energy, exuberance and well-being that surpasses a mere lack of symptoms. It is a state of homeostasis, biochemical balance, and optimal metabolic efficiency where no stressors remain of a chronic nature, where compensation and adaptation always culminate in resolution. When lab tests levels show no imbalances and inefficiencies and when all diseases and symptoms have resolved and when a person announces that s/he feels healthy, that’s pretty close to ideal health.
Wow! That IS health, people! The fact that very few of us these days ever experience it, doesn’t make it unreal. This was the norm hundreds of years ago, but today aging equals sickness. Worse than that, even unborn babies are already toxic due to the bad genetic material that’ s being passed down to them. And by that I mean toxicity that comes from processed food, pollution and a stressful lifestyle.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT “ME”
An important aspect is the fact that the process of healing also involves your loved ones. I am strongly motivated by the fact that I don’t want to be a sick person in my “golden age”, so that my kid has to take care of me, instead of living her own life. I believe it’s everybody’s responsibility to take care of their own health not only for themselves, but also for the well being of those around them. Nobody wants to be a “burden” for family, friends or society after all, right?
Where Am I Today
I feel confident because...I finally KNOW. I’m not afraid of my symptoms and discoveries anymore, since I know how to interpret them and how to address them. Everything has a reason now and a solution. Compared to how I used to feel a few years ago, it’s been an AMAZING improvement and I know it can only go up from here. Many of the symptoms I used to have I almost forgot about, I can keep others under control and I have now the desired weight.
So, next time we feel like criticizing somebody for not doing enough for their health or for doing too much, remember that everybody sees this concept very differently and acts accordingly.
For some people food sensitivities might mean nothing to worry about. Antibiotics might be ok for many others. Heavy metals, gut healing, Metabolic Typing diet? What are all these?? These and much more are my daily areas to further research, address and consult on. Because I learned that each and every piece of the health puzzle is important and there really are no shortcuts to optimal healing. That’s been my experience.
Photo credit: layoutsparks.com