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This is my first post in 1.5 years … and it’ll be my last.

I’ve been through a lot of changes since you last heard from me. The last thing you knew was that I was scheduled to have surgery to remove a mass from my nasal area in January of 2013. That’s why I never came back, and that’s also why I’m moving on to bigger and better things!

I don’t know how many fans I still have left out there after all of this time, but if you’re still here I feel like I owe you an explanation about why I’ve quit writing this blog.

My crazy story actually all started when I was a kid, I guess, but I’ll keep that part short. I came down with a terrible case of mononucleosis in the 2nd grade, which led to jaundice. I could’ve died, so my mom says. After that illness, I got sick a lot. That led to being given too many antibiotics throughout my childhood – I now realize that’s one of the things that kept me sick. I developed signs of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome soon after that, and I didn’t eat a proper diet for someone who had destroyed their immune system with the overuse of antibiotics.

My poor, unhealthy body eventually led me to develop IBS-D, Endometriosis, and Fibromyalgia later in life. Basically, I’ve been sick as long as I can remember – but things started to get worse as I reached my mid-twenties when all the small signs and symptoms finally began to develop into incurable chronic illnesses.

I had these illnesses when I began Simply Fresh Cooking, but I was actually feeling better in the first few months of starting up the blog. The reason is several months earlier, I had a couple of necessary surgeries that helped me to feel better for a short time. One surgery was to remove Endometriosis through laparoscopic surgery and the other was to correct a severely deviated septum. I also had started eating a healthier diet in early 2011 because I was fed up with how sick I had become.

I really thought I was “good to go” at this point. Changing my diet and having surgeries to fix my health issues should’ve been all I needed to recover from my life-long misery. Unfortunately, I was wrong in my thinking and had no idea I wasn’t doing anything right.

I was really loving this blog when I started. I enjoyed the small successes I’d achieved in my first 3 months, like getting over 4,000 pageviews in one day and getting hired by Food.com to do freelance writing and photography – a real paid gig!

But as you know, those good feelings changed and I quickly got sicker and sicker the more that weird mass grew. I planned to have the surgery… less than a year after I started the blog. I wanted to remove the mass and come back healthy so I could get back to work on creating awesome recipes and growing my readership.

Well, the mass came out fine and wasn’t cancerous, but the drugs they gave me after the surgery were what almost caused my demise. I was given very strong antibiotics and a very short run of steroids (Medrol Dose Pack) because I had experienced more pain than was normal, post-surgery.

Long story short, these drugs almost completely destroyed my already fragile immune system and caused a major overgrowth of Candida aka bad bacteria in the gut. I also found out that I had something called Leaky Gut that was making me nutrient deficient. Shortly after the course of treatments I became unable to walk very well, I gained 30 pounds, lost about 40-50% of my hair, I had tons of skin issues and developed Cushing Syndrome with a buffalo hump (see below) and Osteopenia. I was very ill and had a lot more crazy symptoms that I won’t get into now, but I spent the better part of 2013 basically bedridden.

Obviously, blogging was the last thing on my mind.

What was on my mind, though, was figuring out how to get well and continue being alive! I had done loads of research and was ready to actually begin treating myself with food and supplements a few months after I took those drugs.

My Naturopathic doctor, who I only saw twice, informed me that the last person she treated that was as sick as I took 3 years to fully recover. So, I knew I was in this for the long haul. I knew I had to change my mind about a lot of my old habits and learn to adapt to my new life to get myself well. I also knew that I had to start focusing on my life as a whole – not just diet. I came to see that being truly healthy was about more than just food, and I finally came to understand the “mind/body/spirit” connection that you always see people talking about on the internet. I realized that what I thought even affected how I felt!

I started my life rehab with an extended green juice fast. Next, I began my Candida diet that would replenish the good bacteria in my gut. I went chemical-free and “green”, I switched to filtered tap water and changed everything about my life in those first few months. I felt a little better, rather quickly, too.

I was extremely dedicated to my new diet (and still am), and I was actually accomplishing everything I set my mind to. I fully accepted the new changes that would keep me alive and get me back to being the healthy person I was always meant to be.

Going all organic proved to be extremely beneficial, and I stopped eating gluten/wheat, dairy, sugar, fruit, vinegar (except apple cider vinegar), moldy nuts (like peanuts, cashews, and pistachios), all processed foods, and probably more that I’m forgetting. Later on, I found that I even needed to remove all grains from my diet so that my bowel movements could become solid again after 8 years. So, I happily removed grains, too!

Exercise came next. Keep in mind, I couldn’t really walk on my feet too well, but I could stand long enough to get on my ski machine. So, I did that for 1 minute every single day no matter how bad I felt – and I felt bad every day, so this was a “no excuses” exercise plan for sure!

I “upped” my time by 1 minute each week. I did that for 42 days straight with no days off. Kept up that strict pace for many months, trying to rebuild my energy. Once I got up to 20 minutes a day, I started allowing myself some days off here and there. It was like moving at a snail’s pace at first, but before I knew it, 6 months passed and I was walking around pretty well and had a lot more energy than my body desperately needed.

As you can see, I’ve been through a lot in the last 1.5 years. I’ve changed so much and I’ve really outgrown everything I envisioned for Simply Fresh Cooking. That’s why I started Love Yourself Green.

I choose not to eat most of the food on this blog anymore, and to be honest, I was only kidding myself that I was healthy while I was writing this blog. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I still ate things that were keeping me sick! Things like gluten/wheat, processed foods, and dairy products. Yeah, I developed a dairy allergy while I was writing this blog, thanks to the Leaky Gut that I didn’t know I had! Heck, I even ate fast food more often than I’d like to admit – especially towards the end. So, in a weird way, I associate this blog with the old “sick me”, and it’s just time to let all of it go and move on.

apktwits.com will be so much more than anything I could’ve ever imagined for Simply Fresh Cooking. Not just grain, gluten, and dairy-free recipes, but articles focused on helping chronically ill people feel better. Also hope to inspire others with my story and encourage and motivate them to take back control of their lives as I did! I believe that the best way to inspire change in others is to share what you’ve been through yourself – and that’s what I intend to do!

I never used to share a lot about myself on this blog, though – it was mostly just nonsensical rambling – but on my new blog, things will be drastically different. I’m going to be 100% transparent (okay, maybe 97.5%) and share everything about my old (and new) life.

What’s happening now?

At this very moment, I’m prescription-free for the first time in years! I have a good handle on my chronic illnesses and live a (mostly) pain-free life. I’m healthier than I ever remember being and I’m so much more energetic than I ever thought possible for a chronically ill person. Most of all, though, I’ve found true happiness and gratefulness in my heart. The latter was something I didn’t even know I was missing until I thought I’d lose everything. 😉

From here, I’m going to keep up the fight and keep working on getting myself as healthy as I possibly can, and I’ll continue to do this for the rest of my life. My health will always be my #1 priority from now on. So many problems came to me in my life because my health wasn’t my priority before. Coming in at a close #2 – priority-wise – is/will be helping people just like me!

Actually, before I could even walk like a normal person again, I started helping people… lots of people! That’s how I’ve come to be so passionate about being of service to others in the last year. There’s a tremendous need for more help in our country. People are lost, just like I was.

Some news — I haven’t told anyone “publicly” until now, but we’re starting a food product company! Things are going really well so far and I can’t wait until we can launch our first product!

Life is really good, and I’ve learned to take it one day at a time. No more stressing, just taking it all as it comes.

Now… are you wondering about Bill (the hubs)? He’ll still be around in various ways. He’ll do cooking demos and public appearances with me, but as far as blog posts, he’s opting out of regularly posting recipes the next time around. But, he’ll be taking over the new “Behind the Scenes” series on LYG and sharing how we earn money (and how much!). I’m not sure what his series will be called yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

Isn’t he press? I need to give him serious props for taking such good care of me since all of this craziness started. My health declined right after we met, but he’s hung in there with me. whole. time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to repay him one day!

You probably want to hear about the weight loss now, right? Honestly, I thought at one point that losing weight was the most important thing. But I’ve found out that being healthy is the most important thing (in the world) to me. Next on the most important list is being happy. I figured out that I wasn’t ever going to be truly happy as long as I was treating my body like crap, but happiness naturally comes when you make the right choices for yourself every day! Finding love for yourself is a bonus to getting healthy, for sure. That being said, weight loss is definitely somewhere on my list of priorities… I’m not going to lie! I started at 197 at my heaviest – due to the steroid weight – and I ended up at 130! That’s 67 pounds lost, and I’m down to a size 6. Not too bad!

I’ve left a lot of things out of this story, but if you follow me on my new blog. You’ll eventually learn everything there is to know. The major point I’d like to leave here with is that YES. I’ve certainly been through hell – but if I wouldn’t have gone through the worst time in my life. I wouldn’t be going through what’s now the. best. time in my life! It was allllllllllllll worth it in the end!

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