First of all a big hello to everyone who reads this :) Welcome and thanks for stopping by!
I’m Leanne, a 23 year old woman with a rocky road behind me who’s extremely interested in nutrition, exercise (mostly as in dancing) and health.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been struggling with my health. First as a child dealing with severe asthma, pseudocroup and allergies to a great deal of foods and all animals. I didn’t know any better so I never thought of my “not-so-very-good-health” as being troublesome.
That is… until recently, because I now once and for all want to feel good (happy & healthy) and make the most of my life!
After graduating from high school I got accepted at a professional dance college to become a dancer + dance teacher. The pressure was on, and being 16 years old I felt it! Before starting my first year we all got a medical examination, and the doctor made a mistake (yes truly) by telling me to loose some lbs. My weight was fine! Being 5 ft 8 (or 5 ft 9…not sure) weighing around 129 lbs.. mostly muscle from all the dancing day in and day out. Nonetheless the man told me I had 33.3% body fat (which later turned out to be false, it was a mistake made by his calculator). Being the perfectionist I was, I started to eat less. I already was on a strict anti-allergenic diet to begin with, so taking away a few extra food items of the menu wasn’t a big deal to me (even though I adored food and eating it ;-)
Still, I managed to loose 7 lbs the first three months and got to about 122 lbs (= my perfect weight! Which unfortunately, I haven’t seen the scale reach that number since) .. anyway..
You all can probably guess what’s coming next: I developed an eating disorder and – fast forward – by the end of the year had to be hospitalized weighing a meager 90 lbs. I had to quite on my dream of becoming a dancer and stayed in the hospital for 10 months. Being at home for maybe a few weeks total in between. I was tube fed for 4 months straight because of my quickly dropping weight. My potassium levels dropped, pancreas stopped working, showed signs of liver failure, and got frequent heart-palpitations (just to name SOME of the trouble I got myself into – btw I never once threw up or took laxatives, so don’t think you can’t get dangerously low potassium levels without laxatives or puking!)
The tube feeding didn’t seem to have an affect on my weight, first because I tried to get rid of the food nonetheless, later because my liver and pancreas failed even more at doing their job (and who can blame those poor organs of mine!) … so my body wasn’t absorbing ANY nutrients whatsoever! So, here I was, finally scared to death by the knowledge I was dying.. and there wasn’t anything I could do anymore!
At that time (oh btw I weighed in at 77 lbs) my mum and dad got me enrolled in a distance bachelors study program for hotel-management. That new found goal, together with supplements my mum sneaked in to give me every day (multivitamin, probiotics, co-Q10, fish-oil and Valerian-root to calm my nerves) my body started reabsorbing some nutrients and I slowly started to gain back some weight! The medical food good do it’s job again – feed me – and I started my healing process.
So, fast forward…
As soon as I could leave the hospital I got back home to relearn how to eat, live and be happy. It was a rocky road to take and it took it’s toll on our family relationship. My parents were at the end of their tether (and frankly so was I!)
My parents got a (friendly) divorce in 2008, but got back together after having spent just a few months apart :-) I got to live in my mums new apartment (lucky me!) and we all seemed to be in a better state of mind.
In the meantime my weight gaining process stagnated a few times due to some GI trouble I couldn’t seem to solve. I saw plenty doctors who didn’t know what to do and just told me to deal with it (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, eczema, cramps, gas, burping, acid re-flux.. the whole lot!) I kinda knew “regular” doctors wouldn’t be able to help me, I’d seen it before with my mum who struggled through severe Candida issues without anyone acknowledging this to be a real health problem being at the root of her physical misery. So I got to see a orthomolecular doctor. He told me to take pancreatic enzymes along with some other supplements to raise some vitamin levels that were basically non-existent in my body anymore (like vitamin D and E).
Since this is my story in a nutshell I’m not getting into all my complications now… so, fast forward:
I healed from my main discomforts and headed to Wichita, KS (encouraged by my mum who’s lived in the USA before) for my internship! Finally, on my own, getting away from it all! AWESOME! I’ve learned so much in the states! I left a piece of me in the USA, so I’m sure one day I’ll be back!
But after getting back home (Holland) I got straight into a family crises: my dad got sick both mentally and physically. I had know idea how bad he was doing, but my mum was with him 24/7 (I was mostly studying in her apartment and having fun in the meantime).. 5 weeks after my arrival he died of suicide. My mums life and mine just stopped. It was just too surreal! We had never thought this was going to happen, ever! I’m not going into detail on this subject now, but I’ll cover suicide (my personal story and view on the subject) in a blog-post some other day!
My dad’s sudden death through me back into a web of physical trouble along with mental exhaustion, stress, and grieve. Eventually life got the best of me and I broke down – huge burn out + post traumatic stress syndrome – overworked etc… I couldn’t even lift my arm without shaking from exhaustion, or make a phone call without crying. My body shot down…again… My pancreas stopped working and liver values rose to unhealthy levels. I felt horrible! I (again) got diagnosed with multiple GI ailments. Among which what they thought to be Crones disease, acute pancreatitis, pancreatic insufficiency (which I got during my anorexia as well), and of course all my allergens got worse. My weight dropped to a dangerously low number (AGAIN…) without me wanting this! It just happened because my body couldn’t absorb the nutrients it needed (even though I still took my pancreatic enzymes).
It became a huge struggle to me, because who’s going to believe an ex-anorex who’s dad just killed himself that she IS eating and WANTS to stop loosing weight but just doesn’t seem to do so?!?! … well, apparently no one!
I got so depressed I had know clue about what to do, so in all desperation I decided to just eat whatever I wanted, including allergens, making me sick as sh*t = not good = only making matters worse! But what was I to do?! I couldn’t even think straight from all the physical pain and mental exhaustion. So finally I got in touch with an other doctor who happened to be a psychiatrist as well. I could talk to him about my feelings and he was the first to totally understand my physical ailments as well – and not telling me I was lying and was just being anorexic again!
Just before having to be hospitalized, he and I started an intensive “rebuilding-of-the-gut” program to get my GI track working again. If that would do it’s job, I’d feel 100 x better was his opinion (and me + my mum couldn’t agree more.. we just didn’t know how to do so, apart from taking probiotics and getting my diet back in check..which indeed is a good start).
During 2010 & 2011 I struggled physically through multiple GI ailments, my allergies, a (Candida) yeast infection, and so forth.
It’s the beginning of 2012 now, and I can finally say I’m starting to feel way better (both physically and mentally).
During these past years I got more and more into the reaction of our body and mind to food. Nutrition – movement – stress-management and health became my point of interested. I wanted to make this a bigger part of my life and got a degree as a nutritionist 2 months ago, a year after graduating for my bachelors in hotel-management.
I’m now very passionate to educate and help others who struggle with their health – both physically and mentally. People who feel like their not being heard, or don’t seem to get rid of GI pains and overall feel miserable. Or people battling an eating disorder trying to get better but don’t know how to.
Being in a state of developing multiple colon / GI diseases just recently — I’ve proven to myself nearly all is reversible with a healthy lifestyle! I’m not a doctor (yet ;-)… I’m passionate to get more education in the future) but as a nutritionist and a field expert I can maybe be of use to some :-)
After my “failed” dance career I never stopped loving dance / movement /exercise! I just had it put on hold for a few years because of my physique and mental state of mind. Which is a shame, because our mind and body heals itself through movement!
I’ve re-started teaching bellydance classes and workshops, as well as give basic fitness advice as I did Ace my propaedeutics ;-)
I got my own diet in check, started eating mindfully, gained weight + health back, set out a workout schedule for myself and got moving! And I would love to share all my ups and downs with you! What worked so far, what didn’t work… recipes – exercise programs – helpful links to books and websites — all that Jazz!
I haven’t reached my ultimate goals yet (weight + state of health), so there’s much more to explore and I’d love to share my journey!
As for now..
To everyone who read through my entire story, I applaud you ;-) Sorry for taking so much of your time, but I couldn’t seem to get this written down with less words than I’ve used! If you’ve got any question or request on a subject to cover, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment!
~Eat & get moving!~
Much love from Leanne :-)