So I just wanted to share the history of some of the things that my body has been dealing with.
Ever since I was 11 years old I have been larger than other girls my age. I started to develop as a woman starting at age 9 (i.e. I was an A cup at 9, B cup at 10, C cup at 11, D cup at 12, DD cup at 13, and I don’t know where it went from there but at age 19, I was all the way up to an E cup and now I am an F cup) thus having a growth spurt before junior high and ended at my final height of 5’7″ by the end of 7th grade. I weighed in at 120 pounds in 6th grade (age 11) and by the time I was a freshman I was 212. I fluctuated between 170 and 210 (mostly in the higher ends) all throughout high school and got married at 175.
**(side note: when I was 14 I got my food allergies tested and I found I was intolerant to wheat, yeast, milk, pork, hops, barley, strawberries, mangoes, pineapple, cocoa, eggplant, grapefruit, gluten, sulphates, sulphites, asparagus, mustard seed, and I believe one more vegetable but I can’t remember-probably tomato or something common and then actually allergic to soy)
Throughout my junior high, high school, and college years I participated in the following diets:
-Nutrisystem (a few times)
-South Beach Diet
-Atkins Diet (unofficially)
-Medifast/Take Shape for Life
-HCG (multiple times)
-Taking Venom (another thermogenic pill)
-Body for Life
-No carb low fat
-The master cleanse (multiple times)
-The Hollywood juice cleanse
-Water fasting (just 3 days long a couple times)
Etc. Etc. Etc.
Basically every fad out there I had done. And then yo-yo’d right back up to eating crappy. So as you can imagine my metabolism was shot, I had developed all kinds of hormonal and gland problems (which were essentially just hanging by a thread), and I was one diet from crashing down to the lowest of lows.
In January of 2012, I started doing Medifast (again) to lose some weight for my wedding and had to stop after three weeks because, as expected (since every food item’s first ingredient is SOY which is silly that I even though it would help), I bloated up, was PMS-y (i.e. cranky, irritable, emotional, had headaches and breast pain, etc.), had an enormous breakout of acne (um hello I am NOT going to have a pizza face on my wedding day!) and I just wasn’t losing ANYTHING. So that was out the window. About 2 weeks after I stopped my face cleared and I was fully off of the soy. Woohoo! So that was it for me on soy. I fully knew it needed to be avoided as much as possible and Medifast just was out of the question forever.
Shortly after the wedding (where I weighed in at 175 like I said before), I got myself up to 195 and I had been reading up about water fasting and juicing. Now, I STILL believe fasting is wonderful and juicing as well, BUT not if you haven’t gone and done extensive testing first. Get some blood work to check all of your vitals and hormone levels and everything imaginable. Go see a Naturopath. GO see a regular MD. Go see an herbalist. If you have hormonal issues you should WAIT, which of course I didn’t do any of and went on my merry way.
Fasting is something that you need to EASE in and out of. By maybe starting to eat only plant based (no dairy, meat, soy, grains, animal byproducts, etc.) cooked and raw for 1-2 weeks. Then doing only raw fruits and veggies for 1-2 weeks, then juicing for 1-3 weeks (depending on how healthy you are) and THEN and only then starting to do a water fast. And when you are easing out of it start by drinking mainly veggie juices with a tiny bit of fruit for 2 weeks. Then add in fruit juices for 2 weeks (and by juice/juices I mean fresh squeezed by YOU). Then add in cooked soups with no actual solids for 1 week. Then add in raw fruits and veggies. And so on. When fasting your body goes into starvation mode so if it is introduced to food too quickly it will hang on to EVERY SINGLE THING you eat because it doesn’t know if the next day it will starve again. It should take you a minimum of 2-3 months to get back on a normal diet.
I, of course, did NOT do that and just jumped right in. AND then jumped right out. Well I juiced for 5 days then had salads and stuff but I was very haphazard and not careful.
I fasted, drinking only water and the occasional stevia soda (OK I had crystal light in the beginning too which is also SO BAD! But I stopped after about a week), for 21 days and it seemed like 3 months. You really discover how much time you spend eating and the days seem to drag on.
ANOTHER thing about fasting is you need to be completely relaxed. That means taking the entire time off of work, sleeping A LOT, NO exercise whatsoever, taking lots of detox baths, doing things like reading to ease your mind, and its the best idea to be completely secluded in a hotel or somewhere that you will not be tempted or caused to have any stress.
I bet you can guess now that I didn’t do that either. I mean, OK, I wasn’t working full time or anything and I didn’t exercise, but I was constantly stressed about something and I definitely didn’t take enough baths, and I was NOT secluded and alone (the first yer of marriage is the hardest you know).
So now a couple months after my fast I am back up to 190 ish and my hair starts falling out. And I mean FALLING OUT. I would just barely touch my hair and a chunk would fall. I couldn’t take a shower without my hair becoming greasy the instant I stepped out. The ends were dry and brittle. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, it was never enough. I was depressed, emotional, incredibly overwhelmed. My nails didn’t grow at all and what I had left of them weer thin and cracking. I was in a constant state of a numbing sort of pain like there was a dark cloud constantly surrounding my and holding so tight so I could not escape.
I couldn’t keep going on like this.
I called my aunt who had recently gone through thyroid surgery because of hypothyroidism and when I spoke to her about her symptoms, everything she said was exactly what I was experiencing! I knew I had to go and get some blood work done and then go see the an herbalist, as I knew that the one in particular I was thinking of had already proven (by literally saving my uncle’s life) that she could help me.
I chopped my hair off. Everyday is was extremely disheartening to run my hands through my nasty, dull, greasy, frayed, damaged, and once very thick and beautiful hair and see chunks in my hands. I figured, just like a cancer patient when going through chemo, that either going for a super short or a pixie cut would ease the emotional pain of seeing my hair fall out. I went with super short and let me tell you, it is so very much easier to see short hairs fall out than long or medium length ones.
I got my blood work done. I had low iron levels (hello anemia), my thyroid levels were “normal” (the normal thyroid function range is a pretty large range–between .4 and 4.0–and I believe I was at .41 or .42. Don’t quote me as I will read my sheet again and get exact numbers soon. But something really ridiculously close to the low end of the range), and I had a low amount of calcium and calcium production.
I went to the herbalist and, this is where I got my real diagnosis. The main glands in your body (for hormones that is) are your pituitary, pineal, parathyroid, thyroid, adrenal glands and your kidneys.
Here are my results (and where is gets scientific, although I have simplified it for you).
My pituitary gland function = 0
The small gland in the brain connected to the hypothalamus that secretes 10 hormones that create homeostasis in the body :
- Human Growth Hormone-(anabolic or building up)-increases calcium retention and re-mineralization of bone, increases muscle mass, increases protein synthesis, increases growth and development of all internal organs (heart, lungs, brain, etc.), stimulates the immune system, reduces liver uptake of glucose, promotes good pancreas function, cell growth and development, and more)
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH or thyrotropin)-which produces thyroxine or T4 which converts into triiodothyronine or T3 which then stimulates the metabolism, regulates the growth and rate of function of almost every tissue in the body. It controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body is to other hormones.
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH or corticotropin)-primary functions are increased production and release of corticosteroids. Most often it is produced in response to biological stress. It also helps with decoding mitochondrial genes and increases bio-availability of cholesterol in the adrenal cortex cells.
- Beta-Endorphin-Slows the growth of cancer cells, promotes the feeling of well being, increases relaxation, numbs or dulls pain (it is the reason why, after a small physical accident, we start to feel better even if the symptoms are still present). It has approximately 80 times more pain killing potency than morphine.
- Prolactin-Improtant regulator of the immune system, regulates blood clotting, regulates water and salt balance, stimulates the mammary glands to produce milk during and post pregnancy, provides body with sexual gratification (it counteracts dopamine which is responsible for the arousal part), helps the central nervous system, and helps fetuses lung and immune system development during pregnancy. Can over produce estrogen and progesterone and limit libido/sex drive.
- Luteinizing hormone (LH or lutrophin)-Responsible for reproduction and works hand in hand with Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- In Men- responsible for the production of Testosterone and promotes sperm production. If LH is low then the sperm count is low.
- In Women-supports the cells in the ovaries produce estroidal (a sex hormone that acts a growth hormone for the reproductive organs). When, at the time of per-menstruation and estrogen levels rise, LH receptors help mature the follicle and when the follicle is fully matured, LH is released (and these high levels or spike only lasts for 24-48 hours i.e. your fertility window) which triggers the release of the egg and triggers the production of progesterone in case pregnancy happens. It is very similar to HCG (but HCG comes from the placenta when pregnant). If LH is low then there could be an absence of period or less frequent and decreased length of actual bleeding time during periods.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)- Regulates the development, growth, maturity through puberty, and reproductive processes of the body. Works hand in hand with Luteinizing hormone (LH or lutrophin).
- In men-Levels stay pretty consistent and control the production of sperm. Low levels cause low or no sperm count.
- In Women-Levels range depending on the phase of menstruation and peak at the point right before the egg is released (ovulation). Helps control the menstrual cycle and egg production by the ovaries If it is low, then there could be an absence of period or less frequent and decreased length of actual bleeding time during periods and possibly infertility. It also can cause obesity and ovarian cysts if levels are low.
- Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH or intermedins)-Stimulates the production and release of melanin (determines skin and hair color as well as eye color. Stimulated by DNA damage from UVB radiation from the sun) in the skin and hair. MSH signals to the brain have effects on appetite and sexual arousal. This hormone increases during pregnancy. A deficiency in MSH results in a lack of skin pigmentation and loss of natural protection from UV rays. Can also cause increased inflammation, pain, and sleeping problems as well as causing a decrease in anti-diuretic hormone (ADH-listed below) which causes thirst and frequent peeing. Can also cause increased food intake i.e. obesity.
- Arginine vasopressin (AVP or anti-diuretic hormone/ADH)-Main functions are to retain water and constrict blood vessels. It is released when dehydrated to make the kidneys conserve water and pee less. Regulates water, glucose and salts in the blood. It may also be released directly into the brain, and plays an important role in social behavior, sexual motivation and bonding, and maternal responses to stress. If the levels are low, it causes kidneys to secrete too much water which causes dehydration and low blood pressure.
- Oxytocin-It causes contraction of the uterus during childbirth and lactation (breast milk production). It causes labor to induce naturally and causes the contractions that help throughout childbirth. It helps milk get to and through the breast during lactation. Oxytocin is also present in men and helps with sperm movement and production. It helps bonding between a man and a woman in romantic situations, sexual arousal, maternal bonding, effects social interaction and development, increases cognitive function, modulates inflammation, and reduces drug withdrawal symptoms. Low levels have been linked to autism and Asberger Syndrome and also depressive disorders.
So basically these hormones help control/regulate:
-growth, blood pressure, some aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, breast milk production, sex organ functions in men and women, thyroid gland function, metabolism (conversion of food into energy), water and osmosis regulation, water balance i.e. the control of re-absorption of water through the kidneys, temperature regulation, pain relief.
My Pineal gland function=0
The small gland in the vertebrae of the brain that produces melatonin–which helps you sleep
My Parathyroid glands function=0
Controls the amount of calcium in the blood and within the bones and, if there is not enough calcium, it breaks it down from the bones.
My Thyroid Function=Low end of the normal range
Makes and stores hormones that help regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are essential for the function of every cell in the body. They help regulate growth and the rate of chemical reactions (metabolism) in the body. Thyroid hormones also help children grow and develop. Typical symptoms of Hypothyroidism (i.e. low function thyroid) are abnormal weight gain, tiredness, baldness/hair loss, cold/heat intolerance (i.e. get hot when its cold and cold when its hot), and low heart rate which causes fatigue, weakness, dizziness and at very low rates fainting.
My Adrenal Glands function=4%
Responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress. Each adrenal gland (there are 2) has two distinct structures, the outer adrenal cortex and the inner medulla. They both produce hormones. The cortex mainly produces cortisol, aldosterone and androgens, and the medulla chiefly produces epinephrine and norepinephrine. The adrenal glands affect the kidneys by producing aldosterone which plays a central role in the regulation of blood pressure and increases re-absorption of ions and water in the kidneys. This is to cause the conservation of sodium, secretion of potassium, increased water retention, and increased blood pressure. They enable your body to deal with stress from every possible source, ranging from injury and disease to work and relationship problems. They determine the energy of your body’s responses to every change in your internal and external environment. They are the reason your body is able to mobilize its resources to escape or fight off danger (stress) and survive. They help the body with the utilization of carbs and fats, the conversion of fats and proteins to energy, the distribution of stored fat, normal blood sugar regulation, proper cardiovascular function, and gastrointestinal function.
My Kidney function=20%
The kidneys receive a huge amount (20%) of the blood pumped by the heart. The large blood supply to your kidneys enables them to regulate the composition of your blood i.e. keep the concentrations of ions and other important substances constant and in balance, keep the volume of water in your body constant and regulates the electrolyte levels, produce an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong and healthy bones, remove wastes (urea, ammonia, drugs, and other toxic substances), keeps the acid/base concentration of your blood constant, helps regulate blood pressure, stimulates the making of red blood cells, and maintains the body’s calcium levels. The kidneys receive blood from the renal artery, use/process it and then return it through the renal vein. They remove the wastes and other substances through the urine.
If you have low functioning kidneys (otherwise known as Chronic Kidney Disease) it can cause anemia, decreased red blood count, make you feel more tired and have less energy, have trouble concentrating (some studies show children and teens with CKD-Chronic Kidney Disease-are more vulnerable to attention related disorders like Attention Deficit Disorder-ADD-and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder-ADHD), have a poor appetite, trouble sleeping, muscle cramping at night, swollen feet and ankles, puffiness around your eyes-especially in the morning, have dry and/or itchy skin, and need to pee more often-especially at night.
So there you go. I was basically at rock bottom. No hormone function, no happy endorphins or brain activity, just plain sick. And this didn’t just all happen at once after doing the fast. NO NO NO! Basically before the fast, my health was hanging by a small thread, my unknowing decision (and stupid choice to do it without testing myself first) to do the fast and not do it properly acted as the scissors and cut that thin thread, sending my health and happiness right down to the very bottom of the proverbial health mountain. Kaput!
I was forced to look back and delve into my signs and symptoms as a child and teenager and discovered HOW MUCH I had already been experiencing.
As a teenager, I have realized, I had already developed mild CKD which manifested itself in my A.D.D., weight issues and poor appetite, muscle cramping almost every night (in my calves mostly and it was so freaking painful-you have no idea!), dry and itchy skin, and the eye puffiness in the morning. All of those (minus the muscle cramping-thank heavens!) plus the puffy feet and ankles, and the peeing more frequently at night followed me up until June of this year! I also would lose larger amounts of hair during the period of less weight, along with more tiredness, depression and anxiety. Funny because, you would think that losing weight would give you MORE energy and make you happier.
How I see it is that all of my organs and glands were basically like a cracked china doll. But this china doll’s pieces were all together. Not by glue but by some dissolveable substance called fat. When I went on the fast (before healing all of those organs and glands), that fat was removed, thus making the china pieces all fall apart. I thought they were fixed but now I have had to go in and re-glue the pieces back together.
This process started after taking the herbs suggested by my herbalist. When I started taking them, I did start to feel better. I wasn’t constantly tired and my hair slowly began to stop falling out (it didn’t completely until a few months ago but we will get there). I took them for about a month and tragedy struck: My husband lost his job. There goes my fund for herbs (which cost my around 60 bucks every 1.5 weeks). Luckily by this time I was feeling OK and not as bad as I had previously, but I knew that I probably never would feel 100% ever again.
I was able to take herbs off and on through November and that’s when I started to try the Herbalife products. I started by taking the allergen free (free from gluten, wheat, soy and milk) and then discovered that the other one (which contains milk and soy), I didn’t react to, or so I thought. I took that for about a month and lost MAYBE 3 pounds. At first I was fine, no gas, no bloating, no acne. And then there we went. All of my symptoms AGAIN–which I should have known would happen but I did it anyway. I was also taking the two vitamins-the cell activator and the multivitamin-and I didn’t particularly notice any difference, even after a month (this I’m sure is mostly because I was still filtering out most of the nutrients because my kidneys still weren’t helping). I drank the thermogenic tea they had also, about 3 servings a day (which is way low compared to others) and (as ALWAYS) I didn’t respond to caffeine well (SIDE NOTE: I have always gotten sleepy when drinking caffeine which causes me to drink more since its not working and then I get paranoid, irritable, have headaches, and start hyperventilating–so me and caffeine DON’T MIX). I stopped taking the protein powder and meal replacement when I had my lovely soy symptoms and by that time it was end of December.
Just after Christmas a friend of my husband’s, Lennon Ledbetter, moved back into town (Phoenix, Arizona) and accidentally ran into my husband’s brother, Erick, at his place of work. Lennon then got reconnected to my husband and myself and shared a new business opportunity with us. My husband had looked up to Lennon for about 6 years, since they first met back in 2007. Of course he wanted to be part of whatever Lennon was doing, since he has a reputation for legendary success in business and marketing.
When I looked up the company, I was very impressed. First, I was impressed by the fact that the head medical director was a Naturopathic Doctor (which as I have mentioned in previous posts I am more privy to instead of regular MDs) and other NDs were selling and loving these products (NDs are very skeptical of what they put their name on, so you basically can trust it is a quality product). Another thing was that the meal plans, exercise plans, vitamin plans, goal setting software, food tracking, weight tracking, vital stats tracking, and measurement tracking software were all free AND all internet based (so I never would have to worry about losing the paper my meal plan is on or forgetting or what have you). And last, and my most favorite thing was the encyclopedia. It had one for health conditions, food items, herbs and vitamins, homeopathic remedies, etc. So basically if I wanted to know about something I could get the knowledge all in one place (i.e. in the health conditions index it tells you what foods and things to avoid and also what vitamins and food/herbs to take for that condition).
And the good things just kept coming and coming and I hadn’t even tried the vitamins yet!
We decided to join the business and I started taking the product. I noticed an immediate difference in my mood and energy but, like always, I overwhelmed myself by taking too many things too quickly and ended up not sticking with it. Off and on from January to end of May I would try (and fail) taking all the vitamins daily.
At about this time (beginning of May) I started seeing a psychotherapist, as my depression and anxiety which had plagued me as a teenager were starting to get worse and worse. I felt like I was being sucked down into a black hole and no one was there to help me out of it. I was trapped inside my own mind. I started to see her every other week and each week it seemed that NOTHING got better. And then came June.
I realized that I needed to start taking these vitamins consistently but, through counseling, I discovered that why I consistently failed at so many things wasn’t because I was a failure, but because I would take on the world and quickly burn out. I needed to SLOW DOWN and not want everything to happen all at once. After this epiphany I decided to just take one product-TrueBASICS for Women. 1 pack right before bed. And on the nights when I just could not get to sleep, I took the TrueSLEEP. I did this consistently every night for the entire month of June and by the end of only 7 days, I noticed that I didn’t feel like I was drowning anymore. I felt more confident and happy. By the end of June, I was having 80% less “freak-outs” or outbreaks of my adjustment disorder (what I was diagnosed with by my therapist). I also noticed my hair starting to GROW BACK! It was like over night my hair strands quadrupled in size and then new hairs grew in beside them. And keep in mind that this was all when I hadn’t changed anything about my diet. I was still eating junk and whatever I wanted.
When July rolled around, I added the TrueBASICS with Lean Extreme, 1 pack in the morning. Even less frequent outbursts of my disorder and it seemed that my husband (who had also started taking the vitamins consistently) and I were FINALLY understanding each other. There was no conversation or Ah-HA! moment that made us change and work so good as a team, it was like one day we just were working as a perfect match. No more arguments or anger or mean words. It was like all of the confusion and disagreements went away and all we had was the love and we just knew how to work together. Also my hair had almost become as thick as it was when I was in elementary school (my Mom’s nickname for me was the Hair of Three Heads). Pretty amazing.
We started our detox meal plan on July 22nd and that plan is free of gluten, dairy (with the exception of the TrueSTRENGTH protein powder–which contains NO SOY–not even soy lecithin) and red meat. I also added the TrueA.B.S. (2 gels in the morning), TrueDETOX and Cleanse (1 pack in the morning, 1 at lunch, and one before bed), TrueGLUCO Control (2 capsules in the morning), TrueCRAVING Control (3 tablets in the morning), TrueTHERMO (2 capsules in the morning) and 1 more pack of TrueBASICS with Lean Extreme at lunch time. As expected, this enhanced all of the above progress.
I now don’t even need to take the TrueSLEEP because I fall asleep faster and stay asleep, I no longer have greasy hair/scalp or dandruff which has also eliminated the itchiness, my therapist (after 3 sessions of there not really being anything to talk about) said that she doesn’t see any of the same symptoms as before and said to either take it down to very minimum or be done (I chose once a month for a few months just so I can wean off nicely), I have more energy, I don’t have ANY PMS symptoms (no breast tenderness, no headaches, no irritability, no insomnia, no cravings, and now out of control emotions), I’m filtering out less and less good nutrients (i.e. my urine is less “neon”/more clear which means I’m absorbing more nutrients through my kidneys, YAY!), I can focus so much better, and the list goes on.
I still do get stressed and discouraged, but it is NOWHERE near as bad as it used to be. Its like I can now think through the challenges and not get caught up in my head.
Unfortunately though, I haven’t lost a lot of weight. Since starting I have lost 10 pounds (I have been fluctuating between 10 and 15 pounds lost) and I haven’t eaten anything I wasn’t supposed to AND as of August 12th, I started working out a lot. I have realized that although other diets that I participated in helped me lose weight quickly and showed me fast results, it wasn’t necessarily helping me. Sure, I looked and felt lighter, but on the inside my body was still dealing with crap.
So I have decided to be grateful that I am losing weight slow. My body needs to heal and however long that takes (even if I stay 223 for 3 months!) I will still continue to follow my routine. I have already seen massive results in just 3 months from taking these vitamins (when I said before that I had been worried I would never feel 100% again) and so I know it is not going to take very long to heal me right up! I could have been on a program that would have taken YEARS to get my body even 75% better and to jump to that in 3 months with vitamins?! You’re crazy! But it has happened to me and if all that I experienced was being impressed by the outward look of the company, I now know that it is legitimate and I am so glad we took the leap and trusted our friend!
I know this was a long history and I appreciate you if you are getting all the way to here. This is my past and now on going in my future. My hope is that someone or someones will read this and relate to my struggles and be able to find hope and peace that there is someone who knows what they’re going through.
I believe wholeheartedly in this company and I am so glad that is has turned out so well and invite others to try it and see what happens!
Be happy. Be healthy. And LOVE YOURSELF!