If you would have met me a year ago, you would have considered me the biggest health fanatic known to man. That's because in January of 2014 I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC) — also known as painful bladder syndrome — a condition that causes pelvic pain, pressure or discomfort in the bladder or pelvic region. There’s no actual cure for IC but doctors believe that a change in diet helps suppress symptoms. So I began to eat organic foods only, gave up alcohol, and took natural supplements.
Thankfully, I haven't experienced symptoms in almost a year and my doctor recently confirmed that my IC is in remission. I was so ecstatic, I carelessly went back to eating not-so-healthy foods and drinking alcohol until another unforeseen health problem came my way. You see, IC wasn't the beginning of my health problems, it was just one of the toughest diagnoses I've received.
In 2006, around my sophomore year of college, is when my system first became sensitive. I was in the middle of switching majors, working a part-time job, interning, and writing for my school newspaper. Did I mention I had terrible eating habits at the time too?Related From Vivala: An Herbal Remedy to Boost Your Immunity
My daily diet consisted of three to five cups of coffee, an energy drink, and at least one fast food meal a day. I also never went to the gym — like, ever. I've always been slim and have had a very fast metabolism, so gaining weight was never an issue. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and never saw any reason to eat healthy. I was also clueless about how to manage my stress. While my friends were seeing shrinks, meditating, and taking yoga classes to wind down — I was running on little to no fuel, confident I could handle all of my commitments.
My poor lifestyle habits took a toll on my body. Before I knew it, I found myself with chronic stomach cramps so bad that I would begin to cry. I experienced pain and bloating in my stomach daily and even ended up in the emergency room from passing out on campus a few times. It wasn't until a doctor diagnosed me with gastritis that I realized it was time to make some changes to my lifestyle.My diet became stricter, I started doing Pilates at home and I even saw a holistic therapist to help me manage stress and anxiety. It would be years before I experienced any sort of serious health issues again.
After receiving my depressing IC diagnosis, I sat on my couch, cried, and threw out all the food I had in my kitchen. I called my fiance at the time and told him we were going to the health food store to buy fresh and organic foods only. I started going to a yoga studio a few days a week and even made time to meditate every single morning. It took a while, but after four or five months I finally started seeing improvements, including less pain and pressure in the pelvic region along with less urgency to urinate. By early 2015, my symptoms started to completely go away and I was feeling normal again.Related From Vivala: How a Sleep Deficit Can Affect Your Health
But this spring I found myself eating badly yet again, triggering an embarrassing case of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). My doctor had me try an elimination diet, which consisted of removing certain foods that are typically known for causing abdominal pain, gas, and bloating like dairy, tomato sauce, or spicy foods. He also put me on medication, which were virtually useless. Out of desperation, I was inspired to go back to eating clean, meditating and working out regularly. It wasn't easy but it was totally worth it because I feel my body bouncing back to recovery.
Living a healthy lifestyle takes a lot more commitment and dedication than you'd think, hence why I’d always slack off when I felt better. But if there's one thing my body has taught me over the years is to stop and listen to it. This time, I promise to make my health my main priority to keep my body happy.