How to Bring Your Nutritionist to Tears

I recently received this testimonial from a client, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. Honestly, I get so emotional every time I read it, I haven’t been able to process it very well! But I finally decided to just share it here. I am so blessed to be able to do this work and make a difference in clients’ lives, and I am so thankful that people like Lori trust me to be a part of their healing process.

When I initially started working with Ellen in May 2014, my secret goal was to lose weight.  We spoke at great lengths about how weight loss should not be a goal.  Choose better health, higher stamina, fewer energy dips during the day – but do not choose weight loss as a goal. 

I already had gastric bypass in 2004 – which means I completely scrambled my insides – just to lose weight.  I lost 165 pounds back then but about 75 of those pounds had crept back on over the years.  We all tell ourselves we are having surgery to be healthier, but many of us don’t change our diet; we just eat less of whatever horrible foods we were eating before.  I have spent my entire life feeling like the extra weight was my problem.  Every other time I’ve had to speak with a nutritionist, they spent a ton of time telling me what not to do.  And when someone tells me not to do something, I want to do it more.  Ellen has given me the information and tools to make my own decisions. 

Not one single doctor or nutritionist has ever gotten to the root of my actual problem:  I was eating low quality foods and most likely not digesting them properly.  As Ellen has told me, I was on the Standard American Diet.  I wouldn’t have known what a healthy meal looked like if it hit me in the face.  Initially, I did the minimum with Ellen.  Yes, I made diet changes (I cut a lot of sugar from my diet).  I started making most of my food at home.  I chose higher quality supplements.  I lost some weight, which I was not so secretly happy about.  But more importantly, thanks to the proper nutrition, I felt more fantastic than I ever had.  I even started to become at peace with my still-naturally large body. 

Then in September of 2015, a new goal was thrown into my lap.  My liver panels shot up and I realized I had to get a little more serious about my health.  Ellen gave me a comprehensive plan to help heal my liver and aid in digestion (as the weight loss surgery had made me unable to properly digest most of my foods, which means I was losing out on important nutrients).  In addition to continuing to eat good foods and only do exercise I actually enjoy, I decided to stop taking my birth control pill.  I had been on the pill for 25 years, so my body never had the chance to learn how to function properly in the hormone department.  I also decided to stop taking an immunosuppressant shot for my psoriasis, which could have been adding to my liver problems. 

In January 2016, I found out that my liver panels are back down to near normal levels – something I have not seen in many years.  In the process, I even lost ten pounds over the holidays.  Again, it was not a goal, but it was a natural result of changing the foods and taking my supplements.  I do not ever count calories (or beat myself up if I eat something that is not so great for me).  I also feel like eating the proper foods helps me feel in control of my life in general.  I have spent many years being a compulsive overeater, which can lead to disordered thinking in other areas of my life.  I don’t want to say that my disordered thoughts and eating have been cured, but I will say that I have had many more calm days by following Ellen’s advice.  I have faced a few tough challenges in the last year, all of which would have normally touched off a binge.  I have not felt like binging through any of those times.  That’s a huge win for me.  Ellen has quite literally saved my life, and I will always appreciate her for that. 

Fight Pain and Inflammation Naturally

Whether you’re an athlete, a weekend warrior, or just occasionally clumsy, lumps, bumps, bruises, and injuries are a part of life. Joint pain is also something most of us will deal with at some point. We may often reach for the bottle of Advil or aspirin without a second thought. These powerful medications do indeed help with pain and inflammation, but that may not be the right thing for your body.

Inflammation and swelling is your body’s way of taking action against an insult, and starting the healing process. Let’s say you roll your ankle stepping off a curb. You do no major damage, but you create some micro-tears to the tissue in the area. By sending in inflammatory compounds and thereby inflaming the ankle, your body creates a pathway that allows the immune system to mount a defense and start the healing. That inflammation ushers the white blood cells to move in and clean up the damaged tissues. (It’s also why infected tissues get inflamed–so the white blood cells can rush in to kill off the invading bacteria.)  Once the body has inflamed the area to start the healing process, it can then send in anti-inflammatory compounds to further help heal and calm the injury. So, the body’s natural process is, it must inflame before it can anti-inflame.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Advil stop the body’s process of creating pro-inflammatory compounds, and therefore reduce pain and swelling, but in so doing they also stop the creation of the body’s anti-inflammatory compounds, and can slow healing. Aspirin and NSAIDs can also cause a host of other problems in the body, chief among them damage to the stomach lining and interference with good digestion. They will also make bruising worse.

There are some good alternative routes to help relieve pain and swelling, when it’s too much to just ride out.

First, take a good look at your diet. Both our pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds are created by the body from the fatty acids (fats) we eat, which is why high quality omega 3 and 6 fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, and fish are key to the healing process. A good mixed EFA (essential fatty acid) supplement is worth adding to your daily regimen, especially during times of healing. Vitamins C, E, B3, B6, and the minerals magnesium and zinc are key cofactors to these processes as well. Fresh fruits and dark green veggies, poultry, fish, beef, mushrooms, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, avocado, beans, cashews, and prunes will give you healthy doses of these nutrients. Remember also that sugar is highly inflammatory and will slow your healing process.

Especially when it comes to joint pain, water is your friend. The cartilage in our joints is 80% water. The main key to healthy joints, and the first remedy to reach for when they start popping and clicking, is water: half your body weight in ounces daily (to a maximum of 100 ounces). For healthy collagen, the matrix of glue that holds our cartilage together, ensure your diet contains adequate protein (amino acids), vitamin C, iron, copper, and water. One major component of collagen is chondroitin sulfate. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements can make a huge difference to joint health, but they must be consistently taken 3x/day for up to 6 weeks before you will see any effect (and must be avoided if you are allergic to sulfur). Also for joints, antioxidants combat the free radicals and enzymes that damage the joint (synovial) fluid, and EFAs help with swelling and pain–so make sure to eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, fish, and avocado.

Finally, there are some natural supplements that can be very helpful. All of these can be found at Whole Foods or other natural stores:

  • White willow bark is the plant that contains the active ingredient that is synthesized into aspirin. It is usually in a tincture.
  • Capsaicin gel or cream can be useful applied topically for joint, muscle, or nerve pain. Its active ingredient is derived from chili peppers.
  • Boswellia is an anti-inflammatory compound derived from a tree, and can be used as a topical cream or an oral supplement.
  • Curcumin is the bright-yellow compound found in the herb turmeric, and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Taken as a supplement, it should also include the active ingredient from black pepper, which increases its effects.

Stay safe out there, but know that when life takes its lumps, you have some tools to fight back!