Imagine your dream wedding day: the perfect dress, your closest friends and family in attendance, your bouquet. Imagine your first job interview: wearing the perfect suit, leaving extra early in case you get lost. Imagine going to lunch with your coworkers for a chance to get out of the office: bonding with coworkers, laughing and joking. Now imagine not being able to enjoy these milestones along the path of a normal life. What if, underneath the surface of seemingly every day occurrences, you were consumed with anxiety about something else?
The anxiety I faced in all these situations was due to Ulcerative Colitis, a disease that has controlled my life for seven years…until now. Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is an intestinal disease where sores develop in the lining of the colon. During a flare, the body mistakes food and all intestinal contents as foreign, invading substances. As a result, people with UC have frequent bouts of severe stomach pain, intestinal bleeding, food intolerances and gastric distress. The day I was diagnosed with UC, my life transformed forever.
Ulcerative Colitis is marked with frequent flares, which cause recurring symptoms that range from mild to severe. Three months ago, I was facing the worst bout of my 7-year diagnosis. My flares were getting progressively worse. I was unable to go to work for several days because the pain and symptoms were so intense I could not leave the house. I was taking several prescribed medications and steroids in an attempt to get the flares under control, and also faced the grueling side-effects of the heavy medications. I had been in denial for 7 years. I had been allowing my disease to control my life and significantly increase my risk for colon cancer. I was in a period of depression, and desperate for a holistic treatment in a medical society that readily treats symptoms, but does not always address the underlying problem.
Realizing I could not continue to let my disease control my daily actions, thoughts, and path in life, I was ready to transform my mind and body for the better. My 4-year old daughter, Riley, deserves to have me around as long as possible, and an increased risk of colon cancer is not an option I am willing to accept. I met with a LifeTime trainer, Patrick Edenfield, and explained my situation. I was unable to eat traditional fiber-rich, health foods. As a result, I had a vitamin and mineral deficiency. Due to this malnutrition, I suffered hair loss, and received multiple IV iron infusions. I wanted to develop a new lifestyle comprised of resistance and cardiovascular training, and healthy eating.
The past 60 days have truly changed my life forever. A Challenge that started as a way to get healthy has changed every aspect of my life. My transformation included weekly personal training sessions, nutritional counseling, and general fitness coaching with Patrick, who was able to provide me with a list of foods that were healthy for the everyday person, but were also tailored for someone with an intestinal disease like me.
I started this journey in the middle of a severe UC flare up. I was taking 4 prescriptions and eating fast food every day, since my body ironically responded to processed food better than healthy meals. That past lifestyle was beyond unhealthy and simply not sustainable. I am proud to say that thanks to the 60-Day Challenge at Life Time, I am only on one maintenance medication, no longer have high cholesterol, have strong healthy hair and only eat clean meals full of fresh vegetables, salads, and lean proteins. My days are no longer consumed with anxiety about the proximity of the closest restroom. The 60-Day Challenge has provided me with a new lease on life and helped me feel better mentally than I have in 7 years — and healthier than I have ever been in my adult life. The Challenge transformed my body and my life. And from the bottom of my heart, I am thankful for it showing me I am stronger, in all aspects, than I ever thought possible. A debilitating disease that once burdened and embarrassed me is now my motivation to live the best life I can.
This challenge has not been a temporary routine, but rather has changed my complete lifestyle. Just because I have reached the 60-day mark does not mean my coming days will look any different. The journey has taught me how good it feels to be healthy and full of energy, and to have confidence while instilling excitement in my mind for a better, healthier life. I now feel I can travel with ease and focus on what is important in life by living in the moment, not consumed with anxiety. I will continue to eat healthy meals and train with Patrick to continue my fitness journey. I am excited to see what is next, but I know what I have learned during the challenge will make me successful. I am certainly proud of my physical transformation, but the things of which I am most proud are the transformations that have occurred on the inside.