by Carmen Farrell

o+u change

I’m headed into a new phase.  A really exciting phase.  A phase where I focus on healing myself.

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve felt vital and energetic.  That’s more than half my life.  20 years of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, a face full of acne, mental disturbances like anxiety and depression,  and stomach pain accompanied by horrible digestion.

It’s hard to express how horrible I felt.  And truth be told, I hid it from most people – even my family.  I was still functioning.  I got up, went to work, ran errands.  But it was a struggle.  I had no energy.  I felt like a 65 year old trapped in a 25 year old’s body.  Doctor’s weren’t helpful either.  I was told repeatedly that perhaps I just needed to exercise more, or was blown off and made to feel like a hypochondriac.

Then I started having babies, and strangely, my symptoms went into remission while pregnant.  Once the baby arrived they’d come back but were masked by the exhaustion of parenting a newborn and then a toddler, and then another, and another.  About 6 years ago, after consulting with a naturopath, I found out that I was allergic to gluten – which was a life changer.  I started to cut back on gluten and immediately felt a difference in my energy levels.  But I also started to feel a lot of shame.  I could not stay away from gluten completely.  It was like a drug.  I could go a few days, start to feel fantastic, and then not be able to control myself and gorge (sometimes in secret).  It was a vicious cycle.  I felt like I knew what I had to do to start getting better, but didn’t have the willpower.

So things are changing and I’m finally feeling in control.  Firstly, my youngest is 3 and a half.  I no longer have a baby who’s completely dependant on me.  He’s still a little guy, but I have a lot more freedom since he has 2 big brothers who help him out when he needs it and entertain him when he’s bored.  I’m not  always needed.  Which has given me more time to focus on myself.

Secondly, I’ve put more pieces of the puzzle together.  Turns out, I have an autoimmune condition – which one isn’t clear yet – but my symptoms are very much like those associated with lupus.   I also have leaky gut which means that my digestive tract is badly damaged and is allowing foreign substances into my bloodstream and causing inflammation.  Inflammation = real bad news.

So, armed with more time for myself and new information regarding what needs to be “fixed”, the changes are a-coming!

I recently completed a Whole 30 which allowed me to reset my body’s cravings for the crap that has made me sick.  I’m eating paleo which means no grains, legumes, dairy or processed foods.  It means a lot of cooking and prep.  It means bringing my own snacks when heading to a friend’s house to hang out.  It means limiting some of what my kids eat so that I can keep the house a “temptation-free” zone.  All these things may sound restricting, but in actuality, I’m feeling an incredible sense of freedom.  I’m eating an insane amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of yummy meat and tons of good fat.   My face is clearing up, I’m digesting better and my vitality is returning in full force.   Plus I’m not a raging bitch most of the time.  Win!

I remember the day I turned 30.  I was having a conversation with friends wherein I mentioned that I felt shitty a lot of the time (hello, newborn and undiagnosed medical problems) and that my goal was to feel and look amazing by my 40th birthday.  I wanted to enter into that new phase of my life with a new-found love for myself, my body and my strength.

That birthday is still 3 years away, and I’m positive that I’m going to get there, and then some.




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  1. March 14, 2013

    I’m so inspired by you! Love that you held true to yourself and sought answers beyond traditional medicine. I’m a gluten addict and can appreciate how hard it is to give it up. What a strong woman you are to do so and to make your health a priority….badass. I’m hopping on the yoga train and maybe Whole30 in April…it might begin like Whole7 : )

  2. Mary #
    March 14, 2013

    Wow! Good for you, Carmen. The idea of changing your entire way of eating both completely intrigues and terrifies me. My hat is off to you, girl. I’m sure you will succeed. Now I’m off to learn about the 30 thing you mentioned.
    Over 40, tired momma.

  3. March 15, 2013

    Yes, food allergies and intolerances can be a real pain to manage but once you get them under control the difference is amazing. WTG!

  4. Nicole #
    March 19, 2013

    Congratulations, Carmen. It’s amazing how few people believe they can heal themselves through sound nutrition, and I’m glad you’re one of the “enlightened” ones. I want to add that there is another diet, somewhat similar to the paleo, called the GAPS (Gut And Psychology Diet) that is also designed to heal leaky gut, and includes daily consumption of homemade broth, kefir, and probiotics. Maybe you’ve heard of it? If not, google it and see if it resonates with you at all. I know someone who’s trying to heal her son’s autism this way… Hope the rest of your family is doing well :).

  5. Erica #
    March 20, 2013

    I have been Paleo on and off since 2010. I just got back from vacation and feel like crap from the way I ate. Gotta get back on the heathly ban wagon. It really works, I’m always telling my friends about and they look at me like I’m nuts but I love the way I feel when I eat fresh foods. It is def more work, but worth it. Alot of time if i’m invited to a party/friends house/random social function I eat a big healthy meal at home before hand so I’m not tempted to graze on all of the junky foods. I bet you’ll be doing cross fit before you know it ; )

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