Health and Fitness

LIFE WITH MRKH SYNDROME

I can’t lie, it’s been a difficult few months.  As a matter of fact, scratch that, it’s been a difficult few years.  I’m almost 25, and I cannot believe it has been nearly 10 years since I sat in a bright pink room at my OB GYN’s office as she told me and my mom that I had this rare syndrome.  To be honest, at first, I just thought she was wrong. She had the wrong clipboard, the wrong tests, the wrong girl. I was fine. At 16, I hadn’t had my period yet, but since I lied to just about everyone in my life about it (including myself), I kind of pegged it as a non-issue. This lady was crazy, I was going to get my period any day and reach full “womanhood.” I already had developed in every other way, the above-average size of my breasts was a weirdly hot topic in my eighth grade science class, s...

DEPRESSION AS AN EXTROVERT

I’m an ENFJ. For those of you not familiar with what that means, it’s a personality code, and I happen to have the same one as Barack Obama. Future President alert? Among the many things that each letter stands for, the one letter I’m focused on for the purpose of this post is the ‘E.’ My ‘E’ stands for Extrovert. Now, as a Gemini and a naturally outgoing person, this diagnosis doesn’t surprise me. For those of you that have known me just for 30 seconds, it shouldn’t surprise you either. I consider myself the life of the party and the leader in professional and personal settings. Being an extrovert comes naturally to me. What this personality code doesn’t tell you, however, is that depression hides in the ‘E’ diagnosis...

HOW I REACTED TO MY DIAGNOSIS

This is what being diagnosed with a chronic illness is like:  First Day: Confused. Never heard of it. What does this mean? Google black hole. What is going to happen to me? Is this information correct? Every day after that for the next few months: Denial, learning in secret and surviving.    It started with falling, losing my balance and I thought if I lost more weight I would fine. I started exercising and it wasn’t working, I started losing feeling in my arm and couldn’t raise it. Went to the Orthopedic doctor who then recommended I see a Neurologist and a series of test ensued. In the meantime, my cousin and I did Weight Watchers, I lost 32 pounds and kept living life. After losing the weight, I began to feel a little better.   At 25 and while in graduate school I was diagnosed wi...

I’M GETTING MARRIED IN 3 MONTHS… AND I’M STILL NOT GOING ON A DIET

Hey there! Remember me? You may have read my other piece about not dieting for my upcoming wedding a few months ago. If ya haven’t, click here to catch up!  I want to be real with ya’ll.  “Meeting” my dress (aka when your dress comes in and you get to try on the actual dress you’ll wear on your wedding day, not a sample) was a blast.   One of my best friends came with me, we sipped champagne, put on all the accessories and basically? I could have stayed in that dress all day, happy as a clam. Yup, I’m that girl.  Heading home from the appointment, however, a nasty thought popped into my head.  “Better still fit that dress in December, Jules. Watch your weight…”  Ahhh… my nasty inner diet critic decided to show its ugly face. Woof, haven’t heard from her in a while…  For a second I fe...

HORMONE HEALTH 101: THE IMPACT OF STRESS

It seems stress has become a norm in everyone’s daily basis. I am always asking myself how I can be more physically and mentally healthy so I feel more relaxed instead of stressed. Working with women in helping them with hormonal issues, I know that we are all trying to tackle this issue. When you are experiencing a stressful time in your life, it’s time to focus on your physical health which will impact your mental health. Research has shown that women are more likely to feel anxiety than men. Also, 18.1% of the American population report times of anxiety. Conventionally treatment has lead physicians to prescribe medication that come with a host of side effects. However, there are many natural ways to alleviate anxiety. Unchecked stress can inhibit you from reaching your goals. There are ...

WALK INTO YOUR PURPOSE

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” ― Francis of Assisi For most people signing up for a marathon, 5k, 10k or even popular adventure-themed races can seem like a challenge. Imagine facing that challenge while living with Muscular Dystrophy (MD). Fear, self-doubt and even pain are all reasons to give up. I had so many reasons to gloss over fundraiser invitations, to ignore invites and forget about competing in any type of athletic events all together. That would be too easy. After coming to terms with where I was physically and emotionally, I decided enough was enough. No one wins by shrinking back in the face of a challenge and neither would I. It was time for me to not just endure the process of being diagnosed with MD, bu...

I’M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER

Over the past few years, my health really deteriorated. I was in a constant battle of feeling depressed, lost and tired. I would gain 15 pounds one month, and two or three months later loose it all in a matter of two weeks. All this happened every year for about four years straight. I was stressed, depressed and far from healthy.  This year was the worst for me so far. I gained over 20 pounds in one month, and felt like I wanted to quit my dream. I had absolutely no desire to keep on going in every part of life. Failing over and over again is something we all have to get used to; it’s going to happen a lot. I felt like I was failing at home, at school, at work and at life.  I guess it’s true when they say that you have to hit rock bottom to bounce back. I was looking at pictures and ...

GAINING THE FREEDOM TO FLOURISH

What would life look like if I could love myself fully? I stared at the page for several minutes, unsure of what to say. I had spent so long not loving myself that I couldn’t imagine life any other way. The empty page of my journal felt overwhelming. I began writing cautiously, feeling that my answers were only guesses, and that the way I viewed the possibilities would be wrong. If I loved myself fully, I would be confident, happy, successful, less stressed—so what was stopping me from feeling these things? Thus, began the process of freeing my mind from all previous negativities that I assumed to be true. All my life, my greatest barrier toward loving myself has been my own thoughts. When I was fifteen, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. I struggled with my body image and with accepti...

DEAR ‘FITNESS TRACKER’ WATCH, WE’RE BREAKING UP

Dear Watch, We need to talk. This thing we’ve been doing for a while now? It’s just not working out any more. At first it was exciting, and I thought you were so good for me… but lately, I’ve been seeing things differently… I’ve become obsessed with you, and it’s NOT good for me. I know you wanted the best for me, I know your intentions were positive and that all you wanted to do was to help me be healthy… but it’s gone too far. You’ve overstepped, big time. And now I’m paying the price. I used to enjoy going for runs, but now I’m just chasing a calorie burn. What used to be good now is never enough. I used to enjoy food. Now I’m consumed in the thoughts of “how many calories am I eating?” “How many hours will I have to exercise to work it off and make you happy, watch?” You constantly mak...

LET’S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE

When Kate Spade took her own life, my Twitter feed was on fire with opinions. There was sympathy…but there was also judgment. People were shocked, wondering aloud how she could be so selfish, leave her family behind, and on and on. I bet that Kate Spade thought she was doing her family a favor. She wouldn’t be a burden to them anymore. Not even a week later, Anthony Bourdain took his own life. I wonder if he was thinking the same. I have personal experience with depression and suicide. I have attempted it; the first time at age 14, but I have a better support system now and feel stable. When I was in the black hole of depression, I felt that I would be doing everyone a favor if I didn’t exist. They wouldn’t have to deal with my moods, feed me anymore, listen to my problems. I wouldn’t have...

THIS QUESTION CHANGED MY LIFE

I used to live in fear. Fear of failure. Fear of falling. Fear of not being pretty enough. Fear of not being lovable. Fear of judgment. Fear was my teacher. Of course, I didn’t know Fear was my teacher at the time. But it was. Fear taught me I better go out of my way to do things to make others like me, for others to think I’m successful, for others to think I’m “perfect,” otherwise… who am I? What is my worth? A major way it showed up in my life was through dieting. At the core of it all, I feared that if I didn’t look a certain way, nobody would love me. I never left the house without my hair and makeup done. I dressed in a way to hide any “problem spots.” I created strict rules around food and exercise. Every day, I woke up with the goal of “staying in line” today. “Don’t mess up, Jules...

YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW TO LOVE YOUR BODY

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “loving your body.” For some it’s empowering. For others it seems impossible and daunting and like a complete, “YEAH, RIGHT.” I firmly believe that not only can you love your body (as it is, right now), I believe you already know how to love your body. Yes, right now. And, I believe that loving your body is vitally important. In fact, it’s at the very core of being able to live a healthy, happy life. And if you’re sitting there, like, “Girl, you don’t know me…” it’s true. I don’t. But I do know that I’ve had my own struggles with loving my body. I started dieting at the age of 12 praying to lose weight and trim fat. I hated my body. And of course I did, I was taught by the media and practically everyone around me that I should hate my body, pick it a...

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