Wow, I can't believe it. This is my 6th month, my final post. I almost don't know where to start writing. There has been so much change and shifting in the past six months that it seems nearly impossible to express it properly in one blog post.
At the beginning of this challenge, I started out sick, scared, and uncertain of the future. I had lots of shame and self-judgment about my body, and also about my life, health, career... and just about everything else. It was one big unhealthy muddle. I wasn't even sure if I could stick to gluten-free (or anything) for six months.
Amazingly, I really did stick to the gluten-free foods throughout the challenge, and I'm still cooking. It doesn't feel like a diet. It just feels like cooking my meals and real life.
For me, the gluten-free diet started out being about healthy eating and trying to heal my body. It turned out to be so much more. It has been a pathway to understanding myself better, to discovery, to releasing and letting go, to healing, to awareness and learning. It has been about shedding judgment and shame, learning self-care, and learning how to truly love and accept myself and my body. I've learned to have a partnership with my body instead of fighting it. Internally, I feel forever changed - in the best way.
It wasn't just eating gluten-free that brought such profound change. It was a whole combination of factors: the program duration, my fellow challengers, my nutritionist, Drew Parisi, writing blog posts, a Facebook community that felt safe, and a Fairy Angel to guide and support me.
I feel a special bond with my fellow challengers: Rose, Marie, Marisa, Amy, Shannon, and Rebecca. Your posts inspired me and helped me with my own progress in more ways than you know. I am so glad we all got to go through this journey together. I have so much love and gratitude for my wonderful nutritionist, Drew. I think you are all amazing women.
Highlights of the Gluten-Free Challenge:
- Lost 20 pounds and lowered my blood pressure.
- Decluttered my entire house (OMG huge).
- Discovered how important home is; I hung all my art on the wall and really moved in.
- Mr. Dynamic! I found a brief but powerful romance, released body shame, released fears, and remembered who I was again. My body got to feel pleasure and bliss after a lot of pain. I learned to focus on the positive.
- Learning to accept and love myself as I am.
- Writing the blog posts (and keeping a journal) brought numerous insights and change.
- Feeling of belonging to a supportive community, everyone rooting for me, and feeling less alone.
- I've learned to be more open with my family about my health issues and when I need help.
- Releasing the need to be perfect.
- Learned about nutrition and PMS/body cycles
- Learned that I had to ask for help, that I couldn't do it alone, that I shouldn't do it alone.
- Learned I need more interaction with people and less time alone.
- Learned new ways of healing, including meditation and hypnotherapy as tools.
- Learned to be kind and patient with myself.
- Understanding that sunlight, the beach, and the ocean are part of my soul. "All roads lead to the beach." (A message from my inner wisdom that came out during a hypnotherapy session with Iris)
- I feel proud of myself. I feel very proud!
In November, I finally, FINALLY stopped drinking caffeine. I packed away the coffee pot. I threw out the coffee. After a rough month in October, I decided my health was more important and I committed myself to letting go of caffeine. It's no longer part of my morning routine.
A Visit from Mr. Dynamic
I saw Mr. Dynamic again. No, not in person. Instead he showed up in a hypnotherapy session. I was "visiting" a garden, and saw my dad sitting on the bench. (Oh no, I thought.) Immediately, my invisible wall went up. Next thing I knew, Mr. Dynamic showed up. He said it was time to heal things with my dad now. He wasn't leaving until I started talking to my dad. He was there to keep me honest; he was there so I wouldn't run or avoid. And so the talking began.
In the next (self-hypnosis) session, Mr. Dynamic showed up again. He put two chairs facing each other. Said my dad and I had to sit down, face to face, and talk it out. Mr. Dynamic was acting as mediator. He started the dialogue. Said he wasn't leaving until we hashed things out. Mr. Dynamic told me I had kicked him out of my apartment because I needed healing with my dad, and it was time now. So the conversation with my dad started, and the healing began. In this session, I finally let the invisible wall down. My dad and I had a real heart-to-heart, and there was hugging and forgiveness. Then my dad and I went for a walk on the beach together, our bare feet in the water. Interesting, isn't it?
Before and After
When I look back at who I was at the beginning of the challenge to who I am today as a person, I feel completely changed. Like a new woman. Not a perfect person, but one who has improved health and a new outlook on life. I have much better tools to deal with the ups and downs of life. What I feel is overwhelming gratitude.
One of the things I am most proud of is that I decluttered my house and hung my art on the walls. I live in a real home now. I wanted to show you some before and after photos. The photos say even more about the challenge than my words.
My gluten-free eating and self-care won't end now. Everything I learned has become a foundation and a lifestyle for me. I do actually believe this gluten-free challenge saved my life. Honestly, I feel so much better now, and I'm never going back. I feel certain I can sustain this new way of living and it's the key to my future.
What's very clear is that all the changes and the healing came through a shift in perspective - how I view experiences, how I view life. With that comes the understanding that I'm not going back to my normal life; instead I'm moving forward into my new life.
And for me...all roads lead to the beach.
A Special Note to Iris Higgins
What can I say? You gave me unconditional love and support. You made me feel safe enough to share things I couldn't share with others (even family and friends). You saved me, Iris, you just absolutely saved me. You have amazing fairy magic. Keep on sprinkling your fairy dust because you are changing people's lives. It's what we need. I will pass it forward.
Love and Light Back to You,