If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

The first thing I need to do after this long hiatus from blogging, is thank all my loyal friends, supporters, and blog followers. I haven’t posted any updates in over 2 months, and there is a reason why, which I will delve into in this blog post. I just checked my stats on my blog, which tells you how many people are reading your blog daily, and I am astonished to find out that every day since my last blog post people have still been visiting my blog. It  means the world to me to know that I still have my loyal supporters, even when I have been absent on my blog.

Now the reason why I have not blogged as of late, is because I went off my vegan diet about 6 weeks ago. It was a very long and emotionally tiring week for me leading up to my decision to end my vegan diet. My best friends can attest to how conflicted I was about making that decision. Many things contributed to my decision to stop my vegan diet. What initially triggered it was my Rheumatologist telling me I was on the verge of becoming anemic, and deficient in a list of other things. I mean, I definitely started to notice it a few weeks prior, but I just thought it would pass. My fatigue was worse than normal, and I was extremely light headed and weak all the time. I also noticed I was losing a lot more of my hair. Since I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus, I would say the amount of hair I had has decreased by about half. So seeing even more hair loss than usual was an immediate red flag. I tried to take iron supplements and increase my spinach and kale intake, but it just didn’t make a significant difference (being that my own body attacks the little amount of red blood cells I had, was also not helping); plus iron supplements are extremely hard to digest and left me feeling constipated. With my Lupus, blood count has always been a struggle for me, I just felt like I did not need anything else contributing to any sort of deficiencies.

I was tired of being restricted from all the foods I used to love so much. I was tired of going to restaurants or social places worried about whether or not I would be able to eat anything there. I was tired of getting weird looks and being judged by people when I told them I was vegan. Throughout my journey as a vegan, I have received a lot of negative responses from people when they heard I was vegan. They would automatically criticize me and assume that I was doing it for superficial reasons, or so that I could be “hip” and say I was vegan. It astonished me how quickly people were to judge me and what they thought my intentions were. I never gave those people the time of day and just chose to ignore their ignorance. It just amazes me how people get so riled up about such topics, when it has nothing to do with them. How does someone feel that they should have an opinion on the food that I choose or choose not to consume?

It came to the point where I realized that I just wasn’t happy being vegan anymore. I felt deprived. I wasn’t my usual happy and positive self, I was tired, worn down and just going through life. I realized veganism was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and so I decided to stop. I wanted and needed to find a happy medium. I think I naturally eat quite healthy already, I mean I have at least one veggie packed smoothie and a salad everyday. Vegetables still are and have always been my favourite food group, but now it is just a matter of adding certain proteins to help me get back to feeling good and energized.

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Since going off my vegan diet, I have been eating a lot of eggs, fish, and chicken occasionally. I had pork and beef once or twice and I felt ill almost immediately; those meats I definitely plan on refraining from. I have gained back the 5-7 pounds that I lost when going on my vegan diet, but I feel much stronger now. I lost a lot of muscle mass while on my vegan diet, almost all my muscle. I also never had the energy to do any physical activity, I use to love practicing Bikram yoga, going to the gym, and running, but the idea of working out made me feel weak. My muscles, or lack of, in my legs were tired from just walking up a flight of stairs. I felt depleted of my energy after any moderate activity. Since going back to a regular diet, I have been back at yoga, practicing 3-4 times a week. I feel fantastic. I feel strong, limber, energized, and like I actually have core muscles again. Do I miss being 5-7 pounds lighter?? Honestly….no. I missed my curves and being able to fit my clothes perfectly. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little extra cushion! 🙂

The reason why it has taken me so long to write this blog post, is because I was worried about how my supporters would react. I was viewing my decision to stop veganism as me being a failure. I did not want it to seem like I was giving up. I eventually came to terms with my decision and can now see what this whole journey was really about for me.

It was the first time I had ever taken my disease into my own hands. I never questioned my doctors and the drugs they would prescribe me. I never thought about alternative medicine or changing my lifestyle, I would just say “yes” to everything. Now I have a very open communication with all my doctors; they understand that I do not want to be on these medications and if there are alternatives to things, that I would rather go that route. They provide me with more detail and information on things I use to never think twice about, like how certain drugs may affect me in the future etc.

This journey has pushed me to open up about my health. My family and friends know more about my health then I have ever shared in the last 9 years. I feel empowered that I was finally able to let my wall down and know that I am not weak for showing my vulnerable side.

I started a meditation practice 5 months ago and it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Looking at new things I can do for myself to de-stress internally was something I always said I was “too busy” to do. My daily meditation practice has really provided me with internal peace, calmness, and tranquility. Waking up every morning knowing the first thing I am going to do is meditate, focus my energy, and cultivate peace and happiness is something I cherish now and look forward to.

This whole journey has led me to my new calling and what I am pursuing in school now, naturopathy. I want to help people find that balance between Western and Eastern medicine, and that it doesn’t have to be black or white. That people with chronic diseases can have the best of both worlds, they just have to educate themselves and want to take control of their health. I want to help people realize that they can have a strong influence on their well being, and that when you feel that something is wrong, often times there are ways that you can contribute to your recovery. The easy thing to do is go see a doctor and get a prescription. The hard part is making lifestyle and diet changes and staying committed to them; the upside is that these changes will last a lifetime.

I am happy with the decision I have made to end my vegan diet, and I feel like such a winner after this whole experience. I live with no regrets, and this last year has been an incredibly remarkable and challenging journey. I have learned more about myself in this last year, than I have in the last 5 years combined. It is an experience I will always look back on and say, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that.” I have taken so much more from this experience than I had ever anticipated, and I am grateful for everything I endured, because it has brought me to where I am now, feeling refocused, peaceful, and enlightened.

I will continue to write about my life with Lupus, although I am unsure as to when I will be experimenting with natural medicine again. All I can promise you is that I promise to continuing sharing real, raw stories and experiences that I think someone out there, going through something similar may benefit from hearing.

Much love,

Chauf

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