Welcome to The Whole Life Balance!
My name is Leslie, and I’m a Paleo-eating, crunchy-living virtual assistant. Here is a the story behind how I came to create a blog about finding balance in your health and in your life:
When I was 18 and a senior in high school, my mom, who works in the laboratory of a hospital, decided she wanted to do some blood work on me for the hospital’s spring clinic. Through that blood work, we discovered that I had thyroid issues, and I was later diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. You can read more about Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is here. At 18, I had to go on a thyroid medication that I was told I would have to take every day for the rest of my life. I was also vaguely told to watch what I ate, but nothing was particularly off-limits. I struggled with hypothyroid symptoms (even today, I’ve never been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but I wonder if I have it). I had trouble losing weight (and instead would slowly gain it), I was often exhausted, and I sometimes found myself sleeping for 9+ hours/night for several consecutive nights. I have also always suffered from having cold hands and feet, a problem I still have today, and I have been having issues with excessive hair shedding for a few months now. When I complained of any symptoms at doctors’ appointments, the response was always to increase my medication dosage. For a couple of years, I was taking a 200 mcg dosage of Synthroid, and never once were dietary changes suggested. Exercise was “a good idea.” I finally realized that this was a very high dosage, and other people get by with much lower ones. I also “saw the light” on lifestyle changes.
Anyway, fast forward to December of 2013. By this time, I had finished both B.A. and M.Ed. degrees, I had survived my first year of teaching in a public charter school, and I was in my second year of teaching, at a private school at the time. (Note: I was a full-time teacher for three years and worked in schools for four years prior to that, during college and graduate school.) I forget exactly how, but I stumbled upon this “diet” called Paleo. I read a little bit about it, both on websites and on infographics on Pinterest (of course). I decided to give Paleo a try. At the same time, I wanted to get in shape but didn’t want to spend money on a monthly gym membership. My boyfriend had P90X videos and equipment at home, so I committed to doing that.
You heard me. Paleo and P90X, all at once.
I started these new lifestyle commitments on December 28, 2013. I actually completed P90X, with the exception of skipping two Ab Ripper days (shhh!), and I did get a gym membership for a few months after that. More importantly to me, though, I stuck with Paleo. At first, I was staying strict Paleo during the week, but I’d eat whatever I wanted on Saturday nights, the night my boyfriend and I always have our weekly date. In February of 2014, I bought a copy of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s The Paleo Approach, and in it, I read that people with autoimmune thyroid diseases should never eat gluten. So, after our 2-year anniversary, which involved a dinner date at The Melting Pot (priorities), I committed to going completely gluten-free, even on date nights and weekends away from home. I was still eating some dairy when eating out at restaurants, and I eventually also opted to be completely soy-free at all times.
I didn’t lose much weight going Paleo and doing P90X. In the year leading up to these changes, I had been working out at home with a fitness game on our WiiU and running regularly, competing for fun in a few 5Ks and a 4-mile run. I had already lost about 25 pounds prior to even going Paleo and doing P90X, so at the end of P90X, I’d only lost 3-4 pounds. However, I had more muscle definition and felt like I was generally in better shape. As I mentioned previously, I did end up getting a membership at my boyfriend’s gym, because it was cheap. I started lifting real weights, and I fell in love with that.
In the summer of 2014, my boyfriend and I moved cross-country. I started a new job, back at a public charter school (different system than my first year), and it was incredibly demanding. I worked more than I’d ever worked, usually more than 60 hours/week. Also, while I loved our move, it stressed my boyfriend and took much longer for him to adjust. The stress of all of these things took its toll, and in October of 2014, I found out the rash I’d had on my chest for several years and was starting to develop on my back was candida overgrowth. I went on a somewhat strict candida diet off and on for 10 weeks, hitting the die-off at about week seven. I was miserable, because of how low-carb that diet is. I gave it up at the holidays, and I started carbing up and lifting again for about three weeks, just in time for our apartment complex’s fitness center to close for renovations!
Eventually, I decided I needed to give in to the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). I’d known about the AIP for a long time, seeing it on Instagram early on in my Paleo journey. From early March to mid-April, I completed the SAD to AIP in SIX program to help me transition from Paleo to the AIP (you can read the post I wrote about that transition here). In late March of 2015, I had a doctor’s appointment that returned some surprising and contradictory lab results from what I expected, changing the way I thought about my symptoms. The results showed that I was actually in an incredibly hyperthyroid state, causing symptoms such as the increasing anxiety I was experiencing and the trouble sleeping. I’d requested to switch from Synthroid to WP Thyroid, and about a month later, when I had a follow-up appointment, the lab results showed the complete opposite! At that time, I was showing extremely hypothyroid symptoms, which my doctor attributed to not being on a high enough dosage of WP Thyroid. I also learned, through a saliva test with 23andMe, that I have the MTHFR A1298C mutation, as well as several other genetic mutations. In May of 2015, I decided to leave my teaching career, as it was having a rather negative effect on my health, and instead, I started my own business as a virtual assistant. There’s been a lot going on, but the more informed I am, the more I can do. My collection of cookbooks now includes not only around a dozen regular Paleo cookbooks but also four AIP cookbooks (and I have a slew of e-books, too), so I’m very well-prepared. I’m thrilled to observe that after a few months following the strict elimination phase of the AIP, I’ve finally been seeing positive changes, such as my TSH leveling out in the normal range, better sleep habits, less hair shedding, and weight maintenance. I’m not sure yet (August 2015) when I’ll begin reintroducing foods that I eliminated for the AIP.
And this is why I decided to create this blog. I chose the name “The Whole Life Balance” (which I chose on Instagram first, after being @girl_gone_paleo for a year) because that’s something I’m working to achieve in my own life. Between my choices to be Paleo and crunchy (all-natural hygiene and beauty products), my own business, and my personal life outside of all that, it’s HARD to find balance. And, I know I’m not alone. People everywhere struggle with these same kinds of issues. If nothing else, we can commiserate together, learn from one another, and work together toward our individual whole life balances.This post contains affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission to cover website expenses when sales are completed through my affiliate links.