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The road to wellness is long. It’s hard work and it sucks. Do I have the authority to tell you how to take the journey? Certainly not. But I’ve been in pursuit of optimal health for years and I hope you can glean something from my experience.
It all started out pretty well. I finished high school as a super-athlete. I raced cross-country skiing, track, and cross-country running in high school. I’d been to Ski Nationals several times, landing high enough in the rankings to make myself, my family, and my hometown proud.
Then I was diagnosed with asthma. And lactose intolerance. And soy intolerance. And several other nagging allergies and intolerances I had yet to figure out. My immune system was falling apart due to over-training and being underweight. Add this to my severe nut allergy and the recipe for disaster is obvious.
I completed the twelfth grade in two years instead of one, in order to focus on my health and my future. By the time I got to university, I was happier, if not healthier. I carried a healthy amount of weight, but my asthma was completely out of control.
I joined the cross country team but failed to recapture my former glory and race times. So I drank rum and cokes every weekend and ate my food all processed, all the time. I felt good for a few months but once I got home and realized how unhealthy I’d become, I decided to make a change.
I decided not to ignore my lactose intolerance. I made it a priority to annoy the hell out of my respiratory therapist and get my asthma medication under control. I kept running, because that’s what I do. I added weight training in order to feel strong.
Things started to improve. Since my second year I’ve discovered a gluten intolerance, so my diet has become something out of a hippy commune. But it makes me feel good.
My first two years of university, I had a cold every second week. Since I’ve changed what I eat, I’ve barely had a cough. Of course, I’ve needed to experiment, but I think I’ve found what works for me.
My newest challenge is to find not just health, but optimal health. I want to reclaim my fastest running times. I’m looking forward to running a marathon upon graduation. So my focus is on how to fuel for running, keeping in mind that I need to function in everyday life.
My coach and I have discussed hydration. I’m having trouble retaining water and have muscle spasms and tightness as a result. His solution: dulce, which is basically dried seaweed.
It tastes like garbage. It looks like garbage. But I’ve been taking it with water because the salt in it helps me to stay hydrated.
Like I said, I’m not an expert, but I’m navigating the road to wellness as best I can. And after four years, it still sucks.