Like millions of others, I suffered silently with unexplainable health symptoms for years that were getting progressively worse.
Like millions of others, I silently battled to function normally until I no longer could. All the while doctors telling me I was “fine.” I certainly looked “fine,” but inside I felt anything but “fine.”
I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in January of 2018. I was told the symptoms I was experiencing were simply a part of my new life.
My endocrinologist told me there was nothing I could do for my Hashimoto’s. It would get progressively worse until I needed to be on medicine for the rest of my life. I was 36 at the time.
Like many, many others, I walked out of my doctor’s office that day with a determination I did not know I had and with one word echoing through my mind, “No.” No, this is not how my story ends. No, I will not give up trying to find wellness.
Since there is no cure for autoimmune disease, I knew the only way I could feel better overnight was through the grace of God. I prayed for healing, and asked for religious blessings. No overnight healing came.
What did come? A sense of peace, inspiration, and knowing I needed to have this experience. I knew that this trial was custom made for me – to learn, to grow, to love deeper, to appreciate more fully, and to connect with others.
What also came? An idea.
I knew there was no cure, and I knew immediate healing, in my case, was not God’s will. I knew chances are I would not feel 100% better overnight.
What if I change my life through changing the habits that led me to developing an autoimmune disease and watching my wellness unravel?
What if I could identify many little changes in my life that each help me feel 1% better? Then, added together, over time, I could feel 20% better, then 30% better, then 40% better, and so on. So that’s what I did. I started almost a year ago.
I overhauled my nutrition, I learned to manage my stress, I developed better sleep habits, and so on.
The good news? What I did is not rocket science. In fact, what I did is surprisingly simple.
Not easy, but simple.
Anyone can do it.
I adopted several small wellness habits in my life, and repeated them daily.
Over and over and over again.
When I did not see results immediately, and I felt like giving up, I put my head down and went back to work. I kept repeating the little habits day after day, and would add more as I felt inspired to.
What did I find? Eventually those little changes I made, had a big impact on my health and wellness.
I no longer live daily with autoimmune symptoms.
No, I am not cured.
Yes, I still find myself in autoimmune flares occasionally. However, most of the time, I feel 30%, 40%, 50%, and even 60% better.
If I can do it, anyone can!
I was reading the life changing book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear and was thrilled when I started reading about this very concept. He shared the story of the British Cycling team, and how they went from mediocrity to record setting world champions by making small improvements, that when combined turned into incredible results.
“It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis. Too often, we convince ourselves that massive success requires massive action.[…] Meanwhile, improving by 1 percent isn’t particularly notable – sometimes it isn’t even noticeable – but can be far more meaningful, especially in the long run. The difference a tiny improvement can make over time is astounding. Here’s how the math works out: if you can get 1 percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1 percent worse each day for one year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero. What starts as a small win or a minor setback accumulates into something much more.” James Clear, Atomic Habits, page 15
I have seen this in my own life, both as my health declined over the years, and as my health has improved over the past year. I feel confident I feel at least 37 times better than I did this time last year.
My 1% Changes
What small changes did I make in my life over the past year to find wellness? Here are examples of some of the small habits that helped me feel better over time.
I stopped worrying about making “lifetime” changes, and instead focused on one meal or snack at a time. Clean meal after clean meal after clean meal. Ironically, I ended up changing my entire lifestyle into a clean eating lifestyle by taking it one bite at a time.
I learned how to prepare food and meals ahead of time to set my healthy eating choices up for success.
I did not read or study how to. I simply thought about the foods I like to eat, and how I could make it easier on myself the following day. For example, if I wash and cut strawberries today, that will make it easier to grab a snack tomorrow when I am hungry.
I learned that dry brushing was great for detoxifying by increasing blood circulation and encouraging lymph flow/drainage.
It only took me a few minutes to learn how to dry brush, and the small habit takes only a few minutes each day.
I learned that oil pulling improves gum health and reduces inflammation by drawing out toxins and reducing bacteria. I learned how to oil pull in a few minutes, and added it to my morning routine.
It takes just 10 minutes, and it helps relax muscles, loosen stiff joints, and lower stress. I love to add Lavender essential oil which has anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in lowering stress and treating anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Meditating everyday has been a game changer for me.
Meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance self-awareness, lengthen attention span, reduce age-related memory loss, and more.
My body was too sick to continue my intense workouts, so I chose to walk outside instead.
It was not pretty at first, but I slowly improved over time. Over the period of several months, I went from walking 1/4 mile at a snail’s pace, stopping for breaks, to walking 3 miles a day at a good pace. It was not overnight, but I improved 1% at a time.
Learning to say “no,” allowing myself time and space to heal, and being realistic with my schedule, and my family’s schedule.
In today’s fast paced world, there are endless kids activities, sports, and academic extracurricular activities.
As a mom, I used to feel pressure to have my kids involved in everything. It was exhausting for me, and for them.
Now, I am conscious about over scheduling, and create time for our family to just be home together.
1% At a Time
Today I am not sure the exact % I feel better, and it depends on the day, but it is more than I hoped for. It took time, patience, and determination.
Am I 100% better? Not yet. I am still working on it. It may be a lifelong pursuit.
Let’s work on improving our health together.
Let’s raise our voices and let our autoimmune sisters know there is a way to feel better.
Let’s love, support, and cheer each other on. This is tough stuff. We all need each other.
Whatever autoimmune disease or chronic illness you have, wherever you live, whatever you believe, I am here for you.
You do not have to do this alone.
Please know you can reach out to me through email, a comment, or Instagram. I love to connect.
You’ve got this. Take it 1% at a time.