A Better Way
Most young adults reminisce about sleepovers and summer camp. I can't. For me, turning twelve years old marked the beginning of my "incurable" bump in the road. When the doctor diagnosed me with C-Diff and Crohn's Disease.
Editor's Note 2020 SupplementRelief.com Health & Wellness Scholarship essay winner.
The smell of alcohol...
The sight of needles...
The sound of a grim prognosis...
'Living' would require a lifelong dependency on steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, chemo medicine, and antibiotics. The only "cure" was removing my colon and wearing a colostomy bag. The doctors explained that the danger of developing this condition as a child is that it 'severely stunts growth and development' and that I would be stuck in a sixth-grade body for the rest of my life. And within a decade, the statistical probability of developing colon cancer was very high.
Three years of internal bleeding and a fierce battle against a fatal infection followed the initial diagnosis. Thoughts shifted from boyish daydreams into crippling nightmares. "Will I have a colostomy bag at graduation?" "Will I live long enough to get married and start a family?" Another disheartening outcome that developed with this tragedy was having to leave traditional school and all of the friendships that I had in my life, leaving me feeling completely and utterly alone. The only person I had left was my devoted mother, as even my father abandoned me when I became sick.
As you can imagine, I had a hard time coming to terms with this diagnosis. I didn't understand the common mistake that I made that caused all this hardship in my life... Like so many others, I didn't prioritize my health and instead fell into a cycle of pushing my body until exhaustion without providing myself the proper tools to stay healthy. I learned the hard way that this kind of lifestyle only leaves us drained, exhausted, and eventually chronically ill.
With the medications only serving to make me worse, and side effects which caused more harm than good, including all-night treacherous migraines, extreme muscle weakness, frailty, and immobility. I knew there had to be a better way than the grim options that conventional medicine gave us. These difficult times led my mom and me to learn about aand it's potential disease-fighting capabilities. I wasn't sure what to expect, but out of desperation, we decided to give it a try. What I didn't anticipate was how easily I would come to embrace (and fall in love) with this new way of life. We had found a better way.
Not only did this new lifestyle improve my health, but I quickly began connecting with the many other aspects of living a healthy lifestyle, I became connected with my "why." I discovered that being "healthy" is about so much more than just not being sick, it's about complete personal wellness. It's about learning to listen to your body and giving yourself the proper tools to stay healthy. I learned that when you fall ill, it's not that your body failed you, it's that you failed your body.
Through the years, living a healthy lifestyle became less and less about "fighting a disease" and instead about the joy that I gained from discovering this new and better way of life. Instead of demanding impossible things from my body, I learned to respect, honor, and care for it so it could care for me. I became interested in everything that this new life had to offer, and I devoted myself to learning organic food gardening, how to cook healthy plant-based specialty meals, and how to shift your paradigm to always find the good out of any situation that life throws your way. I am proud to say that I was able to find my silver lining.
If it wasn't for this journey, I would have never found a plant-based lifestyle.
The nine years that followed the initial diagnosis haven't been easy, actually, they have been far from it... but I never let my health define my life, and I NEVER let it stop me from accomplishing my goals and ambitions. Instead, I use it as motivation to help me accomplish my health goals of treating my body with love and respect through eating a whole food plant-based diet and making sure that I am always giving myself enough margin. Although it can be challenging as a full-time student with three jobs, I'm mindful not to fall into the common health traps that I have before, and that so many people struggle with.
Through my health journey, I came to the desire to help other young adults like me learn the importance of a healthy lifestyle. My desire is to one day become a public speaker and author, helping people by sharing my story, inspiring them, and mobilizing them to change their lives for the better. And although these dreams are in the future since I am still a full-time student, I am taking actionable steps towards helping others by building a blog, a YouTube channel, and social media presence devoted to teaching others these lessons. Ironically this actually keeps me more consistent with my health goals by writing and sharing them with others!
If I was chosen for this scholarship, a desire I have is to use it to become a certified health coach or certified naturopathic practitioner. This would allow me a venue to shine a light on how living a healthy lifestyle can change your world. It's so much more than a diet... it's the most stunningly beautiful journey! I'm ready to light the flame of inspiration for those who seek the truth.
So whether my destiny is to change a life through a book, a speaking platform, or even just one-on-one coaching to the young child with a newfound diagnosis, or the resigned adult who's given up all hope from a chronic illness, this is what I would say:
The way your story began, is not how it has to end. All things really are possible if you can have faith and believe. Embrace the joy of a healthy lifestyle. And with every sip of green juice, celebrate that food is your medicine and medicine is your food. And smile at your scars because they tell the amazing story of how within your greatest struggles is when you discover your greatest strengths. And above all else, it's never too late to begin again.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Editor's Note Christopher has a presence on YouTube and other social platforms where he advocates for a Wellness lifestyle.
Related Wellness Resources
We encourage you to take advantage of these FREE Wellness Resources on our website.
Healthy Living Whole Foods Cookbook
Many people know "what" to do to be healthy, but HOW do you do it? One of the best ways we have found is to show people how we eat as a family. This customizable, whole foods cookbook features two hobby chefs! Sara Kosmiski is an amazing RAW foods expert, and Libby Wright shares good foods for beginners in healthy cooking. We hope you enjoy these recipes and encourage you to share them with your family and friends!
How to Shop and What to Eat
We are what we eat. Studies from reputable health organizations suggest that 40-60% of Americans are living with one or more chronic diseases, which negatively impacts their quality of life, reduces employment productivity, and drives up health care costs.1 Lifestyle choices, in particular, the foods we choose to put into our bodies, are making us sick. However, we do have choices regarding our nutrition.
Learn practical tips for healthy and affordable grocery shopping and consider using a list similar to the recommended natural, whole foods grocery shopping list provided to get you off to a good start!
Webinar: Four Letter Word for F.O.O.D.
Facilitator Libby Wright discusses the unhealthy types of food typically consumed in the S.A.D (Sad American Diet) with participants of the Your Best Weight program. She provides alternative food choices and recipes that are nutritious and taste great along with supplement recommendations including meal replacement protein shakes.
Please enjoy the webinar. You may also wish to view or download the slides used for the presentation. We encourage you to ask questions or share your thoughts in the Discussion Forum.
When Did Food Become Our Enemy?
It could be that the primary key to health and wellbeing lay within our gastrointestinal tract. With obesity and childhood behavioral disorders at seemingly epidemic levels and our "healthcare" system lacking answers, where do we turn?
Why You Need Colostrum and PRPs
I would like to introduce you to my new best friend, Proline-Rich Polypeptides. You can call him PRP for short! This is an amazing leap in science. While we've been carrying the NuMedica ImmunoG product line for quite some time, and I was in fact using it daily, I had no idea it's power and scope of use!
Learn more about these NuMedica Supplements on our website.
Supports immune factors, digestive health, and may accelerate the healing of body tissue with powerful bovine-derived colostrum.
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