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Happy Sunday Everyone and May the 4th be with you! HAHA wow I’m a nerd. Anyways today is also the first Sunday of the month and that means we have the opportunity to spotlight another amazing follower who has changed her life to a healthy lifestyle. Brittani has overcome some scary health risks and through lots of hard work is now really “living” her life. As Brittani say’s “every blood, sweat, and tears you put into changing your life towards a healthy change is definitely worth it.” She has a great story about finding a way to truly live your life in the best way possible. Thanks so much for sharing your story Brittani :)photo(17)

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Hi, my name is Brittani and this kind of is, and kind of isn’t a weight loss story. It is really a journey to becoming more aware of my body and my health. Let me explain. I never really ate healthy or exercised growing up. I “didn’t need to”, because I never struggled with my weight growing up. I got married and put on some pounds. I had a couple of kiddos and put on some more pounds. I tried diets and such, but honestly, I wasn’t that worried about it, but I should have been. I dealt with, what I thought of at the time, as severe indigestion. My husband and I started to eat healthier. It never really helped my weight or my stomach issues. We started making changes slowly about 6 years ago. Fast forward to 1 year ago. I was about 60 pounds overweight, and I was dealing with horrible stomach pain. I had been to the ER for it several times a year for the past several years. Finally they sent me to a specialist… And now on to the Questionnaire to finish my story.

What motivated me to make a change in my lifestyle? So I went to a specialist for the stomach pain I had been having for years. They did some tests, stuck a camera down my throat, and did a biopsy. The results came back. I had what is called Barrett’s Esophagus. (The esophageal tissue mutates into stomach lining tissue because stomach acid is entering your esophagus.) They also said that those cells where the change was going on were in a stage of metaplasia… in lay man’s terms, they found precancerous cells growing in my throat. SCARY! I was 28 at the time, with two small children. When they told me, I cried, and then I got angry that it was happening to me, and then I got motivated. I was ashamed that I had let that happen to my body, and that I hadn’t taken care of myself. I was determined to be healthy because, well, I deserved it, and I wanted live a long and healthy life for my little boys and my husband.

What healthy changes have I made? I spoke with several doctors. I heard a lot of “just take a pill and you’ll be fine”. I tried for a few weeks and realized that option wasn’t for me. It may be for some people, but I was ready to change my life. I spoke with another doctor, who happened to have some holistic training. She suggested I try a specialized diet… The Paleo Diet, or sometimes known as the caveman diet. For those of you who don’t know much about it, here is the briefest description I can give you: No Grains, No Dairy, No Legumes, No Processed Sugar. If a caveman could have ate it, then so could I. I was in shock, but I was determined to turn my health, and really my life, around. With the support of a wonderful husband, we cleaned out our fridge and our cupboards and started experimenting with a new way of eating. (I have learned to love experimenting in the kitchen!) I also started running. Now I am the SLOWEST runner on the universe, but I am a runner and it is wonderful. I also took up yoga, which I adore. I do some basic weight training once a week, at home, with nothing more than 2 and 5 pound weights, and that’s it. So far in a year I have lost 55 pounds, and I have kept it off with no problem. That is the first time that it has ever been that way for me. I am just 5 pounds shy of my goal weight.

What has been the hardest part about making these changes and sticking with them? I would say that the hardest thing is the pressure I get from other people to not eat in a Paleo way. They don’t understand why I would choose something so hard. I have to constantly remind myself that I want to live, and not just live, but be energetic and healthy and take care of myself, so that I can live for a long time. This isn’t just weight loss for me, this is cancer prevention! Working out is something that I can’t stop doing, otherwise I fall out of that habit. It always harder to start back up for me, so I just don’t stop.

Do I reward myself for reaching goals? If so, what are the rewards? I do reward myself for reaching goals. Usually, I tell myself I can’t go get my hair cut until I reach my goal, and for a hairstylist, that is pretty motivating. I have also rewarded myself with new running shoes or a sports bra, or anything that makes me feel better about working out.

Do I have any advice for others who are struggling with similar problems? My advice would be that making hard changes is worth it. You will go through ups and downs in your health journey, but just keep moving forward. If your goal is a healthy body and healthy view of yourself, then every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it is worth it. Try and find others to get on board with you so that you are accountable for the eating and exercise decisions you make. I couldn’t have done it without my family jumping onto this health journey with me.

-Shauna 

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