August 6, 2011

Hormones and Health..My Personal Story!

Ok, I’m going to get a little personal here..and I think that’s ok. I am human afterall, and I want to share what has been going on with me in case it’s something that resonates…and it might just help you!

I am a healthy chef, a vegan chef, the food guru, a wellness coach and nutritionist. I lead people, everyday to healthier lives through plant-based eating and teach them how to make positive changes in their life day-by-day for long term results. I cook for Fitness Guru, Tony Horton and keep him healthy day in and day out. I hear so many great results from my clients about how amazing they feel, how much energy they have, how much weight they’ve lost, how well they are sleeping and so much more.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and I have to say that I feel like a bit of a fraud because I haven’t been feeling any of these things for about a year now. What?? I know you are probably shocked, as I live such a clean life, but here is how I really feel: always tired, lacking motivation, foggy brain, terrible PMS (sorry guys if you’re reading this), can’t sleep through the night, can’t even nap, no energy, dry skin,…and the list goes on..

Most recently my hair started falling out more than normal. At first I thought it was stress, as this happened to me once before when I was in my 20’s running a restaurant/nightclub on the Jersey Shore and working 80hours a week (will never do that again). I have been stressed running a business on my own, yes, but not that stressed. I felt a bit concerned. I know many of you may be thinking right now that it’s my darn vegetarian diet that’s doing it..not enough protein…not enough iron, not enough….WRONG!!!

Since I was feeling like a dead piece of meat on a plate (sorry kids), I decided to get my yearly bloodwork done to see if there was anything happening out of the ordinary. As usual, my cholesterol, protein, iron, etc all tested fine (thank you plant-based living) and in stellar range. What didn’t look so good, and has consistently not looked good over the last 4 years, which my doctors from past failed to point out to me, is that I have had a consistent low white blood cell count every time my bloodwork came back. No one said a peep, nothing, nada. It was not until my Chiropractor, yes, my chiropractor read my bloodwork and told me what this meant. Basically, my body has been working hard to fight some low-grade infection that has been lingering for years. What??? Me?? The queen of health!!! I was flabbergasted! Yes, I got sick a ton as a kid, but since I became first vegetarian and then vegan, I have had a clean bill of health. Very rarely ever catch a cold, or get sick at all. I knew this was not a food or lifestyle issue..I knew there was more.

My chiropractor put me on some Immune boosting herbal supplements, and told me that I should think about seeing an Endocrinologist that specializes in hormones and hormone balancing. Funny enough, because this thought did cross my mind in the last few years, and since I am not a spring chicken anymore (yes, it’s all relative), I took his advice. Women creeping in or already in their early forties, before menopause, go through a lot of change in their bodies and most of us don’t understand it because there are not many doctors out there that are schooled in knowing these things…or that even know about nutrition, or low white blood cell count!! SAD!! My thyroid even tested OK on my blood test…all came back looking hunky dory (I think I just aged myself with that saying) as my chiropractor thought that could be the problem. enough to make any doctor say, “You’re fine, you’re just stressed out…get some rest.”

I decided to make an appointment with the well-known Dr. Prudence Hall, seen on Oprah and Dr. Oz and she just so happens to be located here in Venice, SCORE!! One of the many reasons why I love LA!! A few my friends had gone to see her and their lives have been changed for the better in a few short months. I resisted because I really didn’t want to accept that I was getting old enough to have hormonal imbalances! YIKES! And I thought I would never get in to see her, but lo and behold I got the appointment one day after I made the call..hallelujah! Honestly, enough is enough…I am TIRED of feeling like C-R-A-P and I know it wasn’t anything I was missing in my diet or because of a bad diet. I live a clean life..I don’t even drink Alcohol for crying out loud..how could I feel this terrible??

I walked into the Hall Health & Longevity Center (I think the name says it all) and it was welcoming, inviting, serene and zen. I felt like I walked into a retreat center or a spa. Now this is what a doctor’s office should feel like! I was greeted with hot tea and a packet of paperwork the thickness of my book contract! I cozied into the couch where I was surrounded by Buddha’s watching over me, so I knew that I must be honest about my age!

To make a long story short and to get to what really matters, through a variety of more in-depth testing, made specifically to determine hormone health, what resulted was that I have hypo-thyroid, severe low estrogen (that’s where the PMS plays in) and low iodine, which is so important for the delicate balancing of all these feminine wonders. WOW! Who knew?? I knew something was off…but it was more than just a little something. There are a few more tests I am waiting on but I finally feel like I am on the right track. Prudence put me on all-natural, bio-identical hormones, which basically match the hormones in my body exactly, and my tired body just doesn’t want to produce them anymore..hey shit happens and thank god there’s treatment!

Basically my body has been attacking itself over the course of a few years, because I have not had enough hormones available to do their job, thus the low white blood cell count. It didn’t start to really show up until this last year, so it can start to happen little by little and most of us will discount it as stress or overworked. I must tell you how relieved I am to learn this, because it’s so utterly disheartening to take such great care of myself inside and out and still feel like doo-doo!

Well, let me tell you ladies..and gents too, because you can suffer from hormone imbalance as well. I highly recommend if you are feeling any of these symptoms that I have discussed above, then it might be time to check out your hormones from a holistic professional who will give you an all natural solution, not some prescription made from horse pee! Our bodies are our temple for the short time we are here on earth and when they are not running smoothly and perfectly, life can really suck! I teach people how to take care of their bodies and how to put good food into them so they can live a more happy and vital life. Well, I have to tell you that I am so happy I found a solution and took action for my health. I committed to ME! My spin teacher often says in class as we are pedaling at high speed and ready to call it quits, “Commit to YOU!”..man, he’s brilliant! And that’s exactly what I did.

I know I only scratched the surface of a much bigger subject which also include menopause, perimenopause and pre-menopause, so I highly recommend that you do research and also check out Dr. Hall and Dr. Brownstein’s sites, books and CD’s to learn more about hormonal health.

I am beyond ecstatic to know that I will be getting my energy, vitality and happy place back!! Lastly, make sure you check out this video of Dr. Hall on Dr. Oz talking about bio-identical hormones. This could save your life!

Melissa Costello

Author, Speaker, Culinary Plant-Based Nutrition & Health Empowerment Coach | Cleanse Expert

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