The Opportunities that Come from Challenges

I want to start my post today by thanking you. In my last post I shared my health struggles with you, and I am so thankful for the support you gave me. Having some of you reach out to me was touching, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am.

Even though my health struggles have been challenging, knowing that I need to make some lifestyle changes to feel better, it is also a time of opportunity. I have been doing a lot of research over the past few months, and I realize that this is a chance for me to re-learn how to take care of myself and listen to my body. It seems like a strange concept at 23 years old, but I suppose it’s better late than never right??

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

All of the research that I have been doing has reignited my passion for nutrition and its impact on wellbeing. The more research I do, the more I want to learn. And the more I read about other people’s struggles, the more I am reminded that I am not alone in having to learn how to take care of my body. Even some of you who reached out to me after my last blog post are going through similar struggles, or have already gone through the same kind of struggle and learned how to help yourself. As a society we have so much information thrown at us, and so much of seems to be contradictory. So how do we really know the right approach to taking care of ourselves? My research has brought me to a realization: I want to learn as much as I can and create my own path to well-being, and I want to learn how to help other people do the same.

This realization led me to the decision to study nutrition on the side, and I have recently started taking online courses at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I already love the courses I’m taking and am finding that I am learning a lot.

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I’m excited to see where this journey will take me, and what I will learn about myself in the process.

I want to hear from you!

Tell me about a time a challenge presented an opportunity for you.

Have you found your own way to well-being? What worked for you?

Until next time,

Sam

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Honeymoon Recap – The Post that Almost Didn’t Happen

Cam and I are back from our honeymoon and boy was it a doozy!

I almost didn’t even write this post, because I was worried that it wouldn’t fit with the theme of this blog – joyful and whole. But, with some coaxing from my wonderful mother, and husband, I realized that the purpose of this blog is not to pretend that hardships don’t happen, but to find and share ways to be ‘joyful and whole’ despite life’s challenges, and perhaps even because of them. This blog is about overcoming the hurdles that are thrown at us and finding ways to be happy and true to ourselves even in the face of hardship. So, today’s post might have a bit of a different tone, but I have decided to be brave and give you a real dose of authenticity today in hopes that maybe even one person will read this and be reminded that hardships happen to all of us, in different forms, but you are never alone.

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Source: Google Images

Cam and I were incredibly excited for our honeymoon, but our excitement was not without hesitation. For the past two years I have been struggling with digestive complications which were getting progressively worse and were threatening to become debilitating, and Cam and I were worrying that the severity would be exacerbated on the trip.

To understand where we were coming from, I have to go back and explain the problems that having been plaguing me. What began as infrequent and minor digestive upsets during the spring of my final year of my undergrad degree, slowly progressed to frequent, horrible stomach pain and the inability to tolerate, well…food. I was finding myself tired constantly, having muscle aches and pains, dizzy spells, and frequent fevers. My doctor was of little help. Because I didn’t seem to have ‘textbook’ symptoms of any particular ailment, I felt as though my doctor decided early in the process that I must have been exaggerating my symptoms. Finally, after nearly two years of problems that were getting progressively worse, my doctor was convinced enough to order blood tests for me. My tests showed high C-reactive proteins which indicated that I was experiencing inflammation and I also had lower amounts of iron in my blood than before. These results lead to a visit to a specialist’s office and a scope.

When we left for our honeymoon Cam and I didn’t have my diagnosis yet. All that we knew were my symptoms and that my scope showed inflammation. And this is why we were nervous about our trip.

So, this brings me to our honeymoon. Our first three days were absolutely wonderful – everything we could have hoped for in our honeymoon. And then, to our surprise, Cam got sick. We had been so fixated on my health issues that it had not occurred to either of us that Cam would get sick; but he did, and I was afraid. I had never seen Cam so sick and the added stress of being in a foreign country where the first language is not English was too much of a stress for me. I took Cam to the hospital and he was given an IV to rehydrate him after being so sick, and luckily, he was better almost instantly. Unfortunately, by the time he was better, I had already stressed myself into a major flare up. Within only a few days, I was so sick that I had lost 10 pounds and became severely dehydrated. I too had to go to the hospital and was immediately put on an IV treatment. Unfortunately, after my hospital treatment, I was not better. We returned to the resort and spent our last night in Cuba wishing for the moment we could leave and go back home.

I knew that the journey back home would not be fun. I woke up the morning of our flight feeling weak and none of my symptoms had subsided. The idea of our bus ride, not knowing if the bus would have a bathroom; the idea of having to wait in lines at the airport; the idea of the portions of the plane ride where we would not be allowed to leave our seats to use the washroom; the idea of our car ride from Toronto to Peterborough, all created humiliating scenarios in my head. Fortunately, the only thing that sounded worse than all of the scenes was the idea of being away from home for another day, so we left Cuba, on-schedule. Despite -40 weather and high winds, we arrived safely in Canada, only to find ourselves stuck on the tarmac for nearly 2 hours while waiting for a gate that wasn’t frozen. We didn’t care; we were just so relieved to be home.

Unfortunately, coming back to Canada was not the end of my troubles. After being terribly ill for another two days, I found myself in the hospital again. Although I wasn’t thrilled to be there, I was thankful to be in a hospital in Canada. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the care I received in the hospital in Cuba, but there is no denying that Cuban hospitals and Canadian hospitals are not the same.

Then, on Wednesday, I met with the specialist again and finally received my diagnosis. As it turns out, I have had an infection for a long time that has now caused erosion of my colon; and at this point, though I have been told that I should see some healing with treatment and dietary adjustments, I do not know if I will ever see a full recovery. So, if you are reading this and you are experiencing problems that your doctor is not taking as seriously as you think they should be, I implore you, keep fighting for your health. There was a period where I started to question myself, and started to wonder if my doctor was right to question me, but if I had given up and not listened to my body, the damage in my intestines would have continued to get worse and worse. So, if there is anything that I hope you get out of this post, it is this: never stop being your own advocate. You know your body, and if something is wrong, make sure that you do not take ‘no’ for an answer.

This blog is about the wonderful little things that happen each day, but I have to admit that it is hard to think about the positives when you are too weak, too nauseous, and in too much pain to even get yourself out of bed. But, what I will say is that even in that awful state, there was one thing that I was immensely grateful for: the incredible people around me. The Sunwing representative and hotel manager who both personally ensured that we received the treatment we needed, the doctors who treated me, our wonderful families who were prepared to help us in whatever way we needed when we got home, and my amazing husband who got me through that awful time. He advocated for me with the doctors, he worked with the hotel staff to make sure I got everything I needed, he comforted me when I was scared and in pain, he literally lifted me out of bed when I couldn’t get myself up, and all after he himself had been very ill only a few days before.

We all have struggles; they are inevitable, but how we overcome them is what matters, and sometimes we need to rely on the generosity of those around us to help us through these tough times.

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Source: Google Images

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The view from our first three days

See You In a Week Canada!

Vacation

Source: tumblr

Well friends, this blog post will be a short one! Cam and I are currently getting ready to leave for our honeymoon. Tomorrow morning we’ll be off to Toronto and then early Sunday we’re off to Cuba!

We have been getting so excited! Today Cam and I both took the day off work and we spent the day packing, and getting ready to leave…which really means we spent the day packing and gabbing about how excited we are.

This will be Cam’s first time flying, and our first big trip together! It’s hard to believe that we’ve been together for nearly 7 years and have never been out of Canada together!

We are so looking forward to the first of (hopefully) many trips to come!

See you in a week!

Sam

Easy Crockpot Vegetable Soup

As a kid, I never liked soup; it just didn’t appeal to me. Fast forward 15 years and I absolutely love it. I find it’s one of the best comfort foods in the winter. And this winter, I am seriously in need of warm comfort food. I have been having a hard time staying warm this winter and the three things that seem to be able to warm me up are: warm wooly socks, tea (as if I needed another excuse to drink copious amounts of tea), and soup!

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

So, in an effort to stay warm, I decided to take advantage of my crockpot and try a soup recipe. Luckily, this one was a hit on the very first try. Cam and I both really enjoyed it, and it made a huge batch, so I get to keep having leftovers for lunch…bonus!

Crockpot Vegetable Soup:

1 package ground turkey (browned in a pan)

Half of a cabbage (shredded)

3 large heirloom carrots (cut into bite size pieces)

1 tsp minced garlic

½ small onion (diced)

½ small package of white mushrooms (cut in halves)

3 handfuls celery (cut into small pieces)

1 handful coriander

1 small handful oregano

1 tetra pack of chicken broth

5 cups water

Here’s the kicker: after you’ve cooked your ground turkey, just throw everything into a crockpot and let simmer on low overnight. That’s it. That’s all. Not even kidding. Go to sleep and let the crockpot do all your work!

Give the soup a try and warm up in this cold and dreary winter weather! Let me know if you give it a try!

Until next time,

Sam

Highlights of the Week – Feb 1

Happy February 1st! I cannot believe we are already into February – where has the time gone?! I feel like it was just Christmas and then I blinked and it’s suddenly February!

Well, February or not, it’s also Sunday…so here comes another weekly highlights post!

I have to say, despite a hilariously off day early this week (where I was late for work, forgot my work-appropriate shoes, wore my shirt inside out at the gym, and then found myself completely lost on the way to a new hairdresser’s), the rest of the week was great! There was definitely no shortage of highlights this week!

  1. Finding the perfect breakfast ‘fry’ recipe:

Plantain fries

I won’t go on and on about the plantain fries that I made, because I already wrote a whole post about it, but I couldn’t help but include the recipe discovery in my highlights for this week because they really were that delicious!

  1. Some great finds for my upcoming trip to Cuba

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Cam and I have been planning our honeymoon since we got married in October, and I can’t believe that it’s almost here (we leave on Sunday – yay)!

This week I realized how close the trip is getting and I decided to pick up a couple of things. I found the perfect floppy sunhat, and sunglasses (at Aerie of all places…), and the cutest sandals at my favourite shoe store in Peterborough (S.O.S for those of you who live in Peterborough – if you haven’t been you should check it out). I also started packing for Cuba and I’m getting even more excited – Sunday cannot come fast enough!

  1. Going to a beautiful wedding

Cute Wedding

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Nikki and I at the wedding

This weekend my cousin got married, and we were lucky enough to get to go her wedding. I have been so excited to see these two awesome people get married, and their wedding was fittingly perfect. Nikki, Cam, my parents and I had a great time!

  1. Getting to spend a weekend with Cam

wedding fun

My cousin’s wedding was doubly exciting for Cam and I, because it meant that Cam got to take the weekend off of work. This was the first weekend that Cam and I had together since our wedding; it was wonderful! It made me even more excited for our whole week together in Cuba!

Happy Sunday friends!

Until next time,

Sam