Recently, I went through a health challenge, and it required me visiting several doctors to figure out what was going on. Luckily, it wasn't anything serious, but it started out so insignificantly -- just a small rash on the side of my face. No biggie, right? Well, not if it stayed that way. But not only was it as itchy as you-know-what, over the course of the next 4-5 days, it spread over my entire face and was so insanely itchy that I wanted to claw my face off.
First, I went to the urgent care doctor just to get relief from the itching (it was a Saturday so my doctor wasn't available). He did me no good. Then I went to one dermatologist after another. They were no help either. They just kept throwing steroid creams at me, injecting me with steroids, and giving me steroid pills. I also got antibiotics and some supposed anti-itch pills that never worked.
They kept saying it was an allergy, but I knew it was something more. Nothing was working. And not only did the itchiness get worse, it eventually spread to my entire body. It was "Itchy Hell."
Finally, I went to an alternative doctor who took one look at me and knew what was happening. She did a blood test to confirm it too. Like I said, it was nothing serious (a systemic candida overgrowth, as gross as that sounds), but it required me to go on a no-sugar diet for at least three weeks, in addition to some medication.
When I heard the words "no-sugar diet for at least 3 weeks," I thought, "Not a chance!" Don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge sugar addict or anything. I don't really have any junk food in my house (or else I'd eat it), so it's not like I would miss my nightly bowl of ice cream. But it was just the thought of limiting my options. And honestly, I really like pasta, bread, and wine (among other things like hot fudge sundaes...need I go on!).
And it wasn't just the no-sugar. No sugar also means no carbohydrates, because they ultimately turn into sugar. No natural sugar, no ketchup, no tomatoes...nothing that even remotely had ANY sugar or carbs in it. Why? Because sugar is food for candida. It feeds it and makes it grow, so I had to starve it. Gross, I know.
So why am I telling you this? Because before I heard, "You have to go on a no-sugar diet for 3 weeks," I never would have thought I was capable of it. I've tried the Atkins diet before, but I was never too strict about it -- and I never lasted longer than 2 weeks. So I thought there was no chance I could ever go no-sugar that long.
But then I thought, "What choice do you have, Carol? Do you want to be miserably itchy for the rest of your life!" Of course I didn't. So I did it. And today is the 3 week mark, actually. I'm not going to lie -- I had an occasional M&M in the last week. But overall, I'd say I was 95 percent sugar-free in the last 3 weeks.
This whole dramatic scenario got me thinking a lot about my habits. Not that I don't usually think about things like that, but I really am a creature of habit. I guess most people are. And I think most of us have some bad habits (or not-so-bad habits) that we want to change.
And the habit doesn't have to be a destructive one like smoking, drinking, or drugs. I have plenty of habits that I would love to change. So, I've been working on some.
Here is the list of things that I have been relatively successful in changing lately: (1) making healthy breakfasts using healthy cookware from my kids instead of throwing sugary cereal their way, (2) being more active by going for walks around the neighborhood, (3) cutting back on the cocktails when hanging out with friend (the no-sugar diet helped with that), and (4) trying to keep up with my laundry and housework a little better than normal.
Are these changes easy? No. But you know what? They're not nearly as difficult as I thought they would be! I can't say that I have loved the no-sugar diet and that it wasn't challenging mentally (and forced me to be creative with my eating habits), but I didn't really suffer. It wasn't that big of a deal.
And do I love walking around the neighborhood? Not really. But I don't hate it either. I feel better knowing that I am moving my body and getting a little bit exercise. I'll never be a marathon runner, but hopefully I won't turn into a couch potato either.
And is it easy to make healthier meals for my kids and do more housework? No. But my kids really appreciate my efforts! I know, I know, I should have them make their own lunches and do their own laundry. I'm still working on that one.
The point of all this is that we CAN change, even when we think we can't. I was forced into a no-sugar diet out of the need to get my health back. But a positive side effect of the diet is that I have lost some weight (yay!). I might even stay on it for a while. Go figure.
Sometimes we choose change, and sometime it forces its ugly head into our lives and chooses us. It's never easy -- change never is. But, you are stronger than you think you are. If I can do it, you can do it. So, what do you want to change? And do you want it BADLY enough to actually do it? Only you can answer that question.