Weak Mind equals a Weak Body:
This post chronicles my wife’s health journey from the brink of destruction back to health utilizing natural remedies and smart training principles.
By Julia Turk:
My 33rd birthday was difficult to celebrate. I remember thinking, how could I enjoy my life when my body felt 93 years old? Everything in my body ached; I felt delicate, as if I could snap with a twist in the wrong direction or speed.
One of the hardest parts was watching my thick hair fall out in clumps; my health issues were so severe it became a real problem for our condos plumbing system.
After getting some blood tests and a bone scan, (John had to convince the doctor to do this because he felt I was too young to have porous bones, even though I had low back pain and a family history of osteoporosis. ) The bone scan revealed I had Osteopenia in my spine and hips; I was sent home with a prescription reserved for someone more than twice my age. As soon as I started this regimen, I felt even WORSE; every one of my joints ached, especially my jaw.
When my husband researched this further, he discovered that a ‘rotting of the jaw-bone’ was a common side effect for individuals taking this medication for long periods of time.
John is a passionate health professional who took my health very personal. He wanted to help me navigate the kind of healing that would work with my body, not against it. John warned doing things his way would not be as ‘easy’ as taking a pill; it would require a change of bad habits and mind-sets that had gotten me in this mess to begin with.
You see, I was a swimwear model and in order to maintain my figure (and keep working) I adopted a harsh exercise regimen and adhered to a strict diet that got me instant results. But this ‘stay skinny’ diet was not supporting muscle growth, bone strength, mental or organ health. Although this served me well cosmetically, it destroyed my vibrant, youthful foundation.
By the time I was thirty-three, I was devoid of energy, had a hard time concentrating, was an emotional wreck and couldn’t sleep through the night. My body was rebelling from my caffeine fueled nights and nutrient-deficient low calorie diet. I had pushed the poor thing into over-drive.
My doctor recommended I gain twenty pounds (to build bone density) and continue taking that disastrous pill along with calcium supplements.
Gaining twenty pounds on my four-foot eleven frame? I trembled at the mere thought.
My husband hugged me, promising he would help find a better way. A couple of days later, his genius intervened with a holistic and creative plan. We would ‘trick’ my body into believing it had ‘gained’ weight by wearing a weighted vest (20lbs), cleaning, doing chores and going up and down the stairs with it on. I honestly thought this would make my fragile frame feel as if it would break, but it did not! In fact, wearing the vest had the opposite effect. I always felt BETTER whenever I did.
This was the beginning of me feeling hopeful that change could happen.
I refused to gain the weight but obeyed the doctor’s orders to take Calcium Citrate pills. Strangely, every time my calcium levels were tested, we discovered my body was not absorbing any of it; my levels had not budged.
The truth was, my body needed to receive calcium though sources it would recognize, which was in actual food. I began incorporating Greek Yogurt which contained calcium as well as probiotics to aid digestion. I added Magnesium Glycinate, Phosphorus and Boron which aids calcium absorption.
Since I love vegetables and was eating a lot of spinach at the time, John had me squeeze a lemon over my leafy greens, this would neutralize the oxalic acid in the spinach, which can bind with iron and calcium, preventing their absorption. My doctor diagnosed me with low levels of vitamin D and placed me on a super-large dose of it one time a week. In order not to overtax my system, John lowered the amount but switched the frequency of my vitamin D dosage to every day.
My husband encouraged me to take weight barring activities more seriously (safe and effective heavy weight-lifting) not for esthetic purposes but to ‘stress my axial skeleton and hips’ and trigger the body’s natural response of laying down more bone. Heavy weight training was something I’ve always hesitated to embrace, for I’m naturally drawn to a more svelte, lithe esthetic. Muscle is something I’ve always seen as beautiful trait reserved for manly men but in order for me to heal, I needed to re-frame that thought. The truth is muscle shapes the body into its beautiful form. It is the foundation of a healthy figure, longevity, metabolism and a healthy immune system in both males and females.
I began to pause and truly reflect about everything I took into my body. John stressed that it wasn’t so much what we added to my diet but what we removed that was most important. I began to ask myself the hard questions…what is the purpose of this food? Will it build or will it destroy? With this in mind, I knew my Diet Coke habit had to go. One of the ingredients in most diet sodas is phosphoric acid; this corrupts the balance of phosphorus in the body which in turn, upset the body’s delicate calcium levels.
It was vital for me to replace this damaging habit with something life-giving. I began drinking hot lemon water, which was great for my nerves, kidneys and bones! Lemon water is known to cleanse the kidneys which also plays a vital role in calcium balance along with the parathyroid gland. If the kidneys are hampered, the amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D you absorb may be thrown off. Parsley is also a great kidney cleanser. On a side note, hot lemon water is great for dissolving and preventing kidney stones.
Another facet to regaining my health has been prioritizing my sleep and stress levels. The truth is, I cannot afford the damaging ‘cortisol surge’ of not attending to my care in this way. I am learning (with the help of the Holy Spirit,) to move not out of fear or obligation but with peace and discernment. God is helping me to give up the habit of ‘people pleasing’ by adopting a lifestyle of peace. This means I must say no to things I might enjoy in the moment but might overtax my schedule. Life isn’t about cramming a bunch of frantic moments in. It’s about being happy and present. I am learning to honor the way my nervous system works and give myself the time I need to truly relax and enjoy. I am giving myself the grace to learn a new way of seeing and experiencing life.
My greatest struggle has always been Trust. Early in my life, I learned if I was not in control, things fell apart. For a while, this helped me…until that way of thinking almost destroyed me.
I had to ask myself some more hard questions: Do I think all I have to offer the world is being skinny? Is my ultimate desire to be skinny? Skeletons are skinny…
What I really wanted was to be healthy, vibrant, thoughtful and beautiful.
Asking these questions prompted me to re-define what beauty was to me: Today I believe beauty is not about being that ‘perfect weight’. It’s about being fully confident, satisfied in the present moment, enjoying healthy skin, hair and teeth. It’s about having youthful posture, stamina, strength and flexible movement. It’s about embracing the imperfect ways I connect with others; when I’m healthy I can be funny, compassionate and empathetic. When I am not healthy, I only think about myself and what I am missing out on.
None of those aspects of beauty can be embodied if I am too focused on my weight being ‘perfect’. This reduces the quality of my existence, creating a shallow and closed-off world I don’t enjoy living in. It creates a hell on earth.
When John wanted to change my diet, I struggled hard with letting go of what I knew because I was so used to my contemporaries (other models and some “friends”) attempting to sabotage my success. I wasn’t used to having someone truly having my back.
In the end, I had to ask myself, Do I really believe my loving husband would risk his professional reputation (and our marriage) in order to make me fat? When I put it this way, it made no sense to my logical mind, but it was my damaged emotional history that was trying to get me to see things through a broken lens.
The truth is, God has provided amazing resources! People who love me that are far more learned in the area of health and longevity. (I did not go to school for nutrition or exercise!) Wisdom is accepting you don’t know it all. Having the humility to accept this and then the faith to lean on the right people takes courage. God did not create us to heal alone; for we do better when we are supported by people (and professionals) worthy of our trust.
My advice for anyone going through health issues:
1. Take responsibility for your current state for YOU are the only one who has the power to
change your life.
2. Work through your issues by fearlessly FACING the truth. This shift will help you move past your ‘blockages’ and into greater success.
3. Hire trusted professionals aligned with your values.
4. Give yourself grace to embrace the positive changes (that feel uncomfortable).
5. Relax and trust the process.
6. Keep your eye on the end goal. This is not about perfection but longevity and harmony of mind, body and spirit.
7. Celebrate small victories (which will add up to something amazing).
Remember, life is a series of moments. Be present! Enjoy the journey. If you don’t, you are choosing to waste your life.
Hugs from your fellow health warrior,
*I thank God every day for John Turk; not only is he an amazing husband but I truly believe that leaning on his wisdom saved my life.
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