That’s right. I’ve FINALLY taken the time to sit down and create a blog.
So what’s the focus?
Mainly, to share recipes. I know, I know. Everyone and their mom seems to be making food blogs these days. What will be different about this one? Umm, hello, I’ll be writing it. Obviously. Aside from that major point, however, the recipes I’ll be sharing will be both Paleo friendly & allergen free. However, don’t be surprised when my blog posts begin to branch out to other areas of my life (in typical Sagittarius fashion).
Why now? What’s the inspiration?
(Get ready for a long explanation. Like, seriously.)
The past 1 & 1/2 years of my life have been the toughest I’ve ever been through. In February of 2012, I had my third case of chronic urticaria which was without a doubt the most difficult one yet. For those of you who have no idea what that is, it’s hives – a type of skin rash that reddens your skin, burns, stings and itches.
It sucks. Hard.
A majority of people with chronic urticaria, which means the hives last for periods longer than 6 weeks, are unable to find a known cause. It can result from both allergic and nonallergic triggers (such as emotional stress) and tends to appear once every 7-8 years. Getting hives as an adult was much harder (on me) than getting them as a child. I’m a control freak and here I was suddenly faced with something that I had absolutely no control over. I saw doctor after doctor. Had blood test after blood test. No results. Took every kind of allergy medicine in the book. I mean, EVERY kind. I went from over the counter drugs like Benadryl to prescribed medication and even liquid steroids. Nothing helped. Day after day I was covered head to toe in hives and wheals. After a month of it, I entered a state of depression. I felt helpless and completely trapped in my own body. I lost 20 pounds in no time as there were days when all I ate was one saltine cracker (and I was still scared to eat that). Finally, another round of blood tests revealed that my body reacted to certain allergens. I could begin keeping my hives at bay by controlling what entered my body. Except it wasn’t just a couple of things my body reacted to. Nope. Turns out I’m allergic to a ridiculous amount of things.
All nuts with the exception of cashews
This meant reading the ingredients for every item of food and OMG it turns out nuts, milk and tomatoes are in EVERYTHING. Go ahead. Try and think of some of your favorite foods and let me know if they’re Cassandra allergen free. Didn’t think so. Despite everything, maybe my third case of urticaria was really a blessing in disguise? Suddenly I was forced to eat clean. Cleaner than clean. Further self research on hives (I told you I was a control freak – can’t even trust doctors) taught me that the strongest antihistamine is essentially adrenaline. This meant every time I was in the gym lifting weights or running, my hives disappeared. About 10 minutes after my workout was done? They returned. Workouts became my escape. I went running before work & during my lunch break. After work I went straight to the gym. Then I discovered CrossFit. A friend explained how it was life changing, the best workout in the world and once you started you became obsessed – it was like joining a cult. GREAT. Still, I gave it a shot and holy hell he was right. A WOD took only seconds to make my hives disappear. Added plus? Instead of being a chore, working out was now fun. FUN. Within 4-5 months I had my allergies under control and thanks to clean eating and CrossFit I was in the greatest shape of my life. Life was grand.
What happened, you ask? I quit my job and moved to Amsterdam to pursue graduate school. -___-
Now hear me out, I don’t completely regret this choice. My job situation had gone to scheisse and after my year at UvA I graduated a M.A., met some of the greatest people in the world and had created some of the best memories. All at a cost. Financial stress & thesis stress interrupted my daily workout routine (I’d forgotten how mentally exhausting school is in comparison to work). I slacked on clean eating – spent endless hours sitting on my ass in the library eating stroop waffels and way too many nights drinking disgusting amounts of alcohol. My muscles turned to flab and by the end of the year I was almost 25 pounds heavier than when I’d arrived. Starting in January of 2013, I got tonsillitis five times. I was at wits end and unhealthy in every sense of the word. As soon as I got my degree, I left for my parent’s house back in Germany, had my tonsils removed on October 1st and got a job (!). Which brings me to…
Yes. New start. New place. New job. (OMG I HAVE AN INCOME!) New beginnings, right? Well, not exactly in the way I had hoped. Start of November I found an incredible CrossFit Box to start working out in. Unfortunately I was way too eager to get back into shape and instead of a.) letting my body heal properly after surgery b.) letting myself settle down in a new place and c.) gradually building strength, I pushed myself way beyond my limits. Went to the gym every day of the week and ignored a crazy intense (and growing) pain in my abdomen region. I wrote it off as soreness. Then it got to the point that I could no longer sit up to get out of my bed or breathe without feeling pain and I decided it was time to head to the doctor’s the following day for a check up. That night around 2am, however, I realized my entire lower abdomen had swelled with gigantic pockets of air/liquid. I completely freaked out and left for the ER. I was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis. Blood samples revealed that abnormally high amounts of creatine had leaked into my blood (normal levels: around 200, my levels: 40,000’s) due to torn muscle fiber. Luckily I had checked myself in before having the “coca-cola urine” symptom meaning my kidneys weren’t completely shot. The highest risk from rhabdomyolysis is kidney failure, however, I was quickly treated with IV bicarbonate fluids. One of the scariest experiences of my life. Second weekend in a brand new city. Away from my family and closest friends. All that ran through my head was “What if I die here on this disgusting hospital bed surrounded by people who don’t know me?” The nurses had to struggle to get any answers out of me because all I could do was cry. Like, cry waterfalls. Sob. Heave. You get the idea. The next day I received a call from a girl I had just met offering to stop by and bring some essentials (deodorant, toothbrush, etc). I also got calls from friends all over the world checking to see if I was okay. The day after my absolutely amazing mother showed up from Heidelberg to take care of me (P.S. – She’s the greatest mom in the world. Yes, I realize I might be biased…). I was eventually released from the hospital and on the mend (or so I thought).
Then two weeks later I realized my hair was falling out in large amounts. My once long, thick, soft hair was now above my shoulders, stringy and felt like straw. This is when I broke. Pretty sure I cried for three days straight.
(Is that a violin playing? WTF?)
I went to see a doctor in hysterics and she quickly bitch-slapped me back to reality with her words. “Stop crying about your hair. We’ll fix it. You should be thinking about the fact that you should have died in that hospital room. But you didn’t.” Ummm, excuse me? Oh right, rhabdomyolysis can = kidney failure which can = death. Well shit. She was right. After blood tests it was revealed that I had no new condition or imbalances causing my hair loss. Which only meant my mom (mothers know best) and my closest friends were right – it was my body’s reaction to the insane amount of stress from these past 1 & 1/2 years.
I’ve finally come to terms with that and I’m determined to heal.
To get back to 100%.
Right after my doctor’s appointment I headed to a salon and told them to chop all my dead hair off. I’m now taking Vitamin B5 which specifically helps with hair loss, strengthening fingernails and helping your skin get healthy. I’m learning new ways to relieve stress such as meditation and yoga. I’ve decided to eat clean again. I’m at the end of a four day detox and I feel great. Better than I have the entire month of November. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason I’ve created this blog. To help me stick to my clean eating and drag you along in this new chapter of my life. Yes. Now you finally have your answer!
I’m ready for a truly new beginning.
A new year.
A fresh start.
A chance to take charge of my life once again.
In essence, I’m ready to be reborn.
Hence the decision to name this blog after, well, myself. My middle name. Renée (coughitmeansreborncough).
So let’s begin.