Finding my Life in Balance with IBD
“Life in Balance”, the motto of MRM, is a simple yet meaningful and powerful phrase. A phrase that truly sums up what I have been hoping to achieve as someone living with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Since learning to ride a bike as a kid, I have been on a journey to be a professional cyclist. A journey that was put into doubt when I was diagnosed with IBD at 21. I had to ask myself, while laying in a hospital bed, “what next?” In those trying times, my life was surely not in balance. My gut was inflamed, my immune system was fighting my body, and my dreams of becoming a professional cyclist were all but out the window.
I did not want my future to be dictated by IBD, so I set out to achieve my goals and dreams, even with the diagnoses looming over my head. I asked myself, how does one come back from such a low point? Where do I even start? Than began my journey in search of answers, trying to understand the signs to look for and how to create a path forward to better health.
One thing I knew as a high-level athlete was to visualize a finish line and figure out how to cross that line first. I started by breaking down the day, the weeks and the months into blocks. Journaling and recording all different aspects of my life, training, to my diet, sleep and even social life, you name it, to help increase performance. My journal helped me keep track of what was working and what was not. This is something I learned to be a valuable part of my cycling career, and now has become a key tool in managing my IBD journey.
A mentor of mine, Dr. Rich Cimadoro, once told me a great principle to live by. He said, “What you eat, how you move, and how you think are all intertwined”. Think of your body like a Ferrari, you can put in cheap gas, and sure the car will of course run, but eventually that low performing fuel will harm the high performance engine overtime. So by changing what you eat or the quality, you are able to alter how you feel, and most importantly, alter how you move and perform. This is truly, the perfect example of a life in balance.
This principle became the cornerstone moving forward to overcoming, understanding and treating my IBD diagnosis.
I began to educate myself on the troubles I was facing from a diagnosis perspective and realized that I had been ignoring the signs, like bloating, gut distress, fatigue, and constipation, all along. My next step was to seek help beyond just my gastroenterologist. They are the cornerstone of my IBD care, but I needed to bring in a registered dietitian, who is an expert in how food can effect our overall health. I journaled my diet, my day, and noted what foods reduced bloating, improved bowel movements, increased or decreased my energy level, and what made me moody or irritable. After tracking for sometime, I began to note the difference between a good and bad day.
Just like most people, stress plays a role in how I think, most certainly impacting not only my gut, and mental health but the way I eat and move. Stress can be hard to sometimes interpret, so it’s important to note down what you're feeling in a journal. One way I have tried to manage my stress by controlling the areas of my day that are well within my control. That for me, is diet. If I am on the go, a quick gut friendly piece of fruit, a packet of almond butter and a scoop of MRM’s Veggie Meal Replacement in my water bottle is my go to because I know these foods sit well with my gut.
The third thing I journal about is current products I am using. My diet and gut health is constantly evolving, so it is important that I keep track of what products work and do not work for my gut. I look to products that are focused on giving my body the best nutrition, along with promoting a healthy gut. This is not only key for IBD patients, but everyone else as well. Remember: your gut is your friend.
Using products like the Veggie Meal Replacement and Whey Protein from MRM were so helpful when I first started my recovery journey. Initially my health care team had me on a simple diet, only eating and drinking gut friendly foods, which was definitely a challenge. What helped was having a probiotic packed whey protein and meal replacement drink that gave my body what it needed while also promoting gut health.
Journaling what you put into your mouth, how you move your body, and how you think, are great steps to understanding how to achieve a “life in balance”. If you try to touch on these three aspects daily, and support your health with good quality, research driven products, like those from MRM, you’ll be well on your way to promoting good gut health, for a better balanced life.
Guest Blog Post By: Cory Greenberg