Today’s post is from Katie Newell, author of the blog Healthnut Foodie and the cookbook Feeding Our Families. She is leading the breakout session for women on becoming whole by becoming well at WHOLE.
It’s important to know that at WHOLE, every woman who leads a breakout has personally experienced the topic she’s addressing. These are real women who have found wholeness in their specific area of brokenness. There’s hope for whatever you’ve faced or are currently facing and for that friend, sister, mother, etc. that you don’t feel equipped to help today.
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Breakout: Becoming Whole by Becoming Well
Leader: Katie Newell
Growing up, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my classmates as they raced to complete the mile run in gym class. You see, as a child living in chronic pain, it had never occurred to me that there were people whose bodies didn’t ache after jogging around a race track. It was the only world I knew. I even considered it a blessing when I got to stay in my desk chair as my friends gathered around the circle for story time. After all, why would anyone want to put themselves through the pain and struggle of getting down and up off the floor?
When it was time to practice our handwriting, I reached for the special pen that allowed my inflamed fingers to achieve the grip necessary to write my letters. On the way in from lunch and recess, I made special stops at the nurse’s office to say hello and take my medicine. You may find it bizarre, but through all of this, I never really thought of myself as being much different from my peers. I also never thought about the fact that what I was putting in my body, and the rest I was or was not giving it, had an impact on the way my body moved and felt.
Fast forward to my junior year of college, and my world began to change. The typical college lifestyle of little sleep and late-night pizza began to take its toll. When you suffer from lifelong autoimmune disorders, it is imperative that you listen to your body, rest when needed, and fuel your body with the healing foods that were given to us when the world was created. At the time, I was no longer doing any of these. Basically, I was ignoring everything that I knew about my disease. In a way, I think I was hoping that if I ignored it, it would go away.
Eventually, my physical pain became so severe that I would purposely leave my books at home, or skip class if I couldn’t find a parking spot close enough to the building I was supposed to attend. The burden of my backpack was causing me so much pain that I just wanted to cry, quit, and kick in a door all at the same time. I ended up confiding in my parents, and pleaded with them to let me come home. They agreed that I could take a semester off, and we began to focus on getting my disease under control. During this season, I was also fighting a secret battle with eating disorders. Deep down, I knew that the food I was eating made me hurt, I just couldn’t pinpoint why or how. As time moved forward, I also realized that I was searching for just a small piece of control over a body that was otherwise letting me down.
After moving home, we met with a specialist, and I was put on the new “cutting edge” drug for my condition. I also began meeting with a counselor. She helped me deal with the emotional burdens that I felt as I came to grips with the fact that I would probably never outgrow this “childhood disease”. It was during this time, at the ripe old age of 20, that I realized my life was at a crossroads, and could go one of two ways. The first road took me down a path where I could spend my adulthood lamenting the fact that I was in chronic pain, turn my handicap into my identity, and become a bitter old hag by the time I was 30. The second road would take me down a path that would allow me to use my pain to help others, find the grace to accept the cards I’ve been dealt, and begin a search that would help me find new ways to take control of my health. I decided to choose the latter, though I still wasn’t sure what that looked like.
With my dad’s help, I began to study natural healing. I learned that no matter what condition you are trying to heal or improve from, eliminating the processed junk, and eating food the way it was put on this planet would almost always bring improvement. One day, week, and month at a time, I began to make small changes. My health didn’t magically become perfect, but I was feeling better.
When I fell in love with the man that is now my best friend and husband, my determination grew. If he was ready to take a risk and commit his life to a girl that could eventually be spending her days in a wheelchair, I felt that it was my responsibility to do everything I could to delay or prevent that from happening. In 2004, we said our “I do’s” and I’ve never looked back. After a three year battle with infertility, we brought our first baby girl into the world. A year and a half later, we welcomed our second. Our life is full of so many joys, and we are so thankful we ignored the naysayers that once declared me infertile.
The grace of God, and a commitment to doing my part in honoring my body, has made me WHOLE. Through a story that is still being written, God is daily turning my tears into dancing. I now spend my days teaching, loving on, and chasing after two beautiful and healthy girls. In 2010, I founded the nationally acclaimed food and health blog, Healthnut Foodie. In 2011, I published my first “real food” cookbook, Feedlng our Families, and I started my own whole food nutrition consulting business. I’ve also had the opportunity to share my story and my passion with groups small and large. My days are truly filled with blessings. Seriously, had people told me this is what my life would look like ten years ago, I would have laughed in their face.
I know that many of you are like me and realize that we could all be better wives, moms, professionals, and friends if only we had more energy, strength, or time in the day. I have learned that by finding the right balance, you can set your best self free. There are simple, realistic and affordable ways to set these wheels in motion. By honoring our bodies through proper nourishment, exercise, and rest, we can find the balance that works best for our unique beings. It is entirely possible to have our cake and eat it to.
“If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you”, says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.” Jeremiah 29: 13-14a
Let’s restore our fortunes by stepping out on the quest for physical and emotional healing. It is never too early or too late to take control of your health. Let’s join together, search for ways to feel truly WELL, and trust that our Lord will help us break free from the lies that keep us from living our best lives ever.
Katie Newell still struggles with the physical and emotional burden that comes with living in a world of chronic pain. She feels blessed for the relief and the miracles she has been given, and prays daily for complete healing. Until then, Katie thanks Jesus for giving her the grace to accept her limitations, prays that she can bless others in every moment of every day, and hopes to inspire people to live outside the box they feel trapped in. Remember, it’s not just about the cards your dealt, its understanding how to play them.