We’re so excited to share another Make Life Merry success story with you all! Michelle completely changed her life with diet and mindset. Michelle says that finding us was like bumping in to your best friend and we’d have to say that we feel the exact same about Michelle! We appreciate you Michelle, you’re amazing and we’re so grateful for you sharing your story to inspire and help others begin their health journey. Bring on the January Make Life Merry Challenge! Always merrymaking, e + c
My health journey started about 10 years ago when I started to get more and more fatigued, until it got to the point where I was struggling to walk around the block by the end of the day. I was going to the gym and doing pilates and thought I was reasonably healthy, but I certainly didn’t feel it. I had struggled with intense pain from tendonitis in my shoulder for many years, which had started to get quite debilitating. Oh and yeah, I was a chronic insomniac.
After visiting a naturopath and holistic practitioner, I was told I had multiple food intolerances, heavy metal toxicity and my thyroid was under active (TSH was at 6.8). Oh yeah, and my adrenals were pretty much running on empty. Next stop was Chronic Fatigue and lifelong thyroid medication. Um, no thank you.
So I changed my diet (avoiding the foods identified as intolerant to) and straight away started to feel improvements. I lost weight, my emotions evened out and I felt much less tired. With just dietary changes alone I was able to get my TSH levels back to between 1 and 2 #winning. But as the years went on and I was feeling reasonably okay, I got a bit complacent. I stayed mainly gluten and dairy free, knowing those things didn’t agree with me, but I was still up and down emotionally, had stomach aches, slept poorly and had pain.
I stayed in this flux state – sometimes great, sometimes not-so-great – for years. Looking back, I know I understood the food-body connection, but I guess I was lacking the motivation or understanding to stick to it completely.
Fast forward to last year when one of my wonderful friends told me about paleo. She’d started eating the paleo way to address some health problems of her own and had great results. Her enthusiasm and the fact it was just ‘real food’ soon won me over and in October 2014 I committed to doing a Whole30 with her and another friend. It was fun, because we created our own Facebook group where we shared our food pics and supported each other and by the end of the month I was again 6kg lighter and feeling good.
I was now convinced paleo was for me. Not just the fact I felt good eating this way, but the whole philosophy really resonated with me. I needed less stress and more fun and more sleep. Surely this could only be a good thing! However, I was still struggling with sticking to eating this way all the time as I found so many yummy sounding recipes but most of them were time consuming to prepare and had lists of ingredients longer than my arm. I wasn’t confident my recipes would turn out, I was struggling support-wise and while sticking to good meals, I was snacking way too much.
Somewhere along the journey I came across The Merrymaker Sisters. It was like meeting your best friend – your kindred spirit. I immediately loved their enthusiasm and passion for healthy living but also, as I started to experiment with their recipes I found I could create meals that were simple and delicious. I started to feel so much more in control of my health. I read through the blog and had so many lightbulb moments. These were women just like me… and if they could do it, so could I.
Joining the October Make Life Merry challenge felt like something I needed to do – as a gift for myself. Who doesn’t want to ‘make life merry’?!
To say what I got out of the challenge exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. Here are a few of the highlights for me:
The Merrymaker community! – From day one, there’s a great support network and you soon feel as though you are old friends, swapping food photos, encouragement and tips
The Merries, Emma and Carla. – These ladies are truly delightful, helpful and inspiring. Forget the ‘big stick’ approach. Theirs is the ‘big smile’ approach.
The meal planning. – For me, this was a lightbulb sort of idea. Once you find your favourite recipes (and trust me, you will!), drawing up your meal plan for the week is a breeze and it means you a) know what to shop for = no wasted food (hooray!) and b) um, know what you’re eating (no last minute ‘I have nothing for dinner’ dramas). I always struggled with eating a proper lunch on weekends and was more inclined to just graze and snack. Now I enjoy having a proper lunch.
Learning to prep when I need it. – This was also a bit life changing for me. Having a tight morning schedule has always meant breakfast is the meal that suffered for me. No more!
The food! – I think the reason I’d struggled with my journey in the past was because I was trying to make healthy, paleo recipes but they all seemed to be complicated and use dozens of ingredients. The Merrymaker Sisters have created simple to make, quick to prepare and delicious to eat meals. EVERY. TIME. #winning
Having access to awesome, respected experts. – I learnt a lot that has been really helpful!
Honestly, I could sing the praises of this challenge all day – but I think the fact so many ‘original’ Make Life Merrymakers have re-signed for the January challenge speaks volumes.
I now find meal preparation fun. I find meal preparation easy. I’m excited to cook for others, knowing they will enjoy what I serve up. Bring on the dinner parties! I sleep well. I feel well.
I am so thankful to Emma and Carla for following their bliss and sharing their passion with all of us.
If you’re wondering if the January Make Life Merry challenge is for you, trust me, it is.
You deserve this.
A HUGE thank you to Michelle for taking the time to share her amazing story. If you want to read more inspiring Make Life Merry success stories check out Kylie’s weight loss journey and Matt and Nat’s story of bringing health in to their family home!