I need to be honest, I’ve been putting off writing this part of my story.
Maybe because it’s the part where I got knocked down by the Enemy and felt like I lost a few rounds. Maybe because it’s humbling. But, for every reason I can think to put off writing, I can think of a million more for sharing, so here goes:
After completing my first Whole30® I can honestly say I felt better than I had ever felt in my entire life. I had crazy amounts of energy. I didn’t ever feel that afternoon sluggishness that most people feel around 2 or 3pm, and I definitely didn’t have any digestion issues. In addition to having completed Whole30®, I was on week 5 or 6 of Insanity®, so I physically felt stronger than ever. What was cool about pairing the two programs at the same time is, when I started Insanity®, I struggled to keep up, but a combination of continuing through the program, with eating food that was way better fuel than I had prior, meant I was able to run faster and make it through each workout with much more ease than if I was just eating anything.
This is where you might say, “wow Kayla, good for you, sounds like you really nailed the health thing.” Well, no I actually didn’t.
You see, while I was working hard to eat as clean as possible and I was pushing my body to physical limits through one of the most difficult workout programs on the market, I was abusing my body in other ways.
During this season of life I was balancing three jobs, taking care of my home, volunteering at church, spending time with friends and family, and getting ready to release my very first album. Now, let me tell you, releasing an album is a very stressful undertaking. There’s a reason record labels pay multiple staff members to do all that is required to make it happen…and I was doing this in my “spare time.” I found that the only thing I could sacrifice in order to have time to meet unrealistic deadlines (that I had set for myself) was sleep. So most nights I stayed up till about midnight, 1, or later, and I still continued to get up at 5:30 for work. This was very, very dumb.
At the time I didn’t realize how dumb it was because I was feeling so energized, but what didn’t register with me was, yeah the food I was eating and the exercise I was doing were both giving me energy, but the truth was, I was running on adrenaline. Like…pure adrenaline at all times. You know, that stuff that, when tragedy strikes helps us do something crazy like lift a car off of a small child? My body was continually secreting adrenaline to help deal with the stress, so naturally, after the marathon of releasing an album was complete, my body crashed. Big time. But it didn’t just crash…it started shutting down.
In an attempt to salvage some of my pride, I won’t give away every single detail of what I went through, but the Cliff’s Notes version is this:
As soon as my body started coming down off of the stress, I gained weight. We’re not talking 5lbs…in just 14 days I gained 20lbs.
I know. It was insane.
It was especially insane because I was still doing my regular workout regimen and still adhering to a Paleo diet.
Additionally, I became exhausted. We’re talking sleep in till 9:30…need a nap around 1pm…ready for bed at 7:30pm. It didn’t matter how much sleep I got; I was constantly tired.
I, of course, went to my general practitioner to find out what was going on. I was referred to a thyroid specialist who told me my thyroid was fine and told me to try Weight Watchers®.
Nice, I know. So I tried a different route with my Chiropractor/Applied Kinesiologist. She had me do a Tissue Mineral Analysis to see what was going on with me on a cellular level. Basically, I had to cut out some chunks of hair on my head (yes ladies, this was not fun, but I was desperate) and mail it in for this lab to analyze. The findings were that my adrenal oxidation rate was so low, my adrenal glands were performing at 8%...like as in out of 100%. My thyroid oxidation rate was extremely low so, though it didn’t show up on the blood work the thyroid specialist performed, I did in fact have hypothyroidism. And in addition to that, I was severely vitamin D deficient and had multiple hormonal imbalances that snow balled into a gamut of other health problems.
My body was a wreck. And unfortunately, every single one of the medical conditions I was dealing with all caused depression, so on top of everything else, I had within me the perfect concoction of problems that led to the perfect storm of depression.
So why am I sharing all of this? Well, it’s not for pity, because I’m obviously doing a lot better now, but rather so others can learn from my mistakes. I learned a lot through this process, but the 3 big lessons I learned were these:
1. Food and exercise are worthless if you don’t rest.
There will be many more blogs to follow on the topic of rest, as I have since written songs and traveled to speak on what the Lord taught me on this subject since that time. But ultimately, there’s a darn good reason God gave us the 4th commandment of honoring the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.[i] There’s a reason why God gave us the example Himself by resting on the 7th day of creation.[ii] Simply put, if you don’t get adequate sleep every night and block out time in your busy schedule to rest, relax, or simply have fun, your body will eventually go on strike. So you can argue that the demands at work are too high, there’s just too much work to get done around the house, or you just can’t quit that 4th ministry commitment. The bottom line is, at some point if you continue to run on fumes, the decision will be made for you, and it won’t be pretty.
2. You can be as much of a health nut as you want, but it is God who numbers our days.
Whenever you’re in a good groove of a consistent workout regimen with well portioned, clean eating habits, you tend to feel like a bit of a “Health-Rockstar.” You feel like you’ve got it figured out and it’s your job to continue to lead by example and show others how they need to get on your same bandwagon. (Or maybe that’s just me and my judgmental self.) Either way, this is a great gateway for pride to creep in. You see, before all of my experimentation and research, I was ignorant like everyone else. Then I had this incredible time of enlightenment, which led to a really sweet time of realizing I had not been honoring God with my treatment of my body and that I really, truly wanted to obey and honor Him in the way I took care of my temple. But, again, whenever we set out to do something to honor God, it makes Satan very angry, so he swoops in seeking to corrupt our minds and destroy this space we commune with God in (See Genesis 2 & 3). Pride has always been the fall of man, so the story was not new with me, and I learned the harsh lesson that it is God who decides each day whether I wake up or not. It is God who decides whether my 5 minute car ride to run an errand will bring me safely back home or end in a car accident. Every single breath I take is ultimately because of His grace and mercy, not anything I have done on my own. So, yes, it’s good to eat right, exercise, and sleep…but those things don’t save us from death…those things don’t save us from the sin of gluttony or laziness or any other sin…it is ultimately only Jesus who saves us from ourselves, our sins, and the fate we all deserve. And it is ultimately Jesus who guarantees an eternal life in Heaven with *bonus,* eternal bodies.[iii] Can I get a hallelujah?
3. God does not run out of miracles.
Though this isn’t where the story ends, or where my journey with food issues comes to completion, it is where the story took a turn.
For those of you who haven’t read or heard me speak on a physical healing I received in the winter of 2014, the quick version is I had incurred a back injury 8 months prior, was in physical therapy, taking pain meds, and was finding no relief. On the eve of Valentines Day, I was healed instantly through the laying on of hands and prayer. I wrote a song about this experience, Love Like This, which was featured on my first album that I recorded only a month later.
This was a life changing experience for me as I learned so much about God’s incredible love for me that He saw fit to heal me from this injury. Though it was a pivotal moment in my faith, it still left me with a slightly skewed view of God. You see, after that experience, I truly believed the notion that that was my one miracle for life. Like God is some sort of Genie who rations out gifts and miracles and there’s not enough to go around so we only get one. Dumb, I know. But I was honestly so humbled that He healed me in the first place it just didn’t occur to me that He could ever heal me miraculously again. Boy was I wrong.
So, fast forward to the next winter when I’m dealing with this whole new set of physical problems and, though my doctor was a rock star who helped me tremendously and still continues to be the only doctor who is able to help me, I was still battling the extreme fatigue, depression, and other issues that sprung up as a result. So, again, where medicine failed, prayer won.
Christmas day I was ready to check myself into a hospital. I was done feeling miserable. However, instead of going to the hospital, I mustered up the strength to attend the Christmas festivities with my family. In a way that only mothers can do, my mom had apparently spent some time on her knees in fervent prayer for me the night before, as she saw through any kind of façade I was able to put on as I led worship during a Christmas Eve service. She prayed, and journaled as she did, and felt the Lord give her the word, “mercy” in her spirit as she prayed.
The day after Christmas I woke up and I was fine. I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t depressed, and I even had enough energy to exercise. Whatever spirit of evil had been tormenting me during those dark months, lifted, and every medical issue I was suffering from seemed to vanish into thin air. In the same way I doubted during the first days after my back was healed, I doubted if this new found energy and zest for life would stick, but when it did for a week, I canceled upcoming Doctors appointments I had set up previously and shared with my family how I believed I was healed. It was then that my mom shared with me about her Christmas Eve prayer time, and I knew that, yet again, I had been healed miraculously.
[i] Exodus 20:8
[ii] Genesis 2:2-3
[iii] 2 Corinthians 5:1-4