A few years ago, Helene Ragnhild was sick with chronic fatigue syndrome, suffering from a ton of symptoms and on top of that having problems with acne. She couldn’t understand why her body didn’t function normally when she both ate right and exercised regularly. All changed when she started listening to her body. This is her story.
My name is Helene Ragnhild and I just finished my nutrition degree and am currently running a health blog in Norway. On the side I work at Driv Trening, a private gym where I teach clients about nutritious food. At the beginning of next year I will launch my online health program, where I hope to help people find balance within healthy living. When I am not writing blogposts or helping clients, I love to cook, bake and make smoothies. Finding creative ways to make eating healthy both tasty and fun is my favorite pastimes, even though it can make my boyfriend go nuts sometimes. Our kitchen is overfilled with greens and vegetables at all times, so there is barely room for his coco puff’s. This past year I have been blessed with some great sponsors including superfoods, baking goods and organic beauty product.
Sounds like I’m living the dream huh? Let me tell you it was not always like that. Just a couple of years ago I was sick with chronic fatigue syndrome, suffering from a ton of symptoms and on top of that, having problems with acne. Even though I thought I was eating healthy, I felt terrible. My acne was also making me feel like a fraud, why was my skin so bad if I was eating all this great food? I was first diagnosed at age 18, and after a period feeling quite well, I had a relapse at 23. At this time my sister was also diagnosed with cancer, so things where pretty dark.
So how did I get to where I am today? It was a long journey, so I can’t go into all the details. The essence was to stop doing all the right things, and to start doing the things that where right for me.
Getting in touch with my body
I don’t know how many times I have stood in front of the mirror and hated my body because of how it looked or because it was not functioning like I wanted. I would work out every day of the week and try to eat less to make it look a particular way. When I was sick I tried adding so many supplements to my diet in hope of seeing a change, without any results. It was only after I started listening to what my body really needed that I got better. I started doing less and giving my body real rest. I used guided meditations every day to help balance my immune- and nervous system. I used only a couple of superfoods, and simplified my meals. I cut out sugar for good and mostly stayed away from grains. I have always had problems with blood sugar regulation and work better with less carbs. I now focus on eating a ton of veggies each day, berries and low-sugar fruits, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, fish and some meat. Mark Hyman calls this way of eating «pegan», paleo vegan, which I actually find quite fitting.
Healing my digestion
“All diseases starts in the gut”, Hippocrates said. Healing my gut was one of the biggest steps to getting healthy. Using antibiotics for my acne and a couple of infections left me with a sluggish digestion and a lot of bloating after meals. It did not help my acne either by the way.
To heal I drank a lot of soups made with bone broth, and ate fermented foods like homemade raw sauerkraut and homemade kefir. Your gut and skin go hand in hand, so this has also helped my skin heal. Having a healthy digestion not only lets your body absorb the nutrients from your diet, it is also important for your immune system. 70% of our immune system lives in the gut, and the billions of bacteria out number our own cells ten to one. Taking care of these little critters will not only make you feel fantastic, it will make you look healthy too! The gelatin in bone broth boosts your immune system and can help heal a leaky gut. Bone broth and fermented foods are actually my secret beauty weapons. It may sound weird, but just try it and you will see. Saying goodbye to sugar is also a big one, as «bad bacteria» and candida fungus love the sweet stuff. Sugar binds to collagen and causes your skin to age, it’s real a beauty killer.
Rewiring my brain
The last time I saw a chronic fatigue specialist he told me I was the healthiest patient he had ever seen, on paper. All my blood work was amazing and I looked healthy. I was feeling horrible and neither the doctor nor I could understand why. I now think my brain was in overdrive, sending my body signals that I was still sick. When I learned how to stop these messages I was able to heal completely. It was like the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. This kind of training is very complex, and one of the hottest scientific fields today. I will not try to explain it; I only know that I can influence my body though shifting my thoughts. I have always been a positive person, so I am not saying this is about just thinking positive thoughts all the time. It is not that simple. We think thousands of thoughts every day and most of them are automatic. Changing these automatic thoughts will have an enormous effect on your life.
For me being healthy is an ongoing process, and I have to listen to my body to keep it happy. Living in tune with my body gives me energy to live life in the best possible way and even though it took me getting sick to realize it, I’m so glad I learned this at such a young age. Taking care of my self has become a priority, and I hope I can inspire others to do the same.
Name: Helene Ragnhild Andersen
Lives: in Oslo