fit by 27: week eight

The week of 8/3-8/9 was week eight of Fit By 27.  My  progress is going well with #Workitout100 and with running.


  • Monday, 8/3: Couch to 5K (working on number 8 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Tuesday, 8/4: Tone It Up Bikini Arms 2014 and Pink Flamingo workouts.
  • Wednesday, 8/5: Walked over 12,000 steps (according to my Fitbit). Active rest day!
  • Thursday, 8/6:  Very busy day at school, plus a session of Couch to 5K that evening, meant my total step count for the day was 20,000!!!
  • Friday, 8/7: Walked over 10,000 steps again today, so that paired with so much walking and a run the night before, and I decided to rest with an active rest day. My feet – and knees! – needed a break, even though I was planning on adding in another workout that day.
  • Saturday, 8/8: Set up my bike on the trainer and biked for 20 minutes, plus did 25 squats and 10 push ups.
  • Sunday, 8/9: Couch to 5K

My mission is to eat for health!

I think I did pretty well with my food choices this week! I did have some treats, but they were balanced decently with healthier food choices and workouts.



I am down about 3.5 more pounds for a total of 8 pounds down.
If you’d like to follow my Fit By 27 journey more closely, follow me on Instagram under the username @kcd_fit and MyFitnessPal  under the username KellyMT.


*First image created with the Rhonna Designs app.


fit by 27: week seven

The week of 7/26-8/1 was week seven  of Fit By 27. I restarted #Workitout100 again.  This is probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve begun this challenge since learning about it. I will keep restarting it until I finally complete it. I am determined to finish it eventually…and even more so that this will be the round it does!




  • Sunday, 7/26:  Couch to 5K (working on number 8 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Monday, 7/27: 30 one legged squats on my “bad” knee for therapy, 10 lunges on each leg, 40 sit ups, 20 plie squat with side leg lifts, and a 2 minute plank.
  • Tuesday, 7/28: Couch to 5K
  • Wednesday, 7/29: Day 2 of the Blogilates for Beginners calendar
  • Thursday, 7/30: Couch to 5K
  • Friday, 7/31: Walked over 10,000 steps this day, plus the previous few days (according to my Fitbit). Decided since I at least made it over 10,000 steps I could count this day as an “active rest day” and still part of Workitout100, as long as I got back to a dedicated workout the next day.
  • Saturday, 8/1: Set up my bike on the trainer and biked for 30 minutes, plus did 50 squats.
  • Sunday, 8/2: Walk with Dan.


My mission is to eat for health!

Last Sunday, I sat down and looked over both the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, which I love for its color-coded containers that make portion control simple, and the Tone It Up nutrition plan, which outlines which food groups to eat for at each meal throughout the day to optimize your energy and health. I figured out the best way for me (with my work schedule and dietary needs) to fit my 21 Day Fix container allotments into the TIU meal structures. Once I did that, planning my meals out for the week suddenly and finally became much less overwhelming to me. And, I stuck to my meal planning pretty well! Totally stuck to it through Wednesday, and then switched a couple meals out on Thursday and Friday. Saturday was a much more relaxed day with a treat or two, but I was back to following my Fix + TIU plan on Sunday.



I am down about 2, 2.5 pounds.

If you’d like to follow my Fit By 27 journey more closely, follow me on Instagram under the username @kcd_fit.

*First image created with the Rhonna Designs app.

fit by 27: weeks five and six


The week of 7/12-7/18 was week four and 7/19-25 was week five of Fit By 27.



  • Sunday, 7/12:  Tone It Up Bikini Arms 2014
  • Monday, 7/13: session of Couch to 5K (working on number 8 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Tuesday, 7/14: Went to a Pilates class at my gym! Working on number 1 on my fitness bucket list of attending all the group fitness classes at my gym.
  • Wednesday, 7/15: session of Couch to 5K
  • Thursday, 7/16: Walk with the dog.
  • Friday, 7/17: 13. 4 mile bike ride with Dan in the metroparks near our house, bringing my total miles to  miles so far for my goal of biking 100 miles outside by the end of my fall break (number 9 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Saturday, 7/18 and Sunday, 7/19: No workout
  • Monday, 7/20: Walk with the dog.
  • Tuesday, 7/21: I hit balls at the driving range!
  • Wednesday, 7/22: No workout
  • Thursday, 7/23 and Friday, 7/24: Was putting my classroom together, and walked over 10,000 steps (according to my Fitbit)
  • Saturday, 7/25: No workout
  • Sunday, 7/26: session of Couch to 5K



My mission is to eat for health!

I was really struggling with food the last week. I indulged in oversized portions of “treat” foods and then felt terribly guilty about it. It sent me in a spiral of crying on my floor and trying to figure out how to move forward. In high school, after I had my 1st knee surgery and was restricted from sports, I became borderline anorexic. I felt overwhelmed with everything and just didn’t eat. I got to my lowest weight ever then. I probably would have kept going except I started swimming again and my perfectionist desire to be the best swimmer ever took precedent and went back to eating “normal” (well, normal for a swimmer).

In college I would get stressed out and eat junk foods even though I knew they would make me sick (what I thought was IBS, but turns out was celiac) b/c the whole binge eating and sick process made me feel better emotionally. Then I tried Weight Watchers and while it worked for losing the freshmen 15 I became OCD and super hard on myself about meeting points exactly. I remembered what happened in high school and I panicked and didn’t want to try to lose weight anymore out of fear I would develop an eating disorder, despite the fact my eating was already pretty disordered. I put the weight I lost back on, plus more.

I continuously struggle between wanting to hold myself accountable and wanting to be kind to myself. I know I can easily go down an unhealthy perfectionist path of OCD, guilt, and restriction, but instead I’m stuck on the unhealthy path of eating whatever I want because it’s easier to not try to be balanced and healthy than to try and fail. Of course this is all complicated by what I now know is celiac disease and the effects it has had on my body. I don’t know the answer. I know I deserve to lose weight, so I can be at a healthy BMI and not risk diabetes. I know my body deserves love while it heals from celiac damage and knee surgery, and it also deserves to be challenged and grow strong. I know my mental health deserves to be a priority and protected. I know I will keep doing my best to give myself those things. I decided to give myself a mantra: “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”



No progress.


If you’d like to follow my Fit By 27 journey more closely, follow me on Instagram under the username @kcd_fit.


*First image created with the Rhonna Designs app.

fit by 27: week four

The week of 7/5-7/11 was week four of Fit By 27.

I began my #Workitout100 challenge (number 10 on my fitness bucket list for age 26) with Sunday, 6/5 as my day one.


  • Sunday, 7/5: 13.2 mile bike ride with Dan in the metroparks near our new house.
  • Monday, 7/6: Day 1 of Week 2 of Couch to 5K (working on number 8 on my fitness bucket list). I ran outside for the first time in forever. I felt really self-conscious, especially because my shorts kept riding up, but I did it!
  • Tuesday, 7/7: Walked Madison and did some physical therapy for my knee.
  • Wednesday, 7/8: Began working on number 1 on my fitness bucket list by attending a group fitness class at my gym for the first time. It was beginner’s yoga and it was great!
  • Thursday, 7/9: Day 2 of Week 2 of Couch to 5K. It wasn’t raining when I began, but it was by the end. I felt like such a badass! ; ) And this time I ran with spandex under my running shorts, and so even though they rode up, it didn’t bother me.
  • Friday, 7/10: 9 mile bike ride with Dan in the metroparks near our house, bringing my total miles to 34.2 miles so far for my goal of biking 100 miles outside by the end of my fall break (number 9 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Saturday, 7/11: Walk plus physical therapy for my knee.




My mission is to eat for health!

I did a tops job of staying hydrated. Other than that…I have no good news to report. I sucked at eating for health this week, and I have no “acceptable” or “reasonable” excuse. I just did. Oh well, all I can do is forgive myself and move forward with greater determination and dedication.




Probably no surprise given my nutrition was totally off, but no news to report here either. I actually did not weigh or measure myself or anything this week. Some people may disagree with this, but I knew the numbers would not see improvement, and for me, to see no progress when I know exactly why I wouldn’t be seeing progress and I am already feeling disappointed in myself, that is not helpful. If anything, it leads to a spiral of negative self-talk and I just don’t have the time or patience for that anymore.

So, week four went really well on the exercise front, which is HUGE for me as I haven’t really had any sort of a regular workout routine other than physical therapy in the past several months. Looking forward to week five and beginning another challenge group that will have me using the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, which I love! If you’d like to follow my Fit By 27 journey more closely, follow me on Instagram under the username @kcd_fit.


*First image created with the Rhonna Designs app.

fit by 27: week two and three


 The park near our old apartment 


The week of 6/21-6/27 was my second week of Fit By 27, and the week of 6/28-7/4 was week three.

I began my #Workitout100 challenge (number 10 on my fitness bucket list for age 26) with Sunday, 6/14 as my day one.


On a walk!


  • Sunday, 6/21: Some yoga at home for International Yoga Day!
  • Monday, 6/22: Went to the gym. Did 15 minutes on the bike, 15 minutes on the rowing machine, and Tone It Up Bikini Arms x1.
  • Tuesday, 6/23: Long walk with Dan and Madison around the neighborhood of our old apartment. I love our neighborhood at our house, but I will miss the part of the park we lived by before. Good thing it’s only a 5 minute drive away!
  • Wednesday, 6/24: Long walk with Dan and Madison around the neighborhood of our old apartment. I had a total of 15,000 steps this day getting ready to move! (as measured by my Fitbit)
  • Thursday, 6/25-Tuesday 6/30: Moving! 10,000-15,000+ steps walked each day, lots of furniture and boxes moved, things cleaned and sorted and packed
  • Wednesday, 7/1 & Thursday, 7/2: more unpacking, plus walks around our neighborhood with Dan and Madison
  • Friday, 7/3 & Saturday, 7/4: nothing. We had guests from out of town (Dan’s best friend and my in laws), so I wanted to focus on enjoying their company and hosting them for the first time ever in our new home. Also, I was exhausted from the past week of moving. I took 3 hour naps both days!

By Friday, I had decided to restart my #Workitout100 challenge with Sunday, 7/5 as my day 1. Though I had been pretty darn active throughout the moving process, I went several days without a dedicated workout. I want my #Workitout100 challenge to be about forming a habit of intentional activity, activity that is purely for the sake of being active, not as the side result of an event or other obligation. 


Madison enjoying our new backyard!


My mission is to eat for health!

Again, I did not see as much progress on the nutrition front this week. I did a better job staying hydrated and with keeping a food diary, but not in terms of eating meals I cooked myself that have plenty of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. This week was MOVING WEEK!! : ) So we were not really grocery shopping since we’d have to move all that food one place to another. Now that we are all settled,   we did a massive grocery haul and Mission Eat for Health can get back on track.


Outside our new house!


No progress. Unfortunately, this week was kind of like treading water. Fitness was not the priority this week, moving was. Now that we are all moved out of the apartment and into the new house,  fitness is back at the top of the priority list. I am trying very hard to be conscious of falling into the trap of giving myself “free passes” due to excuses like “being tired” or “having a lot to do for work.” Life is always busy and there is always something going on, and I want fitness to stay a top priority despite those things. However, I guess there really will be some days where it isn’t possible to fit a dedicated workout in or make the most balanced food choices, whether it be because of traveling, moving, illness, or family emergencies. An essential piece of my Fit By 27 journey will be staying honest with myself about what is truly an extenuating circumstance and what is not, and getting back on track quickly once such a situation is over. Luckily, I was still super active this week (four days in a row of 15,000+ steps! Plus lifting and carrying tons of stuff, definitely a workout), so I don’t consider the week to be a total loss. 

Overall, given that we were moving, weeks two and three went decently! Looking forward to week four and refocusing! If you’d like to follow my Fit By 27 journey more closely, follow me on Instagram under the username @kcd_fit and MyFitnessPal  under the username KellyMT.


fit by 27: week one


This past week (6/14-6/20) was my first official week of Fit By 27, since my first week of age 26 was spent chaperoning trip to D.C. and finishing the school year.

I began my #Workitout100 challenge (number 10 on my fitness bucket list for age 26) with Sunday, 6/14 as my day one!




  • Sunday, 6/14: Went to the gym. Biked for about 20 minutes or so, then I did Couch to 5K Week 1 Day 3 (working on number 8 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Monday, 6/15: Completed the video for day one of Blogilates for Beginners calendar, at home (number 2 on my fitness bucket list).
  • Tuesday, 6/16: A long walk with Madison, plus Bikini Arms 2014 Tone It Up workout, at home.
  • Wednesday, 6/17: Love Your Body with Kettlebells Tone It Up workout, at home.
  • Thursday, 6/18: Went to the gym. Went on the elliptical for 5 minutes to warm up, then did Couch to 5k Week 2 Day 1.
  • Friday, 6/19: Went to the gym.  Went on the elliptical for 15 minutes, went on the stationary bike for 15 minutes,  and went on the rowing machine for 15 minutes.
  • Saturday, 6/20: Went to the zoo with Dan in the morning and then went for a long walk with Madison in the park in the afternoon.  Walked for a total of 6.5 miles that day (all measured by my awesome Fitbit!). Plus, we spent the evening packing because we are moving next week!!!! SO EXCITED!  : )




My mission is to eat for health, which to me means:

  1. Gluten-free, because, well duh.
  2. Eating fruits AND veggies every day, because I am a terrible adult and sometimes I forget to eat vegetables.
  3. Drink plenty of water to avoid negative effects of dehydration, like confusing thirst for hunger and generally being cranky.
  4. Keep a daily food and hydration diary so I can make sure I am actually meeting #2 and #3.
  5. Following the 80/20 rule of eating lean, clean, and green 80% of the time and relaxed 20% of the time, because while it is important to eat decent food for energy and health, sometimes chocolate is necessary.

I did not see as much progress on the nutrition front this week. I did a better job staying hydrated and with keeping a food diary, but I need to do better about things like ice cream (because it should be a treat once every week or two, not every other day) and I need to eat more  vegetables (instead of the ice cream). I’m focusing mainly on workouts for now until we are moved into our new house and letting any issues with Mission Eat for Health slide since we aren’t really doing a massive grocery haul until we are moved into the new place.




No progress. I am not disappointed because even though I was working out every day, my eating choices were a bit too indulgent for any weight loss or inches to drop. Bright side – no gain. In any case, the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” is certainly true.


Overall, week one went decently! Looking forward to week two! If you’d like to follow my Fit By 27 journey more closely, follow me on Instagram under the username @kcd_fit and MyFitnessPal  under the username KellyMT.



fit by 27


What ages have been defining years in your life?

Age 25 was a defining year for me. I tore the ACL in my left knee, ten years after I tore and had surgery on the right one. I was diagnosed with celiac disease. If those two life events weren’t enough, I was also completing my first full year as a classroom teacher in an innovative school model.  With the support of my husband, family, and amazing co-workers, I finally started putting my health before work (since I basically didn’t have a choice at this point), and with their support, learned to not let myself feel guilty for it. With these emotional breakthroughs, plus the fact that I finally have a more complete picture of my health and what my body needs to thrive, and I am ready to make 26 yet another defining year for me.

By the time I turn 27, I will be consistently eating for health in a balanced and healthy manner, I will no longer fit the medical definition of obese, and I will crave and love exercising again like I did when I was a teenager.

To help me stay focused on health as a fun journey and one that is centered around more than just weigh loss, but positive habits, I created a Fitness Bucket List for age 26. Here are all the activities I want to complete by June 7, 2016:

  1. Try every fitness class at my gym.
  2. Complete Blogilates for Beginners calendar.
  3. Complete a monthly calendar for Blogilates.
  4. Go at least one month in which Dan and I only eat out one meal a week.
  5. Make at least 5 recipes from the Oh She Glows cookbook.
  6. Make at least 5 recipes from the Skinnytaste cookbook.
  7. Make at least 10 new recipes from the Tone It Up nutrition plan.
  8. Run in a 5K race.
  9. Bike 100 miles outside on my road bike (versus a stationary bike at the gym) by the end of fall break 2015.
  10. Complete the Workitout 100 challenge.
  11. Complete a Whole30 challenge.
  12. Complete the 21 Day Fix workout plan as written.
  13. Go to the gym and workout before work every day for a week.
  14. Do yoga every day for a month.
  15. Follow a Tone It Up weekly workout schedule exactly as written for at least one whole week.

I will be posting overall weekly updates on my Fit By 27 journey, as well as some individual posts about different items on my fitness bucket list. I’m very excited to finally prioritize my health and go after what I want. I know I have created fitness challenges and projects for  myself in the past, and haven’t had a ton of sustaining success. I really believe I will achieve my goals, improve my attitude, and revise my lifestyle for keeps this year not because I have finally realized life is always busy and there is no perfect time to make big changes, but because I have finally matured enough to be able to handle that fact and just do it anyway. Here’s to 26 and getting fit!

Have you ever done any of the activities on my bucket list? Are you on a similar fitness journey yourself?

*image created using Rhonna Designs app

Whole30: 11 Days Down

Have you heard of the Whole30? Basically, it’s a healthy eating challenge in which you do not consume any grains (gluten-free or otherwise), dairy, legumes, alcohol, seed oils, or added sugar for 30 days. As a co-worker said to me, “So what DO you eat?” Fruits, veggies, healthy fats (except peanuts or peanut butter), and protein. He then said, “And WHY are you doing this?”

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I started scouring the Internet for gluten-free recipes. While Pinning away, I noticed a lot of the GF recipes I was saving were from paleo blogs. If you have no idea what I am talking about, Paleo is a way of eating that follows the same rules as Whole30, though some people who follow a Paleo diet will eat certain dairy products (unpasteurized) or include honey in their meals, etc. When I clicked through to these blogs to explore even more paleo and therefore also gluten-free recipes, I read each blogger’s about page (my favorite thing to do when finding a new blog!). I started noticing a pattern: A LOT of Paleo bloggers follow a Paleo lifestyle due to digestive or autoimmune diseases (like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one…you get the idea).

I then started to read more and more about the Paleo diet and the people who use it to manage various health issues, which lead me to discovering both SCD and Whole30. Reading about both of those diets lead me to the conclusion that just cutting out gluten may not solve my issues, at least not at first. Since my intestines are damaged (particularly the villi which absorb nutrients and help with the digestion of food groups like dairy), more than just gluten could potentially cause me inflammation, pain, and the host of celiac symptoms I’ve been dealing with. Once my body has healed more, I could potentially reintroduce different food items or groups without negative effects (though never gluten again, gluten is forever a no!).

So, paired with my own research (at lot of which I pinned to my “Living With Celiac” board) and the reading of this book, I decided to complete a Whole30. Many people complete a Whole30 for the same reason as me – to see if changing their diet will change the way they physically feel. A lot of people also lose weight on this diet, since the only carbs you are really eating are fruits and veggies, but that’s honestly not my motivation (though it will be a welcome side effect, let’s be real!). I wanted to give my body a chance to heal to the best of its abilities. And though I did not specifically discuss completing a Whole30 challenge with a registered dietician or a nutritionist, when I saw a R.D. I did ask her about consuming dairy (because of that whole damaged villi thing). She replied to the effect of, “I would just see how you feel when you eat it. If you eat ice cream and your stomach is hurting after, then it could be the dairy and all the sugar. If it doesn’t hurt when you have cheese or yogurt, then you know you can tolerate that. Just see how you feel.”

That’s my aim with Whole30: see how I feel. Eliminate some potentially “harmful” foods for 30 days, then reintroduce each group of them one by one and see if my body experiences any negative effects. If it does, then I may choose to continue to avoid those food items for awhile and possibly reintroduce them again at a later time. If it doesn’t bother me, then I know I don’t need to worry about that consuming that food in addition to avoiding gluten.

I’m currently 11 days into my Whole30, and I am feeling pretty darn good! I haven’t had a headache since I started it, and I can’t remember the last time I went over a week without a headache, I really can’t. My stomach has only hurt once or twice. I’m not sure why that is – it could be just IBS acting up, triggered by stress or a poor night’s sleep, or it could be that due to celiac damage, even with a very limited diet my stomach can be irritated while trying to digest food. I have definitely had more energy, even though I am drinking less coffee and haven’t had any sugar. I have lost weight (I weighed myself, even though you’re “not supposed to” during Whole30) and my clothes are fitting differently.

And honestly, eating in a Whole30-compliant manner is NOT as difficult as I thought. I wouldn’t describe it as easy, per se, but it’s not as challenging as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because my reason for doing it is very important to me. Or, maybe it’s because my body is feeling good so I’m not missing stuff. Or, it’s because it’s only been less than two weeks, haha.  In any case, it’s been easier willpower-wise and prep-wise than I thought it would be. “Meal prep” is easy – go to grocery store, buy lots of fresh, unprocessed food. When you make a meal, just combine a serving of each fruit, veggie, protein, and healthy fat. Boom, meal planning done. I’ve made sure our kitchen is well-stocked and to pack compliant snacks anytime I go out (work, baseball game, bridal shower, road trip, whatever). I also planned to start my Whole30 before major events that I knew I would not be able to stay compliant for or really hate trying to – annual family get together Memorial Day weekend, a wedding, my birthday, chaperoning a school trip to Washington, D.C., and family vacation (all occurring within a three week window! The end of May/beginning of June is going to be nuts!). I definitely think choosing the right 30 days is important and has helped, as well.

Have you ever completed a Whole30 or a paleo challenge? Would you ever consider it? I’m documenting my journey daily on my fitness Instagram, @kcd_fit, if you are interested in following along!

weekly gems

Glad the weather is getting nice again for long walks with Madison!

Why Being Diagnosed With Celiac Disease Was Great News


I was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, and I could not be happier about it.

I used to think celiac disease was simply an allergy to gluten. However, celiac disease is “an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.” Due to this damage, the body cannot properly absorb nutrients. When celiac disease is left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues.

So, what does this all mean? I need to stop eating anything that contains gluten – which is anything that contains wheat, rye, or barley. This was an upsetting idea at first. Bread? Pizza? Cake? Cookies? Cereal? Pretzels? BEER? All off limits now.

I got tested for celiac disease because my dad has it, and he has been bothering me for a couple years now to get tested because sometime celiac disease is misdiagnosed as IBS, which I have. I never had severe GI symptoms like he did (like, emergency room-level pain), so I didn’t think it was likely I had celiac. However, I went on a low-carb diet in December of 2014 and did not eat as much food with gluten in it. In January, when I increased my carb and consequently my gluten intake again, I noticed my stomach bothered me more than it had when I wasn’t consuming as much gluten. I figure I would get the blood test done, just in case. Both my doctor and I doubted it would come back positive.

But it did. And I was bitter. I have to stop eating gluten when I barely have symptoms? UGH. In the days leading up to my follow-up with the GI specialist, hoping to find answers, I started reading more about celiac disease.

That is when my attitude did a complete 180.

While my GI symptoms of celiac were minimal compared to people like my dad, I have a whole set of other symptoms that occur in adults who have celiac. I felt so free and victorious. YES.  I AM NOT A HYPOCHONDRIAC.  For years, I had a bunch of minor health issues that, when put all together, were at times difficult to deal with – more mentally than physically, though of course I wasn’t feeling 100%. I kept researching and trying to figure out what was wrong. I was convinced there had to be SOMETHING that connected all of these weird little issues. My family and friends were patient and supportive, but over time it just seemed like I was being dramatic. But with this diagnosis of celiac disease, all these little seemingly unconnected minor things that were heaped on top of me finally, collectively, had a name.

Finally getting this diagnosis of celiac disease took about 8 years (the average time it takes an individual to be diagnosed with celiac is 6-10 years).  It all began my freshman year of college, in 2007.  I had pretty moderate to intense GI issues on a regular basis. It seemed like it didn’t matter what I ate, my stomach was unpredictably set off. At the end of my freshmen year, I visited the doctor and got some blood work done to eliminate conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. The tests came back negative, and I was told I had irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

My sophomore year, my GI problems continued. I also began to have severe anxiety and irritability, sinus infections, and weight gain.

My junior year was better for GI symptoms. It felt like I had gotten my IBS under control. However, my anxiety continued, I had bronchitis, and I was constantly tired. Like, taking four hour naps, always needing some caffeine, having trouble concentrating, tired.

The summer between my junior and senior year, I saw a psychiatrist regarding my anxiety medication. I was worried it wasn’t the correct kind or dose because I felt so apathetic, unmotivated, and tired ALL THE TIME. She looked at my blood work that was on file and told me I was anemic. She was upset no one told me before that I was and explained that was why I was so tired.

My senior year was similar to my junior year, though I tried to fight the fatigue I constantly felt I was under by taking iron supplements. I got sick again during student teaching and had to miss an entire week of school. My first year of post-graduate work was very similar to my senior year. My symptoms didn’t change too much. Again, I experienced multiple sinus infections, and I noticed when I worked out sometimes my feet felt numb.

In the winter of 2012, in addition to all my past symptoms, I began to experience even weirder symptoms in my feet. My toes would swell around their knuckles, looking like sausages. They would change color and temperature when exposed to cold, and they felt numb often. Sometimes it was difficult to walk with a normal gait. I thought I had some sort of arthritis.

Over the course of the next few months, I had appointments with my primary care doctor, a podiatrist, a rheumatologist, and a vascular specialist. I had discussions of my complete medical history, panels of blood work done, inserts put in my shoes, my fingers examined under microscopes, X-rays taken, a treadmill stress test done, etc. My circulation was normal. I was told the color and temperature changing in my feet was from Raynaud’s phenomenon, and that the numbness could be from some sort of neuropathy, but that would require more tests.  Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune disorders were ruled out. However, my antinuclear antibodies, or ANAs, were slightly high. The rheumatologist said that could just be my individual baseline, or it could mean I would eventually develop an autoimmune disorder in the future. (Now, it seems like I had celiac disease even then, which is maybe why my ANAs were high, but the possibility of celiac was never discussed or tested.)

I accepted that I had Raynaud’s and chose not to undergo more tests for neuropathy. Dan and I were going to get married in a few weeks, and after months of frustrating symptoms, lots of tests, and little answers, I just wanted to concentrate on that and moving forward in our lives.

Since that time, there hasn’t been a major change in my symptoms. I kept experiencing it all – IBS, anxiety, fatigue, frequent headaches, numbness and tingling in my feet, joint pain, dizziness (especially if went too long without eating, as if my blood sugar was dropping), anemia, mental fogginess, muscle cramps, nausea, and sinus infections every few to several months. I just accepted I had a lot of weird little issues, that was just the way I was, and that was all there was to it. I couldn’t do anything about it except deal with it.

After my blood test for celiac disease came back positive, though, and I began reading about more in depth about it, I learned ALL OF MY LITTLE WEIRD SYMPTOMS WERE FROM CELIAC. Every. Last. One.

Suddenly, my diagnosis no longer felt like unfair news. It felt like the most freeing, positive, uplifting personal health news I had heard in years. I wasn’t crazy. All of the tiny issues I was convinced had a shared answer, did. And though eating gluten-free will be a challenge at times and of course requires sacrifice, I am thankful that the autoimmune disorder I have can be managed solely through diet. I know others are not so lucky. I also am extremely motivated to not cheat on my gluten-free diet or ignore my diagnosis. Because I was diagnosed after age 20, my risk of developing a second autoimmune disorder is 34%. Not only that, but failure to treat celiac can lead to other serious health conditions, such as cancer. With family history of both diabetes and colon cancer, I am extremely motivated to address celiac appropriately.

After following up with a GI specialist, I had an endoscopy and biopsy done to confirm the diagnosis of celiac that my positive blood test and list of myriad symptoms suggested. The endoscopy and biopsy both confirmed it. The damage to my small intestine was pretty extensive – my villi were almost completely blunted/flattened. That result is also something that motivates me and makes it easy to accept eating gluten-free. My body will heal, and my symptoms will go away, but that will only happen l if I do not consume gluten. I know it will be a journey – it may take up to a couple years for my body to heal, and it is a lifelong commitment to avoid further damage – but I am just relieved I have a solution to years of feeling crappy. I am also grateful I have a built-in support system and go-to for questions with my dad, who has already been living gluten-free for some time now.

I am sharing this story because I am sure there are others out there who have gone through similar frustrating health journeys, whether they lead to a diagnosis of celiac disease or not. I want others to know they are not alone, and I want people who haven’t found a diagnosis yet not to give up. If you have symptoms like I did, or have a family member who has celiac disease, and you haven’t been tested for it yet, I encourage you to ask your doctor for the blood test. Having an answer isn’t restrictive, its empowering.

A friend said a family member of hers had been diagnosed with celiac disease. After switching to a gluten-free diet, he said, “I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I started feeling good.”  I can’t wait to start feeling good.