Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How It All Began-Updated April 14th 2013

It all began twelve years ago when I started having symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. At first, the pain was sporadic, starting out in my chest and one finger, then the next day moving to a hip, then a shoulder, then a knee...And it stayed this way for a few years.

I was run through the gamut of tests and x-rays and triple-phase-bone scans, put on a mess of drugs and told that it was some type of “inflammatory arthritis”, until one day in December of 2005 when the diagnosis finally came back as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

At that point in my life I could barely walk, get dressed, or even comb my hair without help. Being an independent person I was at my wits end. I was sick of the drugs, the side effects, and the pain, so I decided to try some alternative treatments.

I began researching diet and its effects on R.A. More importantly, a gluten-free, plant-based diet. After eliminating gluten, I noticed a huge improvement. My knees no longer “clicked” and I was able to start exercising again. In just under 6 months I was able to go from not being able to walk down the block, to being able to finish an hour-long advanced step aerobics class with hardly any pain.

I continued on this diet for nearly two years when I modified it by eliminating dairy and processed foods as well as all animal products with the exception of fish, and found that the pain was decreasing even more. I started taking spin classes at the gym, incorporating more strength training and working on my flexibility and core with yoga classes.

Although I've been off all prescription drugs since late 2005, I also incorporate other holistic practices in my self-care routine.  I see an herbalist, and I also see an acupuncturist both of whom have helped me regain balance in my body and have aided my healing process even further.  Not only do I feel better in terms of my arthritis, but I also feel more at peace. I’m not as tired as I used to be, I have more energy and feel like I can do just about anything I could do before the RA. I often tell people I feel better at 37 than I did at 27.

One of my biggest supporters (besides my family and friends) is my family doctor. Every year when I visit him for my yearly exam, he has me speak with his intern.  He asks me to share my story to make them aware that there are people like me out there who thrive on managing their illnesses naturally, without the use of prescription drugs. He has witnessed me at my worse and has watched me as I have taken control of my health, putting what was once debilitating into complete remission and even reversing the swelling and damage that had been done in my joints, something he said according to the text books and everything he clinically knew about RA, "was not supposed to happen."

Through my 8 years of taking my health into my own hands, I have learned that although the choices we make surrounding what we eat are vital to our overall well being, other factors such as stress management, exercise, healthy relationships, a soothing environment, self-care, and living consciously are equally as important to living a healthy, balanced life.  I have recently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's Health Coach Training program so I can better communicate what I know and have experienced to help others.

The Healing Plate is a place of community and was born out of the desire to share what I have learned about how the food we eat affects our overall well-being and how we can become more balanced by incorporating holistic lifestyle choices.  I want this website to be an inspiration to those who are struggling, or have struggled with illness, or for those who just want to take back their health.  Together, we will learn that incorporating more whole foods does not mean you have to sacrifice taste, or the pleasure of eating great cuisine, it simply means you can start living a more healthy, vibrant life.

I strongly believe in bio-individuality, what is one man's food is another man's poison and I don't expect every one who participates here to become a vegetarian, nor should they be!  What I would like to see however, is a change of consciousness. Buy local, buy organic. Be willing to spend a little more to buy organic and support your local farmers and those who do things the right way. Try to eat more veg-friendly.  Be aware of where your food comes from and make conscious choices as to what you buy and whom you support...You don't have to completely give up what you're doing now to make a difference!


Danika said...

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your new blog-endeavor! I have seen the effects of your new diet firsthand, and it is truly spectacular.

Momentary Academic said...

This is wonderful! I can't wait to hear more about your experiences.

Chrissy said...

You are an amazing woman. I think that your story will help others to look at alternatives and feel that there is hope!

Kicking ass and taking names even in the medical field, that's the Jenni I know and love.

I look forward to the new blog!

Sandra said...

You probably know that the local co-ops are encouraging people to try eating 80% local between August 15-Sept 15. (4 out of 5 items in each meal coming from within a 250 mile radius). I'm planning to try this, so if you are too, maybe we can share some locally grown goodies. I'm going to make weekly trips to the Mill City Farmers Mkt for stuff. THANK GOD so much beer is made right next door in Wisconsin.

Grad School Reject said...

Wow Jenni, I was impressed with you before, but now I don't know what to say. And to be clear, I'm don't mean I'm impressed with your decision to be Vegan (although I do respect it). Rather, I am impressed that you got your diagnosis, decided to pick your head up, and then got proactive. I think that is inspiring to anyone who has been given a less-than optimistic diagnosis.

LZ Blogger said...

Jenni ~ I am truly amazed at the things people can do to (and for) themselves just through diet. GOOD FOR YOU! ~ jb///

Who is this Writer? said...

That's cool. I didn't know...

Petersen and Gustafson Families said...

Hi Jenni,

We came across your blog and wanted to reach out to you. Mutual of Omaha’s aha moment tour is going virtual, and we’re looking for stories just like yours! During the month of November, we are looking for aha moments from the Minneapolis area. On November 29th, we’ll be giving away $1,000 to one lucky local who shares their aha moment story, to help them continue their aha moment journey. Would you be interested in sharing your story?

To enter, submit a photo that represents your aha moment, along with a brief description of your story, to our entry page on Facebook at by November 28th. The winner will be announced on Friday, November 29th.

It’s all part of Mutual of Omaha’s popular aha moment tour, which exists to uncover the real stories of positive life change from people all across the country. Through a 20-city road trip each summer, the aha moment tour has collected nearly 4,000 individual aha moments over the past 4 years in an Airstream trailer custom designed as mobile TV studio. You can view them all and learn more about the tour at

Please let me know if you have any questions about submitting your aha moment or the tour in general.

We look forward to seeing your aha moment, and good luck!



Jenni said...

Hello Olivia! Thank you for sharing this-I just submitted my "aha moment!" There have been a lot of these moments throughout my journey of healing, but the most profound, and the one that had the most impact was when I decided to share my story to help others. What a great thing you are doing to bring to light the people that are making a difference in their lives and the lives of others. Truly inspiring!