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Hi! I joined SparkPeople in July of 2008 to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle. I've always been at a healthy weight, but I was wanting to lose the last five vanity pounds and learn how to stop overeating. I have always exercised, swimming in high school, and later on running and kickboxing.

A few weeks after I joined Sparkpeople, I started to have some pretty bad stomach problems. I went to the doctor and was told it was probably just a parasite and it will eventually go away. Fast forward 1 month later, and still having pain. Back to the doctor, who requested several tests and put me on an antiobiotic. All tests came back negative, and the antibiotic ended up making me sicker than ever. After days in bed, I went to the emergency room. The doctor there suggested I have a colonoscopy (yuck!!) to figure out what was going on. The colonoscopy procedure showed inflammation in my intestines and colon, a sign of Crohn's disease. This is an autoimmune disease cause by an overactive immune system in the intestines. There is no cure but there are several medications to help manage it. I tried several medications, including steriods (which worked but they are not something you can stay on long term). Before these problems surfaced, I weighed around 115 to 120. My weight fell to 95 lbs over the next few months. I was unable to eat without feeling sick and nauseous, and I had absolutely no energy. I spend days in bed and missed several days of work. After awhile, the pain only seemed to worsen, and so again my doctor ordered more tests. They discovered that my small intestines had almost closed due to severe inflammation making the passage of food very painful. We decided that my best option would be surgery to remove the diseased portion of my intestines. I had the surgery January 2009. Recovering from surgery was very difficult as it was hard to move around. Eating was still a big issue and I continued to lose weight. I couldn't eat ANY fruits and vegetables without having terrible pain (from the fiber). I was drinking Ensures in order to try and maintain my weight. Life was pretty depressing back then. I barely slept due to the pain, and had to drag myself out of bed every morning to go to work. After another round of steriods, I was feeling much better. We then tried another medicine, which took about 5 months to start working (patience is a virtue!). Fast forward to January 2010 and I'm feeling the best I have felt since before I was diagnosed with this disease. It was a very difficult time for me, but all in all I think I learned my biggest life lessons over the past couple of years. Never take your health for granted and live everyday to the fullest, knowing that there is someone out there that has it worse than you. Be grateful for the love of friends and family. I am so much stronger because of the things I went through. It is so important for me to eat healthy and be active. When I don't the symptoms of my disease start coming back. I've taken such an interest in learning the benefits of certain types of foods. I've also struggled a little bit with overeating. We were a clean your plate type of family. We ate pretty healthy growing up, but as I went into college I pretty much lived off of fast food, frozen dinners, and soda. Recently, I discovered Intutive Eating. It involves learning to listen to your bodies hunger signals, stopping when full, but still enjoying your favorite foods. I love this concept and am trying to incorporate into my life. (If you're interested in learning more about intuitive eating, try reading 'Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works' by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch) I eat mostly whole unprocessed organic foods. I try to adapt my favorite foods into healthy versions. I love pizza, mexican foods, and anything sweet. I'm a big believer that moderation and balance is key to developing a healthy lifestyle.

A little bit about me: On Christmas Eve 2009, my boyfriend of 5 years proposed! We were married October 2009 on a crisp Autumn day in Kansas City. Every since then, I've been settling quite nicely into married life. I'm learning how to cook healthy delicious meals, and my new hubby loves it! We have four furbabies. Two dogs (terriers) and two cats. I love animals, and I would have more if we just had more room (and if my hubby would let me. :) I have the most loving parents anyone could ask for. One brother and a twin sister who are also married to awesome people. I'm am so grateful that I have such a great family who I can count on.

I absolutely love all the information and support here on Sparkpeople. In fact, I'm thinking about switching careers to something in the health industry. But we'll see...

***End of January Update***
So I have completed everyday of scheduled exercise (6 days per week). Eating has been about fifty-fifty. I'm trying to learn from my experiences of overeating. I hate how I feel after I overeat. I know that I tend to overeat when I'm stressed, bored, or lonely. I'm trying to come up with other ways of coping with these emotions without food. I have been successful in giving up soda this month (not one sip!!).

***Update May 2010***
So I kind let some of my healthy habits slip a little bit. I took a little hiatis from Sparkpeople. I'm starting to feel a little bit sick again from my health issues, so I want to really refocus on getting back to a healthy lifestyle. I actually made a major life decision to go back to school to become a registered dietician. I'm so excited! I'm taking my first class this summer, and then I have some classes scheduled for the fall.

***Update April 2011***
Whoa, it's been awhile...

I kind of fell of the Sparkpeople wagon for a little while, but now I'm back. I need motivation to continue with my healthy eating. At the beginning of this year, I made the decision to go vegan for my health. I can't believe how much it helped. I have felt the best in my whole life. I rarely get that heavy feeling after eating a meal, and I love it! I've had a few slip ups here and there, but for the most part I've stuck with it. I also took a break from school to figure out some things, but my plan is to start back up in the fall full time! Woo-hoo!

Member Since: 7/24/2008

Fitness Minutes: 7,784

My Goals:
My main goal is just to get healthy through making healthy food choices, and maintaining a consistent exercise program. Also to learn how to lived a balanced life.

My Program:
My plan is to do cardio 5 hours per week, strength training twice per week, and yoga once per week. My cardio consists of doing the elliptical and stairmaster, running/walking, and circuit training with some occasional spin classes. I like to practice Intuitive Eating, and I recently became vegan.

Personal Information:
My name is Ashley, and I was born and raised in Kansas City. I just got married in October 2009 and I'm trying to learn how to cook healthy meals for me and my new hubby. I have a wonderful, caring family, and 2 wild dogs named Frank and Hobbes. We recently adopted two new kittens and they are making an interesting addition to the fam. :)

Other Information:

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