Sometimes it happens to even the best of us. You just feel like no matter how hard you try to be perfect and get this whole health and fitness thing “right”… it’s just not good enough. You feel as though you are pushing a giant boulder up an enormous mountain, because the harder you try, the more out of whack you seem to get. In fact this is common for peeps like us… us over-achievers. We want to have control, to take action and get the results we want, and sometimes our body just doesn’t cooperate. In a sense it’s like our body is our greatest teacher, guiding us to learn how to let go of our tightly held grip and go with the flow a little more, oftentimes in ways that give us no other choice. Today’s guest is someone that we love not only for her ammmmaaaaazing gluten-free recipes, but also for her fun and uplifting spirit. We hope you enjoy Caroline’s story of how being diagnosed with celiac disease helped her to triumph over her health issues… and in many ways, her life. Guest Post by Caroline Shannon-Karasik I’m a little bit Type A – just a little. OK, truth? For as long I have been on this big, grand wonderful Earth, I have been prone to over-achieving and wanting desperately for every, single thing I do to be the picture of perfection. It’s my best and my worst quality. It’s what makes me who I am, but also causes me to become overwhelmed and feel completely lost in those feelings. Prior to being diagnosed with celiac disease in September 2010, I was on a mental and physical roller coaster. I was juggling a new job and a long distance relationship with my husband, all while feeling like complete crap. And I had been on that train for quite some time. In fact, I had spent most of my life in and out of hospitals trying ever-so-hard to figure out the cause behind my digestion issues, migraines, bouts of depression and terrible immunity – to name a few. In 2003 and 2004, I was tested for diabetes, hypoglycemia, thyroid issues, anemia and leukemia, amongst several others. I endured countless blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy, and more scans and assessments than I care to think about. Some doctors told me I would just always live with a low white blood cell count. Others chalked it up to stress and prescribed anti-depression drugs. My life was out of control and I couldn’t stand it. If you met me during that time in my life, then chances are you what have had no idea how much I was spiraling out of control on the inside. I was still eating healthy, running and acing all of my school work. But I was a hot mess. The truth was, I needed to be in control – and I couldn’t do anything about it. I learned a lot between that time in my life and that day in September 2010 when a gluten-filled brunch followed by a trip to Oktoberfest put me completely over the edge (and eventually led to my celiac disease diagnosis). A few of them that might help you: 1. When things get tough, take a breath and give it a second to sink in. My natural tendency is to see a crisis and rush to solve it. I might get angry, I might worry, I might cry, but no matter how I choose to approach it I see no room for assessing the situation. Over time, I’ve learned that it’s alright to allow a few moments to pass before reacting to particular situations. Angry at your friend? Hold off on the hostile text message and reallythink about what you want to say. Feel like hyperventilating because you have so much on your plate on work? Keep reminding yourself that you honestly and truly can only approach one thing at a time. It’s tough – trust me, I know. But it will save you from adding more stress to your life than what’s already in front of you. 2. Trust your gut. In my case, this was a literal translation of the timeless phrase. When I was waiting on a diagnosis for my health problems, I knew deep in my heart and, well, my gut that something was wrong. Several doctors told me it was “all in my head” and it was my persistence to find an answer that led me to where I am today. In fact, I mentioned several times that I felt like it might be something I was eating – at the time gluten intolerance and celiac disease diagnoses were not nearly as common – and many doctors assured me that was not the case. Turns out my intuition was pretty on point, huh? 3. Don’t let a health setback keep you from discovering the healthy life you always wanted. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I was so relieved to find the answer behind the years I had spent in pain that I never took a moment to feel sorry for myself. That’s not to say I don’t have twinges – hello, Double Stuff Oreos – because I do. But I know gluten and I have happy memories … and a lot more painful ones, too. What I have now – curling up to watch a movie after dinner and feeling pain free, energy to suck up life experiences and, to be honest, a less committed relationship with a toilet – it trumps any of my days with gluten. The same goes for tough fitness goals, stressful life moments and a hectic schedule. Are they real problems? You bet. But here’s one thing I promise you, baby: Your life is not going to wait for you to get a grip. Take some time, take a deep breath and get back on the path to wellness. When I need a boost, I look to wellness warriors, like Kris Carr (http://crazysexylife.com), who have trumped much bigger diagnoses than a life without gluten and I know for sure that I’m going to be A-OK. 4. Check your I-must-conquer-the-world attitude at the door. In the past, I had the tendency to take on a very all-or-nothing approach when it came to every corner of my life, including diet, work and fitness. If I couldn’t squeeze in more than 30 minutes for a workout, then it just wasn’t worth it. If I was going to have one cookie, then I was going to have 5 (err … ten), gosh darn it. These days, I have slowly, but surely, learned how to approach life in a little more relaxed manner. Sure, some days I will be able to fit in a long run. But other days, it will be a 10-minute walk and a few pushups and lunges that get my blood pumping during an ultra-hectic day. And you know what? That sure is better than doing nothing at all, right? Are these tips rocket science? Not at all. But for this girl, they sure as heck felt like it at the rate it took me to get here. But you know what the best part is? I wouldn’t trade a moment of these life experiences to have arrived here any faster. Sounds like I’m learning how to take life as it comes after all, huh?