My name is Kristen and I’m a 30-something wife, mother, mountain biker, entrepreneur, and green smoothie lover. My addiction to green smoothies began after a series of serious health challenges. Green smoothies, as part of a greater shift in my diet toward whole foods, has helped transform my life into a healthier, happier one that I ever imagined.
Now I’m out to share the green smoothie love!
After my son’s birth in 2012, my health took a dramatic decline. It started with mastitis, a common breast infection that new breastfeeding mothers get. My body, however, seemed incapable of fighting off the infection and antibiotics didn’t help either.
The infection worsened and worsened until I developed a massive abscess that had to be surgically drained. After the surgery, the surgeon told me that he had drained a pint of pus from the abscess. Laboratory tests confirmed that the infection was not any normal type of bacteria—it was MRSA. For those who aren’t familiar with that scary diagnosis, MRSA is a type of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and can often be fatal.
I spent nearly a week in the hospital, in isolation, and on strong intravenous antibiotics. As a new mom, this was particularly devastating to me because I was separated from my month-old baby. All night long, I would wake up “rocking” my baby only to find my arms empty.
When I was finally healthy enough to be sent home, I thought the nightmare was coming to a close. Not so. Not only did the infection continue, I also began to develop crippling pain in my leg and chest.
The day before Thanksgiving, an ultrasound discovered a massive blood clot in my leg. Before my dad rushed me to the ER, I gave my baby a kiss goodbye, fearing I might not return home to him again. I was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis—a serious blood clot that extended from mid-calf to my groin—as well as a suspected pulmonary embolism, another potentially fatal complication.
At home again, I spent my days in haze, alternating doses of antibiotics with shots I had to give myself for my blood clot. My leg was so painful I could only hobble from the couch to the bathroom. My parents had to move in to help care for me—and for my infant son.
The criticality of my illness passed, but my health was still poor. The clot in my leg had left serious scarring of the vein that will be with me for life. My gut health was shot from all the months of antibiotics. My immune system was non-existent and I got every cold and stomach flu known to man.
This poor health was no way to live a life! I was incapable of being a good mom—my husband and mother had taken over the bulk of the child care. I was incapable of being a good employee—back at work after maternity leave was over, I was constantly tired and sick. A long-time fitness and exercise addict, I was too ill to do any of the activities I loved.
I became committed to the idea of getting my health and my life back. I needed to find a way to boost my immune system and energy. One of the most powerful tools I discovered was food! Whole foods—fruits and vegetables in particular—are incredibly healing. I made major changes to my lifestyle and my diet, and one of my favorite discoveries during this time was green smoothies!
Overnight, I cut out all foods made with refined sugar and flour. I re-oriented my diet to focus on fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins. Almost immediately, my family began commenting on how I looked more like my old self. Slowly, the exhaustion began to lift and I could get out for short runs and bike rides again. The depression I had experienced during the whole ordeal began to fade, and for the first time, I really began enjoying my baby son.
Now, three years later, I’m healthier than ever. My diet is not always perfect—I am not always perfect—but I do try. What I’ve discovered is that our health has to be our #1 priority. Without our health– physical, mental, and emotional—we will not be able to reach our potential in any other areas of our lives. If our health suffers, our relationships suffer, our careers suffer, our dreams suffer. If you don’t feel well, doing the big things that we are meant to do in life—traveling, climbing mountains, having babies, loving deeply, helping others—becomes nearly impossible or greatly compromised.
Even if you feel well in this moment, that doesn’t mean that continued health is guaranteed. We have to take steps now, today, to prevent illness in the future, to boost our immune systems so that when they are presented with a serious challenge (MRSA, for example), they can succeed. The sad truth is most of the really scary stuff out there—heart disease, cancer—is the cumulative effect of years of not eating right, and not making the right lifestyle choices.
And so, I begin most mornings with a green smoothie (not an egg mcmuffin). Because I have big things to accomplish in this life—books to write, children to raise, places to visit. And you have big things to accomplish too. I encourage you: start this day with a green smoothie. It’s an investment in yourself and in your future.