I almost died last Monday

This post is going to be a little more personal… I hope you enjoy my sharing some of my personal struggles and successes with you! Let’s start with some backstory…

In January 2012 I was put on a new medicine to regulate a major problem. As most things medical do, this medicine caused me to gain weight. I’m sure the cruise I went on the next week and late dinners with warm chocolate melting cake with two scoops of chocolate ice cream for eight nights straight didn’t help either! (Hey, the chef made it gluten-free – special for me!)

Needless to say I gained about 20 pounds… fast. Reality set in when I couldn’t fit in my old jeans anymore and had to buy a new pair… and then when one of my favorite shirts branded with my logo didn’t fit either, I was a bit upset. I’d started working out and lost a whole pound, then gained it back again… As anyone who follows me on Facebook knows, my diet consists largely of peanut M&Ms. I’d switched from milk chocolate to dark chocolate M&Ms, but that made very little difference.

Cravings were intense, and I could never bring myself to eat raw leafy greens… eeewwwww!!!!

Then I got a Vitamix and started making triple berry smoothies – YUM! I was so excited about this new toy, it was hard to leave it at home when left to attend Michele Scism‘s Take Action Get Profits event in New Orleans later that week. Little did I know I’d be meeting an amazing lady at that event that would literally change my life!

While introducing ourselves at this incredible event, a tiny girl stood up and said, “I’m Natalie and I love food!” You could hear the collective giggles in the audience. Here’s a girl about a size four saying how much she loves food? Really? I’ll admit, even I thought to myself that she’d probably never even been a size ten once in her life.

Well, somehow Natalie and I ended up together and started talking. She pulled a photo up on her phone and said, “This was me.” Wow. She used to be about my size – and I’ve started pushing 16! (Yeah, I hide it well.) Then she asked me if I’d like a green smoothie for breakfast the next day. I learned she had her Vitamix in her room (OMG – a toy like mine was within reach to play with!) and would make me some goodness in the morning. I politely said, “Sure” and we went on our merry ways to dinner.

The next morning I’m talking with some amazing connections before the session was to start and a cup with disgusting green stuff plops down in front of me. My first thought? “Eeewwww!!!” Then I tasted it, and I was floored. No way could raw green stuff taste this good! Needless to say, that night Natalie, my roommate Rebecca, and I were hanging out in Natalie’s room blending up green smoothies. I’d already started getting a sore throat and cough, and two smoothies later my cough was gone and my throat was much better. My hunger cravings ceased and I even stopped craving chocolate! Then we all went home and I was determined to start eating smoothies for breakfast. That was Sunday.

Monday is when I almost died.

As soon as I got home, I headed over to Whole Foods to get some super powders and organic veggies for my new green smoothie kick. I saw some samples the size of my pinky fingernail of what I thought were chips, and I took one and ate it. I headed to the bathroom and when I got there, I noticed my mouth was starting to tingle. Almost instantly my throat started to swell. I rinsed out my mouth and ran back across the store to the sample I had eaten. The attendant told me yes, there were nuts in it. I asked what kind, thinking, “Please be walnuts, please be walnuts, please be walnuts” as I know walnuts will make me miserable, but not kill me. One word confirmed my greatest fear: cashews.

Last time I got into cashews I was three years old and almost died.

I immediately panicked. I hadn’t checked out yet, so I ran to the customer service desk and by then I guess I was looking pretty horrible. I asked them if they had any Coca Cola, which is a natural antidote since I don’t carry an epi-pen (hey, it’s been 30 years since I got into cashews, and it was my own stupid fault for not reading all the labels). They brought me their “natural” version, which of course wouldn’t work. A good samaritan volunteered to go around the corner to Chick-fil-A and get me a Coke. Less than ten minutes later, he was back and my throat swelling was getting worse.

Keep in mind I’d ingested about a small crumb of cashew – nothing more.

What did I do next? I called my mom. Of course! The one woman who took care of me through many-a-nut-allergy could see me through this one, too! At her suggestion, another good samaritan – a Whole Foods employee – ran to Harris Teeter next door to get me some Benadryl. Two of those pills should have knocked me out in about 10 minutes, but I managed to sit there for another 15 minutes while the swelling went down, check out with my whole food goodies and make the 30-minute drive home.

The one reason I think the reaction wasn’t worse and the Benadryl didn’t instantly put me to sleep is my body was pumped full of green smoothie goodness. That afternoon I felt well enough to make a large batch of green smoothie to drink over the next couple days. Then began the triple-whammy of cold-cashew-detox. When I wrote this, I was on day three of my complete detox (which was by accident – the smoothies are so good I can’t help but have one for both breakfast and lunch!) and feeling worse as the hours passed. I spent a lot of time resting, in front of Netflix, and barely made my appointments, including one interview and a webinar that I taught.

After five days of drinking smoothies for breakfast and lunch, I’m finding my sugar cravings are down to next to nothing… I haven’t eaten a peanut M&M since Saturday, October 6 and when given the choice between a chocolate chip cookie and fruit, I’m taking the fruit – because I want it. WOW!!! Best part is, my new nutrition coach Natalie, taught me how to make the smoothies taste sweet and yummy – not veggie and yucky. I’m sipping them starting when I wake up in the morning through early afternoon. When I get hungry, I go for the smoothie instead of the M&Ms. Then I’m eating normal dinners, but haven’t wanted “dessert” in days.

Results? Just six days ago I could pinch a solid four inches around my sides and belly. Today I can’t pinch even an inch on my sides and my belly is down as well. I’m naturally detoxing, so I’m also “deflating.” I already had to tighten the drawstring on my pants, and I’m overwhelmed at the results… smaller size, better sleep, more energy… I honestly thought there was no hope for me to eat healthier since I couldn’t curb my cravings, but I’m not craving anymore!! (Check out my nutrition coach, Natalie Wheeler of The New Raw You.) No, I’m not going fully raw, but I am finding I’m craving raw more now that I’m drinking so many smoothies. If you’re interested, Natalie is starting a 21 Day Green Smoothies Challenge. Come join us and see some amazing results!

Almost dying also puts things into perspective…

My private Facebook group, Candid Conversations on Everything Books, said if they were given three months to live, finishing and publishing their books – and leaving their legacy – would be “totally and absolutely critical.” One even said she would, “…give up everything else just to make finish what I have started.”

What projects have you been putting on hold – projects you know would make a difference in the lives of others? It can be a goal for weight loss, getting healthy (which can cure many diseases, btw), or getting your book done and published.

I almost died on Monday, and I can tell you I would have gone with very few regrets. As a natural go-getter, I feel I’ve already accomplished so much in this life. But I would have had the regret of leaving client projects unfinished. Because my goal is to be a catalyst to get your message out to change the world. Together we can do it. Together we can make a difference!

Photo courtesy Shutterstock, Jan H Andersen

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  • Karen
    October 18, 2012

    So well written (of course). Can’t believe that scare happened. If you get your system balanced (thanks, Natalie), you may find your cashew allergy goes away. Allergies are due to imbalance, you know.

    To your success!

  • Stephanie Treasure
    October 18, 2012

    Wow, Kristen.  Great story.  I have an interest in eating more healthy stuff too.  I cut out Coffee a few Months ago. I cut out sodas too but kind of went back to it. The part I don’t understand is the “detox”.  Do you have to do this?  Is it like a process?  Why can’t you just start eating healthy without going through a detox? 

    I am looking forward to trying a green smoothie though.  I hear they are great energy booster and I seem to need that lately.  Especially since I’m off coffee.

    Thanks for openly sharing your story.  I’m sure it will be an inspiration to many.

    • Kristen Eckstein
      October 18, 2012 Stephanie Treasure

       Hi Stephanie! When you start eating healthier, your body will naturally start to detox. It’s something that just happens. There are so many toxins in the foods we normally eat, and for me, I’m a sugaraholic, and sugar is a huge toxin. My detox was probably more dramatic than most would be. Usually it’s in the form of headaches or cold symptoms and goes away after a few days. But my body has been so totally messed up for so many years, I had a lot more in me that needed flushed out.

  • Linette Daniels
    October 17, 2012

    Well Kristen, you know we share a lot of similar health problems so I am going to give the 21 Day Challenge a shot. Geez, I don’t even own a blender. LOL!

    • Kristen Eckstein
      October 17, 2012 Linette Daniels

       I’m so excited Linette!!! Even with a cheap blender you’ll start to notice a clear difference. My productivity level is way up from where it was two weeks ago (I’m technically on Day 11 because I started early). I actually caught completely up on 7 days’ worth of work in less than 3 days – and that included that 3 days’ worth of work! Now I’m just going to have to figure out what to do with all this extra TIME and energy! WOO-HOO!

  • Sherie Smith
    October 17, 2012

    Kristen, I’m a fellow NAMS member and I CAN RELATE!  I’ve had the same thing happen in the past and was actually sent to the hospital.  We know it was something from the restaurant but the allergist was never able to determine the culprit.  Having your wind pipe close up to the point you can’t speak, and your breath is diminising by the minute is beyond frightening.  It’s like drowning without water!  i carry a couple of Benedryl with me everywhere I go, just in case!  Thank you for sharing your story.  I just signed up for the 21 Day Green Smoothie Challenge based strictly on your quick success!  Ra-Ra-Ra for your powerful determination! 

    Sherie Smith 

    • Kristen Eckstein
      October 17, 2012 Sherie Smith

       YAY Sherie! I’m glad you joined the challenge. I’m actually on Day 11 as I started a bit early. 🙂 But I plan to finish out the whole challenge with everyone else, and I probably won’t stop there. This is a great new habit to create! See you in the private FB group!

  • Michelle Campbell-Scott
    October 13, 2012

    Wow, what an inspiring – and scary, for a while! – post. I juice but haven’t managed to make a palatable green smoothie yet, I rely too much on fruit and I know that isn’t the best for my body (my mouth gets tingly and sore, must be the fruit sugar). I think I’d want to finish my unfinished books if I had a limited time left. You know, ‘cos overwhelming debts aren’t quite enough of a kick to do so!

    • Kristen Eckstein
      October 17, 2012 Michelle Campbell-Scott

       Hi Michelle! Thanks for the comment. Yes, it was scary for a while. If you’re eating fruit with the skins, cores, and seeds, you shouldn’t be getting too much fruit sugar as the fiber balances that out and makes complete, good carbs. All my green smoothies have about 1 blender full of spinach, kale or another green (pulverized makes it just under 1/2 a blender full), then I add all sorts of fruits. I’ve found strawberries, pineapple (with the core) & apple make the best natural sweeteners, which makes the smoothies taste GREAT. Adding raw chocolate helps, too. 😉 I encourage you to check out Natalie’s blog at http://TheNewRawYou.com and get in touch with her. She’s a great nutrition coach & can help you create a mix that will work great for you!