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Liana Bakker

From Digestive Troubles and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome to Gratefullness and Inspired Clean Living

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This is a story written by Denise. After a 2 year old helped her realise that she could be eating better she started on a journey of healthy living. Health issues began to surface up and she began to dig deeper and deeper. Looking into the depths of the food industry and medical system.  Continue on to read the rest of her story and how she changed her life.

Name: Denise Mack

Current Jobs: Founder, Owner, and Author at The Vitality Lounge

Education/ Training: LIFE experience, tons of drive, an unwillingness to just settle. I seek to not merely survive, but thrive! Numerous hours spent researching, digging up those hidden health-truths that continue to elude us.

Home: Outskirts of Minneapolis, MN (Yes. The frozen tundra of the USA)

My Story:

I’ve always been very intuitive and tuned into the inner workings of my body. At the age of 22 I moved out on my own and I took a great interest in the choices I was making for myself at the grocery store. I began to realize that there were many options out there. Some were better than others.

It didn’t hit me how much better organic foods could be for me until I had the experience of snacking with the 2-year-old that i had been babysitting. Her foods were AMAZING! I couldn’t believe the difference in flavor and freshness. I decided to look into it further  and slowly started my transition to cleaner living right then and there.

It began with baby-steps. I mean who has time to do all of that rigorous research? Besides, I was juggling a numerous odd jobs. I was trying to decide what moved me the most and which direction I wanted to take. My boyfriend Joel and I managed a duplex where we were living, I was a hostess for a well-recognized home-party-corporation, I did wedding photography on the weekends and I did regular daycare for some neighbors (that awesome little 2-year-old!). All this while working part-time in an office setting.

Over time I figured out what fueled me with the most passion and I began to eliminate the ventures that weren’t speaking to me. As life progressed so did my desire to learn more about our foods. I wanted to know where they really come from as well as all of the toxic substances…and how they could be avoided!

As Joel and I continued to ‘clean things up’ in our lives – foods, personal care products, and cleaning supplies – we noticed differences in our energy, our moods, our sleep-quality and primarily our digestion. We had both struggled with minor to moderate digestive upsets on a regular basis for much of our lives. I’d sometimes be doubled over with severe gas pain. Other times it was mild but still uncomfortable. I also began to experience ovarian cysts – a couple of which had burst – resulting in intense pain. Joel had dealt with the need to be near a toilet no matter where we were going and we’d often have to turn around before even reaching our destination.

Me & Mine editedInitially Joel questioned me about the “need” for the “more expensive” organic foods. “What’s the difference?” He’d argue… “Can it really be that different?” Well, let me just say that he soon went from questioning me – to THANKING me – for being so willing and diligent with researching these topics. He couldn’t believe how much better we both were feeling!

More years passed and my then boyfriend, now husband, and I decided to start our family. As babies made their way into our lives we were both committed to giving them the best possible start that we could. I was, however,still in my own infancy when it came to digging deep for the REAL stories behind our foods and products. I still hadn’t even thought about many of the hidden truths that were lurking in the shadows. Many of these lesser known tid-bits of information are things we wouldn’t normally even consider to be concerned about – let alone recognize their existence.

(Let’s face it, how many of us thought to ask Subway if they included a synthetic rubber material in their ‘fresh’ breads??) Unless something like that surfaces most of us assume that we are being protected. Unfortunately, it’s simply not the case. I’ve learned that I have to be my own advocate.

And then…?

I just had another baby. It seemed that maybe my body wasn’t going to go back to ‘normal’ so quickly this time. Maybe I just needed time.

But I knew something wasn’t right. I knew it wasn’t “normal” to feel this way. I felt extreme fatigue and  had major difficulty losing the baby weight. I was so bloated! It felt like there was a brick in my stomach! (Ugh. My fave jeans still won’t fit!!!) Erratic menstrual cycles and heavy periods (and way too many feminine products…)  All this combined with constant digestive battles and an emotional roller coaster.

I had to continue to be my own advocate; Pushing my doctors to perform tests and rule-out serious illness as the ongoing hormonal & digestive symptoms continued to plague me.

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). A ‘delightful’ hormonal disorder with a wide range of symptoms. The treatment for this is hormone therapy.

I thought to myself “Is this really ‘the new norm’? It CAN’T be! Please no. There’s gotta be a better way!”092WWSPMothersD2013 edited

Major turning point:
At one time my doctor suggested that I try eliminating gluten from my diet to see if would help. After 48 hours without it  I KNEW that gluten was NOT my friend! After those 2 days had passed I could wear some of the jeans that I was struggling to pull on. (Oh how I had missed my denim!!!)

Things continued to improve over time. My Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) went away! Pretty exciting as this usually doesn’t happen. I started to get my energy back. The digestive upsets began to become less intense and less frequent.

However, I continued to struggle with a few other mysterious and intermittent symptoms. My doctor was unable to pinpoint a cause. Conventional medicine had no additional answers for me. My doc literally rolled her eyes when I requested additional testing. It all came back negative. This was good but it meant I still didn’t have answers for my ailments.

I finally decided to once and for all take matters into my own hands.  …  I realized that if gluten could cause so many upsets of the body and mind, “why couldn’t some of the other items I was eating?”. If there is no ‘medical’ cause for my issues  I figured maybe I could do something about it on my own!

I continued my search deep into what I eat. As I began to really delve into the depths of these health truths I became angry at the system. I began to question why so many of these harmful substances & ingredients were being allowed into our foods and other items. It was frustrating to try to ‘clean things up’ – only to find out that many of the products I was buying still contained other contaminants that I hadn’t yet learned about.

Over time I made a point of turning my anger into gratefulness. I was grateful that I live in an age where I can do the digging I needed to do.  I was grateful that there are companies out there who provide genuinely GOOD products. I was grateful that I had time to devote to this learning process. I was grateful that I could help my husband overcome health obstacles that he’d dealt with for most of his life. I was grateful to give our young daughters the best possible start with their health. I was grateful that I could manage my own health,without prescriptions, by simply implementing a few new habits. I’m grateful that I can take this passion plus the tips and tricks I’ve discovered for bettering the life of my family, myself and masses.

A mindset shift was the first step in creating a better life for ourselves.

I don’t believe in simply covering up the core issues by treating only the symptoms. There is more to this. We are a whole – not merely the parts of a whole. I needed to take a new approach.  I dug and dug, and weeded my way through the propaganda and paid advertisements to get to the bottom of what’s really in our foods and in other products. My findings were shocking and often overwhelming at first. But soon my new lifestyle became habitual and actually very easy. It wasn’t as hard as it seemed once I accepted that it will involve a learning process. I embraced it as an adventure!

Researching foods and other goods became my new pastime and a true priority. I had been dabbling in learning what I could as time allowed but now there was more at stake. It became very REAL when my body literally rebelled. I needed to do whatever I could to figure out what it was trying to tell me. Through years of trial and error, and finally, a food journal, I’ve been symptom-free for several months in a row! And so it goes – the birth of a health-research-junkie and The Vitality Lounge.

Life. Is. GOOD.

What are some of my Goals?

I’m living… Truly living. I feel amazing. I know I can positively impact my own life and that of my family. I know I can give us the best opportunity to live a fulfilling life!  I want to enjoy the time I spend here as much as possible.

My passion lies in this online movement dedicated to helping everyday people embrace clean living. I want to simplify the process and make it more tangible. I’ve learned over the years that to find the truth about what’s genuinely healthy you have to dig… Deep. Now, I’m sharing what I’ve learned and continue to learn with the masses. It’s actually quite an adventure. Little Steps; BIG Impact!

What do I still Struggle with?

I still struggle with letting go of some of the judgment about my commitment to our health. I know that some people think I’m “overboard” or “fad-following”, or in some cases – “depriving” my children of certain experiences. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m simply listening to my body and respecting it. I’m also my children’s advocate. Joel and I are currently the ones who must make these decisions for them. W are their source of information and we want to truly educate them. We don’t want to risk their health in order to please people who are society driven. I’m theee last to follow any trend or crowd. I’m very much the hippie-rebel, in fact. (And oh so proud!) I highly appreciate individuality. I won’t allow our society to dictate where my values lie, or what they consider to be ‘food’ or otherwise ‘healthy’.  I seek the truth.

 DMack edited

Words of Encouragement/ Advice:

We shouldn’t have to feel trapped by the hidden inclusions allowed in the system, many of which ultimately poison us slowly over time. Several ailments and illnesses can be better-managed, prevented and often times  eradicated (I’m living proof!).  I’m not taking part in a diet, a fad or a trend. It’s a commitment to a new lifestyle. YOU CAN DO THIS! It’s the best gift you can give yourself and your family. Without our health – what is anything else truly worth?

It’s never too late to begin your journey. If you suffer with ongoing symptoms or if you’re struggling to get answers living clean has the potential to make an impact on your well being. Perhaps my story can be of inspiration! We’re all in this together!

 Like what Denise had to say? Want to hear more from her?

Check out The Vitality Lounge and Sign-up for her mailing list here!







4 comments… add one

  • Thanks Denise! You are such an inspiration!

    • Thank YOU, Liana! As are you! :) Your passion for getting these stories shared is also inspiring.

  • Love your story ~ definitely resonates! I am a fellow Minnesotan as well! We have so much in common…good, clean and authentic living!

    • Hey Jennifer! Thanks for the comment. I agree… Truly, genuinely, clean living is so important to me now – I won’t ever look back!

      I’m also enjoying the process of figuring out healthy SUBSTITUTIONS – so we aren’t ‘giving up’ things that we enjoy in order to live a life of vitality. It’s become a creative problem-solving adventure of its own :)

      While it takes some effort to live clean, it doesn’t have to be hard. Hoping to inspire more people in this direction – which in turn, helps propel the bigger movement. Cheers!

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