Dawn was one of the first people I started following on Instagram that had Crohn’s disease. She is always SO positive all the time that it’s seriously contagious! She’s been through a lot, and I admire her strength for finding something that works for her and sticking to it. I can’t imagine being newly diagnosed and running a half marathon! See how she accomplished it by reading her story! She also is currently living in Germany, so for all of my friends and family – she’s learning German a lot how I did, with no experience and just going for it! haha! I hope you’ll all feel inspired by Dawn that even with this disease, we can still kick butt and better ourselves every day!
“Picture yourself sitting in a meeting at work and suddenly you feel like you are going to ummm, have an accident. At the end of 2010, this was a daily occurrence for me, experiencing pain and urgency up to ten times per day. I also started to lose my vision, and had extreme fatigue. Eventually I could only lay on the couch – I could hardly stand up from the pain in my abdomen and I couldn’t read or watch TV because I could barely see.
Many doctors and tests later, a colonoscopy finally diagnosed me with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease that occurs in the digestive tract and it means my body attacks itself, which causes inflammation. The reason I couldn’t see is because I was literally looking through a wall of white blood cells. I had never heard of Crohn’s disease and it terrified me as I started to learn more about it. NO CURE… 75% OF PEOPLE WITH CROHN’S DISEASE EVENTUALLY REQUIRE SURGERY TO REMOVE A DISEASED PORTION OF THEIR INTESTINES…WHAT?!?
A month later, with the help of medication, I was starting to feel a little better, and I received a flyer for a half marathon training program to raise money for Crohn’s. Despite having zero fitness level, I signed up. I suddenly had people to talk to about my disease, share experiences, and get advice. I also ran a half marathon! We had group trainings every week and I discovered I could do things I didn’t think I could. This launched a whole new love for fitness, and a belief in supportive community.
I was also struggling with eating healthy. My go-to had always been salads, but I could no longer eat lettuce. So I hired a nutritionist who taught me about food journaling, elimination diets, and introduced me to her favorite nutrition shake, which ended up being a game-changer for me.
Later, sparked by a desire to lose weight, I started daily exercise at home. That, combined with the changes I made in my nutrition, had me feeling great and in remission! I wanted to share with others the same tools that helped me out, so when I learned I could become an online coach, I jumped in! I’m happier and healthier now than I’ve ever been, and it all started with a horrible diagnosis. Doesn’t the universe work in mysterious ways?! “
How many different medications have you been on? Were there any side effects from the medications you’d like to mention?
“The first medication I was put on was Asacol. It wasn’t really working, so they put me on Azathioprine and that’s what I’ve been on ever since and has worked well for me. One of the weird things I’ve noticed is that my memory has suffered since I started it. Of course, there is no way to know if this is the result of getting older 😉 or the medication, but I used to have an excellent memory and now I don’t. My biggest struggle with medication has been my doctors and information. The first GI Dr. I had put me on azathioprine without even mentioning any risks regarding pregnancy (I was married and of child bearing age). When my husband and I started thinking about kids, I started researching and found that azathioprine is a class D drug which means it could cause birth deformities and I basically freaked completely out and was so pissed that a doctor would put me on that medication without talking to me about it. I felt like I had to choose between having children and being in remission and it was awful. I went to my OB/GYN and she confirmed I couldn’t have children while on Azathioprine and I was devastated. But then I started talking to other people who were also on it and asking questions in the Crohn’s community and found differing opinions. I found a new GI who is AWESOME and he told me I could actually have kids, that he has had many patients deliver healthy children while on azathioprine, and that the most important thing for the health of the baby is that I’m in remission and healthy. I also found a OB/GYN that confirmed what he said and also met with a maternal fetal medicine specialist who is confident that I can have children. So, long story short, getting second opinions and finding doctors I liked was pretty crucial for me as far as medication.”
Do you have any trigger foods, if so what are they?
“Well, up until a few months ago I couldn’t eat any leafy greens, but I tried them again recently and didn’t have a reaction, so now I eat them every day. Honestly, this evolves constantly for me. Just when I think I have it figured out, it changes again. 🙂 I find I can eat most things in small quantities, but it’s when I eat too much that I can have problems with too many fibrous/raw veggies, nuts, and some fruits (recently apples & blueberries). Too much coffee is a problem too, but I can have 1-2 cups per day. A lot of sugar and over-eating cause major bloating, but that might not be Crohn’s related. I have a pre-workout drink that I take before exercise each day, and that keeps me regular. I suffer with constipation, so honestly I drink that even on mornings I don’t work out. I would say TMI, but I’m talking to a fellow IBD’er so I know TMI doesn’t exist with us! Haha”
If you could eat/drink one thing with no consequences for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“If you mean with no Crohn’s consequences, it would definitely be leafy greens because it is the most nutrient dense food in the world so I want that in my body every day. If you mean with no health or weight consequences, then definitely ice cream! Haha”
What advice would you give to a newly diagnosed Crohn’s warrior?
“Get second and third opinion and find doctors you like. Get involved in a community so you have people to talk to and get advice and support. And live as healthy of a lifestyle as you can! Eat healthy, exercise, eliminate artificial and processed foods from your diet, and drink lots of water.”
Want to follow Dawn’s Journey?
FB Couching Business Page: www.facebook.com/dawnhermanfitness
FB Personal Page: www.facebook.com/dawnmargaretherman