The Story Behind Root + Revel and How I Healed My Body
Welcome to Root + Revel, a digital platform dedicated to living naturally without sacrifice. I’m Kate Kordsmeier, the founder of R+R, and I thought it apropos to kick things off here by telling you about myself, my health issues and the long journey that inspired me to create this site. You can read the About page for a simplified version, including R+R’s mantra, but the even shorter version goes like this: I healed my body naturally! Here’s the full story:
My Love Affair with Food
I feel like it’s important to start at the beginning. Before you click away thinking I’m some dirty hippie who doesn’t wear deodorant or some health nut who only eats kale, let me be clear: first and foremost, I am a food lover. I was lucky enough to have parents who refused to let me be a picky eater, who introduced me to new foods and flavors every day and a mother who cooked dinner for our family almost every night. My mom taught me that cooking is caring, that food brings people together, that a delicious meal can turn any bad day around and that the best memories are made around the table.
Though I didn’t often cook with my mom while I was growing up, I must have learned from her through osmosis. When I went off to college, my own personal journey in the kitchen began. Just like my mama said, some of my fondest memories are of my college roommates and I taking turns cooking dinner for our group, trying out new recipes and sitting around our hand-me-down kitchen table eating and laughing.
By the time I graduated, I was completely obsessed with food. I can remember waking up on Saturday mornings eager to try out the latest Ina Garten recipe (I credit her for teaching me most of what I know about cooking). I can still taste my first bite of truly chef-driven cuisine (thank you, Kent Rathbun…your lobster shooters were life changing). I spent all my time studying cookbooks and eating at as many independent restaurants as I could afford.
Getting Paid to Eat
Eventually, I decided to make a career out of my love for food and became a professional food writer. I spent the next five years eating my way around the world, exploring cultures through their cuisines and trying intoxicating foreign ingredients whose memory always lingered long after the last bite. Foie gras in Bordeaux. Otoro tuna in Japan. Truffle tagliatelle in Tuscany. Fish sauce and Issan sausage in Thailand. Smoked eggplant and lamb in Istanbul. Live scallops plucked directly from Australian waters. Grilled pork and noodles on the streets of Vietnam.
Now I know what you’re thinking: I must weigh 300 pounds. But the truth is, for most of my life, I’ve looked pretty healthy from the outside. I’ve always been fairly slim, exercised a few days a week, ate light when I wasn’t eating for work, and learned the very valuable skill of tasting, rather than gorging, early on in my career. And I generally focused my eating on whole foods, rather than more processed or filler foods. For all intents and purposes, I was healthy. Or so I thought. Everything started to change about seven years ago.
Knocked Off Kilter
It started with digestive issues—namely, embarrassing conditions like constipation and unexplained nausea and vomiting. I was referred to a gastroenterologist, who recommended I have a colonoscopy… at 27 years old, no less. After the procedure, she diagnosed me with IBS-C and put me on a slew of extreme prescription medications, none of which solved my digestive woes and all of which came with less than desirable side effects.
In an attempt to get to the root of my issues and solve the problem naturally, I decided to go cold turkey on prescription medication, including going off birth control after more than a decade on the pill.
What followed was unexpected, to say the least. In the first six weeks of going off the pill, I gained 12 pounds. My face broke out and became littered with red, bumpy acne and my period only came every other month. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I knew my body was telling me something was wrong.
I made an appointment with my gynecologist, who dismissed my concerns and chalked all of my health issues up to aging, ensuring me that, “Every year, you just need to eat less and exercise more.” She ignored me when I told her about my family’s history with thyroid issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and how closely my symptoms mirrored those conditions. She even suggested I just go back on the pill until I was ready to have kids, which not only wouldn’t solve my digestive issues, but would merely mask my other symptoms, rather than solving the problem. Infuriating.
I went home and began reading about holistic and integrative medicine, and found an amazing holistic doctor with her own practice that just so happened to be walking distance from my house. I quickly made an appointment, and just like that, all the pieces of my puzzle began to fall into place.
My Life-Changing Diagnosis: PCOS, Leaky Gut and Hypothyroidism
I spent two hours talking with my new doctor. Finally, someone was really listening and trying to help me. We talked about how conventional Western medicine is heavily prescription-based and primarily focused on treating people’s symptoms with medication, rather than finding and healing the root cause of those symptoms. That resonated with me.
She ran a slew of tests and blood labs and then, a few weeks later, came the verdict: my hormones were completely out of whack. Well, this explained my irregular periods, but what about everything else? After all, hormones are just women troubles and what makes us PMS, right?
Wrong! Oh so wrong. As I was beginning to learn, hormones affect every single human (yes, men have hormones too!) and every single function our bodies perform every day. Hormones help us regulate our blood sugar levels and energy, they control our moods and our metabolisms, and they help our bodies digest and detox. And my hormones were in such distress that nearly all of these functions weren’t happening the way they were supposed to.
To put this in concrete terms, I was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which also caused insulin resistance and subclinical hypothyroidism.
How I Healed My Body With Natural Lifestyle Changes
A journalist through and through, I began furiously reading and studying everything I could get my hands on about these conditions and how our hormones and our bodies really work. I was shocked to learn how much diet and nutrition could actually help get my body back in balance.
It sounded so simple… too simple. How could I have downplayed how much food impacts our bodies for so long? Of course, we all know that what we eat affects us, but I’ve always mistakenly thought of that effect as being weight-specific—as in, eat healthy and you’ll be skinny; eat poorly and you’ll be fat (which I later learned wasn’t true, either!). It never occurred to me that eating certain foods could actually help me balance my hormones, and in turn, give me more energy, clear up my acne, return my regular cycles, regulate my bowels and, yes, lose that mysterious weight.
But sure enough, I saw massive changes in just a few short weeks based solely on what I put in my body. So, I then started paying attention to what I put on my body, and quickly found that the food I ate and the natural products I used (and the toxic products I tossed!) helped me live a near symptom-free life—all without expensive medications carrying a roll-call of scary side effects.
I’ve found that nourished living extends to many parts of life, from embracing natural skincare products and DIY beauty recipes to traveling to and learning from cultures around the world and creating a safe, welcoming home, full of music, books and charm, sans toxic chemicals and harmful products.
I’ll admit, when I first learned my body was such a mess, I panicked. Not only am I a food writer whose job it is to report on the most delicious foods (which, let’s face it, are often deep-fried and smothered in cheese, or full of what most of us believe are ‘unhealthy’ ingredients), but I’m a food lover who believes strongly that life is not worth living without fried chicken, French fries and champagne (that may be my “death row meal”, actually).
Turns out, there was no need for panic. This journey has taught me that balance is the key to health and happiness. In fact, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that eating well isn’t about cutting out all of life’s pleasures. It’s not about sacrifice or going without, and it’s certainly not about counting calories.
It’s Not All About the Food!
If you had asked me a few years ago what caused my healing, I would have answered, “100% by changing my diet and eating real, anti-inflammatory foods.”
But now that I’ve had my digestion, hormones, and thyroid balanced and optimized for 5+ years (during which time I’ve gotten pregnant twice!), I realize that food is just ONE piece of the puzzle. What you eat can certainly help you feel better; there’s no arguing that.
Yet over time I’ve seen firsthand the role stress plays in my own life, and the more I’ve learned about it and continue to discover new research, along with my own empirical evidence, I’m now convinced of this:
MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ACTUAL FOOD WE EAT IS HOW WE THINK AND FEEL ABOUT FOOD.
This includes our mindset, our stress levels, our emotions, and our energy towards how we approach food–and ultimately–how we approach life at large.
Huh? Yes, you read that right. I did NOT say ‘eat exclusively “healthy” foods and all your problems will be solved’ (as, unfortunately, is the in-vogue thing to say these days).
While I’m NOT saying that food doesn’t matter at all, I’m saying that it gets way too much credit. It’s not all about the food.
What also matters is how much gentle movement you incorporate into your lifestyle, how you practice self-care, what kinds of medications and supplements you take, where your stress levels are, what kind of spirituality you may or may not have, what kinds of products you use on your skin, in your home, and what is happening in your environment. Not to mention genes. Hello!
As I’ve FINALLY found healing from all of my health conditions, I realize it’s because I’ve learned how to manage my stress, prioritize my self-care, and nourish my body. No dieting. No crazy intense workouts. No deprivation, which would just cause more stress.
If the rules you have about food are rigid and unsustainable, this is likely causing you undue stress–which is more detrimental to your health than any food you could possibly eat. If the way you are eating is negatively affecting the other important areas of your life, such as your mental state or social interactions, then it’s most likely doing more harm than good.
A Truly Holistic Lifestyle (Without Rules!)
Eventually, the food rules I had been living and dying by–the same rules that were causing me so much internal stress, fear, shame and guilt about every bite I took and whether it was “real” enough or “clean” enough or “healthy” enough–I knew these rules weren’t working for me.
Without food rules… what would I possibly eat? Wouldn’t my PCOS, Leaky Gut, and IBS symptoms come back? Wouldn’t I gain weight? Wouldn’t I be a ‘bad’ health and wellness blogger if I wasn’t eating a perfect diet?
So I did what I always do when my curiosity gets sparked–I consumed tons of research by listening to podcasts, reading books and blogs, and started learning about a practice called ‘intuitive eating’.
What is intuitive eating? It’s an evidence-based model and self-care eating framework integrating instinct, emotion, and rational thought that ultimately teaches you how to be the expert of your body, rather than leaning on outside rules to make your eating decisions. Intuitive eating does not mean ignoring health; rather, it’s recognizing that nutrition and health are NOT a one-size-fits-all approach.
The discovery that it is actually possible to feel at home in my body without a set of rules to guide me felt liberating, yet scary–like suddenly my carefully planned world was crumbling, and I was in the wilderness without boundaries. That eventually inspired me to work with an intuitive eating coach, who helped me understand how nutrition and intuitive eating CAN co-exist!
I now believe that we should first listen to what our bodies are saying, what are they asking for, what do they need, what makes us feel good, and decide what we eat based on that, rather than arbitrary rules and someone else put in place.
YOU are the expert of your own body, nobody else, no matter how many degrees or certifications they might have. Our bodies truly do have their own wisdom, and it’s our job to slow down and get into a receptive mode so we can hear what they have to say.
NOT what the latest fad diet is preaching, NOT what your friend swore made her lose 10 pounds, NOT even what some blogger (cough cough, that was me) promised reversed her PCOS or cured her digestion woes.
Today, I do my best daily to eat intuitively and have tossed all my food “rules” (buh bye diet culture and The Wellness Diet!). And guess what? I STILL live a symptom-free life and have been pronounced “cured” by my doctor for SIX years now!
And when I do have flare-ups…it’s not because I ate gluten or had a real milk latte. It’s because I’m stressed.
I started Root + Revel five years ago because I just had to share what I learned on this crazy journey. And along the way, I’ve learned more. I’ve evolved, new evidence has come out, I’ve gotten more in tune with my body and sometimes my advice has changed. But one thing remains constant: I am here to serve you!
I want to help people who might be struggling with similar issues (anxiety, panic attacks, irregular periods, acne, PMS, fatigue, irregular blood sugar, constipation, bloating, and nausea, anyone?) find healing, too.
And find it the natural, intuitive, gentle, sustainable way: with getting into the right mindset, incorporating some simple lifestyle changes, learning how to manage our stress, opting for non-toxic products, learning to trust our bodies, and yes–making nourishing food choices that make us feel great (notice how I listed food last!).
I was a skeptic at first too, but now I am LIVING PROOF that THIS TRULY MIND-BODY-SOUL APPROACH WORKS! Health is about so much more than our physical bodies.
I absolutely love running this site and I can’t wait to share everything I’ve learned with you right here so that you can find your OWN healing and happiness. Sound good?
So take a look around, settle in and enjoy. You’ll find that everything looks and tastes as good as it will make you feel. Cheers!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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