I’ve always had problems with my weight. At 5ft tall, losing or gaining 10 lbs can mean the difference between healthy and obese. When I was in high school, I kept my weight down by joining my school’s dance team. We practiced 6 or more hours a week and performed on the weekends. And to be honest, I probably didn’t eat enough, skipping both breakfast and lunch.

But just like most people, when I went to college things changed. At my university we didn’t have a cafeteria, and I didn’t know how to cook, so I survived on spaghetti, peanut butter sandwiches and diet cola. My weight sky-rocketed.

2005 - dated

This photo was taken at the Inaugural Ball in 2005. I was probably around 145 lbs but honestly can’t remember. When I came across this photo to post on my blog, I hardly recognized myself. I had completely forgotten that I had been that big.

Back then I did the only thing I knew how to do in order to lose weight, I danced. Freshmen year I joined the competitive ballroom dance team. The weight started to slip off even though my eating didn’t change much. By sophomore year, I was training 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. But when I was at competitions, I realized I was still the heaviest girl on the floor. I needed to do more.

2006 - dated

I stopped eating. I survived on protein bars and multiple redbulls per day. I dropped to about 105 lbs but refused to admit that I had a problem. Everyone said I looked great. Once my mother found out, she forced me to come home for two weeks during the summer to make sure I ate.

2008 - datedBut the problem was I didn’t learn how to eat. So my weight started to creep up again. I was stuck in a cycle of gaining and losing. Until I stopped making my diet about my weight and made it about my health.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Not many people know what that is (including the first 9 doctors that I went to with my symptoms). It’s a chronic disorder that causes widespread pain, fatigue and tenderness. Doctors don’t know what causes it and there is no cure. There are very few medications to treat it and most of them don’t work. The only option I had was Vicodin.

In August of 2011 about 6 months into blogging, I began hearing that cutting out gluten and dairy might help. I decided to try it. Jake, my boyfriend, and I began to eat Paleo. I cut out my spaghetti habit completely and learned to cook meat and vegetables. I gave up my cheese (I really love cheese) and stopped going out for ice cream. Cooking together became our favorite date night.

My weight stabilized, which was nice. But it was about more than just the weight. My pain started to disappear. I found myself taking Vicodin less and less until I didn’t need it at all. Stomach issues such as gas and bloating disappeared. And in January of 2013, my asthma disappeared too.

I changed the name of my blog to Pain Free Kitchen because my blog isn’t meant for those who are looking for a quick fix to lose weight. It’s about taking a closer look at what you’re putting into your body and how it affects you. I want others with Fibromyalgia to know they aren’t alone and to learn how food might be able to help. I’m not a doctor or registered dietician, a professional chef, personal trainer, or a certified fitness instructor. I’m just a normal person. But hopefully we can learn together.

2012 - dated

14 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. This is an amazing project and it is wonderful that you are sharing your journey. I’ve recently started to adjust my own diet to deal with some health issues (cystic acne and gastrointestinal pain) and already I am finding a huge difference so I love surfing your site for ideas. (Also for the record I always remember you being one of the sexiest girls out on the competition floor.) Keep the posts comin!

  2. Hi I also have Fibro. I cut out gluten 6 months ago. I have lost 30Lbs and my pain is stabilizing. I also get acupuncture once a week which really helps. I was on a pain patch called buTrans and no longer have to take it which is awesome as it was costing me $500 a month. I am so glad to find someone else who is benefiting from a gluten free diet.

  3. I’ve had fibromyalgia for 20 years and one needs to know that the condition waxes and wanes, comes and goes. I have been on 25 mg of amytriptaline for years and i am completely healthy , strong and productive as long as I take this medication.
    Fibromyalgia is a SLEEP DISORDER, most people don’t know that.. people with this condition have difficulty falling into deep sleep where the body’s cells repair themselves, hence the pain.
    The paleo diet is excellent for good health as long as one doesn’t eat red meat too often, once a week only.

    Anyway so glad you were able to fix yourself .. just know that any trauma in the future, whether emotional or physical can make the condition have a flare up.

    Unfortunately if i don’t take my meds, i don’t sleep and get sick again, and I am on the paleo diet and have been for years.



  4. I have Lupus (SLE) and possibly some Fibro and RA too. The joint and muscle pains can get pretty bad (plus a host of other symptoms). I made the diet changes about 6 weeks ago and I DEFINITELY feel less pain. As another commenter mentioned – symptoms DO come and go with these related diseases so it is very hard to tell what is helping or hurting… or what is having no effect at all – All can say is – I am noticeably better for now.

    My diet is very close to Paleo… but ADDITIONALLY to Paleo I have eliminated nightshade veggies (peppers, onions, tomatoes, white potatoes), red meat, coconut in any form, and most spices. These foods can be inflammatory and have been known to cause flare-ups – especially with Lupus.
    Very helpful site – and seems right-on to me!

  5. I just stumbled across your blog! I love it and I love that you’re getting the word out about Fibromyalgia. I’m a pharmaceutical rep and I sell a product that helps treat the pain of FM. The most challenging part of my job is convincing my physicians that FM is a disease state that needs to be treated. I’m so glad you’ve found something that works for you though! Keep up the awesome work:)

  6. Hey Rachel!
    Thanks so much for sharing so much of your story. It’s super interesting as your story with weight and fibro is so similar to mine. I actually suffered undiagnosed with BED (Binge eating disorder) for 15 years. Then right when I got help and started to get control of my weight..fibro pain began out of nowhere after a super long flu virus that knocked me off my feet. It feels Like I never recovered from the virus…pain began and depression over the pain until finally I was diagnosed with Fibro earlier this year. I’ve often wondered if there was any connection between disordered eating and fibro but haven’t come across any reports. But I wondered if my irregular eating pattern through those years set off some sort of chemical in balance that causes the stress response to be so out of whack? Who knows! Anyway..I mainly wanted to thank you for being so transparent and giving others so much hope. I have also been gluten and dairy free for the last 2 years but kept falling back into bad habits. Finally the last 3 months or so I’ve been able to stay eating properly and my symptoms have reduced too. Hoping for more long term success so thanks for your recipes too! 🙂

    1. Hi Anna! Thank you so much for your comment. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve been finding success with diet changes. And I’m not surprised at all to hear you have a history of disordered eating. I have heard from others that many of us who have Fibromyalgia are all Type A, overachievers, push ourselves so far until we run out of gas type of people. So disordered eating fits into that character <3 Not sure if those characteristics fit you too? They definitely fit me. Anyway I'm so happy you found my blog. At some point I want to start sharing blog posts of stories of other people who have had success by going gluten and dairy free, so I may reach out to you in the future if you feel comfortable sharing 🙂

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