When I booked my ticket to visit Machu Picchu, I had a meltdown.
It was 3 am on a Tuesday morning and I'd already put in my notice to quit a job I loved. I'd been planning the trip nonstop in my head for weeks, every detail was organized, but pushing the button on my computer was proving harder than expected.
I looked at my cane — the cane that supported me through the toughest years of my life, that I'd wanted to get rid of SO BADLY, and suddenly, was afraid to leave.
Morbid obesity was my lifelong excuse for why I couldn't do the things I wanted to do, the reason I couldn't live the life I envisioned for myself. I always believed I'd have to lose the weight first, before doing anything else. Then I could live that life.
As soon as I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I immediately regretted that I didn't live the life I'd wanted before, obesity be damed. As soon as my illness took over, my hopes of living that dream life were crushed. "It's an incurable disease,” everyone told me. "You don't come back from MS.” At 20 years old, I believed them. My life felt like it was over before it ever even began.
Living with a chronic illness was worse than I could’ve imagined. My body broke down around me and I desperately wanted to escape. Popping prescriptions became my new normal, but they didn't help me much with my symptoms. From blurry vision and cognitive lapses to disabling daily pain and muscle weakness, I was trapped in my own personal nightmare.
After losing the feeling on my right side at 24 years old, I became dependent on my cane and handicap tag. I could barely walk, barely move my dominant hand, and I knew no one (including my doctor) was going to be able to save me.
I had to be the one to save myself.
With 4 months on disability, I had time to focus on the only thing that mattered; I needed to heal myself and I made it a personal mission to do exactly that.
By following an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of a predominantly plant-based foods, incorporating slow movement, and managing my stress - my body responded rapidly.
Within a week of this lifestyle change, I'd lost 12 pounds. Within 6 months, I rode in a bike marathon. Within a year, I gave up my cane for good.
The day I bought my ticket to Machu Picchu, I woke up that morning at 3 am because I read booking flights are cheapest in the wee hours. Looking out at the dark night through my window, I couldn't help but reflect on how dark my life had been. I was finally able to fit on a plane, to not only walk without a cane, but run along the beach. This was my moment.
I never thought I could heal myself from this type of disease, but here I was, booking a flight to travel alone to one of the most incredible places in the world. It was overwhelming and scary, but I wasn't going to wait one more moment for my true life to begin.
I pushed the button to purchase my flight and sobbed. For the first time in my life, I was finally free.
Carolyn Kaufman is a Mindset Coach who teaches life design. She uses her personal story of losing over 145 lbs and eliminating the daily symptoms of her Multiple Sclerosis to inspire people to heal themselves and live the life they dream about. She speaks internationally, coaches clients, and uses her spare time checking off her bucket list. She is also a MamaSezz Common Mission Partner. Find her at www.withouttheweight.com and add her on Instagram: @WithoutTheWeight.