The author and blogger shares how she healed her gut, reclaimed her health, grew her family, and discovered a new place of joy.
When Sarah Kay Hoffman began struggling with debilitating digestive issues during college, she tried an elimination diet at the suggestion of her healthcare provider, hoping for answers. With time, she was able to rebalance her microbiome and quell her health issues. Since 2009 Hoffman become a holistic health coach and author, and has blogged honestly about her challenges with gut health and infertility, as well as her journey toward adoption, giving her readers hope that there are a number of paths to finding health and happiness.
We recently caught up with Hoffman to learn more about what she’s learned on her path to healthy living, and how she finds balance with a busy career and young family.
Experience Life | You started your story on your blog sharing how undergoing holistic-health protocols and repairing your gut health changed your health. What have you learned from that experience that made a lasting impact on your life?
Sarah Kay Hoffman | Two things:
- Healing the gut looks different for everyone. Healing SIBO [small intestine bacterial overgrowth] is different from healing an underactive thyroid and adrenal fatigue. But what I learned is that you have to start somewhere. You must dig deep into the protocol(s) that best serve your most imminent need.
For me, for about two-plus years, it was SIBO. Now that I have it completely controlled, I am focusing on overall wellness, thyroid health, etc. It’s a delicate balance, and one that I don’t believe anyone should go at alone. (I work with top functional practitioners at the California Center for Functional Medicine, where I feel indebted for life. In fact, I am currently trying to study functional nutrition there under Chris Kresser’s new ADAPT program!)
- Of all the things I’ve learned during these past several years on my quest for real health, nothing has impacted my life more than that drive one must dig deep to find in order to seek deeper answers. Had I stopped in 2008, when I was first diagnosed with colitis, simply taken the prescribed medications, and moved on with life, I would still be in pain, misery, and left feeling hopeless. The real “bottleneck” to most of the problems that manifested in my body was an undiagnosed SIBO. And then, after that, adrenal fatigue, and a low-functioning thyroid. I would never have arrived at those answers had I stopped.
EL | What advice would you give to someone struggling with his or her health?
SKH | 1. Do not ever give up if you don’t think your true answers have been found. Simultaneously, when you do find those answers, do the things you need to do in order to find real and lasting healing. I think that too often people don’t want to put in the work (because it’s hard work), and then find themselves spinning in circles trying to “figure out” what’s wrong. Healing is not a linear curve, but staying consistent helps the journey make sense.
- Never stop learning. Once you understand (via diagnosis, notGoogle) what is truly wrong, dig into it and acquire as much knowledge as you quite possibly can. Read medical journals, blogs from people who live with the same condition, books, and talk to knowledgeable doctors, nutritionists, etc.
EL | Why did you decide to change the focus on your blog from fitness to family?
SKH | I love working out. It’s one of my biggest passions in life. It’s not that I never talk about it on my blog, because, in fact, there is a tab for “Running” on the site. That said, the mission and mantra for my blog is, “When gravel roads are all you’ve ever known, you learn to find beauty in the dust.” These “gravel roads” refer to my journey with both autoimmune/SIBO/etc., and infertility, but not in the “poor me” way. Instead, in a way that says, for me (and for you), gravel roads can be beautiful if you learn to find beauty in the dust. My early health struggles led to providing hope and inspiration for thousands of women like me, and the infertility led to this beautiful story of adoption. This story of hope, for my readers, is much more conducive to the family and life versus hardcore fitness topics.
EL | What was the best lesson you learned from the adoption process? What did you find to be the most challenging?
SKH | The best lesson I learned from the adoption process is that patience is a virtue, but having patience can yield the greatest things you’ll ever receive in life. We adopt our children from the foster-care system in California, and it’s not a quick, simple, or easy process. We have finalized two adoptions already, and are about to finalize the third. Worth it, 1,000 percent!
The most challenging part is not so much the process itself, but all the other issues and things that go along with adoption. I write a lot about these challenges, political correctness, and more on my blog. When you adopt a child, you can’t just get them, adopt them, and think that life is and will be exactly the same as if you’ve birthed that same child. There are pieces to the journey that are vastly different, and that we will carry with us for life. But in the end, again, 1,000 percent worth it.
EL | As a busy mom, how do you make time for you, fitness, and self-care?
SKH | This is probably one of the biggest questions I get asked! It’s so cliché to say, but in order to make time for myself, fitness, health, and overall wellness, the secret is that you must do everything in your power to make it happen. For me, these are the things I do (almost on a daily basis):
- I’m up between 4 and 5 a.m. Not only are mornings my favorite, but they are also my most productive. I get up, work in peace and quiet, sip something warm, plan my day (depending on several factors), and then if it’s a planned workout day, either work out in our garage gym (or go for a run outside).
- Fitness at home. As I just referred to, we have a garage gym, and this is something we have been building for quite some time now. When my husband and I started realizing that by the time we drove to the gym, got a workout in, got home, and showered, almost two hours had passed, we stopped going to the gym and instead built around it at home. It has saved hours,and working out is always at my fingertips. I’m planning to write a blog post soon about what’s in our “gym.” (For the record, I actually prefer going to the gym because I like being around other people when I work out, so someday when the babies are older, we will return to the gym and use our home gym to fill in any gaps.)
- Little to no TV. I have two shows I watch, and we DVR them so no time is wasted. At night, instead of watching TV, I do the things that matter and that I need to do instead of watching TV (i.e., cook bigger meals, stretch, read books and the Bible, etc.).
- Plan, plan, plan. I’m very type A, so this goes to my advantage, but whether it’s a workout, a special meal I want to cook, or taking supplements, it’s all planned out as part of my every day.
Taking care of myself is no longer a negotiable!
Learn more about Hoffman on her website at www.sarahkayhoffman.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @sarahkayhoffman.