My name is Debbie Keller, thanks for stopping by!
In my thirties I was diagnosed with numerous chronic illnesses, sarcoidosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome. Through nutrition, healing my gut, living a holistic lifestyle, and shifting my mindset, I now live my best life; I work with women like myself, helping them to live their best life.
I received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Most recently I studied at Holistic Wellness Coaching Academy and received certification as a Gut Health Specialist. I’m currently a lifelong resident of of Las Vegas, but have my eyes set on transitioning to California in the near future. Hello more beach days!! I have one grown son and three fur babies.
I grew up in the typical household during the 70’s and 80’s. Dinners consisted of the newest “quick and easy” marketed meals, hamburger helpers, sloppy joes, and tuna casseroles. EEEW. Snacks? Oh I loved those! We always had bags of doritos in the house, oh, and my other friend, oreos. Vegetables? I had no clue what those were.
I want to tell you everything about my health journey and how that lead me to where I am today, but I fear you don’t have hours to read about me. I’ll try to keep it short, and highlight the juicy stuff.
As you already read, I was raised on the SAD (Standard American Diet). I also remember frequenting McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut a lot! I joined Weight Watchers at 14, the summer before high school. I lost 33 pounds over summer and weighed a mere 112 starting freshman year. Looking back I’m surprised they let me get that small, I was a stick. Being on Weight Watchers, at 14, set me up for a lifelong battle of obsessing over food. I learned to weigh, measure and control everything I put in my mouth. Maybe for some that works, but for me, all it did was allow my OCD to wreak havoc. In addition to losing 33 pounds, I lost my period for a year. It came back once I gained some weight back, I graduated H.S. weighing about 134.
I had my son at 20, and gained 80 pounds during my pregnancy. I would continue to yo-yo diet for the next 12 years. Mostly following my old ways of doing Weight Watchers. My highest weight was 225 (that I know of), and my lowest was 110, and for reference I’m almost 5’3!
So now it’s December 30th, 2003. My friend told me about the Atkins diet over dinner one night at the Olive Garden. Ha, true story. I thought, wow, no carbs, eat meat, I could do that. Remember, my OCD? Once again Debbie, not a good idea. So, the next day I started Atkins. I lost 100 pounds in just under a year!
Oh, I almost forgot. I was a smoker. I started around 16, and by the time I quit at 31 I was up to almost 2 packs a day. One day in 2003, I freaked out because I was randomly having shortness of breath, so I quit. I write that like it was easy. It was truly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, ever. I was a lunatic for months, and all I remember was that I cried, a lot. I still have random nightmares that wake me cause I dreamt that I was smoking. Crazy right?
October 2005. What I thought started out as the flu, wasn’t. Ended up in the hospital for 17 days, being poked and scanned and finally biopsied until it was determined that I had sarcoidosis. Remember why I quit smoking, the episodes I was having with shortness of breath? Come to find out, that was sarcoidosis invading my lungs. My lung scans showed scarring from previous episodes of the sarcoidosis, so thank goodness I quit smoking! Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disease that produces lesions’ on your organs, usually your lungs. I left the hospital to recover, which was hell. My lungs were so inflamed I couldn’t do anything but lay in my bed. When your lungs are that inflamed, any movement (like getting up and going to the bathroom) was hard, I could not breathe. I remember times laying in my bed thinking that I was going to die. It took awhile for the prednisone I was prescribed to kick in and bring down the inflammation. At this point I got to my lowest weight of 110. Not only was it hard to get around, I left the hospital with a messed up digestion system! A month before I went into the hospital I was on numerous antibiotics; it was thought that I originally had pneumonia. During my stay in the hospital I was given antibiotics continuously in both arms, and numerous other medications. So needless to say when I left the hospital my digestion was ruined! I left the hospital bloated, with bouts of diarrhea, and non stop belching. I eventually got strong enough to return to work mid January.
When April rolled around, I was breathing well, and was still on a high dose of prednisone. I then started to experience fatigue and body pain so bad that I was unable to leave my bed. The fatigue was so unbearable all I could do was just cry. When I could I was reading and trying to figure out what was going on. I haven’t mentioned it, but I was still living on a Atkins diet. I had no idea of the damage and inflammation I was doing to my body. I was eating poor quality factory raised meats, lots of cheese, nuts, crappy salad dressings, and basically anything labeled “low carb” or Atkins, I bought it. Ice cream, chocolates, oh, I bought tons of ice cream…ha! Its low carb, I can eat it! I had no idea how to read a nutrition label, the only thing I knew was the word carb. I didn’t have a clue I was eating crap that could be sold as food!
My body was so full of inflammation! A whole lifetime of poor eating choices, yo-yo dieting, smoking, a high stress job, and then I did Atkins. Whew. My body was under attack!
So here it was, 3 months after my sarcoidosis diagnosis, I find myself sick again. Fatigue, joint pain, and headaches so bad I couldn’t open my eyes for days. Then the vertigo. The vertigo would come and go and that would last for days. I think I went to every specialist, and had every test possible. No answers, just more prescriptions, you know, to manage my symptoms. I was up to 13 prescriptions.
At this point my general practitioner told me that since we weren’t getting any answers with what now was going on with my body, I should consider going to The Mayo clinic or The Cleveland Clinic. WHAT??? REALLY??? Why was this happening to me again? At this point I was once again on a leave from work. My breathing was fine, but the fatigue, pain, headaches and vertigo were debilitating. I was unable to care for myself, and had to depend on family and friends to drive me to my numerous doctors appointments.
I was determined to find out was going on, and most importantly to be healthy! A friend at the time gifted me with a picture frame that contained my now favorite bible verse. I stared at it every day sitting on my nightstand, and it still does. “I walk by faith, not by sight”- 2 Corinthians 5:7.
I ended up traveling twice to The Cleveland Clinic to finally get the diagnosis of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. My doctors there told me that the doctors I saw at home were probably more focused on my recent diagnosis of Sarcoidosis. I was relieved to finally get diagnosed, which quickly turned to disappointment and fear. I had so many emotions going on, it had been a rough year and a half of being sick. I was determined to heal myself. I’m naturally a go getter, and one to hardly sit down. My doctor at the Cleveland Clinic gave me some literature on fibromyalgia and sent me on my way. I remember reading that fibro could be managed with eating a proper diet, getting enough sleep, managing your stress and exercising.
Well okay then, I could do that.
That was 2006. I eventually got strong enough to return to work, after a six month leave. It wasn’t until 2012 that I started to figure it all out. Between 2007 and 2012 I experimented with diets, foods, holistic healing, and read everything I could find that I thought would help me. I even went and had a $300 consultation with a nutritionist. After reviewing some things I was already doing all she recommended was maybe to eat more? What??? Another disappointment!
Then I started hearing and reading about paleo beginning of 2012, and then that’s when things really started falling into place for me. I once again, shifted my eating! I adapted a paleo diet, I healed my gut and eventually demoted myself from my high stress job. Sounds easy enough right? That would take me years to figure out, on my own. It’s now 2018, I know now how to feed and nourish my body. I know how to manage stress, I am at a healthy weight, and I am prescription free!!! I feel the best now, in my mid forties then I have ever.
I became the biggest health and wellness advocate. How could I not? I was obsessed with how my body was healing and more importantly how I was feeling!
I came across The Institute of Integrative Nutrition late 2013 and immediately enrolled. I knew I wanted to help others and was so excited to be able to receive training to be able to do that!
It’s been years since I had a fibro flare. I still do occasionally experience mild fatigue, but now I know what triggers it and how to take care of myself. If you’re still reading, thanks. I know it’s long. Maybe some of these things resonated with you, or maybe not. I healed myself, and you have that power as well! Are you ready to start feeling better and live your best life? It’s possible! I do what I do now, for you.