Episode 6: Chronic Illness with Liz Beebe & Becca Murray

Episode 6: Chronic Illness with Liz Beebe & Becca Murray


In episode 6 of Uninvisible, Lauren is joined by best-friend duo Becca Murray and Liz Beebe – and a snoring pup named Leroy! Becca is a body-positive lifestyle and wedding photographer based in LA, and Liz is the writer of feelsgoodblog.com and lead singer of Dustbowl Revival (not to mention dog-mom to Leroy!). Why are these ladies on the show, you ask? Because both have lived through – and continue to thrive through – their fair share of invisible illness diagnoses (and lack thereof), from Crohn’s and IBD to SIBO, Candida, a heart murmur, gallstones, toxic mold, metal toxicity, and parasitic infections like blastocystis hominis. As best friends, they have supported and advocated for each other’s care and treatment protocols – and are here to share their journeys with us. Let’s bust some ass on this SUPERDELUXE episode – good for a long drive or divided between two shorter trips! 




Liz BeebePhoto by Becca Murray

Thanks for joining us today, everyone. I am here today with Liz Beebe and Becca Murray— who are best friends! Becca is a body-positive lifestyle and wedding photographer based in Los Angeles. And Liz is the writer of feelsgoodblog.com and also the lead singer of an awesome band you may have heard of called The Dustbowl Revival. You may also hear additional guests in the background…

Liz: That’s Leroy.

Lauren: He is Liz's dog. And he likes to snort, so there may be some snorting. And that's an extra special treat for you! Ladies, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today!

Becca and Liz: Thanks for having us!

Lauren: I know you're both dealing with different and yet similar things. So I want to ask you both individually to start … What is it you're dealing with in terms of invisible illness? And how did you first find out and know that you were dealing with something a little weird?

Liz: Basically I present with Crohn's disease symptoms.

I was really lucky in that I caught my symptoms early enough that I couldn't get fully diagnosed with it because I didn't have enough deterioration in my guts to be diagnosed.

Lauren: To fully be Crohn’s?

Liz: Right. So when I went in … my first instinct was that I have a really hard time digesting certain foods, and as I was growing up I didn't really notice that that was that big of a difference. But when I finally went in to see a gastroenterologist to have myself scoped to find out what was really going on, their initial conclusion was Crohn's because of ulcers in my intestines.

Lauren: And how long ago was that?

Liz: That was around 2013.

Lauren: Okay, so like five years ago was when you really started looking into it. Since then, have you been diagnosed with something different?

Liz: No one's been able to really diagnose me exactly with anything.

What my functional medicine doctor likes to say is that I have IBD, that I’m IBD-ish.

Lauren:  And say what IBD is?

Liz: IBD is Inflammatory Bowel Disease. So like Crohn's. Like ulcerative colitis; like diverticulitis. Anything like that, that falls into that category. That's how my body responds to toxins or certain foods or chemicals or pesticides, or, you know, whatever this stimulation of our modern society is that's causing for my body. And so there are things that go along with that, like, maybe there's a gut infection like SIBO or candida. Or maybe there's just a dysbiosis of gut bacteria, or bloating or fatigue, or whatever goes along with that connection between your gut and your brain. I don't actually have one thing. So I usually just say, I present like I have Crohn's disease, and I know the things that make me feel the best to live my life now like a typical person.

Lauren: And when and how did you first realize that you had this going on? (Leroy is, like, having a bath now!)

Liz: (Laughs) I think he tooted twice, too! (laughs).  I would say, I knew as a teenager that I had some sort of health thing going on because my stepmom took me to a naturopath as a 14-year-old …

(Leroy snorts loudly)

Lauren (laughs): Leroy does not have good things to say about naturopaths!

Liz: I would say, as early as my teen years as far as I can remember back, I've looked like I was three months pregnant after eating and now I know it’s any carbohydrates.

But when you're a child in America in the ‘80s and ‘90s, literally every meal, you're eating carbohydrates.

Breakfast is cereal, lunch isa sandwich, and dinner is something like kielbasa and mashed potatoes. I don't know. We ate a lot of pasta. I ate spaghetti with butter and milk! Is that the weirdest? I loved it so much!

Lauren: No! It’s like kids’ spaghetti. A lot of kids eat it that way!

Liz:  So I've always had that, but I never thought it was weird because no one ever said, “This is a symptom of something.” But then as I got older, I started having terrible skin. And so besides what Western medicine doctors did to me (I should say, which we probably will get into later…)

Lauren: To you, not for you.

Liz: Yeah, it really wasn't for me, thanks a lot. My stepmom ended up taking me to a naturopath when I was 14 or so. And he was just like, “I can tell by looking at you that you're allergic to milk,” and he put me on my first elimination diet ever. That was before it was a more well known thing, and I certainly didn't thrive doing it. I fell off the wagon right before the end. I ate Girl Scout cookies and put everything back into my diet all at once. That didn't help at all, but I knew that that was something you could do. And I had my first glimpse into what you put in your body matters beyond what we were taught, which is the food pyramid.

I just have a certain part of rage in my body for how America has taught us to treat ourselves.

Because I don't know if I would have done anything different when I was that young and if I had known. But at least I would have been able to make the decision. As opposed to not knowing anything. So that would probably be as early as I know, with hindsight, but in reality, I didn't do anything serious until 2008 for myself. When I first was like, ‘I feel like crap. I'm going to talk to my friend’, who was a nutritionist at the time up in Berkeley, California, and who said, “Here, do this candida diet protocol,” which is basically no sugar. So you're not having any carbs either. And the response that my body had was just like a musical. It was like spontaneous fits of joy!

Lauren (laughs): Not spontaneous fits of tooting?!

Liz: Zero tooting! Once I figured out how to feed myself, I stopped farting.

Becca: She used to fart all the time! (laughs)

Liz: And it was a dead animal was coming out. They were so smelly and it was so embarrassing. But I also was like, ‘Oh, farts smell.’ And now I'm like, ‘Oh my God, farts don't smell unless you have to poop.’ For me, at least. Like, I've had a complete 180.

Lauren: Or unless they're productive. Or unproductive!

Liz: Yeah. Let’s say, if you're fermenting things inside you that you shouldn't be, they're going to be a different flavor. That was my first adult I’m-going-to-take-charge-of-how-I’m-feeling-and-what-I’m-doing. Because I was bloated and starting to feel sort of lethargic at work; I was working in advertising at the time, and still performing nights and weekends doing commercials or theater, or whatever it was that I was doing at the time.

Lauren: Busting ass as many of us do in our ‘20s.

Liz: In both ways really, busting ass and busting ass. So I did that for 30 days and I really had a great response to it, and shortly after that was the beginning of me yo-yoing between “being good” and “eating bad”. I think I used to label my food choices in an unhealthy way.

Lauren: I think many of us do.

Liz: And I’ve since changed that.

Lauren: And it takes learning that the food pyramid is evil!

Liz:  And it takes un-learning everything we were taught!

Lauren: And finding out what your body's responding to. It takes time.

Liz: And also like me vilifying a type of food, I don't think that was helpful because I'm going to eat it sometimes. I don't have celiac disease. So I can now have an indulgence as long as I know how much I'm having of something. And I won't necessarily get sick anymore, where, four years ago, I would have something and be laid up for a week. So, it really depends on where you are in your healing when you can get away with that. But I digress. The point is, at that time I was like, ‘Oh, I'm being good right now.’ Or, ‘I'm being bad right now.’ Being bad, like, ‘I’m drinking; I'm eating Domino’s, I’m doing whatever.’ And being good would be like, ‘I'm eating salad.’ And that was it. There was no middle ground. There was no nutrient density information. Essentially vegetables were good, and low-fat proteins were good, and fat and carbs and sugar were bad. You know, just like a really super basic, leftover from the ‘80s, female weight loss machine sense of food. Despite all of the people I had in my life that could have informed me in a better way. But … Becca knows … you can't teach me anything until I'm ready to learn it myself.

Lauren: But that's true for a lot of us, right? We live in a society that promotes a very specific structure, especially in terms of eating and especially if you're female. And that affects your body image … I’m sure Becca has lots to say on that…

Becca: Lots!

Lauren: And it takes un-learning a lot of that stuff.

Liz: For sure. So after doing that candida diet, which was about 2008 … We’ll skip forward a little bit to what got me to where I am right now … which is, when I was working my last production job before I joined Dustbowl. I was just turning 30. And I had this big shift in my health and my energy, where I was just really, really drained all the time. We would describe it, I think in the past couple of years, by saying chronically fatigued or adrenal fatigued, something like that. Where, you're not tired, you’re exhausted. I didn't understand why I felt like I was tired two hours after getting out of bed. I was ready to go to bed again! I was so depressed about it. And because I didn't know what to do, I was really anxious about work. I was starting to not want to be doing TV production anymore. It was all of a sudden seeming a lot more stressful than it ever used to. And I used to really, really love it. So that was happening, and it was really uncomfortable and it was scary, and I knew that I was going to have to make a change with my diet again and really rein it in. Because I'd obviously, anecdotally, had that experience before. But the other thing that was like the impetus for the big life shift that I had was happening at the same time … I started going to a meditation class with my boss. She was like, “I'm gonna do this class. Will you come and do it with me?” It's a six-week course; we did it at Insight LA over in the Fellowship Building on Los Feliz. And it was awesome and totally transformative. And it f*ckingbroke my brain! Because as someone who didn't know she was, but was a Type A codependent perfectionist, overworking to prove that I deserve my place on the planet, kind of person … when I do meditation and they were, like, “We're going to slow your mind down” … my mind was going at 300 miles an hour for the past f*cking 30 years! And when you do meditation after doing that without easing into it, it’s a little bit like driving a car at 70 miles an hour into a brick wall. So everything I'd ever eaten or overworked or exercised or stuffed into my toes to not feel …was coming out. All the time. I was almost panicking 100 percent of the time. I woke up and I would cry before I went to work. But then I would shame myself; I was like, ‘First of all, where is this all coming from? You’re being so dramatic! Like, it’s work!’ And at the same time I was so overwhelmed, I couldn't imagine getting through the day.

Lauren: And probably you were also giving yourself pressure to get shit done, right? Because you're, like, a boss lady.

Liz: Yes! I was managing other people. We were starting a whole new channel, essentially; a whole new Saturday night programming block, which was an amazing opportunity. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so much. I'm so overwhelmed.’ And I was still performing nights and weekends. After work … you know production, you're working a 14-hour day … and then, ‘I have to go to rehearsal!’ It was bananas.

And I didn't know how to say no to anything, except for myself. I would say no to me and do everything for everyone else.

Lauren: And then how to actually get rest in between.

Liz: Yeah, no, there was none of that. So that was sort of the catalyst. And what ended up happening was, I started to rein my food back in … this is sort of a blur between leaving work and starting Dustbowl. Which by the way … side note for anybody who's thinking, “Oh, I also am not super stoked about my job. And I feel like I want to leave, but I'm totally terrified because how can I live without this income? And what would I do instead of this??” Maybe try The Artist's Way, because I did that. And now I'm in a band! And that's what I do full time. I was like, ‘We can't survive without this money!’  And guess what, you can and you'll find something else to do and your heart will sing, and you don't have to stay there.

Lauren: The universe provides!

Liz:  Take yourself out of whatever pigeonhole you're in and take care of yourself, and things willfall into place. But over that transition of leaving production and going to do Dustbowl, I finally was, like, ‘Okay, to get myself back in order, I have to really re-prioritize diet and lifestyle.’ And I started that by going on the Autoimmune Protocol.

Lauren: AIP!

Liz: Yep. And I started with that, because I didn't know exactly what my thing was. I knew that the candida diet had worked. And also I only had done it for 30 days. And I didn't stick with it after that, even as an 80-20 situation. So I was, like, there could be other things going on here. And I told my husband, I'm only doing one more elimination diet. This is it for my life. If we're doing it, we're doing all of it.

Lauren: (laughs) And now we’re talking probably, like, 10, 20 elimination diets right now?!

Liz: (laughs) No, it was more like, ‘Let's just do them all at once!’ I'm not recommending this to other people because it may seem overwhelming, but I'm great if I'm abstaining and I'm not great at moderating … like leaning into something slowly. So I was just, like, cut it out! So I did AIP, cross-referenced with the GAPS diet, which is the gut-brain-psychological-how-they-affect-each-other diet.  These are all very similar, keep in mind, but AIP very specifically has no nightshades and other things that trigger a lot of Hashimoto’s …

Lauren: Welcome to my life.

Liz:  I have so many friends now I can commiserate with on these issues! They say, “Cumin?! I can’t have it! It’s terrible!” And I can say, “I can have eggplant; it’s fine!” (laughs)

Lauren: I love eggplant!

Liz: Squash is a great alternative.

Lauren: It’s not eggplant! (laughs)

Liz: I miss tomatoes; I know. They're the worst. They're the most tomato-eytomatoes! (laughs). So I cross-referenced AIP, GAPS, SCD… the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is also very similar; it’s a lot about like sugars andshort chain carbohydratesthat sort of feedthings that you don't want to be feeding in your gut. Paleo is obviously in this category because these are like Paleo-plus. And then low FODMAP,which was the real kicker, because low FODMAP is all the vegetables besides greens and cucumbers. So, for 60 days, I did all of that.

Lauren: That’s really impressive.

Liz: And I'll tell you this, what's important for people to know … I've had family members who say, “I've done an elimination diet and it didn't help.”

Lauren: Liz just did a “shut up” thing!

Liz: I’m talking out of my hand right now.

Lauren: Shut it! (laughs)

Liz: It's like I'm clapping. Here's the thing … I felt okay on that diet. Until I personally cut out kale — which was supposed to be okay, but for me was not okay. So I was already eating literally wilted greens and good fatty meats (which I haven't gotten there yet, but we're into fat, it's good for you, from sustainably raised meats). I was still bloated after every meal. I didn’t take into account that some greens, or the way you're preparing your greens, can be too rough for where you are in your healing process. There still might be maybe one thing that you have to fine tune.

And granted I have found that I have been a special case for almost every practitioner that I've worked with.

And I don't mean that in a fun way, that I feel special about it! I mean, I still get frustrated if I have to fine tune another thing because I’m, like, ‘When is the work over?!’

Lauren: Never, by the way.

Liz: Please!

If anyone's listening and saying, “I’ve already done those diets and it didn't work for me” … sometimes there's just one last thing that's supposed to be fine that's on the list as “okay”, and it just might not be right for your body.

So if you’re, like, “Sometimes I noticed when I have this, I feel a little bit off; other times, it's fine,” just try taking that thing out for a week and … does it help? Because literally within seven days of getting my diet super restricted but dialed-in, it was everything. No bloating at all. Which for me was bananas. No farting. Perfect pooping. Can you live on that? Technically, yes. But probably not. We're humans and we have other desires.

Lauren: We have indulgences, which we'll get into later.

Liz: So that's how I found out, and that's what I did to kick-start the healing, and that was about five years ago that I did that.

Becca Murray

Lauren: Amazing. And Becca, what about you?

Becca: Actually I was born with a heart murmur, so I feel like that actually was the beginning of my sort of invisible illness journey.

When I was growing up, because I had the heart murmur, I had to take antibiotics anytime anyone was going to, or could potentially, break my skin.

Lauren: Are you serious?

Becca: Yeah. So anytime I went to the dentist. … because I could get an infection. It could get into my bloodstream and go through my heart.

Lauren: Is this with any heart murmur?

Becca: I don’t know. I mean, it was supposed to go away when I was a kid. It didn't go away till I was 19 years old. So I think it was larger than normal? I have had doctors who say that they can still hear a little bit of a hiss, like they can tell that I had a heart murmur.

Lauren: She’s snake-like. (laughs)

Liz: It’s such a Harry Potter description. The Girl with the Hissing Heart!

Becca: I’ll take that! So yeah, I took a lot of antibiotics growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s. You know, that was normal and no one ever thought anything about it. So I didn't think anything about that until way later … we'll get there. But when I was in maybe sixth grade, I started getting really sick every time I ate red meat. So whenever I had hamburgers or would be at a cookout at a friend's house, or you know, McDonald's or whatever we used to eat. So I stopped eating red meat when I was in sixth grade, and became a vegetarian when I was 14. And then I was sort of on that train, “healthy eating”, and living on pasta because that's what you did … I was vegetarian so I ate spaghetti! It's the bottom of the food pyramid. Because I was living on carbohydrates and I wasn't eating meat … I ate salads. But I was a teenager. I really didn't eat fat at all while growing up.

I lived in a very “diet-culture-y” house. We were, like, SnackWell’s and Olestra …

Lauren: And your brain still works fine!

Becca: It took a while to get there! (laughs) But it was just like so much sugar-free fat-free everything, right …

Lauren: Which a lot of women definitely had growing up.

Liz: For sure, especially women our age, too.

Becca: So when I was 19, in college, and I don't remember what play we were rehearsing but I was just not feeling okay. Every time I would eat, I would start to double over and go to the bathroom and was feeling like I was going to be sick. I didn't know what was happening. I remember being at a play in DC; our theater department went out to a show, and I had to leave. I had a snack at intermission. And then I couldn't go back in for the second act. I had to go to the bathroom. And I spent the entire second act thinking I was going to throw up. I didn't know what was happening.

Lauren: So it was nausea?

Becca: It was nausea, but like, really extreme – really extreme stomach cramping. So when I went home for break or whatever, my mom took me to the doctor and they sent me to a radiologist who I guess was one smart dude who actually thought to test a 19-year-old girl’s gallbladder and do an ultrasound. And they found out I had gallstones. Which was a very rare thing to have.

Lauren: Especially at that age.

Becca: Yeah, too young and too “healthy”, they told me.

But what the doctor said it boiled down to was, I hadn't eaten any fat for years and years and years and years and years. And so my bile calcified in my gallbladder, causing gallstones — one more reason why fat is important; it's vital to your body’s function. Bile exists for a reason: to break it down.

So I got my gallbladder out when I was 19, and I was told, basically the rest of your body will take over the function; it's totally fine, don't worry about it.

Liz: You don't need this organ. It’s superfluous.

Becca: Evolution has phased it out; you’re cool.

Liz: There’s no reason that we know it's here, so just forget about it … (laughs)

Becca: So I was in college, where you know you eat a lot of french fries.

Lauren: So you stayed on the carbs! Good job!

Liz: And she was eating fatty carbs.

Becca: Yes. And every time I would have fried food, I would get so sick. And because we were in college and eating out with friends, and drinking and whatever, I became the Queen …oh, I hate this … but the Queen of the Puke and Rally because I didn't want anyone to think I was bulimic, I didn't want people to think there was something wrong with me. I didn't want to cause a scene in my group of friends or at a party. I didn't want to have to leave because I was still having fun. I would just get sick. I ate something. My body didn’t want it. So I would throw up, and then I would just be, like, “Okay, I'm back!", and hang out. For years.

Lauren: And this is a huge part of the epidemic of silent and invisible illness. Well, not silent but invisible illness.

Becca: I didn’t even tell many of my good friends …

Liz: You did throw up pretty silently.

Becca: (laughs) That is a skill! My boyfriend and I live together, and whenever we get sick, like we've gotten — you know, food poisoning and the norovirus at the same time — he's so loud! I tell him, “Oh my God. You throw up so loudly!!” And he says, “You throw up so quietly!!” And I’m, like, “I had to learn!” I don't know that it's a good skill to have.

Lauren: (laughs) I break my capillaries in my face when I puke! I don’t know if you can do that?!

Becca: Oh man!

So I was suffering with that silently for a long time, especially because I did grow up with sort of body dysmorphia and eating issues.

I went more the anorexia route for a while than the other way, but I was very fearful that people would think that I was bulimic. And so I didn't even talk to my good friends about it.

Lauren: But was it okay for them to think you were anorexic?

Becca: When I was in high school, that was a control mechanism. I could feel holier than thou … ‘because I don't succumb to the pressure of that f*ckingfood’. But I just really wanted to throw up later. Lots and lots of stuff to unpack there.

Lauren: Well, I'm happy to talk about that, too.

Becca: We’ll get there!

Lauren: Because I definitely want to know about how you also healed that body issue.

Becca: Oh God, it’s a work in progress.

Lauren:  But I think it always is. That’s how our culture has structured body image for women especially. For women and men.

Becca: For sure. So then I went to see a nutritionist when I had lost a bunch of weight and was trying to get off those “last five pounds”, you know …

Lauren: Always.

Becca: You know, get down to “actress weight.”

Liz: Is there a number?

Becca: Exactly. It's 10 pounds less than your lowest possible healthy weight.

So he did a bunch of testing and I think the positive thing that I took away from that experience was that he put me on a bile supplement.

He was, like, “You don’t have a gallbladder. Why are you not taking this?”  And I was, like, “What?!’ Why did someone not tell me this 10 years ago??” And it literally changed my life. I went from not even being able to have olive oil and avocados, to ‘I'll get sick if I eat a bunch of fried food.’

Lauren: So Super Bowl Sunday is not a good day for you.

Becca: Beebe makes really amazing baked buffalo wings that have changed my life, they're so good.

Liz: You were getting sick because you were eating hydrogenated vegetable oil, which no one should eat!

Lauren: Yes, know what's in your food, what it's cooked in, and where it’s coming from.

Becca: Yes! So that was the first time I did a full panel of my vitamin levels and my thyroid, and trying to make sure that everything was in check. And it looked like my T3 was a little low and obviously I needed some gallbladder assistance for my lack of gallbladder.

Lauren: Just a little assistance would be helpful (laughs).

Becca: Yes (laughs). It was my first dive into that, but it really exacerbated my body image issues, trying to go down this well.

And then, I don’t remember when exactly it happened, but it was around 2013-ish when I started falling a lot. Just randomly.

I'd be walking on my lunch break at work, and I would trip on the sidewalk, and I would come back and be, like, “My hands are busted and I ripped my jeans! I don’t know what happened!"

Liz: And you’d try not to tease her about it, like, “Why do you trip all the time??”

Lauren: It was just a joke that you were a klutz.

Becca: Yeah, no balance and all of that. And then I was walking down the street with some friends one night in Hollywood … I call it the earthquake sidewalk, you know how the sidewalks are cracked …

Lauren: And some of them are raised up like crazy because of  roots on the street and the earthquakes, yeah.

Liz: They’re like a ramp.

Becca: Yeah. So I just I tripped on an earthquake sidewalk — and fell and fractured my elbow. And so I went to the emergency room. And my dad then called me and said, ”Ah … you're falling a lot. This is now a medical issue. This is serious; this isn't just scrapes and bruises anymore. Can you just go see a neurologist and make sure everything is okay? We want to make sure there's nothing going on in your brain that's making you fall over.”

Lauren: This is good because you had someone paying attention (which we’ll also get into).

Liz: Because we were just, “You’re being klutzy!”

Lauren: But also, you were going through your own thing, Liz, and I think when we're in our own bodies it takes a long time to actually learn when something is off.

Liz: Totally.

Lauren: It’s aprocess, so it always helps to have one person … even if it's just one person from the outside, be, like, “Have you had that checked??”

Becca: Yeah, seriously. So I went to this doctor; he is now retired, his name was Dr Imbus. He was a neurologist; he carried one of those old-school medical bags, like doctor bags! He retired a couple of years after I started seeing him, so he was definitely on the verge there. An older dude, but very sweet. So I went in, and we did tests and filled out forms, and he tested my blood pressure — sitting and standing and moving.

And then he said, “Okay I need you to come back for a sleep study.” And I was like, “What?!” And he said, “ Yeah, you're a very sleepy lady.”  And I was like, “Very sleepy lady??!!”

Liz: She was ready to go to battle! (laughs)

Becca: Yeah! I had a f*cking full-time job, an artistic career on the side, a relationship, friends…!

Liz: Are you insinuating I'm not doing enough??!! Let me tell you, sir, I don't take time for myself!

Becca: What?! Of course, I’m tired! Everyone's tired!

Lauren: Which is another thing…why? Why do we all have to be so goddamn tired all the time?? But that’s for another time!

Liz: That’s the silver lining…you don’t have to be tired all the time!

Becca: Yeah, so I remember I was prepping for my sleep study …

Lauren: And this was in-office, it wasn't a home one?

Becca: Yes, it was in-office; it was a night and then a whole next day.  So I read all of the prep stuff and I was thinking, I wonder if they'll have a fridge where I can bring my own food so I don't have to go out and get food. So I called the nurse, and asked, “Hey, can I bring food, or should I just plan to go out and grab something?”  And she said, “Oh, you're not gonna want to go out and grab anything; you’re going to have stuff all over you. Is there anything else you're worried about?” And I was, like, “I don't know. Sometimes it takes me a while to fall asleep in a new place.” And she said, "Oh honey, if you're narcoleptic, you don't have to worry about that.”

Liz: And she was, like, “Narcoleptic? That’s weird!”

Becca: So I go in for my test… whatever, you sleep for the night and the next day and they come in every hour or something … every hour, two hours … and make you go to sleep, take a nap. And then you wake up and they ask you if you dreamed, how long you thought it took you to fall asleep, blah blah. And I was just, like, “Oh, I don't know. Maybe I kind of dozed, or meditated, but I don't think I really slept.  No, I didn't dream… whatever.” Then I go back for the test results two weeks later, and they say, “Not only did you fall asleep every single time …” (throughout the entire day they were making me go to sleep. After sleeping a full eight hours at night, I was sleeping during the day, something like every hour, for 20 minutes).

And they said, “Not only did you fall asleep every single time, the shortest amount of time it took for you to fall asleep was 30 seconds. And the longest was two-and-a-half minutes. And that was after your friend was there to visit you.”

Liz: Chipotle!

Becca: Yeah. She brought me Chipotle for lunch. Yeah. So I was like, ‘What the f*ck?'

Lauren: I’m narcoleptic!

Liz: That was our new joke. (laughs)

Lauren: Liz just did an impression of you falling over!! The things people miss because we’re just audio!! (laughs)

Becca: So he actually gave me a diagnosis, which … I don't know, maybe it would have been better to have the narcolepsy diagnosis, because that's an autoimmune disease, and now, there's a blood test they can do for narcolepsy. I don't have cataplexy. So I don't have any of the ‘wake up and your body is paralyzed’ thing.

So he diagnosed me with idiopathic hypersomnia.

Lauren: Oh, that’s my favorite diagnosis! It’s a medical term for ‘You’re a sleepy lady!’

Becca: So he gave me a prescription for …

Liz: Speed!

Becca: Yeah, medical grade speed. I'm sure the makers of it wouldn’t like me calling it speed … but it was made for the military, for guys to be able to stay awake all night and be sharpshooters.

Liz: It’s not medical grade speed; it’s military grade speed!

Becca: They discontinued it because it resulted in a bunch of friendly fire! That was the previous version. He was like, “They’ve fixed it now.”

Lauren: Wait, is this for real?

Becca: Yes, it’s for real. At least it's a story that my doctor told me. He was, like, “The older version … don’t let people tell you stories about it. They made it for the boys in the army. But all of a sudden there was more friendly fire in that mission than there had ever been before.”

Liz: Very sleepy boys!

Becca: Yeah! “So they went back and they reworked it and now they've fixed it. And here's the prescription for you.”

Lauren: And you said, “No problem! I’ll take that!”

Becca: I was, like, “I really prefer… a granola sort of cure. Do you have anything like that?” And he said, “If I had granola, I would give you granola. But for right now” … actually I liked the way that he put this, as much as he was pushing speed on me … I was on antidepressants when I was in high school. I went off with them when I was in college. I wasdepressed for that period of time. But whether it was my chemistry, my biology changed, or it was situational, or whatever it was … things change, circumstances change, I was more functional.

And he said, “Let’s look at it like that. You don't have to be on this forever, but it will be helpful for right now.” And I said, “Okay.”  So I went on it and I was like, ‘Oh my God. This is what people feel like? This is normal?’

Lauren: We need some of that! (laughs)

Becca: It was insane! And it scares me how much I loved it. Right? Because I don't want to be a person …

Lauren: A sleepy lady!

Becca: So I was on Nuvigil for about a year-and-a-half.

And it was going great. I was enjoying it and life was feeling fine. And then my insurance changed at work. And it went up to $550 a bottle.

Lauren: What? Just because of the insurance, not because of the drug company?

Becca: Well, on my previous insurance, the drug company had been able to give me a card for it to be $25 or something, even though it was more. And because I switched to a high deductible plan, that no longer applied. And because I had an HSA, it was going to be $550 a bottle. And I go through a bottle a month. So I was, like, ‘Well, no, I can’t.’ So I quit cold turkey.

Lauren: The drugs, not the job?

Becca: The drugs!

Liz: You should have quit the insurance company.

Becca: But this also … silver lining … started my entire health journey …internal medicine, whatever, functional medicine …

Lauren: The crisis continued.

Becca: Yes. So I quit that and immediately gained 15 pounds in a month, got super sick …

Lauren: That’s the most fun.

Becca:  I was, like, ‘What is happening?’

Liz: Feeling terrible …

Lauren: And I don't fit into my jeans …

Becca: Yeah.

I felt like my life was crumbling around me and I was, like, ‘I don't know what's happening. I'm trying so hard to be healthy, and I want to figure out the root cause of the problem.’

My doctor had retired and we'd never figured out the cause of the idiopathic hypersomnia.

Lauren: So you were sort of up the creek without a paddle.

Becca: Yeah. Beebe had been seeing a functional medicine doctor up in the Bay Area, via Skype…

Lauren: Why not locally?

Liz: Because there f*cking weren't any at the time. Actually my husband found him …

Becca: Through a podcast  …

Lauren: Oh, hey!

Liz: It was before functional medicine was as big as it is now.

Lauren: At least in Los Angeles.

Liz: Yeah, in LA it’s exploded exponentially. So I was seeing him … just to circle back so that people know, because I know this is part of your other question … but when I was doing that conglomerate diet, all of them together, I was, like, ‘I need supervision at this point. I’ve done it for 60 days and things aren't completely perfect. I need to have someone help me, guide me a little bit.’ You cannot necessarily always do it on your own. So I found this functional medicine doctor and he totally understood what I was talking about. His initial thing was, “We deal with root causes, not the symptoms.” And he showed me a diagram of a tree with roots. And all the symptoms are the leaves.

Lauren: And you were, like, ‘This is the magic?!

Liz: And I was, like, weeping in the room! Telling him, “I’m bloated! I'm so tired! What do you mean, I thought you were just going to look at my blood work and tell me I'm fine!”

Becca: So [Beebe] had been seeing him, and she told me, he’ll do a free phone consultation, just talk to him, see, whatever. So I gave him my whole life story and after 20 minutes on the phone, he said, “Yeah, we have some tests we can do. I think there are some things we can figure out here.” So I started seeing him. We did a bunch of tasks. I found out I had parasite in addition to … I'm a very yeast-y person, I have a lot of candida. I did not have SIBO, which was the one thing that kept coming back negative, which is great.

Liz: Mine did! This is where we differ. We’re going to cover all of them!

Becca: Yeah, so killing Blasto.

Blasto was my blastocystis hominis, which is the most common parasite in humans.

But if you have other dysfunctions going on, then that's where it can actually cause an issue. Like if you don't have the ability to get rid of it, or to deal with the effects of it.

Lauren: You mean, like the gallbladder you were missing??

Becca: For example! Or taking all those antibiotics when I was a kid that killed everything else in my gut, so I just had an empty microbiome. That just creates a breeding ground for all of the bad shit that I don't want in there.

Lauren: So when I met you, you were just starting to take care of Blasto.

Becca: Oh, okay. I had a countdown clock that was actually super helpful for me. I got one of those wedding countdown clocks and it was my countdown to killing Blasto. And so I did a super strict AIP and was taking rounds of antimicrobials and all these things, and I had to do so many poop tests.

Lauren: They must be fun to collect. I haven't had to do those but I see it coming.

Liz: At work!

Becca: And then you have to put them in your fridge until you can send it, and you’re, like, “Boyfriend … Don't look in that bag!”

Liz: At least in the fridge it’s in a sealed bottle. When you're doing the poop test, you poop into, like, a fried food container. Yeah, you just poop in it. Then you use a teeny scoop with a fork. It's a spork.

Becca: Like the size of one of those little ice cream taste testers?

Liz: Yeah, a spoon with little tines in it.

Lauren: Like the things you use to get lobster out of the shell.

Liz: Yes! Like those on a little baby spoon. And then they’re, like, ‘Fill up the poop past this line.’ And then you seal it and put it in a bag and people can't see it and you’re like, “Don't open that bag!!” We’re very familiar. You toss everything else away. Like, that doesn't go in the fridge.

Lauren: So you did the poop test …

Becca: Yes. And they eventually came back clean. And it was great, I was, like, I’ve killed Blasto. And then I kept feeling not great. I hesitate to talk about how gaining weight was part of this process for me, because I have now come around and have a whole different angle on this. But I had been someone who grew up in a very diet-centric house and was very focused on managing my weight, and it was alarming to me the rate at which I was gaining weight — even though my diet had stayed at what I considered to be dialed-in, or even more restrictive than it was before. And I was continuing to work out as much as I was allowed to. I'd started doing yoga instead of CrossFit because they didn't want me wearing out my adrenals.

Liz: It’s important to mention that your diet was consistent.

Becca: Yes, my diet was consistent, and at some point in that time I started eating meat — which I was really, really hesitant to do because I had been a vegetarian since I was 14.

Lauren:  I think a lot of people struggle with this one. I have struggled with it, definitely.

Becca: Yeah, it's really difficult. And it was a really hard decision for me to come to, but it got down to where I had cut out … especially doing AIP, where I couldn't eat nuts, soy, legumes, grains… All the things that I relied on, I could no longer eat. I was just having greens and oil, grains and fat, and my doctors were, like, “No.”

Lauren: Because you were basically starving yourself.

Becca: Right. And they were, like, “You can't do this.”

It was really feeding into those old patterns, and I just did not want to go back there. So I started with bone broth, and then just decided to be really intentional about my meat choices. And I now feel strongly about it being easier for me to actually change the system from the inside.

Lauren: What do you mean by that?

Becca: I am super anti-factory farming, obviously.

Lauren: You are determining with your wallet what you are going to support.

Becca: Yes, also making sure that I'm buying the quality meat that I feel okay or better about.

Lauren: Like sustainably-farmed, grass-fed.

Becca: Yes, ‘one bad day’.

I talked to a farmer who said his pigs have one bad day. Humans have a lot more than one bad day.  And so I really appreciate that sort of angle and especially the whole animal sort of mentality.

So I started eating meat in that process, too.

Lauren: And you still eat meat?

Becca: I do. I think I ate a lot more of it while I was going through that healing process, for a while, because I had to cut out so much stuff that there wasn't a lot I could eat outside of it. And much like Beebe, I had to cut out so many vegetables that I was used to eating. But I've stepped back a lot. Now, I don't eat as much of it because I have been able to incorporate more things back into my diet. Your gut can heal. And just because you've cut something out now, just because you can't tolerate it now … doesn't mean you can't tolerate it ever. Sometimes you can get looped back around into that.

Lauren: So do you have a current diagnosis right now with any of this? Because it sounds like a lot of it's still kind of up in the air.

Becca: Yeah, it is. So I am constantly yeast-y; I have a lot of candida in me. And the biggest thing that I've been dealing with for the last, almost a year, is mold illness. I've been seeing a functional medicine doctor; we’ve spent two years, a year-and-a-half, going through everything, checking off all the boxes on the list …

Lauren: For every test?

Becca: For every test, for all the things and it kept coming back to candida. I had a metal toxicity test, which Beebe dealt with, too.

Lauren: What metal toxicities do you guys have?

Becca: I had lead and a little mercury.

Liz: I had mostly mercury, and a little lead. Just like a puzzle!

Becca: She did chelation through IV; I did it through NDF drops. And it was the worst experience.

Lauren: What are NDF drops? I haven’t heard of that.

Becca:  It's like a binder but you put it in your water and drink it, and within five minutes of drinking it, I would just get a splitting headache. It would feel like I had a dagger through my head. And then I was just beyond tired.

I think after two days, I sent out a blast on Facebook, and was, like, “You're not going to see me for a while. If you have good show recommendations, I'm going to be at home.”

You can’t leave the house.

Liz: That’s something you definitely need to work with a practitioner on. Because if you're not flushing it out of your body properly … we were both taking a lot of glutathione ... you can re-toxify yourself. It's really dangerous.

Becca: And the super shitty part is that I was working with my person, and I did the 12 weeks or whatever I had to do on that. Then I stopped the drops, and great, my 12 weeks are up, I’ll go back in and do the test. And it was another month before I got the test back; I went into the doctor and she said, “Okay, so where are you in your second round?”  And I was, like, “No, I stopped after that.”  And she was, like, “No, your levels are higher now than they were before because you didn't detox out any of that stuff. You didn't actually eliminate any of that, you just pulled it …”

Liz: …out of your tissue.

Becca:So that's why you're feeling so ill. And I was, like, “F*ck, I can't do this again.” And she said, “Okay, there has to be a reason why, in 12 weeks, you aren't detoxing any of this. I kept thinking that it was going to be mold. But I really have to check off all the boxes before I can get there.” Because that's such a specific diagnosis …

Liz:  It’s genetically specific, too.

Becca:  Yeah, only 25% of people can actually hold on to mold illness.

Liz: We’ll all get sick or be allergic. It's not healthy for anyone to be in. But some people will absorb it.

Becca: Yeah. And fun fact … I had moved in with my boyfriend, who was living in a place that had mold from some old water damage that the landlord had not fixed.

Lauren: Landlords! Fix your mold!

Becca: Seriously! So basically, I got those tests back and my doctor told me: “Yeah, definitely. You have mold illness.” So I've been dealing with that for a year now. We did one round of a bunch of binders, and once again things were still high. So she has been: “We just need to keep pushing, pushing, pushing.” And much like when I did the blasto protocol and was taking different rounds of antimicrobials, I've been taking different rounds of binders so that my body doesn't get used to the one thing. It's not just constantly pulling out the same stuff; it attacks it from different angles.

Lauren: Kind of like what antibiotics would have done. And do your doctors think that the antibiotics, coupled with heart murmur stuff, and the gallbladder … that these are all root causes for all the other issues you have going on?

Becca: Yeah, I think it's like everything piled on top. Everything is just piled on. My mom is so sweet. She just told me, “I’m sorry! If I had known, I would have done something different.” And I told her, “No! You didn't know! You lived in this healthcare system, in this world, in this time, in this country, when people thought that's what you did and you did the best you could, and I just ended up, like …” My brother ended up fine!

Liz: We used to think so.

Becca: Yeah, he has really smelly farts, too.

Liz: Yeah, Jeff! The antibiotics were for the start for me, too.  You take all those drugs, or you go on birth control for your skin because they put you on antibiotics and your face gets f*cked upif your symptoms are like mine. So here I am being: cool, cool, cool. I took all the things you told me to take, and I ate the diet that you prescribed for me — which, by the way, feeds all the shit that grows when you kill what you have made me take kills. So it’s, like, both sides. It's the medicine, and then what you're putting in afterwards is not healthful.

Lauren: Yeah, and it will ultimately cause more problems. But you wouldn't have solved the thing if you hadn’t taken the medicine, so it’s more of a journey.

Liz: I think the root cause is more, being an American.

Lauren: Yeah, I’m starting to think so also.

Liz: I mean, really. A modern American. We have so many more of these autoimmune diseases now. And autism and a lot of others — multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. All of these are being tied to gut health.

Lauren: Depression even.

Liz: Depression, anxiety, all of it. Your gut is literally your second brain.

Lauren: It might be your first in some cases.

Liz: True, true. A lot of your brain is just processing what is given to it from your gut. So when you say root cause, yes —  and this other hidden thing that we didn't even know you were doing wrong. Because you buy your food from a grocery store and you think, it’s real food, it’s not chips, right? It's rice and stuffed bell pepper. But for me, though, I would be so sick if I ate that now.

Lauren: Yeah, especially when we didn't know where certain things came from, or what it was cooked in. And that's why we need ingredients lists — which are not always covering all the things we need to know about.

Liz: Yeah, we're still a little calorie-focused, which is misguided, in my opinion.

Lauren: Well, the FDA also allows classifications like ‘natural flavors’, which is a very big catch-all and not all natural.

Becca: Natural is only good when you're talking about wine, people! Everything else is bullsh*t! (laughs)

Lauren: And then I wanted to ask you as well, Becca … while you're doing all this testing, because Beebe was mentioning that she was working when she was going through this … were you working full time?

Becca: Uh huh.

Lauren: How?

Liz: We cried a lot.

Becca: I napped in my car on my lunch break.

Actually my neurologist told me, “They have to make accommodations for people with disabilities. You need to ask for a nap room.” And I was, like, “No one is going to give me a nap room at work!!”

Lauren: At a public radio station!

Becca: That’s not a thing that's gonna happen! So yeah, I would sleep in my car on my lunch break. I was taking double doses of my speed. So I would take it in the morning when I woke up and it would wear off by the time my lunch rolled around. I would take a nap in my car, sweating my ass off because it was Pasadena in the summer and it’s 110 degrees in my car! And then I would just get up and take another dose, and then go back to work.

Lauren: Oh my God.

Becca: Yeah.

Lauren: And did you have to take extra time off, beyond the holidays that you were allotted and sick days?

Becca: I did not do that.

Lauren: How did you do that? I can't believe that.

Becca: I don't really know. I am very Type A, kind of a workaholic, very much a recovering people pleaser. And I think it was very difficult for me to admit that there was something wrong and that I needed more … help.

Liz: Well, it's worth noting too that you were like, ‘Oh, people with disabilities need blah blah blah …

Most of the people besides our inner circle were, like, “Nothing's wrong with you.” So when we're talking about hidden, invisible illnesses, it’s, like, “Oh, you have a privileged body and you don't look f*cking sick. So you're not. Have you gone to a real doctor?”

And I would say, “I’m not a hypochondriac. Have you ever known me to be a hypochondriac?” And also, what does that even mean? They’re telling someone how they feel and they're trying to communicate that to you.

My advice is just like it is with a lot of things happening in the real world right now: F*cking believe them! Yeah, listen to them. Because you are the only person who knows your body as well as you do.

There's one thing to be anxious … that this disease is going to happen to me. But there's another thing … and it’s, this is how I feel right now. Or this is how I feel when this happens to me. And to have people around you … I mean, even my husband, at the time when I really couldn't get out of bed, didn't really get it. I remember him dragging me to brunch one day, and I was, like, "I really can't do this.” I ended up going. And I was just like a zombie all the time. I would use Saturdays and Sundays to sleep. I just wanted to be in bed the whole weekend. And that's not my personality. That's not who he knew me to be. And he thought he was being helpful. So that's my advice. Speak up. Don't be afraid to be your own health advocate. And also take time away from people that are not listening to you — so you can do what you know is right for you. And at least get help if you need support.

Lauren:  And needless to say, you’re still with your husband!

Liz: Oh yeah! He turned a corner and he was, like, “Oh my God, I'm so sorry.” And now he's like, “Okay, I'm on the hunt.” He found my doctor. He was the one who convinced me to do AIP when I was like, “I'm not doing another f*ckingelimination diet! I know what happens!” Sometimes you're not ready either. Sometimes you know you feel like shit when you eat this thing, or you feel like shit if you drink this type of liquor, or drink at all. Alcohol is fun but it’s not great for anybody's insides. Emotionally, it can be wonderful.

Becca: Ha, ha! We’ll get there!

Liz:I wasn't ready until I was ready. And then when I was ready, I just did it cold turkey and full speed ahead.

[caption id="attachment_566" align="alignnone" width="4032"]LEROY Leroy![/caption]

Lauren: And would you say he's your main advocate now?

Liz: He’s like the first step outside of myself.

Lauren: What about you, Becca? Who is your main advocate? Or did you find that you needed to have an advocate in all of this — aside from your dad being, like, “Get tested for your tripping!”

Becca: Yeah, my parents were just so worried because they were, like, every time, “Are you sure?” And they're 3,000 miles away. And they’d say, “Every time you fix something, something else is there!” And I’m, like, “Yeah, I don't know what to tell you. It just is. Spending all my money on doctors!”Obviously, Beebe has been great. We’ve gone through so much of this together.

Liz: And I’m, like, “Ooh, we're going to do the mold test.” Which we'll get to in the future. Like, ‘Where are they now?’

Lauren: But you're trying different treatments. Which is very important to note as well, because there are some people who are, like, ‘Okay, I've done this thing, and it should work.’ But if it's not working, you have to try the next thing.

Liz: You get greedy for it. I liken it to the end of Scrooged. When he’s, like, “You want to feel good, you get greedy for it.  You want it every day!”

The feeling of Christmas is when you start to get your health back.

And then you’re, like, ‘I'm not satisfied with 85 f*cking percent, I want to be 95 percent. And without getting into like actual orthorexia. I'm being hyperbolic, but when you start feeling better you’re, like, ‘If I had known it was going to cost this much money and take this much time, I would never have done this. I would have exercised and taken Xanax.’ But it was worth it! And now you just continue on. Because you can tell … this thing still isn't settled. So there's still something going on, even though I'm tired like a typical person now, instead of like a really old person.

Becca: Yeah, and I would say my boyfriend is a huge supporter, too, in that he helps me navigate spaces where there are not going to be food options that I can have, or I don't feel comfortable telling the host, whoever it is. He's a social butterfly and we go to a lot of things, and oftentimes we show up somewhere and I can’t eat any of the stuff.

Lauren: And you’re like a toddler, with snack packs?

Becca: Yeah, right, we bring food everywhere!  But yeah, he's really good at helping me navigate those spaces where I start go in on myself a little bit. I'm an introvert. He’s also just been super supportive… he loves it when I sleep. If I ever have a morning to sleep in, which does not happen very often, and I wake up and it's like 11am and he's out watching TV … I’m, like, “Oh my God, why? I have so many things to do today! Why did you let me sleep late?” And he will say, “Because you were sleeping! I love it when you sleep.” And I’m, like, “Thank you!”

Lauren: That’s really nice!  Your partners are your advocates. Would you say that despite the ups and downs of the journey so far, it has positively impacted your relationships, because it has made you closer to have to be so open about all this stuff you're going through?

Liz: I think it's positive! My husband's really into fitness and nutrition now, and he can eat almost anything. Although I would also like to say that sometimes he can't turn the lens around on himself, he’s so focused on making things easier for me. I don't think he's ready to hear it yet. But I think it’s been helpful to see, inaction, that it not be just as simple as many of the blogs I've read that say, ‘Oh, I just need to start taking probiotics and cut grains out of my diet. I'm fine. I'm not bloated at all anymore.’ I'm sure what they're doing is great. Becca is a great advocate to be, like, “Not everyone has the same challenges as you. And so sometimes just helping people eat a little less fast food and a little more vegetables is a really great start.” And I’m, like, “Aah! You’re rating people by giving them food allergy tests that aren’t real!!”

Becca: My boyfriend actually doesn't have a thyroid; his thyroid was radioactively destroyed.

Lauren: Did he have Graves disease?

Becca:Yes. And so he had a very hyperactive thyroid for so long; 130 beats per minute resting heart rate.

Lauren: Before you knew him?

Becca: Yes, it was how he grew up. And so he was a twig, right? He ate all the things, and then you don't have that and you're becoming an adult, and you’re, like, ‘Oh God, how do I eat? Why does my body respond? How does this work?’ And so he started … it’s very cute … he started doing Keto and it was working really well for him — exceptthat he wasn't actually tracking his macros. He was just eating fat …but then he would also maybe still have a glass of wine … and I was, like …

Lauren: …you’re not doing Keto!

Becca: I told him, “I just want you to know that it's not what you're doing. You can call it that in the house. But just if you're out in the world, people are going to think you're eating a different way than you are … not that that matters … but okay, whatever you want. And he was, like, “Here's the thing, Becca… I'm not eating pizza every night.”

Liz: He was eating fast food.

Becca: Here’s the thing … For him, almost calling it Keto, made him do Paleo. It just pushed him into that step of, ‘I'm not going to go to In-N-Out. And I'm not going to order pizza …and whatever. And so if I have a glass or two of wine, then I'm still having carbs in the day and that's still better than if I had downed this entire thing with fast food.’ It's a step in the right direction, whatever the right direction is — even if it's not the thing that is what you're trying to label it as.

Lauren: Baby steps. It makes some sense.

Becca: Right. It's just hard, I think, for people like us who are ‘all or nothing all the time’.

Liz: And this is why it's good that we do this together. But being that sort of “good example” of someone who can stick to a thing and can see tangible results … that person with them can then translate that for either clients,like Brahm [Liz’s husband] can. Because if someone is just trying to, let's say, lose weight or just live a more healthy lifestyle …

Lauren:It would be nice if the goals were that simple for us.

Liz: Okay. But if you run into issues … there are other things that can come along with that that people don't necessarily know about, like we're talking about today. So to have Will be around that …

Lauren: Will being Becca’s boyfriend…

Liz: Yes, and to have Will be that example … the first step is amazing. Like, if that's all you have to do. Not that it isn't difficult to change your diet, because I totally sympathize how difficult that can be in the beginning. But I think our health experiences have been, like, ‘Whoa, yeah, I can just eat a little bit less take-out. It’s not that big of a deal.’

Lauren: Yeah, and yours can be a bit stricter because you've also got the capacity to go in that direction. We've talked a lot about you guys working, and stuff. Are you even cognizant of how you balance work and life …

Becca: I still don't know how I do it. Basically I have two full-time jobs. I work in an office and it's a great gig, and I'm very addicted to the health insurance and the retirement plan and all of those things. But I know I need to pull a Beebe and jump ship at some point…

Liz: Take the leap!

Becca: And I’m also invested in the company that I work for. And on top of that, I also am shooting all the time; I shoot usually both days on the weekend. I shoot weddings, then I'll be in the studio shooting boudoir stuff, and then I spend my weeknights editing after work so that I can deliver the galleries to people. And in the summer, when we have longer days, I'll shoot at night after work, too, because it's light until like 8:30 or 9:00 and you can actually get a full session in.

Lauren: Do you sleep??

Becca: I have started prioritizing sleep, which is great … but it just, I don't know, it slows down my workflow?

I work too much and I know that I need to set boundaries, but I do love what I do. It’s very hard.

Liz: And it’s very physical. Your day job is mostly sedentary, but your creative job is very physical. You’re shooting all day. You can follow Becca’s Instagram and you’ll see her bent over or on the ground or above you, standing on a bed, or following you around on your wedding day. It's a lot of movement. Even when you get your health in order, you can be, like, ‘This is pretty manageable. I know what I can get away with now; I know what I can't do.’ But now you also have to battle the, ‘How do I prioritize me over my emotional dependability … which is to my job, or to my friend, or to my partner?’

Lauren: And do you think the pressure is more, too, because you’re female?

Liz: Oh, for sure.

Lauren: There’s so much riding on it, right?

Becca: Yeah, and I will say the thing that I've noticed a lot more recently … because a lot of my issues are inflammation-based, and with my inability to detox, too …but I have tendonitis in my wrist …

Lauren: That’s a nice addition!

Becca: Just like a little thing here and there! I used to do calligraphy. I gave that up because it hurt too much to do all of those things.

Lauren: And you were a very good calligrapher, too! The two of you had a calligraphy thing together, didn’t you?

Liz: We did! We were, like, “Let’s start another business!" And then we were, like, f*ck this! We’re very busy people!

Becca: So I have had to really start prioritizing my wrist health — which seems like a crazy thing. But it's my right wrist and I can’t hold my camera with it. I was having such difficulty just functioning in my daily life. I couldn't turn the steering wheel, I couldn't turn a doorknob.

Lauren: Do you have a brace?

Becca: Yeah, I have a brace, and I've been doing acupuncture and cupping, and that super helps. I’m supposed to get surgery  … we’ll see what happens. I also had a photographer friend reach out to me because she does a lot of fitness and bodywork stuff, and she just shot somebody … with her camera! … who apparently gave her the most amazing bodywork session of her life and fixed some photography-related injuries that she had.

Lauren: Oh, very interesting.

Becca: So she was, like, ‘Please, before you do surgery, just talk to this person.’ And I told her, ‘I'm always granola first.’ So I'm going to talk to this dude before I schedule the surgery.

Lauren: And speaking of granola … which is easy to pack in sandwich bags! …you guys both travel a lot for work, especially you, Beebe, being on the road. But also Becca, when you're traveling for weddings and stuff like that. I know you've got Will as an advocate when you’re going places, but how do the two of you make sure that you're eating foods that you can digest when you're on the road?

Liz: It’s very challenging, but I think when you've come as far as we have, and you know what's at stake if you don’t, you make it work. I have a whole hashtag called #HowToEatOnTheRoad because people are constantly asking me this. So I started taking pictures of my food. It's not glamorous. But I lovecooking. So when I'm home, I’m, like, “What would you like? Pot roast?!” I'm just crazy making salads every night … I’m massaging the greens. It's not a pour-on-and-go situation; we're gourmet into it. But when I'm on the road, I travel with six hard-boiled eggs and a Tupperware full of butter and Himalayan pink salt. And when I can have them … because there's dates in a lot of the food bars that I can eat, because I'm completely grain free …still, unless I'm having an indulgence, I really don't have any grains in my regular diet.

Lauren: Does that mean no beer, too?

Liz: No beer. No gluten at all, no rice even, not even millet or amaranth or quinoa can I do, because I have carbohydrate malabsorption still. And that's one of the things I'm still figuring out.

Lauren: Not even quinoa? Because that's a seed.

Liz: Yeah, but the way that it reacts in my body is like a grain would be. I can eat sunflower seeds. I know, it's still a mystery. As far as you get, there's another thing to do …

Lauren: It’s a good lesson in, like, If it looks like a carb, even if it’s a seed ..

Liz: If it eats like a carb, and feels like a carb afterwards, and it’s a carb to you… it’s a carb.

Lauren: And by the way, couscous is pasta!

Liz: Enjoy!

Becca: Couscous is what I ate in college because I thought I had graduated out of spaghetti.

Liz: (laughs) That’s like, Hey, motherf*ckers, I just ate gnocchi because it’s just potatoes! Just kidding! Crepes are pancakes!

Lauren:(laughs) It’s a really steep learning curve.

Liz: It really is. I mean, when people are, like, “Oh, I just can't … “, I totally get it. And you only probably will when you really need to.

Lauren: Yeah, the force is with you. And it sounds like the key there is preparation.

Liz: Totally. I mean for me … and I won't speak for Becca but I'm sure she'll agree … you also want to make sure your blood sugar doesn't get f*cked up when you’re in the healing phase, especially early. Just have food with you. If you can tolerate Larabars; some people can't because there's nuts and maybe you can’t have nuts.

Lauren: RXBAR?

Liz: I tried those, but there's dates, and right now I can't have those because I'm on a candida cleanse at the moment.

Lauren: Fun!

Liz: Bulletproof bars are fine. There's nuts in those, if you can tolerate nuts. But Bulletproof bars are fine for me right now, because they’re so fat-heavy. They’re not as fun to eat; they sort of crumble, so it's a bit irritating. But if I have to eat a Bulletproof bar or be on a plane for four hours and starve,I'll bring a Bulletproof bar. I don't want to speak for anybody else because, depending on the situation, sometimes eating something may not be the best — but also not the worst — so that you're f*cking eating. You also want to eat because your body literally needs nutrients to heal itself. And if you're already having a compromised digestive system, or thyroid system, or brain access system, you are not going to get anything if you don't put it in your body. So sometimes it's six of one, half dozen of the other.

Don't be too perfect. I did that in the beginning. It will stress you out. And stress is literally the worst thing.

It's like, not sleeping, and stress, trumps your diet. Then your diet, then the rest of your lifestyle. Then drugs/doctors.

Lauren: And it takes all of that journey to realize that with stress, you are sh*ttingyourself because you're stressed.

Liz: Yes. I can only say that now. And stress is still, like, ‘Hello. I'm still here.’

Becca: And that's the hardest thing to get rid of …it’s no pill for me!! I am fully aware that not working 90 hours a week will probably help my health. I just haven't gotten there yet.

Liz: That’s my gentle suggestion to Becca… “Do you think …maybe … stress…”

Lauren: Okay, so we're talking about things you put in your body right? What about body image? We started getting into it. So, let's get into this now; let's dig in. Because, not just in the sense that we're females and we live in this America. But also in terms of what your bodies have taught you that you've reacted to. I know Becca was saying that she was, like, “I was anorexic. And trying to convince people I wasn’t bulimic.” Aside from these diseases being very big triggers for eating disorders, how have you worked on healing that psychological impact?

Becca: I think that if there is a silver lining in any of this journey for me, and everything that I've been through in the last five years, it is that I have done a deep dive into body positivity. That is what I got out of this.

Lauren: We can see that in Becca’s work, right.

Becca: Yeah, I grew up dieting all the time. We talked about eating disorders and all of that. And when I started gaining weight … and was sick and was frustrated and couldn't figure out why my body wasn't working for me the way that I thought it was supposed to work for me … it was just making me spiral and spiral and spiral down. And somehow … and I don't remember exactly what it was … I was going to a lot of yoga and I think I found Dana Falsetti first … @NolaTrees, she’s f*cking amazing; I went to one of her workshops …

Liz: She has a great Instagram account, you should follow her.

Lauren: Yoga for all bodies.

Becca: So I started following her, and just started getting a really raw body-positive message from her. And her pictures are gorgeous. And I saw the woman who takes a lot of her photos — Cheyenne Gil.

Lauren: Who is also amazing.

Becca: I love you, Cheyenne!  So I started following her and Cheyenne, and through her prodding… she’s so outspoken about body image and just changing what's normal. Change your f*cking social media feed. Change what images you’re looking at every day.

Lauren: And further to that … I started following them because you did, because I saw them on your feed, and I started following them on Instagram … and they've also put me into a deep dive. It’s so productive. So thank you for that.

Becca: I completely changed my Instagram feed. I don't spend time on Facebook and I'd never go on Twitter, but Instagram? I'm a photographer. It's where I like to live. I love looking at visuals!

Lauren: What’s your handle?

Becca: @BeccaMurrayPhoto. So yeah, I started following them and through them started following a lot of other differently-bodied people … disabled people, women of color, activists in different forums … and just trying to change the bodies that I am seeing on a regular basis. Especially naked bodies or bodies in swimsuits or lingerie or whatever. And just trying to remove the stigma that I had around body image.

My idea was … and obviously it's always a work in progress … but if I can start to see that person as beautiful and no longer judge them, no longer health troll people — because that's what I was doing to everyone.

Like, “Oh yeah, it's great that you love yourself but maybe you're just not healthy … it's just about being healthy.” (I’m doing little prayer hands here).

Becca and Lauren: Namaste!

Lauren: Nama-stay away from the judgment!

Becca: I was totally just coming down on people from the “health” angle … and removing that from the equation. And then, like, ‘I don't know anything about your body; you don't know anything about my f*cking body.’

I deserve to live in this body with respect and dignity and take up as much goddamn space as I need to take up in this world. And I don't need to make myself smaller to placate you.

Lauren: Did you guys hear that? Take that in. That's really huge.

Becca: It’s hard. It is daily work.

Lauren: And what does that daily work look like for you?

Becca: Well, I’m in several kinds of therapy! (laughs)

Lauren: Hey, therapy is the most important in all of this, that extra support.

Liz: Yeah, wherever you get your support.

Becca: I literally … I have been directed to (and I do this now every day, which is very hard) … to look at yourself naked. And just touch yourself.

Lauren: I love you I love you I love you …

Becca: And it doesn't have to start with love. It can start with noticing … How do I feel? How do I feel when I look at this thing? Why do I feel this way when I look at this thing? Why do I feel this way in my body? Is there something happening today? Did I eat something that's making me feel sick? Am I about to shit my pants? Is that why I don't feel great right now?

Liz: Am I not shitting?

Becca: Is that also making me super bloated? And then you can start to recognize the difference between: I feel ill because I have gut issues and I have mold illness and I am sick … and: I feel disgusted because I hate my body.

I think this is the part that really clicked for me, too: My body is working so goddamned hard to heal!

Lauren: Guys, did you hear that one, too? This is a lean-into-the-mic moment. It’s a really important point because I think a lot of people who go through health crises … we come out on the other end being, like, ‘Look how great this body is!’

Liz: It kept me alive, yes, despite all of this!

Becca: And I think, initially, I swung the opposite way. With autoimmune issues you’re, like, ‘What are you doing to me, body? You're not responding. You're attacking me! You’re attacking yourself. Why are you not making me healthy? Why are you making me sick?’

Liz: You started it!

Lauren: That's like the first response … ‘You stupid body!’

Liz: I made a joke, saying the body started it … but some people have autoimmune problems that stem from just genetics, so it's not your fault, that's all. For us, we started with some drugs that we probably shouldn't have been ingesting.

Becca: So I think those accounts specifically really helped me to change the narrative. And I had the opportunity in the spring last year to work with Cheyenne; I went to her workshop in Philly and met her, and she's a light! And I met this amazing group of women from all over the country. All these photographers, seven of us, came together and spent two days really just diving into body-positive photography. Because we're all capable photographers; we know how to use our camera and how to take pictures. But it was about the message, and how to really internalize that and make your business about that from a real standpoint — and not from, like, ‘it's trendy to talk about this’.

I think that really trying to explain the difference to people … and I know this can be hard for someone like me because I do live in a privileged body regardless, right?

I am an able-bodied white American woman who can shop in a straight-size store, if on the larger end of that, but I can. 

Lauren: That’s another one … you guys, did you hear that … check your privilege!

Becca: Yes, there is a difference between how I feel about my body … and how someone who walks around in whatever bullsh*t medical definition of obesity is in a fat body — in a society that systemically oppresses those people, discriminates against those people. Not only on a social level but also in the medical field and all of that. There's so much discrimination against fat people … and I say “fat” as a reclaimed word. I’d like to state that, too.

The only reason … if you have a reaction to me using the word “fat” … is because you have a problem with the word “fat”.

Lauren: Yeah! You tell ‘em, Becca!

Liz: Yeah, it’s just an observation. It’s just a word. It’s like calling Beebe blonde and you ginger…more of a dirty blonde.

Lauren: And not for real! (laughs)

Becca: It's just an adjective. It only has meaning because you give it meaning. So I think that also just trying to normalize bodies, and create a space where specifically fat women can feel empowered to be in their bodies, in their sexuality, and feel themselves is what I really want to get across in my photography. Everyone deserves that.

Lauren: Yeah. So I was going to ask you guys if your experience had turned into advocacy on a larger scale, but it sounds like, obviously for you, Becca, that's turned into body positive photography. And Beebe, you started a blog because of all this.

Liz: Yeah, I was just like, if I can save anybody any time, or money, by being like, “Try this before you go see somebody, then you can do it on your own.” I always say food first. And that's what Dr Ruscio,the functional medicine doctor that we saw in the Bay … that’s his stance, too. And I really still believe that. If people are, like, “I don't feel great,” or, “I can't poop,” or “I poop too much,” I always tell them a really great book to read is the The Paleo Cure by Chris Kresser. It's not preachy in my opinion. I sent it Becca when she was still a vegetarian. And I said, “Look, this book is not going to tell you to not be vegetarian. It’s just going to say: these are the foods that have these nutrients. These are the ones that are the most bio-available to your body.” And then it tells you how to do an elimination diet — and it's not as crazy as the ones that we started with. It essentially encourages Paleo to start, and then if you have issues beyond that, you can … But absolutely … just communicating with people that if you don't feel good, you can do something about it. The condition of being alive does not have to be uncomfortable or painful or emotionally unstable. And sometimes you might need a little science, as Becca told me once. And that's true. I'm not telling anybody to go off their depression medication.

Lauren: No, we love science.

Liz: Don’t get us started on that!

When we go to Western doctors and they’re, like, “We believe in science,” we’re, like, “So do we, b*tch, so don’t even get started on me!”

Becca: I actually I saw one super sh*tty doctor a couple of years ago when I was looking for a new neurologist after my old one retired. And he was so horrendous, I left him a one-star review on Yelp with a very, very long review. Then a follow-up to that … once I found doctors that I liked, I was thinking I don’t want to really leave that review here because I don't know if it's allowed with Yelp. I wasn't sure. So I just wrote, “Hey, you can feel free to send me an email if you want information.” I stillget weekly emails! I had to turn on my Yelp notifications because I don't have any notifications on on my phone so I don't get distracted by it. And I randomly went on to look at a restaurant one day — and I just had an inbox full of a year-and-a-half’s worth of messages! I felt sobad. I wrote back to all those people, saying, “Oh my God, I'm so sorry!” And I sent them all this information. But all of these people … they're just searching, they’re grasping at straws. They're searching for themselves, for their kids, for their partners. Trying to find a doctor who will listen to them.

Lauren: Well, that's how a lot of people end up with functional medicine practitioners, right? Because the common experience from what I hear, and even from the functional medicine practitioners themselves when the patients get to them, is that people have really frustrating experiences in the “disease model” of the US healthcare system, and are seeking more.

Liz: They’ve “tried everything” and that’s how they end up there.

Lauren: And it would be great if functional medicine were considered something worth covering by insurance.

Liz: Some of them are.

Becca: What’s crazy is, my doctor … actually she’s an MD and she was covered by my insurance (before I switched to Kaiser), so that is why I started going to her, really.

Liz Beebe Leroy

Liz: The doctor I got chelation from — her fee was covered by my insurance, but none of those methods were covered because they're not FDA-approved. Which, you know …it’s up to you to decide where you're at with that. But I think that it's actually really telling that a lot of functional medicine doctors and nutritionists, and health practitioners in this functional world, were sick themselves often, and are healed. That’s one of the reasons I started the blog — you get inspired when you reclaim your health by your own advocacy, in your own power, when someone else wouldn't necessarily listen to you.

Becca: The reason Dr. Ruscio found the parasite in me and it was one of the first things he tested for, is because he had a parasite. That’s what made him switch to functional medicine.

Liz: He went to school to be a physical therapist or some sort of sports medicine doctor, and he got so sick and almost died from, like,an amoeba. And then he became a functional medicine doctor. He is one of the leading functional medicine doctors now in the United States.

It's really inspiring to have people that are going to listen to me and who are doing this because they’re actually passionate about it, instead of, “I went to medical school to be a doctor.” Not that you're not passionate about medicine, but I know how much nutritional information you get in school, and I know that a lot of the things that I have done … and that Becca has done … most doctors don't believe work.

Luckily when I had insurance through work, so that it was a little bit more affordable, and I was able to go to a gastroenterologist for my endoscopy and colonoscopy … and I was floored when I went in there … because I just chose the closest doctor to work/that was in Beverly Hills … I love the way we choose by appearance … I was after location so I went to the nicest office that I could find. And I went in and told them, ‘Here’s all the stuff that I've done’ … and the fact that they knew what a low-FODMAP diet was. They were, like, “Oh my God, you're so much better than most of our patients. They won't change their diet at all.” If these people have Crohn's and ulcerative colitis and they're not even willing to consider changing their diet, it’s literally what's making you sick every day! If you have celiac disease and you stop eating gluten, you will recover. With nutrient-dense food, and if you remove the offending substance, you will get better.

Lauren: And it’s very interesting that you're also saying that when you met compassion, you paid that forward.

Liz: Well, it's inspiring.

Lauren: And we're talking about invisible illness now and you guys talk about it in what you're doing. Is talking the cure? How do we make people more aware of these conditions and that people are suffering in silence in a lot of cases?

Becca: I think talking about it, because you have to remove the stigma around it. And you have to remove the idea that because someone looks healthy, they are healthy. And conversely, that because someone looks whatever your idea of “unhealthy” is, that they're unhealthy. Both of those are bullsh*t assumptions.

Liz: And I think information is the cure, changing your perspective, broadening your options.

Lauren: Whether that's on social media, through community … whatever works for you.

Liz:  Yeah, through books, through trying different diets, through information from a health blog website like MindBodyGreen. There's information out there that is free and if you can surround yourself with that … even just looking up your symptoms. But not on WedMD! People have found my blog just because everything that I've gone through I've documented. Like, “This is how I feel right now. This is how I felt when it was over. I'm so stoked. This is working.” And later I’ll say, “Cool. That worked a little bit, but also now I'm dealing with this.” So like, there's no one answer. And if you can put out that information or have conversations with people about their perceptions, it's that collective information that we're all sharing.

Lauren: And being proactive in your search for information and knowing you have to be your first advocate.

Becca: Yes, always. Whenever I respond to those Yelp people who write to me, it's always, “I'm sending you all the healthful vibes, and just continue to be your own best advocate. Because you are going to encounter these sh*tty doctors along the way, but you have to know how you feel. You are the only person who can advocate for yourself.”

Lauren: And you guys are offering all that information for free, right? That’s some good karma you’ve got coming back to you!

Becca: Well, we’ve spent a sh*tload of money!

Liz: Also … If we can help anybody else spend half of what we spent. I mean, I get heated as you can tell from this whole conversation because I'm angry that I was allowed to get into this situation. That people…when I didn't know better when I was young. And even when my parents were my advocates … you're going to trust someone who has a medical degree. So the fact that I'm in this scenario, and still in my ‘30s, and I have to defend the choices that I make. Like, “I know what food makes me feel good. I'm going to do this even though it's uncomfortable for you.” Or, it's weird that I brought my own food somewhere?  That’s fine, you can go do what you feel comfortable with. I’m going to do what's best for me because I've learned what happens if I don't  — the hard way. Which is another reason why we share the information. And just a side note, when you do get very zealous, it can be annoying to people!! When you try to help them  … and they aren't asking for it. And I’m swallowing so much of my own bullsh*t right now because it took, like, 10 years for me to not tell everyone how to do everything. Not just about food. So the blog is a very productive and healthy way for me to share my experience in an honest way. If people want information, I’m, like, “Cool, cool, cool … here's my blog.” If you want to read about it, I'm more than happy to help you. I'm here to give you resources, I'll send you doctors, I'll get you in touch with my friends, wherever you are in the country I'll help you find one … because I'm not a doctor, but I will help you listen to yourself and stand up for yourself. It's just important and it's avoidable for the most part, in a lot of cases. You can do a lot for yourself before you need to really get in there with the Western medicine… area …

Lauren: Or, maybe even just not get in there, is what you’re saying? (laughs)

Liz: Sometimes you have to work with them depending on your financial situation.

Becca: If we're talking about invisible illness, then obviously, issues like depression … I’m never going to tell anybody to go get off their meds. Western medicine is going to serve you very well in that. We have done some really great research around serotonin and dopamine, and how body chemistry is working in different people. And what causes different psychological diseases. And yes, a lot of it can be linked to your gut — but I just want to clarify that, too.

Liz: And that's your personal preference. Like my personal preference, I want to be on as little pharmaceuticals as possible. Because what pharmaceuticals are is just a higher, more concentrated dose of compounds that are found in nature, that we know to help support these systems in our body. And the way that you take them is by overloading your liver’s ability to process it so that it works. I'm not saying to go off anti-depressants either. But I was also depressed. I also had panic attacks and anxiety, and they went away when I changed my diet. Do I still get stressed? Yes, of course. Are there other methods now that I use personally, whether it's a supplement, an herbal supplement, an herbal tincture? Those things can be really helpful if you get yourself to a point where you are not debilitated by your mental health.

Becca: I really like this a lot … when I was starting mold protocol, and I was getting super exhausted again because I had just been through the mercury/lead stuff — which had destroyed me — my functional medicine doctor said, “Have you ever thought about going back on Nuvigil?” And I was, like, “I don't want to put a Band-Aid on it and try and make it seem like I'm better. I want to know when my symptoms get better. I want to be able to feel that.”

And she said, “Yes, and a Band-Aid is better than a gaping wound. If we're doing the work. So if we can remove some of the stress and exhaustion that is pushing you down into this hole, and make you able to go to work and function in your daily life, then let's just put you back on medicine for a little while. Your body will be working to heal itself, and then we can remove that and see if you're feeling better. And if you're not, well, we can keep going down that thing. But let's just give you a little bit of a Band-Aid cure.”

Because I was just getting so exhausted that I was getting to a point where it was difficult to function and then you don't have the energy to make healthful food choices. You don't have the energy to move your body. You don't have the energy to get up and go to work. You don't have the energy to respond appropriately to your partner or your friends. And you start getting snippy. And yeah, it starts affecting everything. So I think that there is a place for that and to recognize where that line exists for you. I am currently back on my speed. I don't want to be on it forever. And I want a very small dose. And I only take it on days, like this morning, where I felt like there was a magnet holding me to my bed. I was like, I will not be able to get up.

Liz: Exactly. That's the main point.

Listen to your body. Be your own health advocate.

If I don't take probiotics, I contemplate suicide 80percent of the day. Becca was, like, “Er, gentle suggestion …maybe you should go back on anti-depressants. You know, pharmaceuticals aren't the villain.” Yeah, I know that something's out of whack for me because I feel this way, I'm not gonna do anything — but I am thinking about it a lot. And I deduced finally that it was: if I don't take probiotics all the time. After a couple of weeks, I started to be, like, what is the point of everything?

It's also important from my perspective, and in my opinion, to be politically active in this area. It is important to make sure that the people that represent us know that health care that encompasses things like this are covered, that it's affordable for people.

I'm still on a totally catastrophic insurance plan. It doesn't cover anything. And I'm in a band! I feel like $260 a month for insurance, which may not sound a lot to people … but let me tell you, when you're touring around the country, and you can't use it, when it's only for, like, if I get in a car accident. It's like just in case you won't get bankrupt. How is that helpful?! When we were going through this, none of the supplements were covered. Do you think that working on the road all the time, or when you do switch over to your creative career as your main thing — when that lovingly happens … sometimes those supplements can be $50, sometimes it's gonna be $300 a month for the next three months. That’s a lot of money! On top of the fact that you're spending more money on food that's higher quality — so your budget there is going up.

This stuff that is keeping us alive and healthy and productive in our country should not be bankrupting us, and it is. It is one of the main causes of bankrupting people — healthcare.

Becca: And I will go beyond healthcare and just say the food system, too. Trying to make sure that healthful food choices … and when I say healthful, I'm not trying to dictate what exactly people are eating … but just making sure that fresh produce and food without chemicals and preservatives and sugar and corn and soy in it is available to people. Because that's also what's causing so many problems. And the subsidies for corn and soybeans and all of that jazz … and all the money that the sugar industry sunk into making all of us believe that that was evil. And then sugar was fine until it destroyed us. You know …

Lauren: We’re reaping the rewards still.

Becca: We are! Yeah, so getting to politicians and representatives and making sure that they understand where we want our money to go is important.

Lauren: So I like to end with some top three lists … as everyone's probably getting used to at this point…

Liz: I’m scared of this part!

Lauren: No! This is the easy part! So do you guys each have top three tips for people who think they might have something off?  What are the top three things that you should go do right now?

Liz: Let’s go 1, 2, 3 at a time … my first go-to is always read this book: The Paleo Cure.  It used to be called The Personal Paleo Code and now it's called The Paleo Cure,by Chris Kresser. Again, it's not preachy, it's just super informative. It tells you how you absorb food. What's in it? What's bio-availability; what does that even mean? How to do an elimination diet. Because I do think food first, for my own personal opinion.  What's your first tip, Becca?

Becca: Well, I was going to say a blanket elimination diet of some sort. That depends on how you currently eat. If you’re a vegan, and you know you rely really heavily on fake processed meats or something like that, maybe just do all natural foods. I’m not going to say Whole30 is the answerfor people. But if you are a person who eats a lot of processed foods, maybe try that and see if that’s the first step. If you still feel crappy, see what else you like. Journal your food. I grew up doing Weight Watchers and writing down everything I ate. And so for a long time I was, like, ‘Oh, that's going to be so triggering for me’ to go back and really put me in that mindset. I know it's a little bit crazy … but I have an app that I started using that's just called YouAteIt’s like an intuitive eating app. You just take a picture of your food and you create a goal for yourself. It can be, like, 'I reduced bloating,’ or, ‘I didn’t vomit,’ or, ‘…poop today.’  Whatever your thing is, you just create that goal. And then you take a picture of your food and you just get to say whether the food was on your path or off of your path.

Liz: So it's not weight-loss motivated.

Lauren: I’m getting that app, like yesterday!

Becca: No, it’s: how did this make me feel? And that way I can go back and be, like, ‘Okay, I wasn't feeling great that day. What did I have?’ And without having to think … I had seven …

Lauren: Ice cream cones!

Becca: Yeah!

Liz: And for people who don’t like to journal or track … I don't f*cking know how big a cup is!

Becca: And when you want to just really listen to your body, you don't want to be worried about all of those other things that come with so much baggage — when you grow up in a diet-focused society.

Liz: And it can spread the wrong message. Whereas you're trying to deduce a symptom, as opposed to turning it into something else.

Becca: So for me … I'm sorry, this is a little bit of a tangent …

Lauren: Don't apologize for anything!

Becca: So I have a lot of sugar problems. I know that I don't deal well with sugar. Within five minutes of eating sweets of any sort, I start burping.

Liz: Guys, we all have sugar problems!

Lauren: I was about to say the same thing! For us, it’s an addiction problem.

Liz: It’s literally cocaine for your brain.

Becca: So I went to this esthetician that Beebe saw and then sent me to: Solyn Skin Fitness.

Liz: She’s amazing…she’s in Burbank.

Becca: So when we had our consult, before she gave me my first facial, she asked if I had any skin issues. And I told her, “I generally have pretty good skin. I’m not too worried about it. I don’t really break out or anything like that.” And she asked, “Do you ever get dry?” And I was, like, “Yeah, actually, the only thing that ever really happens, which is super weird, is my nose will just like peel off in a sheet — like, a whole sheet of my nose will come off at once.” And she said, “Oh, that's glycation. It's a sugar allergy.” And I was, like, “Oh, I don't actually really eat sugar. I'm really sensitive to it.” And then she said, “ … and also nightshades.”

Lauren: She’s a guru!

Liz: We give her the stamp of approval: safe for your face!

Lauren:And both your faces look really great!

Becca: It was insane. I started noticing that when that was happening, it was always when I would wake up on a wedding day. I would be at the rehearsal dinner and I would drink too much rose, have a slice of cake … and then I would wake up on the day of the wedding and my whole nose would peel off! Why? Because I ate sugar at a time when I don't normally have it. And I had thought it was stress; I thought it was all these other things. And so then I wasn't really having the sugar at all and it was still happening sometimes. And she was, like, “Nightshades.” So then I started realizing that if I had a tomato-heavy meal or anything like that …

Lauren: So really, no pasta. Stop with the pasta.

Becca: Yeah, I know.

I went to Italy last year and I ate all the food there. Nothing bothered me!

Lauren:  Because it’s processed differently.

Liz: But if I go anywhere I still can't eat anything! Which is just to say … everybody's body is different.

Lauren: And beautiful!

Liz: It is good to mention, though … here’s another way for you to be your own health advocate … your skincare is tied to the rest of your body's health. So what we are used to in Western medicine is that you go to this doctor for your brain, you go to this doctor for your butt, you go to this doctor for your guts … but your butt and your guts are connected! Why are you seeing two different doctors? Yeah. Hemorrhoids in general are connected to other things.

Lauren: You’re not just talking about yourself, right?! (laughs)

Liz: No! Actually poopingis so the opposite of my problem.

I was always like, ‘Diarrhea of the mouth, diarrhea of the butt!’

Like, I’m super pregnant and my skin is super f*ckedup and I poop all the time. Now I poop once a day and it's perfect. It's like a poster poop.

Becca: She once called me into a bathroom to look at her poop!

Liz: No, no, that was when I was doing a parasite cleanse!

Becca: It was to look at a parasite she’d pooped out, yes.

Liz: It's important to talk about this stuff! Whether it's your relationship, whether it's your health … we aren't going to learn if we don't communicate with one another. If everything is a dirty little secret, we're never going to get better. So yes, pay attention to your skincare.

Do you have eczema on your legs? Guess what, eczema is an autoimmune disorder.

So if you're not taking care of the rest of your body, symptoms are going to happen. I'm with Becca on the body positivity, and I totally try to be a fat activist ally — because I don't really consider myself a full activist; there are people doing a ton more work than I am. And I will say for myself thatweight gain, in a certain way, can be a symptom for me. Can be. So the size that your body is where you feel great, you feel healthy — that’s amazing. I'm not judging anybody's weight or size and telling them what's right or wrong. But if you're consistent with your diet, like we were talking about earlier, and you are gaining weight sort of unexpectedly or losing weight unexpectedly … those are things to pay attention to. And they may or may not be symptoms. That’s for you to decide and potentially your health care provider if you trust them. But just keep that stuff in mind.

There are signs; your body will tell you. Your body will always be telling you. We’ve just got to figure out how to listen.

Becca: Yeah and I will say my number two tip is honestly, just talking about it. I did an Instagram story before I went in to get a colonoscopy, which was just like super fun when you didn’t expect to have one for another 20 years. So I said, “Okay, so we're going to talk about butt stuff!” I just did a little story … “I was not really sure what to expect but here's what I've been going through with the mold, and here’s my family history, whatever.” And I got so many messages! Like, “Oh my God, I had to have one last year and no one told me what to expect.” “Do this, do this. Do this." “When you drink the thing, make sure you put it in the fridge and drink it only when it's cold because it's super gross at room temperature.

It just makes it easier if you have a community. And you can create a community if you just talk to people.

Lauren: I understand with colonoscopies, too … if you have a twisted colon, it will wake you up from your anesthesia.

Liz: I had to pay out-of-pocket for an MRI because I had to drink barium solution to make sure I didn't have diverticulitis. No, I'm sorry, that was a different thing … it was to make sure I didn't have fissures. So that they don't hurt you or run into things or get lost.

Lauren: Or hurt you so bad that you are woken up from the anesthesia.

Liz: But I had to drink the whole thing and have them take a picture before they even did it!

Lauren: But also if you had woken up from the anesthesia in searing pain …

Liz: No, not great! Yeah, that would have been worse. Yes.

Lauren: All right, number three …

Liz: Wait, I’m doing a different number two so that people get more things!  I would say number two is setting yourself up for success. Because you can try and make a community and maybe you're in a friend group or a family group and no one believes you. Or they don't experience it themselves and so they just don't “believe” … when health is a religion or something. But that's all fine. You need to do you.

So if you know what's right for you and you need to not go to social events for a little while … or you need to bring food with you everywhere … or do other things that people consider weird … do you, because you are the only person that knows exactly what's right for your body.

And you can get information from doctors and from a community of other people, and that's amazing, and I'm always open to trying things (I’m trying so hard not trying to be right all the time — that’s just like a personality flaw right about now. So much trial and error!). If you can just set yourself up for success in that way and give yourself a break — because it's not going to be perfect. And again, that's just going to make things worse for you if you're stressed about never messing up, whatever that means.

Lauren: If you can't give yourself permission, then Beebe does.

Liz: Yes, if you like to be bossed, give me a call.

Becca: She’s very bossy!

Liz: Health Dominatrix! Oh my God, that’s a great title. I can put it on my website!

Lauren: Yes, you could start a whole new new category of business! All right, number three …

Becca: Number three. I would say — and I think these two are entirely combined — sleep (it is vitally important to healing your body, and so allowing yourself that time). And on that...

Self-care is not selfish. Rest is a weapon.

Lauren: Ooh! Rest is a weapon!

Becca: I know! My therapist, was, “It's very telling about your personality that you have to use such violent imagery about rest.”

Liz: But you could say that rest is a tool.

Lauren: No, it’s a weapon for dismantling the patriarchy. I really like where you're going with this!

Liz: For the more passive people, would you say that stress management is included in that self-care bubble?

Becca: Of course, yeah.

Lauren: That’s a gentle reminder, Becca!

Becca: Just trusting yourself that self-care is not a selfish thing had to be a mantra of mine for a while — because, as a people pleaser; as someone who's constantly doing, doing, doing — to take time for myself felt so selfish. And to turn down social events or whatever it was, or work, to take care of me, can be super hard.

Lauren: Boundaries are beautiful!

Liz: If you are feeling that way and you're doing a lot of things because you should, you might want to look up Codependent No MoreIt’s sort of the bible on codependency, because guess what, guys … I found out this year that even super-independent people can be codependent as f*ck. If you’re, ‘I work so hard. I get my value in my life. I'm earning my place on this planet.’ Or, ‘I feel like I can't say no to things’ … that’s something you might want to look into. It's unlocked a lot of things for me this year. It's helped me set boundaries that I have literally been unable to do before. I'd be the kind of person who would think, ‘Why can’t I let go of this? I cannot let go of this.’ Oh, because it’s actually a thing that you absorbed from people raising you as you were growing up, a societal thing. So yeah, that maybe can be helpful for some people. It’s helpful for me. My number three would be to seek help outside of yourself as your own advocate when you need it. So if you if you’re, like, ‘I can't do another f*ckingdiet on my own. I just can’t.’ Get help. Find someone. If you can't find someone, reach out to people like us. People like us can help you find people. There are plenty of functional medicine practitioners, plenty of nutritional consultants. autoimmunewellness.com is one that really helped me. Mickey Trescott wrote The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. There are websites where you can start. We work with people like you. We can lead you to the right doctor.

There are people that are willing to help you so that you don't have to do this on your own. Because sometimes even just taking sandwiches out of your diet seems like too much to do.

Lauren: Or even get a friend who's maybe gung-ho and happy to make a lifestyle change, too. Who can do it with you and support you, and be, like, “You can't have that ice cream … or whatever.”

Liz: Yeah, or “Call me if you want ice cream, or whatever…” Because I was really fortunate, and I’m sure Becca feels this way, too … we found this when we were relatively young and relatively still healthy enough to make these changes on our own. We don't yet have families of our own. I can't imagine doing all the stuff that I've done while raising a child. But you can still do it, too. There’s @Zesty_Ginger on Instagram, which is a great example… Megan and Dr. Alex run Zesty Ginger, and Megan has two kids and is constantly still dealing with stuff. Literally this week they moved into a new house, and she’s, like, “Our new house has mold and we're living in a van in the driveway! We can't move in yet because I'm not going to expose my family because I don't know if they have the gene, they might have the mold illness gene.” That's a lot of work, a mental and emotional load, all the time. So just get help when you need it so that you aren't overwhelmed … and then on top of that, have stress more than you already do.

Lauren: Which, as we know, is the thing that makes things worse.

Liz: The silent killer!

Liz Beebe Becca Murray

Lauren: Okay, so another top three list … do you guys cheat on treatment and lifestyle changes? And so what's your favorite guilty pleasure or secret indulgence? Is it that ice cream??

Liz: We don’t use the word ‘cheat’.

Lauren: What’s your word instead of ‘cheat’?

Liz: Actually, I say I'm either eating something that I know is unhealthful for me, or I'm having an indulgence. Because for me, doing the good/bad, sort of tied into the diet culture, would be really yo-yo and I'd have a lot of shame. Just imagine what is happening to the inside of your body if you're into energy work at all.

If you are eating something that you think is bad, and then you feel shame about that, you're literally ingesting shame and then trying to feed your body with it. That's not going to help you.

So when I have an indulgence now, I would say … because I have a different reaction to sugar than Becca does … sugar will feed anything growing inside, so right now I'm battling candida because I just spent the past six months eating and drinking my feelings. Because touring is hard, you guys! I’m so grateful and very blessed. And also, I love being home, too! So yeah, I had a lot of ice cream, a lot of drinks, and so my candida took back over and now I’m getting that back in check. And I had a really great time over those six months! So my indulgences would be ice cream, alcohol… Having alcohol at all for me is an indulgence; I just feel better when I don't have it. But I love it so much! I will sometimes have french fries. And I also love popcorn, and I will eat blueberries by the pound.

Lauren: What’s wrong with that … you can’t eat blueberries?

Liz: Well, eating a pound of blueberries is not a great idea. That’s a lot of fruit. That's a lot of natural sugars. Natural sugars and processed sugars are still sugars. While one is more healthful than the other if you tolerate those kinds of fruits, I was still having too much of it. Not great. Especially if you’re yeast-y like me. What about you, Becca?

Becca: Er, wine. My boyfriend and I we really like wine. And it’s a difficult thing to cut out. I can be doing so well on everything, and I'll just make the decision that we're not buying wine for the house. So if it's not there, we can’t have it. And I'll literally be editing photos … and I just want a glass beside me to sip on …

Lauren: There's an app for that. I’ve started getting wine delivered. That’s how boozy I’ve become!

Becca: Oh yeah, I know that option exists but it is very dangerous. And so I just try to be mindful about my choices. We even did baby steps! But now, if we open a bottle at home, instead of having it sit next to us while we're watching TV or something and then just constantly refilling our glass, we pour a glass and keep the bottle in the kitchen. Then you have to get up and walk across the house to get back to the bottle to refill your glass …  and pause the show. It's like an interruption. So you're consciously indulging. Because if it’s there, you’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll have one more, thank you.’ Your kitchen is right there, Beebe. Ours, you can't see it. So it feels further away.

Lauren: So wine. What else?

Liz: You love cheese.

Becca: Oh my God, I love cheese.

Lauren: Yeah! Her charcuterie plates are amazing!

Liz: Guys, look this up … she takes photos of her spreads.

Lauren:Really amazing. They are artworks!

Becca: It is one of my favorite things. Creating a table-size cheese platter. Yeah, it’s real pretty. And quite delicious. Yes. Do love cheese. And on that front, pizza is just … I think pizza and tacos are two of my favorite things. But tacos, depending on how they're cooked, I can tolerate. I can have corn tortillas as long as they're good, and I can have either the vegetables or good quality meat. Oh no, you know what I would say my other indulgence is? Because with my nightshade issue … peppers and any sort of spicy food. I cannot live without spice. I don't really eat tomatoes. I don't eat eggplant. All of that stuff has been really easy for me, but to cut out peppers is very, very hard for me.

Liz: You probably have more foods that you can list but I wanted to circle back to wine really quickly.

For any listeners that are, like, “I love wine, but I feel like shit when I drink it.” Something that was huge for Becca and I, over the past five years, was discovering that the commercial wine industry is just like a food pyramid.

A lot of wines, especially in California … you have to be really careful because they add up to 72 “generally regarded as safe chemicals” that people like us that are sensitive …

Lauren: Oh God, you’re rocking my world!

Liz:I'm going to fix, it though …listen to this … If you love wine and you sometimes feel hung over on one or two glasses, there's a company called DryFarmWines.com. They extensively test every wine they sell. It is not for the faint of budget, but if you like wine and you care about your health it’s an investment that we both did for a short period. We live in Los Angeles and now within walking distance we have two wine shops that carry biodynamic organic natural wines. So it's really easy for us to find ones now where they know: who was growing it; how it's been grown; what's the soil? Do they do irrigation? Is it actually dry farmed? That company was a super game changer for me. So if that's something that you're worried about losing, or you're starting to say, ‘I love wine but I'm starting to hate it’ … I would caution against most delivery services, but that one is delivery and probably healthful for you!

Becca: Yes, Will and I made the switch at home to organic wines, and biodynamic when we can. Will was at the point where he couldn't have a glass of red wine without having a splitting headache, or feeling super hung-over. And we made the switch, and it’s crazy how much it has changed his relationship with wine.

Liz: I have an immediate histamine reaction. My nose will get so itchy. I don't have traditional allergies; I've got all these other gifts instead. So that's one way that I can tell. And I actually think that, deducing with context clues, that it has something to do with the candida because fermented drinks will feed yeast. So if you are yeast-y, stick with tequila or vodka for now, depending on what you work best with. Or, you know, abstain for just a minute. That’s one suggestion. And then beyond that, if you want to get really crazy, start going through your medicine cabinet and your cleaning products, you guys, because anything you put on your face … if you wouldn't eat it, don't put on your skin. Because within 30 seconds it's absorbed into your body. But that's a really advanced thing.

Lauren: Also do that with your cleaning products.

Liz: Yes, but start with what you're ingesting and then if you're ready to graduate, you can change out the cleaning products. Otherwise it can seem like everything all at once.

Lauren: Okay. And last question: what are your top three (this is our third top three list) comfort activities when you have symptoms acting up?

Liz: Sleeping!

Lauren: That was so hard for you!

Liz: I love sleeping; I love bed!

Becca: Yeah, yeah, sleeping is good! I really like it when my bed is made …

Lauren: …with crisp sheets.

Becca: Yeah, a fresh bed, when it's soft and when I need that disco nap so I can keep going, I will take that. I will make sure that everything is bright around me and put on my eye mask. And that way, I can do my 20 minutes or 45 minutes or whatever I set for myself. And then when I wake up, I take off the mask and everything is, like, ‘Okay, I'm awake now,’ as opposed to, ‘Oh, it's still dark!’ And I’ll sleep for 12 hours. Yeah, if you need to sleep, then do that stuff.

Liz: If you want to nurture your circadian rhythm, you can look into blue light glasses at night. Maybe put them on when you're making dinner so that when you watch that program before you go to bed, your body will still allow itself to start to feel tired — instead of being woken up by the TV or the computer, whatever it is that you're doing. And if you get tired, maybe try not watching the next episode on Netflix. Thank you very much for suggesting it for me.

Lauren: I feel asleep watching a show last night!

Liz: It’s so enticing; I want to do it, too! And I've learned that … and this does not happen on the road, you guys … but if I can go to bed around 10, I will wake up around 8:30 naturally. And that's also coming off the road. Coming off the road, when I find I’m home for a longer period of time, it's more like 7:30, naturally. And I’m, like, ‘Oh it’s snowing and all the birds are singing!’ But if I'm on the road, I will need more sleep because my bedtime is changing a bunch. And so oftentimes, if you can't stand the schedule, then you'll need more sleep. But just give your body sleep when it needs it. That's like, so delicious. What's your number two, Becca?

Becca: Um, I'm just gonna say … face masks. A decent sheet mask or something like that.

Lauren: Do you have a favorite one?

Becca: My favorite combo is, I will use that Indian healing cleanse. You’re supposed to mix it with apple cider vinegar and a little water. I once burned my face off with a homemade facial thanks to the wonderful friend sitting next to me.

Liz: But don’t say what it was, because it’s actually okay.

Becca: No, I won’t say anything about it! But I’m afraid to put acidic things on my face, so I just don't put apple cider vinegar in it. I just put water. But it sucks my pores clean, and also drives everything out to the max. So then I put on the snail sheet mask — it’s snail and bee or something like that …

Liz: Oh my God, that's our new company!

Becca: …and it's so hydrating! It's so hydrating that oftentimes I feel like if I just put it on cleansed skin, it's almost too much for my skin. But because I’m sucking everything out, it's like my, one-two punch. I love it.

Liz: If we're talking about skincare … because I was gonna say bone broth, but I'll save that for number three. Just to tag onto skincare stuff, I'm obsessed with the company Fatco because their oil cleansing system and their face cream is actually Paleo, but I literally feel like I'm feeding my face. And I have seen really dramatic results — after changing my diet and lifestyle with using those kinds of products rather than what I used to do. For a long time, I was using Dr. Bronner's just to strip makeup off my face, but castile oils because …castile, right, that’s how you say it …?

Lauren: Castile soap, yes.

Liz: I also used to use Trader Joe's Desert Essence Tea Tree soap … whatever. It's a similar kind of product. It's actually super drying and stripping for your skin. Whereas, because your skin has oil, cleansing with oil is super feeding. It feeds your skin a lot and it also removes the dirty oil and replaces it with clean oil. And then you just wipe it off. And slather on their moisturizer, which includes beef tallow, so it's not vegan, and it is totally amazing. So I like to bring that to Wi Spa, the Korean spa … put it on my face in the steam room.

Lauren: That’s lovely. I actually like Dr. Bronner's for dishwashing.

Liz: I have their cleanser. So I use their soap in the shower, and then I also use their cleanser as just soap and house soap.

Lauren: That’s great.

Liz: Yeah, it's awesome. It smells good. And it really is the only dish soap that's “healthy” for you. That really washes your f*ckin’ dishes.

Becca: So these are helpful items. But what are your comfort things? Sweating!

With my current energy levels, with the mold thing because of my detox pathways being blocked, my doctor actually prescribed non-exertional sweating.

Lauren: Infrared saunas?

Becca: Or just like going to the sauna at 24 Hour Fitness is fine, because I just really don't sweat very often. And she was, like, “That is an issue.” And now the last couple of days, I've been sweating a lot. And I was, like, ‘Oh, this is weird.’ But I feel like it's also good, because I think that things are moving? And I want to go back to yoga. There was a long time where I was doing a lot of yoga, and I like taking a little bit of a break; I feel like that's a nice thing to do for my body. But it's just like whatever your body's asking for. I like to go to acupuncture, cupping, moxa.

Lauren: What is moxa?

Becca: It’s this Chinese herb that they burn over your gut. But every time she does it, I get my period.

Lauren: Oh my God.

Becca: It does not matter if I had my period the week before. And I just got my IUD out recently; I had an IUD for the last five years. And so I had no period, or very irregular and very light if I got it at all. And every time I got moxa, I would get my period the next day. She actually asked me if I wanted to get it before I was going camping; I was leaving to go camping that day. And I went to get acupuncture in the morning and she asked me if I was going to get moxa, and I said, “No, I don’t think so, not this time!”

Lauren: That’s crazy!

Becca: Yeah, it’s nuts. But I just feel like anything that gets the circulation moving in your body and gets those juices flowing.

Liz: I was going to say … anything that puts you into rest and digest, that’s like parasympathetic. So whether that's acupuncture or yoga or detox sweating, or going to a spa, or sleeping or drinking bone broth.

Lauren: And wearing sleep masks at the same time!

Liz: Anything that is restorative, that’s not like Vegas for your insides.

Becca: It’s a fun weekend, but you can only do one night at this point!

Liz: A Caribbean beach, or Palm Springs, or a snowy evening by the fire … whatever gets you going. That would be number three. Just like anything where you want to be luxurious!

Becca: And this is like our people-pleasing nature answer … we must give all of the answers that might possibly apply to all of the people!

Liz: But it’s also ‘Choose Your own Adventure’!

Lauren: It is! Guys, that wraps it up for us. Thank you so much. This has been such an amazing talk, and I really hope that the listeners for this episode are going to get a lot of helpful information. And if they want to find you guys, what is the best way to do that?

Liz: You can find me at feelsgoodblog.com and on Instagram. I'm @BeebeJesus.

Becca: I am BeccaMurrayPhoto.com and @BeccaMurrayPhoto on Instagram.

Lauren: And you can also see Liz perform if you follow The Dustbowl Revival, so check ‘em out!

Liz Beebe Leroy Becca Murray Lauren Freedman


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