Caroline Renae was created during my studies at FIT in New York City as a space to share my thoughts on style and beauty. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of my favorite brands such as ASOS, Target and Ulta Beauty. My interests have since shifted. I will always have a spot in my heart for playing dress up and you’ll still be seeing fashion posts from me every so often! However I’ve found that fitness and a plant-based diet are what make my heart happy.
To give you a little history about my health, and myself, I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome in 2010, which had a debilitating effect on my life. POTS basically meant that when I switched from a seated position to standing, my heart would be 30 beats faster than it was supposed to. This would cause extreme lightheadedness and even fainting. Aside from my heartbeat not adjusting properly, I had stomach issues, frequent headaches and extreme fatigue. I spent the majority of my time in bed and often wasn’t able to make it to high school, and sometimes people took it as me being lazy.
I slowly began exercising and soon realized I was healing myself. I went from being bed-ridden to being able to run a mile in 7 minutes. I was the strongest I had ever been and made it through senior year with suppressed symptoms, almost as if I was in remission.
I then decided to move to New York to study Fashion Business Management at FIT. All went well for the first year, but come February 2015, I began struggling immensely. I was in serious pain, which equated to extreme fatigue. I spent all of my time in bed yet again, and realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish the semester. I gave my all, even to the point that I was in a wheelchair that I could barely push myself.
I moved out of New York, and back home with my parents. I felt as if I had failed myself; I felt hopeless. Nobody could provide a diagnosis or even lead me in a positive direction. Months went by and in September 2015, I ended up spending an entire week at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. I had tests from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. most days, which was exhausting.
Later that week, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. They recommended I go through the Mayo Pain Rehabilitation Program. I attended the 3-week PRC program at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, which forces all patients to taper off of any pain-related medication. I learned a bit from the program, but by no means did it fix me.
I returned home and ended up going on Lyrica, a common medication for Fibromyalgia. It helped me manage my pain and increased my activity levels significantly and still does to this day. Unfortunately, Lyrica caused my appetite to triple. I gained 25 pounds in about 8 months.
Long story short, (but not really), I increased my exercise and gradually transitioned to a vegan diet. This is what helped me lose those 25 pounds. I find that the way I eat helps minimize my symptoms. I’m incredibly inspired by those who live a holistic lifestyle, and am beginning to do so myself. Changing the way that I ate was very difficult. My main tribulation was my addiction to cheese. I had never eaten quinoa, chickpeas, kale, mushrooms or almond milk. Now, I love and truly enjoy all of these foods!
More than anything, I want to inspire others to take self-care seriously, whether it is related to nutrition, beauty or exercise.