A personal story on how we became “green”
Very often we get the question of why we are so radical brokkolinis. On that note, we thought we would share a bit of our separate, personal stories on how Radical Broccoli became what it is today, why we care about the planet, why we are total food geeks and keep a plant-based diet, why we are super curious about everything that can make you feel better and heal like crystals and superfoods. And last and probably most importantly – how we learned that the way we treat ourselves mirrors the way we treat our planet.
I am extremely uncomfortable with sharing, but I have thought about it for the last three years and decided that it would be a good exercise for me to share a little bit of my personal health story with you guys, especially if it can help some of you and maybe show why the way we treat ourselves affects the planet. My health journey changed when I started my master’s degree at Kings College in London when I was 23. I was one of five girls in the class, the youngest and most inexperienced, and was studying my ass off. I loved it, but it was insane. I was commuting one hour each way on a fully packed tube, was going out a lot in the evenings, and bought most of my meals on-the-go. After living there for six months, I experienced extreme stomach pain (to the extent that I had to lay down on the street), I was exhausted and I couldn’t recognize my body. I didn’t understand why I gained weight when I was seemingly healthy (I practically spent my free time at Wholefoods) and why my heart would not stop racing. I also had a weird rash all over my chest.
I went home to Oslo and I could not stop crying. My dad convinced me to take a month or two in Norway to calm down, which I did. Over the summer I began keeping the same routine every day and overall reduced my stress levels, and slowly but surely the symptoms disappeared and I tried to forget about it all. After I handed in my thesis, I went on vacation and everything was glory until I came home again, and my body collapsed. It was really scary, I went to the emergency room and different doctors but no one could find anything wrong. I had no clue what to tell my friends because I didn’t know what was going on, so I didn’t really tell people about it. Since doctors could not help at all I started looking for answers online. I found a book by Kris Carr, which became the start of a health journey.
I decided to go plant-based and remove as much toxins as possible through cleaning out my cosmetics and buying mostly organic products, because I understood that my body must have been completely toxic from the way I was previously living (we’re talking stuff that we are brought up to regard as normal – dairy products, tobacco, alcohol, meat, antibiotics, the pill). This is when Radical Broccoli was born, in 2015 – trying to figure out the food system and how to eat well.
Along with that came a massive research of how our current food production affects the earth, such as how farmers are working with huge amounts of toxins from non-organic farming, the harmful effects of meat production and factory farming for animals and the environment, and a whole range of other aspects of sustainability. My sister came home from an exchange in Singapore at this time and she thought I was nuts, but she joined the vegan diet and did lots of research to be supportive. It’s so funny to look back at the blog posts we made back then, we were really angry at the food system, and at the same time, we would die if anyone found out what we were blogging. haha.
Around six months later I felt amazing again and I started to be social and started a new job in the Armed Forces in Norway. I felt like hell was finally over and I was so happy! I just wanted to forget all about Radical Broccoli and focus on having fun and enjoying life, and for a whole year, I did just that. I had periods of more and less energy, but overall I felt good. With increased health, my expectations also skyrocketed, and my priorities changed from health to work and fun. Let’s just say I had another downturn because my body now sort of knew how it felt to be treated well, and then it was deprived of it all over again.
I got the diagnosis of “Chronic fatigue syndrome”, and I tried to make peace with that, but wasn’t convinced at all. Although, it was surely a relief to finally have an explanation for the outside world. The last six months of 2017 were hard for my body. At some level, I knew my body was speaking up because I was not living right or doing what I loved – and it had to tell me again and again and again.
After a LOT of soul-searching and a kick in the ass from my sister, I decided to quit my job and do something that was meaningful to me – that was the rebirth of Radical Broccoli!!
Fast forward until today, I’m still struggling more than I want to admit with my body. I am trying different methods to get better, and one of the biggest steps for me was doing a yoga teacher training. Not because of the title or the yoga actually, but in seeing how much I stress. I got a panic attack from just sitting on a mat and being still with my thoughts! I also learned that we store emotions in our body, and if we don’t let them out we become sick. I highly recommend these three weeks to anyone who is going through something and has a hard time being with themselves, undistracted.
I’ll begin with the end-ish, and work my way around. After hitting a big wall last year, I had to start digging into how I treated myself and my surroundings. I have dealt with a general anxiety disorder for almost a year (we’re talking about walking around with my dizzy head in a cloud, not recognizing myself in the mirror, feeling like I couldn’t see clearly, having zero energy, and being intensely afraid of disease or dying), and tried to understand what caused this and how to get past it. I have learned that the body speaks – at first with a low voice, and then, after being ignored consequently over time, it starts shouting. It’s easier to understand everything looking at it in retrospect, even though I still have some issues that feel unresolved.
So, back to the beginning, or at least the beginning of the major changes health-wise. Some months after I started studying Economics in Copenhagen in 2012, I began dealing with some health issues. My lifestyle was pretty much like this: I got up super early to go to the gym for a rough workout, followed by something between 8 and 11 hours straight in the library, where I spent half the time worrying that I wasn’t prepared for the next exam and half the time reading. I spiked my energy with coffee and tobacco (snus) and went out a lot on the weekends. I felt like I was eating healthy and doing lots of exercise, so I didn’t really see any reason for feeling bad. After a while, I started to feel insanely bloated throughout the day.
I went on exchange to Singapore, where I remember that my tummy got worse, and I suspected dairy to be part of the problem. I was also experiencing lots of weird fear for everything from heavy rain (super common in Singapore) to driving a car. I tried quitting all dairy products and soon felt a lot better with my stomach (even if my lab-test came out negative). Right after I moved back home, Anette had decided to go vegan overnight, and I thought she was the craziest ever but decided to join her to be supportive for a week or so. I practically went from having meat and dairy in every single meal, to completely clean up my diet in a few days, and I just felt SO gooood. I remember being very concerned with having the facts and the research straight, that everything I did was scientifically backed, even though the only proof you actually need is how you feel (easy to say now).
Soon after, I said to Anette that she should make a blog about her health journey, which turned out to be the birth of Radical Broccoli vol. 1.
After a while of maintaining a radically healthy diet – we’re talking all plant-based, organic, lots of superfoods, gluten-free (I thought I was healthy before but woaah), I felt beaming with energy, my skin was super clear, and my digestion was getting back to normal. But I didn’t feel like I had time to cook, and at least not to blog, as I had lots of reading to do and lots of things going on in my life. It was also feeling a bit like a weirdo.
During my master’s, I decided to go on another exchange – this time to Brazil. I had the time of my life at first, but my health was soon becoming the worst it had ever been. My stomach was constantly hurting, I looked pregnant every day, couldn’t wear any of my old clothes, and barely had the energy to do anything. I went to lots of doctors. The first one wa convinced that I was pregnant, and I cried for days until I got the blood test back. I visited specialists – an gastrointestinal specialist that diagnosed me with esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus) and an endocrinologist that was supposed to explain me something about why my cycle was so odd, but ended up giving me pills for anxiety (didn’t get a clue why?). In Rio, I had my first panic attack. It was the day after a night out, I went to school and then to the movies with my friends. After the movies, I felt a sting in my chest like we all do sometimes, and didn’t think more about it at first. All of a sudden, I felt numb in my hands and feet, and like my whole body was melting to the ground. We jumped in an Uber to go home, and I was certain we needed to go straight to the hospital since I was dying. My heart beat like crazy, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My two dear friends luckily kept calm and just took me home, and I went to bed but was up most of the night feeling my heart pounding so loud. The next day, I still had the same sensations and called my mom in Norway to explain. I also told her that my vision was blurry. My roommate decided to take me to the ER in Rio, and soon after I had all tests clear with no abnormalities, popped a valium (from the ER) and felt insanely good in a little buzz. My heart calmed down. They told me it was a panic attack, and I had no relation to that from before. Similar symptoms kept coming and going all until today, my body had some more panic attacks in store. A funny thing I noticed was that all symptoms would disappear when I was in the water, surfing, and then appear again immediately after.
I remember being on a date at one point shaking like a leaf and having to tell him about my situation because I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Haha poor guy.
After Rio, it’s been a bumpy road with testing different elimination diets, doctors, and cures. I got the “diagnosis” IBS as so many others, which is basically something doctors say when you have some typical symptoms. Things are gradually becoming so much better, especially after changing the way I regard working and becoming my own boss. I, unfortunately, had to say no to a very cool job offer and take some months completely off – which I spent in Portugal before Christmas. I also started working out differently, more low-impact training like yoga and pilates instead of pushing myself insanely hard like before, got my first appointment with a phycologist and started with meditation every day. I thought we intuitively knew how to breathe, but I have been breathing only in my throat for so long without noticing anything! I haven’t been prioritizing a really good diet until now the last weeks, it’s been pretty hectic starting a company – but now I’m SO motivated to get back in amazing health both mentally and physically.
The most important message from my journey is definitely that you have to listen when the body is acting, and everybody’s needs are different! Maybe a stable 9-4 life is perfect for you, it just wasn’t for me, and maybe yoga and meditation isn’t your thing. That doesn’t matter, as long as you respect yourself enough to treat yourself just as good as you would treat a little kiddo or the ones closest to you.
Our very best advice
It’s important for us to say that we would never go back and tell ourselves that we shouldn’t have partied so much or eaten differently than we did – that’s part of growing up and the student life, and we had so much fun! The problem as we see it today has been the amount of stress and pressure that we put on ourselves, the insane expectations, while also having a super intense social life, and all the toxins we have taken in overall – and on top of that doing something that you don’t really love!
Another huge lesson which is definitely part of the reason for our vision and mission with Radical Broccoli is that the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat our planet and surroundings are connected. When we feel good, we have extra energy for those around us, including animals and the ocean. Most of us have no clue how much toxins we eat, wear, drink and think, and that it’s not only hurting us but also the planet. Our mission is to change this and to make it easy, fun, and cool to be and do good. When you find your “thing” in life, everything will flow much easier, even though you might have to work through some old toxic from your past lifestyle.
Okay, so that was a lot of information. Hopefully, we can give you some good advice after going through some stuff:
- Think about how you can live closer to nature – by avoiding too much plastic and chemicals through non-organic food and products, but also toxic thoughts, relationships, and old patterns.
- The Epstein Barr Virus (mononucleosis) which we both had at some point the last years sometimes has a hard time leaving the body, and it can affect you a long time after you have had it. This is why it can be useful to do a detox ala Medical Medium.
- Always follow how you feel rather than putting all your trust in research reports and facts about what worked for others
- Adding lots of plants and superfoods to our diets has been the biggest change ever – when we stick to a radically good vegan diet with no sugar, gluten or processed food, little alcohol, and no coffee, things just change so much even though it feels like it’s taking forever to see real progress. It sounds hard for some, but having a hard time in your body is worse and it’s SO good for the planet.
- Explore – don’t take no for an answer when you know it is not right
- Physical symptoms can come from mental disturbances – for example anxiety can give you a headache, tight muscles and affect your vision
- If you haven’t gotten into meditation yet, this is a life-changer! We highly recommend the guided ones from Deepak Chopra and Oprah, or apps like Calm
- Ask yourself if you really love what you do
- Remember to trust that the body always wants to heal and feel good – it just sometimes needs a little help!
- And lastly – don’t be shy to reach out for help – to experts or to us if it can be useful for you :*
*Hoping that sharing is caring, and will now go back into shell*