Ode de Skunk

Introducing Guest Blogger for Loving the Journey and my beloved sister, Kelsey Pray!

Hello dear readers of Loving the Journey! My sister, Aubree, asked me to guest blog this week and I happily accepted! We both grew up with a love for writing and expressing ourselves in some creative way. In fact Aubree was my first inspiration when it came to writing music. I am a Singer/songwriter and Music teacher. From 2009-2014 I was a touring and performing musician. You can check out my blog. Dear Indie Girl, here. I remember starting to write because Aubree was writing songs and she wanted me to sing with her. And being the blessed copycat I was in those days, I wanted to do everything I saw my older sister doing!

In October 2012 after my second album release and tour of my solo career, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. In fact the doctor told me it could be Colitis or Crohns. They caught it early so sometimes they can’t tell which is which until it gets bad enough.

The doctor sent me home with some samples to try to see if it improved my symptoms which at the time were all varieties of disgusting. I’d bloat up so much that it would look like I was a couple of months pregnant. This would usually accompany abdominal pains, gas, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation. Yes, you can have diarrhea and constipation at the same time! Which is loads of fun when you’re on tour, let me tell you!

Anyway, that night I tried the medication for the first time. In the instructions that came with this drug that is meant to help deal with digestion problems, oddly one of the side effects listed is… digestion problems. I read carefully with furrowed brow the words “May make symptoms worse”. Oh great. That’s just what I need, I thought.

The next morning as my husband rolled over to give me a morning kiss and snuggle, he was met with a skunk smell wafting from under the sheets. I awoke to “THAT IS NOT NORMAL!”

Confused and disoriented, I thought, Why does my pillow smell like a skunk?
“Was that me?!!!” I asked looking at James.
“It wasn’t me and it’s coming from under the covers.”
“I’m never taking those pills again.”

That was the moment I decided I was going to seek treatment for UC with diet and natural medicine. I’d like to tell you that I never had problems again, but that would be a lie. It’s been a long road to healing. BUT, I will tell you that I never woke up with skunk gas again. And I think that’s saying something.

So I poured myself into research to find an Elimination diet to determine my trigger foods with the help of my nurse mother-in-law. We found an extensive elimination diet from http://www.nourishingmeals.com/. Ali Segersten and Tom Malterre wrote a great book called The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. They guide the reader through whole food basics and in the back of the book is the elimination diet.


This was an eye opening experience. At the end of the elimination diet I discovered that my system was so sensitive that most food I reintroduced brought back my symptoms within a day. So I continued researching.

This is when I discovered the GAPS diet. Also very extensive, but for those sufferers of autoimmune diseases who don’t want to be on medication the rest of their lives, well worth it!

The GAPS diet is, like I mentioned, for autoimmune diseases like Crohns, Colitis, and even Autism! In fact the author of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS), Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride created this diet to help her son who was Autistic. That’s right. WAS Autistic. After this extensive healing process, her son functions as a normal person!

Gut and Psychology Syndrome

So, what is the GAPS diet? It is a diet that eliminates processed foods, all forms of sugar except raw organic honey, and uses old-fashioned cooking methods like homemade broth and soups along with a high quality probiotic to heal the gut. The main concept being, that most illness starts in the gut. Including diseases that affect brain function (Autism, Schizophrenia, and more). You can find a detailed explanation on the GAPS website, http://gapsdiet.com/.

For one and a half years I was on the GAPS diet and fought through much temptation, and many set backs to stick to the plan. I am happy to say that now, two years later, I am off the GAPS diet because I don’t need it anymore. My digestion is better than ever, and I am able to add more and more varieties of food back into my diet. I can even go out to eat on occasion without having a reaction! If you’ve suffered from food sensitivities and allergies, you know how exciting that is!

In my experience with food sensitivities, I have more than a few nuggets of wisdom to pass on, but here are the basics:

  • Whenever possible, buy local organic food. Develop a relationship with local farmers who sell at Farmer’s Markets in your area. Ask them any and all questions about their food, so you’re sure you know what you’re eating.
  • Avoid processed, sugary foods like the plague. Even gluten-free food that is processed is not necessarily healthy. It’s just made without gluten which is a step in the right direction, but will not help you lose weight or see the bigger health benefits you may be looking for. The best and most nutritious gluten-free food is homemade from scratch.
  • Make real food from scratch. It’s ALWAYS the healthiest and least expensive option for you and your family.
  • Probiotics are your friend! The best sources are food based. You can find them in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Eat them daily.
  • Avoid fad diets. They can help you to lose a lot of weight but don’t educate you on truly healthy habits. As soon as you go off the diet you will gain all the weight back and then some (The GAPS diet is not a weight loss program nor a fad diet. No one should try the GAPS diet unless they are truly sick and need intense healing).
  • Find a Naturopath you can trust. My Naturopath, Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, at Elder & Sage in Grand Rapids, MI was my biggest cheerleader (next to my husband) and guide through my experience with the GAPS diet. She is GAPS certified so she knew how to walk me through it and help me with any set backs (and there were a few). I would totally recommend finding a Naturopath who will listen to you and help you find the right diet and supplements to help you find true healing.
  • Prayer. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14. This is not placed last on the list because it is least important, but because it is most important and should be a first, middle, and last resort to any illness or problem.

That’s it! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about skunk gas and whole foods, and I pray you find healthy options that work for you and your family!

You can check out my blog at www.dearindiegirl.wordpress.com 

Kelsey Pray

Turning up the heat!

I’m celebrating today because I have lost 6.25 lbs in the last 3 weeks! Woo-hoo!  Okay, so I still have a long way to go, but I have to set up little victories and rewards for myself as I go to keep myself motivated 🙂 I think at -20lbs I will be buying new boots. I need them anyways and I need some motivation to get me there, right?

I would like to thank God for pushing me and speaking his good word into my heart to keep going!    Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I would also like to thank Serene Allison and Pearle Barrett for creating the Trim Healthy Mama book and meal plan – see their website HERE. My hubby and I will be having the Skinny Chocolate recipe for Valentines instead of the store bought  chocolates! I would also like to thank my awesome hubby for following along with the THM meals with me so that I can keep up with this and have some support!

Listen to the song above for some inspiration if you are stuck in a rutt of being overweight like I have been for a long time!

A few make or break moments that I have had:

Whenever I was tempted to stop running at the gym I would make a deal with myself that I could make it 1 more minute – I remember a saying from when I was in Volleyball in High School : “I can do anything for 60 seconds”

Whenever I was tempted to “cheat”, I made a Fat Stripping Frappa, Chocomocho shake, or Cottage Berry Whip – sweet and tasty and all good for me on the THM plan!

Good luck on your own health and fitness journey and tell me how things are going for you!



The Slow Girl

The slow girl in class:
I attend a Zumba class 1-2 times a week and we have a few regulars, but every now and then, some newbies get started. Usually they quit after it gets hard or just after a few weeks of giving it a try. One time we had a girl in there that was trying really hard to get the movements down and she kept getting lost. The instructor tried to slow things down a bit so that she could catch up and get back in to the swing of things. I tend to not have patience on the inside even though I’m smiling and going with the flow on the outside.  So, inside I was getting frustrated because I knew this girl would probably quit in a week anyways and we were spending all of this extra time on some basic moves just for her.
At the end of the class , the girl came up to me and said “You give me such hope!” I asked her why. She said, “Every time I get down on myself for missing a step, I see you still going and I remember that you have been doing this for longer than I have and I just need to have patience and trust that practice will help me improve.”
Needless to say, I was incredibly humbled and felt rotten for my thoughts just moments before. How dare I look down on someone who is just trying to get in shape and needs a little extra practice.
Then I realized something even more humbling. This could be an analogy for my faith walk with Christ. Only this time, I am the slow girl who just can’t catch on to what I’m supposed to do. I keep stumbling, I keep making the wrong move, but then after awhile I start correcting it and improving when someone takes the time to slow down the pace and work with me on it. That someone is always God. He never shames me, never laughs at me, never tells me “If you don’t get it this time, I’m giving up on you!”. When I mess up, God calms my stressed out, hot mess of emotions and reminds me that I am not supposed to be perfect yet. He is slowly making me into just the right person that I am supposed to be. I will not reach perfection until Heaven. Until then, there will be many times when I am the “slow girl”. And if I happen to be good at something and catch on quickly, I should use that gift to reach out to the slow girls in class and help them instead of judging them. I am supposed to be an example of kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control! Why would I think for one minute that I can act like I’m better than someone?

Thank God I am not in charge of things around here!

1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”



The best Christian workout music!

My first 5K

Hi guys,

I have put together an awesome playlist of fun, pump-you-up, work out songs that I use personally. I think these will really help you when you don’t quite feel like working out and need some help finding motivation. This is me like every other day, so I understand!

Steady Beat songs to warm up with:

Good Morning: Mandisa

Heartbeat: Beckah Shae

No Limit: Beckah Shae

Stand: Beckah Shae

Rock What You Got: Superchick

Inspirational Lyrics and a great beat to get you through the tough parts:

Come Alive: Barlow Girl

Do Not Give Up: Beckah Shae

Gold: Beckah Shae

Incorruptible: Beckah Shae – favorite song for workouts!

No More: Beckah Shae

Turbo Style: Beckah Shae

We Are: Beckah Shae

What I’ve Overcome: Fireflight

Stronger (Regular or Movin Remix): Mandisa

Shackles: Mary Mary

I Will Not Be Moved: Natalie Grant

Soldiers: Out of Eden

Stand in the Rain: Superchic(k)

Not Done Yet: Superchic(k)

Get Up: Superchic(k)

Never Going Back to Okay: The Afters

Burn for You: Toby Mac

Get Back Up: Toby Mac

Fast and loud songs to really kick your own butt!:

Incorruptible: Beckah Shae – my all time favorite running song!

Music: Beckah Shae

Supernova: Beckah Shae

Gonna Make You Sweat: C+C Music Factory (okay, not a christian song, but it is appropriate:)

Manifesto (Running Mix): Christian Workout Hits: Running Workout

Fire In My Eyes: Fireflight

Stronger Than You Think: Fireflight

Unbreakable: Fireflight

Keep Goin’: Group 1 Crew

Movin: Group 1 Crew

Revolution: Kirk Franklin

Stomp: Kirk Franklin

Anticonformity: Krystal Meyers

Make Some Noise: Krystal Meyers

Move: Mercy Me

Shake: Mercy Me

Restart: Newsboys

One Girl Revolution: Superchic(k)

Cross the Line: Superchic(k)

Boomin’: Toby Mac

Catchafire: Toby Mac

Eye On It: Toby Mac

Funky Jesus Music: Toby Mac

Enjoy your workout and let me know if these songs keep you motivated!