Alex Mazzurco: My Gut Health Journey

My life changed drastically a year + a half ago… all because of poop. Yes, poop. Get used to it, we are going to talk about it a lot in this gut health post ; ).

I thought it all started when I didn’t poop for 13 days [yes nearly two weeks!]. But in reality, it started a year before that. Your body will start to give you signs when it has had enough, this was my sign. I was in the middle of my biggest competition prep ever, for The Arnold Ameture + I wasn’t going to let a little bit of backup stop me. That’s the problem when you’re competitive, driven + don’t like hearing “no.”

I didn’t stop for another 6 months — show after show I noticed more + more symptoms + I would just try more + more treatments. Colonics, colon cleanses, more cardio, supplements, aloe vera juice, celery juice, the list goes on [read more about my drinks here!]. But none of those gut health “treatments” were able to fix the psoriasis, cystic acne + my exhaustion.

I ended my season with an explosion… I exploded [or at least that’s what it felt like] the day before my last National show. I stepped on stage +10 pounds, holding water, backed up + looking roughly 4 months pregnant. I was embarrassed, ++ more importantly, I was in pain.

I went to the doctor + got all of my major organs checked out + left with an ulcer diagnosis [which I had had before + knew that this couldn’t be right].

When people hear others say, “I don’t eat gluten” or “I don’t eat dairy” or I don’t eat bacon” —  they often ask WHY?!, in shock, because these are things that taste really good. If you don’t have a true allergy, why not eat them?!

I used to have that mentality. Then, I was in severe pain.

I finally “got it” — I didn’t want to eat anything, let alone gluten, dairy or bacon. I know that is how I was able to make such a drastic shift in my mentality, diet + life [even while living with a man who eats 3 bowls of cereal a night…].

In addition to the pain, I put on 30 pounds in roughly three months, even while trying to reverse diet + track macros. My body was not only holding onto every little bit of food I was eating, it was holding onto nearly 10 pounds of inflammation. I didn’t realize that until after my elimination diet – I was gaining fat, but I looked so much smaller. I felt like I was deflating, I was no longer swollen + puffy, but the scale kept creeping up. I needed to put on weight to make my body feel safe, I needed calories to heal + I needed to rest.

Around the same time that all of my issues were coming to a head, so were a few other “fitness influencers” + I was able to put the pieces together.

I knew I had to advocate for myself + western medicine was not giving me the answers I needed. I found a company called BIOHM Health where I could order an at home stool test without a prescription. Through gut health research I knew that I likely had candida + immediately after Christmas I dove deep into a Candida specific elimination diet, that is when I saw the inflammation go down, no calorie counting no macro tracking — just eating on a very small food list. But I was still training relatively hard, which was putting stress on my body. I was forced to give up training for 3 months + only do yoga (link to yoga blog) with light walking.

As I began to heal + connect the dots, I realized that my skin issues, the exhaustion, the anxiety + depression were all linked to my gut, my microbiome. Did you know that all of these health problems can start in your gut?

The point is that our guts are now recognized as the control center of our body. If our gut health is off, we will likely begin to see a domino effect of symptoms that appear in other places of the body.

In a world of macros, #IIFYM, low calorie + fat free foods, pressure to work out everyday, #teamnodaysoff, to live our lives online staring at blue light all day long, + lathering ourselves in products + consuming foods that contain chemicals we are disrupting our hormones, gut health + natural bodily functions everyday.

I was anti-”woo woo,” until turning towards an all natural approach + eastern medicine healed me. There was no magic pill, prescription or workout that allowed me to heal my gut + then lose over 35 pounds this last year. It took a year of natural remedies, rest, slowing down + natural supplements, acupuncture, yoga, + IV vitamin therapy to heal. This wasn’t a quick fix, but it was the right fix.

I am grateful for my gut health, we’ve been through a lot, but I am now a better coach, healthy human + influencer because of it.

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