My Journey With Psoriasis

For 21 years I've struggled with an auto-immune skin disease called Psoriasis. As I write this, I'm happy to say I don't consider it a struggle anymore.

At this moment, my skin is 100 percent clear, and I now know how to control it and, more importantly, accept it, which are the two hardest things to do when dealing with any skin disease.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, Psoriasis is a condition where, instead of shedding normally about once a month when cells mature, the skin sheds rapidly every few days. The cells are shedding faster than the body can handle and, because the cells are unable to mature, you are left with layers of red, thick, scaly patches on your body that are itchy and downright unattractive!

Dr. Mark Hyman explains autoimmunity best in his blog: “Autoimmunity occurs when your immune system gets confused and your own tissue gets caught in the crossfire. Your body is designed to fight off harmful things like infections, toxins, allergens, or a stress response. Sometimes and for reasons not fully known, that immune army directs its hostile attack on your joints, brain, skin, and sometimes your whole body.”

Until you have a skin disease, you have no idea how devastating one can be for a person’s self-esteem—and I developed this embarrassing condition at 19, the ripe age of caring the most of what people think of you. Most of my young adult life was spent living a lie, trying to hide my condition as much as possible. When I reached my 30s and found the confidence to be more open with friends about what I was going through, their reactions were that of utter confusion.  They could not believe I had hidden my struggles and pain from them all these years. I had spent most of those 21 years visiting dermatologists and trying every steroid cream or ointment out there. I came very close to getting laser treatments, but they were too costly and time-consuming. They were all good band-aids, but I never realized there was a root cause I’d been unaware of all of these years—a cause that not one of my dermatologists ever told me about.

Curiously enough, it all started with my dog, Max. I was now in my mid-thirties and, at the time, Max was very ill. My vet had suggested I prepare healthy human food for him, such as organic animal protein, brown rice, sweet potatoes, veggies, fruit, and so on. She said that the organic/raw dog food I was buying for him (at $80/bag!) was basically leftover scraPs and that, because it was processed, we really didn’t know what was in it. I was so desperate to help little Max since he had a ton of medical issues, so I decided to put my resistance aside and make the effort for his sake.

Turns out, it wasn’t as hard or expensive as I had thought it would be. He certainly loved it! He actually drooled for the first time ever. Long story short, in just two and a half months, my sick little Max went from hardly walking to outright running. His joints were free of pain and his energy was through the roof. He lost nine pounds and was I able to take him off all of his medications. I didn’t know it at the time, but I added a few years onto Max’s life, and I guess you could say he saved mine.

Watching the changes in Max made me realize there was something much bigger going on, and I started looking for a connection between Psoriasis and what I was eating. Around this time, I also found a book called *Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative*, by Dr. John O. A. Pagano. This book focused on healing Psoriasis through a mostly alkaline diet. Since I was desperate to live a fuller life free of this distressing condition, I decided to commit to what he suggested.

Not coincidentally, his diet wasn’t that different from what I had been preparing for Max, mostly veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and some organic animal protein (which I chose to forgo). I ate nothing processed, no sugar except that from fruit, no red meat, no dairy, no coffee, and no alcohol. My biggest challenge was giving up cheese and coffee—and I’m sure most of you can relate to that! But after 10 months, my skin was 100 percent clear for the first time in almost 20 years!

Kim WeilerThis felt AMAZING! Not only did I feel amazing, but I got to wear t-shirts again! (It’s the little things.) At first, I was constantly looking at my elbows (my biggest problem area) in any mirror, checking for any indications of an outbreak. Gradually, as nothing appeared, I began to feel so empowered and I wanted to tell the world! I wanted to help others struggling out there unnecessarily. Did they know about this? Did they know you could heal yourself through nutrition? Why didn’t any of my doctors tell me about this? What took me so long to research this on my own instead of just listening to my doctors? I had so many questions!
This experience with Max that led me to research and then improve my diet was life-changing. But I didn’t realize one huge thing: how much love I would need to give to myself to maintain this lifestyle. I have slowly figured this out over the last four years. The first year of my journey, it was all about my symptoms and figuring out which inflammatory foods didn’t agree with me. It was also a lot of learning and gaining knowledge about what foods nourish our bodies and which don’t. It made me disgusted to realize I’d spent so much of my life consuming so much sugar and chemicals—everything from bagels to those artificial “sugar-free” sweeteners.

I felt obsessed during that first year, watching every topical documentary I could find, like *Food, Inc.*, *Hungry for Change*, and *Forks over Knives,* to reading every book about juicing and plant-based diets. I now had a new perspective on nutrition and I couldn’t look back: I knew too much! I told my family and friends about my new venture and they were all very supportive and excited about my progress.

I ate nothing processed.

No sugar except that from fruit, no red meat, no dairy, no coffee, and no alcohol. My biggest challenge was giving up cheese and coffee—and I’m sure most of you can relate to that!

I felt obsessed during that first year...

...watching every topical documentary I could find, like *Food, Inc.*, *Hungry for Change*, and *Forks over Knives,* to reading every book about juicing and plant-based diets.

I'm now in the fifth year of my journey.

I eat plant-based foods 80 percent of the time and allow myself to indulge in other foods the rest of the time.

The second year of my journey, I was Psoriasis free for the most part, but after falling in love and then having a bad accident requiring surgery, I fell completely off the alkaline wagon and had a rough time getting back on. A huge part of me didn’t care that I was now eating conveniently again (i.e., processed foods). Then, halfway through that second year, I noticed a few small spots reappear on my elbows. I was beyond disappointed, to say the least. I now realized there were consequences if I continued to eat like crap. I felt like all my hard work the first year had been for nothing. Seeing spots was devastating on so many levels. I went from feeling so empowered to feeling completely helpless. Every thought in my head and out of my mouth was negative about maintaining that lifestyle.

I am a big believer that we get what we expect, so I got what I expected alright!

Looking back, I am nothing but grateful that everything happened the way it did, because it taught me something huge that could never be taken away from me: I see my Psoriasis as an obstacle and obstacles are nothing but opportunities! I know that now.

I’m now in the fifth year of my journey. I eat plant-based foods 80 percent of the time and allow myself to indulge in other foods the rest of the time. I have had a huge epiphany this year that I believe changes everything: You have to give yourself a lot of love to heal anything!

Giving yourself love is everything, from waking up early to drink fresh lemon water, meditating, and exercising, to not allowing yourself to care about what people think when you don’t eat that cupcake at the office birthday party. It’s doing only what makes you feel happy no matter how selfish others may think you are. It’s saying no! It’s chasing your dreams and not allowing fear to get in your way. It’s surrounding yourself with only loving and supportive people. It’s being conscious enough to replace that negative thought with a positive one in any moment. It’s choosing to be present and live in this moment, right here, right now.

For half of my life, my focus was on those red, scaly patches on my skin and nothing else. Now, I wish I had taken my focus off my disease back then long enough to focus on all the things I’ve learned to be grateful for in life. This life we have is so beautiful, and if we focus on all the beautiful things we will notice a big shift in everything we experience that needs healing.

I’m happy to say that, now, I work on clearing my skin every day by eating nutritious foods and giving myself a lot of love! I try my best to live consciously, and I don’t allow it to get in the way of living a joyful, fun life. I am appreciative for my Psoriasis because it has guided me to a new chapter in my life where I get to help people. Because of it, I have transitioned out of a long TV and film career into what I believe is my true calling: becoming an integrative nutrition health coach, speaker and leader to help others with skin disorders. I couldn’t be more excited! Overcoming Psoriasis taught me how to love myself unconditionally and for that I am super grateful! Now, it is my mission to do the same for you. You deserve love and healing. Let me show you the way!

Ps – My little friend, Max, wherever you are on your next journey, thanks!