One month reward

It’s been one month since I started back at yoga and I’m so proud to share that I’ve not missed one class.  I’ve gone 5 times a week for one month!

This week is a little sketchy with the weather, so who knows if I will make it 5 times.  But I’m going to try if I can get out of my snowy driveway!

As a reward for my efforts, I’ve decided to get new yoga gear.  Each month, if I meet my goal, I get a new yoga item.  I’ve been using the same three pairs of shorts for almost a year, as well as tops.  While this may not seem like too long, it’s actually pretty gross when you sweat for 90 minutes several times a week and keep wearing the same thing over and over.  Add to that the type of clothing that you’re wearing and it just doesn’t make for long-term clothing survival.

I’ve come to realize that hot yoga clothing is made a certain way for a reason. The fabrication is very thin and wicking.  It’s definitely of higher quality.

And more expensive.

But, I made a deal with myself and as much as it pains me to pay $40 for a pair of shorts, I deserved it.

Last night I rewarded my one month efforts with a new pair of shorts.  They look like this:

Image

 

I love the company, Onzie, because they have one size fits all.  It’s refreshing not to lament over my hip size and whatnot.  I’ve seen ladies at the studio who are much larger than I am and much smaller than I am in these shorts.  And everyone looks amazing.

My goal is to have 5 new pairs by this summer, so I can rotate them each day!

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How to focus on food without becoming obsessed

Hi everyone!

It’s been a busy past week for me.  We’ve had a bit of a snowstorm in Virginia and that is very exciting (even for a Michigan girl who doesn’t think we really got a lot of snow).

In the past week, I’ve made a decision to severely adjust my diet to see how it affects my body’s healing process.  I was digging around my study and found a lot of my notes from the 17 day diet that I did a couple of years ago.  It made me think that I could probably adjust it to a new way of eating without grains and dairy.

That’s when I realized that I could do my own food cycling eating plan to see how my immune system responds.  Test out the inflammation response.  See if it helps with the weight gain.

This is all an experiment anyway, right?  I need to figure out what works best for me.  Just me.  I’m reading a lot of stuff on Hashi’s and hypothyroidism, insulin resistance, and Paleo eating.

While we all know I need structure, if it’s not right for me, I don’t want to follow a specific plan.  Yeah, I could go all auto-immune protocol, but is that necessary?  Do I really have issues with nightshades?  I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure I don’t.

So I’m making things up as I go.  Trusting my likely leaky gut (another post for another time).

I’m going to try the 17 day diet again, but I’m doing it a little differently.  Instead, I’m going to try modifying my way.

For 17 days, I am going to do the no fruit after 2pm deal, but I’m doing no grains and no dairy as well.  This means that I am pretty much lean meat (no red meat right now), fish (no shellfish right now), fruit before 2pm, and veggies.  I figure if I can eat really clean (no snacks with sugar, which is a great way to detox off my beloved meltaway candy  canes) and alcohol is off too, I can try to figure out my food culprits.

Here’s my meals for the this week, if you are curious.  While in theory this seems really restrictive, it’s actually not too bad.  Would I like some popcorn?  Sure, but not right now. I have amazing will-power, a finely tuned skill I’ve developed over the years.

On the way to work, I drink my 16 ounce hot water with 1/2 lemon.  This week I added in an additional water bottle with 2 tablespoons of the apple cider vinegar.  I’ve actually grown to like the taste.  It’s very refreshing.

Breakfast is 32 ounces of my green juice.  This includes a grocery bag full of kale, 2 green apples, a romaine wedge, a bunch of celery, cucumber, one lemon, parsley, and a big bit of ginger.  I fill up two 16 ounce water bottles and drink this throughout the morning at my desk.  It’s very filling and probably more nutritious than what 90% of my co-workers ate for breakfast today.  I’ve decided not to avoid goitrogens, as I mentioned before.  I believe that if I do have autoimmune leaky gut, then I’m likely not absorbing a lot of nutrients anyway so the juice is super good for me and I don’t care if people think I’m weird.  If I don’t get both bottles drank by lunch, I finish the second bottle with my lunch.

Lunch this week has been chili (no legumes this week).  Lots of lean ground turkey and chicken sausage with carrots, peppers, and onions.  I used a large can of crushed tomatoes and a lot of spicy diced tomatoes.  I would have added squash and stuff but I’m avoiding starchy veggies in the first 17 days.  I’ve been eating 2 cups of this at lunch.  It’s delicious.

Remember that I have to take afternoon pig now, so I set my alarm for 2 hours after lunch and then take the pig.  Then I wait another hour before I can eat again.  This three hours is pretty hard for me because I have to be really strict about my lunchtime and get all my food down so I can have a normal dinner/pre-yoga snack if I go to the 7pm class.

During the afternoon, I drink a lot of water (still getting in the 64 ounces a day at work).

For dinner this week, I’ve been doing a small tilapia filet (unbreaded) with olive oil and pepper.  Then, Kevin’s made me a huge batch of roasted veggies and garlic, which is a meal on it’s own.  He halves up brussel sprouts and chops in peppers, onions, and grape tomatoes.  Again, would put squash in this but not right now.

While this doesn’t seem like a lot of food, I’ve been doing really well with this.  I have done this now for three days and I’m feeling really good.  Sure, I would like a rice cracker or popcorn.  I’m probably detoxing from holiday sugar too.  But all in all, I feel really good.

Erin, one of the instructors at the yoga studio asked if I could tell any difference in my practice since going dairy or grain free.  I told her that I can’t tell any difference at all.

In two days, I’ve lost 2.5 pounds, which is obviously water weight.  But, this is encouraging because it’s feedback.

So how do I focus on food without becoming obsessed?  How does someone do this and weigh in every day?  How does this become normal?  These are all great questions that I’ve had from people in the past month.

The answer is simple.  It’s about the experiment.  It’s about rehabilitating myself from the inside out.  It’s about healing.  It’s about reclaiming my health.  It’s about finding out what makes me feel better and what hurts my body.

Unfortunately, inflammation for me isn’t an upset stomach.  I wish it was.  I’d probably do much better if I had a negative feedback loop.  But I don’t.

I have a silent autoimmune disease and a body that holds onto water when it’s inflamed.

So the experiment is like this:  I eat, I yoga, I try supplements.  I weigh in.  I notice if I lose weight.  I track.  I make notes about how I feel.

By making this all about my recovery, I don’t give food the power to make me feel like a failure if I don’t lose weight.  I avoid becoming obsessed about the scale when I weight myself every day because I look at it from a critical, almost scientific viewpoint.  It’s data.

I have to admit, this seems very contrary to what most people would think is healthy.  Throw away the scale!  Love what you’ve got.  Embrace the curves and throw all worry about the numbers out the window.

I wish I could.  Oh, how I wish I could.

But I can’t.  I have to continue this process for my health.  To reclaim some sense of normalcy.

I’m doing this because I DO love what I’ve got.  If I didn’t love my body, I would not be going through this crazy process of reclaiming my health.  Because for me, the weight isn’t normal.  It’s a warning sign.  It’s my body’s way of telling me that it’s sick and stressed.

Will I ever be able to do dairy again?  Maybe.  If I do, it’s probably going to be goat cheese (which I love).

Will I be able to do gluten again?  Not really.  This isn’t even on my radar anymore.

Will I be able to do other grains, like corn, rice, etc.?  Probably.  I plan to experiment when I’ve had some time of avoidance and can properly assess any reactions to it.

Will I eat fruit again after 2pm?  Sure!  But not right now while I’m trying to get this all under control.  You better believe it will be by the time cherries come in season again.  I am a fool for a bowl full of cherries after yoga class.

What makes all of this different this time around? I’ve asked myself this since I saw Dr. Gent a couple of weeks ago.  Why go through all of this?  Why not just take the pig and wait it out?

Because deep down, I believe we all know when our bodies aren’t right.  And I know mine is not.

I didn’t go through all of the trouble last year finding Dr. Gent to be a passive participant in my health.  I really, really want to be responsible for my recovery.

I want to inspire other people to feel like it’s okay to act a little cray cray when it comes to food.  For people to understand that just because I don’t eat the Standard American Diet that doesn’t mean that I’m headed down the street to Eating Disorder Lane.  I want to feel empowered by my decisions that I know are best for ME.

A few years ago, it was about The Book and the Bikini.  I didn’t know what was lurking around in my body.  I was just trying things to try things.

Now, I feel like I really have a purpose.  It’s kind of exciting.  I am planning my garden already specifically around the idea that I will be eating more veggies in the summer.  Instead of chips and salsa, I can easily have sliced peppers and salsa.  It’s just a vessel to get the salsa to my mouth, it crunches, and it’s tasty.  I plan to get more herbs in my garden in the hopes that I will become more adventurous with my recipes.  I want to try some heirloom tomatoes instead of the normal Beefsteak tomatoes that Kevin tries to grow every year.

I want to look at food from a perspective of curiosity, rather than punishment.  And that’s how you focus on food without becoming obsessed.

So come along with me, if you’d like.  Feel free to ask me questions.  I won’t get offended. I want to share.

Hopefully, it gets you thinking about your own meals.

After all, if you aren’t outside your comfort zone, you really don’t progress in life, right?

Update on my January doctor visit and how I’m surviving Bikram yoga

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to update you all on my January visit with Dr. Gent!  So sorry!

So I am pretty much seeing him once a month now.  Last week was my third visit.  I see him, wait four weeks for blood work and then seen him the following week. That makes a visit every 5 weeks.

We had a great visit.  I told him that I feel like in the last few weeks, I’ve really turned a corner in my recovery.  I’m getting through the entire morning and am now feeling energetic through lunch.  I can get to about 1:30-2:30 before I “hit the wall”, depending on when I take my morning pig.  He said that he could tell I felt better and asked for any other improvements that I’ve noticed.

I told him that I just felt happier.  Not that I was depressed before, maybe it’s that I don’t feel as anxious.  No, not anxious, unsettled.  I always felt unsettled.  I’m feeling very peaceful lately, which is nice.  He seemed very pleased about that.  I also told him that I’m not having the ringing in my ears as much and the headaches.  I’ve also become considerably better with my “brain fog” or word finding.  I’m using less and less Post-It notes around my office for reminders, so that is a definite improvement.  I still have my days where I can’t seem to get the words out, but it’s a LOT better.  I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be in meetings with leadership and feel like a total idiot because you can’t articulate clearly.  I’m also getting better about not falling asleep at the wheel when I’m driving.

He did an examination and declared that he felt we were getting really close to my ideal dosage.  He checked my tongue, which wasn’t swollen this time.  He also noted that my eyebrows have grown back.  I told him that I’ve had some people tell me that my face doesn’t look as swollen, even though I’m STILL gaining weight.  He assured me that the weight would be the last to go and just to be patient.

We briefly discussed my swelling and he asked if I was still gluten and dairy free, which I assured him I’ve been very compliant.  He doubled my diuretic and said that I must be still pretty inflamed so we would keep an eye on it.  I haven’t been able to get my rings on for 10 days now.  I had a couple of days where I could get them on, then it’s too much and I have to really struggle to get them off in the middle of the morning.

He suggested that we increase my dose by 1/4 grain but to take the additional dose in the afternoon.  I told him I didn’t do well splitting the 3/4 grain, so he said to keep that all in the morning.  I’m on day 5 of the increase and I’m just not sure if I notice a difference yet.  It’s maddening because I have to eat lunch, set my alarm for 2 hours, take the pill, wait another hour before I can eat anything.  I’m not absolutely positive that I’ve had a boost in the afternoon with my energy yet, but I do understand that it can take a month or so for your body to assimilate the rise in medication.

I briefly mentioned my desire to increase the progesterone, which he agreed needed attention but he wanted to wait another month.  I get it, he wants to see how the increase in pig goes.  We also discussed my 100 point cholesterol drop in December, which was very good.  He wants me to continue the Red Rice Yeast extract.

I told him that I recently decided to add a probiotic to help with the poo.  I am still taking the magnesium citrate every night, but as we know, hypo patients don’t poop a lot so I need all the help I can get.  He said that was a good idea and that hopefully once my thyroid is optimized, things will improve there.  As a side note, it’s a little difficult to find probiotics that are dairy and gluten free AND soy free.

On a whim, I also started taking apple cider vinegar in the morning, as I recently discovered that many Hashi and hypo patients also have problems with absorption of medication.  Apparently, many people have had success with apple cider vinegar (ACV).  Every morning on the way to work, I usually have a coffee mug full of hot water and the juice of a lemon. Then, I also drink a 16 ounce bottle of water.  This week, I’ve added two tablespoons of ACV to the bottled water.  It doesn’t taste great but it hasn’t made me feel worse.  Some people swear by taking this dose three times a day.  Of course, there are old wive’s tales about the benefits of ACV, but I’m not really interested in any of that.  I just am doing it for the digestive/absorption help.  I discovered it is important to use the Bragg’s brand, which is organic/raw/unfiltered.  It has the “mother” in it, which is the protein molecule strand that appears like a cloudy sludge in the bottle.  Just shake it up beforehand.   Because it is acidic, it’s good for Ph balance too.  And, I didn’t know this, it is a good source of potassium so that must be why people say it helps with aches and pains.

So that is my doctor update.  Onto the yoga.

Three weeks ago, I decided to go back to the studio.  I had discussed this with Dr. Gent in December when I saw him and we agreed that I was walking a fine line of needing to get active again but also not wanting to overdo it and cause a flare.  He told me at that point he didn’t feel comfortable with me doing more than 5 minutes of cardio at a time, which of course, I practically cried over as I explained that I needed to get my weight under control.  But I got his point, I am a sick person and I can’t over do it.

I asked if I could do yoga, which he agreed was a good idea.  He told me to sit my ass down if it got to be too much.  I agreed.

So I hemmed and hawwed about it, finally deciding that I just needed to suck it up and get my mat to the studio.  I made sure to go in on a day that Becka was teaching, so I could give her the skinny on my recovery.  She was so happy to see me. It felt good to be back.

My first day back was December 23, almost 4 months since my last visit on September 4.  You better believe I was worried.

It went surprisingly well!  I couldn’t believe it.  Granted, I’m moving almost 25 pounds more skin around from July, which is an odd sensation, but I only sat down one time.  And, I discovered that week that I wasn’t doing my “cheat” modification of grounding my foot into the mat on triangle pose.  I was able to tighten my quad and keep it there on the floor.  Another benefit of the pig?  I had mentioned before that I found research showing that untreated thyroid disorders can lead to muscular issues, so I was really irritated when I realized that I could have probably avoided all of the PT if I had been treated appropriately all along.

But then I wouldn’t have met my beloved Cori, so I won’t be too irritated.  I will take my year and a half for gimpy, just for her.

I digress.

So I made a decision to go 5 times a week.  Yes, I know, it seems extreme. But, I feel great.  I’m not having the muscle spasms like I was during the fall semester.  My knee isn’t really bothering me like it was before.  I’m getting stronger and stronger.  It’s really, really weird.

The studio is doing a January challenge! I groaned when Becka announced it after Christmas, because you all know that I would have immediately signed up for a 30 day challenge.  But, I had to practice some restraint and humility.  Then, she said that the challenge was whatever you wanted it to be.  One day a week or every day.  Totally up to you.

I struggled with myself.  I’d just done 5 days during the week of Christmas.  Could I keep it up when school started back up?  I stared at the calendar she gave me for several minutes, weighing my options and having a stern talk with myself.

Finally, I took a leap of faith and wrote down 5 days on it, not knowing if I would be able to do it.

Happily, I have to report that I have done two weeks now and have kept my end of the deal I made with myself!

I’m going to class, completely at peace with where I’m at.  Sure, I can’t do half of the things I could do in July, like Standing Head to Knee.  I can’t even grab my foot.  But, I’m there and I’m making an effort to smile about it.

In fact, Becka and another instructor commented last week that I always look so happy in class.  I told them that I have a choice and I choose to be kind to myself in class.  So I smile at myself in the mirror, I smile when I go into savasana, I smile when I’m on my stomach waiting for the next pose on floor series.  Then, Becka said, you may not be where you were but your form is just impeccable.  That was the best compliment because it told me that I was still on my A game in class and even though I wasn’t getting the depth, I was doing everything right to be sure I was doing the posture correctly.  I laughed and said that was great for a Type A crazy machine like me to hear and she said, no not that.  She said, you have a beautiful practice with excellent form.  It’s a joy to watch.

(sniffle)

In short, I’m 100% back on the mat.  I may be fatter, less bendy, and overly concerned with how my yoga shorts fit, but I’m walking in and giving my best.

Two months on the pig: what blood work tells me

Hello again!

I received my New Years Eve lab tests today, so I wanted to share what a little over two months on the pig has done for me.

When I saw my PCP in September, my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was 3.75.  While this is in the “normal” range, it’s not in the optimal range.  Most functional practitioners try to go for a 1.0-2.0 range.  In November, after a month on the pig, my TSH dropped to 2.15 at 1/2 grain.  Now, after a few weeks on 3/4 grain, my TSH tested at 1.59!

I’m so pleased to see these two months of test results because it means that the pig really is helping me.  I don’t think I’m at my optimal level yet for me, so I will be pushing for a full grain next week when I see my doctor again.  I can get to about 2:30 in the afternoon and then my energy goes way down again.  I’m getting there though!

During my appointment last month, my doctor was very concerned about my cholesterol, which had gone from 295 in August to 370!  He thinks it was an inflammation response to my body adjusting to going off meds and starting the pig, but just to be sure, he put me on some red rice yeast extract in December.  I have been taking it for a month, testing it out to see if I could control my numbers without going on Lipitor or Crestor.  I am happy to report that my overall cholesterol dropped in one month to 277!  That is almost 100 points!  My triglycerides went from 177 to 135 and my HDL went from 107 to 81.  I’m shocked.

When I go to see Dr. Gent next week, I plan to ask about the low progesterone again.  He mentioned it was on the low end, so I’ve been researching some natural progesterone cream.  I’d rather do that than a synthetic progestin, but I’ll see what he says.  I have heard that the natural ones also help your body to make DHEA, so that is good too.

I’m really feeling like I’ve turned a corner in the last couple of weeks since I started taking the 3/4 grain.  I know I’m on the right track, but I’m not *quite* there yet.  It gives me hope though that better things are waiting for me when I’m optimized.

 

Why I don’t do New Year’s resolutions: 2nd annual declaration

For those of you who followed my blog last year, I gave up resolutions in 2013.  You can read about it here.

Instead, I like to make a statement.  A declaration, if you will.  This year, I declare to stop worrying about being being skinny and having less wrinkles. Focus on being an active participant in my own wellness and be kind to myself and others. Encourage positivity around me and support the people I care about to do the same.

Listen, we all have drama.  It’s easy to get caught up in major life issues.

However.

We all have a choice.  We have a choice to be happy.  To rise above our circumstances.  To understand why people come and go out of our lives.  To choose to not be a victim to our circumstances.

Do I have bad days?  Sure, we all do.  The difference is that I really spent a lot of time last year not making that the norm.  I firmly believe this is why I finally was able to assert myself after 10 years of failed medical appointments and get a diagnosis.

So I’m continuing the same declaration into 2014.  Embracing the change in my life while being fully present.

I’m also happy to report that I made the decision to go back to Bikram yoga last week.  I have officially been to 7 classes in the past two weeks.  I’m pretty happy about it. When I have some more time, I’ll write about entering the studio after a four month hiatus, which is a crazy thing all on it’s own.

But until then, my lovelies, embrace the positive around you.  If there isn’t any, make some for yourself!