Aside

You’re eating chia???

I’ve had a couple of people ask about the chia.  Yes, like the chia pet chia.   Ch-ch-ch-chia!

It’s delicious!

I’m adding in chia seeds to my diet for a few reasons.  First of all, it’s super high in Omega-3 and fiber.  Two things that I don’t get enough of because I don’t eat grains for the most part.

I did some research and chia actually comes from a plant in the mint family.  I had no idea!

In addition to the omega and fiber benefits, chia seeds are high in manganese and phosphorus, which are super important for your bones.  Because I don’t eat dairy, I need this.

I found this nutritional information:

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains…

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

The other good thing is that they are great for people with insulin issues because they are slow-digesting fiber.  That is good for maintaining even blood sugar.  

I prepare mine with almond milk, some vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of maple syrup.  I place them in a jar and then soak them overnight.  They get sort of this gelatin film over them and expand, so it turns into a pudding.  I usually stir it in the morning first thing and keep in the fridge for a lunchtime “dessert”.  On top goes a small handful of blueberries.

I’ve heard some people say they don’t like the slimy or jello texture that they get when wet, but I don’t mind it at all.

My photo attempts to capture this dish weren’t the prettiest, but that is life, right?  Sometimes tasty food isn’t the most photogenic.

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In a “health crisis”

Hi again!

I know many of you were wondering what the update is on my latest post.  I am happy to report that I saw my doctor in an “emergency” appointment last Friday to discuss my issues. I was really happy that he wanted to see me ASAP.

So when I saw him on Friday, I apologized profusely (of course I do this but there’s no reason for it) because I felt terrible about flipping out and sending my several-paragraphed 8 point font letter to him.

It turns out that I was RIGHT.  There was something wrong.  And he was so kind about it and reassured me that I wasn’t losing my mind.

Long story short, my TSH went up almost a full point and my iodine (which was never a problem before) had gone WAY down. Iodine is part of what makes up the thyroid hormones, which I didn’t know.  

My doctor also checked for my Hashimoto antibodies for the autoimmune, but he said that three weeks had passed since I started feeling bad so it wasn’t really a good marker of whether or not I was in an active flareup.

Regardless, he said, you are in a health crisis.  Your body is struggling to maintain normalcy and it’s losing. 

Wow.  To have it put like that, no wonder I feel like crap.  It is like a crisis.  

He upped the pig again, so now I’m taking a full grain in the morning and 3/4 of a grain after lunch.  I’m also now taking a kelp supplement, but it’s very specific dosing because you can overdose iodine and cause HYPERthyroid problems.  It’s a delicate balance.

Suffice it to say that I’ve been doing my fair share of moping over the past few days.  I’m frustrated because I feel like I’m back to square one in many respects.  I weighed in at 164.4 this morning, which is the highest I’ve ever weighed in my adult life.  My body is so inflamed, it’s bloated and I look a hot mess.  My August 2013 body has got nothing on this new, sick, crazy body.

So, here we go again, people.  This is the reality of autoimmune disease and hypothyroidism.  It’s a roller coaster ride of recovery and relapse.

Part of the issue is also exercise.  My doctor thinks I am overdoing the exercise, which is causing my autoimmune to flare.  Stress on the body causes this, and unfortunately, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between bad stress (like bad life issues or sickness) to good stress (like exercising more than one day in a row or for more than 15 minutes).

The challenge is that I need to ride the line between stressing my body for it to get better and stressing my body in the process so it says, no thank you, I think I will shut down now and send you into a tailspin.  

I’ve done a lot of reading and it’s discouraging to find that some people can’t even do more than 10 minutes at a time for just 2 days a week.

So, I have some decisions to make.  First of all, what to do with the exercise.  Then, how to manage the stress of exercise on my body in a positive way.

I’ve decided that for me, I just need to push through it.  But, this time, I’m going to try some counter-intuitive things.

First of all, I am going to change my diet to include more high-glycemic foods.  While this goes against my insulin issues that come with my crazy body, I think that I need to push some higher-nutrient foods like bananas.  I’ve been avoiding these for some time, but adding them in may help more than hurt. I am also going to remove some things that I hate to, like grass-fed butter, because that may even been hurting my no-dairy plan.  I had this in my diet for specific reasons, but it may be more inflammatory than good for me and I have to try that out.  

I have to look at this from a certain level of curiosity or I will lose my mind.  So that’s the plan.  Keep an open mind, try, push myself, and be kind to myself as I recover.  Doc said it would take some time to come out of the flare, so I’m trying to be patient.

Today, I completely changed my meals:

Breakfast: kale and banana smoothie with almond milk and lemon

Lunch: chili, almond milk chia seed pudding and blueberries (soaked overnight)

Snack: two hardboiled eggs with sea salt (no butter)

Dinner: Carrots, peppers, and hummus

 

I’m going to drag myself to Bikram yoga tonight because I feel like I just need to suck it up and do it.  I have to admit that I’m a little paranoid to go since I’m still recovering but my body hurts so much that I think the heat would help.  I may have mentioned this before, but it almost feels like I have the body aches from the flu, but no flu.

Will update on how it goes!

The highs and the lows of Hashimoto disease and hypothyroidism

It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted last and I am sad to report that things have not been going well.

I believe I’m in a flare right now.  I’ve been miserable for the past two weeks.  All of my early symptoms have returned, along with 10 pounds, which is really frustrating.  Rapid weight gain, body aches, hair falling out (including eyelashes), memory loss, problems with “word finding”, bloating, and extreme fatigue are all on my plate right now.

It’s amazing how the body can turn on you so quickly.  Suffice it to say that I’m just a little depressed and feeling really gross and ugly right now.  I know, it’s not good to be negative, but it’s been a really rough couple of weeks.

Living in a body that is out of control is not fun.  Trying to do things to make it right is a constant chore.  I’m realizing that this could be a lifelong struggle for me.

It got so bad that I even called my doctor to see what I could do.  Should I up my dose?  Just wait it out?  He hasn’t given me any idea of what I should do.  I don’t want to be a crazed maniac and call him every two hours and I certainly can’t jump in my car and drive almost three hours to see him.  

I have to get a grip.

I’ve elected to embrace the stance of patience with myself. I’m being patient with my body.  I’m not drastically changing the way I’m eating to try to lose weight that I’ve gained over two weeks.  I’m just eating the way I always do.  Juicing in the morning, lots of eggs for protein, and my usual chili for lunch.  Pushing the water, being kind and letting myself enjoy treats like any other normal person.

It’s just going to take time.

I have been frustrated because I’ve been so sore and tired that I haven’t exercised at all in the past two weeks.  It’s been a chore to just get out of bed in the morning.  This weekend, I need to sit down, make some decisions about how I want to handle exercise when I don’t feel good.  I am still struggling with figuring out whether or not I am causing flares by stressing my body or if that helps when I am flaring.  What do you do when the things that are supposed to make you better cause your body stress that can result in an autoimmune response?

As you can see, I am definitely still learning.  Practicing kindness with myself over the past 14 days has been a minute by minute struggle.  It’s hard to experience setbacks.  Voices in my head tell me that I’m lazy, fat, ugly, and doomed to be a sloth.  The mind is a dangerous place, my friends, when you feel like this.  It’s also very tiring to be positive all day around people when you just want to crawl into a ball and disappear.  

I almost didn’t post this because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to alarm people.  But this is the reality of living with these conditions.  

I scour the internet and find underground boards where people reach out and try to find others who understand what it means to suffer with an illness that doesn’t make you “look sick”.  But it’s hard to find. People don’t talk about autoimmune disease and thyroid disease enough.  It’s a shameful thing, a funny joke in many cases.  Oh, she’s fat, she must have a thyroid problem.  Maybe if she just eats less…  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen this online when people talk about celebrities.  It minimizes the truth of the experience for the person suffering.  It’s not cool.

So I’m being honest and putting my experience out there.  So people can learn and so if someone happens to stumble across my tiny blog that it’s a place to feel normal.

In the meanwhile, I will ride this low, knowing that the high will be coming back around again.  

Health update: optimized?

Hi everyone!

It’s been a couple of months, mostly because I’ve not had a lot to report on.  I actually had a really rough late winter.  During February and March I felt like I wasn’t getting any better.  In fact, when I saw Dr. Gent in March, I was really beginning to wonder what was going on because I felt so terrible.  We upped my dose again in April, so now I’m taking three pigs in the morning and three after lunch.  

In April, I felt fantastic.  Like a new person!  He thinks my thyroid may be optimized now, but we can’t know for sure. When I saw him a couple of weeks ago, we decided to try to keep my dose stabilized and not increase it.  I’m a little worried, but I’m willing to try it out! There have been some days where I’ve been exhausted and wondered if my dose should have been increased again.  Those have been really frustrating.

I’m not a big meme person, but this one is spot on…

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I know it seems dramatic, but it really is a different kind of tired.  It’s miserable.

I think for me, it’s even worse because of the Hashimotos.  I am still having a hard time learning if symptoms are thyroid or autoimmune.  I think that’s what makes it so frustrating.

But, on a positive note, I’ve decided to try incorporating Pilates into my exercise routine!  I’m doing some very light cardio a couple of days a week (10 minutes at a time, doctor’s orders), but nothing major.  I am attempting to avoid overloading my body and sending myself into a Hashi flare again like last summer.

So far, I’ve been doing about 30 minutes of Pilates every day, with one day off a week to rest.  I have learned the following things in the last 10 days of this experiment:

  1. My body is stronger than I think it is.  I am pretty much convinced now that my neuromuscular issues were thyroid related. 
  2. My body is weaker than I realized.  Not being able to do things for several years resulted in some very weak muscles.  I am literally working from the ground up on this, people.
  3. I have to force myself to exercise daily.  I’m walking a fine line of fear and determination.  I’m afraid to overdo it so I’m really prone to bow out of this if I’m feeling particularly tired.  I have done this a couple of times and then done the next day a double dose, which hasn’t been that bad.  I’ve started using a planner to schedule my yoga and Pilates workouts and that has helped.
  4. It’s going to take time and I need to be patient. I have really learned over the past couple of years, but really in the last six months that I am not like everyone else.  I can’t do a 90 day exercise and diet program and have a major transformation.  It’s going to be slow and steady wins the race for me.  

 

I figure I will start blogging about my routine, if you are all interested.  It will be a little more varied than last summer when I was just doing Bikram yoga.

I’m excited to see what the summer brings.  If I really am optimized, then I should be noticing some major changes in my health and fitness!

 

 

Update from my most recent doctor appointment

Hi all!
Last Friday I went to see my beloved Dr. Gent. It was a mess on the roads and I was pretty anxious because my test results hadn’t come in.
When I got there, I did my normal weigh-in and blood pressure check. The nurse was surprised to find that I’d lost 10 pounds since I saw them 5 weeks ago and my blood pressure is now 120/80. It’s still a little high for me, but it’s down 10 points on top and bottom numbers, so that is good.

We had a great appointment. He listened to my concerns about the afternoon dosing. He still thinks I’m working up to my optimal dose, so we upped it to 1/2 grain in the afternoon and kept my morning dose the same at 3/4 grain. He seemed pleased that I was being so compliant with my eating and suggested that I up my apple cider vinegar during the day. I need to remember to do that. It’s hard to keep track of things when I’ve got meetings and I’m running around everywhere. Sometimes, it’s a wonder I can get my afternoon dosing in.

I asked AGAIN about my progesterone levels being off because my period is still really messed up (sorry, TMI but I have to keep it real up in this piece). He knows I’m feeling really unbalanced but insists that I need to get my thyroid optimized before we mess with any other hormones in my body. I get it, but I’m tired of having cramps for 2 weeks straight.

In other news, Bikram yoga is going well. I’ve been doing good about going 4-5 times a week since my flare a couple of weeks ago. It’s amazing how crappy your body can feel for a week and then the next week, you’re a superstar in class. It’s liberating and humiliating all at the same time. I know the instructors don’t care, but I am incredibly sensitive to my performance in class because it’s a direct feedback on how my body is operating. I’ve really had to practice kindness and humility this month towards myself on the mat.

I have a lot going on at work and the 90 minutes in the hot room have been wonderful for me to shut down and not be worrying about things.
There’s been days where I’ve been so worn out from the office that I just want to drive home, crawl onto the couch, and cry into my hard boiled eggs because I’m so mentally spent. Forcing myself to go into the studio and focus on breathing, even if I need to lay down and just BE, has been really great for my stress levels. I just tell myself that being stressed is not good for my Hashi’s, so this is medicine.

I’m loving my new shorts that I got in January. I may be shallow, but a cute pair of side tie shorts with a fun pattern really make me happy. I also ditched the tank top a couple of weeks ago and started wearing my sports bra to class, which has made me a lot more comfortable. After a week, my self-loathing stopped and I am so much better with what I see in the mirror! I’ve got a long way to go but I’m committed to making the best choices for my health.

Health updates and how the new food plan is going

I have to be honest, it’s been a rough month for me!  I think I had a Hashi’s flare last week. It was really terrible, now that I know what I’m looking for.  I’ll get to that in a second.

For the past month, I’ve been taking a 1/4 pig after lunch (waiting 2 hours after eating).  I’m not really sure if it’s helping me.  I’m not sure if it’s that my body isn’t absorbing it as well as it does on an empty stomach first thing in the morning or if it’s just too low of a dose.  I see Dr. Gent on Friday so I plan to ask him then.  I just haven’t noticed a difference.

Anyway, last week I started having some of the earlier September 2013 symptoms: really tired, can’t concentrate, forgetting why I was walking out of my office as soon as I set foot in the hallway, word finding problems, etc.  What really made it worse was I was DRAGGING myself through yoga.  It literally was like my body would not move. 

The best way I can describe a Hashi flare (for me) is this…it’s a combination of two things.  You know when you take cold medicine, maybe Nyquil, and then the next day you are a zombie?  And then you know how when you are really sick, like the flu and you can’t move the limbs on your body because they feel heavy and you just can’t function your muscles?  It’s a combination of those two things for me.  It was really frustrating to experience this because I felt like I had really turned a corner in December and early January, but I guess this is a lifelong thing for me. 

What’s even stranger is that I am not sure what set it off because I feel just fine this week.  But, I did only go to yoga three times last week because I couldn’t bring myself to go in that room and sit down.  Becka said it would be okay to do that if I needed to, but I feel like such a slacker when I do.  This whole thing is very humbling for me.

Onto other news, I’m on Day 23 of my autommune-ish protocol eating experiment.  Recall I’ve removed all inflammatory foods, per Dr. Gent, like dairy, gluten, and all grains.  I also am not drinking any alcohol, even my beloved cider.

It was pretty rough at first because yoga is pretty intense and I didn’t have any starches for the first 17 days.  In the past week, I’ve introduced sweet potatoes every other day at lunch and that has gone really well.  I’m being really, really careful about my starches because some people have inflammation issues with that as well.

So I’ve been plugging away at it and now I’m down 8.8 pounds.  I weigh myself every day, track what I eat, what I drink, my supplements, my exercise.  I’ve got a little binder I carry around with me everywhere.  It pretty much is all consuming, but at least I’m getting somewhere!

 

An ode to my ladies

I’ve thought about doing this post for awhile because I always seem to have people ask me how I’m able to maintain such a busy life with working, teaching, 90 minute yoga classes at night (5 a week), and taking care of my mom.  Oh, and there is my own house and marriage to worry about.

I’m honestly not sure.  I just do it.

Then, the next statement is, well you must not have many friends, right?

I find this statement confusing to me because I didn’t know when it was expected for people to have a lot of friends.

I know, this seems odd.  I have a lot of people that I’m friends with and clearly I’m an extrovert.  I love people.

But I don’t know when having 559 friends on Facebook became the norm,  I have 154 and even that seems high to me.

I’ve discovered in my adult life that I prefer to have a lot of friends, but only a few people that I really spend time with.  Part of this IS because I have a crazy life that isn’t really normal.  I realized, for me, I do much better when I have a FEW people that I really nurture relationships with and create space for in my crowded world.

While this may seem snobby, I just don’t have time for juggling a lot of social engagements, for building relationships, etc.

So I allow few people in to my world and trust them with every fiber of my being.

This last week has been pretty rough for me (my cat died recently, weather sucks, I’m slugging my way through another inflammation diet, etc).  It’s times like this that I really appreciate those people.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my peeps around campus, Kevin’s gigging buddies, etc.  But you know when you’ve got a handful that are your “go to” people?  Those are the ones I’m grateful for, especially when I’m not my chipper self.

Without further ado, I give you an ode to my ladies.  My four chicas who I love dearly, all for a variety of reasons.  Meet my posse.

I will do this in order of how long I’ve known them, from oldest to most recent.  I’m going to put pictures in there that I think represent us best.

First is Annette.

 

annetteDitching the boys 

 

 

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Annual Black Friday tailgating in the Busch Gardens parking lot!

I have known Annette for over a decade. We met because her husband was taking drum set lessons from my husband.  His lesson was the last one of the day on Saturdays, so Annette and I would always be in the waiting room together.  One day, after many weeks of the same, we peeked at each other from atop our books (we happened to be reading the same thing) and started up a conversation.  I can’t remember what happened next and how we became friends, but I get a little crazy if I go more than a couple of weeks without seeing Annette.

I picked these photos because Annette is my great reminder to RELAX and not take life so seriously.  We both have ridiculously crazy lives, but she is my constant reminder to have a good time.  I love her because she is REAL with me and I can be the same way with her.  I look up to her immensely from a professional standpoint and I have learned a lot from her that I apply in my own workplace.  If I killed someone, Annette would help me bury the body.  We may not talk to each other for days on end, but when we get together, it’s “girl, you won’t believe the *&#@! I had to deal with this week”.   We complain, let it go, and move on.  There isn’t a time I see her that I don’t laugh hysterically about something.   That may or may not be because of our husbands’ behavior.

Bottom line: when my life feels ridiculous, Annette.  When I need to celebrate, Annette.

Next up is Gretchen.

576423_10100324828333547_244661316_nBesides Mr. Hall, my #1 fan

knittingKnitting in ‘da club!  

My bestie, Gretchen.  Where do I even begin?  I met Gretchen because we work at ODU and we have a mutual interest in crafting.  Knitting, at that point in time (5 years ago).  I showed up for a knitting group that Gretchen was running and we clicked.  Well, after we went out for Mexican across the street and found that we are both very messy eaters with a tendency to spill salsa on our fronts!

(As a side note, notice how swollen my face looks in the second photo?  This was in 2009, when I believe I was in an active flare with my Hashimoto’s, based on my medical records I pulled last year. I was maybe 30 pounds lighter than I am now, BUT I can see the inflammation now that I know what I’m looking for!)

Gretchen has literally been through it all with me.  House disasters, a doctoral program, dissertation meltdowns, family drama, work drama, health drama, you name it.  Gretchen is the one who will stop anything for a friend in need.  She is my cheerleader.  She challenges me to be better for myself and supports my decisions.  Gretchen and I may not actually SEE each other a lot, but we can run up some text messages!!!  Gretchen is my safe place.

Next up, Cori. It was hard for me to find a still photo of us because a lot of what I have are action shots or photos with her, me, and Megan (you will understand why in a second).

923500_10100517547088617_1880644863_n (2)Being silly, as usual

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Blanket sharing, because I’m pretty sure the concept of personal space doesn’t exist between us

Oh, Cori, my Cori.

We met under such stressful circumstances.  I had just been kicked out of 3 months of PT at Bon Secours with a slap on the wrist for “too much complaining about traveling pain and mysterious inabilities to make progress” and was desperate for someone to take me seriously.  I think I was also in the tail end of a Hashi flare.  It was a bad, bad time in my life.  I don’t even know how she tolerated me for a year and a half.  That was October of 2011 and she was assigned to me by a colleague who thought that she would be the right type of personality to manage my *ehem* “difficult” situation.

Somewhere along the way, Cori and I became kindreds.  That’s what I call it.  Like finish each other’s thoughts, anticipate what the other is going to say.  It all started with the comment, “we are kindred spirits with supreme ideas”.  Exactly.

I don’t even know how to describe my relationship with Cori.  She’s my sounding board, my cheerleader, my sister from another mister.  While she and Mr. Hall share more tendencies towards a free-spirit attitude, she and I are just easy.  There’s no drama-mama with Cori.  You know how you feel when it’s the holidays and you have family over to play games or something like that?  Then, afterwards, you are all hanging out on the couch?  That content feeling?  That’s my kindred.  We come from very different paths but it works.  Alike but not alike, different but not really different.  It’s awesome.

 

And finally, Megan.  Megan is Cori’s sister-in-law, so that’s how I met her.  A lot of my photos are of the three of us.

ladiesKevin says that when the three of us are out together, we look like sisters

Megan was a happy surprise in my life.  She is a constant for me, a true friend.  And, she makes me laugh.  Oh, how she makes me happy!  This is us, last summer at the end of a long day of boating.  I don’t remember what I was hysterically laughing about, but it was probably something ridiculous.

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With Megan, I can just be me.  She is the one who asks, how are you and I know she means to listen to whatever I say.  If Annette was helping me to bury the body and it didn’t fit in the trunk, Megan would lend me her SUV.  She’s just like that.  Selfless, supportive.

The thing that I love about Megan is that we can talk about pretty much anything.  We’ve had bizarre conversations about bodily functions, family, and higher education (she also works at a university).  I can complain about anything and she never sounds bored of it.  I can go on about work stuff and she expresses true interest.  I’m just really grateful that she’s in my world and I can’t imagine ever not having her in my life.  Even if we don’t see each other a lot, I know that when I see her next it will be like no time has passed.

So there you go.  My ladies.

They are how I stay sane.  How I can do the 50 million things I do every day.  Each of them special in her own way.

If any of them are reading this, thank you.  While I may not say it a lot, heck even ever….you are so important to me!

 

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:

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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!

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.