Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So many changes, so little time...

Back to blogging.

It has been over a year since my last post (sorry) and so much has happened. I moved out of the home I shared with my twin sister and into a home with Boyfie (now Hubby), got another dog, lost weight, gained weight, lost weight, gained weight, and got married...

And got sick. Really sick.

Starting in August of last year, I started getting hives all over my body. Sometimes all over my hands or my feet, but sometimes all over my legs, back and midsection. Hives are a puzzling thing - because they are not always due to allergies. These are the kinds of hives that didn't disappear with a couple benedryl . I sucked it up, itched, and kept on keepin' on. Who has time for hives? Not me.

Then the swelling started. Ankles, feet, hands. Pockets of adema under my arms and groin. It was not every day, but pretty consistent and I had no clue what was causing it. My asthma symptoms became uncontrollable. I had acid reflux almost every single day and was so fatigued. But, I kept on keepin' on. I wasn't gonna let a little swelling stop me. I popped some gaviscon and ordered another coffee. Milk and stevia, please?

You have to hit some lows before you know its bad. I didn't want to be social anymore. I was too exhausted and too covered in hives to want to leave the house for very long. I didn't wear skirts to work anymore and I sure as hell avoided pictures. My joints became painful. Soon the bad days outnumbered the good days.  On the day of my wedding, I had to use makeup on my legs to cover my hives. Low point for sure. One night I couldn't breath after eating in a restaurant and an ambulance was called. Another low. I had thoroughly scared Hubby by that point and frankly, I was starting to scare myself.

Most just think I complain a lot about being sick on Facebook (and I do, I know I do).  I had no idea what was going on or what to do about it and for a while, the doctors didn't either. Some guessed it was stress, another said Valley Fever. My primary physician ran an allergy panel which detected an obnoxious amount of food and environmental allergies. I was referred to an wonderful immunologist who finally helped me move towards some answers.

First, we discovered that acid reflux was causing major issues with my asthma. I was inhaling stomach acid as I slept, which was impairing my ability to breath. It also made swallowing food difficult and caused me to have "vocal cord dysfunction"- otherwise known as chronic throat clearing. My acid reflux was a secondary complication of stress and food allergies. My doctor decided to run a panel that tested my IgE levels (measures the body's allergic response), thyroid antibodies and a celiac disease panel. My IgE results were off the charts, suggesting that my body was exhibiting a hyper-immunological response to allergens - some environmental and some food. I also blood tested positive for celiac's disease.

The celiac's diagnosis was confirmed by an intestinal biopsy. I was told that in order to get better, I had to completely avoid gluten. For the rest of my life. WHAT?! Anyone who knows me knows that I have three major food groups - cereal, mac and cheese and more cereal. I also had to cut out all products with soy, peanut and potato - my other primary food allergies. I needed new makeup, hair products and even had to change my pots and pans. I thought this would be impossible.

Celiac's disease is no joke. It is not a fad diet, nor is it an "allergy." When I ingest gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye and barley, my body produces antibodies that attack my intestinal lining. This is a disease I was born with - that I inherited- but took a very long time to manifest in "obvious" symptoms. I say "obvious" NOW because there are a lot of health issues in my past that are now easily explained by Celiac's - we just didn't know it then.

But going gluten free has changed my life so far. I have been gluten free for almost 3 months now.  I feel like this fog has lifted off my brain. I can sleep better and slowly, the hives and swelling are disappearing. But every once in a while, I accidentally ingest some gluten and I pay a serious price. Think of a bad hangover, add diarrhea, gas and hives, and  then maybe you can relate. I take quite a few daily supplements to repair the damage I did eating like an asshole for the last 30 years, but there is nothing that can stop a relapse if I ingest gluten.

I also have Hashimoto's thyroiditis- another autoimmune disease where the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. This disease is often a companion disease for progressed celiacs, but thank goodness, the Hashimoto's is not as progressed. Regular monitoring of my thyroid function and a daily medication help control the disease. I also inherited this disease.

I am getting better. Every day is better and every day I get more careful about what I eat.  But, alas, few things haven't changed. My Hubby and doggies are the center of my world and life revolves around them. I still have a job that I love, besties who rock and a BossLady that I cherish. The people around me are supportive of the change, understanding of my slow progress and don't give me too much shit when I take a long time to order at restaurants.

I really just summed up a several month mission to discover that I had this disease. It wasn't easy but it has given me a lot I want to talk about. A lot will happen over the next 6 months - this new lifestyle, a trip to the Trial Lawyer's College, a kitchen remodel, to name a few. I have a lot to say and share. So I re-embark on blogging...enjoy the ride with me folks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Month Milestone...

I have officially kept the weight off for one month! Seriously proud of myself! This is a small step though...there are many more months, but this is a milestone!

All of the naysayers "swear" that people who do this diet gain back all the weight (and then some) the minute they start eating regularly. Well, I am proof that it is not true! If a person follows the maintenance phase and avoids all the "bad" carbs from the prescribed period, he/she should stabilize. It really is that simple. I ate a TON of fats and protein and simply avoided sugar.

Now, I am not perfect. I have my slip ups when out with friends (ohhh chips and salsa) but I followed the protocol and now I know what foods I can eat without an issue and what foods cause massive gains.

Keys to my success (thus far):

1. Avoid candy, refined sugar. If I am going to eat it, I get a bite. Not a bar, not a bag. It just simply doesn't taste as good as it used to! I had my favorite pie this week and it was very, very difficult not to eat the entire pie.

2. If you are dying to have it, eat it. Just be willing to pay for it the next day with either clean eating or exercise (and don't do it every day).

3. Avoid soda. I experienced gains on days I had DIET coke. This doesn't hold true for everyone - but for some reason, my body does not like soda. I do better without it and I stick to water, coffee, tea and vitamin water zero.

4. Avoid alcohol. This is the biggest trigger of "next day" gain. It throws me off for at least two or three days and the only way I can correct the gain from alcohol is by having a high protein and water day.

The crazy thing (or good thing?) about this diet is that I have learned to control my diet in a manner that I can lose 3 lbs in a day if I want to - drink massive amounts of water and 125g of protein a day and I can lose at least 3 lbs overnight. I make sure to weigh myself every day to make sure that pounds aren't sneaking up on me. It is the only way I can keep track.

Turkey is out of town for two weeks. Pretty rough, but at least I will have some time to try out some new classes I have wanted to try. I want to try a kickboxing class this week. I have a massive collection of yoga and workout groupons that I have to use (ohhh the power of collective buying).

So stay tuned folks:) More milestones to come!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Checking In...

Weekends are HARD.

So I have been a bad blogger (again). I am working on it, people...

Weekends are so packed with friends and obligations these days. I am not sticking to "the plan" that I should be - the cheats add up and I end up about 3 pounds above my LIW. Not good. But I am hoping that this weekend was an exception. We had so many friends in town and a lot of social obligations so it was difficult to sleep enough, work out enough and make good food choices. I weighed down again this morning, so that is good. Only 1.2 over LIW. Phew.

Sleep is KEY to weight loss and weight maintenance. Never made the connection before this diet, but I definitely see how adequate sleep is so important. Now that I track my weight, I have definitely noticed a pattern in my weight and hunger - when I do not sleep 8+ hours, I am hungrier and I hold on to more weight. When I sleep, I weigh less and I make better food choices. That is something I can control and that feels GOOD!

In an effort to get better, more quality sleep, I made a very difficult decision. I have transitioned both my dogs to sleep on the floor instead of with me in the bed. They were waking me up in the middle of the night and crowding me out of my own bed! I couldn't continue that way. The transition has been much easier than I expected and I think I feel worse about it than they do. I have a strong emotional attachment to sleeping with both my dogs because I have been sleeping with either one dog or both almost every night for the last six years. In the long run, I know that they will be better dogs, understand boundaries that that it will make life easier when the Turkey decides we are going to shack up. :) It will be hard and I will have some sad moments, but it is worth it.

So despite the fun and food-filled weekend, I am going to eat clean this week, get to bed on time and try to get some workouts in. I am going to try a new type of heated yoga called Sumits yoga. Should be fun and challenging. I am excited to try something different. Hopefully I will get my bikram in this week as well.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A New Obsession

Greek yogurt!!

Why have I never had this before?! It is awesome! I can't believe I have never tried it before! It is very tasty! I have to buy the full fat version (because of the diet) and then I sweeten it with fruit or stevia. I want to eat it more than once a day but I shouldn't because it still has natural sugars. I hope to explore using greek yogurt for dressings and recipes in the future!

My weight seems to be maintaining. There has been a little creeping over the past couple of days, but it is much easier to eat clean and controlled during the work week and then live a little on the weekends. Turkey and I are trying to get back to being social and hanging out. It is difficult to stick to the diet when confronted with all the delicious things we cannot have. Eventually, we will be able to treat ourselves (in moderation) but I will always keep portion control in check. I learned a little lesson when we ate at Chili's tonight. I treated myself to some chips. I didn't go nuts, but after I ate my Cobb Salad, I was overstuffed and I am still uncomfortable over 3 hours later :(. No bueno. Gotta keep it basic this week for sure!

I also got a work out in both Saturday and Sunday. It looks like I am also going to work out Monday night too! Bikram was much easier today. I had a protein shake and a banana before the workout today and was MUCH more energized, mentally and physically. I also had a friend in the room, which definitely helps. I am hoping to go a couple more times this week if my schedule permits, but I am better emotionally when I make time for yoga. Back and knees are feelin' good so I am going to keep it up! It is amazing how much of a different 20 pounds makes!

Still haven't decided whether I am 100% going to do another round. I am working out and feeling good right now. Just going to take it day by day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back to Bikram

So I did my first Bikram class since HCG and it was difficult, both physically and emotionally.

I don't look the same. My body is re-shaped and therefore, my practice is very different. I need some time to adjust to seeing this new person. Even though I lost weight, my body looks much different now than when I was this weight before. Very strange. I need to get some of that tone and muscle back but the BossLady tells me that a lof the re-shaping happens in P3. Gonna trust the BossLady on this one...

I am also not as flexible as I was when I was practicing regularly before. That will return in time, as will my stamina. There were people that I used to practice with that noticed the difference in my weight, and that feels nice. But my mind couldn't escape the negative thoughts tonight.

I got pretty emotional in the final poses because I was exhausted and embarrassed. I know that when practicing, I need to leave everything "outside the room" but it kept creeping back to me when I was struggling and lacked stamina. I was more consistent when I was heavy. I know it will come back and probably be easier. I had set myself up for disappointment by thinking a "thinner" me would make practice so much easier and that I would be able to execute all the poses without any trouble. But my body could not simply keep up with the calorie burn and I lost steam in the final minutes.

I think I need to get in some complex carbs on days when I do bikram - perhaps a banana or some melba with peanut butter. It is difficult to sustain a practice not eating carbs. Lesson learned. Going back on Thursday night and I will let everyone know how it goes:). This time, I will try to leave everyone outside the room .

Monday, March 14, 2011

A lot less of me and hoping to give more to this blog

So I just finished my first round of the HCG diet and it was a truly awesome experience. I feel better than I have in YEARS and I am 23 pounds lighter.

As awesome as it was, this diet is not for the weak - I struggled. There were days I felt physically sick as my body detoxed. There were days where I felt like I could not possibly get out of bed. But those days ended after a week. Once my body realized that I was ridding myself of the chemicals and preservatives I was eating, it seemed to express gratitude by releasing a lot of this weight (physical and emotional) that I have been holding onto. There are a million reasons to do this diet and a million reasons not to do it - only you can decide what is good for you.

People always ask me what I think about the diet, as it is very controversial. I honestly do not believe this diet is safe to do without medical supervision. It is very hard on your body, physically and emotionally and my naturopath was awesome. She provided the right amount of support and encouragement. She was GREAT! But there are some very strange things that happen to your body and I think that medical advice and guidance is key to making sure that 1. this diet is right for you by performing the necessary preliminary tests, so that you can be successful and 2. make sure that you are progressing in a healthy, positive way.

I also think that the mental changes are key. You cannot just do this diet to look better. You won't keep the weight off unless you deal with the mental and chemical issues that underpin the weight issues.

I would have never made it through this diet without two very important people.

First, Turkey. Turkey and I did the diet together and he was a ROCK. He not only stuck to protocol himself, but he talked me off of many ledges, constantly reassured me. I feel so incredibly loved, so beautiful, so complete because of him. This diet made us stronger as a couple because it forced us to bond in ways that did not involve food. We didn't go out with our friends and just took the time to be introspective of our relationship while we went through this journey together. I could not be prouder of him because of all the weight he lost (over 35 lbs) but I could not be prouder to call him my partner in love and life. So incredibly in love.

Second, the BossLady (you know who you are). She took the time to answer my frantic emails about food, talk me through the strange feelings and just brought an easy ear. She has no obligation to listen to me as I talk through these struggles, but her experience with this diet (and in life) is invaluable to me. She always asked me "How are you doing?" She didn't bring judgment to the table. She never does. That is an incredible quality that I want to emulate, not only in the personal arena, but also in the professional one. This diet completely wrecked me and some days, just hearing someone say, "That's okay" really turned it around. So incredibly grateful. She teaches me a lot about personal courage. Pretty awesome.

So, right now, I am in the processing of re-integrating food into my life in a controlled and unemotional way. This diet truly does change how a person thinks about food. I am an emotional eater and I was forced to confront that, sometimes daily. I have food sensitivities that I was never aware and eliminating or limiting those foods will helpfully let me continue to be living with less pain.

So will I do another round?? At this point, I am not sure. I am optimistic that I can maintain this new weight by eating right and getting back into the hot room. I am also excited to try some new classes (Sumits yoga and spinning).

Also, I think I will try to post some pics of the new me once the orange "vegas tan" tones down a bit;). So thanks for standing by people... :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting to know the Naturopath

Officially moving towards a healthier me by visiting the naturopath. She has been incredibly nice and took her time to go over all my tests with me and make some recommendations for supplements. I have a few new supplements to try. She was concerned that I had a low white blood cell count, which could simply be due to menstruation or fighting off illness, but she suggested I take some supplements and get some rest. Additionally, my blood tests have confirmed that I DO NOT have hypothyroidism. This was confirmed by two blood tests. This is a relief considering my family history, BUT I almost wish that I had it so I could have some explanation for this weight gain. So it really is the result of poor diet and laziness. Confirmed. Excellent.

I have below average cholesterol and triglycerides. She praised me for this and said it is likely the result of a diet with low amounts of red meat and high in fish (thanks, Allie).

Here are some of the supplements I will be taking in addition to weekly B-12 shots:
  • Adrenal Caps (Solaray) - This supplement should address some of the energy issues I have been having (difficulty waking in the morning)
  • Liver Cleanse (Thorne) - different herbs, including herb thistle, stinging nettle and dandelion extract.
  • Vitaline Total Formula 3 (Integrative Therapeutics) - Multi-vitamin. The Doc swears that this vitamin won't give me the "burps" like the others I have tried.
  • Fiber - I am going to start taking fiber capsules to regulate my digestive system and support it while I am detoxifying my liver.
She had a seriously talk with me about my back pain and suggested that I look into chiropractic care in addition to the massages I have been getting. I have an immense fear of going to the chiropractor - the cracking and popping brings a rush of memories from when the original injuries occurred. She is not a chiropractor but she suggested that a holistic approach to my health should include such care. I am concerned that I will never get past my issues and get my health on track without addressing my back issues. Daily pain can trigger the emotions that cause me to eat and keep me from working out. I may take baby steps on this one...

I'll keep you updated, folks!