The last 6 weeks – update.

Eat Healthy

*Please note: this post has info on my belly issues, digestive problems and thoughts on the whole thing. Just so you know.

One of my goals for 2013 was to get healthy. This didn’t just mean lose weight or shoot for supermodel thindom. Losing weight was part of it, but so was getting stronger, pushing my limits and figuring out what’s wrong with my stomach. These all go hand in hand. For me, the first step in figuring this out was to eliminate certain foods from my diet to see if it would make a difference in how I feel.

Starting January 2, I gave up all dairy products, all wheat products (pretty much all grains except for a little rice, a little oatmeal and some tortilla chips) and almost all sugar. Cold turkey. As of today, that’s 43 days – six weeks + 1 day.

I made it through the first four weeks without cheating. Then on our trip to Grand Lake I may or may not have eaten a piece of cornbread and a mini cinnamon roll. But otherwise, no cheating.

The first two weeks were miserable. I had horrible headaches, my stomach burned incessantly and I had to run back and forth to the restroom all day long. I was so very miserable. I scheduled an appointment with my gastroenterologist in a moment of weakness and, as I had feared, it was a pointless endeavor. She is very nice, but not supportive and/or willing to look at alternative options. The outcome of that appointment left me with the following choices:

1.) Take Pepto + Immodium everyday for the rest of my life.

2.) Accept an IBS diagnosis. (Which I may do — just want to explore my options)

3.) Take a *VERY* low dose anti-depressant in hopes that it calms my intestines and numbs things out. This has something to do with the brain to digestive connection… but I don’t think “numbing it” is the solution.

4.) Go on Weight Watchers rather than adjust my diet on my own.

The doctor assured me that it wasn’t anything I was eating, that IBS (which is her formal diagnosis) is a mystery to us all and that it is fruitless to try and figure out what is causing it. I wanted shake my fists and yell and tell her all the reasons I thought she was wrong. But, I didn’t. I nodded along, declined to make another appointment and left.

To help figuring this whole thing out and make the best decisions for ME, I’ve done a lot of reading on food and more specifically the American diet. Books like “Eat To Live”, “Wheat Belly” and “In Defense of Food” have all graced my nightstand, I’ve also been scouring the internet for ideas, thoughts and research on the matter. And, from what I can tell both in the research, writings and my experience is that there are answers in the food we put into our bodies. I’m not an expert, but I can tell you that there is truly something there.

I decided to cut back on the amount of meat I was eating, significantly increase the amount of plants in my diet (TONS OF VEGETABLES and some fruits), eliminate dairy and greatly reduce the grains + sugars. I decided to give it a whole-hearted try.

The verdict? I feel good. I feel really good. 

I would even venture to say that I feel the best I have in years. I haven’t had one bout of “running to the bathroom” in several weeks. I’m not breaking out in hives. I haven’t had a cold. I haven’t had the tremendous stomach pain and indigestion that follows. I feel like me, not sick me, normal me.

But, I miss some of my favorite foods. Oh, how I miss them. Luckily I’ve been creative enough to master the ever-growing number of salad recipes in my repertoire and never truly feel deprived.  While my goal at the start of this whole thing was just to feel better, I didn’t intend to quit eating pizza (or cupcakes or wine or noodles) forever. My long-term goal is to eat the way I have been these past six weeks at least 80% of the time and enjoy some of my favorite foods 20% of the time. This will ebb and flow (obviously) and I’ll have to adjust, refocus and be ready to change as I go along.

I feel like I’ve taken a BIG first step in figuring this whole thing out. For the first time in 26 years I feel like I might be on the right track with my diet, my stomach, with all of it. We’ll see, but its good to have a direction and its a good start to finding the answers.

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Why it’s going to be better than great.

I already told you that I couldn’t be happier to slam the book shut on 2012 and clamber to open the cover on 2013. I just have this overwhelming sense that this year has some great things in store. Looking forward to the months ahead we have the birth of my nephew, a trip to Dallas for Blissdom, a trip the the mountains with my family and so much more.

But, this year is also the year that I’ve set some goals for myself. Not in the resolution sense, but in the here’s how I want to feel this year, here are some things I want to accomplish and here’s the steps that will get me there. Starting off the year this way is a little intimidating because — what if I fail? Not something I look forward to doing publicly… This is where I just have to be kind to myself and accept that things change, paths shift and that sometimes I can’t do it all. So, what exactly am I going to do this year?

1. My health. When Charlie got sick I didn’t know what to do. Handling stressful, traumatic situations isn’t exactly my strong point. So, to fill the void and allow me to spend as much time snuggling my sweet boy as possible, I ate pizza, mac ‘n cheese and other junk to get me through. Then we went on vacation — which was just as fun as it was delicious. Then it was November, and with Thanksgiving (then Christmas) quickly rounding the corner I knew that there was no way I was going to start any sort of health regimen (unless it involved mashed potatoes or whipped cream). Those two months were filled with yum worthy food, but I could tell I was packing on the pounds each and every day. Couple that with some digestive issues I spent most of 2012 trying to figure out and I was a hot mess when New Years rolled around.

I know, deep inside me, that I’m not at a healthy weight, I’m not happy without physical activity and that my stomach issues must come to an end (they are ruling my life). In 2013, I want to lose the weight — not get super model skinny, but happy and comfortable with my body, I want to push myself physically (up my miles, get strong, and make yoga a part of my routine) and I want to figure out — once and for all — what is making me sick. Phew, that is one tall and tough order.

Let's get healthy - and take on the mountain.

2.) Pursue things I love. The past couple years have been whirlwinds of moving, traveling, commuting, marrying etc. and I’ve had to put some of the things I love and things I want to do on the back burner to make room. In 2013, I want to make a commitment to writing/blogging and getting some of those thoughts out of my head and off of lists and actually onto the blog, I want to learn my camera and how to edit the photos I take, I want to give myself the time and space to cook and write recipes. Essentially I want to take just a little time for moi.

There are so many little things to think about, tasks to conquer and daily moments to be present for that I’m only taking on these two major challenges for the first quarter. After a couple months, I’ll re-evaluate to see if I’m ready to take on more or if I’m happy trucking along right where I am.

It’s going to be a good year – what are you conquering these first few months?

Slippin’ & a sliddin’.

A couple of weeks ago I took my first yoga class.

Now, I know that I’m about 10 years behind the whole yoga pants and Namaste party, but I say ‘better late than never’. For starters, let’s talk about how the room was only 80 degrees.  It seemed that for everyone else in the class that was a perfectly acceptable temperature… but for me, it meant that I looked like I just hopped out of a pool by the end of the 75 minute class. How gross is that? Let me assure you that it was very gross. To make it even more sexy, all that sweat wandered down to my cheapo Target mat meaning that my downward dog looked a little more like a 10-year-old fighting with a Slip n’ Slide. Plank? Sure, no… woosh face plant.

In an effort to one up my level of disgusting, I took a little trip to Vail the next weekend to visit one of my friend Jacqui. It turns out that Jacqui just completed her yoga teacher training this spring. Did I say yoga, I meant hot yoga. As in intentionally inflicting suffering upon herself. So, obviously, I invite myself to the class she teaches on Friday nights because why the hell not?

I made it up to Vail in a little over two hours and reapplied some deodorant before heading into the studio. You have to figure if it got ugly at 80 degrees, one cannot have too much deodorant in preparation of 90 minutes in 105 degrees? Am I right, or am I right? I stepped through the door and immediately the office was about a bazillion degrees hotter than it was outside… as in your skin starts to pinken up after about 30 seconds and that deodorant starts to get it’s first real test in durability.

There isn’t any way to mentally prepare yourself for the wave of smoldering air that hits your face as you step into the classroom. There also isn’t any way to mentally prepare yourself for the ways your body will contort while being repeatedly slapped in the face with ridiculous blasts of heat. At the end of the standing series I was fairly certain I would fall down, die and never again feel the cool relief of normal temperature air on my face. Luckily I was greeted by the mat (or whatever you call it) series and I thought there at least was some hope left in this world… but alas, when you’re contorted awkwardly, half upside down, that really sexy sweat finds it’s way into your nose and ears. Nothing like wet ears and a stinging sweat drenched nose to add fun to the experience.

I am proud to say that I made it through without passing out, throwing up or crying (though who would be able to tell with all the sweat?). The verdict is still out on the hot versions (I’d try it again – only making sure I find my way into a dri-fit bra beforehand), but this yoga business has got something to it. I’m in.

P.S. Have your ever had your forearms sweat? Yeah, me neither… er, until the other day. Turns out in a 105 degree room there really isn’t any body part free from sweatsville.

2012.

Every year December approaches with loads of anticipation, joy and hope for the holidays. And, each year the holidays come and go, followed shortly by New Year’s Eve. A night that’s legendary for exciting parties, magical happenings and romantic stolen kisses at midnight.

After Christmas passes I find myself disappointed and feeling a bit down. New Year’s with all its magical expectations leads to dashed hopes and a closet full of sparkly, now, slightly used dresses. The next morning you wake up… waiting for that fresh new year feeling when all that surrounds you feels exactly like the day before. The same laundry basket full of dirty socks, the same toothbrush in need of replacing and the same set of obligations needing to be fulfilled.

Instead of feeling ready for all that’s about to happen I feel a little like the excitement has passed and I’m just desperate to get it back. Despite my less than enthusiastic perspective on starting 2012, I’m ready to rock the heck out of this new year. I’d say I have some resolutions, but whenever you use the word resolution in front of some sort of a goal it seems that it is forever bound to fail. So in 2012 I don’t have any resolutions, but some overall ideas that I hope to make a reality.

Marriage. It’s only year one and I couldn’t be happier about that, learning to live together and enjoying every moment of it. Even if it does mean I’m living with a boy.

Health. At the end of the day being healthy isn’t about willpower, it’s about acting you age and doing what’s right. We’ll see if I can put down the bag of Oreo’s I’ve been eating during my Harry Potter marathon and start snacking on kale chips after long runs. Yeah? You feeling it?

Travel. I love to travel here, there and just about everywhere. We’ve already got an 11 day cruise booked for the Southern Caribbean during early March, but where else this year will lead is a total mystery. I’m hoping for somewhere great!

Home. We’ve got our house but I have to say it’s anything but a home. Ripping down all the warm, cozy Christmas decorations hurt my heart for the simple fact that my house is so empty and bare. Guess I’ll have to make a few trips to IKEA and get things in order. By this time next year let’s hope it really will be home sweet home.

Job. The end of 2011 was truly the end of an era for me. Leaving my past four years of employment behind… but with a whole new year ahead of me I’m looking forward to finding a position that excites me just as much as it challenges me. I’m ready to make a difference and work hard each day.

And, per usual this blog is on there and what awaits it in the coming year I’m not sure, maybe a re-design? For sure, more posting. Here’s to a great holiday season and the start of a year full of promise.

*Photo Credit: Juliana

The Full 100.

Typically I don’t share my workouts because they aren’t very exciting and I’m 90% sure they wouldn’t be interesting or helpful to anyone… but I was feeling fairly ambitious the other day. I knocked out the first level of Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred and decided that level 2 sounded too boring to try. Instead of calling it quits I turned to the 100 workout I’ve seen making its way around the interwebs. Why not. Counting is easy enough. If you haven’t seen the workout, here it is:

It seemed to be lacking overall upper body components, so I just added my own in with hand weights. Here’s what I did:

100 Jumping Jacks
90 Abs (30 crunches, 30 reverse crunches, 30 bicycle crunches)
80 Squats (20 normal squats with hammer curls, 20 chair squats with reverse fly, 20 sumo squats with tricep extensions, 20 normal squats with press-outs)
70 Leg Lifts (morphed into 70 standing pike crunches – my legs are lifting so it counts)
60 Jumping Jacks
50 Abs (15 crunches, 15 reverse crunches, 20 bicycle crunches)
40 Squats (Same as above only do 10 instead of 20 for each)
30 Leg Lifts (aka Standing Pike Crunches)
20 Jumping Jacks
10 Minutes of Running

It helped to add in the upper body and definitely increased the difficulty of the work-out and kept me from getting bored doing 120 squats. I’ll definitely put this workout on repeat and use it when traveling. Easy to do in your room!

The cake in the kitchen.

The day of the car accident… I went to the doctor just to get checked out and make sure I wasn’t bleeding from some place I had yet to discover (because that totally happens). While I was there they added insult to injury and made me get my sweet arse up on the scale. I’ve known what would be staring back at me wasn’t going to be pretty, so I haven’t stepped up to overview the damage in several months. I figured I’d clear it all up after the new year. In reality, what stared back at me was the highest weight I’ve ever reached in my life. Ever.

Now, now don’t go all crazy and start posting comments like “You look great!! Eat what you want” or “I can’t tell you’ve gained a pound, you look gorgeous”, because I know I don’t look like the latest whale to beach itself in Florida. I’m 6′ and the weight distributes itself pretty evenly. But, I feel it — in my energy levels and in the way my pants fit (or how it takes me five minutes to stretch them out every time I put them on).

Seems to me that’s my problem. I know there’s a problem, but I continually put off doing anything about it. You’d think I would have gone to get a salad after that, but no, I went to the grocery store to pick up some Aleeve and some frozen pizzas, figuring I deserved a little comfort after such a rough day. I’m really struggling with saying buh-bye to pasta, pizza (I swear they sprinkle it with crack), french fries, chocolate cake etc. I’ve got all the information stored in my brain and I can recite it to you, but when someone tempts me with something delicious I cave. Every. Single. Time.

My stomach these past few weeks has been in complete and utter revolt. The only way I can describe it is this raw feeling inside. It’s as if someone went in and scraped at the lining of my stomach, and every time I eat it just rubs salt in the wound. But, because my life revolves around eating I kept popping the Milk duds and fries and pizza because it was worth the pain.

But, I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to have stomach pain. I don’t want to allow my life to revolve around food. Because of that I’m trying again. I’m working on my veggies and starting a Whole Foods cleanse to, you know, clear things out. With all this moving, I’m getting some workouts in… which reminds me I need to step that up as well. Whew I’m going to be busy. I’ll keep you posted and keep on trucking. Maybe I need one of those accountability days – giving that some thought!

*Image by: Johnny Vulkan

C25K.

I’m on this “kick” to get healthy. Part of this getting back into shape was running and working out. Last fall – a year ago – I’d get home from work, jump into running clothes and do a 3.5 mile loop around the neighborhood. No problem. A year later I’d heard people talking about the C25K program and was curious what it was all about.  After reading through the site I decided  that there was no possible way that I would need to start at such a rudimentary level. I wouldn’t admit that I could possible be that out of shape.

A few weeks ago I took Charles for a walk and he was constantly so far ahead of me that he was tugging the leash – his 8 pound body dragging me along. I decided if he wanted to go so fast we’d run, and then I could show myself that I wasn’t in as bad of shape as I feared. I ran three blocks at a fast pace and thought that death was looming. I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t in top physical condition, in fact I was at the exact opposite. I didn’t run the 5K this year at Race for the Cure, I walked it. That’s the first time I can remember walking it since I was a little kid and it embarrasses me.

I looked up the C25K program and downloaded it to my iPhone. I’m halfway through week three… and I’m just building up the guts to admit it. There is nothing wrong with starting here, nothing wrong with the program, in fact it’s been amazing so far. It’s, really, about me failing and falling so far from where I was and where I wanted to be that it hurts.  I feel like I’m a disappointment to myself.

I’m running it and Christian is running it with me, keeping me accountable. It’s hard to watch him run so far ahead, knowing that a year ago I would have kept up, but now I’m lagging 40 feet behind. I have faith that I’ll finish, that I’ll get back there. I’m working on it, one week at a time.