From Here to Health

My journey back from autoimmune disease

New Paleo Books

So look what my sweet husband ordered for me!! So excited when they came in the mail yesterday!!  I haven’t had time to really dive into them yet, but expect to see some reviews and some comments on my favorite recipes in the coming weeks.  I have had 2 extra kids with me this week.  One for a friend who was working and another for a friend who is out of town on a grown- ups only trip.  So jealous!!  And tomorrow night I will have 7 six- year old girls for a sleepover birthday party.  My house looks a little like a pepto bismal accident in here because of it, but she will love it!  Then add in the dirt, leaves, legos, marbles and wet clothes that the 3 boys have been strowing everywhere and you have a pretty good mental picture of what my home looks like right now;)  Kids!!  Oh, well.  They are having a ball and I am just trying to breath through it and remember how much fun they are having and what good memories they are making:)  I’m sure when they are older all that quiet time I thought I was craving will seem like a distant memory and I will long to hear the laughter and noise.

Plenty of end of summer reading and cooking ahead

Plenty of end of summer reading and cooking ahead

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Autoimmune Skinny Paleo Plan

So I started a new weight loss plan today.  Story of my life. I have struggled with weight since 6th grade.  Or at least body image.  As a 35 year old woman, I now realize I never had a true “weight” issue.  My body image issue, however, has been a very real issue for over 20 years.  I can’t remember if I have written about this on the blog before (I can’t remember a lot of things these days), but I I have, my apologies.  To be succint with a 20 year story…it all started at a school fitness day.  Remember those President’s fitness tests?  Well, we had one in 6th grade and we all had to weigh in front of each other- something I am sure wouldn’t happen these days- and I weighed 104 pounds.  Someone watching said, “Oh my God, she weighs more than a hundred pounds!”  Well, my child’s mind immediately thought, “Over 100 pounds is too much!”  Mind you, I was the same height I am now, so 104 pounds was definitely not too big.  That is what got the ball rolling and add to that the careless comments by other friends, media and social pressure and my own need for perfection and you have a recipe for disaster.  I was anorexic, bulimic, an overexerciser, diet pill user and consumer of all types of weight loss products.  I even did Zerona a few years back (which sent me into huge flares with my autoimmune disease and didn’t even work). I have no doubt that the physical and mental stress of my “eating issues” played a very significant role in the evolution of my autoimmune and other health issues.

Back to the present…when I went Paleo nearly 2 years ago, I thought my “weight issues” would be solved.  You hear all these magical stories.  I thought I would automatically find my “happy weight.”  THIS DID NOT HAPPEN.  In fact, I have gradually put on 20 pounds after going Paleo.  Yes, you read that right, I put on 20 pounds after going Paleo. Am I the only one???  About mid-way through this journey, I found out that I was hypothyroid.  So I thought, ok, that is the problem.  Surely, once that is worked out, the weight will fall off.  After multiple medications, I have finally found one that I can tolerate with out insomnia and heart palpitations (Westhroid) and my thyroid is improving, but still no weight loss.  So, this past Sunday it all came to a head and I had what my Dad call a “come apart.”  Ok, who am I kidding? I had a giant, f- bomb dropping, crying on the bathroom floor, dry heaving nuclear meltdown!  My sweet kids wanted me to go watch them launch the rocket they had made and I LITERALLY could not fit into anything that wasn’t pjs.  I had this vision of more nights crying on the floor between the toilet and the wall as my family and friends went out and lived their lives. I don’t want that!  So my plan? Well, it’s going to sounds a little (or maybe a lot) crazy, but here it is…I am doing Bob Harper’s Jumpstart to Skinny for the next 21 days.  With modifications.  I have made it autoimmune paleo friendly.  People in the paleo community don’t often talk about it, but I still think that calories count to a certain extent. I am working under the assumption that even though my food is super clean, it is still too many calories for my small, not quite 5 ft 2 in frame.  So I used Bob’s calorie restricted recipes but made substitutions for things that were not Paleo.  I then further adjusted it to make it autoimmune friendly and low-FODMAP.  Yes, this means it is very restrictive and will be very repetitive.  But I just need to see if the problem really is that I am unwittingly taking in too much food.  My only other theory is that due to my health issues, my body is still holding onto a lot of inflammation that is causing me to gain/resist losing weight.  In that case, I guess I just have to be patient and pray for money to buy a new wardrobe.  I’ll post once a week to let you guys know how my experiment is going.

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I’m ba-ack:)

Ok guys…I’m back!  Yay!!!  I’m so sorry that I have been totally MIA for like 3 months!  My twin boys literally played Minecraft until our motherboard exploded!  I’m not really sure of the exact ins-n-outs of since I am a virtual computer virgin, but what I do know is that the boys had a sleepover for their birthday and the partygoers were doing lots of “epic” (that was THE word of the evening during said 11 year old party) stuff on Minecraft and next thing I know- computer no workie:(  So…fast forward 3 months and we finally have a new laptop.  This one technically belongs to the kids (or I should say it was purchased with their homeschool assignments in mind), but I will be commandeering it occasionally to get a few blog posts up.  I’m currently trying to persuade my dear husband (by whatever means possible;))to get me a MacBook.  Why you ask?  I’m not sure.  I really don’t know anything about them, but I have this notion that it will be excellent for blogging.  I also have this hairbrained idea that it will be so pretty and fancy that my lack of computer skill will no longer matter.  Someone tell me this is true.  Anywho…I have lots ideas, products I’ve tried, products I want to try, recipes and just a lot of my usual ramblings that I want to catch you guys up on.  The good, the bad, the paleo, the hippie-crunchy, and all the other drama that as been going on since we last parted.  Thanks for hanging in there and I hope all of you have been having a truly blessed summer:)

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Autoimmune Protocol…Baby step 2

So I miss my morning Kombucha, but I am hanging in there. Giving it up hasn’t seemed to make a difference in my bloating  and digestive upset.  In fact, it’s worse!  That is why I have decided to move on to step 2- removing seeds.  For me, this means sunflower seed butter (which I totally love) and chocolate (which I totally love more).  Of course there are other seeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and coffee beans.    I don’t consume very much of any of those so not a super big deal for me.  Chocolate, however, is my only real treat.  I can’t do gluten or dairy and most other “treats” seem to fall into one or both of those categories.  It is also my stress relief at times.  I know, I know…it is  not the healthiest  form of stress relief.  I am hoping that I can replace it with prayer, meditation or yoga.  Or maybe writing.  You guys may be seeing some seriously random posts as I adjust to life without chocolate.  I am keeping the kombucha out for now, but seeing as it didn’t really provide any relief to cut it out, I may add it back in soon:)  I am also trying to convince my doctor to test me for SIBO so will keep you guys in the loop on that too.

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What Went Well Wednesday

I am going to admit that I didn’t keep a list yesterday like I did last Wednesday, so this may not be completely chronological.  But here are the highlights of the last few days.

1. Increased my deadlift to 135#.  I know, I know…that is still a light deadlift, but it is the first time I have been able to increase my weight without back pain so I am stoked!

2. Increased my benchpress to 75#. (FYI- these aren’t maxes, they are just working weight doing multiple sets of reps)

3. Had a girls’ CrossFit lunch with 10 ladies from the gym.  We awesome food, fellowship and fun.  I love these ladies like family:)

4. Got my new digestive enzymes with HCL.  Seriously hoping that they help with the bloating.

5. Haven’t had a night this week where I was up all night! Yeah!!

6. Got a 2 hour massage from a massage therapist, CrossFitting friend.  Heaven!

7. Only one of my kids required an expensive antibiotic for the pink-eye that ran through our house.

8. Took a long walk with my boys. (picture below)

9.  Discovered Chris Kresser’s podcast and love it!

10. Made hubby made me awesome sweet potato chips!

Hello Kitty Sleep Mask

Hello Kitty Sleep Mask

My Newphew, the Easter Bunny

My Nephew, the Easter Bunny

Coop and Pres on our Walk

Coop and Pres on our Walk

 

 

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What Went Well Wednesday

So several bloggers that I follow have started a “What I Ate Wednesday” series.  I have decided to jump on that bandwagon but without the food.  In The Hormone Cure, Dr. Gottfried recommends keeping a journal of “what went well.”  This is not a new idea.  Plenty of people advocate gratitude journals which is essentially what this is.  I have had the thought on multiple occasions that I should do this. But then it would just seem like one more thing on an endless “to do” list that I was frantically trying to reduce.  I have certainly been more aware of my blessings over the past few years.  It is one of the weird bonuses of dealing with illness.  Those things you used to take for granted, like a great night’s sleep, stand out vividly in contrast to the daily pains of dealing with disease.  So without further ado, here is what went well Wednesday.

1. I slept well.  From 9:45 to 6:15.

2. The house was quiet when I awoke and I laid in bed and read my Bible and a new spicy fiction book on my Kindle.

3. I went up 5# on my Overhead Press to 55#.

4. I went up 10# on my Deadlift to 125#.  In the past I have never been able to get more than 75# without back pain.  Yeah!

5. I decreased my row time by about a minute after our new trainer, Jake, gave me an awesome tip.

6. I got to gab with all my girls at the gym for about 45 minutes after class.  We planned a paleo brunch for next Tuesday which I am pumped about.

7.  Jen gave me her old Kindle loaded with 135 books!  She is awesome and I love her to pieces.

8.  I got to watch my kids playing baseball in the cove with my mom and dad.

9. I made the best lunch.  Spaghetti squash and sausage.  Will post pics and info later.

10. We finished all our homeschool assignments for the day.

11.  I got a few minutes of private time with the hubs while the kids were next door at my parents.

12.  I have a doctor who was will to order blood work for me (no questions asked)  that many doctors wouldn’t do.  Speaking of which I am off to do that now.

 

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Hormones Part 2…Low Progesterone

According to the quiz in Dr. Sara Gottfried’s book, I have low progesterone.  This did not surprise me, as it was low the last time I had it tested.  It was in the “normal” range, but at the very low-end of normal.  Add in the fact that apparently my testosterone is converting to estrogen and you likely have a scenario of estrogen dominance.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that my progesterone is technically too low, but in relation to my estrogen, it is too low.  Unbalanced.  The story of my life these days!  The steps that she recommends that I am incorporating right now are:

1. Vitamin C- She recommends 1,000mg per day.  I am currently taking 800mg.  I have played with it a little and I don’t think I can take more than this without getting loose stools.  TMI, I know.  You can always count on me for that;)

2. She highly recommends hanging out with others.  This is because of women’s coping mechanism of “tend and befriend.”  I am a naturally social person.  I LOVE being with others.  However, when I am not sleeping and my hormones feel wanky, I sometimes want to hide in my bedroom.  For me this step means making a conscious effort to go to the gym even if I am not working out.  To accept that lunch invitation even if I have to cram myself into a pair of pants that feel too tight.  To go to that party, even if only for a little while, because inevitably I feel better and sleep better when I stay connected to the people that I love.

3. No Joe- Not a problem since I don’t drink coffee, but I expanded it to include caffeine in general.  For me, this meant no kombucha which I was already giving up due to the AIP. (Autoimmune Protocol)

4. No wine-  I rarely drink wine anyway because it makes me feel junky.   It screws with my sleep and gives me CRAZY heartburn.  I would love to indulge in it once in a while because I truly like the taste, but this is one more reason why I will be staying away.

5. Chasteberry- She highly recommends chasteberry for balancing progesterone.  She suggests two brands and since one is from Germany and I couldn’t read the site, I went with the one I could get at my local GNC.  It is called Fertility Blend.  It has a proprietary blend of chasteberry along with vitamin E, B6, B12, folate, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium.  My plan is to try this for 1-3 months depending on the results I get.

I am having some hormone panels done tomorrow, so I will have some updated info, which of course, I will share:)

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Easing into the autoimmune protocol…?

Alright, I am taking the first step.  I am not even going to tell you guys where I am headed with this because I really don’t know.  There is a part of me that wants to go in whole hog and really do this AIP.  But it is HARD!  So I am going to ease in and see if I get some results one food at a time.  I am going to start with my kombucha.  I realize this isn’t the first food people think of with AIP.  The biggies are eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades.  However, kombucha contains yeast and that is often a problem for people with autoimmune issues.  And as much as I love my kombucha in the morning, my husband is convinced that it is giving me gas.  He’s probably right.  I didn’t have it while we were at Disney and the gas was noticeably better even though I was eating other things that I normally wouldn’t eat.  Presley is the only other one in the house who likes kombucha so he is getting the rest of my stash.  If there isn’t enough improvement with dropping the kombucha then I will decide what I want to deal with next.  One step at a time is all I can manage right now.  I’m not even totally convinced that the digestive stuff is food related.  I am convinced that my biggest issue right now is lack of sleep.  I know it is hormonally driven and over the course of my investigating, I have realized that all of my digestive complaints can be explained by my hormonal imbalance.  I just have a strong gut feeling that nothing else is truly going to resolve until my sleep issues are resolved.  To this end, I have listened to several of the webinars on The Healthy Life Summit.  They have only served to cement my idea about the sleep.  The first one I listened to was Chris Kresser’s talk on Chronodisruption.  As a light therapy practitioner, most of the info was repeat, but he did have a couple good studies that I hadn’t heard about and his presentation was super easy to follow.  The next one I listened to was Liz Wolfe.  Seeing as I already have the Skintervention Guide, her stuff was also mostly repeat, but I just LOVE her.  Last night while cooking dinner I listened to Vanessa Romero.  Her story was so similar to mine that I cried.  I wanted to cry a little more when she said it took her a full year to regain her sleep cycles. Oh my!  But after a few moments, I felt hopeful.  Healing takes time and I know this.  Her story and her transformation are truly inspirational.  I encourage you guys to check her out.  Especially if you have ever suffered with adrenal fatigue.

Here is an example of why I am hesitant to go full force with the AIP.  I made these for the kids this morning, but I just had to have one fresh out of the oven with some grass-fed butter.  So good.  All of Danielle’s recipes are awesome.  Try this one, you won’t regret it- Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chip Streusel.

Banana Chip Muffins

Banana Chip Muffins

Last night when I went to read to Finn and tuck her in, I found her doing this.  I’m not really sure where she picked it up.  She does do yoga with me sometimes, but I don’t really chant and she was “ommmming” to beat the band!

Finn getting her "OM" on!

Finn getting her “OM” on!

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Church…the hardest place to go paleo?

So I finally decided not to take the cracker part of communion today.  For the longest time, I just didn’t even think about it.  For all my vigilance in other areas, it just didn’t occur to me that I was taking in a dose of gluten with my communion.  I think it was because I wasn’t thinking about nourishing my body but rather my spirit when it came to taking communion.  As I have continued to struggle with a degree of digestive issues I have been looking at things that could be contributing and this came to mind several months ago.  You would probably think that once I made the connection I would have immediately cut it out, but I was very reluctant to do so.  First off, it is a sacred ritual and we really don’t have very many of those in the Church of Christ.  My church is a very liberal version of the Church of Christ denomination, but there are still very few things like that.  I have been to Catholic, Methodist and Episcopalian churches that were (in my opinion) pretty heavy on the ritual type things.  I was a little turned off by them when I was younger, I think because it didn’t feel authentic to me.  But as I have gotten older, things like that seem to hold more appeal. I have realized the connection is dependent on me, not the ritual per se.  The point is, communion felt like a sacred ritual that I didn’t want to give up.  And secondly, I think I had this notion that God would surely suspend the laws of nature and gluten sensitivity during communion because, come on, it’s COMMUNION. It wasn’t like I was trying to rationalize eating one of the ever-present donuts that are in abundance at Sunday service.  So today I just took the juice.  I’m wondering next week if I should take my own gluten-free cracker with me?

On a similar note, I have found that between the donuts and snacks in Sunday school, it is hard to keep my kids gluten-free at church.  In the beginning, I spoke to their teachers and even sent snacks with my youngest.  Over time, I somehow got out of the habit of doing those things.  But today my boys’ (who are 10) teacher told us that they are the only 2 boys in the class who never eat a donut when all the other boys run to the kitchen to get one.  And my daughter (who is 5) told me today that they had 2 snacks in class today but they both had wheat and gluten so she didn’t eat them.  I was super proud.  They are listening to me.  And they are trusting the information I give them and making decisions to benefit their health even when I am not around.  That is obviously what I want.  I want them to know that they have the power to impact their own health and they don’t have to just do (or eat) what everybody else is doing.  And I am choosing to believe that God brought these revelations to me at church today to let me know that we can go gluten-free at church and it will be ok, communion cracker or not:)

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Hormone Upheaval and Consequent Plan

Alright, so while I was super thankful that I wasn’t dealing with anything more serious, my wack-a-doodle hormones are definitely causing some upheaval in my life.  Today I am going to lay out for you guys (but really for myself) what my plan is to address the issues.  After reading (twice) The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried and reviewing the hormone testing I have had over the past 4 months, I have come up with what I think is a good starting place. It is going to sound overwhelming when I lay it out, but I really believe it is doable.  I currently have issues with cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and thyroid.  Honestly, there are probably some other issues at play too, but I think these are the major players and that if they get balanced the other things will fall in line.  As I have mentioned before, my body has a hair-trigger.  There are times when this is good.  I think I caught my autoimmune diseases really early because of it.  I knew so quickly that something was wrong and it took me only a matter of months, rather than years with many people, to get them diagnosed. Another positive is that I often respond to herbal therapies really well and really quickly.  I am praying that will serve me well in this quest with my hormones.  The flip side is that I respond (often negatively) to even small amounts of stress.  And I can tolerate very few drugs, even at the lowest possible dose, because I have huge reactions and side effects.  I was truly hoping that the testosterone and Armour Thyroid would be workable for me.  They were easy and inexpensive to fit into my life.  However, the “easy” road has rarely been my chosen path it seems and while I did throw myself a short pity party, I have decided to pick myself up and see the glass as half full.  My current prayer is that over the next 3 months I will be able to balance my hormones naturally and be able to share my story with others that it is possible.  The longer and more arduous path is often the memorable in the long run anyway, right?  It has been my experience that my struggles are often what leads to my greatest lessons and rewards.  It has been through them that I have seen what I am really capable of and come to know some of the qualities of my own character that I most cherish.  So here go….let’s break this down.

High Cortisol- I think this bad boy hormone is the root of all my troubles.  It is the one that is throwing my adrenals and everything else of balance.  There are times when I think I have it managed, but then as I said before, something comes along and throw me under the bus.  Here are the recommendations that I am putting into place.

1. Yoga- different types, on my own, as my schedule permits, generally in 10-20 minute increments

2. Dark Chocolate- Need I say more?

3. Massage- trying for once a week between my husband and trading off with a friend who is a massage therapist

4. Chanting- for me this will probably mean singing.  Singing has always brought me lots of joy.

5. Forgiveness- I learned several years ago to put this practice into my life when I was healing from my autoimmune stuff, but it is always a good reminder, especially the notion of forgiving myself.

6. Orgasm- Ok, I won’t go into too much detail here, but we all know it is good for our stress levels.  Dr. Gottfried recommends a certain kind of practice called Orgasmic Meditation or OM for short.  It requires a partner, but lucky for me I have a very willing husband;) I think he may have watched a video and even ordered a workbook on the topic because this is very serious business;)

7. Targeted Supplements- B5, Vitamin C, Phosphatidylserine (PS), Fish oil, L-theanine, L-lysine, L-arginine, L-tyrosine, and the  family of ginsengs.  There are other supplement recommendations, but these are the ones I am starting with, some of which are already part of my routine.

She recommends the elimination of gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol but these are not really part of my daily routine so I didn’t include them in my list.  The chocolate will actually be adding a little sugar to my diet, but I am getting at least 70% organic dark chocolate so I am going to overlook the sugar content, at least for the recommended 2 weeks.

I hadn’t planned on splitting up these posts, but due to length, I think I will.   So look for the installment on low progesterone tomorrow.  Titillating, right?

And even though it seems random, I am going to leave you with a picture of my sweet nephew.  Dr. Gottfried recommends focusing on the things that are right in your life and he is definitely a source of joy for me.  So there, I have tied it in:) (Totally not tied in- I just want you guys to know that EVERY time I type the word definitely, I misspell it).

Yes, I am super cute!

Yes, I am super cute and you do smell a little funny!

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