From Here to Health

My journey back from autoimmune disease

Bye-Bye CrossFit

My CrossFit membership expires today:(  And as much as I love it, I am not rejoining right away.  There are several reasons for that, all equally important in my view.  Number 1, we really need to put that $239 to another use.  We need a new air conditioner in the house, a new garage door, a new car, and the list goes on and on.  Number 2, two of my CrossFit gals are opening a new CrossFit gym across town.  Because of this a few of my girls will be going there and another is going to go to one closer to home.  While I am excited about their gym, it is a 30 minute drive for me and probably not feasible on a regular basis.  Lastly, as much as I loved CrossFit, I got better results when I worked out at home.  I’m not really sure what the reason is behind that.  I am completely certain that 5 days a week of CrossFit was too much for me.   I think it caused some cortisol and adrenal issues.  If I do ever go back it will probably only be a couple of days a week.

So, what am I going to be doing in the meantime?  I’m glad you asked!  I have decided to do the workout program in Paula Owens’ Fat Loss Revolution.  It is a 12 week program that you can do at home if you have the equipment.  I already had most of it and I’m just modifying for the equipment that I don’t have.  At least for now.  She basically recommends walking, rebounding, lifting heavy 3 days a week, yin yoga, and sprinting.  The program that I designed for myself for right now is a modification that looks like this:

Walking- 2 miles 5 mornings a week and 2 miles in the evening on as many days as schedule permits

Rebounding- 10  minutes daily- mainly for lymphatic flow because I have an issue with sluggish lymphatics

Yin Yoga- no schedule on this, just when I have the time or feel the desire

Heavy Lifting-  Right now I am doing 2 days a week- Tuesday and Friday.  I might bump that up at some point.

Sprinting- Not Yet.  She recommends once or twice a week.  Once I get comfortable with all the rest I might add it in if I am still sleeping well.

So that’s it!  I can say this- I was CRAZY sore after the first 2 lifting sessions!  I could absolutely tell that I was using different muscles than what I was using at CrossFit.  I have been super lax on taking pictures lately.  The few I have taken I can’t get off my phone for some reason.  Very frustrating.  However, I am going to try to take some pictures over the course of this 12 week exercise plan so we can determine if it is working.  I’ll get to posting as soon as I find some techy genius to help me out:)

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What Went Well Wednesday

You guys have probably figured this out already, but I am having a hard time finding a dedicated time to sit down and blog!  I used to do it in the evenings, but now that I have committed to getting off the computer and other electronic devices by 8:00pm, that is no longer an option.  On that note, I have slept through the night from about 10-6 for the past 3-4 weeks.  That is huge for me, so I feel like the self-imposed electronic restrictions are worth it.  It reduces my blue light exposure in the evening, but it also helps me turn off my mind and pick up something more soothing like a book or a long bath.  All that said just to say that I want to blog more.  It is my intention.  I am claiming now that I will find the time to do it more often.  Hang with me:)

Here’s some of the good things about Wednesday:

1. Had a long bath with epsom salts and a good book.

2. Played checkers with Cooper

3. Read Nancy Clancy with Finn.

4. Read Black Radishes with Presley and Cooper.

5. Listened to Finn read several pages from her reading book. It is so gratifying to hear her read so well.

6. Took Finn to audition for Peter Pan at one of our community theaters.  She may not get a part since there were a lot of kids, but she was the youngest one and I thought she was super brave to get up there in front of all those other kids!

7.  Doug continues to make me the best sweet potato chips ever!

8.  Had lunch with my CrossFit girls today.  We met around 11:45 and we left the restaurant at 2:15.  They are an absolute light in my life!

9. When it was discovered that my chicken had soy sauce on it, Jenn gave me her fish.

10. Natalie gave me movie passes!

Boy is it great to have friends!  I count them among my greatest blessings!

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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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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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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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Health Update…Good News!!!

So it was all clear at my dr. appointment yesterday!  Well…almost.  They do think I have a hormonal imbalance, but of course we all knew that already, right?  My OB thinks that the testosterone that my general doc has me on is converting to estrogen and causing my symptoms of tender breasts, headaches, insane crying episodes and abnormal bleeding.  I know that is crazy TMI, but that’s just the way I roll. I am SO thankful to the Lord above that there was no evidence of cancer, polyps or anything else.  It is a huge weight off my shoulders.  However, it leaves me wondering what to do about these hormones!!  My system is so delicate that it responds on a hair trigger.  I always take the most natural and smallest dose of whatever I am on and I often still get results that are more dramatic than necessary.  I am searching for that sweet spot that puts me in a blissful state of homeostasis…aaaahhhh, I can just feel it.  When I get there, it will be wonderful.  In the meantime, I am eating paleo, talking with my doc about how to adjust my meds and supplements, and dialing down my exercise.  I am trying not to do anything that raises my cortisol.  I am still going to CrossFit because they are my family, but I am just doing the warm-up and lifting and a little very easy rowing.  No WOD for the time being.  I am doing a little yoga and pilates at home, along with some walking when the weather cooperates.

Yesterday's Breakfast

Yesterday’s Breakfast

I am experimenting with pastured eggs at the moment.  I had been off of eggs until my trip to Disney.  I am still not sure if they bothered me or not.  I am planning on doing the autoimmune protocol strictly during the month of April and posting more about my food.   The above breakfast was sausage, 2 pastured eggs with lots of sauteed veggies sprinkled with Lewis Labs Brewer’s Yeast, and some avocado.  It was yummy!

Mint Chip Shake

Mint Chip Shake

I made this twice last week for the kids at breakfast last week and they loved it!  Mint Chocolate Chip Shake I used coconut milk instead of almond milk and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips.

Cooper with his standard after drink mustache!

Cooper with his standard after drink mustache!

 

 

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Few more pics and other random stuff

It has been a wonderful and challenging weekend.  I went into Friday, after 4 nights of no sleep, feeling pretty lousy.  In fact, I cried most of the day.   It was really more like wailing, sobbing, generally having a nervous breakdown.  No sleep, autoimmune flare and whacked out hormones will do that to a gal.  I got it together by Friday night to go to the Florida Georgia Line concert with my dear friends for my belated birthday celebration.  Despite the exhaustion, it was such an awesome show!  I had a blast!  They played pretty much their whole album and some super fun covers.  I was so glad I drug my tired butt out of the house:)

Yesterday I went to a funeral for a very dear friend’s mom.  It was a beautiful memorial to her life.  I had friends from the gym step in to watch my kids at the last minute.  When I say last minute, I literally mean that I took my kids up to the CrossFit gym and said, “I need to go to a funeral, can anyone take them?” (I had made prior arrangements, but they fell through).  My boys went home with one family and my daughter with another.  Finn ended up spending the night and having a blast.  My boys spent the whole day with their friend as well and it just left me feeling so blessed.  To have multiple friends who are willing to take your kids with no notice and feed them and love them all day.  Well, it is just a gift!  Love my girls at the gym!

Then at church today I went forward and asked for prayers for a medical test I am having on Tuesday morning.  I will take ya’lls prayers to if you want to give ’em.  I’ve been having some “lady problems” that have been persisting and I should get some answers on Tuesday. I hadn’t really been too scared until this weekend and with all the emotions and hormones flowing I just got scared.  It could turn out to be very minor.  I am praying it will.  I will certainly let you guys know what transpires.  Until then, any prayers lifted up on my behalf would be greatly appreciated:)  I’ll leave you with some more pictures.

Presley striking his best Gaston

Presley striking his best Gaston

Me staying paleo with my giant pork shank. Delish!

Me staying paleo with my giant pork shank. Delish!

Teacups= a face of pure fun!

Teacups= a face of pure fun!

The moment I go to take of my coat at Disney!!

The moment I go to take of my coat at Disney!!

Jenn and I after the FL/GA Line show!  Such fun!!

Jenn and I after the FL/GA Line show! Such fun!!

 

 

 

 

 

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A Peaceful Day

So despite all the challenges that have been going on lately, today has been such a peaceful day and I have been thankful.  I have had really bad headaches for the past 3 days that are gone today.  Yeah!! I’m pretty sure they are related to my hormones.  I am really hoping that my hormones are just in some sort of flux that is going to level out to this beautiful, calm place of homeostasis.  Autoimmune conditions are really challenging in that so many things can become triggers.  It really seems like as soon as I have some sort of “program” down pat something else pops up.  I won’t lie, it gets me down.  But not for as long as it used to.  Like in all areas of life, change keeps coming and you just have to keep adapting.  When I stop to try to “figure out” why I could eat coconut one day and be fine and then the next time I can’t seem to tolerate it, it just makes me crazy!  I think so much of it has to do with stress.  I can eat things on vacation with no problem at all but then try to eat them at home and they tear me up!  So often the rhyme or reason just seems too elusive to figure out.  Probably because I don’t need to figure it out.  It is that constant need to know and be in control that is at the heart of so many of my issues.  But back to today…I slept in because I went to bed with a migraine and didn’t fall asleep til after midnight and then the cat came to get me up for breakfast at 3:50am and then my daughter got in my bed around 4:30am!  My energy level has remained pretty constant today despite my disordered sleeping over the past few nights.  My boys are sick (again!) so homeschool was light today.  I did all of Finn’s work with her and then my mom took her until about 3:00.  Makes me realize how much work she is!  She loves school, so homeschooling with her is a complete joy, but once that is done for the day it is hard to shake her.  She demands my attention.  She just isn’t a child that plays well on her own.  While she was gone, I was able to go for a walk and listen to another of my paleo podcasts and squeeze in some yoga.  Things that I can technically do while she is around, but she wants to do them with me and talk to me the entire time so I don’t get the same benefit of clearing my head space.  The other lovely thing about today is all my food has been already prepared for me.  Well, I make meatloaf in the crockpot last night which was leftover for today and I have soup in the crockpot for dinner tonight.  The hubs bought me Paleo Slow Cooking by Chrissy Gower and I have really been enjoying it.  Finn is currently crying in her room due to the lack of my attention so I will leave you guys with a few more Disney pics and see you later.

Cooper and Doug enjoying gluten free dessert at Hollywood and Vine

Cooper and Doug enjoying gluten free dessert at Hollywood and Vine

Finn enjoying her bed

Finn enjoying her bed

We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside for the second time and this room was SO much better than our last room.  Last time Finn has to sleep on what looked like a dry rotted 1950’s camp cot and this time she had the precious fold out bed with a real mattress and a picture.  She was super happy!

My filet with spinach at potatoes at Le Cellier.

My filet with spinach at potatoes at Le Cellier.

This is my boys favorite restaurant at Disney.  They both had steaks that were 4 times the size of mine and ate every bite!

 A little Disney crazy:)

A little Disney crazy:)

 

 

 

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Still catching up…

Not  sure when I will really be caught up!  I need to set aside a time that is devoted to this blog, but between 3 kids, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, working and the self care it takes to keep myself running the time seems very limited!  I know I am not the only one.  If any of you out there have any tips for how you carve out blog time and make it more manageable I would love to hear them.  If any of you are homeschoolers and have any great curriculum tips, I would love to hear those too.  I am feeling prompted, hopefully by the Lord and not my own inner neuroses, to change homeschool curriculum again.  What we are doing feels overwhelming and just boring!  There were times when it has been fun, but it’s not any more.  I think my kids need more hands on activities, more fresh air, and more time to pursue individual pursuits.  I also started homeschooling so I could really give them a good Biblical foundation and Bible has gotten totally squeezed out around here due to “more critical” subjects.  In this world, I am pretty sure that a strong faith and character are pretty darn critical themselves!

On another topic, I am in a bit of a flare. I don’t know if it is due to being “off” my eating at Disney or stress or probably a combination of the two.  I wish I could always figure out my triggers, but life is never that easy.  While I did remain totally gluten-free at Disney (which is pretty easy because they are so accommodating), I did have cheese and sugar.  I have a love of the gluten-free bakery, Babycakes, in downtown Disney so I went there twice.  I’m sure some soy and corn snuck their way in as well over the course of the week while I was unaware.  The things that are out of whack are mostly hormonal with a touch of digestive upset.  In my quest for answers, I started reading The Hormone Cure by Sarah Gottfried last night.  I can’t really make any recommendations yet because I haven’t finished it, but I will say that it is chock full of info!  I took the tests that she gives to assess hormonal imbalance and I clearly had 1. High Cortisol, 2. Low Cortisol (obviously at different times than the high cortisol) 3. Low Estrogen 4. Potentially low Progesterone 5. Low Thyroid.

None of this was really news to me.  A little overwhelming to look at on paper, but not news.  I briefly looked over her management strategies and some of them I already use.  There are also a few that I want to try. I’ll keep you guys updated on what I decide to try and how it is going as I progress.  My time is up for today, but here are a few pics from Disney:)

starwars_good

Kids ready for Star Wars adventure. We rode this three times.

Gluten Free Pizza and Brownie from Pizza Planet

Gluten Free Pizza and Brownie from Pizza Planet

Sometimes I crave pizza so this was a nice treat.  I only ate half and the brownie, while gluten-free, was made of almost 100% sugar so I had to forgo that.  I let the kids have about a 1 inch piece and then we just chucked them!

Finn mesmerized by Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios!  All my kids are big fans of live theater of any sort!

Finn mesmerized by Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios! All my kids are big fans of live theater of any sort!

Dinner at Hollywood and Vine

Dinner at Hollywood and Vine

Kind of a messing looking plate, but the food was really good.  Those mashed potatoes were for my boys but I did taste them and they were awesome!  The salmon (which I am sure was not wild caught) was very tasty and tender as well.  And the pork was off the hook!

 

 

 

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21 Day Sugar Detox Days 21-21

So it is over.  It is currently the morning of the 22nd day and I’m done!  I am going to try to recap a little of what I learned during this 21 days in list form.

1. I was addicted to sugar and treats!  For the first 2 weeks I had some of the “legal” treats everyday.  But, for the last week, I let them go and I survived!  It was nice to feel that sense of freedom from that need.  I found what worked for me was going for a quick walk or picking up a book and relaxing for a few minutes.  It was more doable than I thought possible.

2. The “detox” period lasted longer than I thought it would.  I was probably 2 weeks in before I quit having periods of what felt like low blood sugar.  I felt better on days when I at least had some rutabaga or something slightly more starchy.

3.  I think I have SIBO.  Or some other form of intestinal issue.  I took on the autoimmune protocol while doing this 21DSD because of it.  I am also flirting with low FODMAPs.  I experienced what I think was some die-off effects about 10 days in and continued for a week that made me come to this decision.  Because of this, I plan to continue with some version of this plan for the next few months.

4. I LOVE kombucha!  And I can tolerate liver, for my health.

5.  For those of you wanting to know, I felt like I lost a little bloat/water weight during the first week.  However, once the SIBO/die-off stuff came on, the bloating came back with a vengeance.  It is still working it’s way out.  I think for the more “typical” person though, there would be some weight loss.

6.  My CrossFit performance was better and more effortless.  Yesterday’s WOD was:

20 Hand Release Push Ups, 21 Thrusters (squat to a ball then push barbell overhead) , 400 meter run

20 Hand Release Push Ups, 15 Thrusters, 400 meter run

20 Hand Release Push Ups, 9 Thrusters, 400 meter run

I finished first in the gym with a time of 11:47.  And it wasn’t very hard.  I used a 35# barbell for my thrusters so next time I will have to raise that.

For dinner last night I made a delicious soup.  Well, I guess delicious is debatable because 2 of my kids wouldn’t eat it.  It was grass fed beef, organic green beans, parsnips, carrots, celery, red and yellow onion, garlic, parsley and lots of seasonings.  Basically anything I had left in the fridge or freezer.

Fridge/Freezer Soup

Fridge/Freezer Soup

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