No sugar. No grains. No dairy. Day 6. I thought I would be a very grumpy Mama Bear at this point.
Instead, I feel more clear-headed and energetic than in months. This could be a sort of Holier-Than-Thou placebo affect. I’m giving up all these things like caffeine and sugar that are known to be bad for you. It is extreme, but with considerable planning and cooking on my part, it is going just fine.
Breakfasts take the most thought. I roasted a huge pan of butternut squash mixed with sweet potatoes and carrot chunks and served it up to the guys for dinner, saving the rest for breakfasts.
I’ve cooked two organic chickens this week, one which I split with the family and finished for breakfast or on salads, another that has provided several pre-made meals.
I alternate chicken and vegetables with grass-fed hamburger patties, delicious salads and fish.
I’m not missing alcohol half as much as I thought. I miss snacks, like an occasional power bar, and have grown to adore my two fruits a day that feel like crack as it is more sweetness than I can almost handle being off sugar.
I’m on attempt two of making coconut yogurt. The first batch I ignored the warning that boxed coconut milk wouldn’t do the trick.It tasted like really yeasty kefir and I ended up throwing it all out.
I eventually ordered 12 cans of BPA free, all natural (no guar gum or stabilizers added) canned coconut milk and tried another batch yesterday. The verdict is to come, but I think I need to go ahead and order a vegan gelatin to add in to thicken it a bit. I also ordered roasted chicory root and dandelion root in bulk on Amazon which I combine to make a delicious breakfast beverage that rivals coffee. (note “rivals,” not “replaces.”)
Today is proving trying. My doctor ordered a glucose test partially to determine whether I have a small intestine bacterial infection that needs treating. Tomorrow I will breathe in a bag every 15 minutes for two hours at one of the University of Iowa Health Clinics. The prep is icky: I can only have boiled/baked chicken and fish today, white bread and white rice. Since I’ve given up the last two, it is a high protein extremely bland diet to follow. I also have a concert and am travelling, so I feel like it is a hard day to not have energy-giving carbs. I miss my veggies and fruits dearly! But it is only one day and a good reminder that many people on our planet would be thrilled to have the poultry I can eat.
Tomorrow, after the test, I will be back to my more innovative cooking. I ordered Mickey Trescott’s “Autoimmune Paleo Diet Cookbook” and it is a marvelous resource. It includes menus, shopping lists and fun recipes like the cauliflower “fried rice” pictured below, given a thumbs up from my whole family! (Interested in ordering? I’m not rewarded for this endorsement, just a fan! http://www.amazon.com/Autoimmune-Paleo-Cookbook-Allergen-Free-Approach/dp/0578135213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423415595&sr=8-1&keywords=autoimmune+paleo+cookbook)
More to come on the physical transformations on this protocol. One week is hardly enough to change dramatically, but hopefully my immune system is feeling soothed by all the goodness and love I’m sending its way.
Yesterday’s trip to the grocery store was intended to be exploratory. The Brewmaster and I were on the search for foods that I will be able to eat on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet, or AIP diet, which is so restrictive that I am panicking a little. The list of foods I CAN’T have is so vast that I feel like I need to plan and prepare before starting it. Ballet Boy has dance auditions that will take us on the road the next two weekends, and we’ve decided it is not reasonable to start my elimination diet until I am sure to be able to control my food choices.
Tapicoa. I eliminate this the first 6-8 weeks because it is a known gluten cross reactor according to Cyrex Labs Gluten Cross-Reactivity Test
Vegetables (except nightshades)
Fruits (limit to 15-20 grams fructose/day)
Coconut products including coconut oil, manna, creamed coconut, coconut aminos, canned coconut milk (with no additives like guar gum and carageen or bpa lined cans) shredded coconut (this list does not include coconut sugar and nectar)
Fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, lard, bacon fat, cultured ghee (certified to be free of casein and lactose)
Fermented Foods (coconut yogurt, kombucha, water and coconut kefir, fermented vegetables)
Grass Fed Meats, Poultry and Seafood
Non-Seed Herbal Teas
Vinegars: Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconut vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic (that has no added sugar)
Sweeteners: occasional and sparse use of honey and maple syrup (1 tsp/day)
Herbs: all fresh and non-seed herbs are allowed (basil tarragon, thyme, mint, oregano, rosemary, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, savory, edible flowers)
Binders: Grass Fed Gelatin and Arrowroot Starch (watch the starch however if you have adrenal issues)
My first question when my doctor showed me the diet was, “What the heck can I eat for breakfast?” She suggested leftovers from the night before.
Now breakfast at our house is kind of sacred. We alternate delicious scrambled eggs with spinach and bacon with oatmeal garnished with Craisins, bananas, or whatever fruit is seasonal. On weekends I make pumpkin pancakes or French toast.
I can kiss all that goodbye for a while. The Brewmaster and I had to look for a long time to find bacon with no sugar, but Costco does carry some. It is not nitrate free, which I frown on. Our local food Co-Op carries some that is all of the above, but it is $8 for 8 oz. That becomes a luxury item to me.
We’ve decided we just need to buy some nitrate/hormonal free ground pork and make me some breakfast patties from scratch with no sweetener, as everything in the store had sugar or dextrose in it. We are going to have to buy huge amounts of salad, because I won’t be able to eat peas or beans or any of the green sides I love. None of my “quick” meal solutions, like turkey breast for sandwiches or frozen salmon burger from Costco work as they either contain sugar or vegetable oil.
This is going to be challenging. I have decided that autoimmune disease is like watching your kindergartner play soccer: at that age scoring a goal is more important than scoring a goal for the right team. My immune system has short-circuited and instead of attacking foreign intruders or potential viruses or attackers, it is attacking the very systems it is designed to protect (in my case, the thyroid gland). What does this have to do with my gut? Everything, according to vast amounts of literature that say that if you can avoid foods that trigger your immune system to get all riled up, it might also go into sort of a calm, remissive state and stop attacking my thyroid and brain tissue.
We will see. This is only temporary, God Help Me. Hopefully many of my favorite foods will not be triggers.
In the meantime, I am savoring every bite of food as if it’s the Last Supper. Today one of my students left me a chocolate bar and a kind note on it in my mailbox. I will enjoy every last bite, and remind myself that the note was more nourishing than the chocolate itself.
Last night during the finale of Don Giovanni, a popular opera by Mozart, I started writing this blog in my head. Although I had a considerable amount of fast notes to play, and regardless of the fact that I had been playing for over two hours straight at that point and was tired, I was ironically thinking about how much I multi-task all the time and have trouble staying in the moment.
Sometimes this has seemed like an honorable skill, like when I did my Master’s degree and subsequent Doctoral degree as a single mom. I might have been outside in the cold at 2 a.m. with a croupy kid, but I was able to practice my cello, read 350 pages a week for each class I was completing and play in two professional orchestras at the same time. I was Wonder Woman, Road Warrior and Super Mom all in one.
Those years have caught up with me. I’m learning that years of stress and doing way too many tasks at once are not a sign of invincibility, but more of insanity. My body is telling me to stop.
During the same Mozart performance last night, I was struggling with the fact that I needed to poop. I hadn’t had time before I ran out the door from a quick dinner after teaching. I had a mantra in my brain that made it hard to concentrate: Don’t fart. Don’t fart. Don’t you dare fart. Farting in the pit of an opera or musical production is akin to farting in an elevator. It’s really not okay to the people around you who have nowhere to go and are trying to focus on their own performance.
This happens frequently to me in yoga. Although there is inevitably someone who farts during child pose, I don’t want to be that someone. My farts stink. That mantra is more, “Nofart, Nofart, Nofart.” Which rhymes with Mozart.
I suppose “Don’t fart” in the pit is better than sometimes when a little voice
in my head keeps saying, “Don’t fuck up. Don’t fuck up.” Then I usually fuck up and play the wrong note or at the wrong time because I’m thinking too much about messing up, instead of what I should be doing.
The bottom line is that I’m not very good at staying in the moment. I try hard, but my brain wanders all the time during yoga or during performances.
Last night my brain was also far from the task at hand, Mozart, because yesterday I found out I have Hashimoto’s Disease. I finally found a “functional doctor,” meaning a doctor that doesn’t just look for symptoms of me being very sick, but looks at all my symptoms combined and gives advice on how to improve lifestyle and nutrition in order to be more healthy and balanced. I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism for ten years, but levothyroxine has not cured my symptoms. To all of my doctors, whenever my lab tests came back normal they assumed I was fine, even if I didn’t feel fine. It turns out that if you have Hashimoto, you actually have an autoimmune disorder, where your body starts attacking its own tissue. My body has been destroying its own thyroid tissue.
Since autoimmune disease is often related to other autoimmune disorders, we talked about my asthma and endometriosis as being related. This new functional doctor’s first recommendation was to try removing inflammatory foods from my diet to see what might also be triggering autoimmune responses, which often start in our gut. Gluten, for instance, can “leak” through the intestinal wall and then our body attacks it, because it is not in the right place. People with Hashimoto’s should absolutely avoid gluten, which is why I have felt slightly better not consuming gluten for the past few years. A simple antibody test has shown that I have a disorder which is complex to treat and will require some exploring.
Traditional medical protocol prescribes synthetic hormone to restore the thyroid to health. This has not worked for me because my body keeps blocking the thyroid from doing it’s work even when I have enough thyroid in my system. Since I’m tired of freezing all the time, feeling sluggish, dizzy, brain fog and a complete inability to lose weight even on a low calorie diet with lots of exercise, I’m ready to try the elimination diet.
Readers, you will be hearing about this as it is incredibly restrictive for four weeks. I will not be a happy camper. After that I can slowly reintroduce one food at a time, keeping a strict journal of my reactions. This Autoimmune Protocol website (http://aiplifestyle.com/what-is-autoimmune-protocol-diet/) will be my bible, and I’ve already looked into buying a paleo cookbook to make it easier. Breakfast will be tricky: no eggs, no grains. I think giving up sugar is one of the hardest as it is in all prepared food and so many recipes.
And if that doesn’t work, my doctor will test me for hormonal imbalances and other possible triggers. The book “Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Tests Are Normal?” by Datis Kharrazian has proved a wonderful resource, as it explains in detail the science behind how our thyroid works and why traditional approaches (prescribing thyroid medicine and not addressing the autoimmune disorder) don’t resolve symptoms.
The number one way to alleviate autoimmune disease is to eliminate stress, however. So I will keep doing yoga, try to take deep breaths when I feel anxiety coming on, and laugh as much as I can with the Brewmaster and Ballet Boy. And tomorrow when I play Mozart, I will try and stay in the moment, connected to my colleagues, the conductor and the wonderful vibrations that Mozart is still sending our way more than 200 years after his death.
Usually the last day of year is one of looking backwards, assessing and anticipating changes for the New Year.
Today has been the opposite for me. I’ve felt stopped in my tracks. Nothing has happened as planned, and I found myself constantly having to reign in feelings of frustration.
When my son was too tired to come to yoga flow this morning with me, I was so disappointed. Of course, it doesn’t matter, but just like he was eager to share the torture of his reformer pilates for ballet class with me, I thought he might like yoga flow which combines very little tai chi with pilates and yoga.
When I got to the gym and there WAS no yoga flow because it is New Year’s Eve, I jumped on a bike even though that was what I had done yesterday. I cycled 50 minutes in high gear, sweating out my disappointment at not being able to stretch and flex my muscles instead. Then I did a 1 minute plank, push ups and some odd obliques torture maching.
Then I waited, and waited. The Brewmaster had cycled for 30 minutes, as well, and then went to swim and use the hot tub. I actually swam 40 mins on Sunday and wondered why I had avoided it for so long! That day I encourage the Brewmaster just to fix short goals of 5 or 10 laps, with as many rests in between as possible.
After we had been at the gym for about 1.5 hours, my worrisome nature got the best of me and I went to make sure he hadn’t had a heart attack in the hot tub, but he wasn’t to be found. I was actually peaceful at this point with the idea that he was getting in a great workout.
It turned out that he decided to swim as long as the little old lady in the middle lane. Little did he suspect that she was a regular swimmer and he ended up swimming 35 minutes, after his bike ride of 11 miles.
Will we make a triathlete of him yet?
After that we went and picked up Ballet Boy. I was feeling low sugar and incapable of preparing food, so we went to Village Inn. And waited and waited for our food as it was “Free pie” day and the restaurant was crowded.
After that adventure and a pretty icky iceberg lettuce salad we all came home. The guys got on their phones and every time I tried to start a conversation I was greeted with silence. I finally gave up and took a nap before teaching a few private students. I awoke refreshed and decided to make some gluten-free chocolate cupcakes for tonight.
I tried to frost the cupcakes using a ziploc bag as a pipette since I don’t own one. It looked so easy on You Tube. My wonderful chocolate buttercream frosting with melted dark chocolate in it ended up looking like poop. I ended up just spreading the rest, but I saved it as I know my girlfriends at the NYE party tonight will laugh with me.
I am not crafty. I accept that. Acceptance may just be my New Year’s Resolution. I want to accept who I am, accept that my guys may not always have the same plans or needs as I do, accept my clumsiness and accept my ups and downs in my training.
This is much easier than resolving to lose 10 pounds.
Or not…patience is not my forte, nor is self-acceptance. But I think it is a damn good resolution!
There’s no explaining my long vacation from blogging. It’s been so long that I’ve blogged that this may read like the annual holiday letter that I often write in my head and never send.
There’s been some hard times, but there have also been some great happenings.
Let’s start with the great happenings: The Brewmaster and I have made it through a second Christmas together. He has not smoked a cigarette since last March. (That was a deal-breaker for our healthy home.) We really make a good team and he is my truest friend and life saver. My dog is in relatively good health and Ballet Boy is dancing like a true star. My various jobs– playing in two orchestras, teaching private lessons and at a small college,and scoring for Pearson– have kept me insanely busy but are paying the bills.
Around Thanksgiving I was able to negotiate a great deal on a joint membership for the Brewmaster and myself at a local gym that has yoga, spin, weight classes and a small 3 lane pool and hot tub. We cycle and I’ve been yoga-ing on a regular basis.I love my class, It is full of mainly 60+ year-olds that can balance way better than I can and are generally pretty darn flexible. I’ve discovered that I like Yoga-Flow, a combo of pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga. The Brewmaster has used the pool way more than I have. I haven’t used it at all. I also haven’t used the 3 sessions with a personal trainer that I got at a promotional rate of $99…a good deal! I’m holding out on the sessions until I feel ready to do strenuous activity (see below) and I have absolutely no reason why I haven’t used the pool.
This winter I bought the warmest and most comfortable snow boots (Keens) that I’ve ever had. Guess what? We’ve had the warmest and driest Iowa winter I’ve ever recalled. So far. I could be running outside every day in 30+ weather!
Which brings me to the more lame happenings: My left foot is still suffering from plantar fasciitis. In fact, I’d say it’s worse than last summer. There are days when I don the gay apparel of my therapeutic boot because I can’t put weight on it. This in turn makes my right hip hurt as few of my shoes are as high as that boot, so I end up having an uneven gait. So far, no running, and scarcely even a dog walk. I am continuing to stretch and roll out both my foot and calf, and most yoga seems to help it (when I’m not trying to balance on my left foot only).
Less running/walking means weight gain or no loss. I tried South Beach phase one, but it coincided with Thanksgiving and I need to start over. Less running means more stress. Recently I’ve had problems choking on bread and dry/chewy foods, so I went to the doctor. The general practitioner looked down his nose at me, declared that I had stress-induced dysphagia and said, “With all of these issues like lactose and gluten intolerance, I would say you fit into a certain category of people who just need to control their stress.” I explained I was doing a lot to control my stress (like yoga and deep breathing) after seeing the wonderful breast nurse who helped me this summer. His response was, “Well, if two doctors have told you to do something about your stress, don’t you think it’s time to take care of it?” He was pushing for anti-anxiety meds. I got out of there in a hurry and tried to push away thoughts of screaming at him, “I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN!”
Because it HAS been a stressful fall. There are just periods like this in life where you have to ride the wave. One morning, driving my son to school, I passed a school bus that was stopped on the other side of the street. Even scarier, I don’t even recall a school bus being there. Iowa laws are rightfully very strict; not only is this a minor misdemeanor now in the name of the law, but your license gets suspended for 30 days, and the next infraction you are sent to jail. The police officer following me informed me of all of this as I burst into tears that morning in October. My son and I happened to be engrossed in a conversation about bike safety as he usually rode his bike; that morning it was very cold so I was driving him. I did review the video from the policeman (the buses also videotape) and I was completely guilty. I’m the type of person who stops behind city buses even though there is no legislation, and I’ve had so few speeding tickets that I think the police officer felt bad after looking up my record. But the video doesn’t lie.
Perhaps it was giving up caffeine this summer that made me groggy, but I also feel very forgetful and spacey much of the time. I know these are symptoms of perimenopause and hormonal imbalance, but can I just say it sucks to get old? The Brewmaster accompanied me to court so I wouldn’t have to stand alone with all the DUI’s and druggies and other distracted moms.
Luckily I have been able to get a temporary restricted license to drive to work, and the Brewmaster actually enjoys driving me around. I was able to postpone my suspension until winter break so it wouldn’t be at such a terrible time.
Merry Christmas, to me. $230 to the Iowa DOT and about $389 in court cases.
I’m just very thankful that I didn’t hit a child, which is why these laws are there.
There have been other stressful events, like my car getting broken into in front of my house and an acquaintance who got irate when I ignored her friend request on Facebook and sent me two weeks of harassing emails. All of these events gave me desert island fantasies. Grant me peace…
But through all of this, my son and the Brewmaster have been steadfast. They are there to boost my self-esteem, to tell me I’m a good person, and to applaud my attempts to de-stress.
When you ride a wave, there’s always an upside and downside. I’m ready to ride the wave again, and see what life brings me in 2015. I’ll keep breathing in and out, maybe I’ll cave and get a cortisone shot so I can run again. I’m looking forward to lots of trips to the gym with the Brewmaster, getting back in the pool (I have no idea why I haven’t been swimming…do you?) and healthy, imaginative meals with both of them. Maybe Muffin Monday will become Meatless Wheatless Monday for this blog..stay steady and ready.
In the meantime, I’ll keep kicking it with my guys, hobbling around in my various boots and fighting stress one downward doggie at a time. Wishing all my readers a healthy and wealthy of the heart end to 2014 and fabulous 2015!
My Grandmother was a strong, beautiful woman. After my granddad died, she continued to have boyfriends, go out dancing and have bridge/cocktail parties. She walked at least a mile everyday up at our cabin, and frequently swam every day in the lake. All with macular degeneration (legally blind). and often alone.
So don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy about becoming Grandma. I’m just puzzled it’s happening so quickly.At age 47. In Grandma’s later life, I remember her teaching me how to apply nail polish and lipstick. This was a big deal since I was not allowed to wear makeup at home. In turn, I would take her shopping; she loved to coordinate her dangling earrings with her outfits and she couldn’t see well enough to choose the right colors.
There IS a strong family resemblance.
The thing is, I’m kind of embracing this stage of my life as a little inevitable, and a little enviable. My Grandma was attractive, strong as an ox and she lived a good long life. What more could I ask for?
Without further ado, here are the 5 Reasons I’m Becoming My Grandma:
This is breakfast:
2. All I want to wear all the time are Cuddl Duds. Although Cuddl Duds are OBVIOUSLY loungewear, they now have a “Work” section on their website. Yes! Let’s all wear leisure wear at work! Elastic waistbands, leggings, long sweaters and thermal undershirts. I’m in. Or I could just wear Athleta ALL the time. This would be the modern day equivalent of my Grandmothers Moo Moo, which she wore all the time at home. If you don’t know what a Moo Moo is, it is sort of like a hippie tent dress, I’m assuming inspired by someone’s trip to Hawaii in the 60’s.
3. When I get out of bed in the morning, everything hurts. My hips crack, my plantar fasciitis kills me, my neck is sore and I can’t open my eyes. As if decaf coffee is going to change this! Which is why you can refer back to my breakfast on No.1.
4. I shuffle instead of walking. Okay, this might be due to the plantar fasciitis (which is NOT rapidly improving). I swear I was using my grocery cart as a walker at Costco yesterday. My grandmother had a cane or walking stick, but she was blind. I can see, supposedly. I still run into things.
5. Recently I purchased bras that were the most comfortable, best-fitting design ever. The nurse at the Breast Clinic suggested this. We’re talking full coverage, wide straps and a full fitting at Dillard’s. I found out that I had gone up two cup sizes. Goodness! They were the most expensive by far, but they were also possibly the least sexy I’ve ever bought. And you know what? I don’t care! What’s next? Spanx, I guess.
Finally we got to the bottom of it. My foot, that is.
My physical therapist discovered last Wednesday just how tight my calf muscle is. In fact, he brought on so much pain massaging it that I was whimpering. Auriel is usually a pretty funny guy, but that day I wasn’t laughing. At all.
The next day I felt better. I wasn’t sure if it was the Iontophoresis (small cortisone patch with electric or ionic diffusion) or the massage. But I was slightly better.
Today I told him that my plantar fasciitis felt little less horrible. His response? To go even harder on my calf. “Dude, I’m scaring all the other patients!” I cried. He laughed.
Auriel did show me some neat pictures. He taught me about this muscle that wraps around my calf down to my foot, right where I’m feeling pain. Usually plantar fasciitis is caused by some sort of muscle or tendon tightness that causes the bottom of the foot to contract.
Great! I can add “Inflexible” to my self-descriptive words. After reading more about flexor hallucis longus pain, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have flexor hallucis longus tendonitis. But I’ll leave that up the experts and keep doing yoga, stretching and icing it.
I can tell you that I was in a lot of pain after that massage riding my bike home and up a small hill. My idea of going out to see the Brewmaster at the brewery which is about 10 miles out from my house was squashed. Pain. So much pain.
It’s 80 degrees almost, sunny, and the leaves are all turning color. I can’t wait to get out on the road and see the beautiful Iowa countryside in its fall splendor. But that is not for today. After lunch with Ibuprofen, I put on my orthopedic boot and hobbled around the grocery store. I bought stuff to make gluten-free pumpkin bars. Don’t put pumpkin spice in my drinks and don’t shower me with autumnal candles, but I do love some seasonal food.
They turned out really yummy, and I hope they will cheer up Ballet Boy who is also having foot pain today. It’s time to mama-fy and mummify (I’m going to wrap his foot before dance). If you have a lot of GF flours on hand, it’s a great recipe!