Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Attack of the Killer Grains!

I feel as if I've been poisoned.  If you watch Boardwalk Empire, think about the douchebag frat boy and what happened to him.  As I watched that episode, I thought....I feel like that!  Well, until he died in his own puke.  It hasn't gotten that bad--yet.  I began removing some newer supplements and still felt terrible.  In fact, I almost had to leave work on two different occasions because of being nearly doubled over in pain.  My diet hadn't changed, but 1-2 weeks prior, I began taking some other supplements and a new protein powder.  I closely examined every ingredient in each and what I found was shocking---GRAINS!  Those sneaky bastards are everywhere.

Before buying this new protein powder, I read the ingredient list online and did not see anything suspect except for pea protein, which isn't paleo, but never gave me trouble before.  Looking at the actual bag, I discovered quinoa and amaranth.  It isn't a lot, so it took nearly 2 weeks to do its damage.  Then I looked at some of the supplements I'd been taking for the past month and sure enough: rice bran, oat bran (all "gluten free" of course). 

The powder was all my fault, but the supplements were prescribed by my naturopath who knows I am off all grains.  It's happened on two different visits, the prescribing of grains to treat my digestive issues.  I've wasted hundreds of dollars on supplements that are toxic to my body.  I'm at the end of my rope and searching for a new doctor.  I want to discontinue most of the supplements and use a more restrictive diet to heal the digestive tract and then slowly re-introduce foods one by one. 

Clearly, this is not the season to embark on the 30-day healing diet so I'm waiting until January.  In the meantime, I am discontinuing about half of the supplements and the protein powder and hoping that helps.  I'm still doing my lifting and HIIT workouts 2-3 times a week and after 3 months have started some light running again.

So that's my little update.  Hopefully next post will be more positive.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dear Coffee, It's Not You; It's Me.

It is with great sadness that I make this announcement.  After a strong, 28 year relationship, coffee and I are separating.  This is truly devastating to me.  I'm not sure how the coffee feels.  Of course, I can't just give it up 100%, but I need to drop down to only 1 cup a day and work my way to nothing.  Why?  It makes me bloated, nauseous, and gives me a stomach ache.  It sits undigested for hours in my stomach, just sloshing around in there.  It's gross.  Not to mention my adrenals are in bad shape and coffee contributes to that.  My naturopath had me cut back to only 2 mugs a day 6 months ago so it's about time I cut back again.  My first cup usually isn't too bad, but the second is a killer.

As a side note, over the past few days I've learned that eggs (a staple of the Paleo diet) are very hard for me to digest as well.  So I'm back to smoothies (also not endorsed by the Paleo gurus), but it gives me the nutrients I need in a way that does not make me sick and that I can consume quickly in the morning. 

So far, my list of "no-no foods" are as follows:
dairy products
all grains (including corn)

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Road to Wellville--Mile Post 1

If you haven't seen the film or read the novel with the same title, I highly recommend it.  It's hilarious and based upon true characters and events (somewhat)--check out a synopsis here:

In earlier posts, I've mentioned trying just about every diet (plant-based, low-carb, etc) and many alternative treatments.  Some made sense and others, like in the film, seemed pretty ridiculous.  Several years ago, when I was too sick to get to work much of the time, I went to my doctor.  This was an MD in internal medicine.  So many tests were run.  My insides were examined via ultrasound only to find nothing wrong.  Meanwhile I could barely eat, had debilitating stomach pain, nausea, bloating, heartburn, and needed to always be close to a bathroom.  I also began having severe panic attacks almost daily.  I was diagnosed with IBS and told to start Prevacid.  Two years later, when experiencing severe post-partum anxiety and depression in addition to the other symptoms, I started Zoloft, which my doctor told me often helps IBS as well.  It did.  My digestive problems lessened as did the anxiety.  But.....I still had stomach aches, bloating, and some intestinal issues (just not nearly as bad). 

After giving birth to Liam in 2010, I returned to the gym doing Zumba 3-4 days a week and running every other day.  I could barely run for 30 seconds when I first started, but within a year I was able to run an 8K.  I also joined Weight Watchers and went gluten-free at the suggestion of my first naturopath.  I lost the baby weight.  I started my pregnancy at 125 lbs, was 170 at the end, and by the time Liam was 2, I was 122 lbs.  But I still felt bad.  The gluten-free diet did not help me at all.  In fact, I felt worse.  I had aches and pains, sciatic nerve problems, and gained 15 lbs over the next few months.  I was exhausted all the time.  I couldn't think clearly. My hair started falling out. My eczema and acne returned.

This past winter, I began seeing my daughter's naturopath and also went to see my new MD at Kaiser.  They ran full blood panels.  According to my MD, I was fine.  Nothing wrong at all.  My naturopath said nothing was alarming, however my thyriod, vitamin B, and iron levels were lower than optimal.  She determined that I have "leaky gut" and therefore malabsorption of certain minerals.  I am now on a ton of supplements.  I can't attest to their effectiveness yet since it's only been 2 weeks. 

The other radical change (and huge financial investment) I've made is leaving 24 Hour Fitness after many years to join a strength training gym, Clackamas Physical Conditioning.  It's like a Crossfit gym, but does not operate under the "crossfit" brand.  The gym requires that you do 6 sessions of personal training and pass a form test before officially joining classes.  About 50% of the people who do this pass the test the first time.  Last Friday, I had my last training session and Saturday morning I passed the test without much difficulty (those back squats are hard!).  Tuesday I go to my first real class and I'm a bit nervous. 

Today also marks my renewed commitment to Paleo eating.  I attended a basic Paleo nutrition class yesterday offered at the gym and the owner suggested making small changes incrementally to ease into this very difficult way of eating.  In this blog post, you can read Jason's philosophy on baby stepping into Paleo. So this week, my baby step is to not snack after dinner.  No, eating at night does not break any Paleo rules, but it's when I'm likely to break them via crunchy or sweet snacks.  snacking while watching tv at night is a habit, and we all know that to break a habit you need to: a) find the cause of the undesired behavior, and b) find a replacement behavior.  The cause of my snacking is simply that I associate it with tv watching and it occupies my hands.  What else could do this?  Tonight, I am going to file and paint my nails.  I'll let you know how that works out.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Paleo Go-Go

When I initially had nutritional response testing, I came up sensitive to dairy, all grains, and potatoes.  As I sought out recipes that avoided those foods, I learned that my new diet for healing was pretty close to the Paleo diet. The thing about this diet is that it is very high in fats and difficult to maintain.

I've been trying to adhere to the restrictions (eating the occasional potato and legume), but have yet to be able to eliminate sugar and coffee.  My new food routine has me consuming the largest quantity of calories for breakfast: 2-3 slices of bacon and a smoothie consisting of: berries, a banana, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, flax meal, raw spinach, and pea protein powder with stevia (no sugar). 

Lunch is almost always a salad with meat. I fill an entire plate with mixed greens and top with broccoli slaw, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms and bacon, turkey, or fish.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I'm Back!

It's funny how my last post, over two years ago, is exactly where I remain today.  Stuck in poor health.  Many things in my life have improved since April, 2011, however, and I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge what's going well:

1.  The Home: On April 1st, we listed our small home of 7 years for sale.  By May 4th, we had closed and moved into a temporary 2 bedroom apartment.  In February, we signed a contract with a local builder to purchase a new home.  Scary, since we've only seen the floor plans, but a great price and nothing would need to be fixed, updated or renovated. 

2. The Career: I'm still teaching middle school, doing reading intervention mostly with 6th graders.  But I'm at a different school within the same district.  During the 2011-2012 school year, I decided I had enough of some of the goings-on in my building and requested a transfer.  My request was accepted!  The 2012-2013 school year was one of my most challenging, but by far the best.  It was the first time I worked with 6th grade beginning readers.  These kids struggled and developed some significant coping strategies that often made them difficult to teach.  I had some great student successes and a few I was unable to reach.  Every day was critical in the lives and the futures of my students.  What a wonderful job to have!  My interactions with adults also improved.

So now for the reason I returned to my blog........I feel like crap and no one can figure out why.  I could just "accept" feeling sick, bloated, depressed and anxious, exhausted (not to mention going bald!).  Thing is, that is just not acceptable.  I refuse acceptance in this matter.  My latest journey is into the Paleo lifestyle.  I've tried traditional medicine, natural medicine, acupuncture all with no results or definitive answers.  So now there's this.  The Paleo thing.  After trying so many paths to wellness, I'm pretty skeptical.  And I know my Facebook followers probably don't want to see and read about all my meals and how I feel after each one.  So I'll just do that here.

Now I hear a 3 year old calling "mommy," so I'm off....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Food, Fitness and the Working Mama

Remember the days when you were 25, worked part-time at a job that required a great deal of physical exertion, spent an hour every day at the gym working out followed by a 30 minute sauna, went on a 2 mile power-walk every morning and evening, and walked to work, the co-op, the bar?

Remember looking in the mirror and seeing the same young face you were born with, before feeding two babies left your breasts sagging, stretch-marked and lop-sided and your lower abdomen stretched out like a piece of hide pulled from the head of a large drum?

Remember being able to tie a scarf around your chest and call it a shirt?  Having size 30 pants fall off your hips and require a belt?  Being able to wear a tank top without the support of a bra?

I remember it all too well and struggle with the reality of my transformed life every day.  Although I can't stand how aging looks, I am willing to trade off a little of my appearance for the wisdom and centering that comes with "advanced" years.  The problem is finding the time to always eat fresh foods and get the proper exercise.

I wish I could end this post with the perfect recipe for whole-body fitness that could accommodate the fluctuating schedule of a working mother, but I suppose if I had that figured out I would patent it, sell it, and spend the rest of my days doing whatever I please.

So consider this a cry for help.

Is it possible to fit in a 60-minute workout at least five times a week without neglecting your children?

What about unprocessed, wholesome lunches for work?  Ideas????



Sunday, March 6, 2011


It may be slow, but it most definitely is happening.  I have wanted to write something prolific for weeks, but life has gotten in the way of that.  The kids have been sick (I spent 3 hours in urgent care with Liam this afternoon), work continues to become more intense in all the wrong ways, and we are spending more family time together without electronics.

So instead of trying to compose a Nobel Prize-winning essay, I've decided to revisit my 2011 goals.  

Domain 1--The Home: I set out to accomplish some organizational projects, however my goals for the home have evolved.  I still intend to deal with "organization," but by way of purging the house of non-essentials.  This includes giving away much of our baby stuff to a co-worker, selling all extraneous furniture that no longer fits in our home and has taken up residence in the garage, consigning the kids' outgrown clothes and my maternity clothes, and taking everything I can't sell to Goodwill.  In addition to the downsizing campaign, we are planning to build our garden in both the front and back yards.

Domain 2--Family: I have made time for Zoe and I to do things together as mother and daughter.  We have played board games, made valentines, and resumed our evening ritual of cuddling under a blanket together while watching The Simpsons before her bedtime.  We used to do it nightly until about a year ago when I became too pregnant to cuddle with her on the couch. I've been reading copious books on positive and gentle discipline.  I completed The Continuum Concept and am half-way through Unconditional Parenting.  I have Positive Discipline A-Z and am working my way through that as needed.  I recently began Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves and have Playful Parenting waiting for me on the bookshelf.

Domain 3--Wellness: This is an area that I am still very committed to despite a small detour.  Work is keeping me so busy that I often gave up workout time to stay late at work.  My eating was not as great for a bit either, but I'm happy to say that I have found my way back to the path of wholesome, homemade, unprocessed foods.  I have 16 lbs to go until I reach my weight loss goal, although that is secondary to eating a diet untainted by chemicals and GMOs.

Domain 4--Career: I am definitely re-committed to best practice in education, however my recent studies have led me in an entirely different direction than expected.  For the first time in many years, I am considering homeschooling my children for at least part of their "school-age" years.  Honestly, I cringe at the term "homeschool" and much prefer natural learning or community learning.  I have no desire to shelter my children from reality, in fact, I'd prefer them to be more entrenched in real-life (which the typical schooling experience is not).  Of course this means discovering a way to live without earning a salary, so I have been researching that possibility voraciously.

Domain 4--Recreation: Well, my goal of weekly blogging is obviously not going well.  The other goals have taken priority and I am completely okay with that.