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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Things Are Going Pretty Well...Yawn

Just to share a little progress and things I am learning.

I have tried to be very careful about wheat consumption (and to a lesser degree, sugar consumption) since my last post.  And I have done really well.  No headaches!!  One side effect is that I have been extremely sleepy.  Not so much tired as sleepy.  I have energy if I get up and do stuff, but if I sit down and get still (even at work), I feel like I could drop off at any moment.  It is a side effect of wheat withdrawal, I have read.  Hopefully it will pass soon.  However, it hit me this morning, I am probably not eating enough carbs.  Just because I do not eat wheat does not mean I cannot eat carbs.  I had some melon in the refrigerator, so I ate that mid-morning and maybe started to feel a little perkier.  I didn’t bring any lunch from home, so I thought I should get something that includes some non-wheat carbs, so I did.  We have a place in our food court called Kuai Asian Fusion.  I checked out their menu before going down, to make sure they had gluten free options.  They did, so I got the small Thai Chicken bowl, which has a red curry sauce.  I got that with brown rice.  They had some condiments you could get and chose some chopped scallions to put on mine.  Delicious!  Funny – I used to wouldn’t go to this place because I didn’t think you got enough food for the money.  The small bowl was $6.50 and it was plenty, plenty for me.  And their ingredients are organic, so it is a healthy choice.  (Probably another reason I wouldn’t go there when I wasn’t in the zone – in my mind, healthy =’d undesirable because it would be bland and tasteless.  Boy, was I wrong.  This was really good!  Let’s see if the carbs perk me up.  I had visions of getting some peanut M&M’s (a candy on the low end of the glycemic index), but didn’t.  Yay me!

I am feeling quite well physically, except the sciatic nerve on my right side is still flared up.  It makes it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position, and when I wake up and move – ouchies.  I am hoping it is just a flare-up and it will settle down soon.

Weight-wise, I am not showing much of a difference yet.  However, I think I am beginning to see a redistribution of things when I look in the mirror.  I see less fat in the area below my breasts.  As for weight loss, I think it is just one of those things that will show up when it wants to.  I can tell I am losing fat.  And weight loss is becoming almost secondary to me.  I feel so much better physically and mentally, I would keep doing this just for that reason.

I was reading a blog yesterday that was critical of the Wheat Belly “diet fad.”  I never thought of the information in the Wheat Belly book as a typical weight loss book.  I started reading it because someone told me it might help my headaches.  When I tried it a few days, I was feeling so much better, I knew I wanted to continue with it (minus the vacation in the middle).  This is definitely a lifestyle, not a diet.  There are still changes to be made, but I am well on my way.  Anyway, although the blog was critical of the book, all of the comments shot the author down.  Everyone talked about all the improvements in their health from going wheat-free.  Some of them I am already experiencing.  Some of them are things I need to see, like reduced pain in knees, hips and back, and fibromyalgia pain.  I hope I will see significant improvement in those areas as soon as possible.

Time to go home, so I will close.  Sure will be glad when I get past this sleepy stage.  Yawn….

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Just Updating

Okay, a little updating.

I’ve made some FB posts lately about how much better I am feeling (and I am!), but then later some issues will crop up and I feel like I am sounding overly optimistic in my posts.  I really do not think that is the case.

The last couple of days have been outside of my ordinary routine in a couple of ways.  Monday was my daughter’s birthday, so we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant (Stephanie’s choice) and back to my cousin’s house for birthday cake, etc.  This week is Administrative Professional’s Week, and yesterday my employer treated me and some other co-workers to a meal at a nice restaurant.  I had forgotten yesterday was “the day” and had not prepared much ahead of time.

For my daughter’s birthday dinner, I knew what I wanted.  We had eaten there once before and someone else had gotten the chili relleno and I knew then, that was what I wanted to get the next time.  So I did.  The meal consisted of the chili relleno (a poblano pepper stuffed with a mixture of beef and cheese, etc., with some type of breading and deep fried).  The breading looked more of the cornmeal type, but I am sure there was some wheat involved.  It came with rice and beans.  I was intending to substitute what they called a jalapeno slaw for the rice and beans, but forgot to do that.  So I just ate the chili relleno and left the rice and beans.  I did eat a few chips (I hope made from corn, but maybe not) with some queso blanco.  (Really, I am pretty sure the corn is almost as bad as the wheat.)  Anyway, I know that was way more carbs than I needed to be eating, and likely some wheat in there somewhere.  I won’t say I did the best I could, but I certainly didn’t do the worst I could.  We went back to have the cake, etc. and I did not eat any cake or cookies.  I did have some ice cream.  No wheat (or not much – there could have been some additives), but still way too many carbs.

The next morning, yesterday morning, I felt like I had a hangover.  I was sluggish and headachy.  Then they came to get me to leave for lunch.

These Administrative Professionals Day lunches are a time when you go to a nice restaurant and you take advantage of trying everything you want, because it is on the boss’s dime.  J  I was trying to be reasonable.  For our table, we ordered the deviled eggs (good for me) and another party ordered what were called “steak egg rolls.”  I did eat a half of one of those small egg rolls, but just ate the meat and cheese filling and peeled off the egg roll wrapper.  Their soup special for the day was cream of cauliflower.  I wanted to try it, but I didn’t want much.  So a coworker and I ordered a cup and split it.  It was delicious!  I was hoping it was cream based and not roux based – it tasted cream based, but who knows?  My entrĂ©e was a rib eye steak with some lobster chunks on top.  It came with a kind of orzo pasta dish and I asked them to substitute in cheesy poblano potatoes instead.  They got that wrong and brought me just plain mashed potatoes.  Just as well; I didn’t need the carbs.  I ate just 3-4 small bites of the potatoes, which I can technically have, I just need to keep my carbs low.  Then it was time for dessert.  I should have just skipped it.  I thought about just getting some ice cream, but I ended up getting cheesecake, but I did not eat the crust (where most of the wheat would be).  But I certainly did not need that sugar.

So, all in all, I was trying to make better “no wheat/gluten” choices, but I could have eaten cleaner.  I had a mild headache at times during the afternoon.  I ate clean for dinner (a Monterrey chicken breast and some broccoli rabe).  I wasn’t very hungry, so ate maybe half of it and put the rest up to have at lunch sometime.  The chicken was delicious (and I worked really hard on it to get it just perfect), but I just wasn’t hungry enough.

So, I didn’t feel as well as I did a lot of the time last week because I wasn’t eating as cleanly.  However, I did notice one thing.  Despite my challenges the last couple of days, when I got home, I had more energy and was more in the mood to do things around the house than I usually am after work.  I don’t know how to describe it.  It is like when I eat cleanly (as in no wheat/gluten), not only does it take care of the headaches, but it’s like a cloud lifts.  I was actually quite tired when I got home and the house was kind of a mess because I did a lot of cooking Sunday and didn’t have time to get everything all spiffied up again, and then we were gone with Stephanie’s party Monday night.  So I was feeling frustrated with the mess and wanted to get it done, even though I was tired (from all the cooking, etc. over the weekend and then staying out for the party the night before, plus I’m still catching up from vacation).  So even though I am tired, I still feel different.  I want to get things done.  I almost feel like a different person.  My attitude toward myself is changing.  I am developing more of an attitude of “To thine own self be true.”  I cleaned the house because I wanted a clean house to live in (even though I think my daughter should have done more of it, because I did all the cooking, which is for her benefit too).

I have had these feelings lately of not wanting to feel apologetic for who I am anymore, like I have felt my whole life.  I think part of it is just continuing healing I am going through, but I also think removing the wheat/gluten is having an effect.  Wheat sensitivity is linked to depression and I do feel different.  Like I said, it is like a cloud has lifted.  I FEEL DIFFERENT.  We will see.  But I am certainly liking it.

Now, back to the feeling of being a little over-optimistic sounding in my posts.  My back is hurting moderately, as well as sciatic pain down my right leg.  The headaches are definitely better, but I am struggling with the back thing right now.  I did so well on my trip, but now….  Then I remembered.  I took the steroid on the trip to help out with that.  The last time I did that was when I moved from my old loft to my new one.  I knew I would need to be on my feet a lot and lift a moderate amount (although I tried to be careful), so I asked the doctor to put me on a steroid and she did and it helped a lot.  But after it had worn off, I was worse than I had ever been (too much heavy lifting) and eventually got to where I had to have the back surgery in early 2014.  In some ways, being on the steroid may have led to that because I did more than I otherwise would have been able to do during the move.  It’s the same kind of scenario here – I did a LOT of walking.  I doubt I did any damage, but I do think I am feeling the effects of having done that.  Now that the steroid has worn off, I am feeling like I overdid.  It will just take a while for things to settle down, I think.  Sigh.  But I am glad I at least got to enjoy my vacation to the degree I did.  However, right now I just want to wave a magic wand and make the pain go away.  I got spoiled to feeling better and I don’t like this.  I don’t like it at all.  Hopefully in a week, the way I am feeling from overdoing will have improved (I am trying to use ice packs often to help with inflammation, etc.).  And I know that the more I eat cleanly, the more the inflammation is going to settle down and that will make me feel better.

I am going to work on the wheat/gluten part a couple of more weeks before starting the next thing, which will be sugar.  However, after yesterday, I’m going to do much better even before then.  I need to not eat any table sugar, and the more “healthy” sugars need to be only once in a while.  After that, I have to get off the SF Monsters.  Any kind of carbonation causes acid in the body, which leads to inflammation (among other things I cannot recall right now).  So I know the time is coming for that.  I’m just trying to take one step at a time.  I don’t want to fall off the wagon because I try to do too much at one time.

By the way, this week for Administrative Professionals Week, each morning there has been goodies.  Monday there were cookies; Tuesday there were muffins, etc.; today there were donuts and kolaches.  I have not eaten one of them.  I haven’t really been tempted – it’s not worth a bad headache.

I’m going to close this now.  I keep trying to proof it and I fall asleep.  Lol!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weigh-In after 5 Days of Wheat/Gluten-Free

I just wanted to do a quick check-in.  I weighed in on Tuesday morning, actually, although I put it in on my weight/size page as Monday.  I weighed 294.8 at that time and that was after one wheat/ gluten-free day.  So I might have weighed a little more on Monday.  This morning (actually yesterday morning, Saturday), I weighed 290.2, so that was a loss of 4.6.

I want to document a little how I ate this week.  My biggest goal was to eat wheat/gluten-free.  I am trying to think of an instance when I had wheat or gluten.  The only thing I can think of was Friday night I ate some ice cream (quite a lot, actually).*  It was Blue Bell and I'm pretty sure it has some kind of additive(s) that have gluten.  And, or course, it had sugar.  I am working toward sugar-free (although I do plan to eat raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut crystals, etc., on occasion; I just don't want to eat it constantly and if it becomes a problem, I will have to address that).  I ate quite a bit of fats -- bacon or sausage and eggs and cheese for breakfast, nuts and cheese for snacks, and meats and vegetables and occasional carbs such as sweet potatoes for meals.  I averaged one piece of fruit a day, but tried to eat it after already eating protein/veggies/fats.

Dr. Davis, the author of Wheat Belly, advises eating very low carb, even if you are not eating wheat or gluten.  You don't want to constantly spike your blood sugar and create an insulin response.  This happens for some people more easily than for others.  So, I have bought myself a glucose meter for several reasons.  First of all, I want to see where my blood sugar is now -- am I diabetic (I was not, but close, last time it was checked)?  I also want to see how different foods affect my glucose level.  When I eat carbs, I will eat them with proteins and/or fats to lower the likelihood of spiking my blood sugar.  I want to see what happens when I eat a little bit of the right kind of carbs and if it raises my blood sugar too much.

Dr. Davis writes as though evolution is a fact and that we evolved from apes, etc.  Because of that, he makes certain assumptions about how our ancestors ate.  I have a Biblical world view and my Bible says that God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, which was filled with many fruits (and vegetables) and told them to eat freely of those fruits.  Dr. Davis does not recommend you eat fruit more than once a day, if that much.  My tendency is to believe that if God made it, and man did not mess with it, it is healthy for me to eat.  So I will be doing a little testing to see how much eating fruit affects my blood sugar, for example.  However it turns out, I want to avoid constantly causing my blood sugar to spike so that I have an insulin response.  This is just my own research, for myself.

That is another reason I plan to eat honey, if I only eat it in small amounts and it does not begin to cause a problem.  The Bible speaks of eating honey as good.  I do plan to eat raw, organic honey.

This morning for breakfast I tried a recipe for pancakes made from almond flour.  They were also dairy-free (just because that was important to the person who created the recipe).  It used coconut milk.  They were really good.  I only had a little bit of real maple syrup (I would say a tablespoon or so).  I cooked up the rest of the pancake batter at the end of the day and had one (they are supposed to be the size of silver dollars, although mine were somewhere between that size and the size of a small pancake), just by itself, with nothing else.  It was so good!  I plan to have some more in the morning with some cream cheese sweetened with a little coconut crystals (supposedly another healthy sugar) and some fresh blackberries.  There is nothing in the pancakes that is higher carb except a tablespoon of honey in the entire recipe.  A lot less carbs than the protein pancakes I have made before using eggs, cottage cheese and oats.  And they are really, really good.

I have a little more shopping to do tomorrow and I plan to do some cooking to have things to eat during the week, particularly for lunches and snacks at work.  Of course, I can have raw nuts and cheese, but eating that all the time will get old.  I plan to make some deviled eggs (the usual kind and another kind with mashed avocado mixed in).  Those will be good for snacks and for filling out a meal.  I also plan to make some chili that does not have beans and the sauce is made mostly of dried chiles that have been reconstituted and blended to make a paste, instead of the usual tomato sauce used in chili.  It also uses chuck roast cut into small pieces instead of the usual ground meat.  I am looking forward to seeing how that turns out.

A lot of what I will be doing ties right in with when I did Atkins before, and I lost pretty well on Atkins.  I feel very positive about the changes.

I do want to begin eating organic foods, plus grass-fed beef and free range chickens, etc. at some point, but they are so expensive!!  I am focused on paying off debt the next few months, and once that is paid off, I will have more money available to start buying more organic foods.  The changes I am making right now are significant, and I think going one step at a time is perfectly okay.

I have had some pain today, including some headaches.  I think the steroids have worn off and I think I am still going through some withdrawal.  I expect things to improve in the coming days.

That's it for today.  I should get to bed.

*I don't plan to make this a habit, by the way.  As soon as I have all the ingredients I need, I can make other, healthier options, including some homemade ice cream.  The Blue Bell was instead of dinner, which happened partly because I worked late and I didn't have groceries in the house to cook me some dinner.  Ice cream is much better than sweets that are just pure sugar because it is much lower on the glycemic index (at least that's what I told myself).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vacation is Done and On My Way to Being Wheat- and Gluten-Free

I began this post Monday, but just will continue with it since I haven’t gotten it posted.

Vacation is over and it is time to get started again.  By the way, I had the BEST time.  My vacation was all I hoped it would be.  The only thing I would change is the amount of pain there was to deal with when doing so much walking, climbing stairs, etc.  BUT…I did so much better than I thought I would.  If you had told me I would be walking at least 5 miles a day, I would have said, "no way."  But a lot of days, that is what I did.  Of course, I had to take opportunities to sit down whenever I could, but I still did it.  Along about Wednesday (we got there about mid-day Saturday), I began to look for alternatives to the subway, when possible, because climbing and going down those stairs constantly was very difficult for me.  The bus was a great alternative if we didn’t have too far to go or were not under a time crunch.  We took a taxi once and, of course, there were hired cars to and from the airport.  Other than that we walked and we took the subway.

Do you know how many bakeries there are in Manhattan?  It seems like there are two or three on each block.  I partook freely and did not try to ration what I ate.  I braved the scale Tuesday morning and I actually lost a little weight, I think.  Since my life was very sedentary before the trip, I think all that walking made the difference.
Beginning Monday, I started on my “wheat-free” diet – at least as close to wheat-free as I can get.  There are other carbs, of course, but I am trying to stay away from wheat and trying to eat low carb in general.  There will be occasions when I have a cheat meal, but I don’t plan to plan them weekly or anything like that.  For one thing, I am likely to react to them with a headache or body aches, etc., so I probably won’t want to do it very often.
Speaking of headaches, I did pretty well in that respect on vacation and credit the round of steroids for that.  I am not feeling much withdrawal pain at this point, so I think the steroid is still having its effect.  That is good.  I did have some moderate headaches on Wednesday.  Maybe I can get through withdrawal without really bad headaches.
On Monday of the trip (we got there Saturday), I fell flat on my face in the Times Square area.  I stepped on an uneven spot and my ankle tried to turn and I fell flat.  Fortunately, I did not completely roll my ankle, and although I cracked my left knee down pretty hard, I was not hurt.  My foot hurt, at times, for the rest of the day, but after that I was fine (except probably a little soreness – it’s so hard to tell because I hurt already).  It could have been a very nasty fall, so all in all, I am very grateful it was nothing more.
So, here are some thoughts about where I am right now and what is coming up.
I was laying there last night thinking about my vacation and I realized something had changed in me.  I know there has been something in me for years, underneath, that felt like I do not deserve nice things, and a vacation like that I guess was included in that thinking.  I don’t know where it comes from, because in some ways I have felt that all my life.  I know some things like that can be generational.  Being Irish, and knowing what the Irish immigrants went through both in Ireland and when they came to this country, perhaps that is where some of my shame comes from.  (I went on a tour in the Tenement Museum and learned some about that.)  Some of it comes from the situation of my birth – my parents not wanting, and feeling like they could not handle or afford, another child.  A LOT of it comes from the way I was treated during my marriage.  Without going into all the detail, before vacation I remembered a situation that had to do with my ex’s comments on a picture of me and I realized a lot of my feelings of not wanting my picture taken came from that.  But I also realized that if I did not have my picture taken because of those comments, I was in essence agreeing with the comments/my ex and that is the last thing I want to do.  So I am trying to change that attitude.
Anyway, I said something changed in me.  I don’t know if I can recapture those thoughts.  But I realized I deserve a vacation like that, a clean, beautiful loft, a wonderful job and a boss who appreciates me and shows his appreciation, etc. as much as anyone else.  All of my kids were over for dinner a couple of nights ago and we talked a lot about their dad.  Three of them (both daughters and my son-in-law) had dinner with him the week before vacation (my son refused).  My son-in-law told me his thoughts about that (he generally wants to beat my ex to a pulp because of the way he treated us, and continues to, although the dinner with the kids was at least an effort).  I decided after that conversation, NO MORE TALKING ABOUT MY EX.  Not because he doesn’t deserve it; but because I don’t want to give him any more power over me or my life.  I have nothing to prove to him.  He is not worth my time or thought.  I am moving on.  I know it will take time to get over the habit, but I am done with Mr. C.
So this is the 4th day of wheat-free eating.  So far, so good.  I am craving bread a little at times, but not much.  I ordered on a lot of ingredients I need to make most anything I want to without wheat or gluten.  I will have to get used to new consistencies, etc., but there is no reason the food cannot be just as enjoyable.  By the way, I encourage you to read both Wheat Belly and Grain Brain.  It answered a lot of questions for me and relieved me of some self-criticism and unforgiveness toward myself.  There is a reason I have been the way I am and it is not that I am a glutton and a slob like I had always thought.  Those products are (many times, by design) extremely addictive.  And some people are more sensitive to it than others, and I am one of those who is.  One of the books said Northern Europeans (which includes Ireland and Scotland) are prone to be more gluten sensitive.  So it is in my blood or my genetics.  I feel like as I get free from eating wheat, gluten and white sugar, I can become more of a “normal” person where eating is concerned.

I am not to be concerned about eating fat and cholesterol, except I should not eat transfats or foods cooked in extremely high-temperature oil (as in deep fried).  I can enjoy all of the other fats I want.  The thing is, fat is very satisfying.  You do not want to sit around and eat sticks of butter.  I will be eating a little sugar, at times, but it will be organic raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut crystals, etc.  If it proves to be a problem, then I will address that.  My theory is that my sugar issues are more tied to wheat and gluten than I realized.  I just have to be sure not to do things to spike my blood sugar, because that creates visceral fat and a lot of problems associated with wheat belly.  When I do eat a little sugar, I will make sure I have first eaten plenty of protein, veggies and fat (which will prevent the glycemic response).  (*I have since learned that is not true.)

I have been pretty sore this week after all the walking, but as soon as I get over some of the soreness, I am going to get back to walking my dog.  Obviously I can.  Of course, I am sure the steroids helped with that, but I also know that as I get wheat- and gluten-free, my inflammation levels are going to go down and I will likely have a lot less overall pain.

I am on my way to being wheat-free, and life is full of hope for me in every way.  I will let you know how it is going.