Friday, January 30, 2015

Losing Weight... Again

So, if you saw my before and after photos, they're pretty impressive, huh?  Shortly after that, my thyroid started to malfunction, and I gained all the weight back, despite my diet and exercise.  At that point, honestly, I felt so lousy, though, that I stopped taking care of myself for a while.  It's taken about 3 years to stabilize.

By stabilize I mean feel healthier more of the time than I feel cruddy.  Between the my hypothyroidism and fibro, I thought I'd never feel stable again.  But, I seem to be in some sort of remission at the moment.. for over a month straight, really.  I still have sleep-it-off days, but most of my week is good.  Today I wasn't tired all day- surreal!

So, I have gone back on the strict diet and joined a weight-loss competition with some relatives and friends.  We've done 4/8 weeks so far.  I'm down 5.69% body weight and 11.8 pounds so far since Jan 1.  I actually lost about 7 more pounds during the fall. I still have quite a bit to go, but I know I'll get there if I don't lose hope.  I'm actually 6/26th in the contest, so that's not terrible.  I'd love to win some of the money, but that's not the main goal here (only because I only have so much control over whether I win or not!)

Here's a chart of the year so far (yeah, I know you can tell my weight- and that's okay):

I realize that keeping my numbers in my head causes discouragement for me.  I always think I'm doing more poorly than I really am, so then I want to give up.  I also think about my ideal weight, which at 5'0" is somewhere between 120-130, but it's not smart to focus on the final goal, just today's goal.  I find that using helps me a lot; that is where I got the chart.  They have a free website and app which keeps track of weight, inches, calories, and exercise.  I don't do the calorie part, because I'm on the strict diet, so I feel that's sufficient for me.   Friday morning is weigh-in.  So I then eat something I want that's not on the diet after that.  And then I behave the rest of the week.

I've also been able to exercise fairly consistently.  You'll notice in the following chart, there's a week of nothing- that's because once a month I spend most of my time in the fetal position watching Netflix.  But I've been able to walk to work many days (I live 5 blocks from work) and I'm doing yoga, water aerobics, and belly dance (I'm in a troupe here) pretty regularly.

With my health being inconsistent, I realize that this won't always be the norm.  I've found that there are times when I realized, "it's not time to lose weight right now," which, yes, is discouraging, but it's just a fact with chronic illnesses. And that's okay.  No point dwelling on it too much.  Stress makes symptoms worse, after all.  

One more thought.  This summer I was up to 193 or more pounds.  That's ridiculously high for me!  And I have an eating disorder mentality about my own weight and how I look in public- usually, this means voices in my head telling me I shouldn't go out in public at that weight.  I absolutely don't feel this way about anyone else, and I know it's wrong.  So, to counter this, I performed with my troupe for the first time this summer, at that weight.  I'm not the belly-baring type, so I wore a tank underneath, but I will do that no matter my weight.  That's just me.  But, I didn't let my weight stop me from doing something I wanted to do.  If you're struggling with yours, don't let it stop you.  
Me and my daughter at Renaissance Faire, summer 2014

I will add some recipes in a couple of days.  To be honest, my hands hurt from the rain, and I just want to cuddle with the dog and watch Criminal Minds for the rest of the night.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Artificial Sweeteners, Sugar, or None of the Above?

A couple of years ago I mentioned briefly that I was reading up on artificial sweeteners and that I didn't want to give up Diet Coke.  But, the more I read, the more I realized I really needed to.  Here are a few facts that swayed me:

-Artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Splenda, which are legal in the US, are banned in Europe.
-The can actual make cravings for sweets worse.
-Studies are showing a connection between these sweeteners with cancer.
-They're also linked with weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.
-It can cause symptoms like fibromyalgia.  Huh.

There are many places I've looked for this information.  I'm not going to source them all, only because I haven't kept all of sites I've looked at.  Here is a video from Dr. Oz if you're interested:

The bottom line is, I couldn't conscientiously consume these anymore, and I wanted my daughter to decide not to, too.  I'm the one who introduced her to diet sodas, and I wish I hadn't!  Fortunately, she did decide to get off these types of sweeteners.

So now what?
Because we both have low blood sugar issues, I didn't just want to start eating sugar.  I do have some, but it's usually in something like ice cream so it has the protein to counteract it.  I certainly wasn't going to start drinking regular sodas.  I admit I went through a mourning period, much like the one I had for my ex-husband- I lost something I thought I had, even though it wasn't real in the end (TMI?)

I decided to give stevia another chance. It's a plant that you can grow in your yard; the leaves are naturally sweet.  I usually buy packets of it, but I hate the bitter aftertaste, though, so I started reading up on it, and it turns out that it is only bitter when too much of it is added.  So I now put very little and add a bit at a time until it's where I want it to be.  I never just dump a whole packet in.  Side note with stevia- the newest "versions" of it are mixed with artificial sweeteners, so read the label!  I don't get mine from the regular grocery store, only the health food store, and even there I check the label to make sure there is nothing added.

It doesn't really help me with soda- I've just given it up (except for every once in a great while, I'll have a small amount of regular Dr. Pepper).

But, as I got off of the diet drinks, etc., it felt like my ability to breathe oxygen improved... I know it sounds weird, but my capacity to breathe without getting winded increased.  That's a little freaky, right?  And I did take a sip of some a few months after I quit, and it tasted horrible!  I couldn't drink it anymore; it was so chemical-tasting.

So that's my sweetener story.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hey, I'm Back!!!

Well, that was a bigger hiatus than I expected!  Right after my last post, I got suddenly really sick.  I was so exhausted, I though I was having a bout of Epstein Barr, which I've had twice before- it lasts for months.  But no, there's more!  I couldn't think straight for more than 15 seconds at a time.  I began to get super paranoid about stupid things.  My depression hit hard during this time. All my regular physical symptoms were magnified and I gained all the weight back.  It was awful.  Finally, we figure out that it's my thyroid malfunctioning. If you ever get it tested, make sure they check your T3 and T4.  They usually only check one.

My theory on hypothyroidism is two-fold.  One, I think people have it a lot longer than the tests show, so we have to wait until the numbers are right before doctors can do anything.  If they give medication without the matching numbers, it can cause a heart attack, so I really can't blame them, but it still stinks.  I was on Synthroid for quite a while, but I didn't feel better enough on it, so I asked if I could switch to Armour Thyroid, which is awesome!  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't automatically feel like a normal person, but I'll take what I can get.  Two, I've read some theories that fibromyalgia may be related to the malfunctioning thyroid, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that turned out to be true.  The symptoms are so similar, it's scary when they're coming from all fronts and becoming completely unmanageable.

It's been a year or so now that I started to feel like I was getting back to my normal level of chronically sick- life is all relative, isn't is?- but my energy has been very inconsistent.  I could walk to work quite often, but I'd been too dead to go to an exercise class the whole semester!  I was so irritated.  Fingers crossed I can have a little more smooth sailing this semester- if I haven't mentioned it before, I'm a professor, so I only think in semesters.

So, I'm back and very motivated by so many new followers suddenly.  I hope I can help when you don't have the energy to think.  After all, that is my purpose for this blog.  I sure wish I had had something like this when I was beginning my foggy journey.

Here's a smoothie recipe that I am drinking right now. Mmmm-mmm-mmm.

Strawberry- Coconut Smoothie
1/2-3/4 cup of cream
1 cup of water
8 strawberries
1 T of chia seeds
1 cup coconut flakes- fresh ones from the health-food store. Grocery stores only have sugared.
I packet of raw stevia- be careful about the kind in the regular grocery stores; they are something tinged with other sweetners (which I am off of, finally, but that's a story for another day).

Blend.  Drink.  Happiness.