Hashi Who?

Last October I went to my sleep specialist for our last insurance-obligated appointment. After two sleep studies and sleeping with a CPAP machine for six months, he had ordered blood work in preparation for our last meeting.

As he went over it, he casually mentioned that there were antibodies present that indicated that my hypothyroid condition was also an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s. I wondered if I should be devastated- terminal illness style- or slightly disappointed like someone who gained ten pounds. He went on to explain that my body would eventually destroy my thyroid and that I would have to stay on medication for the rest of my life.

Sooo…. that didn’t sound good, per se. But I still wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. I needed to have a conversation with Web MD stat.

After a lot of research, many of my questions have been answered:

Am I going to die sooner because of this? No.

What can I blame on this condition? foggy brain, anxiety, infertility, ADD, weight gain, fatigue, joint pain (I’ve had all of these).

What should I be doing to help myself? As I read more and more, I stumbled upon the Autoimmune Paleo Diet and Mickie Trescott and Angie Alt. In the middle of reading their book, I visited my OBGYN for my yearly exam. We discussed my recent Hashimoto’s diagnosis and she pointed me in the direction that I was already headed, suggesting cutting out gluten and dairy and following a Paleo diet to slow down or even stop the progression of my condition.

I started the diet right after Christmas, around six months ago. Since then, I’ve started attending an integrative medicine practice, my anxiety is almost gone, I feel much more clear headed and I’ve lost 30 lb.

During the past six months I’ve been thinking about this blog and how I let it fall by the wayside but could use it more than ever. I have learned about so much in such a short time: kombucha, bone broth, essential oils, integrative medicine, supplements, massage, CSAs, cutting chemicals from my cleaning and beauty routine. I have so much to tell you about.

And I still have so many questions: Can I ever find an exercise that I don’t dread or a bone broth that doesn’t gross me out? How am I ever going to find a use for all the cucumbers that keep coming in my CSA? What don’t I already know about gut healing? How do I get over this two month long weight loss plateau that I currently find myself in? So many questions!

Thanks for coming along for the ride. ❤

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The Power of Eating in the Now

I have a confession. I read a self help book- and I liked it.

Lost and found

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Geneen Roth has been on Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR and everything else you’ve ever watched on TV or heard on the radio. She’s been around for a while. But maybe, like me, you missed that.

This book, in a nutshell, is about being present. Being mindful and present as an answer to life’s biggest problems is certainly no new idea. What is a bit of a unique concept is the connection that Roth makes between mindfulness and the way we treat our bodies. According to the book- and I’m paraphrasing big time- when we take the time to really pay attention to our bodies and the food we put in them, we will know what we need and therefore come to a healthier place both physically and psychologically. Mindless eating, or any compulsive behavior, is considered a result of disengaging from the present. And it makes sense when you think about it. Why would a person eat when they’re not hungry or eat food that they know will make them feel bad? According to this way of thinking, we do this because we are checked out of the present moment.

Unlike the diet industry, this book makes no claim that being a certain size is the worst thing that could happen to you. The worst thing that could happen to you, in fact, is to be so disconnected from the present that your only reference for what your body needs is a number (scale, clothing size or calorie)- again this is my interpretation of the book. The answer then is listening to your body, not shaming it, not depriving it, but learning how to feel when you’re hungry and pay attention to what your body is really telling you it needs. Really paying attention to what your body needs is not easy when you’ve spent your whole life trying to overpower your body with diets.

Whether you’re into biologypsychology, or books like Women, Food and God you can find support for the same idea. Diets can be a distraction or even part of the problem when it comes to issues with food.

After reading this book, I realize that the diets that so many of us have been on for so many years, the ones I really hope my daughter never subjects herself to, are just the flip side of mindless eating. I realize that both cause you to avoid addressing what compulsion (to eat when not hungry- a really weird habit when you think about it) is all about.

This book is (figuratively) huge; and I’m really suprised I didn’t hear of it before. I know that there are tons of people out there like me who have been caught up in the diet/indulge/regret cycle for too long. I don’t believe this book has every answer. But I love that it in a sea of books and products that only muddle the issues, Geneen Roth is looking deeper.

I’m Sensing a Pattern.

When I started this blog I did it with the intent of changing one thing a week, mostly diet or exercise-wise, in an effort to become healthier every week and therefore super healthier in the longrun.

This is how its gone so far.

Week One: I cut out caffeine.

After two days of excrutiating headaches followed by three otherwise normal coffee free days I started remembering that I’ve read tons of stuff about coffee actually being good for you. Also I love coffee. Also I’m a better person in the morning when I drink coffee. And why was I even trying to give it up?

Week Two: Add 30-minute walks daily.

This was great for both me and my awesome dog, Riggs. This change is a keeper.

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Week Three: Cut out peanuts

This lasted one day before I really wanted peanut butter which is weird because I don’t even eat peanuts or peanut butter very often. I prefer almonds. Do you see the pattern I’m seeing?

Week Four: Add 45 minute walk every week day

I love these walks. 45 minutes is really not that different from 30 minutes except I feel like more of a winner and Riggs is even happier.

Week Five: Cut out dairy.

I thought this was a really a great idea for several days and then… yeah you probably can guess.

Somewhere during this period I added vitamins, added more fruit and vegetables, upped the walk to an hour, and had five different doctor sessions revolving around my sleep issues (Good news on that front, by the way).

So it turns out I’m like a bratty kid that rebels against anything they have to do and has to be treated very carefully… by myself :/. Is that crazy? That was rhetorical.

 

What I’m Doing Here

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Rewind two years and four months. I was at the OBGYN five months pregnant. It had taken me two and a half years to get pregnant, two and a half of the hardest years of my life. Infertility is awful! I already loved this little being growing inside me and I just knew he was a boy. I could feel it.

At first he wouldn’t uncross his legs so that the ultrasound tech could confirm his gender. Then twenty minutes later he finally moved so that everyone could see. He was… a girl!

A girl?!

I like girls. I am one. I never didn’t want a girl.But I had never thought of myself as the mother of a girl. I was terrified, for reasons I didn’t really understand. Now, as the mother of an amazing, funny, strong, beautiful girl, I know a little more about those fears. How I got from there to here is connected but complicated. Here is my attempt to explain it:

I went on my first diet in third grade and struggled for the next twenty-six years with body image, weight and the idea of what it means to be healthy and/or pretty. Like many American women, my happiness, idea of beauty, body image and confidence were wrapped up with my female identity in such a tangled mess that I didn’t know if I would ever be able to see any of it clearly. What did it mean to be healthy- not just skinny (I spent a good fifteen years just working towards that), but really physically, emtionally, socially healthy? Was that even something I was capable of? I wasn’t (still am not most days) sure.

But now there is this little two year old carbon copy of me running around my house asking me things like “What’s that?” (boobs was the answer) and refusing to eat vegetables. I need to be able to show her an example of what healthy, happy, beautiful girls look like because I want her to have a fighting chance at being one. So I’m on a mission to become one myself.  I’m writing right out here on the internet because it forces me to be more reflective.

I’m a teacher by trade, something I love and have dedicated a large chunk of my life to. What I know from teaching is that you don’t have to have all the answers to start. My students ask me a new set of amazing, never-before-have-I- thought-about-that questions every week. What I know is that there is power in saying ‘I don’t know. How can we figure that out?’ So this blog is sortof a huge inquiry project. I have questions. Maybe some of my readers have the same questions. I know that reflecting and communicating are both really important to the learning process. So I hope the reflective journal that is my blog can get me (us if you want to come along for the ride) a little closer to some of the answers.

 

Goal: Add More Veggies

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My goal for last week was to add more vegetables to my diet. Now I’m going to whine. It is really hard, like I’d rather just give up all carbs and call it a day hard. Its hard because M and N don’t like vegetables at all. And its hard because it takes planning and cooking. I love planning in theory (year long list of small healthy habits planned out in advance anyone?).

But in reality, my house is a mess, I have a class full of 27 pre-Christmas fourth graders, 1,000 calls to make, a toddler to raise, a husband to hang out with, lessons to plan and I need at least an hour a day to watch my latest bad science fiction show on Netflix. Woe is me. I don’t have time to make kitten shaped veggie nuggets from scratch that N may or may not spit right back into her plate like a little savage.

So yeah, it didn’t go that well last week. The victories of the week were discovering a decent bottled veggie smoothie at the 24 hour Kroger on my way to work and making an edible last minute stir-fry that N refused to eat. I’m not giving up though! I’m not giving in. Here are some recipes I plan to make this week brought to you by Pinterest. I’m leaning heavy into the freezer meals and crock pot cooking because I have a hunch they could be my saving grace.

Pinterest Inspiration One

Pinterest Inspiration Two

Pinterest Inspiration Three

Wish me luck!

I want to be here for a while.

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A year ago tomorrow my mom died. I still don’t completely have words for everything that means to me. I don’t know what to say, not here, not to people who check in to make sure I’m doing okay, not to my two year old when she asks who my mom is in pictures. My heart is no less broken than it was a year ago.

My favorite sympathy card (never thought I’d have one of those) was sent a year ago from my friend Kathy. She said, “Hug your little girl. And know that the way you feel about her is the way your mom felt about you.”

A few weeks ago my mom’s sister sent me this photo from a Christmas about 26 years ago. When my husband saw it he said, “That’s how you look at N.” And it is the way I look at her. And I know the ‘I can’t believe I can love someone this much’ feeling that is behind that look. It makes me believe that if there is anyway my mom can still be with me spiritually then she is.

I still want to call her when something goes incredibly wrong or incredibly right in my life and visit her when I get time off work. It kills me to know that N won’t know her the way I wanted her to and that if I have another child, they won’t know her at all.

I think about my own kid(s?) and pray that I will know their children. That is part of my reason for writing this blog. I know I need to live better. My mom’s health was complicated. I won’t go into it except to say that she couldn’t have done much to change it. But I think of the way I live (stress, pizza, coffee, pasta, stress, tv) and I know that I not only am not doing everything I can to make N and the husband (M) have me for as long as possible, but I’m also teaching N to live a pretty unhealthy life.

So three weeks ago I started thinking about doing a cleanse, the one from Clean by Dr. Junger. I’ve done it before and felt 1000% better afterwards. But then I had a novel idea. What if instead of doing something drastic for two weeks and then going back to my normal routine, I made small changes overtime? I know myself. I know I go big and then lose interest. So maybe small goals, weekly resolutions if you will, could hold my attention and allow me to make real change over time.

I used Dr. Junger’s elimination diet as inspiration as I started making a list- week one: take something unhealthy away, week two: add something healthy, week three: add something to make me more active. As I made my list for the year ahead (I’m a planner) I found myself adding things like “read a book a month,” and “call a friend every week.”

I should say here and now that I am technically overweight. And I should state for the record that when I say “healthy” I don’t mean obsessing over being within a healthy BMI range. What I do mean is eating vegetables, being active, drinking water, finding new music that I love, nurturing my spirit and teaching my daugher that it is important to appreciate her body and treat it well.

My mom once told me that she always admired how I just went for it in life. She said even when I was little she was always like ‘Go, Jessie! Go!’ I hope somewhere she’s saying that now. And I hope I can make her proud. ❤