Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Story

Here I am, busting out of size 14 pants

My story:  This "lifestyle" is a journey that I was ready to take when I learned about it this past summer from my brother-in-law.  You all know how sick I got with my gallbladder.  What you don't know is how fastidiously I counted EVERY calorie that went into my mouth and every calorie that went out via workouts.  I also have a scale that tells me to 'keep' my current weight I have to eat at least 2200-2400 calories a day (somehow based on my height, age and weight).  Well, the app I was using, from, was telling me that to get to my 'target weight' by April 2011, I'd have to eat no more than 1150 calories a day (I got that app back in October 2010 as I was going to use our move to Japan as my time to lose weight and look better).  So… I tracked each and every calorie in and out.  Since we brought our treadmill, I walked on that if the weather was bad enough not to go outside and walk.  I was walking 1-2 miles a day and doing my workout videos 3-4 times a week.  Supposedly burning between 250 - 400 calories a day with exercise.  Meanwhile eating only around 1500 calories so that the math would 'work' and I'd lose weight.  That worked for about 5 pounds from Sept to Jan 2011.  

Getting Sick:  January 2011 was when I started 'getting sick'.  Middle of the month, my teen and I enjoyed some black bean dip with fritos while watching a movie… the same discomfort I'd been having in the late afternoon, early evening set in… a real dull ache that felt as though someone was slowly pushing their fist through my solar plexus to my backbone.  Well, that early evening, it got so bad I actually had Jon drive me to the ER after suffering for 45 minutes.  On the way, we got stopped for 10 MINUTES by the red light at the flight line.  I groaned and moaned in pain while my teen called hubby at work to tell him we were heading to the ER… by the time we got to the hospital 20 mins later, the pain had receded and I was about 85% better.  I decided to see the doc anyways and he promptly figured, based on my appearance and the fact that the bean dip was spicy, that I had indigestion.  Up my nexium to twice a day and go see my PCM next week.  We were on the way home by the time hubby even got to the ER.  

A few days later, hubby went TDY, and the pain came on again… this time I think from eating something with cheese and beans in it, my teen took me to the ER after I suffered at home over 1 ½ hours (I didn't want to hear it was just indigestion again).  Pain was the same, but more intense - most intense in the solar plexus area that radiated into my back and up my breastbone and around my ribcage now.  Well, not only did I personally know the doc, and was the only one in the waiting room, but since I was over 40, overweight and had chest pain along with the other complaints, I got seen right away.  Cardiac enzymes - perfect, EKG - normal, then the workup started for other things… ultrasound for gallstones - none, X-ray of belly for ?? - some constipation (yeah, what else was new??)… so, not finding anything beyond a little increase in my liver enzymes… the doc figured I was literally full of sh*t and gave me some fast-acting stuff to make me 'go'.  I went and the pain continued… so, after 6 ½ hours, I had my teen take me home and I just cried in bed until the pain receded, then slept for about 3 days.
GallBladder:  This time, I did my homework.  Went straight to WebMD.  It said I could have gallbladder stones/disease, cancer, etc… so, I started looking up gallbladder disease.  Hmmmm… the descriptions of where the pain comes was similar, if not spot-on… so then I found an awesome website:  The heavens opened and the angels starting singing!!  I FOUND my problem!!  She also had suggestions of foods to avoid and a tasty little treat to eat daily to help the gallbladder get healthy.  

beans, fat, eggs, pork, onions, fowl, dairy, wheat, nuts, corn, coffee, chocolate, tea, ice cream, red meat, carbonated water, tap water, fruit juice, turnips, cauliflower, colas, oats, sweeteners… did I miss anything?  HOLY CRAP!!  WHAT COULD I EAT?  Seriously, what could I eat that wouldn't hurt??  

cucumbers, beets, green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, avocados, vinegar, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, lemon, grapes, apples, berries, omega 3 oils - not cooked, and vegetable juices.  

OK… I was SO desperate NOT to have pain again, I'd try ANYTHING (except painkillers as I hadn't any of these… nope ER docs didn't give me any).  So during this time, I was still diligently writing down all I ate and figuring out the calories, fat/carb/protein amounts.  So… on my best days I got to 1000 calories, 18% protein, 60% carbs, and 22% protein.  On my worst days is was 800 calories, 21% fat, 54% carbs, and 25% protein.  What you don't see is the numbers for the percentages… that particular day, I was at 19 grams fat, 113 grams carbs 52 grams protein… it was sashimi, rice, crackers, yogurt, turkey meat, cucumbers, beets, and actually angel food cake with strawberries - no cream.  My portion sizes were tiny and I was … amazingly, losing weight.  

I continued to get sick and eat foods I didn't realize were on the "do not eat" list (pinto beans, wheat, red meat, water) and got sicker.  By the time the surgery happened, I was seriously eating just beets, cucumbers and apples as they didn't hurt!!  But, I was in constant low-level pain.  

So, from January 2011 to 1 April 2011 (date of surgery), I lost 8 pounds.  That, combined with the initial 5 pounds = 13 pounds.  Sad.  I had to REALLY restrict my eating, can't say exercise a lot because once I got sick, it was everything I could do to get outside and walk 30 minutes every other day… 2-5 times a week, just to lose 8 measly pounds!!  Sad.   

Anyhow… once I had the surgery, I felt a whole lot better!  The 3rd day afterwards, I ventured outside and walked about 15 minutes.  Took a monster nap afterwards, but it felt great to move.  I also experimented with eating a little more and it didn't hurt.  Yay.  Nope, wasn't going to eat beans.  

So, April through June was counting calories, not eating beans, but pretty well my Standard American Diet (SAD).  I dropped 3 more pounds.  I was back to 25% fat, 60% carbs and 15% protein.  And that was a "low fat", whole wheat type SAD!!  I was still conscious of what I ate and tried hard to eat what I was 'supposed' to eat via the FDA guidelines.  Wheat-something at each meal… oatmeal or wheaty cereal for breakfast, sandwich of turkey breast, tomato, lettuce, no mayo for lunch, and lean meat, veggie, brown rice for dinner.  I was being GOOD.  Why the heck couldn't I continue to lose weight?  Well, I guess I was… about 1 ½ to 2 pounds per month since the surgery… *sigh*

NOT a flattering photo..
YAY!  It was time, mid-June to go to the states and have a real vacation!!  I brought my eating rules with me… LOW sat/0 trans fat, high fiber, NO beans… I was happy.  Then, my mother-in-law mentioned something about this Paleo thingy… eh, wasn't too impressed.  But when my brother-in-law came to visit, he talked to me GOOD.  We sat for almost an entire afternoon and he told me about his health journey and finding the Paleo/Primal lifestyle.  He showed me the blogs and websites and books I could read.  I sat down with Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution right then… it was my mother-in-law's book, but I devoured as much as I could in a few days.  She showed me how to cook and he talked to me about the horrors of grains, sugars and beans/legumes.  I, literally, ate it up!  By the time the vacation had me and my teen going to my parents, I was a newbie Paleo.  I bought spaghetti squash so that we could try it as noodles and I rejected all grains, except corn on the cob… 'cause, well, it was fresh (and I was on vacation, and I hadn't yet read about how genetically hybridized corn is….).  My family thought:  "Here she goes again, on another one of her crazy elimination diets…"  But, my mother, as usual, was willing to support me and keep me eating 'right' while in their house.  :)  

JAPAN:  Normal life resumes when we get back 'home' on July 30th.  I purged a lot out of the pantry and I decided to truly "go Paleo".  I bought the book on my iPad AND a paper copy from Amazon.  We started eating more red meat, and saturated fat.  *gasp*  SAY ITS NOT SO!!!  Yep… on the Paleo, you get to eat saturated fat along with your monounsaturated fats.  I continued to read everything I could, from blogs to facebook pages, to books… I got on the Gary Taubes (Good fats, bad fats) 'cholesterol is good for you' bandwagon and ditches ALL grains in my diet.  Yep, corn and rice, too.  I also tossed or gave away all canned beans and bags of beans for soups.  I bought coconut flour (yep, ME and coconut… hell DID freeze over!!) and almond flour and started experimenting with ways to cook.  I started cooking up bacon and reserving the drippings for use in other meals.  A typical caloric day?  Let's see… between 1400 - 2000 calories and approximately 40-45% fat, 25-30% protein, and 30% carbs (the kind you get from veggies!!).  NONE of my fats are trans fats, a little of them are Poly unsaturated fatty acids (but NEVER canola oil or safflower oil anymore!!) and most are saturated fats and mono unsaturated fatty acids… uncooked nut or olive oils and cooking uses bacon grease or coconut oil.  
Karaoke and Dancing with the gals

So, my birthday in September… I was down another 10 pounds.  Yep… in about 6 weeks.  I'd say that's healthy weight loss… about 1 ½ to 2 pounds a week.  Just comparing my arms from the first photo to now… makes me proud.  Yeah, the 'girls' are getting smaller, too… oh well.  I'm getting healthy and have a LOT of energy.  The only time I hurt is when I cheat and eat out… soy sauce can cause bloating all over and stomach upset for an entire day afterwards.  I am on the look-out for wheat/gluten free packets of soy sauce!!  (so I can bring my own and not cause any hard feelings)

How much is that now??  Well, in September, that was 25 pounds.  I'm proud to say that now… December 1st, it's 6 more pounds, equalling 31 pounds.  Right now I'm 'playing' with about 4 pounds… off, then back on, then off again, and back on… I think it's the fact that I made and ate 'cornbread stuffing' (almond meal in place of corn meal) and am experimenting with baking using coconut flour and almond meal/flour.  That causes caloric consumption to rise… and even though I'm not a calorie counter anymore… it's still more food in the body.  Will I let these 4 pounds define me?  Hell no.  I'm going to stick to my 'rules' and continue the path I started over the summer.  Life is good.  I get compliments on my skin, hair, shoot… even my EYES!  Ha ha!  I think I'm full of life, too!  

November 18, 2011
Changes on Paleo:  clear skin (blemishes are usually related to consumption of soy sauce or other gluten-containing food), bowel regularity (yay!! first time in my life for that!), no abdominal pain (except some burning in the gallbladder region when I'm VERY hungry… I attribute that to the bile pouring directly into my small intestine now), less arthritic pains, and 90% reduction in migraines!!  I also have no depression anymore… I've struggled with that for years and I'm just … HAPPY.  :)  

Well, that's MY journey… so far… 

1 comment:

  1. We think the story of your health journey is very inspiring and we’d love to share it with our Primal Health community in our “People Like You” section where readers can find a story or testimonial they relate to, to inspire and motivate them to take control of their health.

    To make it easy and beneficial for you, we can:
    - use your story as written by you here.
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    If you prefer we use different words or pictures, just let us know and send them over.
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    We can send you a link to the page of your story on our site to view before we publish it, to make sure you are happy with it. So what do you say?

    Would you like to inspire other “People Like You” on Primal Health? Look forward to hearing from you!

    Yours in health,
    Brad, Bex & Kaiya