I’m not ready to commit 100% but I think I need a break from the whole high protein way of life for awhile. It doesn’t seem to be working for me. I don’t feel as good on a low carb diet as I do when I limit meat. I don’t care what is popular in weight loss any more. I feel best when I concentrate on eating whole foods-mostly fruits, veggies, and dairy. So for the next 3 months I’ll be eating mostly vegetarian and vegan dishes. I’ll see how it goes. I now believe even more that plant based is best.
After doing more research about nutritional deficits in those of us with inflammatory conditions I am more convinced than ever that even though I am trying to improve my diet by eating lest processed food and increasing my veggies and fruits I’m not hitting my nutritional mark. According to some internet research I’ve been doing it is quite possible that I may need more than the average “healthy” person for my body to function at its optimum. I have gone from counting calories, trying the primal diet, clean eating, ect all in an effort to get back to a healthy weight. Right now I am about 25 lbs down from my heaviest and I still have at least 20 to go. I’m sure I can go on some quick fix diet and lose the excess weight by summer only to find myself in a constant yo-yo state trying to maintain my target weight. So I am about to Frankenstein a diet that I think will work for me. I plan to go back to a vegetable based diet. I will keep my carb count at 150 or less every day, and I will allow myself 1 fun size piece of candy a day to keep me from feeling too deprived. I will continue to eat poultry and fish but stay away from red meat. I have vegetarian leanings and I am hoping to one day completely phase meat out of my diet. Right now I’m afraid to do so because I hardly ever hit my recommended daily allowance of iron without giving up meat. Until I find and incorporate enough iron rich veggies in my diet to meat at least half my recommended daily allowance I will be keeping some meat in my diet. In addition to really concentrating on keeping my diet clean and vegetable based I will work out at least 3-4 times a week.
Health is a journey and unfortunately there is no quick fix. I am going to have to understand there will be no 4 lbs lost in a week. It will be slow and steady for me but I believe eating healthy and exercising will get me where I need to be. I believe that the long term commitment needed to lose weight in this manner will become a habit and a way of life. I want a healthy lifestyle more than to look good in a bathing suit this summer. And who knows, I may even make it to my bikini body by late summer anyway.
I decided to keep a food diary as part of my overall return to health. Calorie counting has been an invaluable tool in helping me lose weight. However, I had a sneaky suspicion that my eating habits, while greatly improved, were not good enough so that all my nutritional requirements were being met by my current “improved” diet. And thanks to my cell phone’s fitness app, I was able to track both my calories and nutrient uptake for a month and a half. Doing this confirmed what I had been suspecting all along. I don’t get enough nutrients in my diet. Sure, I’ve been staying close to my recommended caloric uptake but after 6 weeks of tracking my daily nutrition I didn’t meet my recommend daily allowance for iron once. At least a few days a week I don’t get enough protein. And to make matters worse the only vitamins I consistently reached 100% on were Vitamin C, D, and folic acid. And that is not acceptable. It seems that those of us with rheumatoid arthritis are considered to be at nutritional risk according to Johns Hopkins. And I can see I definitely fall into that category. Tracking my food has been a great wakeup call for me. Eating better isn’t good enough. I have to consistently eat well with the knowledge that even if I don’t feel well and maybe because I don’t I need to make better food choices. Until I figure out how to meet my nutritional requirements from whole foods while reducing calories I will be adding one more pill to my daily routine-a multivitamin.
Sometimes the dark clouds come and surround me. They obliterate the sun and the blue sky making it seem as though darkness is all that I have left. Every pain seems amplified, every disappointment deeper, and the future feels like a fairytale that is told to small children put them to sleep at night. And finally, the clouds seem to block out all reason and threaten to silence the hope for a better tomorrow. But I’ve been here before. No matter what my senses tell me I know this will pass. Things will get better. The sun is still shining even if I can’t see it or feel its warmth. I must not succumb to the feeling of emptiness and despair. I must not let this season to cause me to tear down the progress I’ve made thus far. I must live like the bright future is around the corner even if I can’t see it. I must have faith. I will prepare for tomorrow.
So last Thursday I got a phone call at work. The message was incomplete but what was relayed to me was there had been a fire in my apartment complex and my apartment had been involved. So I broke a few laws speeding home imagining the worse only to find out that my apartment didn’t actually catch fire. It was the one beside me. Although my house was filled with smoke nothing was burned which was a huge relief. Even though my apartment was still standing it was filled with smoke to the point I had to sleep with the windows open in December! I had some cleaning to do to try and lessen the smokey smell but I was determined to make it to the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run.
It was everything I hopes it would be. It was a great boost to my spirits to see so many survivors of this horrible disease gather on a cold Saturday and defy the the beast by walking/jogging to raise awareness and monies to find a cure. I felt energized by the enthusiasm of the crowd and finished my 5k in 50 minutes. Next year I hope to come in at about 45 minutes.
And then I wrecked my car on Monday. So needless to say that the last week has been filled drama-some good and some bad. My RA has been behaving better than I expected. Sure I’ve been achy and had more pain than normal but I feel fortunate that I’ve not been pushed into a full blown flare.
So much has happened in the last month! I’ve wanted to blog but I’ve got so much swimming around in my head that I don’t know where to begin.
First off, my RA has been weird lately and it seems as if my toes are now it’s primary target rather than my hands and knees like before. I guess after 8 years of having a relationship with Mr. RA he decided to switch things up to keep me on my toes. Still, all things considered, I am doing well in my disease management. So I still get to walk in the Jingle Bell Walk tomorrow for the Arthritis Foundation. This is my first year doing this and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’m still working in post about health, my return to the gym, and how my job and mental health really impact my quality of life with chronic illness. Hopefully I’ll get those published soon!
Sometimes you have to move on. Not because the person or situation has been resolved. Not because you have been heard or because your feelings and concerns have been violated. Sometimes you have to move on simply because it is the best thing for your health. This decision must be made when emotional stress manifests itself physically.
Today, as I sat stewing about a situation at work I realized that my RA symptoms had gone from background noise to loud and intrusive. It seemed the more I agonized over the problem the more physical pain I found myself in. I have always known that stress was a trigger for me, but today really hammered the lesson home. I went from slightly stiff to having joint pain that made me catch my breath when I made certain movements. It was in that moment that I had to make the decision if being vindicated about a work altercation was worth hours or perhaps days of pain due to prolonged flare brought on by stress.
So I had to let the situation rest. Not because I wasn’t right, or I felt that my grievance was unfounded. I instead chose to preserve my life outside of the work environment. I want health and a full life. And for right now, this means that some skirmishes will be conceded so that I may win the war and achieve my goal of a healthy life!
Its been raining for the last few days. The ground is soggy and my usual walking route is filled with puddlesand mud. And of course, my joints want to make some noise also. But I know that for me sitting out a week from exercise can derail my commitment to getting out and moving my body at least three days a week. So I laced up my purple sneakers and joined the ranks of the retired fitness seeker in my town. I lapped the mall! I walked 3 miles past the food court, department stores, and the new sports shop. No it wasn’t the same as my usual trek. I didn’t time myself and I didn’t work up a sweat. But what I did do was honor my commitment to exercise. Hopefully the rain and my hips will ease up this weekend and l can return to my regular route.
Intermittent fasting is basically picking a time period-4, 6 or 8 hours in which you consume your daily allowance of calories. The dieter is encouraged to get most of these calories from healthy sources, but if you want to spend your calorie count on a juicy burger, fries, and a milk shake you can. There are no true cheats except eating outside your window. Intermittent fasting proponents promise weight loss, better mental clarity, loss of fat over muscle, a detoxifying effect, and a host of other life enhancing side effects from resting your digestive system for a period of time on the regular basis.
For me, intermittent fasting has finally allowed me to get my relationship with food back under control.* I allow myself to be hungry which helps me differentiate between the feel of an empty stomach and true hunger. It has cut down on my mindless eating. I realize that I have been eating because it was time, out of habit, or just because food was there. The fact that I go without food for an extended period of time has broken those habits. I find myself easily passing up diet busting temptations. Even in my eating window the desire to over eat is greatly reduced. I am re-learning to eat only when I am hungry and to ignore food the rest of the time.
Another reason I wanted to give intermittent fasting a shot is that RA symptoms can be lessened with prolonged fast. While most studies focus on fasting a lot longer than the 16 hour fast I do I can see a slight difference in my level of discomfort at the end of the fast period and after my first meal. I definitely feel better before consuming the first meal of the day than afterward.
I don’t how true the health assertions associated with fasting diets are. What I do know is that fasting has helped me have a healthier relationship with food. I am more and more focused on eating my recommended daily allowance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber because of the short eating window. That means I am less likely to get my calories from a non-nutritious source. I actually remember to take my multi-vitamin every day. But the most exciting part is that my weight loss seems to be concentrated in my stomach area! So for now I eat between 9-5 most days of the week. And my midsection is thanking me for it.
*This diet is not recommended for anyone who has had an eating disorder. Fasting under these circumstances may cause a relapse.
So I’m back to counting calories. After all, it is the tried and true method in weight loss. I read somewhere that all diets, no matter how they are packaged, at their core are different methods to reduce calorie consumption. Whether it is eliminating calorie dense foods such as carbs or highly processed foods the net effect is calorie reduction. Eating more than your caloric output, no matter how healthy or low carb the foods are, will end with weight gain. So I have decided keep a food diary and record the approximate calorie count of everything I eat and drink. My handy dandy Lose It! app has been a great tool in doing this. It has set my calorie count at 1406 daily and if I add exercise I get to “eat back” those calories-which is a great motivator to get off my butt and do something even when I don’t feel like it.
Does this mean that I am done eating clean? NO! Clean eating, for me, is about making sure that I get the nourishment my body needs. I want to reduce the non-food elements in my diet. I don’t believe eating a diet high in man-made foods is the best for MY body. I believe that I will be healthier overall if I get my nutrients from whole foods rather than enriched foods. But while eating clean will be a clean element in my return to health, it will no longer be what I rely on for weight loss. For the weight loss portion of my journey to health I think tracking my calories is my best option.