Slow and Steady

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.

Sad

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.

Win-Win

289/365 SOUP

289/365 SOUP (Photo credit: cheesy42)

Life is so much easier when you find yourself able to effortlessly multitask.  And today my life just got a little bit easier.  I have been trying to figure out how to balance my clean eating lifestyle with the fact that sometimes I do not have the energy or manual dexterity in my fingers to do a lot of food preparation for a meal.  In the past I have resorted to fast food or a frozen dinner on those days. But now that I have decided to work on my overall health it seems wrong to not nourish my body when it is at its most vulnerable.

I have been researching ways that I can fix quick, healthy meals in a short period of time.  Those were not hard to find.  The catch is finding those same meals that require very little chopping or peeling.  Last week I decided to purchase a Vitamix blender in hopes that its ability to blend ingredients into a hot soup would help me create quick healthy dinners with minimal preparation.

This cold snap has my hands swollen and stiff so I figured today was a great day to take the Vitamix on a test run. The recipe I chose was a simple one I found in the cookbook that came with the Vitamax: chicken broth, potatoes (I used canned new potatoes), frozen spinach, frozen pre-diced onions, and rosemary. The result was a delicious steaming creamy soup with no prep.

What I liked the most about the Vitamax was that it doesn’t have those pesky push button settings like a lot of blenders.  I don’t know why but when my fingers are swollen I have trouble with the push motion.  My fingers seem to buckle before I can actually push the buttons in.  Instead this blender has knobs and switches that I can operate with relative ease.

So today even though I am stiff and achy I was able to adhere to my promise to nourish my body and stay away from fast foods.  All in all it was a win-win situation.  I was able to listen to my body and rest when it needed me to.  I was also able to avoid giving my body empty calories when it needed to be nourished the most.  Overall I couldn’t be happier!

Tools of the Trade

Vegetables

Vegetables (Photo credit: neonbubble)

When I was first diagnosed with RA I had a near obsession for any information I could find to teach me how to live with this disease.  I spent hours reading patient testimonies, researching the prognosis and complications of this disease, and looking for any home remedies that could make living with a prolonged flare bearable.   My research taught me to take my MTX pills (this was before I switched to an injection) after a large carb loaded meal to lessen the stomach upset.  I learned that a paraffin wax bath was a great way to calm down my screaming hands and feet after a long day at work.  And most importantly, I learned that there are many of us who are afflicted with this disease continue to live healthy and full lives-despite and perhaps because of the lessons RA has taught us.

What strikes me most is the disparity between how easy it is for me to get the tools I need for treating my RA and the difficulty I am having in finding whole foods that promote overall health. In fact all of the tools I needed for my RA arsenal are relatively easy to come by.  I can go to my local drug store to buy an OTC arthritis cream.  A trip to the local beauty supply store lets me find a nice paraffin wax bath.  Throughout the years I‘ve only had a few issues with obtaining my prescriptions.  Even this is mainly due to those infamous MTX shortages they seem to have every few years.  But I have found that the same easy access does not carry over when someone is trying to nourish their bodies by eating nutrient dense whole foods.

I find this frustrating.  First, let me say, I live in a large town.  I don’t have access to much more than a few large chain supermarkets whose main focus is on moving product-not variety.  We do have a seasonal farmer’s market that has limited hours. That means in the winter time there is no access to local grown produce. So for me and I’m sure many other Americans access to whole foods isn’t as easy as popping up at your farmer’s market on the weekend. While I have no problem getting drugs or home remedies to alleviate my RA systems, finding affordable fresh produce requires me to make a 50 minute drive to the year round farmers market. Or I must accept that my weekly grocery bill will nearly double.  If a prescription is not available at my primary pharmacy they are more than glad to call around and even transfer my prescription temporarily to a competitor to ensure I have my meds.  However, my local grocery store needs me to demonstrate “demand” before are willing to offer more organic choices in the meat department.

It is as if the food industry has forgotten that they offer the most potent drugs for health out there on the market.  Instead of bending over backwards like the local pharmacist to ensure their patients have the meds and remedies they need, the food industry makes us beg for those products that will improve our lives. With your health it seems you invest now or pay later.  I am fortunate enough to be in the position to invest now.

Solution to my MTX Hangover

I think I have solved my MTX hangover problem!  The solution was soooo simple I can’t believe I hadn’t figured it out earlier. 

 

Somewhere in the first year of taking MTX I started to drink Gatoraide the day after taking my meds to help me deal with the inevitable hangover.  This took me from the “kill me now” headache and nausea to” just leave me here and don’t touch “me territory.  I saw this as a victory and drinking Gatoraide on hangover day became a permanent part of my routine.  Three weeks ago that all changed.

 

I had stopped off and gotten take-out for dinner the night of my shot and I didn’t get a drink with it.  I didn’t want water so I decided to drink the Gatoraide I had bought for the next day with my dinner.  So throughout the evening I finished off one of those large bottles (2.5 servings) took my shot and then went to bed.  The next morning I felt surprisingly well for post MTX day.  My headache was a dull ache rather than the usual pounding hammer.  And most importantly I didn’t need a day to recover.  I just kept hydrated and was able to function almost normally.  And as we know, for someone with a chronic illness “almost normal” can be more than we dare to hope for.

 

During the last few weeks  I have been monitoring how well my body responds to making sure I am well hydrated before the shot verses rehydrating after the shot.  After 3 weeks it is quite clear that I need to hydrate before rather than after.  The strange think is that I would make sure that I got my 6-8 glasses of water in the day I took MTX but it didn’t really have that much of an effect.  I guess the electrolytes in the sports drink are what I really. 

 

So that is what I have been up to on the RA front while I have been M.I.A.  I also had that flare that had been brewing for the last month or so.  Maybe now my body is satisfied and the Flare Fairy will leave me alone for the rest of the year?