Monday, May 30, 2011

Thinking PEACE on Memorial Day

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More about Tacoma Food Co-Op

I recently wrote about Tacoma Food Co-op. If you are interested in more information, but missed the last coffee talk, no worries, there is another one coming up this Thursday evening. Or you can get a lot of information on their website.  

The co-op could use your* involvement! Join us!

Thursday, May 19, 6pm – 7pm

Bluebeard Coffee, 2201 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98403

*Bloom in Health would like to sponsor the membership of a few Gritty Tacomans who are willing to invest time and enthusiasm in TFC. Please send an e-mail to Bloom in Health (or comment below if you are comfortable doing so) telling us why and how you would like invest in our community via the co-op, as well as a brief description of the financial circumstances that do not enable you to invest cash in the co-op at this time.
Please "like" Bloom in Health on Facebook here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Individualized Nutrition for My Body and Brain

I haven't been feeling great since mid April after I returned from my visit to Philly. When I don't feel great, I don't feel like writing. I'm writing now because I feel very unproductive and like I don't deserve to to take up space unless I do something today. I usually write out of inspiration or because I want to share some information that I think is important. Today, I write out of a pretty dark place and I guess my only goal is to feel a bit of accomplishment and to let my friends that share my issues with depression, food issues, and/or digestive issues know that they aren't alone. 

Last Friday, I got the results of my food intolerance blood test and had quite a few surprises. The list of foods that my body does not tolerate is longer than I'd hoped and includes some of my favorite foods. Thankfully there is a list of foods that my body likes and I can eat off of that list until I start feeling good. Then, I can slowly reintroduce some of my favorite foods and see how I feel. I've been eating a fairly restricted diet (but 'cheating' fairly regularly) for the last several months. Some of the foods that my doctor and I thought were safe are actually not good for me, such as avocado, rice, vanilla, cherrries, pineapple, spinach, cabbage, lettuces, and turkey. It will be interesting to see what happens when I get them out of my system. I'm also more allergic than the average person to molds. And I'm intolerant of  a few food colorings. More on that some other time.

Good news is that I don't have a problem with Candida Albicans or the entire family of nightshades. So I can add back in more fruit and spicy peppers (as long as it doesn't give me heartburn). 

So, here is my list:

Severe Intolerance: apricot, avocado, clam, corn, halibut, psyllium, walnut.

Moderate Intolerance: banana, bay leaf, cabbage, carrot, coconut, cow's milk, garlic, green pea, hops, iceberg lettuce, lime, orange, peach, pineapple, sardine, sole, spinach, tuna, wheat, (plus, because of gluten: barley, malt, rye and oats)

Mild Intolerance: artichoke, asparagus, beet, black pepper, blueberry, buckwheat, cane sugar, caraway, cherry, clove, date, duck, egg yolk, honeydew melon, kiwi, lemon, lobster, mustard, olive, onion, parsley, plum, rice, safflower, sesame, string bean, sunflower, thyme, tomato, trout, turkey, vanilla, white potato.

Acceptable Foods
  • Vegetables/Legumes: black-eyed peas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, celery, chick pea, cucumber, eggplant, green pepper, kidney bean, lentil bean, lima bean, mushroom, navy bean, pinto bean, radish, soybean, squash (yellow), sweet potato, turnip.
  • Fruits: apple, blackberry cantaloupe, cranberry, fig, grape, grapefruit, mango, papaya, pear, pumpkin, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon.
  • Meat: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, veal.
  • Dairy: egg white, goat's milk
  • Seafood: bass, codfish, crab, haddock, herring, oyster, salmon, scallop, shrimp snapper, tilapia.
  • Grains: millet, tapioca.
  • Herbs/Spices: basil, cayenne, cinnamon, cumin, dill, ginger, mint, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, sage.
  • Nuts/Oils and Misc: almond, baker's yeast, beet sugar, blk/green tea, brewer's yeast, carob, cashew, cocoa, coffee, cottonseed, flaxseed, HFCS, hazelnut, honey, peanut, pecan, pistachio.

I still have some confusion since there are things for which I was not tested that I'd like to eat, like kale (can't have cabbage but can have broccoli, so what about kale?).  They didn't test for quinoa or amaranth, but my doctor said to go ahead and eat them since they are gluten free. I'm a little nervous about quinoa though, because it is related to spinach and beets - both are on my bad list. We also discussed oats and I'll eat the gluten free kind.  Also, I think that some of the foods on the acceptable list might give me heartburn, so I'd have to cut those. 

I'll let you know how it goes. Today is DAY 1, since I ate whatever I wanted over the weekend because of two special events. No wonder I feel like crapola today. 

Breakfast: Egg Whites
Snack: Juice of crenshaw melon (not on my list, but I already had it here - hoping it is okay) and strawberries
Lunch: Leftover special chili (beef, pureed red pepper, acceptable spices) Delicious. Thank you , Rick!
Dinner? Probably left over pork, amaranth, and broccoli. 

Sorry for the lack of eloquence and/or enthusiasm, but hopefully that will change over the next month. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tacoma Food Co-Op

Do you have questions about Tacoma Food Co-op? Join Mandy Landa on Saturday, May 7, 2011, between 11am – 12pm at The Greener Bean in Fircrest for a Coffee Talk!  

The co-op could use your* involvement! Join us!

Rick and I were hesitant to join until recently when we became confident that Tacoma is ready for a food co-op. Why are we so confident now?

~ A great location has been chosen and a transition agreement reached with the owner

~ The co-op has 523 paid members (as of April 25, 2011)

~ Shares in the co-op will be available mid-May offering members a chance to further invest in the co-op and our community

~ The hiring process is well underway for a General Manager

*Bloom in Health would like to sponsor the membership of a few Gritty Tacomans who are willing to invest time and enthusiasm in TFC. Please send an e-mail to Bloom in Health (or comment below if you are comfortable doing so) telling us why and how you would like invest in our community via the co-op, as well as a brief description of the financial circumstances that do not enable you to invest cash in the co-op at this time.

Please "like" Bloom in Health on Facebook here.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Fast Food" Testing #1
Sometimes I don't do a very good job planning ahead for meals. I know I'm not alone in this! Before I did my detox diet in February and began trying to do an elimination diet, I always had convenience foods around the house for "emergencies." You know, when your blood sugar gets so low, you get moody and a bit faint. I relied on wheat thins, tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, a sandwich (or just a slice of bread!), dried fruit, Luna bars, and nuts to revive me enough to think of a better meal or give me enough energy to make it to the next meal. I thought my choices were fairly healthy. It turns out the foods themselves aren't awful, but they may have been causing problems for me. I am now exploring the possibility that I am intolerant of gluten, some nuts, corn, and dairy.  My former snacks are currently ruled out.
Of bigger concern, according to recent research presented on The Dr. Oz Show, cancer develops in response to the stress we cause our bodies by not eating on a regular schedule.
When you eat meals at different times rather than on a regular schedule, your body goes into stress mode. For example, when you eat breakfast at 7 a.m. one morning and 11 a.m. the next, your body becomes confused about where its next meal is coming from. This causes the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol lead to spikes in insulin, which causes inflammation and can increase the risk of many cancers.

Dr. Oz’s suggestion is to
Create a regular meal schedule and do your best to stick with it. Since life often intervenes when it comes to routines, make a habit of carrying a healthy snack with you at all times, such as air-popped popcorn or an apple, to ward off hunger pangs and insulin spikes.

Many of the foods that I eat now require planning, and I’m still not good at that! For example, my calendar just reminded me that I need to eat lunch, so I went to the kitchen and started looking around. The only left-overs in the fridge were some (under)baked beets and carrots that need some more time in the oven. I popped those in, but felt that I needed something right away.  Fortunately, I remembered that a box had arrived on my porch this morning from Sequel Naturals. A few days ago, I went online searching for “super foods,” which I had just heard about through WISH, in an interview with Mike Adams. I found some super food energy bars that sounded good and ordered them.
I opened up the package and took my first bite. Hmm, tastes healthy. As I chewed (and chewed) I started to read the packaging. I discovered that the bars had been developed by Brendan Brasier, a professional Ironman triathelete and author, whom I had recently heard speak on his experiences with switching to a raw food diet. “Made exclusively from raw, alkaline, plant-based superfoods.” That sounds good. Oops! Almond butter. Oh, Almonds and wheat grass. The bar had started to taste pretty good and I wanted to eat more. I reacted badly to almonds a few weeks ago, but hadn’t had a noticeable reaction to wheat when I tried it. And I had been avoiding wheat and dried fruit these past months just because my doctor is treating me for a candida infection; theoretically both those foods would ‘feed’ the yeast in my belly. I decided to finish the bar (it was really tasting yummy now, after I had gotten used to the flavor) and see how my body reacts. I sure hope I can eat them; otherwise, 11 of my friends will be receiving samples!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happiness through Attitude Adjustment - Part 1

Photographic art by J M Barclay
I bought a 5x5 print of this today. I am grateful.
I found it because a friend posted a link on Facebook.
The universe conspires to assist me. No, I'm not joking!

Yesterday and today, my assignments in my health coaching course were about positive psychology. I got to listen to a lecture by James Pawelski, PhD, Director of Education and Senior Scholar in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania about achieving happiness. The lecture was chock-full of information that I'm still digesting. I'll be sharing some of it soon, I assure you!

Today, part of my assignment was to watch this video from 20/20 that reminded me of my post from a few days ago as well as a book that I read in 2009. Pursuit of happiness has been a recurring theme in my life for the last few years and I haven't been highly successful. Most likely my set point (genetic) for happiness is quite low. What is encouraging is that Dr. Pawelski and the experts in the video agree that even with a low set-point, I can choose actions that will increase my happiness dramatically.

The video, the lecture, and the book have one solution in common, the first key to happiness is a change in attitude gained by attention to gratitude. In 2009, I started writing down 5 things for which I was grateful before I got out of bed in the morning. This habit didn't take, probably because I'm not a morning person. Dr. Pawelski instructed us to do an exercise called "Three Blessings" wherein before you go to bed, you write down three good things that happened during the day and then write down why each of them happened. One of the experts in the video recommends following grandma's advice: count your blessings.

So, step one to changing my attitude (one degree at a time) is now officially to count my blessings before I go to bed. Five of them, in writing, and why these blessings happened. I think you'll be able to tell if this approach works, since I'm fairly transparent, but I'll make sure to post about it through the year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Roasted Veg Fish Stew Recipe

Tonight I concocted a stew that is worth sharing! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. Maybe I'll snap a shot of my leftovers tomorrow. We had fish and cabbage to use and I wanted to make the stew as anti-inflammatory as I could. Most of the ingredients were from our Terra Organics box.

2 Tilapia fillets (I got ours in a multi-pack from Costco)
1 small head organic red cabbage
1 long organic sweet potato (could substitute carrots or beets)
1/2 onion
1 head of garlic
5-6 cups of liquid (I used 3.5 cups of vegetable broth and some water)
Peeled and grated fresh organic ginger (I started with a chunk about the size of my thumb)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric (less for those of you who can taste turmeric)
salt and pepper to taste

Turn on oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potato into 1/2 inch thick rounds, prepare garlic to roast (see great instructions here), cut off bottom of onion. Place them on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Cover onion and garlic with foil. Roast for about 30 minutes. While this is happening, you can leave the kitchen!

Pull pan out of oven and allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, put liquid in large pot, add spices and ginger. Bring to boil, then lower heat, stirring regularly.  Chop cabbage and add to pot. Stir. Cut up onion into large chunks and add to pot. Squeeze out garlic and add to pot. Stir. Cut fish into larger than bite size pieces and add to pot. Look at the time. Cut sweet potato rounds into quarters and add to pot.  Serve after fish has been in the stew for 5 minutes or less. It cooks very quickly. You can add it frozen and it will still cook in less than 10 minutes in the hot liquid.

I'm not eating bread or dairy right now, so we had this stew as our main course. It would be lovely with a slice of bread and a dollop of sour cream on top. One of the lovely things about this stew is its dark color and rustic, hearty look. The roasted vegetables are sweet and the broth is spicy. You can taste the fish, but it isn't overwhelming.

Serves 4-5.
Prep and cook time, 50 minutes. Actual time in kitchen: 20 at most. I didn't even peel the sweet potatoes - the skins fell off in the soup and blended right in with the cabbage.

Rick paired the soup with Trio Vintners Mourvedre 2007 and it was a lovely choice. Against the spicy and sweet soup, the wine tasted light and sweet. Really nice.

Attitude Adjustment

Last week, I had a poor attitude - not really a "bad" attitude, just sad, unmotivated, a little hopeless. I kept trying to change my attitude, shrug it off, find the silver lining to the dark clouds hovering over my soul. It reminded me of how I've felt when I've been depressed and I was afraid that the clouds wouldn't part no matter what positive thinking techniques I attempted. It helped a little to hear from friends that I wasn't the only one. Some blamed mercury in retrograde, some the pull of the moon, some the shift in the earth from the earthquake in Japan, some the gloomy skies, and others just had some really crappy stuff going on in their lives. No matter the cause, we all have bad days, which sometimes turn into bad weeks or months.

This morning, even though it is cold and raining (again!), I could feel that the storm in my brain had passed. Whew, I did something right! Maybe it was the rest that I allowed myself, maybe the extra vitamins, maybe the loving support of my husband or the cumulative effect of the multiple friends that shared their lives with me during the week. They accepted my slump and shared their own struggles - and we all found something to laugh about. As I think about my past, and my varied approaches to attitude, I realize that during different phases of my 42 years I've experienced a lot of approaches to attitude adjustment.

Watercolor by Wendy Burchill
STAND UP STRAIGHT AND SMILE! This was delivered by my mother often enough that I remember it clearly. And usually said with an accompanying grip of my elbow or back of the neck. This hurt and made me angry. The message from my parents about a poor attitude was consistent: go to your room until you can come out with a smile on your face; if you can't feel it, fake it; if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. This approach didn't help me feel better, but at least they didn't have to deal with me.

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT:  The first time I heard this phrase was in grade school. One of the teachers at our small school used it regularly. "Somebody needs an attitude adjustment."  Sometimes it meant straighten up, other times it meant that the paddle was going to be employed. It never worked.

LET GO, AND LET GOD: This one is more subtle, but was pervasive in my life for 28 years. The gist of this approach is that if you trust in God, He will give you peace. If you don't feel peace, you are too self absorbed and not trusting enough. A true believer won't have much discouragement because it is all God's will.

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE helped me through some really tough times, and has given me some measure of peace, but hasn't really cheered me up. For this to work, you need to wholeheartedly believe that everything happens for a reason. That something positive will eventually come from the negative. For example, my experiences with my second husband taught me a lot about addiction, drug dealers, and absolute desperation, that I hoped would help me later in life, either to relate to others in the same boat or just to make me a stronger person.

FAKE IT 'TIL YOU MAKE IT seems to work sometimes, but I've always found it to be a temporary fix. Faking it can also really backfire as friends can sense that something false is going on even if they can't put their finger on it. Trust is fragile.

DON'T LIKE IT? CHANGE IT!  I call bullshit on this one. There are people that like to say that we all have the power to change our circumstances. Talk to my cousin who has schizophrenia or a mother living in a war refuge camp about this one. Even when applied strictly to attitude, I have trouble with this. When a person is clinically depressed, they can try and try and try again to change their attitude without success. Telling a person, to "Just smile! Change your attitude!" is not helpful in any situation. On the other hand, I do think that it is helpful to think of our psychological attitudes like aviation attitude, that is, directional.  Even a change in attitude of half of a degree will change a long term outcome. And often a very slight change in attitude is possible and that slight change can make a world of difference in the long run.

My perspective today, as I'm coming out of a rough week, is that advice and forced cheerfulness don't really help someone that is hurting. SINCERE SUPPORT does help. It might take some of your valuable time and energy, but it really helps. If your friend seems down, telling them to 'buck up' isn't going to help; although it might temporarily make you feel better about yourself. The more I think about attitudes, the more I think we need to learn to accept ourselves and those around us, in good times and bad. We are human beings each with a unique combination of attributes that make us whole. And as Dr. Carl Jung said, "I'd rather be whole than good." As whole human beings we have dark thoughts and impulses as well as light. When we deny that part of ourselves, as with denial of any part of ourselves, that part of ourselves won't leave us alone. By accepting and loving the entirety of our beings, we can more easily focus on and share the light. The next time I'm in a slump, I'm going to do my best to accept my poor attitude as part of who I am, a beautiful, moody, sensitive, strong woman. I may try to change my attitude by a degree, but I'm not going to beat myself up just because I'm feeling sad. And when my friends have a negative or sad attitude, I'm going to try to give hugs and let them know that they are beautiful even when they are experiencing pain and that I am so grateful that they are a unique piece in the puzzle of my life.

Upon re-reading this post, I realized that the majority of what I wrote was negative, or "what not to do," leaving just the last paragraph to emphasize the encouragement part. I thought about changing it, but then decided to accept the process, to accept my feelings and thoughts, and allow them to be seen by you, dear reader. Hopefully my honesty and vulnerability will serve to inspire someone, someday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Picture 59 - March 27

First meeting of the Puget Sound IIN study group.

Picture 59 - March 26

Picture 58 - March 25

Picture 57 - March 23

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Open Call for Criticism

Tonight I had a disagreement with a friend that turned ugly. She said some things that I think she has wanted to say to me for some time. It hurt.  But I want to hear the truth. So, this is an open call to anyone that wants to let me know how they feel about me. Do you also think I'm self righteous? That I push people away? That I imply all kinds of hurtful things? That I'm mean? Go for it. Let's do some laundry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Temptation Delivered


When Matt arrived this morning to pick up his dog for the day, he had a little brown bag in his hand. When he handed it to me, he said, "I brought you some breakfast."  What a sweetheart, to think of me that way! I was afraid it would be trouble though, as I realized that when we worked together this summer, I hadn't yet connected food intake with the condition of my poor body. After saying a sincere thank you and waving good-bye, I peeked in the bag. YIKES!

How colorful! How tempting!

I had just finished a nice bowl of oatmeal (just gluten free oats, water, and some organic raisins) and was halfway through eating half of an organic grapefruit. I had been marveling at how sweet the grapefruit tasted after my weeks of sugar free eating. I quickly closed the bag, set it aside and went back to eating my grapefruit and looking over the yoga schedule from the YMCA and admiring the list of produce that arrived from Terra Organics this morning.

I decided that my hubby would get a laugh out of the donut, so I pulled it out of the bag, took a picture and sent it off to him. Then, I decided that I could have a bite or two. I mean, I just finished such a healthy much could a couple of bites of processed sugar, processed flour, and a bit of grease hurt when balanced with such healthy food?

I used my spoon, so that I wouldn't wolf down the whole thing. That first bite was so good! Two more small bites and I was done. I'll save the rest for later, I thought, or maybe tomorrow.

WRONG! Holy smokes all that processed "food" hit my system hard! First, I noticed that I was cold, so I went to sit on my bed under the covers to study my GRE vocabulary words (as directed by my schedule). I started to get a headache right away, so I decided that it would be okay to take a little nap. I snuggled down and noticed that my teeth hurt -- no, I'm not joking. Then my tongue started to itch mildly and the joints in my hands to hurt. My schedule alarm woke me about 45 minutes later and told me it was time to start some laundry, clean up the kitchen and make a few important phone calls. I decided (obviously under the influence at this point) that I was too tired for that and switched my schedule around. I pulled out my IIN iPod and listened to the lecture for today. The lecturer was Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. He's tough on foods like my donut, going as far as to call them poison. All in all, the podcast was enjoyable and inspiring, and I'm back on schedule; sort of...excuse me while I run to the bathroom.

Well, I'm back at my desk now and I need to figure out how to best salvage my schedule. I think I'll start with a cup of red clover tea to give my intestines a chance against all the ingredients I just fed to my yeast monster.

Back tomorrow, with more adventures in health!

Questions I'll be pondering in the meantime (your input is welcome!):
  1. If it takes 24-72 hours for food to travel through our systems, how did that donut send me running to the bathroom within a few hours?
  2. What is the simplest, most positive way to relay the long list of "foods" that I can't eat right now to well intentioned friends and acquaintances, without sounding self righteous?
  3. What is the best approach to tell friends that what they are eating may be making them sick and encourage them to consider changing their diet before they turn to medication, without sounding like a know-it-all?
And, finally, a word from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Mark Hyman, Gluten: What you don't know might kill you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Picture 56 - March 21


Squire was on my lap first. This is Pandora's attempt to push him off.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Picture 54 - March 19



Friday, March 18, 2011

Picture 53 - March 17

St. Patrick's Day
Doyle's Public House
VIP room

Picture 52 - March 16

Nashville, TN

Picture 51 - March 15

Watching Nashville Predators lose to LA Kings.

Priorities and Time Management

"There just isn't enough time in a day!" I know we've all said it at one point in our lives, and I'm feeling that way today. But in my case, it isn't really true, it is just that I got off to a mediocre start this morning and didn't have a plan in place to tackle my list.

My IIN supplies include a really great journal and it is already helping me with my time management and wellness goals. Each day has one page for setting intentions, meant to be done first thing each morning, and one page for evening reflection to be done right before bedtime. This morning I didn't get to my journal until after 10:30, after a scheduled phone call with my health coach, Revital. I had time before 9 to eat my oatmeal and do a journal entry, but instead, since I was a little nervous about my first call with Revital, I looked on the student dashboard at IIN for instructions and then I googled her. This led me, you guessed it, to Facebook, the famous time sapper.

My journal entry, when I finally got to it, included four goals for today (there is only room for three): explore fast track, study for GRE, schedule next week, and blog. I included scheduling for next week because I noticed a big difference during the last two weeks between the days that I had a strict schedule set for myself and those days that I did not. That trend continued today. I didn't have a set schedule. I had two set appointments, but the time in surrounding those was just general, get sh*t done time. So here I sit, at 5pm, writing a blog, but not having begun working on my other three goals. I did however accomplish one "fun, relaxation, and adventure for today:" lunch with Janie. There is room to write down three items in that section. Perhaps the fact that I rarely have more than one is a sign of something? Anyway, I consider having lunch with Janie (as well as being flexible enough to extend lunch into getting a girlfriends' mani-pedi) a big success, because developing quality friendships is one of my overarching priorities this year. I'm also proud of myself for making lunch for us instead of eating out. I prefer to eat out, but eating at home is so much healthier for me right now. I was feeling pressured about making lunch here because the house is a mess: suitcase not unpacked, bed not made, dog hair everywhere, and bathroom not clean. Rick was also working from home today and I didn't want to disturb him. I almost called to change plans to eating out. But I stuck with the plan and we all had a yummy healthy hot lunch.

The thing is, I really had time to do all of that and accomplish my goals today. If I'd had a plan, that is! I'm not beating myself up about it, I can do some of it this evening and some tomorrow. I wouldn't have kept up on the news as well, or checked in on as many people on Facebook, but those aren't my priorities. When I work toward my priorities, I feel good. And feeling good is the biggest priority of all! So, while there "just isn't enough time in a day" to do everything, there is enough time for priorities, it just takes setting a schedule and sticking with it!

Next morning update: stumbled across a related quote this morning, "Harmony between your inner direction and outward action will bring you happiness." Elson Haas, MD


Monday, March 14, 2011

Nutrition and My Brain

The first time I was diagnosed with clinical depression was in the 90s. I was in my mid twenties, going through fertility treatments, and living with my non-emotionally involved husband. My depression had gotten pretty severe by the time I admitted my situation to my family doctor. I would have bouts of crying that sent me under the bed or into the closet. I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't make myself leave an enclosed space for hours. My doctor prescribed an anti-depressant and it kind of worked. Since then, I've lost track of which meds I've taken, when, and for how long. It's been a rough road. I don't like to take them, so I wean myself off for a year or two (or 5) and then have to crawl back to a doctor. I've also been diagnosed with Premenstrual Disphoric Disorder (PMDD), which is just a fancy way of saying that I get pretty psycho when I ovulate and before I begin menstruation. If you think about it, that covers most of the month. So, another doctor prescribed birth control pills (BCP) to control those symptoms. But did you know that, for some of us, a side effect of birth control pills is (you guessed it!) depression? Next, I was diagnosed as having hypothyroidism and started taking synthetic thyroid medication. That didn't help with the depression and fatigue (at the time, I was off BCP and anti-depressants) and I had a few really bad mood swings that led to suicidal desires amongst other uglies. Back to the doctor I went and he prescribed an anti-depressant. Didn't work. My gynecologist ARNP changed my prescription to Cymbalta when I dissolved in her office and sent me directly to a psychiatric ARNP. The psych NP prescribed another additional medication. Before I knew it I was taking 4 pills every morning. I started to feel better, but the fatigue and some of my low, pessimistic mood persisted. In addition, I developed microscopic colitis, gastritis, and sinusitis. I felt that things were spiraling out of control and my doctor was not listening to me. I tried an acupuncturist and she recommended that I visit a Naturopath.

In December, I started seeing Dr. Cook at Holistic Health Clinic. She listened, took some lab tests, and started me on some supplements and vitamins right away. In late January, I was really not doing well so Dr. Cook put me on a detox diet for a week. After that, I started on an elimination diet, where I added in a food every few days to see if I had a food intolerance.

The week of my detox diet, my psych nurse recommended that I might like to read "The UltraMind Solution" by Mark Hyman, MD. I found the author's website, and liked what I saw enough to order three of his books. Dr. Hyman treats what he calls broken brains with diet, vitamins, and supplements. In "The UltraMind Solution," he documents his research and successes with various patients suffering from everything from ADD to Autism.  His seven keys to balance are: Optimize Nutrition, Balance Your Hormones, Cool Off Inflammation, Fix your Digestion, Enhance Detoxification, Boost Energy Metabolism, and Calm Your Mind. Now, I bought this book because I thought it might lead me to a way to heal my depression. I was so excited when I saw the information about hormones, inflammation, and digestion! According to Dr. Hyman's experience and research, they are all connected. How intriguing! When I was about half way through his book, which is very logical and well documented, I decided to see if Dr. Hyman is on Facebook. Sure enough, there is a fan page.  I started reading the comments on his wall and saw one by a graduate of a place called Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). I clicked on her link and within two weeks, I was enrolled. The year long program has two start dates, one in March and one in the fall. I registered just in time and have started classes already!

I'm still on a restricted diet, although I cheat sometimes, and I am feeling much better. I have stopped taking two of my medications, and have cut the dosage of the antidepressant by 1/3. I am still taking a lot of supplements and vitamins every day, but Dr. Cook encourages me that I'll be able to start narrow those down soon. Last week, she added a prescription, Nystatin, that fights the systemic yeast/fungal infection Candida. Candida is an entirely new post; more on that topic to come. So far, everything that Dr. Cook has recommended has fit with Dr. Hyman's theories and I'm feeling better already.

My goal in exposing all of these gory details is to share with you the hope that I've found, the direction, and the healing, while explaining how I came to start my studies at IIN. My hope is that my healing will continue as I learn about health and that I will be able to share with many people a route to wellness. I feel better, I look better, and I expect to live a longer, fuller life all because one person suggested a book and another suggested Dr. Cook. One person at a time, we can help the world!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Picture 50 - March 12, 2011

Pat is an awesome table hostess! 
She brought us headgear, puppy bookmarks, bouncy balls, and art projects!

Wine & Whiskers
dinner auction to raise funds for Coalition Humane

Control Something!

On Friday, Rick and I drove to Delta, BC and back. On Thursday, Ann and I went to the Supermall during the day and Rick and I went to Gig Harbor for our annual eye exams. Today, we ran a 5K and attended a dinner auction for Coalition Humane. These events may not seem related, but bear with me!

I have had one recurring dream (nightmare?) throughout my life. It started around the time that I turned 11 and the setting of the dream is often Pennsylvania where I lived at that time. The dream involves a car careening down a gravel road, with me not in control at the wheel. I'm the driver, but I'm sitting in the back seat, or the pedals are out of reach, or my legs are tangled up. Sometimes a young child or sick friend is in the car with me. The "deep meaning" of this dream finally became obvious to me in my early twenties. The dream appears to torment me when I feel that I am out of control of my life. Part of my self-inflicted therapy has been to learn to let go, in other words, not care so much about controlling everything. Although sometimes, when  I have the dream, it is appropriate to try to adjust my life so that I gain more control. I think that we all have a need to control our own lives, the trick is to not let that bleed over into attempting to control the lives of those around us!

Yesterday, I had a lot of time to think while riding in the car (over 7 hours to be exact) and realized that the limited diet I've been experimenting with has really given me a feeling of control over my life. There are many areas of our lives that we just can't control sometimes, but we each can control what we allow ourselves to eat and not eat. Paying attention to the results of our eating habits allows us to enjoy the results of that control. In the past 3 days, I've eaten at home three times, all of them were for breakfast, and ate out six times. When I ate out, I tried to control what I ate, but it was nearly impossible. My california roll at the supermall had a suspicious mayonaisey flavor. My fish, wild rice, and green beans at Green House in Gig Harbor were amazingly delicious, most likely because of the butter sauce in which they were floating. The only vegetables on the Gari of Sushi menu last night were tempura. Tonight's vegetable lasagna had a lot of cheese and a mystery white sauce. The salad was delicious, but the dressing definitely had something spicy in it that is probably from the forbidden nightshade family.

I really like to eat out. When I started on this restricted diet, I was pretty upset that my eating out would be limited. But, I'm slowly learning that eating home cooked meals allows me such a great amount of control that I think I might prefer it. I'm also slowly learning that eating the delicious food that makes me sick just isn't worth it. I really wish that I'd eaten dinner before tonight's event and that I'd refused a slice of that amazing cake. My head hurts, I feel fatigued, and I'm really having trouble finishing this post that I started this morning because my thinking is cloudy. Now, my next step is to remember when I'm eating out that I really do have control over what I put in my mouth and to not worry what people think of me. Yes, I'm now a picky eater! With pride, I'll say it! I can pick and choose what to eat based on how that food serves me. I deserve to be healthy and I will be!

"When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all." Augusten Burroughs

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Priorities and Relationships

Most days, I create a blog post in my head that never gets written. As interesting as I think it is, I know that when I post, it is likely solely my friend, Ann, who will read it. I get to see Ann at least once a week, and I feel like holding onto the posts in my head will give me something interesting to talk about with her! However, change is in the air! I've begun a journey to become a health coach through Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  One of the things I'll be doing during this year long program is writing and learning to market my services. What better way to sharpen my writing skills than to blog! Also, I'm already meeting some lovely people through the course and I think that if I share my blog with them, they may actually read it regularly! Also, one of the first assignments includes determining priorities and establishing a solid schedule to accommodate those priorities. Writing blog posts is one of my priorities and friends are another.

Now, reading above that nobody reads my blog, you may be thinking that I don't have many friends. A few months ago, I may have protested, and it is true that I do have plenty of acquaintances and Facebook "friends." But lately I've been realizing that I spend a lot of time reaching out to the people that I consider friends, but that they don't always respond, nor do they reach out to me. I am very lucky to have a few friends that call me, originate an e-mail discussion, invite me to join them in activities, or post nice things out of the blue on my FB wall. I'm proud to name them: Ann, Yolie, Raquelita, and my husband. I've been trying to focus on responding to them rather than chasing down the elusive ones. My life is definitely out of balance when it comes to relationships. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, but I spend a lot of time alone, and I'm a social person. This is probably why I spend so much time on Facebook and Twitter. I now recognize that I need to make the development of quality friendships a priority in my life. I bought a stack of books on friendships and relationships and some of them were very helpful. I started putting into practice some of the things that I learned, but mostly I did this with people that I want to be my friends, but whose priority lists do not include me. The difficult part is not having my feelings constantly raw from rejection, no matter how subtle. Feeling isolated and being defensive come naturally to me; I don't need regular rejection or exclusion to help me along those paths! But how do we know when it is time to give up on a friendship? And what is the best way to do that? I've had two conversations this week that have helped me begin to answer those questions.

Conversation #1 was with my therapist. That is how lonely I am. I no longer technically need therapy, but I pay someone to talk to me for an hour once a month. She suggested that I am compulsive about the friendships that hurt me the most because I'm trying to heal a hurt from my early childhood, i.e. my relationship with my parents. Wow! That hit home. I don't want to go into the details of my childhood, but suffice it to say that I felt isolated, alone, criticized, not good enough, outside of, not listened to, and often friendless. One of my earliest memories is from when I was 4 years old and I would make a point of standing by the front fence so that one of the girls walking home from school would stop and chat with me. So, my therapist's theory is that when I find someone that shrugs me off or excludes me, I compulsively pursue that friendship in order to attempt to heal myself. Of course, that is a ridiculous way to live. I just end up getting hurt.

Conversation #2 was with a new friend. She agreed to meet with me once a week to just chat over a cup of coffee or tea. What a gift. I was telling her about the latest time that I felt rejected by a "friend" and she said, "Why do you care?"  Something about her tone made her words sink in and I've thought about it a lot since I saw her. Why do I care? One thought (defensive, imagine that!) is that I am just a caring person. hmpf. Another thought is that I had strong hopes that this particular friend would be a "forever" friend, like you read about in books or see in movies. She is smart, educated, fun, down to earth, funny, and clever. I can relate to her struggles, appreciate her strengths, and admire her goals. But I'm trying to keep the dream alive when it is obvious that I'm not even an honorable mention on her priority list. And, once again, my behavior is ridiculous.

But giving up a dream, letting a relationship go, is tough. And, as my friend pointed out, probably tougher when I'm feeling rejected. I keep thinking that maybe I did something that upset her, or she is avoiding me for a reason, or she is just so busy! Then I mull over in what manner should I let it go? Cold turkey? Just never reach out to her again? Do I warn her? Explain? I've decided yes and no. I am explaining - right here and now. If she ever decided to read my blog, she would know how I feel.

Going forward, I am dedicated to being a better friend to my true friends and working on building healthy (non-compulsive) relationships with a few more people, when they come along. I have two in the works right now and you know who you are! I hope you'll be part of my life for a long time to come.

As a reality check, I'd like to end this post by stating that I have been a really poor friend several times in the past, this becomes clearer to me each day, and I possibly deserve the angst that I am experiencing now.

I am grateful that my coursework at IIN includes not only learning about the food that we put into our mouths, but what they call primary foods, those things that make our life balanced and complete: exercise, relationships, career, and spirituality. I'll be blogging about all of these, in addition to nutrition through the next year, as I learn and grow. I hope you'll come along with me for the ride!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Picture 49 - Vinegar Black Bean Soup

Those who know me well are aware that I've been battling some physical problems for the past year or two.  Because many of my issues are caused by inflammation (colitis, gastritis, sinusitis) my Naturopath put me on a detox diet for a week and now I am slowly adding back foods to see what might be causing the inflammatory response.  Rick has been so supportive, making the same foods into delicious meals. Last week, Dr. Cook and I decided to treat me for Candida, which means not adding back any products containing yeast, gluten, sugar, or foods that have been fermented, including vinegar! We recently bought some raw apple cider vinegar and I really enjoy it on my spinach and salads.

Yesterday, I experimented with some leftover black beans, organic peeled carrots (I bought a monster bag at Costco - what was I thinking?), and organic spinach. I threw the beans in a skillet with some olive oil, added the carrots and heated it up until it was spitting at me. Then I decided to add a little water and toss the spinach on top, covering it all with a lid. The result? Vinegar soup with great texture: crunchy carrots, wilted spinach, and the unique smoothness of cooked beans.  If you like vinegar as much as I do, I'm sure you'll want to give this quick dish a try. I'm not sure there are many out there that appreciate hot vinegar like I do though!

Picture 48 - March 6

Ann and Paul dancing just after midnight
at Barb's Westgate Inn

Picture 47 - March 5

Rick running at Pt. Defiance Park

Picture 46 - March 4

This is where I go for massages from the talented Lisa Clark of Lissette Massage. 
She also has an infrared sauna which I use regularly to sweat out toxins.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Picture 45 - March 3, 2011

The sun came out for a moment, I swear!

Picture 44 - March 2, 2011

I'm so disappointed that this picture isn't better. 
While I was running around the track at the Y, I noticed an adorable elderly lady walking around the track. She left and I was disappointed. Then I noticed that she had gone downstairs to try out the kick boxing aerobics class. She stood at the back and participated for about 10 minutes before she came back upstairs to walk again. May I be as healthy and adventurous when I reach her age!

Picture 43 - March 1, 2011

This is how I start every morning these days! 

Picture 42 - February 26, 2011

Tacoma Boys :)

Picture 41 - February 25, 2011

Hmm, not the best picture, but it sure was delicious. This was the day I added yams into my diet. They tasted so very good. Rick made the "salsa" that is on the chicken from ingredients that I am allowed at this point in my elimination diet: black beans, papaya, cilantro, and onions. The whole meal was really yummy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Picture 38 - February 20, 2011

Rick and I went to the Auburn Symphony on Sunday and then met Christine, Chris, and Dan for dinner. This is the only picture I took all day. Silly.

Picture 38 - February 18, 2011

Gorgeous day for a walk! 
Cold and windy, but crystal clear.

Picture 37 - February 17, 2011

Mmmm, lunch. As I've been going through my detox and then elimination diet, this lovely concoction has been my main food source. I think that on this day it was mixed with plums and sour cherries. It's a little gritty but tastes pretty good.

Picture 36 - February 16, 2011

Oh dear. The only picture I took on the 16th was taken with my phone
 and sent to Rick to say, "Good Morning." Lovely.

Picture 35 - February 15

Picture 34 - February 14

I got up to exchange some laundry and somebody took my spot!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture 33 - February 10, 2011

my first picture taken with my new iPhone

Picture 32 - February 8, 2011

Picture 31 - February 7, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Picture 30, 2011 - February 5, 2011

Picture 29 - February 3, 2011

Picture 28 - February 1, 2011

Tuesday was such a beautiful day. I took this picture of the Olympic Mountains through my windshield as I was leaving our neighborhood.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Picture 27 - January 30, 2011

Picture 26 - January 29, 2011

One of my goals for January was to clean and organize the office.

It is definitely cleaner and more organized, but could use a bit more work.

Picture 25 - January 28, 2011

Picture 24 - January 27, 2011

Sick and tired of being sick and tired
(this is what a migraine with a cold looks like)

Picture 23 - January 26, 2011

Today's lesson: my phone takes crappy pictures. This sushi was beautiful and delicious!

Gari of Sushi with the girls