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.