Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dairy Free: Day 1

I'm doing the Dairy Free Challenge.   The site says:
"What is the worst that could happen? Absolutely nothing…you have no reaction, no change, you go back to your cheesy habits. What is the best that could happen? Your migraines subside, your cholesterol plummets, your energy increases, your body seems lighter, your stomach calms down, you just FEEL BETTER." 
And, they're right… It is comprised of a 10 day dairy-free diet.  The first seven days are the initial dairy break where all of the dairy enzymes are being eliminated from your body.  The beginning includes documenting your feelings, physically and emotionally… after the 10th day, you can reintroduce dairy.   And for the next three days you once again document your feelings.  The idea is that you'll feel overwhelmingly better on the days that you are not eating dairy. 

Many people who have taken the challenge - whether officially, or on their own, have reported reduced joint pains, aches, migraines, bloating and better sleep.  With that information, I've set a couple of goals for myself in the hopes of linking some of my chronic problems with my diet.  The initial and ongoing journal assessments list categories to measure and monitor changes in your health.  You rate various details of your digestive, respiratory and integumentary (skin) systems, as well as sleep and psychological factors.  Interestingly enough, I have chronic symptoms in each of these categories. Therefore, I've chosen to list a goal in each:
  1. Decrease congestion.  For nearly six months, I've had congested sinuses.  I saw an ENT, had a scope, and all looks good. I've also been wheezing occasionally - which is new for me.   I have an epi inhaler for emergencies, and have been prescribed some nasal sprays and Singulair (which I stopped taking).  I've opted for more holistic solutions like a Neti pot, saline spray, sinus massaging, a humidifier and increasing my fluid intake.  I haven't seen any progress, so I wonder if the dairy consumption has anything to do w/ this...
  2. Healthier digestion.  It's pretty much a norm for me to feel full until I'm starving.  I have a disorder called gastroparesis - which literally means "slow stomach."  I don't know if it's all connected, as my gastroenterologist didn't seem to bothered by it, but I also have acid reflux and not so healthy or consistent "emptying" if you know what I mean.  
  3. Clearer skin. While I've never really had acne, I do get MASSIVE pimples.  Usually one or two at a time.. but always those giant ones that I end up trying to pop way too early, which leads to weeks of red spots.  I never learn. 
  4. Improved sleep.   Lately, I've had poor sleep.  I think it's related to the fact that I can't really breath.  But, last night I woke up in a cold sweat... it's happened a couple of times in the last month.  I think this could be related to stress, but maybe not. 
  5. Reduce aches.  I carry my tension in between my shoulder blades.  My knees ache sometimes and my headaches never ease. I'm hoping removing something that may be toxic to my body will help.
    And so begins day one.   Coffee w/ soy creamer and some Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Maple Pecan Crunch w/ Blue Diamond Vanilla Almond Breeze.

    And the very TMI stats for my pre-dairy-free day 1 (yesterday).

    Don't Say "Cheese!"

    Grumble….gurgle…blerghhhhh.   Ahh the sound of dairy + me.  Like everyone else, I am, to a degree, lactose intolerant.   That really puts a damper on my cheese eating, I tell ya.  Well, no it doesn't.  And therein lies the problem.  

    I'm Italian.  I could - and pretty much do - live on a diet of cheese, bread and wine.  Sadly, my body doesn't agree to this regimen.   I can't handle the dairy.  Oh, and I have a gluten intolerance to boot.  Well, a girl can't live on wine alone….

    A few years back, when I first learned about this gluten issue, I tried to go gluten free.  You know what sucks?  Gluten free bread products.  Disorders like Celiac Disease can be quite dangerous, if gluten isn't avoided.  Luckily I do not have Celiac, but an intolerance.  It's mostly just uncomfortable.  Sometime debilitating.  But, not dangerous.  So, after a few weeks without gluten, I just gave up.  The quality of life was just not worth it.  Opportunity cost and all that…

    Over the years, I've gotten much healthier in my eating.   But, I still partake in dairy and gluten.  I would actually rather give up gluten than dairy.   I can eat cheese by itself, you know…. I love me some Chobani.  And sometimes a girl just needs some chocolate milk.  I don't drink a lot of milk, and what I do in my home is lactose-free.  Cheese, on the other hand… and yogurt.  I think yogurt's bacterial flora helps to balance things out, mostly, but not entirely.  (gurgle)

    I'm trying to pay better attention to my body. I'm not feeling so hot.  My weight is stagnant.  And I'm overly tired.  So, I'm gonna try to get rid of the dairy.  I purchased some Blue Diamond Almond Breeze for cereal and cooking and stuff.  I got some Silk creamer for my coffee.  I'm ignoring the fact that I just bought a twelve-pack of Chobani at Costco, and that cheese drawer doesn't exist. 

    I think, in the past, I've focused on too many eliminations at once.  I've done South Beach/Atkins where I eliminated or greatly reduced my carb intake.  That means no bread, no cereal, no oatmeal, no rice, no grains, no potatoes….. not for me.  I've tried to go vegan, before taking a step to go veg.  It's just too much.  Focusing on dairy only should give me a good balance.  Now, instead of cheese and crackers, maybe I'll go for some hummus.   My coffee's fine this morning - in fact, I prefer soy milk in my coffee anyway.  

    I came across the website www.godairyfree.org.  Many people are opting for this lifestyle change as a means to overall better heath.  It's not just about lactose, but dairy in general.  While there's little convincing research that links dairy definitively to cancers, there have been some connections.   So what's to lose?

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    To Speak to a Representitive, Tweet Now.

    I decided to switch from my $49.99/month internet service with Cablevision to an "upgrade" with Verizon - FiOS TV & Internet for $69.99.  Seemed simple enough, no?

    That was on May 25th.  When they came to install the service - which they failed to mention would take 8 hours - the guy planned on installing phone service as well, which I didn't want.  But it seemed simple enough to remove that. 

    Then I didn't have service - TV or internet for six weeks.  In the eight or so hours I spent on the phone with Verizon's customer service, they sent me a router, told me to jiggle the cable wire (yeah, for real), and dispatched three tech guys to come to my house - not one of which actually showed up.

    Then I got the first bill, which was double what was promised.  But a 2 hour long call to customer service and they swore the bill issue had been fixed.  Until I got the next month's bill which was double the price of the first.

    And you know who helped me?  Twitter.  Seriously?  The only way to get support was to go stand on my internet soap box and publicly complain via 140 characters.  Even that wasn't 100%, but they eventually got someone out to me, and placed follow-up calls.

    Remember the days when we used to yearn to speak to someone in person?  Now we need to pray that the company takes social media seriously.  It's quite obvious that the small pool of people who seek support via social media, at least at Verizon (and Geico), are getting far better customer service than the masses.

    Too bad that didn't work for Avis recently...  More on my car-rental from hell later. 

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Giving My Marrow


    Bone marrow is the spongy part of some of your bones that contains stem cells.  Stem cells are basically starter cells - they can transform into any cell in your body.  Hence the science community's push for legislation that allows for harvesting said cells. 

    Specifically, the bone marrow stem cells can be made into new blood cells.  The new blood cells can save the lives of patients suffering from blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. A bone marrow transplant saved my boyfriend's father's life a few years ago, when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an aggressive and highly fatal form of blood cancer.  He's now been cancer-free for over two years.

    Today, I decided to join the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry (Be The Match Registry).  There are several campaigns urging people to give, but little information about the process is publicly known.  After reading this article in Marie Claire, I decided to just do it.  According to the article, the author joined the registry at a marrow drive.  She swabbed her inner cheek w/ a Q-Tip, and then went on her way.  A little while later, she was contacted and a package was sent to her.  She was a potential match for an 8-year old girl with leukemia. After committing to the donation, the process involved laying off of aspirin and alcohol for a couple of weeks and taking a med that increased her body's production of white blood cells.  On the day of the harvest, she spent a couple of hours at the hospital, then took a nap and was back to normal.  And the little girl lived.   The little girl beat cancer.

    Wow.  I signed up online.  Since you can't swab your cheek online, they'll be sending me the at-home swab kit.  I'll need to send that back and then, just wait.  I'll be on the donor list until I'm 61 - for more than thirty years.  It's possibly that in that time, no one will match my genetics, but it's also possible that someone will.   And I hope to be able to save someone's life one day.

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Keep me honest

    I need support now more than ever.  I was so lucky to be a part of a weight loss competition with a local radio station.  They gave us six weeks to work with a group of personal trainers.  I was there four times a week doing strength and cardio.   They helped me monitor my nutrition and everything.  It was incredible.  But it's over now. 

    At the end of the competition, my team won.  Together we lost 46 inches and 55lbs. I only lost 7lbs, but that was all in the last two weeks.   I did, however, lose 9.5 inches.  2.75 of which were from my waist alone. 

    I don't want to stop.  But, the competition is over, along with the free training sessions.  And I can't afford a trainer on my own.  I wish I could.  Having someone there routing you on is incredible.  Even knowing that someone is waiting for you for that 6:45am appointment makes hitting the snooze button less of an option.

    I'm fearful that I won't be able to keep going alone.  Let me rephrase that.  It's not about ABILITY.  I'm afraid that I won't be motivated to keep it going.  That I will just fall back into my lazy cycle.  I am, however, trying to make small changes in my entire life.   Like, I'm trying to make my bed every morning.  I know that sounds stupid and trivial, but I never have made my bed (and I'm a nurse, go figure).  My mom just did it for me.  And I've always lived alone, or at least had my own room since then... But, it's one thing I'm trying to do every day.  Next step, put my laundry away as soon as I take it out of the dryer.  Oh, do I dread that.

    But, with this exercise and weight loss journey, I really  think support from others will be the biggest help.

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Cee In Training

    I've been working out.  I'm not really seeing the results I want, but hell…. I gotta do it.  Monday and Friday mornings I work with a trainer.  She's good.  She makes me feel sore for the next 24 hours.  We do a lot of work on my arms, butt and trunk/abs.  It's like the total chick-needs workout.  We do some cardio, like the treadmill or the bike or jumping on that half ball thing. 

    Wednesday I'm with a guy I don't know to well, but he seems like he knows what he's doing.  It's better when the trainer knows you better.  I think my morning  trainer has a better feel for my capabilities and needs.  Thursday, I work with the owner of the gym.  He's good.  You can just tell.  He pushes me.  Maybe it's a little too much because my body gives up.  But is that what he's supposed to do? I really have no clue.

    After 5 weeks, I'm only down 7 pounds.   That just sucks.  Realistically, I'd like to get ride of another 40.  It's hard.  I've dedicated so much already and I'm just not seeing what I'd like to see.  And what's worst of all is that this free membership to the gym is running out.  I'm almost done.  What do I do after that?  How do I keep moving?

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    By The Numbers

    When AIM first came out and chatting it up with strange guys didn't get much more personal than a/s/l, I was up till the wee hours of the morning talking about myself.  I remember one time transposing the numbers 124 to read 142 lbs and thinking "I will KILL myself if I am ever 142 lbs!"  Now, I'd kill to BE 142 lbs. 

    Perspective is a strange beast.  Every time I've stepped on the scale since I was 14, I've declared that this is the heaviest I would ever be.   You know what?  I'm a big fat(ter) liar!

    But, even a few months ago, seeing the scale read 199, I was happy to at least know it wasn't yet at 200.  Until I hit 205.

    I guess I have delusions of myself.  I mean, I think I'm gross in an internal world.  But I don't see myself and huge.   I wear a size 14 and that pisses me off.  But then I think, well, it's not a 24.  But, I'm over 200 lbs.  Men shouldn't even weigh that much.   I feel gross.  Disgusted with myself.

    I've been seeing a trainer four days a week for the last three weeks.  I am part of a weight loss competition for some radio station.  I have a team of three other people.  We are competing against two or three other gym teams. And in two weeks, we have our final weigh-in.  As of last week, the one guy on our team has dropped 20 pounds.  His 128 lb fiance is down to 120.  And the other girl is steadily trucking along.  I, on the other hand, have only lost 2 pounds.  Figure that out.

    I mean, fine.  I had beer and bbq over Memorial Day.  I downed pitchers singing karaoke.  I made and ate chocolate chip cookies, and might have had stuffed French toast one morning.  BUT.  The bottom line is that I have been going to the gym four times a week.  I have been sweating and lifting and doing squats!  And planks!  And strange combinations that I am not coordinated enough to do using machines that scare me.  But I'm doing it and doing it well.  And aside from the four days that I didn't count my calories, I've been steadily eating a protein-rich, low fat, low carb 1300 calorie diet.

    So, they tell me I need to do more cardio.  Ugh, but when??  And right, that's a stupid question.  I could do it before my morning sessions or after my evening sessions at the gym.  Or, I could do it on my three off-days.  But, God, I don't wanna!

    I'm trying more with the food.  In general I eat well.  But when I'm off, I'm off.  So, I need to be more mindful.  I really thought, after years of random dieting, that the only way I'd lose would be to exercise regularly. (PS, I can't even spell exercise correctly without spellcheck!) I'm doomed!