Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Working Out and Working It Out

I'm not an athlete.  This is a fact that goes back to grade school when I was the very last person to be picked for a team.  It was painfully apparent back in my freshman year of high school.  I tried out for softball (became the scorekeeper), I played tennis (they let everyone on the team) and I tried out for cheerleading.  To this day, when I hear the theme song from "Beverly Hills Cop" my skin crawls.  If I try hard enough, I can still remember some of the moves.  I never want to try that hard.

I tried out for softball because my Dad played softball and I had fond memories of throwing the ball and playing catch with him.  He, in his lovely way, never let on that I wasn't good enough to play on a school team.  I thought I was good enough but I just wasn't.  My best friend's mom took pity on me and talked to the coach and I made the team as the scorekeeper.  I actually earned a letter for that.  Funny how that letterman's sweater was so important then.  The only reason I keep it now is it comes in handy every once in awhile as a costume piece.

I played tennis because I thought it was fun.  My neighbor loved to play tennis and she was my best friend.  I wanted to do it because she did it.  I used babysitting money to buy the cute skirt and court shoes.  I got better but I was not an ace.

I have no idea WHY IN THE WORLD I tried out to be a cheerleader.  I was an awkward girl with a bad perm, thick glasses and even thicker thighs.  I had very little coordination - my best dance moves were patterned after the Brady Bunch.  I wanted to be one of the cheerleader girls though.  I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to be popular.  I thought being a cheerleader would be the answer to making my sad life better.  Turns out that being on a science team that built an award winning robot was more satisfying than being a cheerleader could have ever been.

Fast forward to now, I'm still not an athlete.  I'm more likely to be chosen first to play on your Trivial Pursuit team than I am to play on your volleyball team.  I've never loved exercising.  In fact, I've always been able to  think of a hundred other things I'd rather do than exercise.

I started exercising again this week.  I've been wanting to since Dr. Gage asked me not to.  It was like longing for the forbidden fruit.  Dr. Stadler actually cleared me to resume a "light" workout last week or the week before but with traveling for work, pre-planned activities and life in general, yesterday was the first day I made it back to the gym.  The rule to a "light" workout was to keep my heart rate between 120-130 beats per minute and spend no more than 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week working out.  Seemed light enough, for me.

It was everything I expected it to be.  Somehow, something in my brain has reset and I like the idea of doing something good for myself like getting my heart rate up and breaking a sweat.  Most of all, I love the feeling of accomplishment.  Of spending 30 minutes doing something just for me.

Today I read this article written by a woman I've grown to admire in the blogging world.  I actually met her a couple of weeks ago and told her how much her writing means to me.  Our eyes glistened together as I told her that her words mean something to me (and many others) and that I know it's hard for her to be so honest sometimes, but that I'm truly grateful for her and her honesty.

I'm learning to exercise without expectations.  I'm not doing this for anyone but me and it feels right.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Catching Up

On one hand, May was a slow month for progress.  On the other hand, getting through May meant conquering some heavy issues that have been lingering for awhile.

In May, Dr. Stadler and I started addressing secondary issues - important issues that couldn't be tackled without complete assurance that my intestinal track was healed and absorbing nutrients properly.

On May 10th, Dr. S ordered a battery of lab tests to determine my progress. Here's a rundown of the tests he ordered:
  1. Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
  2. Lipid Panel
  3. Glycated Hemoglobin Test
  4. Assay Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Test
  5. Vitamin D
  6. C-Reactive Protein
  7. Free T-4
  8. T3
At my May 16th appointment, we discussed the results and since it's been several weeks since I actually discussed the results with him, I'll give you the bottom line.  I'M DOING AWESOME!!

In almost every test, I had met or exceeded his expectations for progress.  With the exception of my cholesterol test (the lipid panel), I made great strides.  My Vitamin D levels bottomed out a few years ago at 17.  When tested in January, the level was up to 22.  In May?  My Vitamin D level is at an all time high of 58!  Simply stated, what I've been doing is working.  The high level of Vitamin D is a strong indicator that my leaky gut is healed.

Also up to satisfactory levels is my C-Reactive Protein.  If you remember from an earlier post, the previous results from this test indicated I was at risk for diabetes, heart disease, heart attack and the possibility of other auto-immune disorders.  While the functional levels are not where Dr. S would like to see them, they are at the top of a "normal" range.  This is progress.

With this level of progress, it was time to start really tackling my adrenal fatigue, fatigue in general, mental fog and problems sleeping.  He started me on a hormone cream called Adrenostim.  The primary purpose of this cream was to regulate my cortisol levels so I wouldn't wake up exhausted everyday and/or have my energy bottom out in the afternoon.  I started using it on a Thursday and noticed results within a few days.  

Since then, I've also started taking a mega dose of B-12, a cholesterol-lowering supplement called Cholestar, and two supplements to help regulate neurotransmitter activity (brain fog and sleep patterns) - Acetyl-CH and Gabatone.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was able to introduce beef back into my diet.  It was a welcome change but I'm careful to only eat it once or twice a week.  It tastes good and I did miss it but I noticed that it tends to clog up my digestive system just a bit and honestly, the ways I was used to eating it are not a part of my diet anymore.  

Now that I've pretty much mastered my diet, I've noticed subtle (or in some cases, not so subtle) changes that happen when I eat certain things.  Iodized salt seems to be a huge trigger for me.  It gives me a major headache, it makes me retain water and the bloating can last for days.  This is one of those ingredients that doesn't have to be specifically labeled on products - manufacturers only have to list "salt".  They don't have to tell you it's iodized.  So, unless the packaging says "sea salt", I try to avoid it.  Also, bananas for breakfast make me nauseated.  Although they are supposed to be a low-glycemic fruit and shouldn't spike my blood sugar, for some reason it feels like it does.  Or, maybe bananas and fish aren't meant to be eaten together for breakfast...

My weight loss stalled in May as well.  I lost and gained the same 3 pounds during the whole month.  June is looking good though.  As of this morning, I've lost a total of 34.8 pounds since February 16th.  I can't even remember the last time I was in this weight range.  It was at least two and half years ago.  It feels so good to put on clothes that used to strangle me and have them feel loose.  Even better getting a text a from a friend I hadn't seen in a few weeks telling me that I looked "radiant".  

Perhaps the most significant thing I did in the month of May for my health was go back to talk therapy.  In a tender-mercy moment, I reconnected with a therapist that helped me years ago.  Going back to her was like meeting up with an old friend and talking as if no time had passed at all.  I believe now, more than ever, that everything happens for a reason and I found her again at the exact right time.  Working with her has been just as imperative to my health as working with Dr. Stadler.  Both have become an integral part of my healing process - both emotionally and physically.

I realize, as I hope you do too, this is my version of Hashimoto's Disease.  I've met so many people that don't even have this disease but somehow, through our connection, they've been able to help me heal and I've been able to help them in some way.  Knowing that I am not taking this journey alone is so comforting.