Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired!

I’ve been battling some kind of low-grade illness for years  without being able to make any progress forward.  Basically, I’ve just felt sick and tired for month after month after month.

I’ve been to a variety of doctors who all tell me that my test results are all “basically normal”, meaning some are on the high/low end of normal, but pretty much in range.  To me that sounds like something is out of balance and needs attention, but if you fall within the arbitrary range, there’s nothing the doctor can do for you.

Of course, there’s also the familiar fat girl story where the doctor tells you to go home and lose some weight and you’ll start to feel better.  Eventually I got tired of that and decided to do something about it.

I was back on a diet!  I even took a job with a pet-sitter friend so I would be forced (FORCED!) to walk dogs every day and get my exercise.  So there I was, starving, walking 4-5 miles a day with dogs and my weight was mostly staying the same.  HUH?!?!

What did start to happen was that the low grade pain I had in my hips and back started to get much, much worse.  I was pushing myself physically, mentally and leaving very little time for self-care in my day.  I was just getting sicker and sicker.

I had to leave that job after about 2 years, but I was newly focused on figuring out what was wrong with me and how to correct it.  I had my doctor give me all kinds of tests to figure out what was wrong.  We tested for brain tumors and disorders that might cause my symptoms, but everything kept coming back normal.

It is quite an unusual experience to find yourself hoping you have a brain tumor so they can at least have something to work on. 🙂  I didn’t have a tumor, but while we were chasing the high cortisol and calcium levels when we found some nodules on my thyroid.

It was my para-thyroid and 2 of the four nodules were enlarged.  I hit the internet to do my research and read pages and pages of posts from people who had the surgery and awoke to be new people, with all their health problems behind them.

I was given a surgeon in Seattle and I was poked, prodded and scheduled for surgery.  My surgeon told me not to get my hopes up too high, because some people report no change in symptoms after surgery.  Shhh!!  Don’t tell me that!  I’m hanging onto hope here!

Well, 12 weeks later, I was fully recovered from surgery and felt exactly the same, except for the new scar on my neck. Back to the drawing board.

I continued working with my nutritionist, M, and did what I could to get myself physically well.  I was doing yoga, eating whole foods, taking care of myself, getting sleep, not stressing out, etc.  But every day I woke up with dread and somehow managed to eek  my way through every day.

My doctor was thrilled with my blood test results and despite my reports that I don’t feel any different, she said my blood sugars and other measures looked fantastic. Hmmm.

Several of my well-meaning friends would tell me, “You need to go see my ____________.” (Chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, doctor, naturopath, shaman, faith healer, pastor, fairy godmother, etc.)  But how was that going to be any better than my doctor?  What do they know that she doesn’t?

And then, last December, my body had enough.  It just stopped functioning and I couldn’t do this any more.  It was time to call in more reinforcements.

Meet The Team: Nutrition

Last week I told you about how much I loathe the idea of diabetes nutrition classes.  I just would roll my eyes when my doctor would suggest this place called Passionate Nutrition to help with what I should be eating.  My doctor would swear it wasn’t that kind of place, but I was deeply resistant.

What finally tipped me into booking an appointment was that I was tired of taking pills.  If “normal people” could get fuel and maintain health through nutrition, I wanted to also.  There had to be a way to sort through all the insanity surrounding food for me.  And getting off all these pills was going to be my first step.

After an intake appointment with the founder of the company, I agreed to schedule with another nutritionist who had more free time in her schedule.  That was “M”.  She has a name, but I’m going to say things about her, so… better to just call her M.

I love M with all my heart.  I didn’t always, but after two years of working together, we sort of developed a relationship.

The thing I appreciate most about M’s feedback was how she was always able to find one positive thing I could hold onto and look at when I was feeling like a failure or feeling weak.  She always believed that I could make this change in my life, even when I wasn’t able to believe it myself.  (That is a powerful gift, right there!)

She also helped me by normalizing so many things I thought were just crazy old me.  I was so ashamed to admit finding myself walking to the kitchen for a 3rd handful of cookies and having a dialog in my head that said, “Stop walking!  Where are you going? Don’t you eat more cookies! I know you hear me. STOP!” followed by nom nom nom… mmmmmm… cookies. 🙂  Apparently, I’m not the only person who has ever done that.

She focused our sessions on learning about the benefits of eating whole foods, as close to grandma used to eat as possible.  She also introduced me to mindfulness and the idea of mindful eating.  I had no idea how often I ate on auto-pilot before this.

She introduced me to the book: Slow Down Diet, by Marc David. I highly recommend it to help you take a look at how you eat.  Each week, you can take on a new chapter and work on a new skill for mindful eating.  Just paying attention to how food tastes to you and how it makes your body feel, is the first step on the road to recovery.

Why I Dislike Diabetes Nutrition Counselling

diabetes nutritionI was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2000.  Since then, about five different doctors have referred me to diabetes nutrition counseling of some kind.    Every single visit has been the same frustrating experience for me.

The first 15 minutes consist of you sitting down to do a bunch of paperwork.  Then I am taught how to test my blood, use a log book and what a carbohydrate is.  I get some copies of a handout about counting carbs and a blood sugar log book.  When asked, “Do you have any questions?” I always want to scream, “Uh, DUH!”

If I ask “What am I supposed to be eating for blood sugar control?” Or “What exactly is diabetes nutrition and why aren’t you teaching me that?” I am handed a few recipes for things like Kale Salad, Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” and something requiring an ingredient not carried in any grocery store, anywhere on Earth.

When I ask how to determine how many carbs is good for me on any given day, I’m told to just count, test, and stay within the range.  But some days 45 grams of carbs is okay and other days it will send me to bed with crazy blood sugar swings.  How can there be an arbitrary number that is the same for all diabetics?  Hint:  There isn’t.

This would be the reason that it took so long for me to take the referral my doctor gave me to a nutritionist when I would ask food questions.  I really didn’t want to do another diabetes nutrition class and suffer that frustration again.  But I sure was in a corner.

I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.  I ate all the “diet” things I was supposed to.  Often, I’d skip breakfast as I’m rarely hungry in the morning.  Lunch would be a quick, “healthy food” like a Lean Cuisine in the microwave.   I’d cook a dinner for my husband and I, but after dinner, I’d be hungry and constantly putting carbs into my mouth.  (Hmm.. no wonder I felt icky!)

What I needed was someone who wouldn’t prescribe some packaged cleanse or put me on some fad diet.  I need someone who could make sense of all these weird ideas I have about food and put me on a track to eating for fuel and health instead of this crazy chore about counting, measuring and worrying.

I found that person.  More in the next blog entry!

Breathe, Don’t Do. Let it go.

Breathe, Don't DoBreathe.  Just inhale, fill your lungs and feel all that air going into your body.  As you let it go, release all that stress and intensity that tells you that your To Do List is the single most important thing in the world.

I think we all struggle with the idea that it’s more important to be doing something than it is to listen to what our bodies need.  I know I’m guilty of this over and over again.  I’m trying to work breaks into my day for my health, but the long To Do List is usually right there to tell me why I don’t have time for a walk outside with the dog.  It almost never says there is time for a nap when I’m tired.

The truth is that very few things are as important as we tell our selves they are.  Sure, dusting needs to happen, but not above all other things.  Sometimes you just need to stop, take a breath and let go of those expectations and demands on your time.

I just heard you saying that you have to go to the grocery store because how will the family eat if you don’t have bread in the house? But how true is that really?  Is your life really hinging on whether or not you have bread?  There aren’t other options?  You can’t just have a picnic on the living room floor for a change?

Often, the stories we tell ourselves is so much more than what is happening in reality.  So just breathe.  And let it go.

Choose Your Food Wisely

quality food
Choose food wisely

The small changes you make to your diet make a huge difference. Just look at the difference between the bay leaves from the traditional store shelf brand and the ones I got from the bulk food department at my natural grocery store.

And surprise! I paid less for the ones from the bulk food department per ounce then I do the ones in the prepackaged container. Just add your own mason jar and a label and you’re all set for cooking healthy meals.

Cooking with quality ingredients is an easy step we all can take to better our diet and our health .

Choose To Be Happy

Be Happy

Choose to be happy. It’s that simple! I’m serious. Why would I lie to you?

Being happy comes down to the thoughts you dwell on in your brain. Do you tend to spend time ruminating about the things that aren’t working for you? Or do you focus on that bright spot in your day that makes you happy?

Look, I know how difficult it can be to break out of that cycle. I was very invested in my misery and all the things that weren’t working in my life. I started trying to find something to be happy about by always having the same item on my list – “My dog loves me.” Some days I’d get lucky and be able to add “The sun came out” or some other desperate grasp for something to be happy about.

But it gets easier. Getting happy is like getting your body in shape. At first you can barely walk to the end of the block without your shins screaming at you, but it gets a little easier if you just keep doing it. Some days it will be harder than others, but just keep trying.

Many popular programs will suggest a gratitude journal to get you focused on the positive aspects of your life. I’m sure that will work for many people, but I struggled with the writing part of it. It was enough for me to just take a few minutes at the end of the day for quiet contemplation and reflection. There I would replay my day and look for clues that might indicate some happiness in there somewhere.

After a few weeks I started to notice I was happy more often than I thought I was. I would be sweating my brains out, pulling weeds from the garden and I’d stop to watch a goofy bug crawling out of the way and I’d smile. Something in my brain would trigger a thought to “remember this for my happy moments tonight”. But just noticing the happy moments, instead of noticing the sweat and labor and the WORK in the yard, I’ll carry the smile over that goofy bug. Even if my back starts aching, I can just smile about that shiny little bug and I’m happy again.

It doesn’t seem like it should be that simple, but it is. Just try it.

The Gallbladder Connundrum

Gallbladder Symptoms

My biggest weight loss on any “diet” was with one of those popular companies that advertises on television. It cost me thousands of dollars and my gallbladder.

You know the company. You go in once a week to weigh in with your “coach” and pick up a week’s worth of food in a box to eat at every meal. Sure, the box is tastier than the food, but we do these things to lose weight, right?

The idea behind the diet program is that you are supposed to supplement the box food with salads and veggies, but I don’t think I ever did that other than my lunch salad of iceberg lettuce and cucumbers with some red wine vinegar. I was a master scientist about making what they provided taste better. For instance, half a package of their “maple syrup” in their powdered “scrambled eggs” made them less disgusting. 🙂

Over the next six months, I was never without a box of food and I was losing weight. I didn’t have much energy for things like exercise or living, but I was losing weight. I went from 270 lbs to 198 lbs and I was thrilled to have met and exceeded my 70 pound goal.

The following weekend, my boyfriend’s kids were visiting and we always liked to go out to breakfast. The kids like the huge belgian waffles at this one place and I found the biscuits and gravy hard to resist so I ordered them to celebrate my diet success. Big mistake.

Apparently, after having a cardboard diet for 6 months and then a giant plate of carbs and gravy did not make my body very happy. A few hours later, as we were watching the kids play in the pool, I started to feel sick. I went back to the apartment to lay down, but the pain was terrible. I soaked in the bathtub thinking I’d strained my back. It just got worse and worse until I was on the floor in the bathroom begging my boyfriend not to call 9-1-1.

The attack passed, but they came again. Whenever I’d eat anything fatty, there was hell to pay. After the third attack, I was dragged to the doctor against my will. I got a diagnosis and was told that laproscopic surgery wasn’t available at the hospital yet. I’d get the old-style surgery where you are basically cut in half. I didn’t want that and kept looking for a doctor.

I found a surgeon who would do the laproscopic surgery 5 months later. The attacks were coming with more regularity and increasing intensity. Every one of them would be awful. I’d be sick, writhing in pain, begging my boyfriend to kill me and him begging me to let him call an ambulance.

While in the hospital, recovering from surgery, I saw a news story about a class action lawsuit against the diet company because of the large numbers of their clients having gallstones after being on their diet. I debated whether or not to participate in the suit.

But what I took away from all of this is a clear picture that DIETS DON’T WORK!!!! They aren’t good for you. They can often make things so much worse than just making good choices in the food you put into your body. That food tasted like cardboard, because it was the nutritional equivalent of compressed paper. 🙂 If it feels like it’s not the answer, it is probably not.

All Is Perfect

All Is Perfect

The truth is that, although you may not feel like it at the moment, all is perfect right now.

That feeling that things are “wrong” or “imperfect” is just your brain telling you stories about the things you lack and the things that aren’t ideal. Getting too wrapped up in these stories will convince you time and again that life is a struggle and a fight to get the bare minimum you need to get by.

If you can stop and see the perfect parts of this very moment, you develop a sense of gratitude and grace for what is.

Pema Chodron talks a lot in her book, “When Things Fall Apart” about accepting what is. This was an extremely difficult concept for me at first.

It seemed like I was being told that I had to like something that I didn’t want to like. I have pain. I experience sickness. I have challenges and things I wish were different. What is there to accept about that? Well, is it happening? Is it true? Well, then accept it and embrace what is.

That doesn’t mean you can’t work to change the things that are less than desirable. You just have to accept that this is what is happening right now and once you can learn to accept that and stop the constant struggle against what is, you will find that feeling of Perfect. Embrace that. It’s a much better place to spend your time than in focusing on what is wrong and needs to be controlled or changed or adapted.

Life doesn’t have to be as much of a struggle as we make it. Perfect can be elusive until you realize what it really means. It isn’t an ideal existence where there is no pain, no struggle, no difficulty. It’s just things running along as planned by something much larger than yourself. Once you let go of trying to control the outcome of all things, you will be able to unclench and move through these challenges in life with a bit more ease.

I’ve Been On Every Diet Known To Man

grapefruit diet It all started when I was a kid, around 10-11 years old. I clearly remember a day at swim practice when my mother was talking with another mother on the side of the pool as we did laps. I’d catch snippets of their conversation as I swam by.

Lady: You’re brave to let your daughter swim on the team. Aren’t you worried she won’t get a good husband if she gets swimmer shoulders?
Mom: Hmmm…
Lady: After all, she’s already kind of chunky.

This lady had expressed her many husband-related concerns to my mother before. Because I’m tall. Because I’m “big boned”. Because I swim. Because I’m a tomboy. Because I don’t like HER daughter. It went on and on. This is also the same lady that blew huge clouds of cigarette smoke on us as we were doing sprints in the pool. If only my mother could have seen how crazy that lady was. I seem to recall this all happening on the next day, but it may have been a short time later. One morning, all the snack (ie, junk) foods had been moved to a locked cabinet in the laundry room. On my plate at breakfast was not a big bowl of cereal with sugar, but a half a grapefruit, no sugar.

Mom, with her own half a grapefruit, happily announced that she and I were going on a diet together. “Absolutely EVERYONE is doing Scarsdale and it will be good for us.” As I choked down that grapefruit, I scanned through the book and quickly realized:

diet = punishment

Clearly I had done something very bad and I was going to be punished. This was going to suck.

And that was the beginning of a long road of dieting. I would notice pants that were a little too snug (okay a lot snug, it was the 80’s) or a particularly bad photo next to a skinny friend, and I would be off to find a new diet. And this time for sure-It was going to work! There was Scarsdale, Grapefruit, Cabbage Soup, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Dexatrim diet pills by the handful as a teen, the Hollywood diet, more grapefruit, starvation, cayenne pepper drinks, expensive shakes, Atkins, South Beach, diets, diets and more diets. With each “diet”, I would restrict my eating severely, lose 10 lbs, and over time, gain back 15.  I’d lose 15 and gain back 25.  I’d lose 25 and gain back 40.  And so on, and so on. To 351 lbs. You know how it goes! If I had a time machine, I would go to that poor girl right now. I would grab her by the shoulders and tell her, “YOU ARE NOT FAT!!!” You are beautiful just the way you are. Your mother has some issues that are not about you. AT ALL. Because it wasn’t about me. It was about my mom and her taking what that crazy woman said and actually thinking her 11 year old daughter needed a diet when she was swimming 10 hours a week. What it was doing was laying the groundwork for the massive infrastructure now in my brain to set up all kinds of rules about food. Good food. Bad food. Evil food. Food to make you happy. Food for when you’re mad. Food to make it all go away. And plenty of punishment and suffering when your body image isn’t quite right.

But I was also setting up a relationship with an idea that wasn’t my own about what it means to eat a “healthy diet”.

You see, if diet = punishment, then a doctor telling me to adjust my diet to manage my diabetes means, “never eat anything fun ever again”. Nobody can maintain that, so I was setting myself up for failure again and again and again.

Does this sound familiar to any of you?

Practice Being Awesome!

awesome

 

Isn’t this picture fantastic?  And so true!

It’s so much better to be awesome than to be cool.  Being cool is based on an external set of values held about you by other people.  Awesome comes from within.

You’re fully embracing that awesome when you are being your True Self – in the moment and doing the things that make your heart feel full of joy.

I challenge you to create some room in your day to practice your awesome.  It’s worth it!

Walking the enlightened path