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April showers bring May flowers.
Spring has arrived and I love it! I hope your Spring has been lovely so far!
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It's been a couple months since I have written. Life has been very, very busy and I have been struggling to find life-work balance. While I have been wanting to write this post for some time, by the time I have a few free minutes, I am pooped and ready to relax. I also have struggled with wondering if I should even write these anymore. Just when I think about tossing in the towel on the “Let's Get Personal” series, I will receive a nice email or comment from one of you, sharing your own personal story with me, and it re-energizes me. Some of you might find these posts a bit boring, and that's OK. All I can hope is that at least one person finds some value or comfort in my story, and perhaps it helps them keep their head up and moving forward on their own journey! We're all in this together, even though I often feel very alone. I'm sure you do too.
As busy as I have been, I have been making positive baby steps towards better health. Healing naturally can be a very slow process. Did I mention s-l-o-w? For someone with very little patience (like me) this can be exhausting and frustrating. I keep waiting for that big “a-ha!” moment that tells me I am making progress. I have yet to have that moment. The other issue I face is psychological, in that I can't seem to let myself feel better. I'll have a day where I feel really good and instead of relishing in the goodness, my brain says “Oh, it's only temporary“. Silly brain!
Here's a run down of what I have been working on (with the help of the chiropractic neurologist I'm working with):
- Lowering my thyroid antibodies
- Working on weight loss
- Supporting my blood sugar
- Supporting my adrenals
- Healing my gut lining
- Calming my immune system
- Reintroducing foods
- Weaning off my blood pressure medication
- Working on frontal lobe brain function through a variety of exercises
If you want to read my journey up until this point, including posts on blood sugar, adrenals and thyroid, fertility, and more, you can read all of those here.
Let's Talk Success
I have had some big successes over the last few months and also some things that fall into the not-so-successful category. Let's kick off with the good stuff first!
First up! In regards to my thryoid antibodies, we have made great strides in that department. In my last labwork in November 2012, my thyroid antibodies were still off the charts, with my Thyroid Peroxidase AB being over 1,000 (reference range is supposed to be under 35). My Thyroglobulin AB was 36 (reference range is supposed to be under 20). We tested my thyroid antibodies again a few weeks ago and, drum roll please ….
My Thyroid Peroxidase AB had dropped to 336! My Thyroglobulin AB was 35. We're making progress.
How did we do this? Well, I'm not really sure, and that's what freaks me out a bit. We did a strict 36 day cleanse / detox where I eliminated what remaining inflammatory foods I was still eating – nuts, seeds, and nightshades. I was already gluten, grain, legume, dairy, and egg free. I also received a lot of nutritional and herbal support through this. I thought that the nuts and seeds would be the hardest thing for me to give up, but turns out it was the nightshades I missed most, specifically dried peppers, because I use my homemade blackening (Cajun) spice mix in pretty much everything I make!
Exercise and Fatigue
Next up, about 8 months ago, I stopped doing any sort of weight training, because I was experiencing such fatigue after a workout that sometimes I couldn't walk up the stairs. My muscles would feel like I had just ran a marathon, when I had only done some squats and lunges. Well, I am happy to report that I have started to incorporate some weight training and interval training back into my exercise routines and my fatigue is worlds better! I am no longer experiencing that severe, debilitating muscle-fatigue. I still get tired, but it's a “normal” tired now, not the extreme fatigue from before. For the most part, my weight training has been giving me more energy, rather than making me feel fatigued, so that is a major improvement. I have always been more interested in weight training than cardio exercises, so when I started experiencing such horrible muscle fatigue, it made me really sad. And, I started noticing such a decrease in my muscle tone, which also didn't make me feel so hot! All in all, I am stoked to be back in the game. I am still taking it easy, but as I continue to gain strength, things will continue to improve. I walk for about 45 minutes almost every day and then do 15-20 minutes of strength training 3xs per week. I am trying to do some intervals a few times a week on my walks, but sprints are just too hard on my knees and ankles, so that is not going as well as I'd like. I also try to throw in some yoga classes here and there too.
Overall, my energy levels are much better than they used to be. I'm not getting the mid-afternoon slump that I used to. I feel more stable and consistent from day to day when it comes to mood and energy. For adrenal support, I am taking some herbal supplements, in addition to an herbal cream that I use twice per day on the insides of my elbows. I have to say that the cream really seems to be helping. I also use a glutathione cream directly on my thyroid three times a day for additional antioxidant support. So far, so good!
Lastly, and this is a BIG one. I have completely weaned off the BP meds!! HOORAY for ME! I took my last BP pill on March 11th and haven't looked back! I still take my BP at home regularly and my numbers are looking good. I know that my BP is directly tied to my adrenal health, and I can tell when things get a little off. Typically, I can pinpoint why I might be having a higher reading too. I was taking a calcium and magnesium supplement, as well as a potassium supplement daily to help support my BP. I am only taking those occasionally now. Also, I've gained more control over my panic associated with taking my BP. Not many people know this about me, but I used to get really freaked out about taking my BP, because I was scared the reading would be high. It's kind of funny, because it's counterintuitive. If I'm stressing out over it, then of course the reading would be high. But, the mind can be a terrible enemy some times, so it had taken me a long time to get comfortable with the process and not freak out. This is a MAJOR accomplishment for me.
Let's Talk About the Areas that Still Need Work
Now, one of the things that is supposed to happen during the 36 detox/cleanse protocol that I mentioned above is that you're supposed to lose weight. Well, I didn't. As a matter of fact, my weight has plateaued and I have not lost any more weight since January 1st. From August 1st, 2012, to January 1st, 2013, I lost a total of 43 pounds. Not an easy feat in and of itself, and I know I should be really happy and proud of myself. As a matter of fact, we purchased some kettlebells recently, and I was picking up the 35 pound one and telling my husband how it's hard to believe that I had lost that much in weight and then some. I still kinda feel like a fat girl. And that's just a bad body image demon that I need to work on.
I have been trying not to fixate on the lack of weight loss, as I know plateaus happen and you just have to figure out what your body needs to break through that. There are some things we're going to take a look at, including hormones and my detox pathways, so hopefully by the next time I write an update, I will have something to report in this area. I think the most frustrating part of this is that I was losing weight at such a great pace and then, boom! January 1st hit and nothing has happened since. I also completely understand that weight loss is not the be-all end-all, and that I have to continue healing my body, but it's just hard sometimes. When you've been 65 pounds overweight for so many years, weight loss and then sudden lack of progression, is hugely emotional. Unless you've personally gone through it, it is really hard to understand. I have about 25 more pounds to get to a place where I feel I healthy. I won't be skinny, I will still be curvy and womanly, but I will be back to my happy place.
Regarding my blood sugar, nothing's really changed there, as this is an ongoing area that needs support. I strive to eat every 2-3 hours to avoid any blood sugar drop. I'm focusing on grass-fed proteins, lots of fresh and cooked non-starchy veggies, and some starchy veggies like yams, squash, etc., in moderation. Lots of healthy fat too. I don't feel deprived. I don't really miss any of my “old” foods at this point, though on occasion, I do miss a nice slice of cheese. Of all of the foods I eliminated, dairy, specifically cheese and butter, is what I miss most. Last year, my labs showed that I am insulin resistant, so this is just the way things need to be. The hardest thing for me is the eating every few hours. I get so busy that sometimes I forget to eat, so it has been a challenge to always keep an eye on the clock and have lots of snacks prepared and ready to grab when I'm on the go.
I have also reintroduced some foods, which has been interesting. Eggs are definitely a no-go for me. I experienced some noticeable GI upset on the day I was reintroducing those, so no eggs for me. I have had numerous people mention that people who find they can't tolerate chicken eggs can often tolerate duck eggs. I find this interesting and plan on trying those sometime in the near future. I also reintroduced nuts and seeds and did fine with those. Nightshades are questionable. I can eat peppers and tomatoes in a very small amount and not have any intestinal distress, but if I eat a lot of them, I do. So, for the most part, I avoid them, though I will allow myself to have a little every once in awhile.
Where Do We Go From Here
Well, we keep moving forward. The hardest thing for me to accept is that this is all a slow process. I am ready to see major results now and sometimes find myself getting frustrated when I don't. I have to keep remembering that I didn't get here overnight and I'm certainly not going to get better overnight either. But, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and making the best choices I can make for my health. The areas I plan on focusing on over the next little bit are:
- Continuing to make sure my blood sugar is managed.
- Reducing and eliminating (if possible) various stressors in my life. While I know stress is inevitable, there are some areas that I think I need to take a hard look at and see about changing.
- Improving my sleep, both quantity and quality.
- Getting back into my yoga groove. I've lost my mojo for yoga over the last few months and I can tell it has affected me physically and emotionally.
- Spend more time outdoors and away from my computer.
So, how are you doing? I know many of you are on your own healing journeys and I'd love to hear how things are going for you. Thank you again for all of the support up to this point and I look forward to continuing to share this journey with you!
Health Journey Update – 8/18/15
Here are a few videos of my current progress. To see even more up-to-date info on my personal health journey, check out my YouTube channel here.
Support Your Stress Response, Adrenals, Thyroid, and Whole Body Through Herbs
When it comes to supporting overall wellness, herbs are a great tool to have in your toolkit, especially those who may be dealing with chronic illness of some type. Since 2009, when I started this site, I have met thousands upon thousands of people through my work and by far, the #1 health complaints are:
- adrenal fatigue (or adrenal dysfunction of some sort) (click here to read all of my adrenal health articles)
- thyroid disorders (hypo-, hyper-, or autoimmune) (click here to read all of my thyroid health articles)
Because of this, I wanted to add in a section into this post about the benefit of using herbs with chronic illness. Adaptogens are by far one of the most used herbs when it comes to working with people who have low energy, fatigue, and overall imbalance in the endocrine system (thyroid, adrenals, and blood sugar).
While the benefits of adaptogenic herbs extend far beyond just supporting that one system, this tends to be one of the main reasons people turn to adaptogenic herbs in the first place. That said there are a lot of other herbs out there that offer amazing support for the body, especially those dealing with chronic illness which is why I wanted to share this section today.
If you are dealing with any type of chronic illness, I'm sorry to break it to you, but caffeine may not be your best friend. 🙁 While you can find lots of info online in both the pro- and the anti-coffee camps, the fact of the matter comes down to the fact that are a lot of people dealing with chronic illness, especially thyroid and adrenal problems, that simply cannot tolerate coffee and caffeine.
While those with sluggish adrenal glands tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. I go into the “whys” around caffeine and your adrenals in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can further exacerbate the toxic load on the body.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue, one of the first things that had to go was coffee. In addition to dealing with these issues, we suspected that I was having some detox pathway sluggishness so we wanted to also focus on supporting the liver and lymph systems. Most people who are dealing with chronic illness are also going to have issues with detoxification of the body, which is why herbs can play such an important role.
To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store's shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs.
Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body's function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. All of the herbs used in my “coffee” blends have been used for thousands of years to support the body's normal functions and help everything work a little better — something we all need in today's toxic world! (psst, dandelion is one of the herbs!)
When it came to creating these blends, if I could get something to not only tasted amazing (and helped me recreate my dearly loved ritual), but also did amazingly supportive things for my body, then it's a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief.
Now in its second edition, this ebook features:
- All of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
- A ton of researched information about coffee's impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
- Information about all of the herbs used, why I selected them, how to source them, how to prepare and store you “coffees”, and much more.
- Access to your own personal coffee shop where I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here. Only real food.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey. You can learn more and download your own copy of this revolutionary wellness guide here, or simply click on the image below.