Whole 30 – Round 2, Day 4

According to the schedule, I have made it past the ‘Hangover’ phase and am now in the ‘Kill all of the things’ phase.

But, I really don’t feel like killing all of the things, which is good 🙂

Today, I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. On day 2, I felt like I was hit by a truck. On day 3, I LOOKED like I was hit by a truck. But today, I feel and look a lot better!

My only problem is some back pain that I am experiencing, and the source of the pain is a mystery. It started the morning of day 2, was the same yesterday, but got about twice as bad this morning. I did move some heavy things around yesterday, and played racketball, which could have aggravated it, but I didn’t do anything to originate it on day 1 or night 1.

The only thing I can think of that started it was maybe I slept on my back funny that night and pinched a nerve or pulled a muscle. It feels like a muscle ache right above both butt cheeks, but it could be something more. I am going to try to get an appointment with my chiropractor today to have it checked out, but if I can’t get in, I know that I have an appointment already scheduled with him on Tuesday. In the meantime, I’m managing the pain by:

  • Standing at my desk – I’ve noticed it mostly hurts when I’m sitting
  • Practicing good posture – lining up my hips over my knees and ankles, and untucking my hips.
  • Taking frequent walking breaks
  • Using a microwave heating pad
  • Drinking lots and lots of fluids – on the off chance that this is something kidney related
  • Eating healthy food
  • I also plan on going for a nice long walk when I get home to get some blood pumping and my muscles moving!

Though I did ‘kinda’ cheat a little last night by having dried cherries and candied walnuts on my salad at a restaurant I went to with my dad, I’m feeling really good today. I’m going to monitor how I feel tomorrow to see if I get a hangover again for that small cheat.

I’m excited going into this weekend! Tonight and tomorrow, I’m going to get the apartment spick and span (I always feel so accomplished when I clean!), and then I’m going to go over to my best friend’s house for board games and then a haunted house!! I’m going to cook a bunch of protein and the like up tonight so that I can bring food with me and will be less tempted to eat junk food (my bestie, Sylvia, as you know, is also a health food nut, but her new husband is a little slower to get on the bandwagon). Then, on Sunday, I have some time to relax and get some gardening done (pulling up my carrots and getting rid of my dead tomato plants). And, hopefully, I will have some time to spend with my boyfriend on sunday too 😀

I’m hoping this back pain isn’t something serious, and it probably isn’t, but it is important to note that seeing a health professional when you notice something weird is very important!!

Thanks for reading everyone! I hope the hardest part of the Whole 30 challenge is behind me (fortunately I ate well for the most part when I wasn’t whole 30 so I didn’t have AS MUCH cleaning up to do  as I would if I’d been eating a lot of junk!). Stay healthy, friends, and give the Whole 30 challenge a try with me!


Whole 30 – Round 2, Day 2

I’m not sure if this round of the Whole 30 challenge is easier or harder than the first one. The good news it that my body hasn’t been completely broken by a week’s worth of drunken, potato-chippen tirades. That being said, last weekend, my boyfriend and I went to a bed and breakfast for a romantic weekend away in which I ate 3 things I don’t normally eat: dairy (LOTS of cheese, butter, cream), alcohol (3 glasses of wine in total), and SUGAR (creme brulee, so good).

One of the best things about eating a paleo diet, and forming these good eating habits is that maintaining my weight is effortless. So, once I know that I’ve gained 5 pounds, I know exactly what I need to do to get back to my maintenance weight and stay there (as long as temptations don’t abound). I’d been pushing off my second round of Whole 30 for a few weeks longer than anticipated, so after this past weekend, the gig was up.

Today, on Day 2, I am experiencing:

  • Horrible nights sleep
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • “Fat Face” – Even though my face doesn’t look fatter, I feel like my face is swollen
  • Extreme Body Odor
  • Lower Back pain (probably due to poor nights sleep)
  • Tooth Pain – either from sugar/alcohol secreting through my teeth with the dentin (yep, that happens), or from clenching my jaw due to stress

Pretty much par for the course. Still, it sucks.

According to this handy Whole 30 Timeline, I’m in the ‘Hangover’ phase, and it only is going to get better from here (note my sarcasm). I think what really sucks the most is that it only takes eating poorly here or there, probably only 20% of the time, to make me feel THIS crappy. I mean, when I ate like that all of the time, I didn’t feel ‘great’, and I had a lot of excess weight, but I didn’t have constant ‘hangover’ like feelings of unwellness and torture. I suppose this is just part of becoming an adult, and my body not being able to handle the stress it could when I was 20, but it pretty much blows.

This time, though, I’m going to kick my whole 30 up a notch! And by kicking it up a notch, I mean taking my salt DOWN several notches. I am a salt kid. I love salt. I salt the crap out of everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if I consume upwards of 6-8000 mg of sodium a day, and despite that being not ideal in general, I noticed an interesting phenomena:

Salt makes you eat more.

Take for example pistachios. The so salty your lips start to crack variety. They taste so good to me that I would regularly eat a full cup (in two half cup servings) of them on top of my lunch at work.

On a whim, I purchased the 50% less salt kind and brought them to work. I poured myself a half cup serving, and started cracking away. At the end of the half cup, I noticed that I DIDN’T want another half cup of those nuts. By reducing sodium by half, I reduced what I ate by half.

I don’t want to go hyper low sodium, don’t get me wrong, but I want to start by not salting my meats. I SALT them when I salt them, like can barely taste the meat anymore. So, by cutting out any salting that I would do of my meats, I am cutting my salt intake in half right about there!

As a scientist at heart, I had to do an experiment on this, to see if salt was what was holding back from breaking my fat loss plateau.

I’m making plans to reduce my sodium intake, and here are some places where I hope to reduce sodium:

  • Don’t salt meats
  • Keep eating raw foods
  • Purchase lower sodium or salt free nuts/seeds
  • Avoid high salt foods, like potato chips and restaurant fare

Exceptions to the rule:

  • I must put some salt in my homemade soups – otherwise they are super bland and virtually inedible to me. It is worth the slight bump in sodium in order to get all of the goodness of homemade bone broth soup
  • I also must salt my homemade pasta sauces a little. I will keep the sauce low salt, but pasta sauce is what I use when I really need a bump in flavor.
  • I will use commercially made salsa (as long as there are no artificial ingredients or sugar) and taco seasoning. Taco salad is my go-to healthy comfort food. I need something to fall back on if I am just hating the Whole 30 plan.

This is going to be really hard for me, but I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this! Thanks for reading, and stay healthy everyone!

Quick Post

This week is pretty much the same as last week, though it is becoming more and more clear that I need to be more proactive about starting my next Whole 30 Challenge. I made some delicious dairy free and coconut rich peppermint bark (seriously, this stuff is like crack), so I am trying to get through the rest of the bark before going on the Whole 30 challenge because I know that I won’t be able to resist it or throw it away.

I’ve been trying to get help for my emotional issues, and I think I found someone who understands my problem at its core and can help me. At the same time, I have to pay out of pocket for all of my therapy costs, since in-network providers are so jam packed with patients that I wouldn’t be able to get the help I need in the time that I need it in. It’s pretty stressful financially (which is making me freak out a little hahaha – irony), but I am hopeful that I will get a large reimbursement from my insurance company in a few weeks that will help with the strain.

I bet you were looking forward to hearing about my financial and emotional woes! I aim to please!

On a lighter note, I am feeling a little better 🙂 I need to steer clear from the junk food, which is really hard, but will make me feel so much better. Last night, I slept soooo poorly that I almost called out sick today, but I grabbed my emergency iced coffee (I seriously drink coffee only when I REALLY need it, and even then I sip it) in the fridge and showed up to work! I’m proud of myself for that. I also am going to tough it out and show up to yoga today since I know that it means I will sleep like a rock tonight!

I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. And even when things are rough, remember the good in your life, like a supportive family, or being lucky enough to meet and kiss the love of your life.

Thanks so much for reading, everyone, and stay healthy!

Mental Health – Diet and Fitness may not fix everything

For today’s post, I’m going to get personal about myself, which means that I am vulnerable, but I think it is very important to point it out.

So, you do the Whole 30, you work out 4-5 times a week (nothing too strenuous), you go for daily walks, you get a good night’s sleep every night, and you take your vitamins. On paper, you do everything right, and when you look around at how everyone else is eating and living their life, you give yourself a pat on the back for taking your health into your hands and taking care of your body (I mean, you only get one).

And yet, despite doing everything ‘right,’ you find yourself spiraling out of control over the smallest of things. One tiny slip up and you becoming an emotional tsunami on everyone and anyone who you think can take a hit.

Especially yourself.

I like to think that I am a happy person, that I have my life together. I have a great job, a great boyfriend, a great family, and friends. I have a roof over my head, and never have to worry about whether or not I can put food on the table (financially – whether or not I want to cook is a whole other story hahaha). I have a good life.

So, why do I use myself as a punching bag regularly?

Here’s what I’m talking about. I like to refer to myself as the smartest moron that I know, and I am actually kind of right. Despite the fact that I have a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering, I am extremely forgetful, illogical, and have virtually no street smarts.

A perfect example: Last night, the power went out in my apartment complex twice. The first time, it came back on in about ten seconds. The second time, I waited for about 20 seconds for it to come back on, and when it didn’t, I went into ‘the power is not coming back on’ mode and started lighting candles, turning on flashlights, etc. Even though I felt woefully unprepared for a power outage, it became clear that I was much more prepared than the entire rest of my apartment complex. As I looked out my balcony, I didn’t see any candlelight, flashlights, or anything in the other units. Immediately, I thought, I have to protect myself so that no one is tempted to break into my apartment, since I clearly have my ducks in a row.

So I locked the door, and chained it shut.

And briefly patted myself on the back for protecting myself – noting how proud of me my boyfriend will be.

The power came back on in about an hour and a half, and I resumed my normal nightly activities of making my breakfast and lunch for the next day, opting for an early bedtime. I was awakened at 11PM by the loudest yelling of my name I’ve ever heard, followed by ‘OPEN THIS DOOR!!’

I had forgotten to unchain the door.

I ran out, unchained it, and my boyfriend was understandably angry. I started down a thought spiral of ‘you are a moron,’ ‘how can anyone love you,’ and other self destructive thoughts. My boyfriend had a beer and a good meal and he got over it, while I lay in bed tossing and turning and freaking out.

I know I was being irrational, but at the same time, I couldn’t stop those self destructive thoughts. Which leads me to the reason I wrote this post: fixing my diet, though it helped me considerably, did not fix the emotional outburst problems I’ve been having since day one. It made me realize that I need more help.

Sometimes, fixing your diet and lifestyle will fix any hormonal imbalances and fix any emotional issues you may still be having. But sometimes, those deep seated and self destructive thoughts don’t go away, and you need more help. This post isn’t to insight pity; I wrote it so that if anyone else reading this feels like they’ve done everything and they’re still a failure, they know that they aren’t alone.

And they aren’t broken either.

I’ve decided to see a therapist to hopefully learn some tools for battling my inner demons. If I find anything particularly useful, I will mention it in a blog entry.

I know that I’m ending this on a sour note, but I am hopeful that I will finally find some help with my problems. Thanks for reading, and stay healthy friends!

End of Summer – What I Will and Won’t Miss

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall in the USA, but the fall-like weather is starting to trickle in here and there. Fall is my favorite season (and summer has been my least favorite for my whole life), so I’m always excited for the end of summer! But this year is the first year where a part of me will be sad to see summer go.

Over the last year, I’ve changed a lot about my diet and lifestyle. I’ve tried the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol, found new food sensitivities, and started taking daily walks at work for sunshine. I started a garden outside, made some mistakes, and learned some lessons about growing food. I thought it would be good to reflect on what made this summer in particular the first summer that I will miss.

On the other hand, there are many reasons why summer has been my least favorite (though I would never say as much as ‘I hate summer’, just my least favorite).

So, I decided to compile my list of Top 6 reasons to Miss the Summer and Not to Miss the Summer (in no particular order)!

Reasons that I will Miss the Summer:

  1. Brightness in the morning – I’m very fortunate to have a job with flexible hours, but I definitely prefer to go in early and leave early than the alternative. Last winter, it was truly miserable having to drive into work in the darkness in the morning, so over the summer, I relished in the sunlight!
  2. Farmer’s Markets – This was my first year where I truly went out of my way to experience farmer’s markets, and I have to say that they are wonderful! I know that most of them continue through November, but with my current schedule, it is unlikely that I will be able to go again this year. The main farmer’s market I went to was where my boyfriend lived, and since he moved in, we are stuck with poor choices where I live (a lot of markets that are only open from 8-noon during the week – PEOPLE WORK, FARMERS!)
  3. Warm weather – I know it is obvious that the summer is warmer, but this is the first year where the hot weather didn’t seem so hot. Since I made an effort to be outside for a small portion every day, I noticed that the heat didn’t bother me so much. This means that I enjoy my time outside in short sleeves soaking up that Vitamin D! In the winter, short sleeves will simply not be an option. The absence of the warm weather means that I’m going to be forced to spend a lot more time indoors. Womp womp.
  4. Vacations – This was the only redeemable quality to summer when I was growing up – no school! Now, I get to look forward to a more lax schedule as it seems like 20% of my coworkers are on vacation every week. I enjoyed a few great vacations this year, but as I plan to take time off next summer, I have to focus on saving up vacation time during the winter!
  5. Green life – As the leave change in the fall (one of my reasons to love the fall – so breathtaking!), I am more aware than ever about what it really means: the world is about to get a lot browner. This last winter affected me so much, that I was super giddy this past spring at watching plants grow. I have a lot of plants in my apartment, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of green outside.
  6. No school traffic – I typically commute to work before this is an issue, but that sweet summer season means fewer slow moving buses on the road stopping every 200 ft to let more kids on. The few times I slept in an extra half hour, this was definitely an issue!

Reasons to NOT Miss the Summer:

  1. Humidity – I live in Virginia, and it can get incredibly humid in this area. For those living in dry climates, it can get so humid that you feel like you can’t breathe. It makes your hair friz, and your body sweat. No, thank you!
  2. Perfect Weather Inbound! – The fall is my favorite time of the year because the temperature outside is absolutely perfect. Just cool enough that you can get away with long pants and a light jacket, but not so cold that you are freezing with a full winter coat on.
  3. Less stability at work – The flipside to being allowed to take vacations is that your coworkers get to take vacations too, which often means that their work is being dumped into your lap. Also, since I am still very much learning, it can be a little worrying when I have a question about a project and a senior engineer isn’t around to answer it. Having to figure stuff out on my own has done wonders for my confidence, but I’m glad to be getting back to a more stable work environment!
  4. Bugs – I believe I blogged about this, but at one point, I was plagued with a rogue mosquito in my apartment for about two weeks of agonizing itch. Since the Whole 30, I’ve definitely been getting less mosquito bites, but I will definitely not miss gnats and other annoying insects.
  5. High gas prices – Over the summer, gas prices almost always go up by about 20 or 30 cents/gallon to capitalize on all of the people traveling. When September hit, gas prices immediately dropped about 15 cents a gallon and they continue to drop.
  6. It’s less cozy than the cooler months – one of the great things about summer is that it encourages exploration. But the great thing about the Fall and Winter months are that they bring people together: Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year, etc. As a homebody introvert, I definitely prefer small gatherings with the people I love over large parties! Not to mention, who doesn’t love snuggling up next to a fire?

Thanks for reading! Can you relate to my reasons? Any that I left out?

Stay healthy my friends, and get out while the weather’s still fine!

Doctor’s Visit after 1 year Paleo!

Last week, I went to the doctors for the first time since seriously going paleo and since beginning visits with my naturopath to sort out my digestion issues. I have to say that I was blown away with my progress! I’ve got a spreadsheet with all of my bloodwork highlights for over the last 5 years, and it is wonderful to see how much better things have gotten. I’m going to cover these highlighted stats (comparing to two years ago when I was still following the SAD diet), and then share with you my naturopath’s takeaway from my new bloodwork! I will also try to explain what little I’ve learned over the years about how to read bloodwork, though bear in mind that I am not a doctor!

So, for those of you wondering if going paleo will help you achieve overall health, here are the stats that made my doctor nearly speechless:

  • Weight: 173 (-27.6) (I was 200.6 lbs 2 years ago!!)
  • Blood pressure: Was 130/85, now 107/68!
  • Fasting Glucose: 72 (-8)
  • Sodium: 137 (-0)
  • Potassium: 4.5 (+0.3)
  • Chloride: 98 (-3) (A little low, but I was fasting all the way until noon, so I didn’t get my usual electrolytes with breakfast)
  • Carbon Dioxide: 23 (-4.1) (I’m less acidic!)
  • Calcium: 9.3 (+0.5)
  • Total Cholesterol: 158 (-10) (I’m actually displeased that this went down, I will explain below)
  • Triglycerides: 70 (-54) (Triglycerides are created by a sugar filled diet, so I’m not surprised that this went down by almost half!)
  • HDL: 79 (+11) (This is the ‘good’ cholesterol that cleans up excessive cholesterol – if this is above 60, it is considered excellent! That being said, even when I was eating poorly, I’ve always had great cholesterol)
  • VLDL: 14 (-11) (What they might not tell you is that this number is simply your triglycerides divided by 5. These guys become LDL when they lose their triglycerides. We want these to be less than 30)
  • LDL: 65 (-10) (Yes, my HDL and my LDL almost literally reversed! LDL is considered the ‘bad’ cholesterol, and you want your LDL and VLDL to be lower than 130)
  • Vitamin B12: 757 (+209) (This is used to determine anemia, and if it is low can be correlated to not eating enough animal products – definitely not the case here! This is the highest it’s ever been by a huuuge margin!)
  • Folate: 16.6 (-0.1) (used with B12 to determine anemia – still a very good score since it just needs to be above 3!)
  • Hemoglobin Alc: 5.2 (+0.2) (This is used to determine diabetes risk. Despite it going up over the course of 2 years, it actually did come down a bit from last year. Also I’m still under the 5.7 threshold for an increased risk of diabetes)
  • Free T4:  1.32 (+0.23) (The inactive form of thyroid hormone, I’m within the functional range of 1.0-1.5!)
  • TSH: 1.17 (-1.02) (Thyroid stimulating hormone. What they won’t tell you is that the functional range is between 1.8 and 3.0, so mine is low. My mom has a sluggish thyroid, and I’m not in the danger zone yet, but it did increase slightly from last year, and I’m keeping an eye on it!)
  • Vitamin D: 40.5 (-8.4) (The functional range is 55-80, so I was already low and am getting lower. See my naturopath’s notes.)

Overall, there was a huge improvement in my health. Though my internist is a ‘conventional’ doctor, she is smart and open minded enough to see my improvement and encourage me to stay down this path!

I showed my bloodwork to my naturopath shortly after, and she was able to sum up what I should do next in two steps:

  1. Start taking Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) daily
  2. Start taking a food based Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) supplement daily

Here’s why:

  1. FLCO is high in vitamins A and D, and because they come in a bioavailable form, I don’t have to worry about overdosing on these vitamins even though they are fat soluble (It is possible to OD on them if they don’t come from animal products). This will provide me with Vitamin D in a better form than the Vitamin D3 supplements you buy at the store.
  2. I really don’t eat enough fish, and EFAs cause a chain reaction like so:
    1. EFAs are the building blocks for cholesterol. My naturopath used to be a regular doctor working in the lab with cholesterol specifically. She has watched as the upper limit for cholesterol has gone down and down to increase prescriptions for cholesterol lowering medications. She would like for me to have cholesterol over 200 for the next reason:
    2. Little known fact: cholesterol is used to generate Vitamin D in your body! You’ve heard the phrase “Gotta get my vitamin D” when someone is sitting out in the sun, but did you know HOW your body creates Vitamin D? Cholesterol sits on the top layer of your skin, and your skin cells use sunlight to convert it to the ONLY water soluble form of Vitamin D available. This is why it is impossible to overdose on Vitamin D due to sunlight: any excess is able to be converted into something safe!
      1. This explains why even though I’ve been getting more regular sunlight than ever, my vitamin D is still low. My cholesterol is simply not high enough to be converted to enough Vitamin D!
      2. This also explains why my vitamin D values have consistently been below the functional range (never above 48): My cholesterol has never been above 180 over the last 5 years!

Vitamin D is so important for total body health. Some would say that it is the most important Vitamin in your body! I’m confident that by taking supplements where I need them will help me finally get my vitamin D to functional levels!

Thanks for reading, and I hope this has been informative! I’m so pleased that my health is getting better, and I plan to do another urinalysis test to see how far I’ve come since the beginning of working with my naturopath!

Stay healthy, my friends!

First Hot Yoga Class!

Spoiler Alert: It was hot and I’ve never sweat so much in my life!

Due to the unfortunate nature of my hiatal hernia and it’s insistence on sliding back up through my diaphragm, I’ve been at a loss for workouts to do while it heals. The workouts I usually like to do, like HIIT or dancing, typically involve a lot of crunches and other ab work that tends to aggravate the problem. But I know the real problem: I’m having so much fun that I basically lose control of my movements and inevitably push myself too far. I talked with my chiropractor about giving yoga a try, and we agreed that it focuses on control and slow movements enough that it would be a good workout regimen for me to try while I heal.

The problems?

  • Though I genuinely like yoga, it is becoming more and more clear to me that unless I have to leave my apartment, there is no way I’m going to work out. It is just too easy for me to plop down in front of the TV and never get back up.
  • Yoga gyms in my area are CRAZY expensive. Like $175/month for hot yoga gyms, and $90+/month for regular yoga gyms expensive. They have incentives that you can sign up for that bring the cost down a bit, but the minimum cost per month for someone like me at a hot yoga gym would be about $141/month. It is very expensive!

While I was at a friend’s house last weekend, they had to cut our gathering short in order to go to their yoga gym, which they both clearly loved. They told me the name of it, so I looked into their studio to find that they offer an unlimited 30 day trial for $49.

Then I went back and forth as to whether I wanted to give this a try now or wait until next month.

Then I realized I was procrastinating… again.

So, the day after hearing about it, I signed up for my first class last night with my friends there!

I know it sounds obvious, but it was really hot. They say they heat the room to only 95 degrees or so, but it had to have been at least 80% humidity in there, because it felt much hotter!

Like a noob, I brought my water bottle into the studio, thinking I was going to have time to drink it – well, I didn’t.


  • #1 – I’m super proud of myself for going at all! I made the conscious choice to get off of the couch and work out, which doesn’t happen often.
  • I was impressed with my ability to keep up with my friends. They’d only been coming for about 3 months, they said, but they were definitely trying some of the trickier poses. I paced myself and didn’t try those poses on my first day, but for all of the other rapid pace pose changes, I was able to keep up and with good form!
  • So much sweat. All of the sweat. Within two minutes, I was completely covered in sweat, but for the most part felt okay – no dizziness, which I was worried about.  I was really glad that I hydrated beforehand, but I clearly need to hydrate more. I ended up with a bit of a dehydration headache this morning.
  • Toward the end of the workout, I was feeling a little nauseous, but I attributed it to detoxing or my hernia more than anything, and it was never significantly bad.
  • There were parts of the workout that I couldn’t do, like crunches and inversions, but I used that time to do active rest or other poses while they inverted. I’m glad I didn’t do those, since I think I was able to keep my hernia down!
  • I need two towels!! The one I brought wasn’t big enough for my whole mat, so I mostly used it at the top of my mat so that my hands could grip the terry better than the slippery mat. Next time I will bring another smaller towel for my feet, since they were a wee bit slidy toward the end.
    • They apparently sell mat grips, but I’m going to wait to invest in one of those until I’m sure I want to stick with this for a while!
  • Despite the workout being pretty tough and me leaving drenched in sweat, I’m surprisingly not that sore today. I made an effort not to over exert myself, and that paid off!

Final thoughts:

They currently are having a 30 day challenge, where they challenge their yogis to work out 30 times over 30 days. Even though I’m coming in on day 2 of the challenge, there’s no way I could fit in some doubles to make up the time! However, I really enjoyed this experience, and I’m grateful for my friends to be there with me on my first class. While I still have unlimited access, I plan to go every day that I don’t have another workout planned though! The class was really fun and relaxing, and it felt really great to sweat the toxins out!

Thanks for reading, and try a weird workout, friends!

Whole 30 Results – and Round 2!

Hey everyone! I’m nearing the end of my whole 30 challenge (in which I was human and did occasionally slip a little), and I wanted to share my results! Unfortunately, I used a different measurement tape for my before and after measurements, so it looks like I actually GAINED mass, but I did lose a couple of pounds, and most of my results are not measurement related!

Quantitative results:

Weight: 172.8 (-1.4)

Waist: 32.5 (-1)

Hips: 42.25 (+0.25)

Bust: 38 (+0.25)

Under bust: 33.5 (+0.25)

Body fat %: 35.24% (-1.17%)

Fat weight: 60.90 (-2.54)

Lean weight: 111.90 (+1.14)

Overall, I definitely look significantly better from when I started, and my clothes fit me much better, so I know it must be that I used a new measurement tape.

Qualitative Results:

I didn’t have time to take ‘After photos’ this morning, so I will try to take them tomorrow, because I truly look so much healthier. A lot of the swelling has gone down in my face and abdomen!

I also feel a lot better. Since I’ve been making more of an effort to chew my food thoroughly, I’ve noticed that my digestion is so much better. As long as I sleep well, I feel great in the morning, and strangely, I very rarely actually experience hunger pangs.

As a matter of fact, I had to fast until noon to take my bloodwork for my annual physical. Not once from 6:30 AM to noon and after would I say I was ‘hungry’ in the traditional sense. I even was around delicious smelling bagels that my coworkers were eating, and though I wanted to eat them for the delicious nostalgia, they were easy to resist because my stomach wasn’t rumbling!

Also, I’ve been drinking my green smoothies in the morning without liquid stevia to sweeten it, since Whole 30 says to cut out all sweeteners, even natural ones. Yesterday, I accidentally put a little stevia in my shake out of habit, and when I drank it, it was TOO SWEET!! Almost disgustingly sweet! I’m pretty sure I put in as much as I ordinarily would, but I was very put off by the sweetness. Weird!

Over the course of the Whole 30 challenge, though, I was under considerable physical and emotional stress. In summary:

  • My ileocecal valve was stuck in the open position, allowing contents from my large intestine to go back up into my small intestine and cause bloating and inflammation.
    • Since correcting this manually, removing troublesome foods, and taking a probiotic, the swelling is almost completely gone. My abdomen is still a little tender, but I am confident that it will heal over the course of the next couple of months!
  • I had to take care of the repairs for my new car and the sale of my old car.
    • Suffice it to say those were both stressful, but they are over
  • I had to find a place to live with my boyfriend.
    • It took two weeks of stressful searching, but we eventually decided just to have him move in to my current apartment.
  • My boyfriend moved into my apartment
    • And my sleep went right out the window. It’s been quite an adjustment, but we’re doing well all things considered
  • My best friend got married, which meant bachelorette party and wedding bad food.
    • I can’t even begin to describe how stressful this was. No sleep, dealing with crowds, dealing with fussy relatives, dealing with a bride who was essentially a zombie, and having no food that I can eat pretty much sums it up. At least it is over, and lesson learned – I will be eloping when the time comes! There is no way I’m putting myself through that kind of torture!
  • My job was incredibly stressful
    • I can’t go into it, but this was seriously the main stressor during the entirety of the above problems.
  • My mom sold her childhood home and moved.
    • This wasn’t too stress
  • All of this stress would be nothing if I could actually handle my stress. It became abundantly clear to me that I never learned how to let things go, and I made so many mountains out of molehills during this challenge

At this point, my life and schedule have cleared up significantly. I don’t have any more stressful things on my plate for a while, and for the most part, things have calmed down at work. I don’t have any gatherings where I won’t be able to control what I eat in my near future, and I’ve definitely gotten back into the habit of cooking everything from scratch again.

So! I want to do another Whole 30 challenge and see how it goes! One particular area of focus that I want to improve on is my physical activity. Unfortunately, it has become really clear that most of the workouts that I love to do, like dancing and HIIT, will aggravate my hiatal hernia, so I should steer clear of them. Instead, I am going to try to do yoga for fitness and relaxation! Also, I want to try to play racketball as much as possible, since that is fun for me and I don’t even realize I’m working out! I’d like to start with 3 workouts a week and try to move up from there.

Wish me luck on my second challenge! I just went in for my annual physical, so I plan to write a post about how paleo food and lifestyle affected my bloodwork!

Thanks for reading, and stay healthy, friends!

Feeling Better! And Dealing with Stress

It’s amazing how one thing in your body going wrong can make your whole body feel terrible. Last week, I posted about the ileocecal valve (ICV) and how sometimes a poor diet and stress can cause it to glitch open. Since that post, I have made a conscious effort to chew my food thoroughly, avoid potato chips when possible (though it isn’t entirely probable), avoid alcohol, take a strong probiotic, and massage the ICV nightly. Here are the things I have noticed since doing these steps:

  1. My swelling has gone WAAAY down. The only day where I felt that my ICV was open was the first day that I massaged it. After that, it just hurt to massage it (though I had to check it), and the pain as slowly been getting much, much better. I no longer look 5 months pregnant, and (even though there’s still some swelling), I am on my way to recovery!
  2. Chewing – what a difference! I had no idea how much I tended to shovel food in my mouth until I began making a conscious effort to chew my food thoroughly. It’s hard! Especially for things like salads that don’t seem to want to be chewed to a pulp no matter how hard I try! But, the chewing is definitely worth it! The swelling in my hiatal hernia is going down considerably, and I can tell that my food is being digested more thoroughly.
  3. Found that I have a hidden food sensitivity. Once a week, typically in the late weekend or on Monday, I experience mild symptoms of IBS again. I’ve examined my diet, and I think the sensitivity can be one of two things: eggs, or potato chips. At this point in time, I am convinced that I am sensitive to eggs, because, since I’ve mostly cut potato chips out of my life, I’ve tried to transition to baked potatoes when I feel in need of carbs. Though potato chips are more inflammatory than a baked potato (due to the seed oils), once I’ve started chewing them to mush, they are otherwise very similar (in that if I had a sensitivity, or long immune reaction, I would experience symptoms whenever I ate potato in any form). On the other hand, I hardly ever eat eggs. In fact, I only eat eggs when I would go to my boyfriend’s house and he didn’t have anything else to cook, and I have had them consistently on Saturday morning. So, I will avoid eggs for a month, then try having them again and see if I have symptoms.
  4. I am still struggling to handle stress. For the most part, I have checked many of the to-do items off of my list, but occasionally, when one pops back up, I tend to get worked up and very upset. I know, deep down, that my worrying and stressing about things that I cannot control are irrational, but sometimes things tend to spiral. If anything, dealing with all of these issues has shown me that I need to learn how to deal with it, and admitting that there is a problem is the first step to recovery! That being said, as my gut has been healing, it has helped my ability to handle stress a bit!
  5. I know that it is very important to eat perfectly whole 30 for 30 days, but I am human, and therefore not perfect. My best friend’s bachelorette party was last weekend, and as host, it is important for the bride to feel like she is able to let her hair down safely and not alone. Fortunately, I was the designated driver, so I had a good excuse to not drink, but I did indulge in some french fries and potato chips over the course of the evening. I always made sure to chew my food very thoroughly, and I think that that helped my body digest it immensely. Also, once we were safely at my house, I made sure to drink some kombucha instead of drinking alcohol, and that was definitely a better choice!

Overall, I’m doing much better, but like I said, stress is still a big issue. Now that I know it is a problem, I’m going to try to make an effort to better relieve my stress. I’m going to try to start meditating, going for more walks, trying to get to the gym more often, and just changing my relationship with stress by asking questions like ‘will this matter in a week?’ or ‘Am I stressed because I’m afraid of something that I assumed about the situation?’ I am a very empathetic person and am good at putting myself in other people’s shoes, but sometimes that leads me to make incorrect assumptions about how another person is feeling.

I don’t know if this will work or not, but as I check more things off of my to do list, I get closer and closer to a stress free way of living.

Thanks for reading, and stay healthy, friends!

Weird Bloat and it’s Cause

So, I’ve been doing the whole 30 challenge right? Normally, when I start out bloated, my bloat goes away within a couple of days after cleaning up my diet.

Not this time.

I spoke with my naturopath early into this, and she seemed surprised that my bloat wasn’t going away. (And this is serious, bloat, guys. I look 6-7 months pregnant right now, and when I try to suck it in, it huuuuurts.) She mentioned that there might actually be something wrong with a valve in my intestines called the ileocecal valve (or ICV for short). She recommended that I have my chiropractor examine it in a week, and I had my appointment with him two days ago.

First of all, this was my second most painful chiropractor visit ever. My hernia slid back up again, which I had a feeling it would, so having that fixed again felt like going back to square one. It seems that I can’t do any HIIT workouts (like the Core Speed I did last week) without it sliding back up, so I am going to have to try to do yoga or something low impact instead. For some reason, racketball doesn’t bother me, so I will keep that up too.

But when I asked him to look at my ICV, it was like a shooting pain. The ICV is located about an inch up and to the right of your left pubic bone (if you are facing someone and trying to point it out). As usual, pictures are better than words:


He pressed there in circles for a few seconds until he said ‘There we go…’ cryptically, and did a little more massaging. I asked him about what was going on, and did my own research so that I could relay the information to you. Though I try my best to be accurate, it is important to note that I am not a doctor, just a health conscious person prone to self experimentation 🙂

What is it?

The ileocecal valve is the valve between the small intestine and the large intestine. As a review, the small intestine is responsible for nutrient absorption, like a kitchen. The large intestine is responsible for breaking down waste, reabsorbing water, and eliminating waste, like a bathroom. It uses lots of bacteria to eat away at the waste, and the large intestine is a very safe home for this bacteria.

The ICV is designed to stay closed for a majority of the time, only opening periodically to empty contents of the small intestine into the large intestine only to close again quickly.

Now imagine that you flush your toilet, and the contents burst up through your kitchen sink drain, splattering everywhere in your kitchen. All of the bleach in the world isn’t enough.

Yeah, that’s what’s happening when your ileocecal malfunctions and stays open.

What happened?

So, you know the saying that you are what you eat? Apparently I have found a way to eat something and cause my digestive system to glitch out. The ICV can be locked in the open position for many reasons, but the most common is by overloading your body with mechanical interference (hard or high fiber foods, like potato chips, whole grains, and raw vegetables in sudden large quantities when your body isn’t used to them), and chemical interference (sudden large quantities of alcohol or caffeine).

Sooooo, basically my diet while I was on vacation, which was large quantities of potato chips and a few hard ciders a day??? Whoopsie daisy.

ICV can be caused by other things as well. According to Neuro Health Chiropractic‘s article on ICV, it can also be caused by dehydration, emotional stress (which I have had in HIGH quantities lately), overeating (whoops), eating too fast (whoops again), and snacking. Surprisingly, it can also cause more symptoms than just bloating and digestive discomfort. It can be responsible for fatigue, acne, headaches, ringing in the ears, lower back pain, allergies, and bad breath. This can even pop up in people with good intentions, if they suddenly add a whole bunch of raw veggies into their diet.

Somewhere along the way, the electrical signals in my system got mixed up, and my ICV was locked in the open position, and probably has been for a couple weeks, contributing to my increasing bloat and abdominal discomfort.

When should I be concerned?

For the most part, when you suddenly change your diet to a more clean one, a majority of bloating and swelling should go away in about a week, typically within a couple of days. If you recently changed your diet and your bloat dramatically decreased, it’s safe to say that you are good to go.

If it has been a week or more of very clean eating (be honest with yourself here) and you still feel like an alien is about to burst out of your tummy, it might be an ICV problem. See your doctor, or better yet, a highly trained chiropractor (who is trained in more than just spinal adjustments) like my chiropractor. An adjustment to close the valve is relatively quick and can be done at home, but it is definitely a good idea to have a professional look at it first to make sure there isn’t some other issue.

So, what happens now? How do I fix it?

Here, I don’t have all of the experience yet, with my recent diagnosis. The major issues with this problem are keeping the valve closed as much as possible, and fighting the bacteria that has entered your small intestine. I’m not 100% sure how long it will take to remedy the situation, but here are the steps I am taking to ensure that I am on the fastest road to recovery:

  • KEEP EATING RIGHT – even if this is brought on by a positive change in diet with more raw veggies, it is really important to keep eating a nutrient rich diet!
  • Probiotics and Enzymes – I was given a new enzyme formula by my naturopath that is supposedly one of the strongest she has, but she took me off my probiotic. I’m still drinking home brewed kombucha and some raw sauerkraut daily, but that isn’t enough good bacteria to fight the sudden influx of bacteria in my small intestine. I started taking a very strong probiotic (http://www.iherb.com/Garden-of-Life-RAW-Probiotics-Women-90-Veggie-Caps-Ice/27367) to help my digestive tract clear out the baddies. It’s really important that any probiotic you take for situations like this has been refrigerated from its manufacture on. Any probiotic that can sit on the shelf without refrigeration is not going to be nearly as potent as one that you bought refrigerated!
  • Eat Slowly and CHEW- This one is tough for me, since I grew up with a younger brother where the rule was eat it or he will eat it for you. I’m used to piling the food in, chewing for 3 or 4 bites, and then swallowing pieces partially whole. The truth is that your body can’t break down food like that effectively. So, I’m making an effort to chew my food until it feels very liquid or paste-like before swallowing. This will activate more saliva to help break down the food too.
    • Note: a lot of websites recommend an elimination diet of meat and cooked vegetables (no raw veggies, grains, or hard foods like potato chips) for 2-3 weeks. I’m going to see if chewing raw veggies thoroughly will allow me to keep eating my salads daily, since I look forward to them and they are a great way for me to get a good amount of veggies in one sitting.
  • Massage the Valve – Only attempt this after being shown how to do it by a professional! Last night was the first time I attempted it myself, and the way to do it is to find the valve (use picture above to help), and massage that area for 10-20 seconds, or until you feel a “squishy click” which means your valve has closed. This can be done several times a day (though you won’t always feel a click – which is a good thing because it means your valve is staying shut on its own!) until it seems to consistently be staying shut, in which case, check it once per day until symptoms abate.
  • Avoid trigger foods – Stay away from alcohol, caffeine, grains, potato chips, and anything else that may interfere with your recovery. The only exception to this rule that I am doing is by drinking my homemade kombucha. This does have a small amount of caffeine and alcohol, since it is made from fermented black tea, but the longer you ferment the tea, the more caffeine is removed and alcohol turns to vinegar. I’m going to try to ferment my kombucha for longer while I am recovering.

I hope this guide was helpful, especially for people like me who had never experienced persistent bloat like this before! Thank you for reading, and stay healthy friends!