Tag Archives: Diet

If you are what you eat…

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As part of my redemption from unfulfilled contractual obligations, I wanted to talk a little bit more about my diet, how I’m doing, and how I see it affecting my RA.  For those of you who don’t know, I’m trying my hardest to follow the Paleo diet which means eating only lean meats and proteins and fresh fruits and veggies.  No glutens, no processed foods, no dairies, and no sugars other than natural sugars.  Oh yeah…and also no alcohol. In all honesty, it’s been an easier diet to follow than anything I’ve ever tried before.  I think partly it’s because I’ve bought several books but also because I have a friend who’s doing it with me. But I’m not going to say that I’m perfect at it.  I think I’ve developed a new phrase for our joint Paleo dieting: those who EAT together, CHEAT together. Yep, we’re FAR from perfect!

One of the biggest challenges is that I really don’t cook so to say that I’ve learned a lot is an understatement!

  1. I actually don’t like things cooked with lots of ingredients.  I tried making several things that were “fancy” and did a fairly good job of it…but they didn’t taste good to me.  As soon as I scaled back my ambitions from triple roasted broccoli braised with virgin gorgonzola made by elves to just plain old steamed broccoli, I began to like most of what I made! And SCORE because that is so much easier!
  2. And yeah, I have no frigging clue what triple roasted broccoli braised with virgin gorgonzola made by elves is.  Nor do I understand what the hell smart chicken is. I do not care about the IQ of my fowl. In my world, chicken is grilled, fried, or baked.   Also while I’m on the subject, I do not care about the sexual habits of any of my food…I will eat it virgin or not.  Whatever that means.
  3. I do not like brussel sprouts.  Not raw, not boiled, not roasted, not grilled, not spiced, not un-spiced.  I just do not like them.  SEE WHAT ALL THOSE HOURS SITTING AT THE DINING ROOM TABLE FOR REFUSING TO EAT BRUSSEL SPROUTS DID TO ME, MOM!!!!! It’s just not going to happen.
  4. I have a tendency to overcook things…ever so slightly.  My kale “chips” that were supposedly done according to the recipe when they turned bright green…were more like little black kale brickettes.
  5. I have got to learn how to eat fish.  Except that I hate it and have no idea how to cook it.  I attempted seared tuna the other day and my dinner guest said it smelled like cat food.  And he was correct.

BUT I’m starting to have more successes than fails! Some of my favorites so far:

Steak seasoned only with garlic powder and pepper, plain zuccchini squash.

Chopped apples cooked on the stove for two hours with a little bit of water and a lot of cinnamon (no sugar).

My all time favorite- chopping up a bunch of fresh veggies and a red onion, wrapping them in foil, and tossing them either on the grill or in the oven.  No spices whatsoever required because of the red onion!

How I’m handling lunches…pictured with veggies roasted with rosemary and potatoes.  Ignore the booze.

I have noticed a difference in my symptoms, not so much when I’m hardcore on the diet but more so when I’m cheating if that makes sense.  What I have noticed healthwise is how much more “even” I feel.  I sleep better, I have more energy, I’m not hungry all the time.  And yes, my wrists feel better.

I’m no Emeril…nor do I aspire to be…but I’ve got to admit that this has been a little bit fun!

Wellness Contract Update

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Alternate title:  The post where my writing makes my lawyer friends cringe.

(Address withheld)

23 February, 2011

(Address withheld)

Dear Amanda:

You are hereby put on notice that as of 23, February 2011, you are in breach of our contract dated 13 January, 2011. The nature of said breach is:

-Consumption of more than 3 glasses of wine per seven day period beginning on a Sunday during the period of 13 January- 23 February, 2011 bordering on perceived mocking of said contractual clause.

-Consumption of three jars of Tostitos medium queso WITHIN A THREE DAY PERIOD.  Also, over consumption of “comfort foods” during a cold.  Contract to be modified to allow some comfort foods but never again will daily meals consist of pancakes, grilled cheese, and baked spaghetti.  Boo hoo hoo…you didn’t feel good…NONE OF THESE ARE GLUTEN FREE.

-Blatant disregard for physical activity or cleaning provision of contract.  BLATANT disregard.

It is our desire to inform you of the foregoing and demand that you cease and desist the above behaviors to cure said breach. You are already being held responsible for all damages arising from said breach in the form of increased joint pain due to the introduction of gluten and alcohol into your body, increased fatigue due to glutens and lack of physical activity, loss of favorite clothing due to inability to put up laundry leading to you not being able to find a damn thing, and lost opportunities to regain strength and increase mobility through responsible exercise.  You may be held responsible for additional damages arising from said breach.

You have until 23 March, 2011 to cure said breach, after which we will be forced to further recognize that your own decisions are in no way helping your health.

Regards,

Amanda

2011 Wellness Contract

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So, in a long overdue blog update, I thought I’d post the contract that I typed and posted on my fridge. After posting and thinking about how I do so well with goals at work, I completely dorked out and wrote something similar to what I work with all day, everyday.

Initially, it was to begin on Jan 1st but I spent the first two weeks of the year cheating and tweaking and learning how to cook.  Yes, you read that last part right.  I can now make the following paleo style: chicken marsala, roasted veggies, braised cabbage, greek chicken, stewed apples, and fajitas served on lettuce rather than a flour tortilla.  And you know…the first time I made roasted veggies, I went back for SECONDS because they were GOOD.  Any of you who have ever fell victim to my culinary inexperience would know that this is a definite first!

So, I tried and am learning and thought I’d restart the contract on a date more meaningful to me: January 15th, my diagnosis anniversary date.

2011 Wellness Contract also known as

Operation Get Your Sh*t Together

This contract is made between yourself (an individual, referred to as AJ) and yourself (an individual referred to as AJ) and will commence on January 15, 2011 for a period of thirty (30) days and can be renewed with negotiation on both parties after each thirty (30) day period.  Neither individual can hold the other liable for any results or lack thereof resulting from actions defined in this contract.

The purpose of this contract is to establish certain desirable behaviors that may or may not directly influence AJ’s health or well-being and overall standard of living.  Behaviors include the following:

Medications: AJ must take all medications as prescribed for the next thirty (30) days.  It is not acceptable for AJ to skip medication for the following reasons: desiring alcoholic beverages, sheer laziness, or not wanting to have an upset stomach.

    1. Medications, specifically methotrexate, may be skipped if AJ is battling a cold or other illness or has been exposed to communicable diseases.
    2. AJ is granted an exception to methotrexate for a week involving any air travel but must resume methotrexate as soon as air travel is complete.
    3. If medication is forgotten and not missed because AJ doesn’t feel like getting her lazy self out of bed, it must be taken as soon as remembered.

Diet: AJ must try to eat in accordance with Paleo Diet guidelines.  This includes avoiding the following: Starbucks, Jason’s Deli, and any sort of buffet/meat and three dining preferred by AJ.

  1. Exceptions may be made for work functions where there are no other options AFTER AJ has attempted to find something that falls within Paleo guidelines.
    1. Starbucks may be substituted with coffee from a coffeemaker and rice or almond milk may be added for flavoring purposes.

Alcohol: AJ is allowed three (3) glasses of red wine per week.  Each glass of red wine must be accompanied by healthy food and a full glass of water.

  1. A glass of wine is defined as a NORMAL wine glass around 4-6 ounces, not a big gulp, big nasty, or anything with the words big, super sized, or fishbowl attached to it.
  2. No, seriously.  4-6 ounces.
  3. Topping off a normal wine glass continuously DOES NOT constitute one glass of wine, even if AJ may typically consider it one continuous glass.  Each top off constitutes a new serving.

Exercise and Cleanliness: Each night, AJ must either go to the gym for 30 minutes of light impact cardio, a yoga class, or, if neither option is available or if AJ is unable to go, something at home must be cleaned.

  1. Light impact cardio is defined as thirty (30) minutes on a machine, walking in the neighborhood, or taking a class.
  2. Light cardio is NOT spending thirty (30) minutes watching hot guys playing basketball at the gym while “waiting” on a machine to become available no matter how much this affects AJ’s heart rate.
  3. Yoga classes must be completed.  Also, it is unacceptable to attend a yoga class after consuming one (1) or more glasses of weekly red wine.
  4. AJ is not to be that creepy girl in yoga class who reeks of alcohol ever again!
  5. If neither yoga nor gym attendance are options, AJ must clean something at her place of residence (address omitted).
  6. AJ must clean whatever is most pressing.
  7. It is unacceptable to stall on a chore while waiting for another chore to be done.  IE AJ will never, ever, ever again put off folding two (2) weeks worth of laundry because she was waiting on herself to make her own bed…for two (2) days.

Miscellaneous, also related to cleanliness: AJ will put things up in their proper places at the proper time.

    1.     Coats: are hung in the closet by the door, not on chairs or floors.

    2.     Laundry: belongs in the hamper, not on the floor next to the hamper.

    3.     Toilet paper rolls: are deposited in the trashcan and new rolls are placed in the holder, not on the floor next to empty rolls.

    4.     You get the picture: clean up your crap!!!!

     

    At the conclusion of each thirty (30) period, contract will be reviewed and, if determined that AJ is TRYING (not perfect), AJ will be rewarded with a manicure and pedicure at salon of choice as long as price does not exceed thirty (30) dollars.

    Contract may also be modified if necessary and renewed for consecutive thirty (30) day periods.

    If it is determined that AJ is not trying, AJ will have to publicly acknowledge not trying on blog and to friends and coworkers.

    Off to dream about pretty fingers and toes in a month…

    You. Better. Work.

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    Mad props if you can identify the song and artist. :)

    I’ve been really focusing in this week on eating better and exercising.  More specifically, eating gluten free again and trying to develop an exercise routine that I can do when I’m feeling good and when I’m not feeling so good.

    I’ve been to the gym every night this week (I know…I keep waiting for the walls of the YMCA to collapse inward at the shock).   Sunday afternoon, I did a good 45 minutes on the elliptical.  I continue to kick myself for not inventing and patenting the concept of mounting a television on a piece of workout equipment. 45 minutes of cardio FLIES when you have Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in front of you.

    Feeling motivated still on Monday but with a sore left ankle and knee, I decided to swim laps. Let me back up a bit to tell you that part of what I’ve struggled with is that I am super competitive and that I don’t consider a workout to be a workout if there is no burn.  Admittedly, I tried water aerobics several years ago on a whim with a friend.  It was called “aquacize”  and that title alone was a running joke for several weeks.  Because doesn’t the word “aquacize” have to be said with spirit fingers? :)  Anyways, tried the class and while I was surprisingly sore the next day, “aquacize” was not my cup of tea.

    So on Monday, I just started swimming laps.  I forgot goggles so I grabbed a kickboard and swam two laps with breast stroke kick at a moderate pace.  Yawn. I swam two more.  Still no action in the burn department. No hot guys to look at like when I’m on the elliptical. And I was getting bored.

    I don’t know when it hit me but I started thinking about elementary school swim team and the “drills” they had us do. (Note: are they really truly considered drills if you’re 9 years old?  Just curious.) From what I remember, they were really hard.

    So, I began channeling my inner 9 year old swim team self.  I swam two more moderate speed laps with breast stroke kick.  And then I told myself I was going to do two freestyle kick laps but that I was going to kick as hard as I possibly could.

    I was completely winded midway through that first lap.

    YES! Although I probably should be upset that my 9 year old self could totally kick my 31 year old self’s ass…

    I did a couple more laps, alternating between kicking as hard as I could and a moderate pace, and then I decided I was going to do pool ‘wind sprints’ using the different colors on the lane ropes.  Within just a few of these, I could feel my heart rate increase, could feel the burn in my legs, and could actually see improvement in how far I could swim without absolutely feeling like I was going to die.

    When I got out of the water, I was tired but I didn’t hurt.  When I was sore the next day, it was muscular sore and not joint pain sore.

    And now….I’m off to continue trying to kick off some of that Thanksgiving chub I indulged in.  And to continue trying to make up a whole workout that I can do continue to do no matter how I feel.

    Here we go

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    So I am a slacker blogger as of late…I am sorry!  I got back from Cali and got super sick- a cold turned sinus infection turned bronchitis.  Two rounds of antibiotics later and I’m slowly on the mend.

    Isn’t being sick on immuno-suppressant medication SO. MUCH. FUN?  Not only can my body turn a piddly little cold into not one BUT TWO other illnesses but then the cold and two other illnesses decide to grab beers, play trivia, get more beers, play some darts, do some shots, hit the dance floor and just in general take their sweet time in leaving me.

    Geez,  Walk of shame it away already!

    Anyways, I’m in the midst of regrouping, refocusing on the diet and starting in on the next plan.

    Funny story before I tell you the plan.  I was cleaning and organizing my hall closet the other night.  I went to get something out of the other closet and when my socked feet hit the hardwood floors, I fell hard.  I was not close enough to grab on to anything except that I was close enough to the ottoman that I drug my nose down the side of it the whole way down.

    Excellent.

    After assessing that my nose was NOT bleeding and  that I did not have visible ottoman burn, I slowly sat up and examined my hip, knees, and hands.  I was sore, yes, but nothing seemed wrong beyond that.

    Falling with RA is always an issue.  Falling for me, since I’ve been flaring constantly since April, has been a fear for months.  A major fear.  I just don’t feel as physically strong as I was a year ago.  In fact, I haven’t felt this weak since I was initially diagnosed.  I know I’ll get the strength back but until then, it’s just kinda scary.

    So it happened and I did not die.  Good to know!

    So, back to the plan.  I found out that I was NOT on the placebo in my study but was actually on Enbrel.  A surprise, yes, because it did nothing for me.  So I am now going to be starting Remicade which I’m terrified of.  I will start most likely next Wednesday since I have most of the week off.  I don’t really care if it makes me nauseous because I despise turkey so it will have no bearing on my Thursday plans.  I know, I’m a sucky American.

    Why am I terrified?  I’m not afraid of needles.  I think it’s just the thought of it.  People only get infusions if they’re really sick. And I just don’t want to classify myself that way because when it’s under control, I’m fine.

    So if I can fall which is something that can really seriously injure me and be fine, then certainly infusions can’t be that bad, right?

    372 Month Update

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    Dear Amanda:

    Yes, you are writing yourself a letter in third person.  Why? Well, for one thing, Facebook has ruined you.  You and your friends tend to state things as Facebook status updates.  Why, I am not sure. Damn you, Facebook!  For another, you spend an awful lot of time reading the blogs of all of your friends who have children.  And so, in honor of your 372 month of life, you thought you’d be funny and mock the monthly updates that a lot of them do.

    Yes, my dear, you are 372 months old today.  Let’s see what you’ve been up to!

    Height: 5’6…you get very defensive if anyone says 5’5 because your goal in life was to be taller than your mother…who is 5’5.

    Weight: 110 is the weight on your old SC drivers license.  For the record, it also says you’re 5’8.

    Hair: Yes, you’ve had a full head of it for approximately 370 months.

    Eyes: Still blue.

    Motor skills/development: You’re working on being able to grip things. The actual gripping is fine but you have a hard time with ‘grip and twist.’  Hey, doesn’t that sound like a dance  move? And speaking of dance moves, you’re going to be taking a dance class soon.  You learned another lesson while searching for a dance class.  Never google ‘adult dance class.’  The results will not be what you are searching for.  A better query would be ‘your town name AND dance class.’  You can search through specific studios pretty quickly this way and not have to worry about people seeing the results in your search history.

    Language Skills: Some problems here.  Nothing that a well placed bar of soap couldn’t fix.

    Diet: You are SUCH a cheater this week.  But tomorrow starts a new week and a new commitment to being truly caffeine, gluten, dairy, and anything that tastes good free.  You really can tell a difference when you stay true to the diet.

    Milestones: You are officially off of Prednisone.  YEAH!  Your wrists are really sore today- maybe because of this or maybe because of excessive red wine consumption. Who knows.  But you’re off of it and you’re still functioning which was not the case a few months ago.  Also, you attempted riding your friends bike the other night and while it wasn’t pretty, you didn’t fall on your ass!  YAY!  And when your friend offered to run after you holding the seat like you’re a baby with training wheels, you didn’t say anything incredibly rude!  MIRACLE!  Nope, you just cut your eyes, took another swig of wine, and wobbled down the driveway on the bike (which I may add is WAY too short for you) looking quite mature for your 372 years of life if I do say so myself.

    What’s next for you: another glass of wine and some cake.  Duh.  Then some building back of strength/stamina that you lost over the summer, some losing of weight that you gained over the summer, and hopefully some attempting of antibiotic protocol after you finish your study.

    Elimination Diet

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    Or the post that should be titled “I really want a freaking cupcake for dinner but instead I’m going to begrudgingly eat brussel sprouts.”

    Awhile back, I tried to go gluten free and did see a pleasant decrease in inflammation.  And then I got swamped with work, my flare got even worse, and everything completely overwhelmed me to the point that I was reduced to a grubby sweatsuit on my couch watching DVR’d episodes of Chelsea Lately and True Blood whilst stuffing my face with takeout.  And I wonder how in the world I gained weight…

    I am slowly starting to decompress and return to a state of whelmed vs overwhelmed and am ready to take a stab at better nutrition again.  Ok, ok, ok, I’ll be completely honest that in addition to the better diet and benefits I saw while doing gluten free that I also want to jump-start the process of turning my flab back into fab.

    I’ve never done an elimination diet mainly because I like eating and dislike being uncomfortable. :) But after reading and talking to a couple of people who have, I thought it was worth trying.  I was more sold when I found out I could supplement with medical food so that I wasn’t as hungry and so that I could make sure I was getting all the nutrients that I need to get.

    Step One: Eliminate refined sugars, caffeine, artificial colors & flavorings, and flesh foods. UGH.  All my favorites.

    I love caffeine.  No, I NEED caffeine.  It makes me nicer.  Same goes for sugars.  It is common knowledge with my coworkers that I am bribeable and my currency is chocolate.

    Hey Amanda, will you call our client who is mad at us right now because they don’t like xyz? When I talked to him earlier, he was cursing and spitting.  Please?  While you’re doing it, I’ll run get you Ben & Jerry’s!

    Consider it done.

    Step Two: Eliminate dairy.

    No problems here.  I switched to soy years ago and eggs creep me out thanks to a college dining hall experience.

    Step Three: Eliminate gluten grains.

    Done.

    Step Four: Eliminate remaining grains, nuts and seeds.

    This sucks.  I always have a bag of pistachios on me.  Always!  And I found out the hard way that soy products were considered part of this too.  Boo!

    Step Five: Eliminate legumes and nightshade vegetables.

    Ok, I thought I’d have a harder time with this than I did but I made a lentil dish the day before that was so bad, it tasted like dirty feet smell.  And the smell lingered.  Au revoir legumes- good riddance!

    I did have a little bit of trouble giving up nightshade vegetables…after I determined what they were.  I thought nightshades went on lamps.  Apparently, I was wrong.

    Step Six: Also known as where I am now.  With not many options for food. I will slowly start adding different foods back in next week.

    It’s not much fun right now.  But I will admit that if nothing else, I am sleeping like a champ which is something I don’t do when I’m flaring.  That was actually part of my strategy of getting through last weekend- you can’t cheat on a diet if you’re unconscious. :) I also stopped having crazy cravings this week too.  I feel ‘empty’ but ‘even’ if that makes sense at all.

    So far, I can’t tell if there’s been a difference in my joints due to this or not.  I have had less inflammation this week but I don’t want to attribute it to this quite yet.

    I should know more when I’m able to start adding back.

    To be continued…..