Friday, December 21, 2012

A new mission

I'm on a new mission... this one is to feel better.

Over the past year, my mission was to teach  myself to run and accomplish the half marathon.  I can see that in 2013, my new mission is to continue to improve in running and strength training, but while doing so on a very restricted diet.  It's been done before, I just may have some challenges. It's going to take a lot of research, a lot of cooking, and a lot of trial and error (and food logging).  I'm particularly sensitive about it because people often feel they need to tell me how I am doing it wrong.  That because I don't eat meat I am automatically not getting enough nutrients.  That I HAVE to eat fish.  I log my food every single day. I am constantly watching to make sure I am getting what I need.  Just because you eat meat doesn't mean you eat healthy by default. Just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean I don't get enough protein.  (exit soapbox).

Anyone who knows me knows that I just haven't been feeling well for the past 6 months. But why? I had this sinking suspicion that it was being caused by dietary issues, but even with my best Nancy Drew practices, it was purely speculation and I wasn't really getting anywhere.  Finally, I gave in and went to the doc.  The gastroenterologist wanted me to add gluten back into my diet, and then a month later go in for an endoscopy to check for celiac disease, gastritis  h pylori bacteria (the bacteria that causes ulcers, gastritis, etc), etc.  I went in for that on Monday and the doc said everything looked great. They took a few biopsies and I will get the results in a week or so.

I also went to a doctor who took my blood panel and sent it off to the Meridian Valley Lab for iGg and iGe testing.  The trick was finding this test - it's not covered by insurance, it's not offered by an allergist or a gastroenterologist.  I found it at the Metro Center Health Center, which specializes in chiropractic, headaches, allergies, and hormonal issues.  The test checks your blood for antibodies having either an immediate (iGe) or delayed (iGg) reaction and breaks it down into low, moderate, and severe classifications so you can determine which foods to avoid. This test helps determine particular foods that might be causing undesirable daily symptoms, migraines, IBS, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.  One theory my gastroenterologist had was that I may have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) that is not only flared up by certain foods, but by stress.  Well, fine. But if that's my diagnosis, it doesn't actually tell me what foods are doing it, and IBS isn't curable.  IBS is almost often caused by food intolerance and food sensitives   If I can narrow it down and avoid the foods, I can kill two birds with one stone.  The test cost me $700.00. Here is more information on the test and the differences in allergic reactions:

$700.00 well spent.  Here's what it came back with:

"Low" sensitive foods are not a big deal unless I eat them every day.  In this fell things like corn, shrimp, almonds, avocado, soybeans, chocolate, a bunch of spices, pistachios, cashews, kale, pinto beans, zucchini and yams (there were a lot but these were the highest).  Since I don't eat any of these items on a daily basis, I'll just be careful. The only ones I'll have to watch are soy, kale, and zucchini. I love them all.

"Moderate" foods are to be watched as they may or may not be causing a problem. The reaction is high enough to keep an eye on, but I can test them sooner.  The test: Eliminate for 3-6 months and then try to re-introduce and test for reaction.  So, I will be avoiding the following items:

  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Green Beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Brewer's yeast (no big deal, I don't drink beer)
  • Mushrooms (sad face) 
  • Spelt 
  • Paprika
  • Poppy seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Alfalfa
  • Water chestnuts
  • Tapioca (I'm nervous about this one, since it's a common ingredient in gluten free goods)
"Severe" foods are to be eliminated completely, but tested for at least 6 months prior to reintroducing:
I had a major reaction to several foods.  So, I will not be eating the following:
  • All dairy (cow and goat), especially cheese, casein, cottage cheese, and milk.
  • Eggs (my reactions were so far off the chart it wasn't even funny). Major sad face.
  • Gluten 
  • Navy beans (random. I don't think I even eat them).
Seeing as how we are about to be on the road for a week and traveling over the holidays, I decided to start my full elimination diet starting on January 1st.  I will just try to choose my food wisely and try not to flare my stomach up too bad in the meantime.


I'm tired of being sick, and I'm tired of complaining about it.  Cooking at home will be no problem, but the reality of the situation is that its almost impossible to go out to eat anywhere.  I'm glad I have scientific proof of what's going on, and hope this is the start of finding the root of the problem, and making this all stop.  I am confident that 2013 means I will finally feel better.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Still going!

Now that the dust has settled from the race, I am relatively caught up on sleep, my overzealous appetite has calmed down a bit, and my leg is feeling much better, I am officially ready to start running again.  

My leg feels great. It occasionally gets fatigued when I am on my feet a lot (especially in heels), but it's a tiny bit of soreness instead of a debilitating pain.  I had both an xray and an ultrasound, and there were no signs of fracture of muscle damage. There was only inflammation along the tibia bone, which I already knew, so I was told to continue resting, icing, etc.  It has been a month since the race and I feel like I have sufficiently taken enough time off from running and am ready to get back in the game.  I keep seeing runners everywhere and I am so jealous of them when I drive by.  It's such a great stress release and a wonderful way to clear my mind.  Plus, the weather is amazing right now - I want to take advantage of this!  The positive side of this is that if my leg is sore, I can afford to take the time off, as opposed to being stuck in the middle of a strict training schedule that did not allow for such things.  

I haven't been taking time off completely.   I took about a week off after the race, and then have been going to the gym to work on my cardio/endurance and overall strength.  I'm up to 4-5 days/week.  It feels amazing to see the changes in my body over the past 6 months, and I am inspired by it and excited to see how much change can occur in the next year prior to the next training cycle. By next year, I should have a lot more muscle and therefore be less likely to injure myself.

What I've learned:
  • If I don't think about it, I don't succeed at it.  This means I need to plan my workouts for the week, and my food.  
  • Motivation is key. I've "liked" a bunch of fitness groups on Facebook so that their motivational pictures and quotes are there in my news feeds.  This is a great thing to see over and over, especially right before I pass the cookie tray at work.
  • Only you are responsible for yourself.  I was so lucky to have such an amazing and reliable training partner getting ready for the Half Marathon.  Since the race, we've both gone back to our normal lives since everything pretty much went on hold for 16 weeks.  With the holidays and cold/flu season, our schedules haven't been the same on a weekly basis.  Only I can be responsible for myself, my health, and the end result.  Just because my training partner takes a day off doesn't mean that I automatically get to.  This train of thought has really helped me, even when I'm tired and would rather lounge on the couch.  
  • Recovery.  Massages, ice/heat packs, hot tubs, and epson salt baths are not just for pampering.  These are equally as important as hydrating and eating before/after the workout, and make a huge difference on my overall health during strict workout weeks.  I HAVE to cut to down on my dependency on ibuprofen - I fear that this was part of the reason my stomach was so flared up on the days leading up to the Half Marathon.  I also need to get back to taking a multi-vitamin, as these nutrients will also aid in recovery as well.  
  • Races!  Getting dates on the calendar already are helping me keep motivated and helping me get geared up for 2013.
So! Going to start with 1-2 runs/week to get back into the swing of things, just to make sure my leg is ready.  We are going to schedule one longer run (maybe 5-6 miles) before Christmas so we are getting in at least one long run per month.  I think this is perfectly reasonable and will help keep us going.  We're also running the BJALCF Your Next Step is the Cure: Santa Hustle 5k on the 15th! Should be fun and we get Santa hats :)

We're also doing the Resolution Run 5k in January and I'm super excited! It's the race that began it all, and I am hoping to get some other people to join us:

*Picture courtesy of: