Adventures in FODMAPs

This week, I started a FODMAP elimination diet. It has been quite an adventure, not in a good way. I want to start out with a little information on how I got to this point, but if you don’t care, skip to part two, I decided to make it a separate entry. 🙂

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Left – summer of 2009, Right – fall 2016

My current weight loss journey really began in late 2008 when I had what I now call “a nervous breakdown.” I was working full time, 8-5 monday through friday, and I was a full time undergraduate student, taking classes at night. I also started volunteering so my life was beyond full, every minute was taken up by something. It became rather stressful, but I was holding it together until my parents announced that they were getting a divorce. It also is important to note that I was dating a person who was emotionally and psychologically abusive. About three weeks after my parents announced their divorce, right before Christmas, I just didn’t get out of bed one morning. I didn’t call in sick to work, I just didn’t go. I turned off my cell phone and went back to sleep and didn’t listen to my voicemails for about 4 days. I felt like I had lost the ability to function. After a day or two of not calling anyone back, I obviously couldn’t go back to my job, although I did go back to pick up my personal items from my desk and I gave the owner a card of apology. I decided that I would live on student loans and focus on school and as it turned out taking care of both of my parents. My mother was an emotional mess, since she didn’t want a divorce, and my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer a few months after they split. Emotionally and mentally, this was the lowest low of my life, I was giving everything to my parents and had hardly any emotional energy left for myself. I spent a LOT of time lying in bed eating fried chicken. I told myself “I deserve this fried chicken because I feel so bad right now.” I made it to the heaviest I have ever been in 2009. I never weighed myself but my guess is it was around 215-225. fatpic

It was during that time, in the spring of 2009 that I started developing really upsetting GI issues. I was under a lot of stress with school and my parents, my dad started dating AND had kidney cancer. I remember distinctly a lunch with my dad and his girlfriend where I felt like my stomach was tied up in really painful knots so all I could order was a green salad with grilled chicken and I just picked at it with barely any appetite. Then, near the end of the meal, I had to run to the bathroom. I have never been a “use the bathroom for more than  peeing” type of person but I had the urgent need to go. That was the beginning of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome type symptoms. I have never actually been diagnosed with IBS/IBD because 2009 was also the beginning of a long period where I had no type of health insurance, so I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. If you have IBS/IBD, or any GI issues, you understand the hyper-vigilance that comes with never being sure when you might desperately need to use the bathroom. You have to always know where a bathroom is, anyplace that you go you are constantly making sure that you know where a restroom is. That same year I went on a trip to New Orleans with friends and I remember sitting outside, on the steps across from Jackson Square eating beignets from Cafe du Monde and saying “I am going to the bathroom, I’ll be right back” and desperately searching for a restroom in a town full of places with no public restrooms.

When I started trying to get healthier and lose the weight in 2010, I was pretty successful but I noticed that I was tired ALL THE TIME. Fatigue became a permanent part of my life. Even though I eventually lost a total of 40 pounds, my life was ruled by the fatigue – I would get up, work out, and then have to go take a nap because I was so tired. Friends that have fibromyalgia told me that this was similar to what they went through, but I’ve never had any other symptoms of fibro. I googled and read everything that I suspected it could be I didn’t meet the criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome, or anything else I could find. I was just someone with IBS who was tired all the freaking time. Weight loss and healthier eating helped some, but I have never managed to shake at least mild fatigue for the last seven years. During the last 6-7 years I have lost and gained and re-lost dozens of pounds, managing to stay under 200 (for the most part) but never getting any lower than about 182. My IBS symptoms are mostly managed by healthy living and stress reduction but they resurface when I am under severe stress, like recently when I was laid off from my job. I experienced a surge in symptoms after I was laid off, which is very frustrating because the year and a half out of the last decade that I DID have insurance, I didn’t use it to go to a GI doctor because my symptoms were pretty well managed. Frustrated, I decided now is the best time to get my symptoms under control and hopefully conquer this fatigue which it’s hard now to remember a time that I wasn’t tired all the time. I decided to try the FODMAP elimination to identify which foods cause me trouble. For more about the details of FODMAP, read part two.

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Getting back on track

In the last ten months, a lot has happened! Some really good – I met and got into a relationship with a wonderful man whom I love very deeply; I graduated from grad school with a Master’s in Social Work; and some not so good – unfortunately I gained 16 pounds. 😦

I didn’t intend, as I’m sure no one does, to gain “new relationship weight.” I definitely didn’t plan on slacking off on my workouts and eating ridiculous amounts of processed food and wheat again, but that’s what ended up happening. I started out that my boyfriend didn’t really cook much, so when he made me super highly processed packaged ramen, something I would normally never put in my body, it was so sweet that I ate it. When he made grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, I ate it.

Of course, I did stick to some of my more rigid dietary choices; I definitely didn’t start eating meat again even though he was a pretty big meat eater when we started dating. Part of my not eating meat is a moral thing though, so that made it easier. Little by little, he started trying vegetables and learning to cook things like quinoa and grilled salmon. As it turns out, he’s a pretty amazing cook, he rarely uses a recipe unless I send him one on pinterest. He hadn’t been an adventurous eater at ALL and like a lot of men had simply refused to try vegetables but I got tired of him saying “I don’t know…” ever time I asked if he liked something, so I started giving him bites of stuff that I was eating. He was quite surprised to learn he actually kind of likes zucchini and that artichoke did not kill him. Unfortunately, his apartment is right down the street from Baskin-Robbins and I also started indulging my love of their reece’s peanut butter cup ice cream a bit too much. Overall, 16 pounds in 10 months is not the worst thing that could happen, but I’d rather have not gained it at all. So now I’m pushing 200 pounds again and my fitness level is something that makes me really start to mentally beat myself up. But I’m not going to do that!

Grilled Salmon Salad that my boyfriend made me!

The one good thing is that I know what I need to do, I just haven’t been doing it. Grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream and gobs & gobs of pasta all taste amazing but there’s no way to eat that way all the time and stay healthy. Unfortunately for me that means weight gain, in addition to really not being healthy. So back to clean eating and working out regularly. It can be really demoralizing to lose weight that one has already lost and re-gained. I’ve lost and gained and lost this 16 pounds before. (check out my “how I lost 30 pounds” post.) Every time I lose it I say that I’m not going to gain it back. I guess what I’ve really failed to do is making my clean eating and working out a lifestyle. Truthfully, I don’t love exercise. I do love a salad with grilled wild salmon on it though, and as the memes say: Abs are made in the kitchen not the gym. How we eat is very, very important both for weight loss and for overall health. I do want to make this something that sticks this time. I’m not sure how to keep from being derailed except to be more mindful about it. It’s all a journey, so I figure it’s time to learn whatever lesson I’m not getting. Maybe to quit turning to sugar when I’m sad and when I’m happy!

Here’s the plan:

    • Log everything I eat in the SparkPeople app
    • At least ten minutes of some kind of exercise every day. I will add more to that later, but right now all I’m “requiring” of myself is to do something for ten minutes. It’s easier to convince yourself to move if you say “I only have to do ten minutes.” and it’s pretty easy to make yourself keep going after ten minutes.
    • Clean eating – back to what I know. The less processed the better. No more ramen; only sprouted grain wheat products and limiting those quite a bit; balanced protein and veggie-heavy meals. Healthy snacks.
    • Sweets only on the weekend, and only ONE THING. I’ve gotten bad about having a frapuccino and other stuff too, knowing full well a frapuccino is basically a milkshake.
    • Balance meals that aren’t as healthy with ones that are. No “cheat meal” if I want pasta I plan for it and adjust throughout the day.

Citrus mineral water, interesting swap for plain water

That’s basically it because that’s basically what is needed. Paying attention and saying “no” to bad stuff is what I had stopped doing and I have to start doing it again. One thing I’ve already done is giving up diet soda. In grad school, I started drinking it again but two weeks ago I started brewing green tea for the week and drinking that unsweetened instead of diet soda. I’ve also realized I love cucumbers, so I have been eating half a cucumber with some salad dressing for a mid-morning snack every day. I also organized my pinterest boards. I realized that having 300 recipes on a “healthy food” board was too overwhelming and difficult to find things, so I broke them down to categories like healthy shrimp, healthy sweets, quinoa and tofu, etc. This makes it a lot easier to find a great, clean eating recipe based on what sounds good at that moment. My boyfriend made this Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa Bake and it turned out so good he made a stovetop version of it for his kids. They were very suspicious of it but both (10 and 15 years old) said that it was really good and they were impressed. They ate it scooped up with tortilla chips. Not the healthiest thing ever but certainly better than Taco Bell!

I’m not thrilled with myself, but I know that the best way to sabotage myself is to beat myself up and be negative. So I’m back on the healthy eating track, and I will be posting my progress! Thanks for taking this journey with me.

How I lost 30 pounds

How I lost 30 pounds

 

Because I know some people are going to want to know how I lost the first 30 pounds, I’m going ahead and including it here. Clean eating and exercise is the bottom line. The more blogs and instagram pages and facebook pages you read, you WILL see a theme. There is no magical pill, there is no easy fix, you have to work. Eat right, and exercise.

Keep Track of your Food

I use the free SparkPeople app to count calories and activities, and I try to keep it at 1500 calories a day. Try not to go too far under 1200 calories because too few calories can be just as damaging as too many, and you may not see results. Sometimes adding 100-200 calories can help you get over a plateau.

Eat Clean, always Know what you are eating

I eat clean 90-95% of the time. At the beginning I tended to eat out a lot and I realized that I was making bad choices at restaurants too often. It doesn’t work to indulge only in a restaurant if you’re eating in a restaurant 3-4 times per week. Takeout counts too! ALWAYS know what you’re eating. If the restaurant is a chain, it will have nutrition calories listed. My motto is that I can eat it but I have to eat it mindfully. If a meal is 1,200 and I really want to do that? Ok but I’m going to go into it knowing it’s nearly a day’s worth of calories. Ask for things to not be cooked with butter, some restaurants put butter on everything. Don’t eat the bread, if possible ask they don’t even bring it. Make the restaurant meal your cheat meal, but again you still have to be mindful about it. A cheat meal isn’t an opportunity to gorge one’s self on chemical crap.

Keep temptations and crap food out of the house

I don’t keep chemical crap and/or sweets in the house. If I have cookies, I will eat cookies. If I really want ice cream, and I have to leave the house to get it, I’m less likely to eat it. I do like sweets and I try to keep healthier choices in the house – No sugar added Edy’s fruit pops are a favorite of mine. I also love Halo Top ice cream, which is sweetened with stevia. Stay clean with it though! Artificial sweeteners, aspartame, even splenda (yes sorry!) are just as bad a sugar, but in a different way. Don’t go to the supermarket and grab the “diet” ice cream and candy and cookies. Don’t buy processed “fruit” snacks that don’t actually contain fruit (apple juice concentrate as the 10th ingredient isn’t a good, healthy thing!) Don’t buy gluten free crackers that have 30 ingredients you’ve never heard of in them. Clean eating is some substitutions but some things you can’t really recreate. Minimally processed is the norm of a clean eating diet – and if I just have to have a kitkat, I will eat a kitkat not a diet kitkat knock-off.

It’s tougher now that I live with a teenager, but what I have done that works really well is not having a bunch of crap food around for him either. He picks one or two things that he has around and I don’t touch them because that would be really unfair. I may eat one chocolate chip cookie if he bakes chocolate chip cookies but It would be rude to eat his food. Things he or my boyfriend don’t eat I’ve asked them to not bring here; my boyfriend’s mom was bad about sending powdered donuts home with them but neither of them eat any! So I’ve asked them to just not bring them home to begin with.

Log activities, use a step tracker

I wear a Fitbit activity tracker and my current step goal is 10,000 per day. That’s a realistic stretch for me because I have to spend a lot of time sitting while I work, sitting at the computer, and being sedentary.

Move every day

I walk my dogs several times per week. This is good for them too because they need exercise as well! I also try to get to the walking trails near my house 2-3 times per week unless it’s the dead of summer. (We hit 100+ during a Mississippi summer.)

Do Cardio. Slow is better than not at all

For the first 30 pounds, I tried to do cardio 3 times a week, specifically this free Couch to 5k mix. I stayed on each week until I could run all of the intervals without stopping, no matter how long that took. It was slow going but that was ok!

ladies, lift weights! muscle burns more fat

I weight train 3-4 times a week. I’ve lost almost 10% body fat so even when the weight on the scale doesn’t move much it’s cool to see that body fat % go down. Women are sometimes afraid of getting too ripped but let’s be really honest here, you aren’t going to look like a body builder by lifting weights a few times a week. People have to work very hard to look like that. Check out my Workouts board on pinterest for ideas on how to start.

if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you. Get uncomfortable.

I push myself. I hate being uncomfortable and getting sweaty but you don’t see results if you don’t work hard. I do try to do things I like as opposed to things I hate though. I don’t like running, I just don’t. I’ll walk faster, for longer, than I will run. So I walk instead of running.

I’m not paid to endorse any of the things/products listed here, nor was I given any of them for free! Just fyi.

Postscript to Abusing my body with food

This is an older post that I originally posted on an old blog. I wanted to share it here too.

I wanted to make one more point that I didn’t make on my original post “Abusing My Body With Food”. I think it’s also important that when we do choose to indulge, we choose high quality foods made with fresh ingredients to indulge in. For example, instead of eating the fifty cent, couple days old cake that I bought from Kroger, I could have chosen to buy a freshly made slice of cake at Campbells, a local bakery that I love. That would’ve been a much better choice for a less than healthy “treat”.

So if you do indulge, choose something that’s good quality – don’t get the frozen pizza (even the “diet” one) instead make it yourself or buy it from a local place that uses fresh ingredients. Don’t drive-through McDonalds for a burger, go to a restaurant that uses good quality beef and will cook it to order, etc etc etc.

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Love your body

This is an old post that was originally published on an old blog. I wanted to share it here.

Every time NOW’s love your body day comes around (oct 20th), I think about writing something. i have before, but nothing here on this – rarely updated – blog. this past oct 20th i again thought about writing but did not. tonight at a friend’s house i watched ellen’s interview with portia about her new book unbearable lightness and i thought, well perhaps it is time.

over the years i have explored the concept of “loving your body” and what that means. the conclusion that i have come to is that loving your body means accepting yourself as you are; being willing to change what is realistic to change in a healthy way; but most importantly it is about health: treating yourself, your body with respect. it is not anti-fat acceptance, nor is it saying that any shape or body type is better than another, but that we treat ourselves like something that it is important. i had a hard time with the concept when i felt like i had to accept myself exactly as i was in order to be a “good feminist”. well back then i smoked, i rarely exercised, i drank alcohol heavily, and i ate badly – i was overweight because i wasn’t loving my body at all. the easy answer would be that i needed to accept myself as i was, but i got to be the way that i was precisely because i did not and have never loved my body.

i’m pretty sure that when people look at me they do not see “recovering anorexic”. i am not gaunt, i’m still about 30 pounds heavier than my ideal weight according to medical professionals/bmi even though i have lost approximately 30 pounds so far this year. i don’t have that “anorexic look” that many former anorexics in recovery have, and frankly as i look at myself sometimes i think “you are an anorexic’s worst nightmare.” that’s pretty harsh but it’s true. i’ve never had a problem with extremes, it’s the middle-ground that i have trouble with. i never got as bad as i could’ve. in fact i never dropped very far into an underweight bmi, but it’s the thinking, the rituals that are the real problem of overcoming an eating disorder, at least they were for me.

ana99i don’t have a lot of photos from when i was at my lightest, but this is one before i went out one night. that skirt is a juniors size 3/4, i know because i still have it even though i have never been able to fit into it again. this was 1999-ish, i was around age 19.

watching portia tonight, talking to ellen about her book and her experiences was a difficult a teeny bit triggering. this comes on the week where i thought to myself “salad dressing has a lot of calories. no wonder i used to just eat lettuce with salt on it. that was smart.” of course i am now at the point where i mentally recoil and go, “oh no, that was not smart at all.” still, the line between healthy weight loss and slipping back into problem thinking is a fine one, and something that has terrified me for years. i don’t know if it is unique place to be, but i’ve never heard anyone talk about it. since i stopped restricting on a regular basis, i was never really a “normal” eater, but then what is normal for a woman in america today? i remember the photo of portia that they showed, of her at 85 pounds. my sister and i subscribed to quite a few magazines as teens: seventeen, cosmo, jane, glamor, details, spin, rolling stone, and that’s not even counting those we bought of the newsstand.

when i restricted on a regular basis, i ate a lot of chocolate covered espresso beans and went to starbucks a lot. it started off rather subtle; i’d purged for a summer in high school but never binged, eventually i stopped because i hated how out of control it made me feel. restricting was different though, restricting was all about control, strength. i went back to college, and i was terrified. i had only been to a community college for one semester, and it was in my small hometown. the community college in dayton, ohio was at the time 20 buildings and a parking garage larger than my old school. i started taking a creative writing poetry class and the professor wasn’t friendly in the least. i was afraid to talk to the other students that i deemed “cool”, i was just running on fear. the professor was so critical i started having trouble keeping food down, and thus restriction was born.

–2013 note: i never finished this post and kept it as a draft. i thought i’d publish it unfinished, because i really like the first few paragraphs about loving your body.