Friday, July 29, 2011

Not what I was expecting, but I'll take it

I went gluten free five years ago.  Up to that point I had been sick for many years, and bounced from doctor to doctor, all of whom tried to throw different drugs at me to minimize my symptoms, without finding an underlying cause.  When I finally realized my problem was gluten, I gave it up cold turkey and never looked back. 

The change in my life was instantaneous!  I felt better immediately, and within 72 hours, I honestly was a new person.  Hallelujah!  Now we can go on with life, right?

Well, um, not quite.  After a couple of months, some of my symptoms returned.  I examined my diet, and knew I wasn't eating any gluten, so I went looking for other things.  Soon I had it - soy was the culprit.  Whew.  Not quite the amazing transformation, but definite improvement in my overall well-being.  Okay, soy is out.  Now, back to this life thing...

Ah, wait a minute...I sense a pattern developing here.  To give you the condensed version, I ended up cutting out gluten, soy, all legumes, poultry, nightshades, most fruits, and many vegetables.  I also have a reaction if I eat any food that lists "artificial flavorings" or "natural flavorings" on the label, which means almost no processed foods. 

In the last year, a few of these intolerances have lessened in severity.  For instance, I can now eat small quantities of poultry, and some nightshades are okay in small doses.  But for the most part, I'm still pretty restricted on what I can eat.

And that's okay.  I really didn't mind a lot...well, sometimes I did, but I usually got over it...until I started having issues again earlier this year.  I put on an alarming amount of weight in a short time, I had digestive issues, skin problems, and all the old symptoms.  I just couldn't figure out what was going on.

Basically I had gotten to the point (again!) where I needed to do something drastic.  I even tried another elimination diet a few months ago, with no success.  I seemed to be reacting to everything.

Now, I had heard about paleo, the caveman diet, whatever you want to call it, for years now.  And I had considered it, really, I had.  But I just couldn't fathom giving up my rice, corn, and dairy. (And don't even talk to me about sugar!) Not after losing almost every other food out there that I could eat. Then I found out about the Primal Blueprint

Yeah, yeah, you've been hearing me talk about it for a while now, so I won't get all gushy.  You can go to the site or leave a question in the comments if you want to know more.  But what I realized was this - the list of foods that our ancestors ate are eerily similar to the list of foods that don't give me any reactions.  And the minds over at the Primal Blueprint are of the opinion that if you can stomach dairy, it's probably okay to eat it.  Score!  But rice, corn, and sugar are still out.  Awww...

Still, I had to try it.  And when I try something, I go all the way.  So two weeks ago I dove in and gave up all rice, corn, and sugar.  Then an amazing thing happened.

I stopped being hungry all the time.  And when I say all the time, I mean I was hungry All. The. Time.  That went away overnight.  The mystery stomach aches, skin problems, and bloating followed after a few days.  In a week, I dropped 5 lbs of water weight, while stuffing my face constantly with food.  I haven't been hungry, I haven't been bloated, I haven't been cranky, and I haven't been fatigued for days.  I think the last time I felt this way was, oh, about 5 years ago, when I gave up gluten.

Yay, this is great, except...crap!  I really like rice and corn and sugar!  I haven't tested them yet, so I don't know if my body is just happier grain free, or if I have an actual reaction to rice and corn (don't even talk to me about sugar).  That remains to be seen.  But if I don't have overt reactions, all is not lost.

While the primal lifestyle is grain free, it doesn't mean I have to give them up 100%.  One thing I love about primal is that it recognizes that sometimes, things don't go as planned and that's okay.  They actually encourage a 100% attempt at compliance, realizing that if you hit at least 80%, you're doing pretty good.  So if I want to make brownies with rice flour (and sugar!) to take to a pot luck, and I want to eat one, it's going to be okay.  I just can't eat the whole pan anymore.  Which is probably for the better...

Anyhow, my point with this essay here isn't to convert you to the primal lifestyle. (Though it is simply awesome to eat as much butter and bacon as I want, every single day, and not gain an ounce. Stop worrying about my cholesterol, I eat tons of veggies each day, too.)

No, what I'm getting at is that if you continue to have health problems after going gluten free, keep digging.  If you have one food intolerance already, it's not unusual to have others.  Yes, eating things your body doesn't like can cause all sorts of problems with your health and well-being. No, drugs are not always the answer, no matter what your doctor says. If you really examine your diet, you may not like what you find, and you may hate the idea of giving up rice or sugar or apples, or whatever it turns out to be that's causing you problems. But let me tell you, once you feel better, it's all worth it.  Really.

By the way, everyone knows I'm not a doctor right?  And that this is all my personal opinion, based on my personal experiences.  And that I'm not dispensing medical advice here.  I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The worst is over, I think

It's a dreary day today in south Florida, but my dark clouds have a silver lining - my hamstring is definitely on the mend. 

In case you remember last week's post, I was going to try to run last Sunday.  This would have been my first run in two weeks.  I say "would have been" because, you guessed it, it didn't happen. 

I woke up Saturday morning with a definite soreness in my hammy.  It has been coming and going a lot since I finally decided to lay off of it, but that morning it was definitely here.  I made the difficult decision to bag any exercise over the weekend, including a much needed and anticipated walk.  Oh, how I miss walking!  But I didn't do it.

Actually, I fudged there a bit.  I didn't go out for an organized walk.  I did, however, go visit a couple of furniture stores (we need a patio table and chairs).  Okay, I think there were 4 total stops.  There was much sitting going on (gotta test those chairs), as well as wandering around showroom floors, and walking to and from the car to the stores.  Not what you call a great amount of exercise...but it added up. 

By the end of the afternoon my hamstring was burning.  It felt so weird!  It also reminded me that this whole healing thing is a long process.  Since then, I've planted my tushy back down on the couch, and have continued to take it easy.

And it's finally paying off.  Since Saturday, it has gotten progressively better, to the point that I only notice some tightness when lifting heavy things (using my legs as stabilizers) and when twisting. 

So right now, my Saturday run is back on.  Tomorrow I'm planning a gentle outdoor walk, to loosen things up for the first time in three weeks.  No running, just some longer strides and feeling things out.  And if things go well, I'll be doing a gentle 3 mile run on Saturday.

I'm so excited about that I could just about squee...

Monday, July 25, 2011

My best inspiration for writing

The other day I read a blog article about finding inspiration for your writing. Called 3 Techniques to Coming Up With Great Ideas, it is by Jody Calkin, who has a great blog on writing.  Check it out, she has many great tips for writers!

After reading her tips (and trying out the first one) I remembered one of my own great sources of inspiration: Read something.  Read everything.  Read anything.  Just read.

I'm not claiming to have invented this, by the way.  I've seen in mentioned several other places.  But it definitely bears repeating.

When I write, I tend to get caught up in my own little world.  And that world, just like the big one around me, needs outside stimulus.  I find the best way to get that is to read what others have written.

Personally, articles are my favorite.  I love books of all shape, size and genre, but I tend to get caught up in them.  The next thing I know, it's dinner time and I haven't gotten anything done all day.  If I have a deadline, I need to stay away from the library!  But between my email inbox and the blogs I follow, I have an abundant supply of idea generating materials.

Short snippets of information, like articles, blog posts, even Facebook and Twitter, can really get the creative juices going.  Well-written pieces give me inspiration and help increase my own technical ability; pieces that are less well-written make me want to edit them, which is also a useful practice-writing exercise.

It doesn't matter what I read about.  I never know what's going to spark an idea.  For instance, the most interesting thing I've read so far today is Your Grandmother was a Neanderthal.  Now, I don't know if I'll ever use the topic of the article, which is about our DNA and the ancestral link to a now extinct species.  Not exactly what I write about normally...  But you never know when it will spark something. 

In a roundabout way, I suppose you could say that because that article made me think about how I could use it, and made me examine why I wanted to write about it at all, it helped inspire this blog post. 

Seriously, you just never know where those ideas are lurking...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it really too much to expect?

Today's post is food related, though not specifically related to gluten.  However, transparancy in food labeling can only ultimately benefit us all.

I read an interesting article today on food labeling in the meat industry.  Meat is one of my favorite things these days since going Primal, so I sat up and took notice.

Mystery Meat No More?

The USDA has proposed a requirement that any additives or enhancements added to meat products be CLEARLY stated in the name of the product (emphasis added by me).

Currently, extra ingredients must be listed, but are often in teeny, tiny print.  I have often noticed and complained about this.  As someone who reacts to all sorts of things that are added to foods as "flavor enhancements," nothing, including meat products, goes into my grocery cart unless the label has been triple checked.  I am looking forward to the new labels, because they will make my life a lot easier.

Just to be clear, I don't have a problem with salt and water being added to a chicken.  Juicy chicken is a good thing.  I just prefer that everything we eat be additive free.  So the new labeling rules will make it easier for me to ensure that the only thing in my chicken, beef or pork is chicken, beef, or pork.  I do know people that specifically buy injected meats, because they like the flavor and texture.  And that's cool, too.  Now they will have an easier time of picking out the cuts they want.

What I do have a problem with is how companies seem to be trying to hide this information.  By printing their additive lists in microscopic print, it appears they are trying to pull one over on their customers. And that's not cool.

After all, when I find out someone is trying to hide one thing from me, I start wondering what other things they are trying to hide from me.  I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Still waiting to heal...

Still not running.  The sore hamstring is getting better, albeit slowly, and I've been trying very hard not to do anything to aggravate it. 

I'm hoping for a tiny run/walk session on Sunday, but we'll see.  I have to let this heal now, or my November marathon debut will be cancelled.

I can hardly stand the wait!

In the meantime, I'm working on the 100 Pushup Challenge.  Because muscular arms are sexier than flabby ones.  Or so I hear...

"Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive. Every morning a lion wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter if you are the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up, you better be moving." - Maurice Greene (attributed to Roger Bannister shortly after running the first sub-4 mile)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two things...

"People often tell me that motivation doesn't last, and I tell them that bathing doesn't either. That's why I recommend it daily." ~ Zig Ziglar

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." ~ Lao-tzu

Motivation and action are required for anything you want to achieve in life. And I know that, but I’ve been ignoring it.

No more inertia. Time to get my butt in gear!

Also - I am slowly (but surely) joining the twenty-first century.  Follow me on Twitter!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Toaster bags, a way to have your toast and eat it, too

I'm so happy that today is Friday, because that means that I get to write about being gluten free.  And today I have something cool to write about...

My toaster bags arrived!

I wrote about these things last week.  Basically, they are these little bags designed to go into a toaster.  Okay, I know, it's not world peace.  But for those of us who are gluten free, it allows us to use a toaster that has been used to toast gluten containing bread.  Which normally, we can't do, because of the cross-contamination risk.

This may not be a big deal for you at home.  It's not for me either; we have a gluten-free household.  But when you travel...

See where I'm going with this? 

We have often stayed in hotels where there was a kitchenette in the the room, or a dining area where communal breakfast was served.  These places often have toasters.  Before toaster bags, those toasters were strictly for the gluten crowd.  But now, hey, we can use them, too!

These will also be great when staying at a friend's or relative's house.  Now I can tote along gluten-free bread and be able to enjoy it.  Before, I would leave the bread at home in the freezer, because, well, you know what gluten-free bread is like when it's not toasted.

So how do they work?  As you can see from the photo, they are little bags that act as a sleeve, protecting whatever is in them from coming into contact with the interior of the toaster.  They are made out of some sort of heat resistant material that looks like a tightly woven mesh.  They are reusable, and can be washed either by hand or in the dishwasher.

And do they toast?  Um, well, I don't know yet.  (They just got here!) 

It looks like I'll be baking bread over the weekend to test them.  I also want to try toasting a few other things with them.  According to the directions, you can cook bacon, burgers, french fries, and other things in them.  Not that I would be doing that in a hotel toaster, but hey...  And I know that as soon as David reads this, he's going to go all Mythbusters on me and want to try baking a pie or something in them. 

So that's the latest on my new toaster bags.  Stay tuned for an update on how well they work, either here or on my other blog, Li loves David.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Going nowhere...for now

Today is supposed to be a post about running, or fitness, or something like that.

But I just don't want to do it.

I managed to restrain my already sore hamstring on Saturday.  I'm not sure what happened, but it may have something to do with the fact that I never really gave it a chance to heal.  Maybe. Possibly.

So this time my hubby sat me down and ordered advised me to just completely rest it for a couple of weeks.  I whined about it discussed it with him and came to the conclusion that he was right.  I need to heal this thing up, and the light activity I was doing was just too much.

That means for now, no running.  No walking.  No elliptical machine.  I'm even trying to not walk on it as much around the house.

This stinks.  But I want to run again, and soon, so I'm going to do it.  Most importantly, I need to run again so I can pick up my marathon training again.  And if I don't start up again in the next few weeks, a 2011 race is out of the question.

And that is NOT an option.

In the meantime, I've started the 100 Pushup Training Program.  I don't like it.  Why?  Well, to begin with, it involves pushups.  And I have weenie arms.  I think you can put together on your own why I am less than enthused...

But I'm doing it.  And I'm going to do 100 pushups. Eventually.  I just finished Day 2 of Week 1, so I have a ways to go. 

At least it's something to keep my mind occupied...

Okay, enough of that, time for a positive attitude!  Yay, pushups!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lost: Mojo (1)

I have no motivation. 

Is it the summer blahs?  The idonwannas? Jupiter aligning with Mars?

I don't know.  But I just can't seem to get anything done

Articles sit in my head, waiting to be channeled through my fingertips onto the computer screen.  Coursework goes undone.  Laundry sits in the hamper, and the cat hasn't been brushed in I don't know how long.

It's bad.

Today I tried moving my work station to a new spot.  Jimmy Buffet is a proponent of a change in latitude leading to a change in attitude, or something like that.  So I thought I'd give it a try.

I also made a list, which got partially completed.  But at least I have a record of what I want to accomplish right there in front of me.

And finally, I opened my productivity log, which I haven't looked at since mumble mumble.

Did any of this help?  Maybe.  A little.  I think so.  It's a step back in the right direction.  And a step, however little, is better than nothing.

If anyone has any suggestions for motivation, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Toaster bags for gluten-free living

Yes, I know, this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but...well, it wasn't.

So here it is today.

This morning I was ordering something off of Amazon, and I was a little short of the $25 threshold for free shipping.  Don't you hate that?  I didn't want to pay for shipping, so I thought for a while about what else I needed, and it dawned on me...

Toastabags Two Reusable Non-Stick Sandwich/Snack "In Toaster" Grilling BagsToaster bags!  I've been meaning to try these things for a while.  And finally I remembered them when I needed to push my order over the shipping threshold. 

If you're not familiar with them, toaster bags allow you to toast your gluten-free bread without fear of cross contamination.  Evidently, they make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches, too.  I think they'll be great for traveling and such.

They should be here in a week or so.  At that time, I'll give them a go and report back.  Can't wait!

In the meantime, if you've used these, please write a comment and let me know what you thought.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wish I'd seen this two weeks ago...

"Being in a hurry is a sure fire way to injury. Slow down. Take your time. Do the work. The finish line will still be there."
~Slow Runners Club

Maybe I'll remember that before my next injury...

The good news is my hamstring is reacting favorably to walking.  So we're doing lots of that.  The bad news is it still isn't crazy about running, so this week's 9 miler was cancelled.  Oh well.  I have 10.5 miles to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July musings

With the holiday, there's not much going on here today.  A few movies, a bit of reading, some general lazing around, and a barbecue, and I call this day a success. 

One thing I wanted to write about today was that I have been in an awful mood, and I've been taking it out on cyber-space.  Back in May I wrote about giving up negativity. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time.  But the idea seemed to get shoved aside in a hurry as soon as I had some stress enter my life.  Funny how that happens...

I still think it's a good idea, however.  So I'm renewing my efforts to drive negativity out of my head.  At least a bit.  So as of now, and for the next month, no more negative posts. Nothing but positive news here.

And bunnies.  Because bunnies are cute. 

Happy 4th!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gluten is NOT nutritious

I feel a big rant coming on.  I haven't been able to run since Monday, due to a strained hamstring, and I'm seriously endorphin-deprived.  I can't get to my happy place, haven't had my moment of zen, and no longer possess inner peace. 

You have been warned.

(begin rant)

I hereby declare war on all doctors and dietitians!

No, I don't.  (They outnumber me.)  But I want to...

I just read again this morning, for the umpteenth time, a dietitian saying that following a gluten-free diet, if you don't need to, can lead to nutritional deficiencies.  I have read this (and heard this firsthand) from so many people in the medical profession over the past several years, and it boggles my mind each and every time.

Seriously, how effing stupid can they be?

Gluten is a sticky protein.  It makes breads elastic and causes things to better stick together.  Gluten is NOT necessary to human survival.  Human beings existed healthily for millions of years before wheat, barley and rye were first domesticated, and will continue to exist healthily for millions of years after the gluten industry lobby has finally been destroyed. 

If you do not eat gluten, you will not die.  You will not develop rickets, or scurvy, or shingles; beriberi, goiters, or the Heebie-Jeebies.

In fact, nothing bad will happen to you at all if you do not eat gluten.  Ever.

If you are developing nutritional deficiencies, then you are not eating foods that contain proper nutrition, regardless of their gluten content.  Period. And dietitians and doctors should know that.  Seriously, I would bet that most people who are gluten free eat far healthier than those who don't.  When you have to read every label on your food, you become much more discriminating about what you put in your body.

Frankly, if a medical professional ever tells you that eating gluten-free is bad for your health, I suggest you run away screaming.  Who knows what other falsehoods they believe?

(end rant)

By the way...

If I am wrong and gluten itself contains some nutritional substance without which the human race will not survive, please let me know.  Enlighten me!  I will happily proclaim my own ignorance and assert someone else's superiority in this very blog.