IF I am being honest – Autoimmune Disease

This is my fourth post in my series, “IF I am being honest” – my journey to wellness by converting to the intermittent fasting lifestyle. In the last 30 plus days since my last post in this series, I had a severe case of strep throat, a double ear infection and laryngitis. While I was extremely sick for two weeks, I continued to fast a minimum of 16:8 – meaning I would fast for 16 hours and my eating window was 8 hours. The main reason I broke my OMAD (one meal a day fasting) wasn’t because I was sick, but that I needed to take an antibiotic twice a day with food. Now some people who may not buy into the IF lifestyle may think I was deathly sick because I fast every day. In fact, many people around me at work and at home were sick as well prior to my becoming ill. The interesting reflection is that I recovered more quickly than those I worked with including my husband.

I wish I could say that being sick helped me to lose weight since my last post 30 days ago. It did not. The good news is that I didn’t gain any weight either. Partly due I believe that I did not track my calories nor was I concerned about the quality of my meals (comfort food). Although I will say except the occasional handful of potato chips (no dip) and the eating ice cream twice, my meals were not as bad as prior to starting intermittent fasting.

I believe the real reason for no weight loss in the last thirty days is due to my autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is one type of autoimmune disease and here is a complete list of autoimmune diseases: https://www.aarda.org/diseaselist/.

What is an Autoimmune Disease?

The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association states on their website, “One of the functions of the immune system is to protect the body by responding to invading microorganisms, such as viruses or bacteria, by producing antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes (types of white blood cells). Under normal conditions, an immune response cannot be triggered against the cells of one’s own body. In some cases, however, immune cells make a mistake and attack the very cells that they are meant to protect. This can lead to a variety of autoimmune diseases. They encompass a broad category of related diseases in which the person’s immune system attacks his or her own tissue.”

Per WebMD, the most common types of autoimmune disorders and diseases:

• Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
• Systemic lupus erythematosus (Lupus)
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Type 1 diabetes mellitus
• Guillain-Barre syndrome
• Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
• Psoriasis.
• Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
• Myasthenia gravis
• Vasculitis

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

This letter from “Thyroid Sexy” Facebook page perfectly sums up what it means for a person, who like me struggles with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease.

Hi. My name is Hashimoto’s.

I’m an invisible autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid gland causing you to become hypothyroid. I am now velcroed to you for life. If you have hypothyroidism, you probably have me. I am the number one cause of it in the U.S. and many other places around the world.

I’m so sneaky–I don’t always show up in your blood work.
Others around you can’t see me or hear me, but YOUR body feels me.
I can attack you anywhere and any way I please.
I can cause severe pain or, if I’m in a good mood, I can just cause you to ache all over.
Remember when you and energy ran around together and had fun?
I took energy from you and gave you exhaustion. Try to have fun now.
I can take good sleep from you and in its place, give you brain fog and lack of concentration.
I can make you want to sleep 24/7, and I can also cause insomnia.
I can make you tremble internally or make you feel cold or hot when everyone else feels normal.
I can also give you swollen hands and feet, swollen face and eyelids, swollen everything.
I can make you feel very anxious with panic attacks or very depressed. I can also cause other mental health problems. You know, crazy mood swings? That’s me. Crying for no reason? Angry for no reason? That’s probably me too.
I can make your hair fall out, become dry and brittle, cause acne, cause dry skin, the sky is the limit with me.
I can make you gain weight and no matter what you eat or how much you exercise; I can keep that weight on you. I can also make you lose weight. I don’t discriminate.
Some of my other autoimmune disease friends often join me, giving you even more to deal with.
If you have something planned, or are looking forward to a great day, I can take that away from you.
You didn’t ask for me. I chose you for various reasons:
That virus or viruses you had that you never really recovered from, or that car accident, or maybe it was the years of abuse and trauma (I thrive on stress.) You may have a family history of me. Whatever the cause, I’m here to stay.

I hear you’re going to see a doctor to try and get rid of me. That makes me laugh. Just try. You will have to go to many, many doctors until you find one who can help you effectively.
You will be put on the wrong medication for you, pain pills, sleeping pills, energy pills, told you are suffering from anxiety or depression, given anti-anxiety pills and antidepressants.

There are so many other ways I can make you sick and miserable, the list is endless – that high cholesterol, gall bladder issue, blood pressure issue, blood sugar issue, heart issue among others? That’s probably me.
Can’t get pregnant or have had a miscarriage?
That’s probably me too.
Shortness of breath or “air hunger?” Yep, probably me.
Liver enzymes elevated? Yep, probably me.
Teeth and gum problems? TMJ?
Hives? Yep, probably me.
I told you the list was endless.

You may be given a TENs unit, get massaged, told if you just sleep and exercise properly, I will go away. You’ll be told to think positively, you’ll be poked, prodded, and MOST OF ALL, not taken seriously when you try to explain to the endless number of doctors you’ve seen, just how debilitating I am and how ill and exhausted you really feel. In all probability you will get a referral from these ‘understanding’ (clueless) doctors, to see a psychiatrist.

Your family, friends and co-workers will all listen to you until they just get tired of hearing about how I make you feel, and just how debilitating I can be. Some of them will say things like “Oh, you are just having a bad day” or “Well, remember, you can’t do the things you used to do 20 YEARS ago”, not hearing that you said 20 DAYS ago. They’ll also say things like, “if you just get up and move, get outside and do things, you’ll feel better.” They won’t understand that I take away the ‘gas’ that powers your body and mind to ENABLE you to do those things.

Some will start talking behind your back, they’ll call you a hypochondriac, while you slowly feel that you are losing your dignity, trying to make them understand, especially if you are in the middle of a conversation with a “normal” person, and can’t remember what you were going to say next. You’ll be told things like, “Oh, my grandmother had that, and she’s fine on her medication” when you desperately want to explain that I don’t impose myself upon everyone in the exact same way, and just because that grandmother is fine on the medication SHE’S taking, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

They will not understand that having this disease impacts your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, and that every cell and every bodily system and organ requires the proper amount and the right kind of thyroid hormone medication for YOU. Not what works for someone else.

The only place you will get the kind of support and understanding in dealing with me is with other people that have me. They are really the only ones who can truly understand.

I am Hashimoto’s Disease.

IF I am being honest, Intermittent Fasting has saved my life

In four short months from converting to the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle, I have lost 20 pounds. Notice I did not use the word “only” 20 pounds. 20 pounds is huge for me since I have not been able to lose more than 3 pounds in the last 20 plus years since giving birth to my sons. My weight just continued to climb and I one day when I am at a healthier weight, I will disclose to you my starting weight on January 2, 2019.

I visited my endocrinologist last week for my 6- month appointment. Due to the change in my diet of nominal sugar, no processed foods, gluten-free, minimal dairy, clean protein and more vegetables, my weight loss has resulted in my blood lab work indicating that I am no longer pre-diabetic. My next appointment is in one year, although I must have fasting blood lab work performed every 15 to 20-pound weight loss to insure my thyroid medication is at the correct dosage. YAY!!!

My new prolonged IF routine

There are four types of intermittent fasting. I follow prolonged intermittent fasting, meaning that I fast longer than 20 hours. After being sick for two weeks, it was difficult to get back on the prolonged fasting train. But after completing my first 36-hour clean fast, I was back to a near normal IF schedule of OMAD Monday through Friday, 18:6 Saturday and 20:4 on Sunday. I felt fantastic after my 36-hour fast, so I am going to incorporate two 36-hour fasts in the second and fourth week of each month.

Feeling fantastic except…

If I am being honest, my hope for the last thirty days was to incorporate a consistent exercise routine. And if I am really being honest, Hashimoto’s took its’ toll on me after being sick. While I recovered from the strep throat, double ear infection and laryngitis quicker than most around me, the fatigue, the TMJ/gum issues, and mental lapses made me more determined to get back on a solid track of prolonged fasting. Because prolonged fasting helps me to feel energized.

Why?

I feel more in control of my calories and the quality of food I eat, and weirdly enough, the longer I fast the more energetic I feel. If I waited 24 hours to a eat a meal, I don’t want to eat poorly only to feel horribly bloated afterwards and I certainly never want my joints to be inflamed ever again! Before starting intermittent fasting, I could not even climb a flight of stairs. No way! I am not going back to feeling like that again.

IF I am being honest in my next 30 days…

After showing my husband my photo after 30 days of IF and my photo after almost 100 days of IF, his response was, “Wow!” Now you may think that he should have noticed the changes without showing him the photos, but it isn’t easy showing even your soul mate how ugly you feel you look in your own skin in the daylight. Intermittent fasting changes the body composition. Clothes begin to fit differently. Skin is clearer and more youthful. My face is thinner, and I see a waistline coming back too. My only worry is that when my waste ‘flap’ disappears that my tits may take its’ place.

I have a long way to go to where I want to be weight-wise. Patience and persistence will get me there, I know it.

After summoning up the courage and hearing my husband’s response, I feel even more motivated to get the walking shoes on, swinging a golf club, and incorporating more concentrated activity of any type into my daily routine. And then maybe, just maybe, someday I will be comfortable enough to post photos on this blog. Fingers crossed!

In closing, other people have contacted me to help them start their own intermittent journey. It brings joy to my heart that by blogging my progress and keeping it real that it may have resonated with others to start down their own path of wellness in mind, body and spirit.

I sincerely appreciate my readers following The Blogging Owl and my other blogs too. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me by email at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. I would love to hear from you.

Peace,

Sheri Head Shot

The Blogging Owl

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