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

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot by email: Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com.

I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl and Instagram.

 

(c) 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved

IF – I am being honest, Invisible Weight

In all my blogs not just The Blogging Owl, I consistently speak of the balance of mind, body, and spirit. In the first post of this series, “IF I am being honest” about my conversion to intermittent fasting, I admitted to my readers that I am physically obese in medical terms. Thirty days later I confessed my mental and emotional food love tendencies. And now 90 days later, God has led me to take on the invisible weight of my spirit.

As a Christian, I am a firm believer one’s spirit is the driver of one’s mind and body. Why else would God place the heart between the brain and the stomach? Even if you are not a person of faith, I hope you will continue to read on about what I discovered in the last 30 days.

Invisible Weight

What is weighing on my spirit?

I wanted to tap into my spirit for the clarity of my overall life’s mission, my purpose. God has been driving me to something and my hunch was that I cannot complete whatever He has intended for me to do if I have a flabby, unhealthy mind and body.

For the Lenten season, I had decided to do 40 Days of OMAD (one meal a day) with the sincere desire for clarity of mind, body AND spirit. As I discussed in my last blog post thirty days ago, I started a week early with OMAD on February 27th and I would continue OMAD until Easter Sunday, April 21st.

I ended the 40 Days of OMAD on the 15th day. Was I a failure?

Let me back up to the beginning of my 40 Days of OMAD. In my prayer journal I wrote the following prayer:

Dear Lord, bring clarity to my confusion. Rescue me and bring rhythm to my calling just as you set the sun and the stars in motion in precise rhythm of day into night. Instill within me the patient endurance to enlighten me of my specific mission with the wisdom and maturity through an unwavering faith in Christ. Grant me confidence in Your mercy and hope in Your promises. Help me to watch You in Your passion that I remain awake to the infinite power of Your Love. In Him give me courage and strength. Amen

So, what happened?

Reviewing my journal entries over the last 30 days, I did indeed begin shedding that invisible weight on Saturday, March 9th when I genuinely believe God guided me to this verse:

“The Lord is your guardian. The Lord is shade over your right hand.” Psalm 121:5

The significance of this Bible verse on this day was I was getting my first tattoo. I had originally decided to have Martin Luther’s Rose tatted on the back of my left shoulder. Each color of the image has a special meaning.

After reading Psalm 121:5 that morning, I decided at the last minute to change the location to the back of my right shoulder with Psalm 121:5 written underneath the tattoo.

Image-43My focus began to change.

The following morning, I was led to this verse:

“But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

My prayer for that morning:

Dear Lord, allow me to see the world the way you do and join in your eternal rescue mission. Give me compassion for the those around me and help me to be an instrument of Your Grace. Help me to focus on Christ rather than on my circumstances and lead me to focus on what God is doing through the situation through Your power and goodness. Amen

My journal entry ended with “physical fatigue, emotional fatigue, spiritual fatigue.” As I re-read those words, I thought to myself, “Wow. I don’t remember writing those words.”

Two days prior to ending my 40-Days of OMAD

I transcribed these 5 Bible verses into my prayer journal: Romans 8:28, Hebrews 2:18, Joshua 1:8, Proverbs 8:33 and lastly,

Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.”

I purposely will not share with you what I wrote in my journal after those five verses except for this excerpt: Five different Bible verses and five ways to encourage me to keep going….

Spiritual clarity was taking root.

Breaking 40-Days of OMAD

I was physically, mentally and spiritually sick on the 15th day. I did not think I could get through the day or through the night. I was extremely fatigued. The only way to explain my mental state was that I was delirious with a migraine, and spiritually, I believed I had failed in my mission for clarity of purpose.

After eating a big, healthy Paleo breakfast, I spent time meditating as I usually do in the morning with Bible devotions and my prayer journal. I was led to Acts 4:8-12, and Romans Chapter 12 which speaks to dedicating our lives to God and I transcribed verse 2 in my journal:

”Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.”

I truly believe God emptied everything out of me in mind, body and spirit up to this point to fill me with this message:

I cannot focus on my circumstances, not one day, not on the next 30 days or in the past years of life on this earth, but on Him who really has the power to change me in mind, body and spirit. These are the last lines written in my prayer journal on that day:

“I do not feel bad because I learned a powerful lesson. I am stronger in mind, body and spirit when I look at my “blips” as just a blip and not throw in the towel completely. The same will prove true in God’s purpose for me.”

Miraculously, I felt almost instantly better after eating that breakfast and meditation. And two days after breaking my Lenten OMAD promise, I wrote this in my journal:

“If I want to know God’s will, I have to stop being led by my circumstances. If I trust my circumstances, even though they may look good, my circumstances can still lead to disaster. My circumstances can lead me the wrong way. I can misinterpret them, put unwarranted trust in them, and evil (if you will) can manipulate them. Every single day, I need to check my circumstances against where God is leading me in His Word. Psalm 40.”

IF I am being honest – 3 facts

Remember that journal entry I spoke of earlier regarding physical, mental and spiritual fatigue? Well, it all makes sense to me now.

1) I cannot be the best I can be if I do not unburden the invisible weight of my spirit. My spiritual health is the leader for my physical and mental well-being.

2) Turning food love into self-love is a process that takes more than weeks, months and perhaps even years of undoing the negative tapes looping within my mind.

3) I did not suddenly become overweight overnight. It was a slow culmination of self-neglect of mind, body and spirit.

IF I am being honest in my next 30 days…

During the remaining Lenten season, I am doing OMAD Monday through Friday and 18:6 and 20:4 on the weekends. OMAD helps me to stay disciplined during the work week and breaking OMAD on the weekend allows me to enjoy meals with family and friends.

While the last 30 days have been spiritually enlightening, God is still working on bringing clarity of mission and purpose. I am open to the possibility that it may always be evolving. I do feel, however, that the mind and body are beginning to follow in a positive way. I will continue to build upon the 19 pounds I have lost in the first 90 days of intermittent fasting, which is an average of 1.5 pound weight loss per week. Exercise is still not where it should be and as the spring weather continues to improve, I will be outside walking and playing golf. AND I am behind on my book reviews! Exercising the mind, body and spirit will be the topic of discussion for my next post in 30 days.

In closing, I know my readers may not believe spiritually as I believe, and this post is not about converting anyone but to share with my readers how my Christian faith is an essential component in whatever purpose God has for me here. It is also an essential part of me becoming healthy in mind and body. Yet, I strongly believe, if I am being honest, that each one of us has an invisible weight of the spirit.

Blogging about my progress about converting to an intermittent fasting lifestyle helps me to keep it real for myself and perhaps for my readers too. I sincerely appreciate my readers following The Blogging Owl and my other blogs too. Please feel free to leave a comment and any IF tips! 

Peace,

Sheri Head Shot

The Blogging Owl

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot by email: Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com.

I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl and Instagram.

 

(c) 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved

IF – I am being honest, Food-Love

Food love

Take a good look

This is a body scan of a 250 lb woman on the left and a 120 lb woman on the right. Take a good look at this photo. Look at the fat surrounding the woman’s organs on the left. Do you also see the fat around her heart and around her brain? Look at the compression around the stomach and internal organs. Do you think that may have any impact on her digestion like gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD? Now look at her joints, particularly her hips and knees. Imagine the inflammation and joint pain carrying that much weight?

How do you think she feels in mind, body, and spirit?

This is my second post, my second 30 days of converting to the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle. I began my conversion on January 2, 2019.

Food-Love

Margueritas, wings and everything loaded

Acceptance.

Wine, pasta and bread sex, I mean sticks

Love.

Sugar, candy and everything nice

Kindness.

These are the reactions to food-love.

When one is overweight, food often replaces people and circumstances to allow the feelings of acceptance. Food romances the obese even if having the lights out is still not enough to hide one’s disgust. And when love isn’t there to comfort, well a little kindness can be found in a cookie or a handful of peanut M&M’s.

If I am being honest, food offers a respite from boredom more than food love. But I can no longer deny that food love has played a role in my obesity. When one is overweight and can no longer do the activities of one’s choosing or feel the beauty within because it is covered in the protective layers of fat, then boredom becomes the snacking activity between meals.

Good Food or Food-Love?

Now there is nothing wrong with loving “good” food. Yet, there is a difference between “good food” and “food-love.” The difference is self-love.

If I am being honest in my second 30 days…

Intermittent fasting began putting the spotlight not on food-love, but on self-love. What food will nourish me and get me to my next eating window. I do not deprive myself necessarily in my eating window, I am more mindful of making “good” food choices.

Nothing is worse than getting to that eating window and having a bad meal. If we are out to dinner and there is good bread on the table, I may have a slice slathered with butter. After fasting for 60 days, I know what foods will give me a hangover – pasta, processed food, sugar – these three food-love types I do my best to avoid.

I should be elated and proud of myself, right?

After losing 12-pounds the last 60 days, if ever so slowly and seeing myself shrink inches, I imagined new expectations of me. While no one else may notice what I have accomplished to date so far, if I am being honest, there have been momentary panic attacks with the thoughts and vision of being thin again after so many years. There is pain in mind, body, and spirit with being overweight, but there is also comfort in not having any expectations of myself or from others.

February’s IF Highlights

This past month I researched apps to help me figure out my caloric intake and from what food sources. Since I have used MyFitnessPal in the past, I began using the application again as an experiment to determine if I could get over my abstinence of the tedious task of tracking my meals. I failed at using this app because as I stated in my first IF post, tracking is too tedious. I do use it in planning meals after scanning what is available in the pantry and refrigerator.

I also started using the Zero app, a fasting application that counts down (or up) to when a fasting period is over and when the next meal window opens. I do like this app because it helps me to keep to a minimum fast time of 18 hours for when I break my fast early due to family and friend events. No one wants to be that person, “Oh no thank you, I am fasting.”

Another app I have begun using is the Daylio app, it is a simple and customizable diary. I simply use it to track my mood, my fasts, and how much I weigh each day by using icons and short notes. I can review my progress at a glance.

The fourth tool is the Fitbit or “fitbitter.” I began using it to learn my current daily step-count. Although I have a gym membership, I am going to let my membership expire. I would rather use my Fitbit and use free-weights at home. I didn’t get very far in my exercise this month. I re-injured my back moving a heavy bookcase so that has taken most of the month to heal. I will begin a walking program next week during my lunch hour  at the office and after work when the polar vortex decides to leave for good. It’s not much of an exercise program but it is start at least for now.

Self-Love

After my last post I changed my mind on two things: One, I would weigh myself daily to keep me committed to fasting, and two, to take a photo of myself (for my eyes only) so I could gauge the changes in my body composition. I have maintained the 12-pound weight loss and I can honestly say that I am glad I took photos. I took one after my first 30 days and another after 60 days of beginning intermittent fasting. I also took measurements of the most rotund part of my body. I have lost 2-3/4 inches. Now if I am being honest, when someone is obese not one friend or family member is going to notice a 12-pound weight loss or a 2-3/4-inch difference around the hips and middle.

And you know what? That’s okay. I see it.

I see my love handles becoming love tabs. I see my belly-button becoming a button again after being stretched into a crater, and surgical scars that look like dimples instead of stretch marks. I am losing bra-bulge and my arms hang down a bit more normal. My skin is beginning to glow, and my cheek jowls are all but gone. I feel my pants loosening and my confidence growing.

When I first saw the body scan photo posted on my Facebook IF support group page, I was horrified. I have to make this lifestyle change permanent! I realized this lifestyle change was to make ME notice. This has truly been the beginning of understanding the meaning and practice of “self-love.”

So, remember when I said earlier that I was anxious about expectations? All anyone needs to do is look at the body scan above to know that food-love kills. Self-love is more than just saying, “I love myself.” Self-love thrives in mind, body and spirit.

If I am being honest in my next 30 days…

As most of my readers know, I journal daily. It is a must part of my day. And in the last 30 days of writing my way through the figuring-out of this new lifestyle change and the plans God has for me, I desired to really tap into the clarity of mind, body and spirit. I had planned to do 40-Days of OMAD (one meal a day) for the Lenten Season beginning March 6, 2019. The more I thought about doing OMAD for that long of a period, I grew anxious, so I decided to take control of unknown expectations and to start a week early. I am 3 days in.

God is certainly with me. It has not been a difficult transition. In my next post 30 days from now, I will share with you what I have learned in mind, body and spirit. My goal is to continue OMAD until Easter Sunday, April 21st.

As I will say in closing on each post, blogging about my progress helps me keep it real, and if it helps you too, all the better. You are welcome to post any thoughts or tips too! I appreciate you following The Blogging Owl.

Peace,

Sheri Head Shot

The Blogging Owl

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot by email: Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com.

I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl and Instagram.

 

(c) 2017-2019 All Rights Reserved