Monday, June 30, 2014

Sugar and Cirrhosis of the Liver

I recently updated my vitamin levels, which you can read HERE. In it, I also discussed some other health issues.  My doctor ran some additional tests and I went back this weekend to get those results. 

First up...my old lady hip.  My doctor was worried I had arthritis in that hip.  He literally grabbed my leg to move it and said, "whoa!  You have a very stiff hip."  So I went in for an x-ray.  The good news is that there is no arthritis.  YAY!  But that also means that it is a ligament/muscle issue, which is fixable.  So I've been potentially limping around for almost five years for no reason.  He will perform myofascial release on me twice a week for who knows how long.  I assume it is similar to the stuff Keith of TriValley Bodyworks has done for me, but at least I can just pay my co-pay and go on my lunch hour.  He has informed me it will be very painful but that I should be cured.  Ummm...yay?

Gallstones...nope.  Nothing.  More YAY!

Also, I'm suddenly low on iron again (actually my ferritin, which apparently is iron stored for future use??).  Sigh.  Add it to the supplement list (along with Vitamin E...also the doctor says to take it with Vitamin C so you don't get constipated, but also remember not to take it with calcium...so many rules!!).  I know Ellen has given me some very good information on how to get iron in the right way but I still need to read and digest all of it.  I've been able to take simple supplements before to get into a healthy range.  BOO!

We all need a little help sometimes
Next up...my liver.  My liver panels were off in the last test, so he re-tested and also ran preemptive tests for Hepatitis A, B and C.  My two panels were still high but I was negative for any Hepatitis.  He had me go in for an ultrasound of my liver.  And he says I have a fatty liver.  Double BOO!  I'm like, hey who doesn't like a lil chub on their liver?!  Well then he drops the bomb.  Fatty liver can turn into cirrhosis of the liver.  That's not possible, I hardly drink alcohol!  Then it hits me.  Alcohol and sugar probably break into the same basic thing once they're in your body.  So, of course a high sugar diet could cause cirrhosis of the liver!  Fuck me.  Okay, now I'm listening. 

What is a fatty liver?   Read THIS WebMD article:

"Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S. Some people with excess fat in the liver simply have what's called a fatty liver. Although this is not normal, it is not serious if it doesn't lead to inflammation or damage.

The cause of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is not clear. Certain factors tend to increase risk, but in some cases, no risk factors show up. However, NAFLD tends to run in families. It also shows up most often in people who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. These people often have high cholesterol or triglycerides and diabetes or prediabetes (insulin resistance), as well.
Other potential causes of fatty liver disease include:
  • Medications
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Malnutrition
Recent studies show that an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine and other changes in the intestine may be associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Some researchers now suspect this may play a role in the progression of NAFLD to NASH."

So maybe gastric bypass (that's a pretty big change to the intestine) caused this issue too???  Moving on...

What is cirrhosis?  Read THIS article:

"Cirrhosis is caused by scar tissue that forms in your liver in response to damage occurring over many years. Each time your liver is injured, it tries to repair itself. In the process, scar tissue forms. As the scar tissue builds up, liver function worsens. In advanced cirrhosis, the liver no longer works very well."

According to THIS article:

"Since all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, and, if you eat a typical Western-style diet, you consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regards to the metabolic havoc it wreaks. According to Dr. Lustig, fructose is a "chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin." And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat—not cellular energy, like glucose. So eating fructose is really like eating fat—it just gets stored in your fat cells, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction."

Soooo, yeah...one more reason to take this sugar stuff seriously (if you want to read my sugar adventures, click HERE).  Anyone else ever wondered about what else sugar is doing to us??

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Out With The Old: Calories-in Versus Calories-Out

Calories-in, calories-out.  Lose weight.  Gain weight.  You eat.  You exercise.  It's all connected.  Then they say it isn't.  But it has to be a little bit, right???  Otherwise gastric bypass surgery wouldn't work at all. 

I have been doing ALL the stuff.  (You can read that blog HERE.)  I'm eating so much better than I used to.  Almost no fast food (maybe twice in the last few months and those were salads from Wendy's -- my favorite!).  I have cut my sugar intake drastically.  Jellybeans?  Gone!  Vitamin Waters?  Gone!  Donut day?!  Gone (well I have taken a couple of bites here and there but I am not eating them every Friday)!  I'm making the majority of my food at home.  I'm reading labels.  I'M PUTTING SHIT BACK ON THE SHELF WHEN IT DOESN'T HAVE WHAT I NEED!  Who am I?! 

But where's all my weight loss?  I know.  I know.  I didn't do this to lose weight!  I am doing it to get healthy after years of having a horrible relationship with food and my body.  And, sure, there are a lot of good things going on -- I feel great, and am actually requiring less food.  After two weeks of returning home each evening with the afternoon snack I would pack for work, today I finally decided to stop bringing an afternoon snack.  Ellen says this means I'm making better food choices that are sustaining me longer.  YAY! 

I read a couple of articles about calories and why eating real food doesn't equate to weight loss, so I wanted to talk about them. 

For years I made the argument that a calorie was a calorie.  And why did anyone care if I chose my calories to be ice cream and cake instead of fruits and vegetables?  But now I know that is not the truth.  Besides the fact that ice cream and cake take up less room, so they are less filling with more calories, there are VITAL vitamins you get from eating fresh fruits and veggies.  Here are some great tidbits from THIS article:

"Thinking that all calories are the same is an antiquated notion. Granted, by definition calories represent units of energy provided by a particular food, but thinking they’re all alike is like saying a diamond and a rhinestone are the same because they both glitter. With calories, as with diamonds, it’s the quality that matters most and enhances their value."

"So what’s the work-around? Trade hunger, calorie-counting and denial, for filling, nutrient-dense, organic or local produce, poultry, pasture-raised meats and wild fish. Eat them until you are full, not until you’ve hit some abstract, virtually meaningless magic number. By eating these kinds of foods, your body will tell you when you’ve had enough. Eating refined carbs like wheat, grains and sugar—the crystal meth of the supermarket aisle—never will."

I personally still choose to track my food.  Mostly because I'm trying to make that stupid pie chart hit the 40-30-30 mark (40% carbs, 30% fat, 30% protein).  But I am hitting my calorie goal each day without trying.  I don't feel like I'm dieting.  In fact, I feel like I'm eating better than ever!  I am also eating close to a 50% fat diet since starting with Ellen's nutritional program in early May (good fats like coconut oil, nuts and olive oil) and have lost almost four pounds in the last two months.  I know.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but I don't lose weight quickly.  Ever.  My body has always done this bounce around thing.  Up 4 pounds.  Down 5.  Up 3.  Down 2.  Up 4.  Down 6.  It's crazy.  I am no longer bouncing around and am now consistently losing small amounts of weight each week.  And I am at my lowest weight in almost two years (my highest weight last year after foot surgery was 263 pounds.  I am now down to 252 pounds). 

I was also reading THIS article about why eating real food might not equate to weight loss.  I do take issue with her blaming obesity on certain diseases.  I like something Ellen posted in our Balanced Table group.  It is poor diet choices (processed food, sugar, etc.) causing Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks, cancer, etc.  Not obesity.  What do they say?  Correlation not causation?  Anyway, I think the article still contains some good information.  Reasons you might not be losing weight?

Digestion: "Weight loss will not happen if the body is malnourished and unhealthy. That’s the least concern of the body, therefore it will focus on repairing and bringing down the inflammation before it even thinks of shrinking fat cells, especially if it doesn’t have the proper energy to do so."

Food sensitivities: "The good news is sensitivities are not allergies and can be reversed, but this requires eliminating certain foods that an individual may be reacting to for a period of time while their body heals."

Yeast overgrowth: "Correcting imbalances can diminish cravings for sugar and sweets, improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, and reduces the amount of toxins the body is exposed to."

Stress: "This is directly linked to maintaining healthy adrenal function which regulates cortisol levels, sex hormones (which is another underlying cause of weight gain), and of course adrenaline and epinephrine- which put you in a state of fight or flight. Stress eats up B vitamins, Magnesium, hinders digestion, and causes imbalances in blood sugar that cause the adrenals to work overtime."

Toxin overload: "Bottom line, we must limit our exposure as much as possible, and more importantly, take a pro active approach to support our body’s ability to decongest and rid these toxins properly to get the stress off our detoxification organs (i.e. LIVER!). The body can then focus on ridding toxins from fat cells which is where they accumulate!"

Dysfunction of the master glands: "Making sure adequate amounts of amino acids are being utilized and getting enough essential fatty acids, along with a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial for support. Possible cause of the weakening of these master glands can include a diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, digestive problems, stress, and even heavy metal toxicity."

So the adventure continues to regain my health through better food choices.  I am also working hard on being strong.  Lots of yoga, pole and cycle.  Next year, my test scores better be perfect!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Lower Your Cardio-Reactive Protein Level

I wrote last year about how my Cardio-Reactive Protein (CRP) level was high.  You can read that post HERE.  My "score" was 4.8.  Anything over a 1 is not desirable and anything over a 3 is considered dangerous (although technically you have up until a "10" before you should really be nervous).  It freaked me out.  I had my foot surgery last August and have been exercising again so I was excited to re-take the test this year.  Except now, I'm up to 6.1 (read that post HERE).  WTF?! 

Ellen promises me that it was the sugar in my system causing inflammation and that next year, after eating better, my score will come way down.  I really can't wait for the next year to pass.  In the meantime, I wanted to talk again about ways to lower your CRP if you do have an elevated level. 


climbing out of this health hole I dug for myself
You can take medication to help.  I do occasionally swallow a baby aspirin but I am not trying to take any medications I don't have to.  I am happily off all medications: anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, everything.  The only thing I take is a birth control pill (probably not good for me but oh well, I've been on it for 20+ years).  Otherwise, according to THIS article, I'm doing the stuff I need to be doing: eating a healthier diet and exercising regularly.
What is interesting to me (and clearly an indication, most likely, that I don't understand how this all works) is that statin drugs apparently reduce CRP.  However, I believe the drugs listed are to reduce cholesterol.  And my cholesterol is scary good "for a fat girl."  So why do I have decent cholesterol but heart-attack-high CRP?  Maybe some more research is needed. 

HERE is another article that talks about other ways to lower CRP:

Vitamin E (I took this for years then recently stopped because I understood gastric bypass patients really didn't absorb oily supplements, but I will add it back to the shopping list)

Co-Q10 (I take it every weekday)

Vitamin C (I take it every weekday)

Krill oil (I take it every day but am I absorbing it all since it is an oil??)

Vegetables and fruits (I eat tons of fruit -- probably too much but I'm trying to stay away from the candy, and I have added a lot of veggies to my diet)

Dark chocolate (Not a fan...and I'm sure I can safely skip this one without ruining my score too much)

I have a doctor's appointment this week to discuss some follow-up tests my doctor did to rule out a few potential health issues.  I guess the only thing I can really do is wait until next year and hope my dietary changes really do save my life!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Northern California Pole Presentational Tickets On Sale!

Want to come support local pole dancers??  Tickets to Nor Cal Pole Presentational just went on sale!  Don't miss out!  We have dancers from pretty much every studio in Northern California (plus some from Southern California and other states).  The event will be held Saturday, August 23, 2014 in San Jose, California (exact start time and schedule TBA).  Come out for a fun day of pole dance and shopping!


There is still time to sponsor!!  http://www.northerncapolepresentational.com/sponsors/

Want to volunteer?  http://www.northerncapolepresentational.com/volunteer/

Want to find us on Facebook?  https://www.facebook.com/NorCalPolePresentational

Want to buy cool Pat gear?  http://www.cafepress.com/polenorcal

See you in August!



Photo credit: http://www.liquidpulp.com/


Monday, June 23, 2014

Pole Dance America

Awhile back, Trixie from Pole Nation asked me if I would come judge a competition.  I immediately told her no.  I felt like I wasn't qualified to judge people on moves I couldn't do myself.  She assured me I would be just fine and asked me again to please come help judge a Pole Dance America (PDA)preliminary competition at a studio in Santa Cruz.  Well, you know me, always up for an adventure.  So I said yes!

The competition was held over the weekend at Aerial Arts Santa Cruz.  The studio had really tall ceilings, with room for many aerial apparatuses.  As soon as I walked in, I eyeballed the chair I needed to sit in.  The other judges kindly allowed me to have the queen chair.  The competitors were made up of students from Aerial Arts, and I don't believe any had ever competed before.  PDA travels to studios all over to the country to hold these preliminary competitions.  Their finals will be held next year.  Round 1 is done without music.  Each competitor writes down the official moves on which they would like to be judged.  The round is videotaped, and after they were done, we got to review the video and judge each move individually.  I had been worried about being able to judge people on the fly.  But being able to review the video, rewind and re-watch moves really, really helped.  And if there was a move that I wasn't sure about, I looked it up to make sure I was judging it properly.  It was a long process, but it made me so much more confident that I was able to offer a proper score and constructive feedback. 

Round 2 allowed music and was a more traditional pole dance showcase/competition routine.  We got to score based on the creativeness and the musicality, etc. 

The entire day was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed seeing the studio, meeting Jeanette of Aerial Arts and fellow judge Donna from Atomic Allure (a studio in Oakland, which will be holding its own preliminary competition in October).  I appreciate Trixie for thinking of me and giving me this fun opportunity to learn more about how their organization and compeition work!  Congratulations to the winners, who will be moving on the PDA finals in New Orleans next year!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Long term weight loss almost impossible...

Recently, I read an article on CBC News.  The title:  "Obesity research confirms long-term weight loss almost impossible."  (Side note: there is A LOT I find wrong with that article but just wanted to use it to start a conversation.)  FINALLY!  People are saying this out loud.  I posted it on Facebook and someone immediately stated that they aren't inclined to believe it until they see it published in a medical journal.  I don't need to see it published anywhere.  I can just look around and see that it appears to be true.  People who try to lose weight very often gain it back, plus some.  I have played the game for my entire life.  This can't just be that all fatties have no willpower. 

We all think we know someone in that rare group. They become the legends — the friend of a friend, the brother-in-law, the neighbour — the ones who really did it.

But if we check back after five or 10 years, there's a good chance they will have put the weight back on. Only about five per cent of people who try to lose weight ultimately succeed, according to the research. Those people are the outliers, but we cling to their stories as proof that losing weight is possible.

"Those kinds of stories really keep the myth alive," says University of Alberta professor Tim Caulfield, who researches and writes about health misconceptions. "You have this confirmation bias going on where people point to these very specific examples as if it's proof. But in fact those are really exceptions."

*****

"An appropriate rebalancing of the primal needs of humans with food availability is essential," University of Oxford epidemiologist Klim McPherson wrote in a Lancet commentary following last week's study. But to do that, he suggested, "would entail curtailing many aspects of production and marketing for food industries."

Perhaps, though, the emerging scientific reality should also be made clear, so we can navigate this obesogenic world armed with the stark truth — that we are held hostage to our biology, which is adapted to gain weight, an old evolutionary advantage that has become a dangerous metabolic liability.

When they say that five percent of people who lose weight succeed, they are also saying that 95% of them fail!  But the diet industry keeps raking in those billions, promising quick weight loss.  And we all just keep sending them our money.  I personally feel like all that yo-yo dieting is way more dangerous than just being fat. 

Here I am, a woman in her late 30's, who has battled her weight for pretty much her entire life.  I started getting chubby at age 12.  I was considered obese by my late teens/early 20's.  I did phen fen.  I did Slim Fast.  I did Weight Watchers.  Yet every year, I was somehow a little fatter.  At my heaviest weight -- 350 pounds -- I did decide to have gastric bypass/weight loss surgery.  I lost 165 pounds.  I didn't come out thin and healthy, though.  In fact, I ended up with more health problems than when I was fat.  And then the weight started creeping on again.  So I started over-exercising to take it off.  I got back down to 200 pounds.  Then I started taking a medication that jump started the weight gain again.  I had gotten back up to 263 pounds.  Now I'm 252 pounds.  And rather than battle my body, I'm focusing on eating right and getting proper exercise.  So, even though weight loss is not my focus, it is still happening.  I want to say that this time, it truly is a lifestyle change and there will not be another episode of weight gain.  But I would have told you that at least three times before...yet here I stand.

I would truly like to believe that I can have Health At Every Size.  But my blood tests tell me I'm not fully healthy.  If sugar is causing inflammation in my body, and I stop eating sugar and lose some weight and my CRP comes down, wouldn't that potentially indicate that maybe *I* can't have health at EVERY size?  I don't know.  I am only speaking about my own situation.  Everyone has their own life to deal with. 

So I am continuing with my quest to eat right and exercise.  I have had some emotional times in the last few weeks and it was actually pretty rough not to turn to my sugary treats.  I gave in once and bought a box of Mike N Ike's, but I'm back on track.  I feel so much better when I leave the sugar alone.  I am always searching for new recipes to try though.  If anyone has any yummy recipes to share, please post them in the comments below! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 2014 Blog Hop: Body Awareness

For this month's blog hop, we are talking about body consciousness.  The official title is: The Body is Art.  We could consider questions such as "how do we honor our bodies?"  Or, "Tell the story of your body."  I feel like many of you know the story of my body, so I decided to choose this subtopic:

How has being a poler, aerial artist or athlete contributed to your awareness of your body? Are you more critical or satisfied with your body? Are you more in tuned with your body?

Oh I am very aware of my body.  I'm aware of the rolls that hang over my pants.  My thighs that spread wider than I'd like.  My chins that occasionally double up on me.  My arms that sag despite surgical intervention.  My boobs that are a little too large and low for my liking.  Yeah, I have some crazy body awareness.  I'm aware that I don't like my body much.  At the same time, I so appreciate the things it does for me.  It carries me everywhere I need to go, even when I'm in pain.  It lets me dance and do yoga.  It lets me ride a bike.  It lets me swim.  I might grump about my body, and my body may hurt sometimes (thanks to my abuse) but it still gets me to all the places I need to show up.  So I appreciate it for that.  

This is such a funny topic for me.  I am very weird about my body.  On one hand, I hide my body.  I tug at my shirt to cover my fat, even though a lot of my fat was surgically cut off years ago.  On the other hand, I put on tiny shorts on a very regular basis and dance around, often posting photos and videos to public websites.  How does that work?!

See?  I'm so shy!
I've always been a walking contradiction.  When I was at my highest weight and started getting shy about going out in public, I started working with a local band and forcing myself to go out and deal with my new-found phobia.  I had an amazing boss early in my career who always told me "the worst someone can do is say no."  They aren't going to kill me or fire me, as long as I'm asking for something reasonable.  So I've kind of applied that to my entire life.  Even when I really, really don't want to do something, I just force myself to do it.  What's the worst that can happen?  Someone doesn't like me?  Ok.  Whatever.  It gives me an air of confidence that I don't actually have.  I still go home at night wondering if people like me.

I feel that pole dancing has furthered that attitude.  Sure, I am very self-conscious about my appearance and my lack of ability to dance extremely well or do tricks.  But I still do all the shows at Twirly Girls.  I make an effort to create an interesting routine so (most) people aren't wishing I would hurry up and get off stage. I fully realize I am not putting on the most amazing routine of the night.  But still, I do it.

I can't tell you how many times I've been stopped while cosplaying as Candy of Chunky Girl Comics.  Women generally in awe that I would walk around in such small shorts.  Always telling me how much they admire me for being brave.  I guess I'm supposed to be more self-conscious about my thunder thighs.  Oh well.  I guess I always figured if I faked confidence and self-esteem, it might actually happen for me.  Fake it til you make it, right?  It must be working because people are often surprised when I say I struggle with self-esteem issues. 

I recently played around at Twirly Girls and put a video of some of my moves together (still not back to free dancing a full song well).  I am frustrated because I have lists of combos I want to try but when the music starts, I freeze.  So, rather than continuing to talk about my body, I'm going to let you watch my larger-than-average body twirling around the pole and writhing on the floor.  It's my body, and I'll do what I want with it.  If you don't like, look away.  That's my attitude!




Sugar is the Devil

I recently wrote a post about why Fat is Good but it kind of ended up being a rant about sugar.  Don't get me wrong, you know I love me some sugar.  Gimme jellybeans or Mike N Ike's all day!!  But I am learning so much about why sugar is not okay for my body.

When I started this healthy food adventure with Ellen in early May, I had to write down what I ate for three days.  I was embarrassed by my food choices but felt like I fairly honestly recorded a regular food day for me.  I did skip out on sugary items a few times so I wouldn't look SOOOO bad and was still sad when she mentioned how much sugar I had in my diet (but that was me being "GOOD," I swear!).  Ellen had me record how I felt after I ate.  Every single time I ate sugar, I got incredibly tired.  It is amazing to watch that being written down on paper.  I eat sugar, I get sick.  Why would I want to eat sugar then?  I mean, except that it's really yummy.  So I started really watching my sugar in-take.  I completely cut out the jellybeans at work (with the exception of one recent slip-up).  No sour octopuses while making the long drive to Santa Maria.  I -- gasp -- started skipping donut day at work.  I hadn't picked up cupcakes in months.  I felt pretty good about it.  There was no "triggering" effect since I never felt like I was being told I couldn't eat the sugar.  I was truly deciding that I didn't like how I felt after I ate it, so why bother eating it? 


Trying to right myself on the food issues...
If you truly understand what sugar does to your body, and how it is refined sugar and carbs making us fat, and not butter or steak, then it certainly makes it a lot easier to give it up.  This may shock many of you but I have also given up my Vitamin Waters.  I don't drink coffee so the Vitamin Water Energy was my version of coffee.  I would drink it at work while I swallowed my millions of vitamins and ate pistachios (you know, because some vitamins require fat for absorption).  I never drank it because I thought I was getting vitamins out of it.  It was just yummy.  Suddenly, it tasted like chemicals.  So guess what -- gone.  That doesn't mean I haven't had a couple to drink recently (something weird happens when I drive long distances...I crave my Vitamin Water and candy, so I still picked two up while driving recently, but I DID skip the candy).  I am just not drinking them on a daily basis.  Plus, when I realized that one bottle has 31 grams of sugar -- which is more than most candy bars -- it didn't make sense to keep drinking it. 
Sugar causes major inflammation in the body.  Considering my recent CRP test, I need to bring down inflammation any way I can.  So sugar has to go.  I have certainly had times where I felt like I have needed or wanted sugar and have given in on occasion (I did a Cupkates run a couple of weeks ago but considering I used to eat those weekly and now I'm having a couple quarterly, I think that's a win.  Plus their whipped cream frosting doesn't make me sick like a buttercream would, but I digress...).  However, the resulting headache and exhaustion that follows (as well as the sweating if I truly eat too much) makes it that much easier to resolve not to eat it next time.  And it really is working for me.  For now. 

From an article about cravings and addiction:

"Most of us are familiar with food cravings, which are just as real as addictions to cigarettes, cocaine, and alcohol. Mine started in medical residency. First it was sugar. Then caffeine. I was driven by stress, fatigue, and the need for quick 'food' and comfort in the face of long, grueling work hours."

"Yet the good news is that food addiction is not simply — or even mostly — a matter of self-discipline. 'Non-food junk' is carefully and deliberately manufactured to manufacture addiction. Scientists and marketing teams work with multimillion-dollar budgets to provide exactly what our exhausted, over-extended nervous systems are craving: sugar, salt, and fat."

"What do we need to prevent stress overdrive? Really, we just need the human basics: good nutrition, adequate rest and sleep, love, and fulfillment. It all comes down to making a healthy lifestyle — which includes engaging in meaningful activities and healthy social connections — a priority. It is in our power and interest to release the unhealthy patterns and build the healthy ones that allow us to break free of food addictions."

So my quest to break free of food addiction continues.  I really have to take it day by day, sometimes hour by hour.  I am making most meals at home, and making better choices when I do eat out.  I am allowing myself to eat "bad" foods on occasion, then allowing my own body to make the discovery that those foods make me feel sick, which makes me less likely to eat them next time.  It truly is a slow process for me.  I should probably be working with an addiction specialist psychologist but am not ready to face that yet.  In the meantime, I appreciate Ellen's patience with me and everyone who helps me in her Balanced Table group! 

Updates on vitamins and health issues

I recently had my 10th anniversary since I had gastric bypass.  My reasons for having surgery are very personal, and I recognize that not everyone supports surgery as a "good" weight loss option.  It's no one's business but my own.  So much has happened in ten years.  I lost a bunch of weight.  I gained some weight back.  I lost some weight.  I gained some weight.  Wow.  Sounds like my pre-surgery life.  Except now I get to deal with malabsorption and vitamin issues.  Each year, I have my blood tested to check my vitamin levels.  This year was no different.  In 2010, my Vitamin D (I wrote two posts on Vitamin D: click HERE and HERE) was a bit low (41).  In 2011, my iron was low, and my Vitamin D remained low (46).  In 2012, In my 9th year (2013), my Vitamin D was a problem once again (but it was up to 49...the goal is 55 or higher).  Finally, in 2013, my Vitamin D level was normal (most likely because I had switched to a dry D)! 

Why am I always upside down on health issues?
However, I also found out in 2013 that my High Sensitivity Cardio-Reactive Protein was high.  And not just a little over normal, way higher than I was comfortable with.  Under "1" is considered normal.  Over "3" is considered high risk.  I was 4.8 in March.  I retested in June and was 4.3.  I was nervous that because I was dealing with my foot injury and not as active as normal, it was causing that number to be high.  Maybe it was just measuring the inflammation surrounding my foot injury.  Who knows...it measures inflammation but doesn't tell you what's broken.  So I gave it a year and went back to test again.  I feel like I am over the foot issue now.  I have been very active -- exercising a lot more.  I've lost some weight.  I've been watching my food choices carefully.  And my number was even higher!  It was 6.1 (10 is considered very high risk).  I am so frustrated.  Ellen believes that my sugar intake was causing inflammation throughout my body and if I spend the next year eating well, she believes that number will come down considerably.  I really hope so.  I don't know what else to do. 

Here are some of my vitamin posts from the past year or so:

January 2013: About magnesium and sweat

March 2013: Vitamins Updated

My labs this year were as follows (not fully inclusive, otherwise we'd be here all day but here are the big ones that the average person will understand):

Blood glucose: 84 (goal: 65-99)
Creatinine: 0.89 (goal: 0.57-1)
Sodium: 140 (goal: 134-144)
Potassium: 4.3 (goal: 3.5-5.2)
Calcium: 9.2 (goal: 8.7-10.2)
AST: 57 (goal: 0-40; this is high, so we will be running more tests...this is a liver panel)
ALT: 37 (goal: 0-32; this is also high, so we will be running more tests...this is a liver panel)
Total Cholesterol: 163 (goal: 100-199)
Triglycerides: 66 (goal: 1-149)
HDL: 61 (goal: over 39)
VLDL: 13 (goal: 5-40)
LDL: 89 (goal: 0-99)
Vitamin D: 49 (goal: 30-100)
B1: 201.9 (goal: 66.5-200; this is actually high so I will be doing B1 or B-complex every other day instead of daily)
B12: 945 (goal: 211-946)

April 2013: About those heart issues

August 2013: Vitamins After Gastric Bypass

January 2014: Vitamin B and Alcohol

So with the exception of my c-reactive protein, I may finally have this vitamin thing down!  Only took me ten years!  Now here's hoping I can eat well over the next year and heal my body.  I'm not ready for a heart attack!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Happy Place



Something I haven't done in a few years, since I gained weight, is ride horses.  Horses are my happy place.  Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved horses.  My friend in middle school had horses so I used to ride with her.  My mom and sister have had horses for years.  I was lucky enough to have Tank for about five years but had to give him up thanks to money issues five years ago.  In the past five years, I have managed to gain about 50 pounds and have felt heavy, uncoordinated and not strong enough to ride.

My mom has been asking me to go riding for the past year or so.  I told her when I stopped working in San Francisco, I would go.  Well, I have been at my new job for a few months now and it was time to take her up on that offer.  So, last weekend, we went riding on the beach near Monterey.  I was worried I wouldn't be strong enough to pull myself up on the horse.  Or that I would be scared.  Or that I would fall off.  But I was just fine.  Being horseback on the beach really is my happy place. 

My mom did kindly let me ride her more gentle horse, Rio, as my sister's horse, Beau, is also known as "grumpy."  Although Rio did get a little skittish when the waves washed up around his feet, he was a great horse to ride.  There was once incident where an idiot college kid threw a skim board toward us right as a wave washed up and Rio started backing up and preparing to spin.  I had worried if something like that happened, I would have gone right over the saddle.  But my body moved with him like we were one.  My heart rate didn't even increase.  It was awesome! 

We rode along the beach, gathering up cool sand dollars with pretty barnacles on them.  We saw part of a big barge that seems to have crash landed on the beach.  We saw dead seals and birds that will poop on you if you ride through them too quickly.  And, after the ride was over, we let the horses roll on the sand, which is always fun to watch. 

My poor knees and ankles hurt a lot after the ride, so my age is showing there.  But I really had a good time with my mom, which was something our relationship needed as well.  I look forward to adding horseback riding back to my activity roster.  I really missed it!






Monday, June 9, 2014

I'm a good fatty

For most of my life, there has always been someone with advice.  All you have to do is...

Give up candy.  Don't eat after 5 PM.  Give up Vitamin Waters.  Exercise more.  Stand on your head for 30 seconds, grab your crotch, cough, then donate $5 to a church.  ...and you'll most definitely lose weight.

Well, I'm a good fatty.  I wrote about some of the food changes I've made in THIS blog about good fats.  For close to two months, I've been really watching what I eat.  Whole foods that I make at home.  Making better choices when I do eat out.  Skipping fast food.  Severely limiting sugar.  I exercise regularly.  And guess what.  I'm still fat!  I've lost a few pounds, but nothing like someone would expect when starting a new "diet."  When I used to do Weight Watchers, I would easily drop 6-8 pounds my first week!  Usually it was water weight, but still.  Make a small effort and the first week at least, you are a weight loss rock star.  Not this time.

While my goal when starting nutrition counseling with Ellen was not weight loss, I won't lie: A small part of me thought, this better result in some weight loss!!!  I don't regret the healthy eating, and I am really excited about how I feel and the other changes I see in my body, but I certainly do enjoy pointing out to all the fatty haters that not all diet changes result in weight loss!  I am eating well, and within the number of calories that is considered "acceptable" for my weight.  I am exercising.  And the weight is not dripping off of me. 

Want to know the best part?  My body VERY CLEARLY tells me what I should and shouldn't be eating!  Now that I am listening, I can eat something and know immediately if it contained something my body doesn't want me to have.  Sugar makes me so tired.  Too many carbs give me a headache.  I no longer feel like I'm being told I can't have things like sugar, I'm making the choice not to eat things that make me feel bad.  That doesn't mean I'm not indulging in some sugary goodness on occasion.  It's just not every day.  I even gave up VITAMIN WATERS!  I swore I'd never give up Vitamin Waters.  It tastes like chemicals to me.  Not yummy anymore at all.  Who am I?! 

Anyway, I just had my ten year post-gastric bypass check-up (HERE is my nine year vitamin post; I will do a more in-depth post later) (on a side note, don't forget THIS post about Vitamin B and alcohol).  While my vitamin levels were great (I was actually high in a couple of vitamins, so I'm going to lay off a little), I got some other not so great news.  My CRP was even higher -- 6.1 (I'll write more about this later as well, but HERE is my post about my first test) and my liver panels are off.  I have to go for more blood tests, an ultrasound of my liver and, just for fun, an x-ray of my hip (potential arthritis).  I walked in and my doctor said, I have 12 things to discuss with you -- you are one of my most interesting patients. 

I am going to schedule another DXA scan soon, but based on my home scale, I have actually lost 6% body fat since last November, however I have only lost about ten pounds (from 263 to 254).  My goals really are not weight-related, though.  I am focusing on eating healthier foods, continuing to exercise and fixing the health issues that are still plaguing me.  I'm working hard at Twirly Girls to invert.  I am timing my planks.  I am making plans to hike so I can push my cardio to the next level. 

I am so overly aware that the scale doesn't measure my worth.  But a small part of my brain still hopes...still hopes for the scale to drop.  Still feels disappointed when it doesn't.  Still celebrates when it does.  Old habits die hard.  I am and probably always will be a work-in-progress.