August 26, 2016

Losing To Win

 

As an individual of Italian descent, pasta and bread were dietary staples with strong emotional attachments. The aromas of my mother’s Sunday “gravy” simmering (we call “sauce” “gravy”),coupled with the scents of the fresh bread my father picked up from our local bakery, still conjure strong emotional responses from me. Imagine my shock and horror when my immunologist informed me to give up white flour and white bread! Are you kidding me?!?! This must be some kind of cruel attempt at humor in his part. Sadly, as I soon learned, not only was it not a joke, he was right. It was not easy, and my mother couldn’t understand why I was eating only the meatballs without pasta and not “dunking” the crispy Italian bread into the gravy. Gone were morning cereals and bagels. Eggs were the norm. No more sandwiches- salads were in. Not only did I begin to feel better physically, but after a month, my blood work showed improvement. I was still fatigued, but not as fatigued. My spleen still throbbed. I was by no means ready to run a marathon, but I saw glimpses of hope. Some 16 years later, my husband and I still adhere to a SMART CARB diet: low glycemic foods and whole grains . Through the years, dietary choices have increased at the market. There are low carb breads and cereals. And while we do not eat white pasta, we thoroughly enjoy Dreamfields pasta with our Sunday gravy! Mom is thrilled!!

This is not to say, I do not cheat. I know my parameters. If we are at an Italian restaurant, and I can not resist the bread, I drizzle it with olive oil as the good fats in the olive oil slow down the absorption of carbohydrates. However, I am still my own worst enemy at times. For example, last Friday my husband and I indulged in pizza. My parameters are 2 slices. I had 4. The next day, I had a food hangover. My head was fuzzy, my elbows hurt, and I felt spacey. I immediately went for an Atkins shake and bar, took a walk, and told myself this too shall pass. And it did.

By giving up white flour, I slowly gained my health back and am stronger than ever.

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August 5, 2016

Self vs Self

 

Aside from the physical woes brought on by an autoimmune disorder, one has to deal with the emotional components. Accepting the fact that your own body has turned against you is not easy. Fighting an external factor is psychologically more acceptable than fighting yourself. After months of trying to sort everything out, incorporating a new diet, and making lifestyle adjustments, I saw the light. I did not treat my body well, so it was not going to treat me well. A white flour diet, a daily afternoon Twizzler fix (we’re talking full pack here), and working full-time while completing a Master’s Degree took their respective tolls. My body wasn’t crying for help; it was screaming for help! And then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Just as my lifestyle made my body ill, my choices held the power to make it well. I had to admit the no white flour or sugar diet was working. Taking a multivitamin and B12 were also assisting with my recovery. I realized I had the power to regain my energy levels and get my life back. In that moment, I did not win the battle; I won the war. So I encourage you to know there is hope. It might seem as if you are in a dark place with no return, but I can assure you there is a light; it will be dim at first, but it will grow brighter, and you too will win the war.

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July 22, 2016

New Decade, New Lifestyle

 

When Generation X turned 30, there wasn’t any fanfare, let alone “Dirty Thirty” parties. The most memorable parts of my 30th were extreme fatigue and joint pain. At first I thought it was a bug (it was January after all). Then I thought maybe it’s all in my head. At the prompting my husband, I went to an immunologist. I was tested for everything from cancer to Lupus and everything in between. When my lab work came by my liver enzymes were through the roof, and my Epstein Barr titers were elevated. With my diagnosis of Epstein Barr virus and fibromyalgia, I began a journey of recovery that in many ways continues today. I was shocked with my specialist told me to exercise. Are you insane?!!?! I can barely get out of bed, showered and dressed to make my appointments here, and you want me to exercise ?? I was put out of work for 9 months, was unable to drive, and embarked on a journey of getting the best out of chronic illness and not letting it get the best of me. It was my goal to live up to my new motto: Joy Always.

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