BIG News!!

I have some wonderful good news that I still can't hardly believe! Instead of just blurting out the news, I want to share some background information for anyone else who may be in a similar situation. img_4316

First some context...

I have had serious disruptive and painful GI issues for as long as I can remember, at least since age 5. That means I have been dealing with it all for 30 years now! My symptoms have progressed and gotten worse over the last 10 years. I had a CT scan and some blood work done two weeks ago. All the results came back completely normal. Basically the tests showed that all of my abdominal organs are perfectly normal and there are no markers of inflammation in my blood, even though I was still having a terrible "flare-up" at the time. This is all good news that I don't have an inflammatory bowel disease or any kind of obstruction. But that Friday night when I got the news of my results, I could not see it for the good news that it was because I had hit my breaking point of dealing with the pain for so long. I was a mess that Friday and felt so discouraged that I would continue to have this pain and there be no way to control it.

After I had my little meltdown that night, I was finally able to see the good and think more clearly. Since I did not have any obstructions or inflammatory bowel disease then I had to accept that all my symptoms must truly be from my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I realized that perhaps I AM more stressed than I realize. After all, I am a Type A personality, a recovering perfectionist, and high energy. Not exactly the recipe for calmness and low stress! :D

A moment of clarity

I pushed and pushed the doctors for answers to my problems because I was afraid that without a proper diagnosis they would think it was all in my head when that could not be further from the truth! But in light of these latest test results, I realized that I have to accept that my symptoms are truly from IBS. That was when it hit me. Although my symptoms are not IN my head, perhaps there are cause BY my head! Ding-ding-ding!!!! I have functioned at such a high-level of stress during numerous times in my life that I have missed the cues when I am moderately stressed. And stress plays a HUGH role in IBS symptoms.

All this got me to thinking that if stress is truly the cause of my increasing symptoms then maybe that is the only cause. About 3 and a half years ago during one of my many visits to my doctor, looking for answers and at the point of exasperation, the question of celiac disease and gluten intolerance came up. I was tested for celiac disease and that came back negative, but at that same time I went on a gluten free diet and began to feel remarkably better! Because of the drastic relief of symptoms that eating gluten free did for me, my doctor said that I probably did have celiac disease even though I had a negative test result, which does happen in a large number of cases he said. Either way, he said it was clear that I should not eat gluten. Since then I have changed family doctors and my current doctor has my diagnosis listed as gluten intolerance. He wasn't as quick about throwing around the celiac diagnosis without the positive test results.

The experiment!

Now back to two weeks ago. In light of my new acceptance that all my problems are probably related to IBS and stress, I began to question if I was truly gluten intolerant too. So two days later I began a gluten experiment on myself. Prior to this I classified myself as being highly sensitive to gluten because my symptoms were so pronounced. All my symptoms, which had improved after eliminating gluten completely in July 2012, were back again even though I was 100% GF. And the symptoms were just as bad as before I went gluten free.

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So that Sunday morning I ate a small graham cracker and nothing else for 3 hours while I monitored for symptoms and waited. Nothing. No spike in symptoms. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling more brave and ate an entire (amazing!) slice of regular pizza and half of a turkey sub. Oh, yeah! I was going all in at this point of my gluten experiment. :D My local pizza shop is authentic Italian cuisine and they know how to make their rolls! Yum!! I ate all that Sunday evening and was completely fine!! I have challenged myself more since then and I am still fine!!

I cannot hardly believe it but it seems that I'm not gluten intolerant!! This is such good news and life-altering news that I am still having trouble wrapping my head around it. Also, I am a little afraid that I will suddenly get really sick and find out that I can't eat gluten after all. It just seems too good to be true. But it is true and for now I am fine, so I will be happy with the here and now and try to not worry about the future.

But why did it help before?

I believe my symptoms were relieved when I went gluten free in 2012 because at that time my stress was really bad and my symptoms were getting worse. By taking action to try to control my symptoms by going GF, I had control over my life again and was no longer powerless. The sense of control reduced my stress and made my symptoms decrease. That would also explain why my symptoms have gradually come back to the point where they were prior to going gluten free. I've been under a tremendous amount of stress with nursing school, then beginning my career as a nurse, working odd shifts and night shift, and having my children begin school. I think it all just built up again to be too much and that is why I have been so sick again.

Does that make any sense? As my life felt like it was spiraling more and more out of my control, my symptoms increased. Then once I was forced to look at the test results with an open mind, I realized how stressed I am most of the time and had to accept that my symptoms are my body's way of reacting to the stress. I don't think I was ever gluten intolerant. I was just desperate for answers and to solve my symptoms and feel better. And that was why I felt better when I went GF. It wasn't because of the gluten, it was because I felt powerless with my symptoms and pain and I wanted a way to fix it. I am not saying that this is the answer for everyone with gluten intolerance or IBS. I am simply relating my experience and my realization of the amount of stress I was under and what that stress was doing to my body. Maybe your thing is not gluten or IBS, but we all would do well to take stock every now and then and evaluate the stress on us and its affect on our lives.

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So where do I go from here?

The big thing is I need to do is to work harder on realizing when I am feeling stress, doing things to relieve the stress, and putting structure in place to prevent some of the stress in the first place. For me, the answer lies in consistent yoga practice, practicing mindfulness, living with intention, and creating structure in my life. Also I should really add that I need to cultivate respect from myself for the boundaries and organization I create. Too many times in the past I have organized my time to get the important things done when I have a lot going on then I completely ignore that schedule and run around taking on way too many things and not accomplishing half of what I truly wanted to accomplish. I know I can't be the only person who does this. Why do we do this? Why does the adult side of me recognize the need for a schedule then as soon as the schedule is created, the kid in me tears it up and runs around screaming? :D The key is to practice mindfulness in all areas of my life and to allow what I have learned through my yoga practice to spread even further through my life.

I am excited for the future and all the wonderful possibilities of 2016! There are some exciting things in the works for next year that I will share with you when the time is right. For now, I can't wait to get back into the kitchen and create even more recipes redesigned to be healthier!

 

Building a Yoga Foundation- Day 22 (a.k.a. Back on the Mat Again)

IMG_4327Those of you who follow me on Instagram and my Facebook page know that I had a rough last few days with a major flare up of my abdominal pain issues. Due to the pain, nausea and severe bloating, it was difficult to do much of anything. Today I finally was able to get back on my mat and it felt SO good to be back! No RISE or Foundation videos today but at least I was able to get back on the mat. This seemed like the perfect time to try one of Adriene's newer videos, "Gentle Yoga Sequence". Gentle Yoga Sequence

This practice was perfect for moving my still sore belly back into practice again. There were a few movements that put pressure on my abdomen and caused some pain. When that happened, I eased back out of those positions. This practice was all about slow and gentle moment.

This is a very gentle posture. No pulling on the neck. The hands are simply resting on the neck and gravity is pulling gently down on the arms which helps to open up the upper back.

This was another lovely stretch for opening up the upper back. After all the pain of the last few days, I was holding quite a bit of tension there.

Ahh, Puppy Posture. :) Bliss!!

Continuing with the theme of gentleness, I took the Cat-Cow Pose and Downward Facing Dog Pose nice a slow. Stretching into the tight places without pushing myself too far.

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Taking some time to work on squaring my hips with a leg stretched out behind me.

Next, some gentle twists. Only pushing as far as was comfortable for my abdomen.

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I am so grateful to Adriene for introducing me to this mantra. It is one I come back to often when I am dealing with circumstances that are frustrating me and out of my hands. Today I focused this mantra on my abdominal issues that I have. The fact that I have these issues with my GI system is out of my hands. It is a waste of energy to spend time being angry or upset that I deal with this. What is in my hands though is how I deal with it and what actions I take. So today I am embracing my GI struggles and saying "Allow, release, let go." Sending much gratitude to Adriene today for this mantra. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Health News Roundup for March 15-21

Loneliness Can Really Hurt You

"Loneliness is an invisible epidemic that affects 60 million Americans. Everyone feels lonely at times in their lives, but chronic loneliness poses a serious health risk. New research suggests that loneliness and social isolation are as much a threat to your health as obesity. As Richard Lang, MD, chair of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, puts it, people need to attend to loneliness 'the same way they would their diet, exercise, or how much sleep they get'." (Read more here at everydayhealth.com.)

Obesity Raises Women's Cancer Risk by 40 Percent, Study Finds

Obesity takes a huge toll on health, and a new British study finds that obese women have a 40 percent higher risk for cancer than thinner women. Overall, the Cancer Research UK study found that obese women have about a one in four risk of developing a weight-related cancer in their lifetime. Those include cancers of the bowel, gallbladder, uterus, kidney, pancreas and esophagus, as well as post-menopausal breast cancers. (Read more here at nlm.nih.gov.)

Kids' Bad Diets May Mean Worse Health as Adults

Northwestern University researchers found that while most of the nearly 9,000 children they studied had healthy blood pressure levels, 40 percent did not have good cholesterol levels, almost none ate a healthy diet regularly and 30 percent were overweight or obese. These findings may mean more children will face a future that will include heart disease if nothing changes, said Dr. Sarah Samaan, a cardiologist at Legacy Heart Center in Plano, Texas. "Childhood sets the stage for life. If a child starts off with a healthy diet and active lifestyle, he or she is far less likely to develop chronic, expensive diseases that can take years off of a productive life," said Samaan, who was not involved with the study. "Obese kids and adults are far more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, so we should not accept this as the 'new normal,'" she added. (Read more here at nlm.nih.gov.)

7 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Boost Your Metabolism

"Unfortunately, there's no spigot you can turn on to flush excess calories out of your fat stores" and speed up your metabolism, says Gabriele Ronnett, M.D., Ph.D., the founding director of the Center for Metabolism and Obesity Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore. But you can keep your metabolism stable—and maybe even give it a bit of a boost—by making gradual changes to your lifestyle. Doing so will help you maintain a healthy weight (or lose a little if you need to) while ensuring that your bodily systems keep humming along and doing their jobs well. Here, seven science-backed tricks." (Read more here at realsimple.com.)

FDA concludes Arctic Apples and Innate Potatoes are safe for consumption

"Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its evaluation for two varieties of apples genetically engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., and for six varieties of potatoes genetically engineered by J. R. Simplot Company and concluded that these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts." (Read more here at fda.gov.)

Some background information about the genetically modified apples and the process of genetic modification from Live Science dated November 22, 2014. (Read more here at livescience.com.)