Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Living, Breathing Science Experiment

Yep, that's me. The living, breathing science experiment. I've mentioned in my blogs that I gave up dairy and caffeine, but I haven't said much about it. Mostly, I think I've been afraid to jinx myself. You probably just thought I didn't stick with it. I wouldn't blame you. I do not have a great track record with sticking with things, especially things related to diet and exercise. And yet, I have now completed a full month free of not only dairy and caffeine, but CHOCOLATE! How, you ask? It's kind of a mystery to me, too. Josh often reminds me of one of his favorite quotes that says, "People will not change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing."  One of his professors, Eric Pratt, said that in his class one night and I cannot tell you how many times we've discussed it over different situations or people in our lives. It kind of became my life quote for the moment. Because, y'all, I've been in pain.

All of this is referring to what my dr. believes is endometriosis. It cannot be officially diagnosed without a laparoscopy, but we are about 93% that is what is going on. I originally planned to have the laporascopy, but after months of waiting on paperwork and scheduling and having things fall through, I began to do some research of my own. That is when I came across the info. about diet changes and the success that other women have had and decided that Iwas willing to do ANYTHING (even give up quesadillas)  if there was a chance it could help ease my symptoms. The original information that I began reading was here. I won't lie, the first 50 times I read it I thought, 'You want me to do what??? Give up caffeine, cheese, fried food and chocolate??? What the heck am I supposed to eat? Rhubarb? YEAH RIGHT!' I'm just being honest. But, eventually, the pain and mood swings won out and I was desperate enough to take some baby steps. The first was giving up dairy. It actually wasn't as hard as I expected. I had a bad experience with eggs a few weeks before I decided to do this and I think it stayed with me. Then, I gave up caffeine. That actually kind of happened by accident. During the week that we were all dying  sick with the stomach bug I had run out of my Diet Coke supply and Josh was late getting home so I didn't have time to go by Mr. Cheap Butts for my 44oz. energy drink on the way to dance. I didn't finish class until 5:00 that night and decided if I had made it that long without caffeine, I should just keep going. OH.MY.WORD. Y'all, I had headaches for 7 days straight. I mean, nausea inducing, begging somebody to hit me on the head with a hammer so I would feel better headaches. I think I was able to do it because we were all sick and felt so bad anyway, so I kept convincing myself that it wasn't caffeine withdrawals. But it totally was. I've heard that like anything else, the more caffeine you are used to the worse and longer the withdrawals are. So, y'all know what that meant for me. :(    About a week after we went somewhere and their sign said their Diet Coke was caffeine free and I was so excited, but also totally paranoid. After what I went through I won't take any chances!

In the last month I've eaten things I never dreamt I would try. Beets, Kale. I seriously had never even heard of kale before. I've replaced my Twix addiction with nuts and raisins. Did you know that pumpkin seeds are supposed to help with PMS? I eat them like they are going out of style!!!! Water became another issue. I started reading that water in plastic bottles is bad for me (endometriosis causes a lot of chemical sensitivity) and then I read that tap water was bad. I was feeling a little frustrated. So, I had bought a couple of organic, caffeine free teas in glass bottles, so I've just saved those bottles and refill them. Of course, my 8 year old was the one to ask, "Aren't you getting the water out of a plastic jug?" Yes. Because I'm still buying the gallon sized water and pouring it into the glass bottles. Leave it to my 2nd grader to make me feel totally dumb. Soon, I'm hoping to get a water filter, but until then, I'll just pretend like I'm doing better. :)

This hasn't been as hard as I expected, but it also hasn't been easy by any means. I think it has helped that I'm doing this for health reasons. In the past when I've dieted I would always reach a point where I would feel better about myself and then reward myself with food. It's totally different this time knowing that it really does have to be a complete lifestyle change. It has also helped that Josh has been super supportive. He's really gotten on board and has been a trooper through the changes. Cutting back on red meat is not his idea of a good time, but he has done it for me and he tells me all the time how much better he feels. The kids are the ones who have really suffered. Sarah told me the other day that she had vegetables for lunch at school. She said, "This healthy stuff just follows me everywhere." Bummer. :)

I say I'm a science experiment because it seems that everyday we are making observations about my well-being. I will say, "I feel sooo much better!" or "Can you believe I went to bed at 10:00?!" That's been another big change. I've finally been able to get my body back on a normal sleep schedule. I credit melatonin and the lack of caffeine for that. But then, there are other times when I still don't feel so great. Sunday morning Kate woke me up at 3:30 and I could not go back to sleep. I finally fell asleep about 5:00 and when it was time to get up for church I was hurting and exhausted. I spent the day in bed. I was very discouraged. Today, my mood started swinging, and I was very discouraged. I asked Josh if it was pointless to make all of these changes if I was still going to feel this way. Sometimes I'm a little melodramatic. First, he told me that he could still see big changes. And second, that this might not be the day that everything gets better, but maybe tomorrow will be. And I know it's the truth. I know I can't expect to undo 30 years of damage I've done to my body in 1 month. I made a comment one night to my friend about my years of  "hard living" and she totally laughed out loud. But the truth is, while I've never smoked and don't drink or do drugs, I've had years of eating the wrong things, living on caffeine and depriving my body of sleep. And unfortunately, I have a health issue that makes me extra sensitive to all of those things. In a way I am thankful that I've struggled through this health issue because I feel like it has been a big, fat wake-up call at a point in life that I am still young enough to do something about it.

I'm sure you will be hearing much more about this journey. It is consuming a big part of my life right now. I'm curious, what do you think about the quote I mentioned? Is there an area in your life where you found the pain of staying the same was worse than the pain of changing?


Lori said...

Well, I love the quote but I'll wait until we are face to face to tell you how it applies to me and I would love for that to be SOON!!! :) I cannot tell you how I feel about this diet. Mainly, I am so super impressed with your ability to do this but also really sad b/c I know how badly you had to have been hurting to make these huge changes. I'm really amazed - just amazed!! I can't wait to have several hours to talk to you b/c I would LOVE to talk about all this a lot more!! So proud of you, my sweet friend!

Karen said...

You can do it!!! I am so proud of you too and you are an inspiration for me to do better w/ my own diet. I LOVE this quote and it needs to be written down somewhere I can see it everyday.