© 2012 jen

Fit-tastic Update: Long time, no blog post, but I’m back, baby!

I haven’t done a post in weeks for a number of reasons. It was partly because of the the tragic shootings and the media blitz surrounding it, my feeling was, who cares about my weight loss right now? I don’t even care. It was partly because of the holidays and the general busyness associated with the season. But there was another reason too, I sometimes feel really exposed and weird about this project.

The act of photographing myself weekly, writing my weight and all of my thoughts around this topic- sometimes it leaves me feeling objectified by the project itself. I haven’t said this up until now, because my overwhelming thought is, “You’re the one who decided to do this. So. Suck. It. Up.”

Most of the time, I’m not excited to photograph myself. I have placed some weird rules on myself around the photos too, which I think is adding to my lack of excitement around taking my picture. I don’t generally put on make-up or really style my hair or anything before I do the photos. It feels more real to me that way. I’m not interested in creating glamor shots on my blog, I’m interested in documenting a story. As a result, some of the photos of me are not the most flattering and others are randomly good. Most of the time when I’m not smiling in the pictures or when I’m glaring it’s because I don’t even want to take my own picture, but I do want to tell this story, so I make myself do it, but I cannot make myself smile sometimes. What’s funny is I often prefer the non-smiling pics anyway and it’s a way that I can keep moving forward with this project, so I guess that works for me.

Really the only reason I’m still doing this project is because I said I would and because I believe that talking about the journey I’m on, moving toward better health could be beneficial to other people. So I’m setting aside my own judgement of myself and here’s more info on a story that I’ve been telling for some time now.

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Update:

First an update on what’s new with me. I caught a terrible cold a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t exercise for about a week. Also, with the holidays, I’ve been eating almost everything in sight. My appetite is back and I’ve been eating g-free cookies, meats, even some cheeses. I’m less sensitive to lactose than I was and with my hubby home and the new bar, the cocktails have been free-flowing, so yeah, you could say I’ve been consuming more calories.

OK, I just stepped on the scale and it turns out I’ve gained 4 lbs! Wowsers! Right now I’m 206 lbs! What is funny is I still feel like I’m losing inches even though I’ve gained weight. You’ll have to take my word for it because I’m not going to photograph my badonkadonk, but believe me, my caboose is shrinking and so are my legs.

Next year, once I’m eating more like a normal person again I’ll get back on the weight loss bandwagon.

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Now, I want to talk about emotions and food again because as I’ve already stated I’ve seem some pretty radical changes in my life due to some, what I’d call, pretty minor diet changes and I’d like to elaborate on it.

As a young girl I had a really, really bad temper. I could get so upset about things that frustrated me that I could break and destroy damned near anything. I’ve kicked down fences, shattered cast iron skillets and generally tore things up when I thought I needed to as a younger person. As I’ve grown older my temper got much, much better and I really didn’t see much of it again until my son was born. He wasn’t as aggressive as me with breaking things- my son would have these tantrums and they would go on and on often over seemingly nothing, except that there was something . . . it was the food he was eating, we were eating- it was literally upsetting him, me, us.

For me, in adulthood the way my displays of anger would play out was that typically I’d have some cocktails or something sugary, that would make me want something gluten-y, then a few hours later I’d either fall asleep or get pissed off, or both in close succession, not always, just sometimes. Friends of mine even coined a phrase calling the cocktail punch that I’d drank one night, “Angry Jen Sangria.” But, it wasn’t the sangria that made me mad, it was the gluten in the snacks. It literally made me fighting mad. People would tell me I was terrifying when I was like this, and in truth it happened very rarely, but when it did they said I was like a bull- stomping and raging and that I appeared much bigger than I am. Guys I know that are six feet tall got out of my way because they said I was “scary.” My son was a smaller version of this angry, raging bull.

One of the things that I keep marveling at is how calm I feel. People who know me well say, “You were always calm. I never knew you to be anxious.” But it didn’t play out in anxiousness generally, it was anger, frustration, sadness, depression, annoyance and general dissatisfaction with many things.

One of the most remarkable things that I still can’t believe is how much less annoying everyone and everything is. I am so much more tolerant and understanding of people and their personal challenges. I don’t expect anyone to do anything or be anything other than who they are. I don’t need to fix anyone, or school anyone in anything and I think it’s because I feel so good inside.

“It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.” -Lech Walesa

My son is more anxious than me. In school every few years one of this teachers would comment that he was experiencing a lot of stress in school, that he had a low “melting point,” and once they suggested that he see the school psychologist.

In the 6 weeks or so that he’s been gluten-free I’ve noticed that he reacts way less to stress and when he does react, he’s able to calm down from it very quickly. This is all new behavior for him. He’s regulating his emotions in a way I’ve never seen him do before. When I asked him one time, recently what’s going on inside of his head after he’d deescalated himself from his own feelings, he said, “I start to feel a little mad, but then I think, why get so mad? Then I decide not to get mad anymore.” When he said this to me, I said, “This is how I feel too!”

There is a thinking aspect to my emotions that seems to be stronger than my feelings most of the time now, but this wasn’t true before.  When I was eating gluten I would sometimes feel like I didn’t want to react: I didn’t want to be sad, mad, whatever, but I couldn’t stop the emotional freight train because it was too big and strong, now I really can. Not always, sometimes you gotta feel emotions and pain, so it’s not totally full-proof, but now it’s as if I can really shift my emotions in the direction I want my brain to go. I’m leading with my mind for the first time in my life, not with my emotions and changing my diet has allowed me to manage my internal world better.

There is an extreme condition that has been documented called intermittent Rage Disorder, which is the idea that when someone has undiagnosed Celiac Disease, the more nutritionally deprived they become, the more potentially rageful the person can be. I don’t think Oliver and I had this actual disorder, although I do think I was pretty borderline at one time in my life. As with anything else, I think there is a range for this type of thing and I think my son and I had issues with managing our emotions, which were directly related to nutritional deprivation due to both of our undiagnosed Celiac Disease.

So now that I don’t eat gluten and wheat I find life to be so much easier. Living in this skin feels so much better. It’s funny to me because everyone told me eating gluten-free would be very hard.

Weight-loss diets are hard, Weight Watchers is hard, exercise is hard, eating gluten-free? Not that hard. People say to me, “You must be devastated not to eat bread.” I say, “I eat bread, just gluten-free bread.” Or, “No beer? That’s terrible!” Then I say, “I drink great gluten-free beer.” I’m lacking nothing and getting everything I never had, like PEACE of mind!

Lots of people spend lots of money on different things to make themselves feel better: shoes, clothes, jewelry, massages, therapy, medications, exercise, vacations, and on and on- what if some diet changes could give you almost everything you’re lacking? You can still shop, go on vacation, exercise and see a therapist if you want to, but you’d feel dramatically better doing all of these things, because your insides would be happy and healthy.

This is what I feel like has happened to me. I spent so much of my life searching for something to make me feel better, but it was all in the food I was eating and that food was affecting my overall performance in life: how I looked, felt, thought, acted and reacted.

A few nights ago I went to see the Hobbit with my husband and all of a sudden out of the blue I thought, “God, I feel great!” My stomach feels great, it’s so much smaller and less to manage in a theater chair. My stomach itself feels good- no pain, no reacting to things anymore. I even started to get a charlie horse in my leg during the movie, but somehow managed to keep the cramp at bay for about 2 hours by switching my weight around from leg to leg- literally controlling my own response to pain. I just sat there thinking about how much better good feels than I could have imagined.

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Feeling this good is an absolute blessing. I couldn’t have hoped for as much as I’m receiving. Good health is almost everything in this life. Without it, we really cannot hold on to much of anything for very long.

How about you, how are you feeling? How’s your health? How’s your mind? Do you frustrate easily? Do you find yourself overwhelmed often? Are you easily irritated? If so, it could be related to your diet.

Here’s a quick heads up . . . In Europe and Canada people are screened somewhat regularly for Celiac Disease, but in the U.S. we don’t do this unless we have a strong reason to believe that someone has the disorder and it’s not commonly tested for otherwise. This is also true of many other digestive issues, even lactose intolerance. There is a test to confirm whether you are or not, but it is rarely given in the U.S.. What this means is there is a much higher population of people with undiagnosed digestive and other health problems in the U.S. than other first-world countries. Also people of Irish decent (like me) have a much higher likelihood of having Celiac Disease.

If you are struggling in any way in your life, have you considered making some dietary changes as a means of changing your life? Try an elimination diet for 30 days and see how you feel. Then slowly add foods back into your diet and see how that feels. If you find that you begin to feel more frustrated or dissatisfied, your diet is affecting your mood.

Here’s the good news. Changing your diet is not as hard as it seems. It’s really about deciding you’re tired of feeling crappy and ready to try something new. Give yourself the gift of health. You won’t regret it.

Have a great weekend and see you next year!

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