I have been away again for quite some time. My health took quite the bomb over the last year. I think it is safe to say, the worst has passed for now. Over the past year I’ve had some time to reflect on what brought me to the state I was in. Some of it has been due to severe stubbornness. Some of it is due to not fully understanding the ramifications of the diet my digestive disorder has left me, and taking the time to plan out my meals a bit better to make sure I get all the nutrients I need. It has been a hard lesson learned.
Where to begin. At the start of 2013, at the recommendation of my GI and my family doctor, I started an exercise program with the goal of running my first 5k in 2014. My GI wanted me to better manage my disorder (diet and exercise are the alternative to medication; my preferred method) and my family doctor wanted to lose a little weight. I wasn’t overweight, but I was getting there. 8 hours a day or more at a desk because of my job, hasn’t helped keep the pounds off. So, I started with low intensity Zumba in my living room a couple of times a week; added in some cardio-kickboxing in my living room. Worked my way up to also doing Yoga. When spring hit, I decided to start a training program for running and wanted to work myself up to 5-6 mile runs before registering. At this point, I was exercising 5-6 times a week. Everything was going great; I was up to 5 miles by August and down 16 lbs. And then it went horribly, horribly wrong.
Starting in September I started not sleeping very well. I would sleep for 8 hours and not feel rested. I’ve had trouble sleeping before, I figured this would pass. I continued exercising, but this eventually more just because attempts at exercising because I was lacking energy to do anything at all. By the time I was convinced to go to the doctor to get checked out, I was sleeping 10 hours a night, taking a small nap after 8 hours of work, waking up to eat dinner spend an hour or two with my husband and then going to sleep for the night. In total, I was sleeping 12 if not more hours a day. Then I started having dizzy spells and light-headedness, to the point it was difficult to stand up sometimes. My father, being a borderline diabetic, and my grandmother being a full on diabetic, were concerned I was having low blood sugar attacks. They both convinced me it was time to see a doctor. This was in December. I am very stubborn.
My family doctor ran tons of blood tests. Sugar was fine. Thyroid was fine. Comprehensive metabolic panel, fine. Then the result from the vitamin D test came back. Normal vitamin D level should be 30, I was at 12. Low vitamin D can cause fatigue and dizziness. Because of my diet, my work, and the general nature of my skin color (pale white; no outside in the sun with out massive amounts of sunblock) I wasn’t getting enough vitamin D. It wasn’t a problem until I started exercising so much; the additional exercise apparently started to leech vitamin D out of my system, and that wasn’t getting replenished. So, now I am on 50,000 UI of vitamin D a week. I started sleeping better, but decided it was time to start planning meals out a bit better.
The world of nutrition is a complicated and confusing place. I thought I’d start with simple meal planning before seeking the help of a Dietitian or a Nutritionist; high deductible insurance makes me wary of specialists, even if they are in my network. It is around 200$ each time I see my GI doctor. After a few days of research and not being able to adequately wrap my head around all the information, I started searching for meal plans available online. The difficulty with this approach, is they are not well-tailored for someone with diet restrictions. Also, a lot of them out there only plan for one meal and other meals are add-ons. The other complication is that the a-la-carte type plans, the add-ons cannot be tailored to diet restrictions. While it is easy to make substitutions in these cases; when a recipe calls for a cheese product, you are missing the calcium and other nutrients that cheese represents.
Since I don’t want this to be about promotion of a product, I am just going to say that the meal plan service I chose was tailored to someone following the Paleo diet system and comes with a full week of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack along with a handy shopping list; all at a convenient and affordable price. The Paleo diet cuts out dairy, grains, legumes, and processed sugars. Everything is made from scratch and with raw ingredients. I started this new diet at the beginning of 2014. And, while it has been a great thing (I have found that I don’t have a problem digesting red meat, it is gluten I seem to have trouble with), I can’t say that I stick to 100% Paleo on all things. I avoid most grains, save for rice, most legumes, except for chickpeas and peanuts, and most processed sugars. The Paleo diet can be expensive, so I find shortcuts where I can. Again, I am substituting — but in the case, it is never too far from what is being called for.
So, the story ends well now, right? Wrong. Starting in March, I started having trouble sleeping again. Passing it off as stress , I figured it would pass. In April, to make sure it wasn’t fatigue due to lack of exercise (this is a thing), I started exercising again; training for my race in June. Training did not go well at all. I figured I wouldn’t be able to jump right in to running 5 miles right away, but by the time my race came and went (it actually got cancelled) I could still barely run a half mile before feeling like my lungs were going to explode and my muscles were completely cramped. At the end of May I made the appointment with my doctor fearing that I was no too high on vitamin D with the change in diet and the 50,000 UI a week. High vitamin D can also cause fatigue, as well as loss of appetite, which is another thing I was experiencing. Another round of blood testing was ordered. All came back normal; my vitamins and minerals had even improved since the last round. A CT of my sinus cavities was ordered to rule out a sinus infection, as these tend to run in my family. This came back normal as well. I had been monitoring my sleep since I had last seen the doctor and let her know that I was experiencing nasal congestion when waking up in the mornings, so she prescribed antibiotics for a sinus infection and nasal spray to help with the congestion.
Nasal spray is a magical thing. I take it right before bed and for the first time since March, I am sleeping again. Apparently, the sleeping was caused from inflamed nasal passages causing me a bit of sleep apnea at night. I’m not entirely sure if this inflammation is caused by a sinus infection or something else. I just finished the antibiotics, so we’ll see if I stop needing the nasal spray soon. I am happy to report that I ran 2 miles straight yesterday, after not running for 3 weeks. I felt like I could have kept going but didn’t want to push it too much. It is amazing how much better I feel, now that I am breathing better than I have been.
Out of all of this I have learned that I need to pay more attention to how I am feeling and what I am eating. My body is always trying to tell me to take better care of myself, but I am too stubborn to listen most of the time. Moving forward. I hope to start posting more often, about my current diet path and exercise program. As always, I will also post recipes and product reviews (which, by the way, I don’t get paid for). Let me know if there is anything else you would like to hear from me.
Have a great day!