Thursday, December 7, 2017

My Two Year Health-iversary! A (very long) Update on My Journey

Hello everyone! Today is an exciting day, as it was 2 years ago today that I started my journey to better health! This journey has been one full of hills and valleys. The last year has been especially trying for me, as it's been almost a year since I have seen the scale go down. When I started this journey I would have never expected to go a whole year without losing any weight. The old me would have given up. Why give up cookies and chips and Coke if I'm still not going to lose weight? That's what the old me would have thought. But now I know that there is so much more to this journey than losing weight, and there are so many more factors involved in losing weight than what we have been taught. Hormones, stress, food quality, and gut health are all HUGE factors in our overall health, and weight loss, that we've never been taught about.

Calories in vs. calories out does not work for most of us. Yeah, if you only have a few pounds to lose then it may work for awhile, but the problem is cutting your calories for an extended amount of time will down regulate your metabolism. Our bodies are not stupid. If we cut down how much food we are eating by 500 calories a day after awhile our body will adjust to only getting that much energy and will cut out things that aren't as important - like hair growth, for example. Many of you may remember I was losing hair in crazy amounts for a LONG time. Like, over a year. Now, some hair loss while losing weight is to be expected. Your body is in shock. However, not the amount I was losing for as long as I was losing it. If you look at the pictures below, the amount of hair I was losing in the left pic was how much I was losing during every shower for over a year. It was alarming. I've always had a TON of hair, and it got to a point where my hair didn't even feel like mine. The woman who has cut my hair for the last 8 1/2 years even noticed how thin it was getting. I even chopped off about 8 inches because I thought maybe if it's shorter, it will look fuller. Now, look at the amount on the right. That photo was taken in the middle of October. I have consistently lost around that much since then and I have lots and lots of baby hairs growing in! 

What did I do differently in that time? A few things - but the main thing I did was increase how much I was eating. I had, without meaning to, downgraded my metabolism. I was only eating about 1400 calories on average each day. I wasn't trying to eat this much, I just wasn't hungry. I wasn't hungry because my body had gotten used to running on less energy - and had downgraded my metabolism resulting in things like my hair falling out by the handful. When I started researching and learning, all signs pointed to me not eating enough, and definitely not getting enough nutrients. This was hard for me to process. How could I possibly need to eat more when I still had over 100 lbs to lose? Many of the keto resources say as long as you have body fat to use, and you can fast comfortably, then you should not need to eat more. MANY Keto Facebook groups even shame you if you consume extra fat if you still have fat to lose. So how could I possibly need to eat more?? It took awhile for me to try increasing my calories, and many people telling me I should. I knew I could possibly gain weight for a short amount of time, until my body adjusted and learned it could start operating at the new weight. And that's exactly what happened. I slowly increased how much I was eating - which is harder than it sounds. I wasn't hungry. I was basically making myself eat more because I knew I needed it eventhough I didn't feel hungry. I did gain a few lbs during this process. For the first half of the year my stall point was between 265-270. Now I am typically between 273-277. Not a huge gain, but still a gain. It was still hard to see. I had to go to the emergency room a few months ago (more about that later), it was late at night after I had eaten and I was fully clothed (of course) and on their scale I weighed 282. That crushed me. I knew I would weigh more because it was at night and not on my own scale, but it was still so hard to see that number. But, on my home scale the same week I weighed 276, so I knew I hadn't actually gained more. I am still eating a higher calorie amount and am no longer gaining - I've been in the same weight range for about 6 months now. While I'm sad I'm still not losing, I do feel reassured I'm on the right direction since I am no longer gaining and my hair is no longer falling out. My body has learned that I am not starving it anymore.

My caloric intake is just one small piece in a very large puzzle. Our bodies are not simple machines, they are very complex and have so many things happening at once. I believe there are multiple reasons why I am still not losing weight. Hormones, gut health and autoimmune issues being the main reasons. I mentioned the ER above. If you follow me on social media you are up-to-date on my journey, but in case you don't, a quick overview is that I began having very intense stomach pains a few months ago. I have a very high tolerance for pain but this felt like I was absolutely horrible. I went to the ER and they didn't find anything alarming. They put me on an antacid and sent me home. Shortly after that I started seeing a naturopathic doctor. We did some testing and discovered I have a severe case of leaky gut, which meant I had an extensive list of food sensitivities. Leaky gut is something that traditional medicine doctors don't recognize but it is very real. Leaky gut is basically having a hole in the lining of your digestive system which allows toxins to seep into your blood system that would otherwise be filtered out. You can read more about leaky gut here, Shawn offers a great explanation on it. MANY people have leaky gut these days thanks to the quality of food we consume on a regular basis. Leaky gut is also what leads to many autoimmune disorders. Your body starts attacking the toxins that are seeping in, then starts attacking its own cells because it can't recognize the difference. I'm summing this up very quickly and simply here, but that's the gist of what happens. I've had many people tell me that leaky gut is "not a thing" and that my food sensitivities are "a joke" but they definitely are real. The foods I was most sensitive to - dairy, eggs, coconut, gluten, wheat, mustard and yeast - had to be cut out completely. Others, like cauliflower and cahsews, had to be cut down and eaten occasionally. Once I cut out all of these foods, I could tell if I had them without knowing it very quickly. I bought an egg-free mayo and felt severely nauseated after eating it. I soon found out that under the "natural flavors" label was mustard. I don't like mustard, never eat it on purpose, but just that little bit in the store-bought mayo was enough to let me know something was off. It was pretty amazing to be able to tell when something bothered me because before that everything was bothering me. 

One other example of how food sensitivities and leaky gut are real is what happened to me on Halloween night. That night my family ordered pizza. I usually just eat my own thing but that night I didn't have anything prepared and I was so busy I didn't have time to cook. The place we ordered from had a gluten-free and wheat-free crust. I looked up the ingredients and they looked clean, and nothing was listed that I couldn't have so I decided to have some (without cheese, of course). Yes, it was more carbs than I normally have, but I was ok with that for one night. While taking my nephew trick-or-treating I started having some discomfort. However, it got much worse. By the time I was getting ready for bed I was in extreme pain. I took some meds hoping it would help. I tried to go to sleep but the pain kept getting worse. I finally managed to doze off around midnight for about half an hour but woke up hurting worse, shivering so much that my chin was visibly chattering and my whole body was shaking. I was extremely nauseated and I had an intense pain in my stomach. It was a mix of pain and burning, it felt like my stomach was on fire. This was the same pain I had a couple of months ago when I went to the emergency room, before I knew about my food sensitivities or that I had leaky gut. I have a high tolerance for pain but I felt like I was going to die. I knew right away there had to have been something in the pizza that I didn't know about. I looked online and still couldn't find anything in their ingredients that would be causing this. I kept digging and finally found the full ingredients list and discovered the crust had eggs, yeast and whey (dairy) - all of which I'm very sensitive to. I'm mad I had to dig so hard to find this information, and I was even madder at myself for not digging harder before I ate the pizza. I had been so very careful the 7 weeks prior to Halloween. I had been reading every label and making all of my own food because there's not much I can have, but I'm not perfect and I paid for this mistake big time. I was up most of the night in excruciating pain and was so sore for a couple of days after Halloween.

Two other reasons I know my weight loss is stalled is my autoimmune issues and hormones. I have tested positive for autoimmune disorder, but have not been officially diagnosed with a particular one yet. I have a pretty good idea of what I have, but I will hold off mentioning anything until I know for sure. I know I probably have hormonal issues as well. I am working on getting those tested soon and will update when I know. It may be on my social media instead of the blog though. I know I don't update my blog often, it is just really hard to find the time to sit down and write a post these days.

I just want to wrap this up and say if you're on your own journey to better health, do not give up. It would have been easy to give up this year. Seeing people who this time last year were so much more overweight than me, and now they're so much smaller than me, that's been really hard. I don't begrudge their progress at all. I am super happy for them! But, it's hard not to see any physical changes like that in myself, especially when I am working so hard at being healthy. I've never been one to cook and I'm making everything I eat from scratch. I DO see small changes in myself. My face has lost weight from this time last year, and my belly is a little smaller. I'm also stronger - in every single way. I just have to stay focused on what matters and that is making my body healthy and happy. All of the signs I've mentioned throughout this post tells me my body is working on healing. I want to be healthy, not just look good, so I'm being patient and letting my body do what it needs to do. I spent a very long time abusing it, now I need to let it heal itself by doing what I can to help it along.  


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