Friday, October 28, 2011

The Journey to Wellness

So I would say I have been on a journey to wellness for years now.  The reason why I became a strict vegetarian was because I had learned from people like Queen Afua and Dr. Laila O. Afrika, that the root of all my dis-ease was my diet--specifically my diet that included animals and animal products.  I desperately wanted to heal my allergies, heal my excruciating and debilitating menstrual cramps, heal my acne and maybe even heal my eyesight.  Somewhere along the line, my diet became aligned with my religion and started to reflect my spirituality: I didn't want to eat animals because I didn't want to kill them--didn't like the violence.  So I had two very good reasons to be vegetarian and coupled with my tendency to be tenacious and passionate, I remained vegetarian even when the first reason (to be healthy) was proving to be a failure.  I was feeling terrible on the vegetarian diet and getting progressively worse.  I tried adding small amounts of animal products back and still no real improvement.  It came to a head when I just couldn't function and finally went to a doctor and was finally diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome earlier this year.  IBS is one of those diagnoses where there doctor really has nothing to tell you but take some probiotics and eat more fiber.  Not helpful as I had been doing all those things.  Well, I took matters into my own hands and started removing foods that could be at the root.  Added meat back in, removed beans, and removed gluten.  Started to feel better.  Went paleo and started to feel great.  Added back in starchy tubers to try to put on some weight and started feeling like a train wreck again.

I am really struggling with my diet, how I eat.  This journey has not been easy at all but I am still committed to achieving optimal health.  I have let go of the spiritual hang-ups about eating meat--my body is a temple and I have to do things in a way that honors it.  I need to listen to it--and just give thanks to the animals that die so that I may live and respect the cycle of life.  I'm learning to listen but I still don't have any control of the IBS despite eating about 98% paleo. Maybe once a week, I'll have popcorn. I learned recently from some awesome podcasts that the underlying cause of the IBS is probably SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), or some kind of bacterial overgrowth so I significantly cut back on the small amount of carbs I was having (things like sweet potato, yam, and plantain) and now I am trying to follow the GAPS Diet.  I find the GAPS diet difficult for a few reasons: 1) I'm not sure exactly what not to eat--had some tomatoes and that seemed to be just as bad as having a sweet potato 2) I am finding really hard to stay away from starches especially plantain chips and 3) I feel restricted and it doesn't feel good at all--I've never felt that way even on Weight Watchers, or while doing gluten-free or while being paleo.  In any case, I feel like cutting the carbs has helped a lot but I think I just need to get some help with implementing some kind of GAPS type diet. I am tired of the trial and error and tired of feeling awful. 

So since I'm struggling so much to find a way to eat that makes me feel well, I don't know if I'm eating enough or if I'm eating fats, proteins and starches in the right proportion or what I should be eating to support my goal of getting not only well but stronger (which is a big goal of mine fitness-wise). I'm pretty sure I'm not. Add to that the psychological issues of having recently lost weight, wanting to put on a few pounds (and knowing I need to) but being absolutely terrified of landing back where I started two years ago, 45 lbs. heavier. (I started eating more starch tubers in an attempt to put on weight). I'm trying hard to trust that a more primal style of eating would make it so that I would not be likely to put the weight back on but honestly, I just feel so exhausted spending so much time thinking about/obsessing about food and hoping that the next thing I put in my mouth doesn't keep me up all night with cramps and such. (((sigh))) 

Exercise to me is a great way to at least temporarily escape the IBS (can't focus on it as much) and also to have some time during the day where the focus is totally on me.  But with this shoulder injury and modifying the workouts to give my shoulder a rest, I can't help but be hyper-focused on how badly my digestive tract feels. I'm tempted to just jump in and re-start Power Training in earnest next week, shoulder be damned, because I *really* need a distraction.  I know that's not wise and maybe what I really should do is take a complete break from lifting and my regular routine altogether . . . maybe sign up to do Bikram classes or something.  Something totally different.  

So the journey to wellness is far from over and I know that even when I figure things out to heal what I've got going on currently, the most important thing is to learn and be able to listen to my body because things change.  And when they change, I have to change and do things differently, eat differently, be differently.  I would like to learn the tools to do it.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finally got with the Diva

The Diva Cup, that is.  

I've been using cloth pads for years now and it's been really great.  The pads have held up well and I never had accidents or other issues with the majority of them.  All in all, I was very happy being "on the rag."  But I'd always wanted to give the Diva Cup a try because it just seemed like another great, natural and perhaps simpler way of catching menstrual flow. And so far, it has been.

This is the second cycle for which I have used the cup.  There is a bit of a learning curve and I am still getting the hang of inserting it properly.  But I am getting better and better.  If I insert it properly, I can be sure that it will not leak at all (even though I still wear a liner).  This is just *wonderful*.  One of the biggest issues with cloth pads are that they are bulky and they can be seen if I'm wearing leggings like I do to the gym.  Also, they absorb and hold on to not only menstrual blood but also sweat.  So for the past few months that I've been a member of the gym, I've been wearing regular disposable thin pads for working out.  I am just thrilled that the Diva Cup is a viable alternative in this particular instance!  The Diva Cup is also the perfect solution for the night.  It doesn't matter how much I toss and turn, I get no leakage.  

There are different styles of folding the cup for insertion.  I use the "punch down fold."  It seems to work best for me.  The trick is making sure that the cup is fully open when it is inserted.  

Basically, two or three times a day, I remove the cup, empty it, rinse it and re-insert it. In the morning, I will wash it with Dr. Bronner's castile soap (which rinses clean--you definitely don't want soap residue in your vagina).  It's definitely not as messy or gross as I had once imagined.  The main reason I didn't go with a cup when I was looking to make the switch from disposable pads was because of the "ick" factor.  But since I've been using cloth pads all this time, there is simply no "ick" factor when it comes to menstrual blood anymore.  Once my menstrual period is over, I boil it for a couple of minutes, let it air dry and store it in the little pouch in which it came.  

Because I mainly had cloth pads and very few cloth liners, I decided to purchase some.  I went on Ebay and found this seller and I am *so* pleased with these liners.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  They are quite thin--thinner than even disposable liners.  They are also very well made and, might I add, cute.  

So, I would say, I'm completely converted.  I like the comfort (you don't feel it at all) and I absolutely love less laundry.  I feel bad abandoning my cloth pads but who knows, I may come back to them at some point in the future.  
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